Lindsey Williams sat nervously in the stark grey room. She twiddled her thumbs, bit her lip. Did the police think that she had been responsible for Mel's death? Is that what this was about?
After ten excruciating minutes she was met by a dark skinned plainclothes officer and a short haired
woman in a red polo shirt.
“Miss Williams, I'm Inspector Browning, this is Cummings. We'd like to clarify a few things about Melvyn Kent. You were set to work on the carcass he was... attending to, is that correct?”
“Yeah,” said the fresh faced young woman nervously. “I already told all this to the other officers.”
“You can chill babe, this is just a follow up,” Lisa said, in an at attempt to diffuse the situation. Andy looked at her with annoyance. She shrugged. He turned back to Lindsey.
“What was your relationship with Melvyn Kent?
“We worked together,” she sighed, looked down. “We were at school together but we weren’t friends or anything. When he came to work at the abattoir it was the first time I'd seen him for years. We'd chat a bit about old times now and again but our work isn't exactly the kind that allows chatter.”
He nodded. “Anything else? Anything specific?”
“He lost his work keys about a month ago. Because we were on similar shifts I helped him out for a couple of days.”
“Did he have any grievances with you?”
Lindsey looked confused. “If he did he never showed it.”
“So he never threatened you at any point?”
“Did he ever imply that he was interested in you? Ask you out for a drink, anything like that?”
“No, he...” Lindsey paused for a second, lost in thought. Then she smiled slightly, gave out a little
chuckle. “I remember way back when we were in school. He asked me out back then, we must have only been about twelve or thirteen. I think he did for a dare or something.”
“Did you say yes?”
“I was just a little girl, I didn't even really know him.”
“And he never implied that he maintained these feelings for you?”
The smile left her face. “If he did he never showed it,” she echoed.
Lisa and Andy looked at each other, a silent thought passing between them. Andy scribbled
something on a pad of paper.
“Thank you Miss Williams. That's all we need to know.”
David Carruthers leaned back on the chair impatiently. He had enough to deal with emotionally after Mel's death. The very least they could give him was some space and time.
Lisa and Andy joined him quicker than expected. He tried to maintain his confident exterior, but swallowed nervously. What was it they wanted?
“Mr Carruthers? I'm Inspector Browning, this is Cummings. We'd like to ask you a few quick questions about Melvyn Kent. I understand you are going to be ending your employment at the abattoir very shorty.”
“It was today in fact,” he said, with maybe even a little joy in his voice. “We were supposed to be going out for my leaving party after the shift had finished. I called it off after what happened to Mel. It wouldn't have been right.”
“What was your relationship with Melvyn Kent?”
“Purely a working relationship.” David folded his arms. Andy could tell just by looking at them that the man had been working out. “We would occasionally talk as you do. I wouldn't call us friends.”
“Any reason he would have to resent you? Did you have any disagreements.”
David paused. He ran his thumb up and down his arm methodically.
“No, no.” He shook his head. “Like I said, we only talked occasionally.”
“You sure about that?” Lisa said.
David went quiet again.
“You're not a suspect Mr Carruthers,” Andy reassured him, “We're just looking for anything about Mel that could help us with this case.”
David nodded, and his head dropped on the final nod. His voice had lost its confidence now. “I didn't say anything before because I was worried it would make me a suspect,” he said.
“A few weeks ago I'd seen him following Lindsey around. Like, she didn't know. Like, he was stalking her or something. Now me and Lindsey are very close, she's like a sister to me, so I confronted him about it.”
“What was his reaction?”
“It was odd, he wasn't angry or scared you know? He told me that I had to behave myself around Lindsey because he knew what kind of guy I was.”
“I don't know. I think he thought me and Lindsey were an item.”
“So Mel didn't know that you were gay?” Lisa said, suddenly.
Both men turned and looked at her in surprise.
She leaned back smugly in her chair. “I've seen you a few times at The Purple Nighthawk. You're a very discreet guy but It's obvious you're not just going there 'with friends'”
David became a little confrontational. “I don't see how any of this is relevant.”
