HISTORY WILL DICTATE

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GETTING CLOSER TO THE END

Roche was frustrated. He had never had no ability to interfere in a case! Even the three occasions when he had been suspended he had always had somebody loyal enough – or foolhardy enough - to keep him in the loop. Though at the time he had agreed with the reasoning behind his side-lining, he was beginning to find the dictat really unbearable and this time, it was different. He was, of course, hearing things via Sharon. Steve was more reticent, being more ambitious and not wishing to be found out flouting an order from ‘on high’. Apparently, although initially James Kelly had refused to say anything at all unless it was to John Roche, on learning that he had been ‘suspended’ - a slightly misleading description, but it amounted to the same thing – the man actually wept. He jumped to the conclusion that it was his fault. Which it was – but not in recent times – the cause of his ‘fault’ went back over thirty years. The subject of John Roche’s parentage was a taboo subject, since officially it was not relevant, and unofficially it was not known whether James Kelly knew anything about the relationship anyway.

After no more than half an hour or so, James agreed that he had

‘accidentally’ killed Bobby. He said that the ‘copper’ had followed him – and he did not know why. He had been warned by that ‘Paki’ Ahmed that ‘the Irish’ were after him and that they knew what he had been up to. He had panicked. The man left his car, and ran after him across the derelict land and on to the tow-path. Apparently Jim had a bit of a start on him, but Bobby was faster – being a lot younger, and certainly much fitter. According to Kelly, he had grabbed a bit of wood which was lying in the grass, and as the man came around the bend, he had hit him with the log. It had caught him on the temple, and he had staggered a bit further and fallen into the canal. Steve told Kelly that he had believed him up to that point, but that he did not believe that the man ‘fell’ into the canal. He went in with a little help from you! Was that not the case?

Sharon – which annoyed Steve at the time – cut in, and asked why he was so concerned about DS Shillington coming after him? He had certainly spoken to him many times before – he knew him well! Why the panic? He had been stopped many times before by the police – indeed he had cadged lifts home before now, not only from uniform, but from them – even DS Shillington - on the odd occasion. It did not make sense that he would just take off – what was the reason?

Kelly began to cry and was starting to shake. He was certainly not looking well. As an alcoholic he was suffering very badly because he had not had a drink for quite some time, his usual consumption being constant, rot-gut and meths-based spirits, or anything he could get his hands on.

“Get me something to drink, and I’ll tell you everything. I promise. But I need a drink. I’m dry as a bone!” “You can have coffee, or tea …. or water. Them’s your choices! Make up your mind!”

“Jaisus, you’re being very cruel! I can’t think straight. I needs me drink! I’ll be no use to you’s without me bit of drink!”

Steve could not help but smile at his lapse into pantomime Irish in order to wheedle his way! It was funny that John did exactly the same – though not usually for the same reason. It seemed impossible for them to not fall back into character from time to time. A family trait, perhaps! Steve wondered what John had inherited from his mother. Then considered how driven, how shrewd they both were, and how much they were able to persuade other people that they knew best. Both ruthless in their own way; both crafty and happy to cut corners. There were certainly similarities. Just used to different ends. Just the luck of the draw? Perhaps the message drilled into John by the nuns and the brothers, though not welcome, had served some purpose. He doubted that Roche would acknowledge that thought. But somebody must at some time have guided him on a straighter path!

But back to James Kelly.

“Do you want a comfort break, Jim?”

“A what? … I wants a drink – that’s what I want. I won’t say another thing until somebody brings me a drink!”

“OK. It’s nearly home time anyway, so that will have to do for tonight. You are being remanded in custody. Take it from me, when you actually go off to the clink, there will be no easy ride for you this time in the nick. You killed a policeman. You had better get used to watching your back. You’re a scrawny little runt and the blokes inside will eat you alive!”

“Oh, save your breath. I been in there plenty times before. It’s not new to me! Anyway, they don’t care about the coppers – why should they bother. They only care about kiddy fiddlers – and I ain’t one of them, so there!”

“Oh, you have only been in with the minnows. People there for a holiday - drunks, or prossies, or them as don’t pay their taxes. You are going to be with the big boys this time. Maximum security – Isle of Wight, Ian Brady or Donald Nilsen might be your cell mate! And believe me, Jim, the screws won’t lift a hand to save you ’cos you killed a copper!”

Jim Kelly, much to Steve’s chagrin, was not to be broken that night, and it was decided to keep him in the cells overnight, and start again the next day. They had plenty evidence, but it would be a sound investment to get a confession of the deliberate push, rather than rely on what was at the moment far from definite proof of a deliberate act to murder. It was true that he made no attempt to summon help – far less to try to do anything himself – there were lifebelts at reasonable intervals along the path. But he was elderly. He was an alcoholic. He was, according to himself, in a state of high agitation and believed his own life was in danger.

They were also hoping that somewhere along the line, he might blow the whistle on Bernadette’s killer. They were reasonably sure that he knew who was responsible. Roche had considered it possible that Jim was not saying because he was not above a spot of blackmail – a dangerous occupation, which would explain why he was so jumpy when being chased by Bobby. For historical reasons, it was highly likely that Jim would have preferred to give her killer a medal! There was surely no love lost between himself and his erstwhile lover – the father of his child: though it was still considered unlikely that he knew about the pregnancy at the time, and since. It would certainly not be something that Bernadette would bring up during their second incarnation, would she? By then the last thing she would have wanted to do would be to associate herself with a degenerate, incorrigible vile smelling alcoholic. Whether Gerard knew about her previous child or not, she herself would not have wanted it bandied about. It was a great wonder that Jim had survived so long. It was perhaps only the fact that he was so revolting, so ostracised, so unbelievable that made it safe to run the risk. Who would believe him!

