Having left the experts Scene of Crime specialists recovering Bobby’s body from the canal and securing the scene of crime, Roche returned to the station.
He was immediately summoned to the Superintendent’s office which he eventually did, but, as usual, not with any great speed or alacrity. He saw no need to pander to Griffin’s ego.
“Well, John, this is a sad day, a very sad day! Do we have any information?”
“Not really, it is early days - they’ve only just removed the body from the canal.”
“I will make the visit to Mrs Shillington - perhaps Chief Constable
Jenkins should come too. It’s not every day - thank goodness - that we have one of our own …. we lose one of our own.”
Roche always got angry when people pussyfooted around the realities of life and itched to yell at Griffin that Bobby had been murdered. He had not been ‘lost’ as though he was like some bloody boy scout who got himself lost in the forest! Why could these people not grasp reality. To say he was lost, made him no less dead. It did not alter the circumstances in any way - it just demonstrated their inability to face facts.
Luckily he restrained himself, which was as well, because at that moment Superintendent Griffin was contemplating whether he had been over-protective by not suggesting that Roche should visit Elizabeth Shillington too. He had originally decided not to involve Roche because he was not good in such circumstances and he was likely to say quite the wrong thing to a grieving woman. He was torn between his belief that it was part of Roche’s duty to make the visit, and the fear that he might/could be tactless and undiplomatic. Since Roche seemed to be in a relatively sensible state of mind, Griffin bit the bullet and said “I think you should come too, John. Robert was one of your team. You have a responsibility - and it is necessary to do these things, unpleasant as they are - it comes with the territory, I am afraid.”
John made no demur. He had already made up his mind to go anyway - though he would have preferred not to have been part of a delegation. The Chief Constable, the Superintendent, and himself, that was surely overkill - even in his thoughts he winced at the use of the word. Well if he had to, he would. This was not the time to dig his heels in. He needed to get it over with and back out on the streets. There were now two murders to solve. But at least he knew now what the situation was with regard to the O’Dwyers - and sad to say, they all looked in the clear. Well in the clear of Bernadette’s death, and presumably of Bobby’s, because they were definitely not in the country at the time, and now, and the reason for their decampment en masse seemed - for them - perfectly within character.
Later that morning, the grand entourage turned up at the home of Elizabeth Shilllington. The home that she had shared with her husband Robert for exactly seven years, and which she had lived in even prior to that as a girl, right up to her parents’ deaths, one from cancer, when she was 19, and one with early onset dementia and finally from a stroke, when she was just 22. She had known a lot of sadness. She had lost one baby through miscarriage, and had one baby still-born. Her surviving child, the joy of her life, Rosie, had Down’s Syndrome, but was otherwise fit and well, and a true comfort to her mother. Without Rosie, as Elizabeth would tell everybody, she would have gone mad, more particularly as Robert had spent a lot of hours working, seemingly at the beck and call of his boss, John Roche, who was a rude, boorish, slave driver! Elizabeth Shillington truly hated John Roche.
They walked up the short path, letting the small gate clang behind them. Three figures stood on the cramped doorstep: two in uniform, and ….to her sincere distaste …. HIM!
She looked at them, dry eyed. She was a woman who had known great heartbreak, and did not show her feelings to anybody - her distress that is, her anger that was something else!
“I don’t want him in here! He is not welcome”. She pointed at Roche who stood behind the two suited and booted representatives of the establishment.
Superintendent Griffin, though obviously taken by surprise, felt he could not argue with this woman - newly widowed, and on her own doorstep - and in any case fleetingly registered a hint of satisfaction and justification in his eyes. The Jenkins merely looked taken aback and somewhat embarrassed.
All three looked at Roche who stood his ground momentarily, but even he realised that this was not the time nor place to argue. He said nothing, but turned and walked back down the track, intending to return, on his own, as he had intended to do in the first place. She might still not wish to let him in, but he owed it to Bobby to make the effort. His embarrassment and aggravation was nothing in comparison to what she had suffered, and the fate of his colleague. Pushover and wimp he might have been, but he had paid the ultimate price for his dedication to his job. Bloody Bobby! Stupid, silly, infuriating sod! Just like him! Cut up rough and go into a strop about a bloody trip to Leeds, and then buggering off on his own without telling anybody to do some digging around the city! Nobody knew where he was. Sharon and John assumed he would go back to his desk - to sulk, or to get more and more fearful that he had blown his career; Steve and Amanda would think that he had gone with John and would not give a second thought to him. He had been out on his own, ill-prepared and vulnerable. He was so bloody soft - an easy punch-bag! No wonder he was a willing slave under Lizzie’s thumb!
