The Silver Cross

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Chapter Fifteen

Mum had the next day off work for her visit to the CAB, and I helped her to get all the paperwork together that she might need, including the lists of burials from the Council. I also put the printout from the Land Registry in my school bag ready to give to Stephen Petrie. After all, Carly Richards had been grateful so hopefully he would be, too. I was in my lunch break when my mobile ’phone rang. It was Barry.

“Oh hello, is that Lacy?”

“Yes – oh hi, Barry, I was starting to wonder if you were okay?”

“I was,” he replied. “I’ve been away for a metal detecting weekend, but I’ve come back and found that somebody has taken the box of war archive records.”

“Have you had a break-in?”

“No, there’s no sign of that, somebody must have had a key. And the only people with a key are myself, David Pritchard and Security.”

“That’s a bit funny after our meeting with him on Friday.”

“Yes, and I think he’s the only person who would have known about those records and where they were kept, apart from me. And he also knew that I was going away for the weekend.”

“Oh no, so all that information has gone missing!”

“Well no, it hasn’t. That evening after I first spoke to you I took the books home with all the burials and hospital admissions in to have a look, and I’ve typed them up. It’s taken me a long time because I’m not the fastest typist in the world. I’ve still got them at home, and I was going to take them back after my weekend away, but I’m not going to now. Lacy, do you mind if I send you a copy of what I’ve done?”

“No, please do. Mum is going to go to the Police about her Mum, so that would be really useful.”

“Yes, good idea, I might do the same. You see, I think I’ve found something.”

“What’s that?”

“Oh, I’m not going to trouble you with it, you’ve got enough to sort out.”

“Please tell me.”

He hesitated. “No, it wouldn’t be fair. I just need to do a bit more investigating, and then I’m going to the Police myself.”

“Barry, I need to ask you something. Did you ever meet my Grandmother? She was a deaf lady, and I think she may have gone to the Library to look up her family tree. It would have been in around 1996 – her name was ‘Margaret Clark’.”

“Let me have a think.” He paused. “The deaf lady, I remember! She came into the Library and I had to write everything down for her on a piece of paper.”

“What did you write down?”

“Well, I gave her David’s telephone number, I think – yes, that’s right, along with details of our meetings. But she never turned up.”

“Barry,” I said, “the reason she never turned up was that she was knocked down and killed in the High Street by a hit and run driver.”

“Oh no, that’s terrible! Really sorry to hear that.”

“And remember what Mr Pritchard said, that Derek Duncan worked in the CCTV unit? Well, it happened on the one day of the year that all the cameras were out of action.”

There was a pause.

“I see. Are you making some kind of connection between what happened to your Grandmother and the Duncan’s?”

“Yes, I am,” I replied, “and you’ve just confirmed it for me. I think my Nan contacted David Pritchard somehow and gave him details of her story and he passed this on, or mentioned it, to his friend Derek.”

“And then somebody deliberately ran her over?”

I hesitated. “Yes,” I said finally.

“I see. I suppose it’s possible, considering what I’ve discovered.”

“Barry – would you be able to find out if it is Derek Duncan’s son, Terence Duncan, who works for the Council in Security? Because I think it’s also possible that he is connected with the missing files.”

“Well, I’ll definitely make some enquiries with some people I know – don’t worry, I won’t mention any of this to David.”

“Thanks a lot, Barry.”

“You will let me know when you receive my email, won’t you?”

“I will. I’ll check straight after school.”

“Thank you. And I’ll text you as soon as I find out anything.”

“Great! Thanks very much.”

He said goodbye and hung up. I felt a strange sort of thrill that I’d finally been able to tell somebody about what I’d been thinking, and they had taken it seriously. It was also as if a huge weight had been taken off my shoulders. I hadn’t felt able to share any of this with Karina or Annabel, and definitely not with my mother, although I knew I’d have to tell her eventually.

