When Jim arrived handcuffed at the station, and was booked in, the Desk Sergeant rang up, as instructed, by Roche to tell him that he had arrived.
Roche was beside himself with anger, but restrained himself from dashing downstairs immediately because he knew he might well punch the lying, conniving bastard. And to think that he has felt sorry for him. He had believed him and his cock and bull story. Jaisus! He had fed him, carted him about, got him sorted at the hospital! Bobby Shillington’s fucking murderer! And his sodding father! And half the station would know by this time. If it didn’t get out from Michael or Frank, then Jenkins would be wetting himself to ‘find it his duty’ to tell somebody, anybody, everybody! He was finished. He did not give a damn about any of it, except the fact that his father - all right until yesterday he had not known he was his father, and he was almost certain - though he had not been very clever at picking up Jim’s lies up till now! - that Jim did not know. Roche did not think that James knew that there had been a baby, let alone that it was Roche. Bernadette would never have told him - not when she met up with him again. He was already a mess. With her new persona, she would never have let on that they were even acquainted. If he had tried to advertise the fact, she would have found one of several ways to shut him up. No, Roche was as certain as his new uncertainty permitted, that he did not know. But he might any time now. Loose tongues in the station might put paid to that!
Amanda was worried about Roche. She was worried about herself too, and in his present state of discomfort, she thought it would be difficult to raise her own troubles with him. But she needed to go out. She needed to see if she could get to the bank
- and argue her case somehow, to liberate some living money. If nothing else she needed to pay for her accommodation - even if she did not eat! She decided to be a big brave girl, and go out - and bite the bullet! She got up and put on her jacket which was draped over the back of her chair, and headed for the door. Roche did not even see her go.
Eventually, it could not be avoided any longer, and Roche went down the stairs, trying to control his temper and his nerves. Half way down, his mobile rang and Jenkins’ secretary informed him that the Chief Constable would like to see him immediately if he was in the building. He was tempted to say that he was not in the building, but considered it likely that the reason the phone call was received now, was because Jenkins knew precisely where he was, and what the implications were for that. He sighed and said he would be there in a few minutes. With that, a voice cut into the call - Jenkins’ voice - who said “Now, John, please”. Then put the phone down.
He arrived in the Chief Constable’s suite of offices, and was waved through into the inner sanctum.
“Take a pew, John” Jenkins said. He looked at Roche and surprised himself. He had never liked the arrogant, surly sod, and many times would have prayed for something to come along and cut him down to size, but now that it had come along, he found himself unable to feel anything but sympathy. He could well see - with such a sordid and uncertain arrival into the world - that a man might not feel all that friendly. He himself had been cherished by loving, but very tradition-obsessed, parents who had packed him off to prep school, then boarding school for the time he was six years old. He had resented that for years. How would he have felt if they had given him away altogether! And those blasted Roman Catholic institutions - they were rife with abuse and hardship - no wonder the poor man is not the life and soul of the party!
“Now, John. This news has come as a blow to you, I gather?”
“You could say that”. Roche had never been able to force himself to add the customary ‘Sir’ at the end of such sentences, and this was no time to start. Whereas before, Jenkins would have taken this amiss, and identified it as typical of the man, he now saw it for what it was, Roche had every right to rail against the world. He had definitely been dealt a very bad hand.
“I just thought I would say, right now, that to me, normally it would make absolutely no difference. Do you understand? Life goes on. It is irrelevant. Normally. My only cause for concern, at the moment, is that it will be difficult for you to ... properly … adequately … pursue a prosecution when it is so …. Close. It is very unusual circumstances, I think we would both agree, and circumstances that nobody could have predicted. But now that we do know, then normal practice is that officers do not investigate matters relating to somebody close to them …….”
Roche looked angry and started to speak, but the Chief Constable, raised a hand and stopped him ….
“John, I know! The situation is not the same. But if we are to get a conviction - and regardless, we must, it is our duty - then whether it is through your liking or loathing, we cannot give the defence any get out of jail free card! If they can use a bias card, they will with impunity. They will contend that you are re-righting a wrong, or alternatively that you are too close and your judgement is impaired - the end result is the same! Don’t you see that? This is no condemnation of you, or your ability, or even your judgement, it is merely a question of perception! Not my perception, or your perception, but the jury’s perception. And we do need, above all else, to get the bastard who murdered our colleague, Robert, now don’t we?”
Despite himself, Roche knew that this was absolutely right. He was even able to understand and admire Jenkins a little bit. The interview cannot have been easy, and certainly he had not pictured it going in that way. He had seen disapproval, gloating, amusement …. All negative reactions at his expense. And now it did not feel like that. He would have to accept that the others must pursue the case - indeed the cases - so that nothing prevented those who were guilty - whoever they were - from paying the price. He would have to see what he could do to pull some strings from the side-lines! It would be bloody hard to stay out of it, but he must.
Roche genuinely thanked the Chief Constable, and told him that he perfectly understood, but he hoped both cases - both murders
- Mrs. O’Dwyer and Bobby’s - could be cleared away quite quickly, and that things could get back to normal. Normal he thought for everybody in the station, perhaps. For himself, he was not sure whether life would ever get back to normal again. Thinking about that, for some reason, he suddenly remembered Amanda. He returned upstairs, but she was no longer at her desk. Her jacket was gone. He dashed out even though he had no idea where he was going. Somebody must have her mobile number? He was embarrassed to realise that although she was a full member of the team, he had never considered her such, and so had never really thought he would have any reason to contact her. He had to ring Sharon to see if she had her number.
Roche was not so brave as to give the impression that he was ringing Sharon for Amanda’s number. He had seen the nods and winks when he was talking earlier on!
“Sharon, can you and Steve get back to the station, PDQ. They have brought Kelly in, as you know, and Jenkins, rightly, does not think it should be me doing the interviewing – in fact he does not want me on the case at all He’s right. The defence would just claim bias or coercion – it makes perfect sense. Can you take it on, please? Start off with the murder of Bobby. See how that goes. I am beginning to like him for the other one too – he was only spared my beady eye before because he seemed in incapable both physically and mentally of murder. We now know that was most definitely wrong!” Regardless of the sense of the matter, it was still a miracle in Sharon Pretty’s book that her Boss had acceded to his superior’s request. This had taken a greater toll on him that could be seen.
“Oh, and by the way. You don’t happen to have Amanda’s mobile number do you? I need her back in the office – to hold the fort if I go out. There are things I need to do …… “
She smiled to herself, but said nothing and luckily, reliable and organised up to the last, of course she had their colleague’s number! Roche tried it, but, to his alarm, there was no answer. The phone had been switched off.
Sharon and Steve found the latter enquiry interesting. Steve got a laugh out of it; Sharon was nursing a hope that things would work out for them. They both deserved some love. She had known Amanda’s situation for quite some time – as did half the station – but the women thought she was a wimp for putting up with it, and the men considered it none of their business. Roche was probably the only one who had never realised, and was probably the only one who would have made it his business! Well he would now!