I was on holiday this week and for the first time I crossed the border – the Scottish border. There are plenty of remote spots in Scotland and we chose one of them – the Morvern peninsula, looking across the Sound of Mull. Apparently fewer than 300 people live on the peninsula which has an area of at least 400 square miles. That’s plenty of space to be alone with one’s thoughts. One thought or perhaps a set of them was what is it like to live in a community that means neighbours are the people twenty miles away, the nearest town, Fort William, is fifty miles and there is probably more social life going on across the water on Mull. And yet, wifi in the cottage was good, newspapers appeared in the village shop by noon, the post was collected every morning, and the roads, though single track with passing places, were notably lacking in potholes unlike at home in Herefordshire. To conclude, a great place for a holiday, but not sure if I’d want to live there.
Relaxing means writing as far as I am concerned, so despite the vacation, here’s the next episode of Perspective, the prequel to Painted Ladies.
Perspective: Part 8
The teenager looked out from under the hood of his sweat shirt. He stiffened but didn’t run.
‘You! Wha’ do you wan’?’
‘I want to talk, Nate. Find out what really happened on Friday night. How did Wizzer really get killed?’
Nate pushed himself away from the wall and leaned towards Jasmine.
‘This is ‘arrassment. I told that woman detective, that proper woman, wha’ ‘appened.’
‘Well, tell me again. How did Wizzer get knifed? Why did you run away, a tough street boy like you, Nate? Hero of how many muggings?’
‘I don’t have to. She said you were off the case. You’ve got no right to ask me questions. You’re a fake. A fake woman and a fake copper.’ He shoved Jasmine in the chest and ran off.
Jasmine was about run after him, to grab him and make him tell her the truth, but she didn’t know how to do that. Not when she didn’t have the authority of the police service behind her. She did follow him, at a walk, and saw him turn off the pavement and into one of the houses. Jasmine walked up to the house, stopped and looked at it. It was well-looked after, with freshly painted window frames and curtains at the windows. A face appeared at one of the bedroom windows, before moving away.
‘Got you,’ Jasmine whispered, ‘I know where you live now, Nate.’ She turned away and walked the streets back to where she had left her car.
Back in the flat she couldn’t settle. She wanted to be active, working on the case, any case, but could not think what she could do. There was only one solution when she felt like this. She changed into her running kit and set off on her accustomed route. Ten k or so, largely along the canal towpath, deserted at this time of year, usually calmed her down and answered the questions she had posed herself.
She felt as though she had come to some sort of a decision as she turned into the car park outside her block of flats. She was hot, sweaty and breathing a little faster than when she was at rest but felt good. The sight of a police car parked alongside an unmarked but familiar Ford Mondeo made her halt with her heart beating faster than it had throughout the run. She mounted the steps to her flat.
‘Hi, Tom. What brings you here?’
Tom Shepherd and the uniformed police officer turned away from her front door. Both examined her.
‘There you are, Jas.’ Tom said, his voice flatter than usual. ‘We were looking for you.’
‘Well, here I am; minding my own business; keeping myself fit.’
‘But you haven’t been, have you?’ Tom said
‘What? Keeping fit?’
A pained expression passed across Tom’s face. ‘Don’t be silly, Jas. You know what I mean. You’ve haven’t been minding your own business.’
‘Haven’t I?’ Jasmine tried to look innocent but she knew she wasn’t succeeding.
‘We’re here to arrest you for impersonating a police officer.’
‘I am a police officer.’
‘Not when you’re suspended, Jas.’ Tom nodded to his companion, ‘Arrest her.’
The uniformed police constable recited the familiar rights of the accused and the charge then reached for Jasmine’s arm. Jasmine shook him off.
‘This is her doing, isn’t it? Palmerston’s.’
The officer reached out again and took a firm grip on Jasmine’s left arm.
‘She had no choice, Jas. Mrs Gayle complained about you pestering her son.’
‘Pestering! I had a few words that’s all.’
‘And you just happened to be on the estate where Nate and his friend lived. Come on, Jas.’
Jasmine shook her arm but the grip on it was firm.
