Murder At St Marmaduke’s #7d

Chapter 7 continues. To read the first six chapters, please go to my website: http://www.colin-z-smith.com/masm.html. The first three parts of chapter 7 can be found below.

Chapter 7

Monday 4th November 1985: 16.20 – 17.15

Section (d)

Amita Chowdhary wandered away from Jack the Ripper Court, her mind playing over both interviews she’d conducted there.

She wasn’t happy with either of the mental recordings. For one thing, she wondered if she should have been firmer with Darren Chafford; she might have been able to shake his obviously absurd story if she’d shown more contempt, say.

And for the other thing…

Owen Sheadley, the Chaffords’ next-door neighbour, had confirmed that, yes indeed, Ronnie and young Darren had been with him for the whole of that morning, including whatever time it was that whatever it was had happened, wherever it had taken place.

And did she by any chance have a younger sister at home?

She could still feel her skin crawl at having been in the same room.

He hadn’t been too specific about what he and the Chaffords had been up to together, playing the ‘old man with a touch of the doolallies’ card. He had, however, been extremely specific about the age he wondered if her sister might be, and while the number only bordered on the illegal rather than crossing into it, the fact that he must be seventy years older than that made his enquiry sickening in the extreme.

That aside, he’d obviously been lying through his lack of back teeth about his morning’s activities. Unfortunately, she had, at least for the moment, to accept his word as proof of the Chaffords’ innocence.

The early-evening air was chilly, and she drew her coat snugly around her. She was only dawdling, reluctant to hurry back to a work situation where she felt as welcome as curry-flavoured ice cream.

Maybe she should seriously think about asking for a transfer to somewhere less white-centric. The trouble was, if she got the wrong place, she might well be stepping out of the frying pan into the roaring blaze.

Of course, she didn’t have to go back to the station quite yet. Not if she could find a reasonable excuse to stay out.

An area of further investigation would help. Naturally, the boss wouldn’t approve; but then, if it led to a breakthrough in the case, maybe one of the higher-ups would take notice and it might even be pursued properly.

And if it didn’t, she wouldn’t actually have to tell anybody. Even if the DI noticed her absence, she could blame it on a delay in the enquiry he’d given her.

She shivered as she realised how devious her mind was becoming. Was this really what being a copper was all about?

Uneasily, she shrugged the thought off and tried to concentrate instead on where to begin.

Really speaking there were two crimes to be solved. The murder and the robbery. The DI, in his muddle-headed, prejudiced way, was trying to pin both on Joseph Makumbo; but what if they were separate from each other?

Well – she’d failed to get anywhere with the latter; suppose she thought about the former for a while?

There was some woman involved, for example. She’d read the notes that Terrence Dawson and Sergeant Bulstrode had taken at the scene. The ones where Joseph Makumbo was adamant that a woman named…

Named…

Hettie, something. That was it. According to Joseph Makumbo, this woman, Hettie, killed the other one. That piece of evidence (if evidence it was, rather than blame-shifting) was being totally ignored at the moment.

Maybe she should try to ascertain Hettie Something’s exact role in proceedings.

But how? Her heart sank as she realised she’d have to go back to the station anyway, to find the woman’s surname and address. That was bound to mean getting sidetracked by some worthless job given to her on a whim, and she’d never get to Diamond Crescent at all.

She stopped dead.

Diamond Crescent? Why had she thought of Diamond Crescent?

But then – her eyes widened as she reflected on the idea – didn’t it make a kind of sense?

Diamond Crescent. Very smart, a collection of OAP bungalows looked after by the council, each with a small garden out front, most of them well-tended and blooming with flowers and shrubs.

It was the kind of road she could imagine an old, churchgoing lady residing in.

But where on earth had the idea come from to look there?

She shrugged. Did it matter? Even if there was nothing in it, it would keep her away from the station for a bit longer.

Okay. She crossed the road and began to head towards Diamond Crescent. She hadn’t a clue what number this Hettie might live at, if she lived there at all. But if it was meant to be, maybe something would turn up to give her guidance.

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