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Evil Games
  • Текст добавлен: 4 октября 2016, 23:14

Текст книги "Evil Games"


Автор книги: Angela Marsons






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Текущая страница: 5 (всего у книги 23 страниц)

THIRTEEN

Alex spied Barry sitting in the furthest corner reading a magazine, alone.

She stood before him, the plate offered and her game face back on. ‘Apple turnover?’

‘Is that an offer or some kind of request?’

‘Take your pick.’ Alex took a seat beside him. ‘How are you doing?’

He shrugged in response and returned his gaze to the magazine. His head was freshly shaved and his body more toned and muscular than she remembered. Barry had been a semi-professional boxer before going to prison; a fact that hadn’t helped him at trial.

Alex stretched her legs before her and crossed them at the ankles. She chuckled tolerantly as the irritating little girls ran to the table, grabbed a cake and ran off again. Had she been on her own she would have raised a leg and sent them tumbling to the ground but she stopped herself.

‘Aren’t they adorable?’

Barry didn’t look at them. ‘Are you still here?’

‘Yep. You appear to be the only person here without a visitor so you get the consolation prize of me.’

‘Woohoo.’

‘Now, now, contain your excitement. I can tell that you’re thrilled on the inside and you’re just choosing not to show it.’

Honestly, these boys were so sensitive. First Shane had reacted badly to her rejection and now Barry was giving her the cold shoulder for the same thing. No matter. She’d get him back.

‘Yeah, that’ll be it.’

She tipped her head. ‘Not in the mood to talk to me today?’

Barry laughed out loud. ‘That’s rich. You haven’t spoken to me for months.’

Alex worked the angle. ‘I know, Barry, and I’m sorry. But the thing is there are people that needed my help far more than you. You seem to be through the worst of it now.’

He grunted and Alex stopped herself from smiling. She knew full well he wasn’t even close to being through the worst of it. Her plan depended on that fact.

She nudged him sideways. ‘Come on, I thought we were friends. Why so pissed off?’

‘I’m sure David has already filled you in.’

‘No,’ she lied. ‘I’m not here in an official capacity so he doesn’t divulge histories to me. That’s up to the individual.’ What she really wanted was for Barry to tell her himself so she could gauge where his vulnerabilities were. David had given her the facts but she wanted the emotional triggers. She had already deduced that Barry couldn’t look at the two little girls. They reminded him that his own daughter was being cared for by another man. His own brother.

He stared at the cakes.

She pushed. ‘Okay, no more one-sided conversations. Ask me anything and I’ll tell you.’

He turned towards her with interest. ‘Married, kids?’

‘Separated and a daughter,’ she said, looking over at the girls. She lowered her gaze. It was a good work of fiction that would bring them closer. She needed that affinity of being separated from a child.

He caught her subtlety. ‘Where’s the kid?’

‘With her father. It’s his weekend.’ She looked away.

‘Look, I’m sorry …’

She waved away his apologies. ‘It’s okay. Breaking up a family is always painful but we’re trying to work it out.’

Fantastic, she thought. Now he felt guilty that he’d caused her pain and he’d be more likely to open up.

She already knew his story inside out. Barry had been an amateur boxer with a young wife. Under pressure from his wife to quit the sport, he started driving a delivery van. Some time later his wife became pregnant, but eight months in, the baby stopped breathing. His wife went through labour to give birth to a dead child.

Barry had tried to be strong but had returned to boxing to alleviate the rage. Every fight saw him more damaged, but he couldn’t stop. During the time Barry should have been comforting his wife, his brother had been doing it instead.

When he caught them, Barry had beaten his brother so badly he was paralysed from the waist down. Seven months later, Lisa gave birth to Barry’s child. A daughter.

‘What did your husband do?’ Barry asked, quietly.

She looked him square in the eyes. ‘Hazard a wild one.’

‘Affair?’

She nodded.

He shook his head. ‘Anyone you know?’

Alex considered inventing a best friend to fit into her fictional scenario but she felt that was stretching credibility a little too far. ‘No, some girl he met at a coffee shop. She’s a barista, whatever that is. Apparently, she’s less challenging.’