When I got home Mum was sitting in my bedroom and typing on the computer, so I asked her how she had got on at the C.A.B.

“It all went really well, Lacy,” she replied. “Especially when I showed her the photo printout of William. She said that heterochromia iridis was really rare and how could anybody say that I wasn’t related to this man?”

“And what did she say about the birth certificate mix-up?”

“She said I should go to the Police.”

“Oh, that’s good. Can I come with you?”

“I suppose it won’t hurt for you to miss an hour of school tomorrow. I would have gone tonight, but I’ve just had a telephone call from Tom. Apparently, the Council have put all the houses they own in Lavender Road up for sale. Tom gets a list from them each week to put up in the Library. So I’ve rung the C.A.B. back, and she advised me to contact the Adjudicator to the Land Registry.”

“Oh no! That must have been down to Mr Pritchard, he’s tipped off the Council that we are trying to get our house back. What a dirty trick!”

“And not very nice for anyone who buys it, because they are the ones who will lose their money if we get it back, not the Council.”

“We’ve got to stop them, Mum!”

“I know. So now I’ve got to sit here and write all this information down in an email and send it off to the Land Registry tonight.”

I helped Mum to write it and we spent ages sorting it out, but at last it did make sense and I was pleased to be able to help her. But by that stage I was absolutely desperate to check my emails, so when she had gone downstairs I logged straight on and found a message from Barry. It read:

“Hello Lacy, here’s the full list of all the names from the hospital and the ones who were buried. There’s quite a few discrepancies, which I’ve marked in bold. And by the way, you were right, Terence Duncan is Derek’s son. So if what you’ve told me is correct please be very careful. Derek may be an old man but Terence is very much alive and well. I would be grateful if you could confirm you have received this message.”

And then he had put his name and home address on the bottom. I emailed him straight back: “Thanks very much for this, Barry. Don’t worry about me, we are going to the Police tomorrow. Take care as well, Lacy.”

I opened up his attachments and read through them. Wow, I thought, there were twelve cases of where the names on the burials didn’t match up with the names on the hospital list. I printed it off and put it in my school bag. I would definitely show this to the police tomorrow. Then I also contacted Karina and sent her a copy of the list, and she said she was glad that I was finally going to the police, and she also told me to contact Carly Richards as she wanted to speak to me. That was easy as to do as Carly had emailed me on Chatbook, so I sent her a quick ‘hi’ to let her know I was home. There was no reply, so I checked on the Unwin and Brent family forums, but there were no more messages. Then I did a bit of internet research on identical twins, and had an idea about how Carol may be able to help us. I sent her a message:

“Dear Carol, it was lovely speaking to you the other day and hope you and the family are all well. We are busy saving our money up to hopefully visit you all soon. My Mum is trying to prove that we are related to John Unwin to try to get the house back, and I wondered if you would be able to get your DNA tested? Only it says on the internet that identical twins have the same DNA, and Mum has a lock of Margaret’s hair, so I’m sure we could prove that we are all related. I’m sorry to have to ask after only speaking to you once, so don’t worry if you don’t want to do it. Kind regards, Lacy.”

I was hungry by then so had something to eat downstairs and then went straight back onto the computer. There was a message from Carly waiting:

“Hi Lacy, thanks for the info about the house, my Dad is fuming and he’s setting up a pressure group called VOCAL, which stands for ‘Victims Of Councillor Action Litigation’ and he’s asked if your Mum wants to join. And he said if you find out any more information, please can you send it to us.”

Then she had put her main email address, so after a bit of thought I sent her the list of both the burials and the hospital lists and explained that Councillor Duncan had switched around some names in order to pretend people had died and for all we knew, there were other children who had been evacuated or put into orphanages when their parents had been killed so that he could get hold of their houses. To which she quickly responded,

“OMG! I hope you are going to the Police!“, and I replied, “Yes”.

Then I spent the rest of the evening regretting sending her the lists and thinking to myself, “OMG, what have I done now?”