“It's just a question,” Lisa said innocently.
“No. As far as I was concerned it wasn't his business.”
Lisa and Andy looked at each other again, just like they had earlier. That silent communication was happening again. It was broken quickly when Andy's phone began to vibrate.
“Yeah?” he answered. “Great!” he said eagerly and turned back to David Carruthers. “Mr Carruthers, that's all we need to know, thank you very much.”
“What is it?” asked Lisa, “What it is you've got.”
Andy stood. “The final piece of the puzzle.”
Andy brandished a wad of papers like they were an academy award. Lisa looked at him, perplexed.
“Asked our tech guys to check out Mel's computer. Surfing habits. This is what we found.”
“Care to enlighten me?” said Lisa, familiar with Andy's tendency to draw things out when he has the upper hand.
“Months worth of sexist rants on social forums. Screeds about how women don't respect him and how one day he'd finally crack and do something about it. The guy really had issues.”
Lisa raised an eyebrow.
“This might as well be a signed confession Cummings. Think about it, years of unsuccessful relationships. Finally he find himself working with the one girl that started it all. Maybe he starts to think that he might be in with another chance, when David Carruthers cock blocks him. He's had enough, he cracks, and he decides to take it out on those who he perceived had wronged him.”
“A crime of passion?” Lisa asked.
“For the digital age.”
Lisa pulled out another lolly and gave a long sigh. “I'm not so sure.”
“Oh come on!” Andy shouted, exasperated. “It's all here in black and white,” he tapped the pile of papers. “You said it yourself, he didn't know Carruthers was gay. To him he was a romantic rival. His nemesis.”
But Lisa wasn't convinced. “There's something about this that doesn't add up to me.” She paused, her tomboy face contorted with confusion. Confident, she pointed at Andy. “Can you get Hastings to hold of for one more day?”
Andy threw his arms apart. “It's the meat festival this weekend Cummings, he wants an open and shut case,” Andy tapped the papers again. “And itis an open and shut case.”
Lisa ignored him. “I'm going to need the case notes, the files on those postings, his keys and... heck, pretty much everything. If I don't have an alternative for you by noon tomorrow then you can go to Hastings with what you have. Until then, I need you to hold off and give me time.”
Andy shook his head, but he knew better than to argue with Lisa once she had her teeth into something. He complied.
Lisa spent the evening and night doing what she did best. She worked her way through the connections, the people, the businesses. She tracked the paper trails. What money was spent? When? Who was where? Why were they there? And finally, she had her answers.
Lisa and Andy often met at the Gershwin Cafe to discuss cases. He sat there with an espresso, she an earl grey. Relics of their respective upbringings.
“Melvyn Kent was murdered,” she said, confidently, with a sly smile on her lips. “By Mr Richard Davies.”
“The IT guy?” Andy responded, confused. “Explain.”
Lisa put down her notes, and began.
“Ten years ago Rodgers and Davies Technology had a plan. They were going make their fortune as a county wide training provider and become a national IT chain. Spoiler alert! It fails. Years later, having lost his partner and with profits dwindling, Davies stages a last ditch attempt to try and tap into the Zeitgeist. He buys the 3D printer, but customers still don't come.
“With mounting debts he concedes the unthinkable, he's going to have to sell his precious collection of Santana memorabilia. However, his collection isn't quite complete, and as any good collector knows, a complete collection can triple the value. They can go for as much as twenty grand so I'm told. Funnily enough, he'd recently bonded with a customer who just so happened to own a 1970 Abraxas tour poster. He offers to buy it, but Mel won't sell. It was his fathers, someone else who happened to die under mysterious circumstances,” Lisa paused for a moment, “Make of that what you will.