‘Bet that makes you feel good.’

‘Tremendous.’ She smiled at him. ‘Hey, who’s the shrink here? I’m half expecting you to present me with a bill before I leave.’

‘Yeah, a cool coupla hundred quid for me,’ he quipped.

‘Anyway, enough about me. How are you doing?’ she asked, eager to resume her experiment.

‘Not good, they’re married now,’ he said, miserably.

‘Oh, Barry. I’m so sorry. I had no idea.’

He waved away her apology. ‘Not your fault.’

Alex sat in silence beside him for just a minute, allowing his mind to linger on what he’d said.

But now it was time to begin.

‘Does she love him?’ she asked, softly.

That question pained him, as she’d intended. And a flash of confusion registered in his eyes.

‘I don’t know. I mean … I assume so. She married him.’

‘Do you think Lisa married him due to a sense of responsibility?’

‘Does it matter?’

‘It would to me if I was still in love with her,’ Alex said, gently.

He shook his head. ‘She’d never take me back.’

Alex paused for a few seconds. ‘Hmm … did you and your brother fight as children?’

Barry smiled. ‘That’s the first shrink thing you’ve said.’

‘I apologise. I’m just interested in whether this was purely accidental.’

He frowned. ‘What do you mean?’

‘Aah, hang on, you told me I couldn’t be a shrink. Make your mind up.’

‘Go on.’

‘Well, sometimes siblings compete throughout their childhood, normally for the affection or validation of a parent. If a child feels their brother or sister is more intelligent, attractive or favoured, they try to compete and emulate the more successful sibling. Normally this naturally dies out as siblings take different directions outside of the childhood home, but occasionally envy continues into adulthood.’

Alex could see he was giving this serious thought. Of course he was. Every person with a sibling could remember fights over toys, clothes and CDs. It was perfectly normal.

She shrugged as though she couldn’t care less either way. ‘It just sounds as though you’re taking full responsibility for the whole situation yet you don’t know if part of it was by design. So, I ask again. Does she love him?’

‘I still don’t understand how that matters. She could never forgive me.’

‘It doesn’t matter at all if you’ve given up.’

‘But what can I …’

‘You’ve said you would have forgiven her anything to be a family. How do you know that she wouldn’t do the same? At the moment, your brother has stolen your life. He’s taken your wife and is father to your daughter and you don’t even know if she’s in love with him.’

One hundred and eighty. Now just one last jab.

‘You shouldn’t envy him. I mean, what’s his quality of life? He is unable to leave that chair. It might have been kinder if he hadn’t survived.’ She paused for a few seconds. ‘It would probably have been kinder to your wife.’

Barry was staring at her intently. Fresh hope hovered behind his eyes.

Alex shrugged and sighed. ‘Perhaps she regrets it all and wants you back; a strong, able-bodied man that she loves and is the true father to her child, but can’t extricate herself from the obligation of taking care of your brother.’

Barry looked confused and restless. ‘I dunno …’

‘You know,’ she said, bending her legs and leaning slightly into him. ‘I told my husband I would never forgive him, but if he turned up tomorrow genuinely sorry for what he’d done, I’d have to consider giving him another chance. I love him, miss him and he’s the father of my child. Basically, I’d want my family back.’

Barry was silent for a few minutes. He stood. ‘I think I’ll go for a walk. I just need to clear my head a bit.’

Alex nodded and smiled. She reached for one of the pastries. This experiment was a bit like playing with a spinning top. You wound it as tightly as you could and put it down with no idea of the direction in which it would go.

FOURTEEN

Kim threw down the last report. ‘Absolutely bloody nothing, taxi drivers, bus drivers, residents. A man gets knifed to death and no one saw or heard a damn thing.’

‘There’s that one report,’ Bryant said, searching through his own pile.

‘Of course, an eighteen-year-old lad, totally wasted, thought he saw someone sitting on the wall just before eleven fifteen, right by the bus stop.’

‘Yeah but the last bus went past at …’

‘Not really a smoking gun is it? Someone sitting on a wall at a bus stop.’