All of this Roche mulled over as he walked back to the office. Part of him, though, without ever daring to acknowledge the fact, in his heart of hearts had a yearning to be under somebody’s thumb, at least some of the time. Oh, to have somebody in his life who mattered to him and who cared whether he lived or died.
He had shaken off that mawkish and unfamiliar melancholy by the time he arrived. Sharon and Steve had been working away, researching leads, once more going over events to see whether anything had been missed.
Enquiring about Amanda, Roche was reminded that she was now on annual leave for four days - she was decorating her new flat, apparently. Roche had a sad thought acknowledging that Bobby would never have gone on annual leave in the middle of such a major operation. Even if he had booked it, he would have cancelled. That was the way he was. It was a nasty thought to consider that the first time he broke that rule, he died because of it. Roche quickly cast such thoughts out of his head. They were unhealthy and unhelpful. He went back to his considered state of non-involvement. Once again the hard man, the man with no heart, the man with no consideration for anybody, probably not even himself.
“Right Sharon, Stevo … where are we now! Let’s just recap, can we?”
Sharon shifted her chair so that she did not have her back to either Roche or Steve, and started to outline the information that they knew for certain:
“Right, Well. Jim Kelly made the telephone call. He said he spoke to her, left her, then discovered her body when he returned in that direction some half an hour or forty minutes later;
“She had not long been dead then - perhaps an hour and a half, say, by the time SOCO arrived …. By which time you were already there. …… Oh, that reminds me, they were trying to reach you yesterday - Amanda left a note - they want to speak with you ASAP. Not a clue what about ... perhaps they have found something on the body, or in the photographs?
“Anyway …. We now know that the O’Dwyer clan are off squabbling over Daddy O’Dwyer’s Will - he was 97 when he died, and a wily old bugger who has stitched them all up, and left a lot of the property to some fancy woman that he had on the side for fifty years of more! As you said, they are not in Tobermorey, but as Tubbercurry. Bernadette had some kind of shenanigans going on that she couldn’t leave when they drove off, but was due to fly over on the morning she was found. We have not found a plane ticket either on her person, or in the house, but in all likelihood she was picking it up at the airport, or somebody was due to drive her there and had it. Anyway, they were not surprised when she did not land and assumed something had cropped up. They had other things on their minds Apparently there is mayhem going on - or so the lot in Leeds have reported. The only family members left behind in Leeds are two of the nephews who were trying to pretend they were in charge of things. According to the managers, they are both about as much use as a chocolate fireguard! They were initially throwing their weight about and getting in the way, but then got bored, stopped turning up and when they did they just mirrored the in-fighting which is presumably going on in Ireland. The nephews are the sons of opposing brothers, apparently, and so the bad-feeling has crossed the sea!
“There is no new news about Bobby. We have all possible sources out looking for Mo and Vasile. Somebody has spoken to Clive who confirms that he spoke to Bobby, but was not able to tell him anything because he does not know anything. He had read of ‘some old biddy’s murder’ on the news, but had not taken any real notice - probably a mugging, he thought. Nothing had come via the jungle drums …. So he had no information to sell. Apparently Bobby gave him a few bob anyway, just to keep him informed, if and when.
“Significantly, perhaps, Vasile, according to his girlfriend, has not been around for over ten days - she says she thinks he has gone ‘back home’. More likely he is up to no good somewhere. She may be lying of course. We can check whether he left the country - or if anybody has seen him. But …. the significance is the ‘ten days’. Why would she give him so much of an alibi? We are only interested in a couple of days - Bernadette O’Dwyer on Tuesday, and Bobby yesterday - that’s only three days max. I don’t think they are scared about the murders. I think something else is on their radar. Something completely different to the murders. That or he really is out of the country and has been for a while. Unless of course he has just gone for good, or somebody has seen him off? Could we have another ‘crime boss’ headline on the horizon? What if we have some kind of vigilante nut job out there? What if Bobby just asked the wrong person the wrong question? Mo is a bit like a vigilante - in his own way?”
