‘I just found it on the Internet. It’s called, To those whom I love and those who love me by Anon. I thought Ivy deserved something to see her off,’ he said, embarrassed.
‘You coming to the wake?’ said a voice. They turned to see the landlord from The Crown.
‘There’s a wake?’ asked Erika.
‘Well, a few drinks. Ivy was a regular.’
Erika’s eye was caught by the two women, fat and thin; they stood smoking under a tree in the small memorial gardens.
‘Hang on, I’ll be back in a sec,’ she said. She hurried over, pulling out a copy of the photo of Andrea and the dark-haired man from her bag.
‘You’ve got a nerve,’ said the large woman, when Erika reached them.
‘I need to ask you,’ started Erika, but the woman tilted her head back and spat in her face.
‘You’ve got a nerve to sit there sobbing yer crocodile tears when you as good as killed Ivy, you bitch!’
She stalked away, leaving the ratty blonde to stare at Erika’s shock.
‘Yeah. And we don’t know anything,’ she said, eyeing the photo before moving off after her large companion. Erika fumbled in her bag for a tissue and wiped her face.
When she came back, she saw Woolf had gone, but the landlord was waiting for her.
‘Your mate got a call and had to go,’ he said. ‘You fancy a drink?’
‘You really want me back in your pub after last time?’
‘Oh, I dunno. I seem to be drawn to difficult blondes.’ He grinned and shrugged. ‘Come on, you owe me. I got you out of a sticky spot.’
‘As tempting as being picked up at a wake is . . . sorry, I’ve got to head off.’
‘Suit yourself,’ he said. ‘Is that who you’re after? George Mitchell?’
Erika stopped in her tracks. ‘What?’
‘That picture,’ he said. ‘What’s George been up to now?’
‘You know this man?’
He laughed. ‘I know of him. I wouldn’t count him as a friend, though.’
Erika held the photo up. ‘This man is called George Mitchell?’
‘Yes. And now you’re worrying me. He’s not someone you want to fuck around with. This isn’t going to come back on me, is it?’
‘No. Do you know where he lives?’
‘No, and that’s all I’m gonna say. I don’t know anything else. I never spoke to you, okay? I’m serious, okay?’
‘Yes. Okay,’ said Erika. All talk of a drink had vanished and she watched him walk out of the crematorium, get in his car and drive away. Erika turned to look back at the low building with its immaculately manicured grounds. A stream of black smoke trailed from a long tall chimney.
‘Go on, Ivy. Now you are free to fly,’ said Erika, excitedly. ‘I think I’ve just found the bastard who did this to you.’
It was shortly after ten pm, and Erika had left several messages for Moss, Peterson, Crane and even Woolf. No one had been available when she’d called Lewisham Row, and she’d left messages on their mobile phones.
She had no clue if they were working still, but guessed that unlike her, they all had social lives outside work. When she’d come back from the funeral, she’d headed for the coffee shop and searched for George Mitchell online. Nothing had come back on the George Mitchell she was interested in finding.
She went to the fridge to pour herself another glass of wine, but saw the bottle was empty. She suddenly felt tired; she needed sleep.
Erika switched off the light, went to the bathroom and took a long, hot shower. When she climbed out of the shower the combination of the cold air and whirling steam irritated her. She missed the luxurious bathroom of her house, which was now rented out, and she also missed the house in general. Her furniture, her old bed, the garden. She tried the extractor fan once more, and then rubbed at the mirror, wiping away the condensation. She decided if she didn’t hear from someone by morning, she would pay a visit to Lewisham Row Station.
As she climbed into bed, she tried Peterson again and then Moss. She left messages for both of them, repeating that she knew the name of the man in the photo. Then, feeling frustrated and pissed off, Erika switched off the light.
Shortly before midnight, Erika was sleeping softly. Commuters from the last train had walked past the flat, and the road outside settled into silence. A soft glow from the street lights bled through the living room, falling on the back wall of the bathroom. Erika rolled over in her sleep, shifting her head on the pillow. She didn’t hear the sound of the ventilator fan in the bathroom as it popped out of the wall and swung from side to side with a scrape.
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