ROSIE BAUR, D.I. Chapter 15

17 Apr

 THE TEAR -DROP

Detective Sergeant Jenson with Detective Constable Elena Davies by his side sat opposite Amelia Buttery in an interview room. He switched the recorder on, and smiled at her.

“This shouldn’t take long,” he assured her, “then you can get off to college.”

“I’ll be late, probably,” she replied, morosely.

“Well, look at it like this. It’s your father who has been murdered and we need to get to the bottom of it, partly for your sake, so if you’re cooperative we can get it over in not very long at all, and you can carry on with your life.”

“Am I under arrest?” she asked, “because if I am I know my rights and I want a solicitor.”

“No, you’re just here voluntarily, to help us with our enquiries.”

“It didn’t feel very voluntary when you brought me!”

Elena looked at her sympathetically. “Don’t you want to find the person who stole the life from your father?” she asked.

“Of course I do!” she snapped back, “He was my dad, for goodness’ sake! But this seems … heavy handed … to me.”

“Look, we’ll get it over with and I’ll pop off to see your brother when we’ve taken you either to college or back home,” said Peter. “And the more open and honest you are the quicker that can be. And remember, we only want to know things that have to do with the actual murder of your father. Details of your … relationship … with him probably won’t enter into it because, at the end of the day, they’re probably not important, but we need to know in order to rule things in or out. Now do you understand?”

Amelia nodded her head. “Of course I do,” she said, “I’m not thick, you know!”

Peter smiled at her. “Right, then, when I asked whether your father had a woman other than your mother in his his life you went beetroot red but said nothing. That’s a gap we’ve got to fill in. It might be important, or it might not be, and probably only time will show which it is. But if we don’t know it’s a piece of the puzzle we can’t slot in place to make the complete picture.”

“All right,” almost snarled the young woman, “ask away, then, and destroy me if you want!”

“Was it you he turned to when your mother constantly rejected his advances?”

Peter’s eyes were on her, keenly, and once again that blush returned to her pretty cheeks. If what I suspect is right, he thought, then I feel sorry for you and won’t embarrass you more than I have to. But I must know….

She nodded her head slightly. Then, with a sudden blaze of determination in her eyes she started talking slowly, evenly, and he guessed truthfully.

“When I was about sixteen he started,” she said, “he came to my room at night and sometimes climbed in bed with me. He hadn’t got his own room yet because it was only a three-bedroom house and me and my twin had our own each, so he shared with mummy. But she never knew, or if she did know she ignored it. She didn’t want anything to do with that side of her marriage, though I really think she almost loved him. He was a loveable person. I loved him.”

“Most daughters love their fathers,” said Elena quietly, “I know that I love mine.”

“Well, to start with that’s all it was, him and me close together in bed, but I could tell that sometimes he was … aroused … and then, as time passed, he started touching me.”

“I suppose that wasn’t so nice,” suggested Peter.

“Why not?” she almost flared up, “I was almost a woman and there were some things that I liked quite a lot. You won’t understand because you’re a man and men look on everything like that as dirty, but it wasn’t.”

“And that was all?” encouraged Peter.

“Of course not! You must be able to work it out! But he got scared of himself. He told me so, and when I was eighteen he suggested that he put the deposit on a rental house for me and Denis, for my own good, he said, and that we became independent. It would help Denis’s business plans too, if he had his own address. You see, Denis might be big and strong, but he’s … fragile.”

“So this carried on for a couple of years, until you were eighteen?” asked Peter, “how often did he call on your room at night?”

“Once, twice a week,” she said, “and when he didn’t come sometimes I … I … I went to him even though that might have risked waking mum up. You see, I was used to the company, the … oh, let’s call it by it’s real name, the sex!”

“You had sex in the same bed as your sleeping mother?” asked Peter, disbelieving.

“No, silly! Just being together was as good as sex, and quietly touching … you must know.”

“But you moved to Swanspottle when you were eighteen?” asked Elena.

“Yes. Dad said we were going too far. He said he was really, really sorry the way he was, that he couldn’t help himself because, as he said, I was the spitting image of my mother, his first and only true love, when she was my age. He said he found it hard to control himself. By then I was taking the pill regularly … I’d arranged it myself … and said it didn’t matter. But he was an honourable man. He insisted.”

“That would have been to about five years ago,” said Peter, “so it was all done and dusted ages ago?”

She shook her head. “I suppose I wish it had been,” she whispered, “but it was my fault that it wasn’t. You see, I missed him. I told him that Wednesday afternoons, I knew Wednesday was his half-day from the library, were usually free. I didn’t have college and Denis had his best day on the market on Wednesdays and never missed one of those. And Daddy phoned up some Wednesdays and I gave him the all-clear if I was alone, and he came to Swanspottle for an hour. Look, I know he was my dad, but what harm was there in it? I was on the pill, my mum rejected him as thoroughly as a woman can ever reject a man’s advances and he needed someone. I was happy with him.”

“And he came to you for sex?” asked Elena.

She shook her head. “No!” she exclaimed, “we didn’t have sex very often, though it did happen sometimes. No: he came to me because he was the loneliest man on Earth with a wife who wouldn’t let him go and two pretty girls at work who smiled at him a lot! He told me how he was sometimes tempted … then there was a neighbour, Jodie McCarthy, they had history years and years ago, before he met mum, even she made him wonder if he should, though she’s become a bit of a soak these days. But he didn’t want to turn to any of them, not when he had his lovely wife’s clone in me! You see, rejection after rejection, but in his heart he still loved the woman she’d been.”

“Is there anything else?” asked Elena, “surely your brother noticed, sharing that little house with you as he does?”

“No!” flared Amelia, “don’t bring him into it! He doesn’t know anything! Nothing at all about daddy and me!”

Peter watched her and saw, for the first time, a tear-drop oozing from one eye, and then the other.

“I’ll take you to college,” he said, terminating the interview. “I shouldn’t think you’ll be too late.”

“I don’t care,” sniffled Amelia, “I don’t really care about anything now that daddy’s dead…”

TO BE CONTINUED…

© Peter Rogerson 08.03.17

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