Linda looked drained when Peterson entered the interview room. Her hair was tousled, and she didn’t look like she’d got much sleep in her cell. The solicitor finished polishing his glasses and put them back on.
‘Here, I got you a coffee, Linda,’ said Peterson, sitting opposite and pushing the takeaway cup towards her. The solicitor saw Peterson had a coffee of his own, and looked annoyed that he hadn’t been included.
Peterson tilted up his cup to the light. ‘Look, they never get it right; I said my name was Peterson. They’ve written “Peter Son”.’
Linda stared at him for a moment, and then reached out for her cup and checked the side.
‘They got my name right,’ she said. She turned the cup and her face broke into a smile. ‘Oh, and they drew a little cat! Look!’ She twisted the cup round so Peterson could see.
‘I thought you’d like that.’ Peterson grinned.
Linda’s eyes narrowed. ‘I see what you’re doing,’ she said. She sat back and pushed the cup away. ‘I’m not that easy.’
‘I never thought you were,’ said Peterson. He read out his name and the time and the interview tape started recording.
‘Linda, you said yesterday you didn’t have a cat.’
‘No. I don’t,’ she said, cautiously sipping at her coffee.
‘Yes, I did,’ she said softly. ‘His name was Boots.’
‘Yes, he was black, but he had four white paws, like he was wearing boots . . .’
The minutes ticked by, and Linda became quite animated, talking about Boots. She was just telling Peterson about how Boots used to sleep under the covers with her, with his head on her pillow, when the solicitor interrupted.
‘Look, DI Peterson, what has this got to do with your investigation?’
‘I’m talking about my cat, thank you very much,’ Linda snapped back.
‘I’m working for you here, Miss Douglas-Brown . . .’
‘Yes, you are, and I’m talking about my fucking cat, okay?’
‘Yes, very well,’ said the solicitor.
Linda turned back from the solicitor to Peterson. ‘I’m sick of people who think cats are just pets. They’re not. They’re such intelligent, beautiful creatures . . .’
Back in the observation room, Moss and Crane were watching. ‘Keep her talking about Boots,’ said Moss into a microphone. Inside the interview room her voice came quietly through the earpiece Peterson wore.
‘Did Boots have a middle name? I had a dog called Barnaby Clive,’ said Peterson.
‘No. He was Boots Douglas-Brown; that was quite enough. I wish I had a middle name, or even a nicer name than just boring old Linda.’
‘I dunno; I like the name Linda,’ said Peterson.
‘But Boots is so much more exotic . . .’
‘And, what happened to Boots? I take it she’s not still with us?’ asked Peterson.
‘He, Boots was a HE. . . And no. He’s not with us,’ said Linda. She gripped the edge of the desk.
‘Are you okay? Is this upsetting to talk about how Boots died?’ pressed Peterson.
‘Of course it was upsetting. He DIED!’ shouted Linda.
There was a silence.
‘Okay, this is good, Peterson, keep on at her. We’re breaking her down,’ said Moss, in his ear.
The Douglas-Brown house was silent, and felt heavy and oppressive with secrets and unanswered questions. Erika hadn’t noticed how long she’d spent in Linda’s bedroom, staring at the family photos and absorbing the sadness emanating from Linda’s possessions. She was now moving down the corridor, still clutching the photos of Boots the cat, and checking to see what was behind the doors. She passed empty guest bedrooms, a large bathroom, a huge linen closet, and two picture windows in the corridor which looked onto the bare back wall of the house next door.
At the other end of the floor, at the furthest point from Linda’s room, Erika found David’s bedroom. The door was open.
In comparison to Linda’s, it was stylish and bright with a large metal-framed double bed, and a long mirrored wardrobe. A poster of Che Guevara was framed on one wall, next to a Pirelli calendar showcasing a beautiful blonde for January, her arms crossed over her bare chest. There was a faint smell of expensive aftershave, and on a large desk was a silver MacBook laptop, which was open, and beside it an iPod, docked into a large speaker set. On the wall above was a rack with six pairs of Skullcandy headphones in assorted bright colours. Erika spied a phone charger snaking out from behind the desk, and she pulled out her iPhone and hooked it up. A few moments passed and, when she saw it starting to charge, she switched it on. She went to the open MacBook, and brushed her fingers over the trackpad. The screen lit up, showing that a password had to be entered. Large black-and-white prints of Battersea Power Station, The National Theatre, and Billingsgate Fish Market adorned the remaining wall space. A large set of shelves was stuffed with books on architecture, ranging from paperback guides to enormous coffee table photo books.
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