Bryant sighed. ‘Maybe the knockers did it.’

‘Huh?’

Bryant took both their mugs and stood at the coffee maker. ‘The miners had fairies they called “knockers”. If they got upset they’d hide the tools, steal the candles, jump out from behind pillars of coal and generally cause a nuisance. No one ever saw them but there was no doubt in the mines that they existed.’

‘Very helpful. So, now we’re looking for bloody Tinkerbell …’

‘Carrying a five-inch kitchen knife, judging by the wound,’ Dawson added.

‘The preliminary examination supposes the fatal stab wound was the first and that the knife pierced the lining of the lung.’

A phone rang. Kim ignored it. Bryant picked it up.

‘So, the killer either stabbed upwards because they knew what they were doing or because there was a substantial height difference. The other wounds were rage or frustration.’

‘Guv …’

She turned to Bryant. ‘What?’

‘Potential murder weapon’s on its way in.’

‘Where was it found?’ she asked, her mind already piecing together the fragments of information they had.

‘Spare land on the Dudley Road where a local guy keeps some horses.’

‘On the road that heads towards …’

‘Lye,’ he answered.

‘And the home of Ruth Willis.’

FIFTEEN

Kim waited until she and Bryant were alone in the car before asking the question that was on her mind.

‘He’s at it again, isn’t he?’

If Kim had thought her partner would need her to spell it out she would have done.

Bryant sighed. ‘You caught the tie the other night?’

‘And the shoes,’ she confirmed. ‘Not to mention the attitude.’

There was an added cockiness to Dawson when he was fooling his fiancée but he wasn’t fooling any of them.

Bryant pulled up at a set of lights that she would have challenged.

‘You’d think after the last time …’

He didn’t need to say any more. Just a couple of months after giving birth to their daughter, Dawson’s fiancée had found out that he’d cheated while she was pregnant. She had thrown him out and the team’s lives had been made miserable while he’d attempted to win her back. But, eventually, he had.

Bryant shrugged. ‘I dunno. The bloke doesn’t know a good thing when he’s got it.’

And lost it and won it back again, Kim thought, but said nothing. What Dawson did in his private life was his own business but his attitude on her time was not.

The terraced house two streets away from the site of the rape was unremarkable. It stood in a line of twelve, identically reflected across the narrow road. There were no front gardens and a stone plaque in the middle of the row dated the buildings back to 1910.

‘Guv, seriously, is this a good idea?’

Kim understood his reservations. It wasn’t normal practice but her gut was like a washing machine on spin cycle. She’d felt it before and it would churn away until it was satisfied.

‘For God’s sake, I’m not going to walk right in there and arrest her. I just want to talk to her.’

He didn’t appear mollified. They waited in silence for a response to their knock; finally the door was opened by a petite woman wearing a navy blue tracksuit. The expression of guilt almost overwhelmed her and Kim immediately knew. This was Ruth, the rape victim, and as their eyes met, Kim also knew that she was looking at Ruth, the murderer.

‘Detective Inspector Stone, Detective Sergeant Bryant. May we come in?’

The woman hesitated momentarily and then stood aside. Kim noted that there was no request for identification or explanation.

Kim followed Ruth Willis into the front living room. The walls were a timeline of Ruth’s childhood; a mixture of professional posed pictures before a sky blue backdrop and other family favourites that had been enlarged and framed. No other children were present in the photographs.

Sky News played on the television. Kim indicated to Bryant that she wished to take the lead. His return expression read ‘go lightly’. She had no intention of doing otherwise. Unlike Bryant, she knew their search was over.

‘What’s this about, Officer?’ Ruth asked, reaching for the remote control and changing the channel.

Kim waited to make eye contact with her. ‘We’re here to inform you that a man was murdered two nights ago, not far away, on Thorns Road.’

Ruth tried to hold her gaze and failed. Her eyes darted between the two of them but didn’t settle. ‘I heard something on the news.’

‘The male has been identified as Allan Harris.’

‘Oh, I see.’

