Paul’s heart was in his throat. Not now. Please don’t let anyone have gotten to Naomi. “What is it?” He asked, tense with fear.
“The missing person’s alert you had out on a Clive Lynd was just answered. A doctor from Bromley just phoned him in.”
Paul breathed out. “Ok. Is he alive?” He put on a fresh shirt. “I’m coming in.”
Half an hour later he was knocking on the door of a doctor’s office in Bethlem Hospital.
After the introductions had been made, Paul came to the matter at hand. “How long has Clive Lynd been here?”
“He was referred for acute psychosis on Wednesday morning”, the grey-haired lady behind the desk answered. She looked more like somebody’s grandmother than the head of the closed ward to Paul, but he was quite sure she was capable of the firmness necessary for her job.
“Why haven’t you contacted us earlier then?” Paul was flabbergasted.
Dr Jones shrugged. “We didn’t know he was the young man you wanted, he didn’t give a name, and I very much doubt he was sure what his name was up to today. I contacted you as soon as I had the name.”
“What is wrong with him?”
“I’m sorry, but that falls under…”
“No, it doesn’t. The young man’s father was brutally murdered, and I need information to make sure that no one else is hurt. If you tell me he was out and about last Sunday, he could be a suspect; we know he could have a motive. I need to talk to him rather urgently.”
After some more heckling back and forth Paul was led along to a room at the end of a second floor corridor where a young man was sitting, looking out the window in a dazed, clearly sedated way.
“Clive?” Dr Jones called. “This man from the police would like to talk to you. You don’t have to say anything if you don’t want to, or you can have me present while he talks to you. Are you fine with that?”
A tall, gangly young man got up from the chair he’d been sitting on shakily. His skin was sallow, and he looked in need of food and shaving. From his twitchy way of moving Paul gathered that drug use was part of the problem here. He introduced himself and shot the youngster a questioning look holding the other chair’s back.
Clive shrugged his shoulders, but pleaded with the doctor to stay.
Paul sat down and took a deep breath. “Mr Lynd, can you tell me where you were on Sunday night?”
The other’s face took on a confused expression, and he waved about the room vaguely. “Don’t know, around I guess, looking for money and hits.” He started scratching his arms nervously and Paul could see marks from multiple injections on both arms.
“Clive has agreed to rehab,“ Dr Jones said, following Paul’s eyes.
“That is not my main interest here,“ Paul said at once. “Clive, when did you last see your father?”
The young man turned deadly pale at once and started shaking slightly. “On… I think I saw him on Sunday, I needed money desperately, and I thought maybe he … I was scared.”
“Scared of what?” Paul frowned. Was the whole murder about this man’s attempt at extorting money from his father? He had seen drug-addicts’ murders before, there was no telling how violent they could become if they were on a bad trip.
“Of the monster.” The young man curled up in his chair as if he was trying to hide inside himself.
Paul blinked. “What monster?”
“The monster that’s always around her. I … heard him and I saw … You have no idea what he’s like.”
“Can you start at the beginning for me?”
“Beginning of what?”
“Sunday night. You decided to visit your father to ask him for money…”
“I said I was desperate. I thought maybe I could get Naomi to bring him round, she usually cooks Sunday dinners for him. She’s,“ he looked sly suddenly, “she’s very open about people like me. She’s given me money and stuff before.”
“Aha,“ Paul was trying to stay professional. So he had Naomi down as an easy touch and had probably been milking her for a while.
The young man sensed his disapproval and added. “I stayed away from her place after he told me to, but this was my father’s flat, so...”
Marcus, Paul nodded to himself. “And was she there?”
“No, but …he was. And I ran as fast as I could.”
Marcus had been at Lynd’s flat? Paul was confused. “You saw a man at your father’s flat?” Did they have an eyewitness? To Marcus killing Lynd? Paul shook his head. His instincts were usually quite good, and though he sensed that Marcus had been lying to him, it had not been when he denied killing Lynd.
“I… heard him, it was definitely him – the monster.”
Ear witness. “Would you recognise the voice?”
“Voice?” Clive sounded incredulous. “That was no voice.”
“Now I’m confused, but that happens,“ Paul smiled at him. “What did you do after you left?”
“I tried scrounging for money, but it didn’t work, so … I came back after some time… I thought…” He had the grace to look ashamed.
“You thought you could break into your father’s flat and get something worth selling”, Paul said tiredly, but kept an encouraging expression on his face. “It would come to you in any case, as his son…” He left the end open.
“Yes,“ the young man nodded eagerly. “He was a nightmare as a father, he stole my girl, and then … even at the end he only cared about her, told me to go to her, as if I could, with the monster… He owed me!”
The doctor was by now frowning at him. “Detective Usher, this is getting…”
He threw up his hands. “Do I look as if I’m interested in theft or drug taking?”