With that Roche got up suddenly and left the room. He needed time to digest where they were and was not in the mood to have a conference about any of it until he had cleared his own head. He decided that he would go down and see what SOCO had to tell him. There must be something new and of real significance - which would be good - or they would not have been trying to talk to him directly. They could just have told the elusive Amanda, or Sharon, or Steve, what was afoot.
He sauntered in and was surprised when the normally jovial and joking duo in the front lab seemed almost embarrassed to see him, and looked at one another in a very peculiar way, before greeting him.
“Good morning, John. How goes things?”
Not one for small talk, and in any case picking up a very unfamiliar vibe around the place, Roche became wary, which translated as irritated.
“Well you’ve been chasing me, so what do you want?” No good morning, nothing of his normal greeting. He was never ebullient, but he was usually pleasant and even-tempered when he visited them, because he admired what they did, and the value of their role to the success of his own. He had a sound appreciation of science and physical evidence. He valued it much more than the airy fairy ‘he said’, ‘she said’ and ‘he thought’ and ‘she thought’ hearsay - none of which served him well, he found, when he tried to piece things together. Science would always outweigh everything else for Roche.
The main guru in the forensic team, Michael Draper, decided the direct approach was the only one possible. He was not looking forward to telling the man, but there was no escape. He had a piece of science to pass on which they had checked and double checked, and though it made no sense whatsoever, they had reluctantly come to the conclusion that it was FACT! But it was embarrassing, certainly it was. And John Roche was not going to be pleased. Would it be a shock for him? Perhaps he already knew? Either way, he would not react well to them spelling it out for him …. But …Here goes ....
“John, well. We have a bit of a puzzle on our hands! We did DNA, as you know, and took swabs from anybody who had been on the scene, or likely to have touched the body - even James Kelly, once he had been traced as the telephone caller.
“Yes, well …. That’s very interesting, Michael, but what was the rush to get me down here?”
Once again, the two men looked at one another.
“John, do you remember that we needed to check everybody’s DNA when we had that internal incident last year - and you ended up arresting George Cooper?”
“Yes, so what? Stop feckin about Michael, and get to the point … what has that got to do with anything?”
Michael suddenly lost courage and despite very dirty looks, followed by muted clucking noises from his colleague, Frank Donaldson, he decided that discretion was the better part of valour and backed away from a potentially volatile conversation.
Nothing … Sorry, John …. It was nothing …. I thought I had a lead on your murder case, but I think I should just double check first before I send you off on a wild goose chase …. “
“OK. For Christ’s sake, Michael, could you not have just rung upstairs and said it was OK. I have enough on my plate without you fucking about!” With that, he turned on his heel and marched away.
Frank looked daggers at Michael and moved his arms like flapping wings muttering “Well that was brave!”
Michael reacted angrily and said “Well I didn’t see you falling over yourself to tell him!” With that Michael Draper took off his white lab coat and decided that, though it was only 11.30, it was definitely lunch time. He might feel braver after a burger and a pint of lager. He was no drinker, but he was somebody who had a keen interest in his own safety - but the DNA information was important - even if it was explosive!
Roche returned to the office where he learned that the Superintendent had drafted in some extra help from neighbouring forces, and that Sharon had gone off with somebody called Sarindar to see if she could track down either Mo or Vasile. Steve was down at the front desk talking to some of the uniforms who had been out on the streets and who were now at the end of their shift. Roche was not best pleased that Griffin had brought in help without his nod, but realised that they were obviously going to be hard pressed to cope with two murder enquiries - even if they were very likely connected. They had meagre resources at the best of times and now particularly with Amanda off. Steve had tried to get Amanda back ‘from her decorating’ but had been informed by her partner that she was too ill to see him. She had, apparently, hurt her back falling off a ladder and was now signed off sick - and likely to be so for quite some time.