Kim noted that she tried to remain expressionless, unsure of the appropriate response. Every reaction fed the growl in Kim’s stomach.

‘The male was stabbed four times. The fatal wound entered …’

‘Okay, I get the picture, but what does that have to do with me?’

The effort of trying to sound normal made the woman’s voice tremble more.

‘That’s what we’re here to find out, Miss Willis.’

Kim was careful to keep her expression benign. Slowly, slowly, catchee monkey.

Kim sat, Ruth followed. Her hands rested in her lap, clasped together.

‘We know what he did to you, Ruth. He raped and beat you to within an inch of your life. I’m not going to pretend to know what that attack did to you. I can’t even imagine the horror, the fear, the rage.’

Ruth said nothing but the colour began to drain from her face. The woman was using every ounce of strength she had to mask her true emotions but her body had not read the same memo.

‘When did you find out he’d been released?’

‘A few months ago.’

‘How did you find out?’

Ruth shrugged. ‘I don’t recall.’

‘You live within a couple of miles of his home. Did you see him?’

‘Honestly, I don’t remember.’

‘How did you feel about his release?’

Kim watched as Ruth’s right hand instinctively caressed the scarred tissue on her left wrist; a permanent reminder of her suicide attempt.

Ruth looked towards the window. ‘I really didn’t give it much thought. It’s not like there was anything I could do about it.’

Kim pushed. ‘Do you think it was a fair punishment?’

Ruth’s eyes flared with emotion and Kim could see that there was much that this woman had to say on the subject but didn’t.

‘How do you feel knowing he’s finally got what he deserved?’

Ruth’s jaws were clamped together, not trusting herself to speak. Kim could feel Bryant’s discomfort but these were not lazy questions. She’d formulated them in the car and the responses should have been emotional.

From an innocent person the reaction to such probing would have been immediate and uncensored. The bastard should have been locked up for life, or I’m glad he’s fucking dead. There should be fire in Ruth’s eyes and animation, not a silent acceptance and refusal to speak because she couldn’t work out the correct response.

‘I’m not sure how this is relevant to the murder.’

The woman’s voice was starting to break and the tension fed her wringing hands.

‘I’m sorry, Miss Willis, but I have to ask where you were on Friday night between the hours of nine p.m. and midnight?’

‘I was here, watching television.’

Kim was aware that the pitch of the woman’s voice had risen. The words had been rehearsed too many times in her mind.

‘Is there anyone that can verify that you didn’t leave the house?’

‘I … umm popped to the chip shop at around nine thirty.’

So, Kim realised, perhaps a neighbour had seen her either leave or return to the house so she had to invent a short trip somewhere.

Kim nodded. ‘If we speak to the owner, he’ll verify he served you sometime after nine thirty?’

Ruth looked panicky. ‘Well … I don’t know. It was busy. He might not recall.’

Kim smiled reassuringly. ‘Oh, I’m sure he would. It’s your local chippy. You must have been there many times over the years. After all, you’ve lived here all your life.’

‘Well, yes, but the owner wasn’t working and I don’t know the others very well.’

Kim followed Ruth to the corner into which she’d backed herself.

‘Oh, that’s fine. If you just give me the description of the assistant that served you I can make sure we speak to the right person.’

Kim watched the fight drain out of her. She’d offered an alibi that would not be corroborated and any about-turn now would be highly suspicious. Innocent people didn’t need to invent alibis.

Kim stood and Ruth looked up at her. Her complexion was grey, her eyes frightened, her body collapsed like a wind-battered tent.

Kim spoke softly. ‘We have the murder weapon, Ruth. It was right where you threw it.’

Ruth buried her head in her hands. Sobs wracked her body. Kim turned to Bryant and their eyes met. There was no triumph or pleasure that passed between them.

Kim sat beside Ruth on the sofa. ‘Ruth, what Allan Harris did to you was horrific but I think you should know that he was sorry. We all hope that prison will rehabilitate offenders but we don’t always believe it. On this occasion it did. Allan Harris was genuinely remorseful for what he’d done.’