Clive Lynd had not even noticed their exchange, he was completely focussed on his memory of the night in question. “I went upstairs, and the door was open, I didn’t even have to break in…”
“What did you see?”
“I saw my father… he was hurt badly, his eyes were… empty. I’ve seen dead people before, there was nothing I could have done.”
“Did you take anything?” Paul asked softly.
“He had fifty quid in his grocery money jar, and I was really desperate…”
“Ok”, Paul was frustrated, but sensed there was not a lot he could do about getting this young man back into a normal life. However… “Why did you suddenly decide to check into hospital two days later?”
“I saw the monster again. I… I was so scared, and I thought that he wouldn’t be able to get me in a hospital… I don’t think they can go to hospitals. You can’t let him in here, you promised!” He had become very agitated, and Dr Jones signalled through the window in the door to an orderly outside.
“Wait!” Paul said. “You saw the killer again? Where?” Had he seen them after all?
“In Kensington, near Naomi’s house one night, I wanted to do what my dad told me, but he had said he would kill me if I hurt her, so I simply could not go to her.”
Paul frowned. What the hell was he on about?
Meanwhile the young man continued talking in an ever accelerating shrill voice. “He… took someone apart and fed on him. I don’t want that to happen to me, I’m never going there again in my life… Help me!”
An orderly came in and dosed the panicked man up with another sedative which left him slumped on the bed.
Paul left the room with the doctor.
“I think that was quite enough,“ Dr Jones was furious. “You can be sure I’ll have words about this with your superiors!”
“He obviously witnessed part of his father’s murder. I don’t like it, but it’s my job to deal with ugly things. Has he been saying any more about that monster?” How could a murderer have turned into a cannibal? That was quite a step, even for a drug-addled mind, and Paul was at a loss for what to do with that witness.
“He has been raving on about that since he got here. If you think your job is ugly, come here and do mine. You can come back with a court order, then – and only then – I’ll talk to you again. Good bye!” She left him standing.
Paul sighed, went back to the Yard and wrote a report on that botched witness interview, recommending another attempt at making Clive Lynd explain what he claimed to have seen. His attempt at finding a corpse around Kensington between Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning came up negative. So apparently the cannibal had been very thorough. Marcus had told him he’d had a run-in with Lynd junior, but Paul doubted very much that he had done anything to deserve being called a flesh-eating monster. He banged the door shut behind him and decided to get another job as soon as possible.
The only positive thing in his life at the moment was the date with Naomi that night, and he reasoned that he’d better work off some of his frustration or he wouldn’t be good company and ruin everything.
So he spent the next two hours at his gym and still running over the problem with the timeline. Bits and pieces from yesterday’s conversations came back to him, and the repetitive rhythm of his activities made them turn over and over again until finally something connected.
Paul dashed home from the gym and started the computer to confirm his idea only to be disappointed again. No, it had been April 6th when the plane crash occurred in Rwanda, which had set off the civil war and ensuing genocide engulfing the resource-rich region in warfare for the next decade.
Back to square one. Paul sighed. That would have been too easy anyway, he told himself. Then his brain made another connection: Rwanda – his sister going to Rwanda in autumn with her journalist husband – his sister’s birthday last week – call Tessa and ask her about the damn date.
He was lucky; it took only four attempts to reach his busy sister, who was overjoyed that her little brother had for once remembered to call her in time. However, when asked about the date, she could only confirm that the fatal day had been the 6th.
Paul hung up and went to shave – somehow that had not taken place in some days – and take a shower, the facility at his gym was not one he liked to use. He was still deciding what to wear when the phone rang.
“Paul, I’ve just remembered something”, Tessa, slightly out of breath.
“What?” Jeans? No Jeans? Shirt? Tie? Maybe check the restaurant first. Let’s hope they were on the net. What would she be wearing? His mind trailed off…
“Paul, are you listening?”
“Yes, sorry, Tessa.”
“Ok, it might have nothing to do with your stuff, but as it was the day before mum’s 50th birthday, I thought you probably remember too that there was some big uproar at dad’s office that day. He was almost too distraught for her birthday party. Ask him!”
Now Paul remembered. Their father had been even more distant and preoccupied than usual, and father and son had ended up not talking to each other for months after Paul had found his mother crying about the ruined party. “Tessa, I’m not sure that would be a good topic for a conversation between us.”
“I agree; it was just something that popped into my head when you talked about April ’94. It’s probably nothing to do with each other anyway.”
“What?” Curious. Her brother had sounded better than he had in months.
“If you went on a first date with me, what should I wear?”
Oh, finally. Good for him. She thought briefly, then answered. “A dark blue shirt to show off your eyes. One that you have not slept in. Good luck!” He could almost hear her smile. “Well, take care, little brother! And call me!” She rang off.
He was still debating calling his father when he noticed the time. That had him changing into high gear, and when he turned up on Naomi’s doorstep his hair was still glistening wetly.