When I finally managed to get to sleep I had a horrible and disturbing dream. I was back in the Library again and it was dark, and I was walking down the steps towards the tunnel and the Local History Society room. Suddenly, coming towards me was a man carrying a torch, and I saw that it was my Great Grandfather. I screamed, but he put his finger to his lips and shook his head. He looked very sad and serious, and somehow I knew that he wanted me to follow him and that I must not wake myself up. He led me through the dark tunnel towards the door of the History Society, which he pushed open. In my dream I gasped, as inside the room had been turned into a morgue looking just like I imagine it did during the war. It was lined not with books, but with rows of tables covered over with white sheets where the dead bodies were laid out.

I saw that there was only one body in there, on a table in the middle of the room. I stopped at the door because I didn’t want to get any closer, thinking it must be my Great Grandmother Catherine’s body in there, but John signalled that I had to come over. Slowly I crept closer and closer to the body on the table. He pulled back the white cloth and I saw that it was not my Great Grandmother at all, but Barry, laying there as if he were dead! At that point I really did scream out loud and instantly woke myself up.

I leapt out of bed, switched on the light and fumbled around searching for Barry’s card with his telephone number that he had given me a few days earlier. Then I quickly dialled his home number, where the telephone just rang and then connected to his voicemail. I rang his number again, desperate for him to pick up.

“Mum, come quick!” I shouted, while I waited on the ’phone.

I heard her calling back, “Lacy, are you all right?”

A few seconds later she burst into my bedroom, pulling on her dressing gown at the same time. “What is it? What’s wrong?”

I started crying. “I’ve just had a terrible dream, it’s Barry, I think he’s dead!”

“Who are you ringing?”

“His home number, but he’s not answering. Mum, what can we do?”

“I don’t know, Lacy, let me think. I don’t think we can call an ambulance or anything just because you’ve had a dream.”

“It wasn’t just a dream! I saw John, and he took me to the Library, and Barry was lying there dead on a table!” I was getting hysterical now.

“Okay, Lacy, calm down, let me think. I know, I’ll give Tom a call. He knows where Barry lives and he doesn’t live far from him either; I think he sometimes gives him a lift. Now, where’s my mobile?”

Mum went to her handbag and quickly retrieved it.

“Tom, is that you? Hi Tom, I’m really, really sorry to ring you at this hour but we think something’s happened to Barry from the Library. Well he’s not answering his ’phone and Lacy’s just had a horrible dream about him. I know, Tom, but if you don’t go round there then we’re going to have to do it. I know it’s a bit weird, but would you mind checking up on him, please? Oh thank you darling, that’s very sweet. I’ll keep my ’phone on and wait to hear from you. ’Bye love.”

All I could think of doing was keep ringing Barry’s telephone just in case he answered and I would know that he was all right, but he never did. We paced around the house waiting for a ’phone call back from Tom, and eventually he did ring and spoke for a while to my mother. In the end I had to interrupt,

“What’s happened?”

“Just a moment, Tom, I’ll let Lacy know.” Mum turned towards me. “He went round to Tom’s house and found the front door open, and when he went inside Barry was lying on the floor and it looks like he’s been attacked.”

“I knew it!” I exclaimed.

“Why did you think he’d been attacked?” she asked.

“Because he had something that somebody wanted – the burial and hospital records, Mum. And I think I know who did it!”

“Hold on, Lacy, let me speak to Tom. Did you hear that? Lacy thinks she knows something about it. The police are at his house? Well, I think I’m going to have to go to the Police station with Lacy now. Hold on.”

Mum went into the kitchen and shut the door. I heard her ask:

“Have you heard how Barry is? Oh, I see. She kept ringing him, yes. Oh dear. Good thing you turned up then. Okay, that’s very kind of you. See you in a minute then, ’bye.”

“Is Barry still alive?” I asked hopefully, as she came back into the living room.