Bryant stepped forward. ‘Ruth Willis, I’m arresting you …’

‘I wasn’t frightened,’ Ruth said quietly as Kim moved to stand. She sat back down.

‘Miss Willis, I have to warn you …’

‘I was nervous but I wasn’t frightened,’ she repeated.

‘Miss Willis, anything you say will be …’ Bryant started to say.

‘Leave it,’ Kim said, shaking her head. ‘This is for her, not us.’

‘I watched him exit the park. I was standing at the crossing. I felt powerful, righteous. I stood in the shop doorway, in the shadows. He bent down to tie his shoe lace. The dog looked right at me. He didn’t bark.’

She raised her head, her face wet with tears. ‘Why didn’t he bark?’

Kim shook her head.

‘I was tempted to drive the knife into his back right then but it wouldn’t have been right. I wanted my light.’

Kim looked at Bryant who shrugged.

‘I was confident and in control. I followed him and asked him the time.’

‘Ruth, we need …’

‘I plunged the knife into his stomach. His flesh was against mine, but this time it was on my terms. His legs wobbled as his right hand clutched the wound. Blood ran over his fingers. He looked down and then back at me. And I waited.’

‘Waited?’ Kim asked.

‘I withdrew the knife and stabbed him again. And I waited.’

Kim wanted to ask what she’d been waiting for but dared not break the spell.

‘And again, and again. I heard his skull land on the concrete. His eyes began to close so I kicked him, but he wouldn’t give it back to me.’

‘Give what back to you, Ruth?’ Kim asked, gently.

‘I wanted to do it again. Something had gone wrong. He still had it. I shouted at him to give it me back but he wouldn’t move.’

‘What did he have that belonged to you, Ruth?’

Ruth looked at her as though it were perfectly obvious. ‘My light. I didn’t get my light.’

Instantly her body folded and the sobs were being ripped from her throat.

Kim once again looked towards Bryant, who shrugged in response. She sat silently for a full minute before nodding her head towards her colleague.

He took a step towards the woman who had just confessed to murder. ‘Ruth Willis, I’m arresting you for the murder of Allan Harris. You do not have to say anything but anything you do say …’

Kim left the house before Bryant had finished. She didn’t feel triumphant or victorious, only satisfied that she’d caught the person who had committed a crime and that her job here was done.

A victim plus a perpetrator equalled case closed.

SIXTEEN

It was just after midnight when Kim entered the garage. The quiet family street had closed down ready for the week ahead; truly her favourite part of the day.

She switched on her iPod and chose Chopin’s Nocturnes. The solo piano pieces would ease her through the early morning hours until her body demanded sleep.

Woody hadn’t helped her state of mind either. After she’d sent the others home Woody had stopped by her desk bearing gifts: a sandwich and coffee.

‘What am I not going to like, Sir?’ she’d asked.

‘CPS wants to tread carefully with this one. They’re not keen on a murder charge yet. They want some background. They don’t want some clever defence trying for a diminished responsibility plea.’

‘But …’

‘It needs to be tight.’

‘I’ll get Wood and Dawson on it tomorrow morning.’

Woody shook his head. ‘No, I want you tidying this one up, Stone.’

‘Oh come on, Sir.’

‘There’s no debate. Just get it done.’

Kim let out a huge sigh, putting every ounce of dismay she could muster into that one exhalation. It changed nothing but she felt it got her point across.

Woody smiled. ‘Now for goodness’ sake, go home and … do whatever it is you do when you’re not here.’

So she had.

As she lowered herself to the ground beside the motorcycle parts, she growled in disgust.

She hated mopping up. The case was over. She’d caught the bad guy, or girl in this instance, within forty-eight hours. A full confession had been recorded and now the CPS wanted their arses wiped as well.

She crossed her legs and began to assess the pieces around her. Every part of the bike was here and would fit together to produce a classic, beautiful British machine. Now all she had to do was figure out how.

An hour later, every part of the puzzle was still in the same place. There was something in her stomach that refused to play dead.

A sudden thought occurred to her. She stood and reached for her boots.

Maybe her insomnia wasn’t being caused by this case, after all.


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