Chapter 49 - The Case of Rose Symonds
So I wasn’t all that surprised when, the next morning, a sort of largish woman in her late fifties turned up. I was basically certain that she was Julie’s scary boss.
“Good morning, Dear,” she said as she came bustling into the room. She had this whole ‘cloud of self importance’ thing going on, basically making it quite clear that she had much more important things to do than to talk to me.
“Good morning, Dear,” I allowed Ro to reply.
But I did keep smiling though.
“Young Lady!” I could tell that she was only… like… pretending to be shocked. “I expect to be treated with some respect!”
“So do I, Somewhat Older Lady,” I replied, making sure that Ro stayed friendly and polite. “So do you think we should both try to avoid the use of patronising terms of endearment?”
I mean… she looked as if she was about to start spitting nails but I basically knew she wasn’t going to go hanging me from the light fittings by my eyebrows or anything so I could stay pretty relaxed about the whole thing.
At last she got herself back under control and glanced down at her efficient looking clipboard. “Very well, Ms Symonds…”
“Excuse me but I’m certainly not a ‘Ms’. Never have been, never will be. It’s ‘Miss Symonds’…” then I decided it was time to give her a little bit of something… I’m nice like that! “But you may call me Rose if you wish.”
“Thank you, Rose…” She paused for a bit, obviously rethinking her whole, ‘dealing with me’ thing…. “and you can call me Margaret.”
I decided not to correct her grammar. I sort of guessed she wouldn’t like it.
She sat down in the chair next to my bed without being invited and I chose to let that one go. But when she put her phone on the bedside cabinet and turned on a voice recorder, I felt I was allowed to be rude again.
So I pointed at the thing and mimed turning it off. I even did the zipping thing across my lips again.
’You’re just being silly now,” she snapped. “This is customary departmental practice.”
I just gave a shrug.
She glared at me but I just gave her a bit of a smile thing. At last she gave in and turned the thing off.
“I wouldn’t have minded if you’d asked for my permission,” I explained gently. That didn’t seem to make her feel any better and she pretty much had steam coming out of her ears as she hauled a notepad and pen out of her bag.
“We need to know where you’ve been for the last six months,” she informed me. She was obviously having to work hard to keep her temper under control.
“Do you?” I replied.
“Please answer the question!” she growled.
“It wasn’t a question,” I explained. “It was a statement.”
She glared at me. This was fun!
“Where have you been for the last six months, Rose?” she asked through gritted teeth.
I had to have a little think about that. “I’m going to choose not to answer that question…”
“Just tell us where you were and stop wasting everyone’s time, Rose!” Her voice was rising and she was turning a bit red.
I did my master’s pause with the head on one side thing… I thought she might find it entertaining… and I even threw in a little bit of eyebrow work.
“As I told your colleague, I’m going to choose not to answer that question because there is an argument that what some of the other parties involved did was formally against the law and I have no wish to incriminate them.”
“So you were with a man,” Margaret interrupted.
“I did not say that,” Ro answered carefully. “I may have been living in a yurt in darkest Peru with a group of Trappist Nuns.”
I quite like that one but I could tell she basically didn’t really enjoy it all that much. She went quiet for a bit as she tried to get herself back under control.
“You’re going to tell us where you were eventually,” she told me. The way she said it sounded almost menacing
So I looked her in the eye and asked, “Why?”
“People were worried about you.”
I gave her a look and tried to copy my master’s eyebrow twitch thing. “Who?”
She consulted her notes. “Your mother.”
“The borderline alcoholic mother who still hasn’t even seen fit to…” pause… “visit me here yet?”
She was getting totally flustered now. She looked back at her notes but I knew that she wasn’t going to find anything there to help her.
“You put the authorities to a great deal of inconvenience,” she snapped at last.
Another pause, another eyebrow twitch. “Perhaps those selfsame…” pause… “authorities should have paid a little more attention when I was growing up with the said alcoholic mother,” I suggested mildly. “Maybe much of that…” pause… “inconvenience could have been avoided.”
She looked at her clipboard again and decided to change tack. “Where did the money come from, Rose?” she asked.
“Why have you been going through my personal possessions?”
“We had to find out where you’ve been.” She didn’t do a terribly good job of hiding her smirk.
“Do you often find people write their addresses on bank notes?” I asked, all innocently.
“Is it stolen? We may have to take it away from you.”
“Should you have any…” pause… “evidence that it was stolen, I’m sure you will present it to the court when you attempt to sequestrate it.” Of course ‘sequestrate’ was one of the words from my vocabulary list. I was really starting to enjoy this!
“I ask again. Where did the money come from?”
“I was given it by a friend, together with the book and Mr Orange, the orangutan,” I said at last. Another significant pause. “I presume that it’s the same person who is paying my hospital bill.”
It didn’t take all that much guessing for me to work out who was footing the bill for this really posh, private hospital!
“That bill is being paid through a firm of solicitors and they refuse to give out their clients details without a court order,” she snapped. I guess that means I just hit a sore point.
“Well, that’s the way to go then, isn’t it?” I said gently. “All you have to do is obtain that court order and everything…” I left one of Mr M’s little pauses for her to enjoy… “will become crystal clear. Of course, you would probably have to find some sort of evidence of a crime first. Courts tend to be tediously fussy about that sort of thing, I understand.”
She looked totally flustered and returned to her notes.
“Incidentally, thank you for providing that particular nugget of information. I now know whom I have to contact should you make any attempt to sequestrate my assets.” This was so much more fun than doing Ro’s surly thing.
That was too much for her. “Rose!” she pretty much exploded. “Unless you start being significantly more cooperative, you might find that we have to take you into social care… away from your mother.”
OK. That one shocked me and I needed every one of my master’s lessons to keep a grip on myself.
At last I…. like… trusted myself enough to talk. “You are a truly vile and despicable harridan,” I managed at last, speaking slowly and sort of putting stress on every word. “I am not under any illusions as to the fitness of my mother to be a guardian… and I am not particularly worried if you choose to ‘take me into social care’, however…” and I left this long pause thing but she didn’t dare say anything… “the authority to take children away from their parents is entrusted to you by society to be used solely to protect children from the immediate danger of serious harm. To use it as a threat to attempt to coerce my cooperation in that way is utterly… utterly despicable.”
I left another little pause.
“This conversation is now at an end and I will never speak to you again. I have powerful contacts, starting with the hospital authorities and the solicitors you mentioned. I will be using them to follow up on your use of that threat. Now…” and I couldn’t stop myself… “go to hell!”
And that was Rose talking not Ro…
And I knew my master would… like… totally approve…