Under normal circumstances, Roche would have been delighted with this news, and encouraged her absence the longer the better. They had never really got on, but more because he had never made the effort than there was anything particularly unlikeable about Amanda. She was quiet - unlike Sharon - and she tried too hard to please. Obsequience was a failing Roche found very hard to forgive. He railed at confrontation, but tended to get over it quickly, and reach a state of mutual respect with those who challenged him. Arse-licking, though, was his particular turn-off and he found ‘quiet’ people who did not speak up for themselves, alien and unnerving. Under the present circumstances, though, he thought that at least she could have run liaison within the office whilst the rest of them were out on the streets. She could have done a lot of the computer-based enquiries which would now take other people’s time. Well, if she was that disloyal, he hoped she never returned. Anybody that knew him, might have warned her to stay away as long as possible - forever if she was of a nervous disposition or cried easily!
As he was thinking this, who should walk into the office, but the subject of his curses, Amanda.
“What are you doing here? I thought you were at death’s door and confined to home?”
“I am, officially, but I thought I could at least hold the fort here - if I sit down, and have a wander around the office now and again, it will be OK - and I want to be here - I was devastated about Bobby - John, please let me stay …. I can do the liaising, the paperwork, the office-based enquiries …. Please!”
Well, don’t come moaning at me if you make your injury worse! Roche was thrown by her sudden appearance in the middle of his own recriminations and cursing. Here she was of her own volition, standing in the office - if he was capable of feeling embarrassed, he would have reddened up. He was more concerned though about her physical appearance. She really did look bad - she looked as though she had done several rounds in the boxing ring. He was not at all sure that you sustained those kinds of injuries falling off a ladder - unless the ladder was two storeys high!
“What the hell did you do anyway? That must have been a bloody long ladder!”
Amanda had waited to sneak out of the house until Graham had gone to work - he was head of security at the local university. He had warned her, as usual, to stay indoors and not to talk to anybody. This had worked before, so he had no real concerns. He would come home full of apologies, and with a bunch of flowers and a promise to take her out for a ‘slap up meal’. The irony of the ‘slap up’ never seemed to dawn on him.
She had fully intended not to say anything. It was her problem and the team had enough sadness without her adding to their worries. But when Roche asked her with that sneer in his voice, she found herself saying”
“I walked into a pair of boots - and a couple of fists actually!” At which point she fought hard to not cry and turned her back on him, reaching for the chair and pretending to be busy getting herself sorted in order to start work.
What the …. Are you saying somebody did this to you
“It’s all right - forget I said it, John. I am just feeling a bit sorry for myself - but I really do want to help out here and would feel terrible to be stuck at home and not doing what I can, for Bobby.” With that she clammed up and started to put in passwords, and sort through messages and make every effort to distance herself from her now regretted outburst.
Roche knew that they had a lot of things to do, and he had wasted a lot of time already, with the Superintendent, and with bloody Michael Draper, so he decided to let it go. But he had certainly registered the situation, and would return to it when time permitted later on - certainly before the day was out, and before Amanda returned home…...Home? John Roche had suffered his fair share of ‘homes’ where people used their fists and their boots, and there was no way he was going to let it go - but at the present time, he had other fish to fry. Whether Amanda regretted her words or not, she had certainly gone past the point of no return. Roche did not forget - and much less forgive - such wrongs.
As he left the office, he called Steve on his mobile. Steve had been the person who called at Amanda’s house in order to see if she could come back to work under the circumstances. He had spoken to the partner. What sort of bloke was he? Steve responded quickly.
“Stevo, I’m just off out again. Amanda is in the office - she’s going to hold the fort and liaise.”
Bloody hell - did he let her out then!”
“I wanted to ask you about that. What sort of man is the partner - what’s his name, Graham, is it?”
“A big bloke - glared at me when I went around there. There was no way I was getting through the door. I was surprised - she’s such a quiet woman - and he seems, well, full of it. In uniform, he was - some kind of security guard, I guess, and full of his own importance - full of shit!”
“Thanks. That fits. When you see her, don’t say we have spoken, do you hear. Try and get her to talk a bit about her injuries. I know we have more pressing work to do, but …. Well you’ll understand when you see her. I’ll catch up with you later.”