Meanwhile Roche himself was off about the town. He had tried the guest house. He had tried her home, but it was silent as the grave, and her husband’s car was not in the drive. He next went home and retrieved his own car, and drove to the outskirts of the city to the university campus. He was at a disadvantage because he did not know what car the man drove, but he did know now what he looked like, since he had seeing him lurking outside the station. He stopped the first person who did not look like a student – a middle aged woman in a nurse’s uniform, carrying a medical bag – and asked for directions to the Security Office. She looked puzzled at first, then said “Oh you mean the gatehouse. I think they use it as a base when they are not patrolling”.

As he drove back towards the entrance – where he assumed the gatehouse must be located, he was struck by the fact that it was a bit of a cushy number: he had not been stopped at the gate; there was no barrier and no kind of control; what did they do? Walk around in their smart uniforms warning the students to keep off the grass! He knew he was being unkind, but he did not like men who used their strengths against women.

He was just approaching the bend around which he knew would lie the gatehouse, when he saw her standing, again just looking at him. Not smiling this time, and much less distinct than the other two times he had seen her. What was she doing all the way out here? As he thought about pulling over, she was gone. It was not as though she could have walked away – she literally was there one minute and gone the next. He was not one to be easily frightened and certainly not easily fooled, but he was just left wondering who she was? Why she watched him? Most importantly, how she came and went so efficiently. He was not a man who had ever given much consideration to the possibility of ghosts, but if there were such things, then she was most certainly a likely candidate!

He drove up through the gate, and was relieved to see the scowling face of Graham inside the window. There was no doubt that if he recognised Graham, Graham recognised him. He might not know exactly who he was, but he certainly knew where he worked, and with whom he worked. He said nothing, just stared in a menacing and threatening way. Roche was just glad he was there, but that did not mean that Amanda was safe. It just meant that he was not with her now. He was not at liberty to ask him, or raise the issue. It was not his place, until she asked him to do so. He felt thwarted and anxious. Not emotions he was used to, and certainly not emotions that he allowed to stick around for too long without doing something.

He drove back into the city centre, parked his car, and walked back to police headquarters. He took the stairs two at a time. He wanted to know what had happened with Jim Kelly, and he wanted to reassure himself that Amanda was still all right.

As he walked in he was pleased to hear the tip tip tap of Amanda’s fingers on the keyboard, and to see her smile as he appeared. Not one to court interest – not one to court anything or anyone in truth – he did not return the smile, but did says ‘how’s ya!’, and he passed by and walked down the office to where Steve and Sharon were at their desks – Steve on the phone, Sharon staring at a screen.

“Well …. what’s the situation? What did he say? Has he coughed

to it?”

Steve got up and went off out of the room. Roche laughed, understanding Steve only too well. He liked the man, but he was not a Sharon – would never be a great copper, because he was too concerned about being an approved of copper.

Sharon watched him leave, raising an eyebrow and shaking her head, before saying “Well, he has said he hit Bobby, because he was afraid when he saw him running after him. But so far he is saying that as a result of the blow, he stumbled and fell into the canal. I think we’ll get him anyway. He’s really struggling without the drink. He will be murder – excuse the pun - for whoever is on duty downstairs tonight.”

“Oh …. by the way, he said that Mo Ahmed had been frightening him because he said ‘the Irish’ were after him, and that was why he ran from Bobby. Doesn’t make much sense, really. Why would he think that Bobby was ‘the Irish’ - it’s not as though he doesn’t know him!”

“Ah … that’s a nice piece of information that he does not realise he has given us! Sharon, tomorrow find Mo. He obviously does know who killed Bernadette, otherwise he would not know who to threaten Jim with. I think – but we need to either get him to admit it – or get Mo to open his mouth – that Jim was responsible for that one too. Mo has lost his main source of finance – Bobby used him more than any of us – so he might be open to the power of suggestion. But we need good info. Not the Clive sort that just tells us anything to get paid. Make sure he knows that Jim is already locked up for Bobby’s murder – that should make a difference. Either way, if it’s Jim that he thinks knocked off O’Dwyer, he might be less squeamish about landing him with a murder charge, when he is already facing a murder charge, and if he doesn’t, then he might say as much – Mo is nothing if not - what that fancy word Bobby used to use – yes ‘mercurial’ and he knows when withholding information is sound, and when it is simply foolhardy. If there is somebody else out there, and they get to suspect that he knows anything – he is a bit of a loner, with no back-up except us. His so far charmed life might come to an abrupt end!”

“Well boss, at the moment he’s not facing a murder charge. Manslaughter, perhaps. We cannot prove that he pushed him into the canal. If he fell, Jim can say he tried to save him, and he was powerless to do so.”

“Remind Jim from me, that he told me that he himself was actually in that canal, and got saved by some passing cyclist. Load of old toffee. Tell him that we might – say might, cos then it could disappear – have a witness – a cyclist, who saw the man in the water, and saw him push him. I do believe there was a cyclist there, because it came spontaneously to Jim when he told his earlier fictitious story. I might be wrong, but give it a try. Or …. say we are going to let him out and we will tell Ger O’Dwyer that we believe he killed Bernadette, but we cannot prove it. He will be only too aware that retribution from that quarter will not necessary be quick, and certainly won’t be painless. He is better taking his chances with us.”

Then, to their amazement, he said “Well, that’s me done. I can’t do anything else around here – I’m grounded, so I might as well go. Come on Amanda, get your coat. You have some tales to tell!”

Amanda looked at them sheepishly, shrugged on her jacket and picked up her handbag, before waving them an embarrassed goodbye.

Roche and Amanda left the room together, with Steve having returned now the coast was clear, open mouthed, and Sharon saying “Ah, it’s quite sweet, isn’t it!

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