“He’s been hit on the head and he’s in a coma. Tom doesn’t know any more than that.”

“Oh no, it’s all my fault!” I exclaimed, bursting into tears.

“No, darling, it can’t possibly be your fault,” said Mum hugging me close. “In fact, the policeman told Tom it looked like something had disturbed whoever it was, and when Tom said that you’d rung Barry’s number, they said maybe that had unnerved them and they ran off. And then the ambulance men told him that if he hadn’t got there when he did, Barry could have bled to death. So you might just have helped save his life.”

“I hope so, Mum, I really hope so.”

Mum pulled me towards her and looked at me.

“Tom’s coming round now to take us both to the police station, so I suggest you get dressed and get together anything that you might want to show the policemen when we arrive.” She gave me a knowing look. “Because it sounds as if you’ve not been telling me everything, but you’re going to have to tell them.”

I gave her a watery smile.

“Yes, Mum,” I replied hoarsely.

I went back into my room, quickly put my clothes on and printed off the copy of Barry’s email just as Tom pulled up downstairs. He then drove us rapidly to the police station, where we were shown into a side room, while the policeman on duty spoke with my Mum for a few minutes. She told him that I might have some additional information about the incident but was reluctant to tell her what it was. So they ended up asking for a female officer to interview me, and I had to let Mum listen as well or else they would have had to send for another responsible adult to sit in on the interview, and I really needed to tell them about Terence Duncan as soon as possible.

Needless to say, the next hour was the most gruelling of my life so far. I told them everything from the beginning, about why I thought Grandmother Margaret had been murdered by Terence Duncan: her search for her birth certificate at the Library and speaking to Mr Pritchard, who was a friend of Terence; Derek Duncan working in the CCTV unit at the time and them being out of action on the day she died; and a youth seen driving dangerously, who could have been Terence. And now Terence Duncan was working in security, and would have keys to the files in the Library, and Mr Pritchard may have told him that the missing information could be at Barry’s house, and he knew where Barry lived.

I couldn’t look at my mother while I was saying all this but heard plenty of gasps coming from her, and a few times the female police officer called ‘Wendy’, asked if she was all right to continue being present, to which Mum had to say out loud, ‘Yes’, as everything was being recorded as evidence. I then showed her the email from Barry telling me to be careful, which Wendy read out aloud as well. She asked me, “What do you think it was that Barry had discovered?” to which I had to admit that I didn’t know, but suspected it was to do with the names on the burial and hospital lists.

At the end of the interview Wendy asked the front desk officer to make us all cups of tea and biscuits, and she said to me, “Well done, Lacy. You’ve done a great job finding out all this information. Have you ever thought of becoming a police officer?”

I looked at her, smiled and said, “Yes I have,” to which she went off and found me a recruitment pack to read. I finally dared look at my mother, who came and sat next to me. She looked tired and drained, but managed to give me a little smile of encouragement as I read through the information about joining the police.

“Lacy,” she said finally, “you really should have told me all this. You must have been going through hell trying to keep it all bottled up.”

“I know, sorry Mum, but I really didn’t want to say anything until I was a hundred per cent sure. I was only certain yesterday, when Barry told me he had met Nan at the Library and told Mr Pritchard about her.”

Mum gave me a hug. I was too wound up to cry any more. I just wanted Barry to be okay and for the police to arrest Terence Duncan, because I knew I wouldn’t feel safe myself until they did. Finally, Wendy said we should go home, and Tom, who had waited patiently for us all this time, offered to stay with us the night because we were both a bit scared. He had been so kind getting out of bed and going to see Barry and then driving us about that I didn’t mind. I had sort of realised that Mum and Tom were an “item” by the way she had spoken to him on the ’phone, anyway.

When we got home I went straight to bed, but I heard Mum telling Tom quietly about what I had told the police about Nan. I didn’t want to hear any more so I pulled the duvet over my head and went to sleep.

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