Michael Draper, returning from his early lunch, had decided over a nerve-calming pint, that the best solution was for him to write a report, and leave it on Roche’s desk. He could distance himself in that way from the immediate explosion. He would get the aftermath, but that was easier, he thought, than any responsibility for giving the news face to face. He knew it was cowardly, and it would have been a bit of an embarrassing and awkward situation whoever it had been, but for pity sake - John Roche! Of all people. Despite his fifty-seven years, and long and noble career, not to mention his many years of earnest study before that, there was a bit of Michael that on this day, unlike any other, was back in time, like a schoolboy who had found a dirty magazine under his father’s bed! Amazed, titillated but above all itching to tell somebody, but afraid to be the messenger who was very likely to get shot! He was dying to see the reaction; avid to see the bomb go off, but not brave enough to be too close to the blast. If there had been a bombproof curtain in the upstairs office of John Roche, he would definitely have hide behind that and cringed, making sure he had one eye at least with a good view of the action. He wrote carefully and deliberately, with great detail and care. With some trepidation, but a lot of excitement, he finished with the conclusions - making sure to write in such scientific language that it acted as a buffer between the written word and himself - the man, the colleague, the frequent drinking companion of John Roche: This was not Michael Draper writing the report, it was Dr. M.J. Draper, expert witness and professional analyst. A thing apart. A separate being. He put it in the ‘out-tray’ for the clerical staff to take onwards and upwards to the upper echelons, there to await its time to inform: whether that information would be welcomed, one might doubt, but, on the other hand, perhaps that information was already known. In which case, John Roche was a much better actor than anybody might have imagined.
After it was gone, Michael would have second thoughts, and would regret his cowardice. He owed it to his friend and colleague to discuss the findings - embarrassing and jaw dropping though they be - face to face, even over a pint of Guinness or a glass or two of whiskey, rather than let the man read it coldly, in black and white, on a formal piece of paper, wrapped up in scientific and flimflam terminology. Unlike his excitement before, he was now feeling ashamed and disloyal. He did not wait around for the onslaught, but took himself off to drown his sorrows and his guilty feelings.
The decision to write, rather than speak, had Michael known it, was going to have far greater repercussions than he could ever have imagined. He had had a call from the Chief Constable’s office earlier in the week asking whether he thought there were any savings that could be made in his department - since the budget seemed to be particularly high this year. He had merely scribbled a memo, stating quite bluntly, that there were none, and that expertise and professional equipment were expensive items
but were the lifeblood of the successful prosecutions that they had all reaped the kudos from. It was a forthright note, and in
Michael’s normal way (normal that is except for this matter with John Roche!) it was to the point and did not pull any punches. Unfortunately, in his fluster, he mixed up the envelopes. He had marked both of them ‘private and confidential’ so it was an easy, but disastrous, mistake to make.
Chief Constable Jenkins enjoyed more time at his desk ‘running the show’ and had a secretary who kept him organised and up to date. John Roche on the other hand spent little time at his desk even in normal circumstances, and with two murders on his plate, with the Superintendent, the Chief Constable, and the National Press on his back, looking for fast results, he was even less likely to be around.
Jenkins had received and opened his Private and Confidential that very afternoon. John Roche’s Private and Confidential sat on his desk until the next morning - and even then waited, unopened, until they had had time for a briefing and a recap on progress - or lack of. When it was opened, it was tossed to one side, since it was irrelevant to John Roche how much or how little was spent on forensics and though he realised it must have arrived at his desk in error, he was too busy to do anything except toss it, opened, but not really read, into the ‘out tray’ again, with a scribble saying “Addressed, delivered and opened in error. JR” He had left the building again before the Jenkins’s secretary rang to ask him to please come down urgently. Failing to get John Roche, the Jenkins contacted Michael Draper to thank him for his diligence, and for providing the surprising, but very important, information about DI Roche. It was only then that Michael realised what a truly momentous faux pas he had committed. Now he really did need a drink - cyanide might be the answer! Oh God! This was the positively worse thing that could happen. He had no option now, but to bite the bullet. He rang Roche’s number, but only got Steve who said Roche had gone out. He asked Steve to get John to ring him as soon as he could. It was very urgent!