‘Alright, Tom. I understand, you’re just doing your job, but can I get changed into something more suitable before you lead me off to the cells.’
‘You know that’s not usual, Jas.’
‘It is necessary for me. Come on Tom. I’m not a criminal.’
Tom looked undecided. He looked at the constable who remained impassive then shrugged.
‘OK but be quick. Denise won’t like it if she thinks we’ve been soft on you. She was furious.’
The policeman released her arm and Jasmine fumbled her key out of the bag fastened around her waist. She inserted it in the door lock.
‘I’m sure she was,’ she said pushing the door open. ‘Come in. Make yourselves comfortable. Make a coffee if you like, Tom. You know where everything is.’
‘We haven’t got time for coffee,’ Tom said following her into the living room. ‘You’ve got five minutes no more.’
His tone of voice convinced Jasmine that while Tom didn’t like what he was doing she could not push their friendship much further. She ran into her bedroom tearing her running gear off. A minute under the shower, another minute drying, a couple of minutes dressing in a jumper and knee-length linen skirt (she knew that cells weren’t always comfortably warm) and a few more minutes doing her make-up.
She emerged into the living room. ‘There!’
Tom looked at his watch. ‘That was ten minutes not five. Come on.’ Jasmine followed him out of the flat not bothering to pick up her bag. It would have to be handed over in the police station. She locked the door and followed the police officers to the police car. Another uniformed officer was sitting in the driving seat. The rear passenger door was opened and Jasmine got in. They drove off with all three of them keeping their thoughts to themselves.
They entered the police station through the rear entrance into the custody suite. It was a strange experience seeing the familiar procedure from the point of view of the accused. She knew the custody sergeant, not well, but well enough to exchange greetings on normal occasions. Now he acted as if they had never met, going through all the questions and checks. In a short time she was shown into a cell and the door closed behind her. There was a heavy clunk of bolts locking into place.
Jasmine sat on the plastic shelf that performed the role of a bed without a mattress, pillow or blankets. The cell was bare and despite the warmth of the air felt chill. The hard surfaces made every sound reverberate; the same effect as singing in bathroom. Not that she felt like singing. She realised that this was probably the final straw for Sloane. If she didn’t get booted out of the Force then he wouldn’t keep her on his team but she wasn’t going to give Palmerston the satisfaction of having her formerly sacked. She had already decided what to do on her run and this incarceration just confirmed it for her. If she had the opportunity she would resign and set herself up as a private detective. There must be all sorts of cases for her to investigate around Kintbridge. She knew that most of them would involve a husband or wife who had lost the trust of their spouse but maybe there would be business partners who had suspicions about each other’s honesty. She knew it would be difficult to get started but surely she had the knowledge, the skills and the contacts to make it work. One thing troubled her – would her provisional status as a woman hold her back. No, she wouldn’t let it.
The sky,, glimpsed through the high window darkened but she passed the time planning her future, fantasising over the cases she might get. She was barely aware of how much time had gone by when the locks clunked and the door swung open. Tom stood by the door.
‘You can go, Jas,’ he said.
Jasmine stood up and smoothed her skirt down her thighs.
‘What do you mean, I can go? I haven’t been interviewed yet or written a statement.’
‘That doesn’t matter for now, Jas. Denise says the charge will be kept pending for a while.’
‘What on earth do you mean by that Tom? What’s Palmerston up to? If she wants to accuse me, she can get on with it.’
‘She doesn’t have time at the moment, Jas, so unless you want to stay here for the night you can go home.’
‘Why is she busy? What’s up Tom?’
Tom stepped inside the cell and whispered, ‘I shouldn’t be telling you this but we’ve got the drag queens.’
‘Really? That didn’t take long.’
Tom bent his head to talk conspiratorially. ‘Once we got the CCTV photos of them they were soon identified by other people who had been in the pub that were known to the landlord. Denise has arrested them on the charge if murder.’
‘So she thinks this pair of queens, on a night out, deliberately attacked and killed Wizzer.’
Tom shrugged. ‘That’s just about it.’
Jasmine stepped passed Tom. ‘Well, she’s wrong.’ She marched down the corridor to the custody desk.
……… to be continued.