It was then that she heard, from her seat by the door, the faint sound of a mobile phone ringtone. Simon stood and moved off to the side of the church, a phone to his ear. Erika rose from her seat and slipped out of the church.
Houses and shops were heavily built up nearby, leaving the courtyard out front and a thin strip of flagstones along one side of the church, which backed onto a high wall. David stood by the high wall with an unlit cigarette between his teeth. He tucked his phone inside his suit jacket.
Erika moved over to him. ‘Need a light?’ she asked, pulling out her cigarettes and lighter.
He peered at her for a second and then leaned in to her lighter, cupping his hands around the flame, and puffing furiously as the end of the cigarette glowed red. Erika lit one herself and took a drag.
‘You okay?’ she asked, tucking her cigarettes back in her coat pocket. David was painfully thin, with sunken cheeks. His skin was honey-coloured, and there was a smattering of acne under his cheekbones. Despite this, his face was still handsome. He had the same brown eyes and full lips as Andrea. He squinted at Erika and shrugged.
‘Why aren’t you in there for the service?’ asked Erika.
‘It’s all bullshit . . . My parents have planned this pretentious tribute, which is nothing to do with who Andrea was. She was a slut, she was loud and crass, and she had the attention span of an insect. But she was so good, so much fun to have around. I hate that phrase, “she lit up a room”. It’s trotted out all the time, but it was true of her. God, why did it have to be Andrea and not Lin . . .’ His voice tailed off and he looked ashamed.
‘No. I didn’t mean that. Although I think Linda is so desperate for attention she’d quite like to be brutally murdered. It would be more interesting to write on her Facebook profile than, “I work as a florist and I like cats . . .”’ David began to cry. ‘Shit, shit, shit; I vowed I wouldn’t use these,’ he said, pulling a little pack of tissues from his pocket.
‘Look. David. You’ll regret it if you don’t go in there. Trust me, you need closure. Another overused phrase, I know.’
David blew his nose and pulled another tissue from the pack. ‘Why are you here?’ he asked.
‘I’ve come to pay my respects.’
‘You know, my parents blame you for the media coverage.’
‘And what do you think?’
‘I think Andrea was always honest about dating men, about loving sex.’
‘What about Giles?’
‘He wanted a trophy wife. A nice thoroughbred to mix up the gene pool. Too many cousins have married in his family. You must have noticed he’s a little carny.’
‘Little carnival circus folk . . .’
‘Sorry, I’m being an arse.’
‘You’ve got the right to be one, today of all days,’ said Erika.
‘Yes, and you’ve caught the killer. Marco Frost.’
Erika took a drag of her cigarette.
‘You don’t think he is the killer, do you?’
‘How’s your mum coping?’ asked Erika.
‘If you want to change the subject, choose a less stupid question. You look far from stupid, though,’ said David, taking a deep drag on his cigarette.
‘Okay,’ said Erika, pulling out a copy of the photo of Andrea in the bar with the dark-haired man. ‘Have you ever seen this man?’
‘Smooth segue,’ said David.
‘David. Please. It’s important,’ said Erika. She watched his face. He took the photo and chewed his lip.
‘Because Linda was there that night as well.’
‘Well, I wasn’t,’ said David.
‘I don’t believe this,’ said a voice. Erika turned and saw Simon was approaching across the courtyard. His head was tilted to one side and his brown eyes flashed with anger. Diana teetered behind on high heels, her hat and shades giving little away.
‘Do you have no respect?’ he said, squaring up to Erika, his face close to hers. She refused to be intimidated and stared back at him.
‘David, why are you out here?’ said Diana when she reached them, her voice breaking.
‘I’m asking David if he’s seen this man; a man I believe . . .’ started Erika. Simon snatched the photo, crushing it into a ball and throwing it down. He grabbed Erika’s arm and started to drag her across the courtyard.
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