“But Davies needs that poster or it's game over. He remembers Mel stressing over his recent woes and hatches a plan. See, that's what bothered me about your theory, it didn't add up. Turns out Mel wasn't sexist at all, he was a feminist. He didn't see David as a rival, he was worried he was a pick up artist putting the moves on Lindsey”
“But the forum posts...” Andy pointed out.
“I'm getting to that. So, Davies plans to bump Mel off, but this isn't a big town, suspicion is going to be on him when he gets that poster, so he needs to put the blame on someone else. He comes up with some excuse to drop by Mel's one day and swipes his home and works keys, gets copies cut and returns them before anyone is the wiser. While Mel's busying away at work, Davies logs onto the computer and leaves a load of inflammatory comments online to make it looks like Mel's planning something.
“He buys the bomb components and the uhh... male stress toy. I'd rather not read too much into that. He looks up Mel's rota to make sure it looks like he's trying to kill Lindsey. Finally, he sneaks in on the Monday morning and plants the bomb, leaves a trail of crumbs to make it look like Mel had planned it all, and waits for the dust to settle to either swipe the poster or buy it from the next of kin.”
Andy laughed, not quite convinced. “Well it's a charming theory, but it's also circumstantial. You going to get this to stand up in court?”
Lisa took a sip of her tea, and smirked again. “Davies was hoping we wouldn't look too closely at the cracks. Maybe he deliberately staged it before the meat festival for that reason, who knows, but he could never truly cover his tracks.
“You take a look a the website's time stamps, they all coincide with Mel's shifts, he couldn't possibly have posted them while at work. Our friend in the blue hoodie is willing to testify that Davies left him to watch the shop on several occasions that line up with the online postings. Likewise, our local locksmith confirms that Davies got two keys cut recently, and he's got a record of them. They match Mel's.”
Andy leaned back and nodded, impressed.
“But the most damning of all is the security cameras. Wondering why Richard Davies isn't on there? Well, I contacted the security firm that is responsible for them. Guess who their IT provider is?”
“Rodgers and Davies Technology?” Andy said.
“And guess who arrived at their monitoring station just a few days ago for 'scheduled updates'?”
“Yep! Richard Davies. At first glance the recordings look fine, but under scrutiny they've clearly been altered to run a loop on the morning of the explosion.”
“Fuck!” Andy sighed, slapping his forehead and leaning back. “I guess I owe you an apology.”
“Nope, just an arrest. Oh, I also checked the online sellers for the bomb components and the wank toy, they were all posted to Davies' home address, just in case you needed one more nail for the coffin.”
Andy stood. “Lets go get him then.”
Richard Davies confessed almost immediately. He was obviously prepared for his plan to fail. Backed into a financial corner he had no plan B, no contingency. This was all or nothing.
As they watched the man get escorted into the back of a police car, Andy caught Lisa with a sombre look in her eye. “You okay?” he asked.
“I dunno, going through Mel's stuff was like deja-vu. He was a bit like me in a way. Then, when it looked as though he was the kind of arsehole I used to deal with as a kid, I could have handled his death, you know? But it turns out he was the kind of person who would have stood up for me, shot down those kinds of people. I just feel like we've lost someone important today.”
“Yeah. Well, at least we cleared his name I guess. Listen, Cummings?” Andy scratched the back of his head nervously. “There's something I've got to tell you.”
“Me and the boys, we're having a gaming night round mine this weekend. Putting our computers together on a LAN?”
“You're having a LAN party?” Lisa said, insulted. “Why didn't you tell me?”
Embarrassed, Andy continued. “I was worried the guys wouldn't like the idea of me inviting a girl round,” he sighed, a little ashamed. “But after all this, I realised I was being a bit of a dick in that regard. I'd be honoured if you and Bitch Brigade could join us.”
Lisa smiled, her confidence returning. “You know the real reason you didn't ask was because we're going to own you guys right?”
“That's it.” He laughed with relief, “that's the real reason.”
“Then it's on sucker!” she said, and after putting another lolly in her mouth, they bumped fists in solidarity, and for a fine weekend to come.
Copyright Jack Harvey 2014