Some people should never play poker

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Gio faces up to life

Alice drove Neil to the police station and luck was on her side, because there was a car park for ‘staff’ at the back of the station, leaving a small area at the front of the building available for visitors. There were fortunately two free spaces for Alice to choose from. Neil was dismayed. Giving him no opportunity to change his mind, Alice herded him up the steps.

There was already one person being attended to by the Duty Sergeant behind the glass barrier, but it took only a few minutes for their business to be concluded, and having displayed his motoring documents and suffered the indignity of a somewhat public lecture for his wrong-doing, the young lad sheepishly left the building.

Alice walked up and announced that it was Giovani Scarletti to see Detective Inspector Dillon.

After a very brief wait, Lucy arrived through a side door, and ushered Gio through to an interview room. Gio still looked as though he would rather suffer burning in oil or walk across the Sahara bare foot. Alice did not feel a bit sorry for him.

Gio had hoped that at the very least Alice would just drop him off, and then return home. He would then be a free agent – having gone through the ordeal – and could …. But in all truth … Could what? He would have said go to the casino, or to any one of a dozen places to lose his money – but he was barred from some, or would risk life and/or limb if he turned up at the rest, so his options were limited. However, he did not have to face that dilemma, because Alice insisted on waiting for him.

Being led off down the long corridor to the interview room and finding Dillon sitting there awaiting his arrival made Gio’s stomach lurch.

Dillon reassured him that he was only there to help them with their enquiries. But in Gio’s state of conscience, he was all to aware that that phrase had some quite dreadful connotations.

“Now, Mr. Scarletti, please – in your own words – tell me what you know – all that you know – about any circumstances that may have led to your niece’s murder.”

Dillon looked enquiringly at Gio, and Gio’s heart sank. He had to spill it all to somebody. And so he began his story.

It was much as both Dillon and Lucy Arnold might have expected with only a few raised eyebrows – though those surprises were both telling and informative.

Gio explained that he – and Neil – were both heavily in debt to lots of people – some very unpleasant people. Gio had been trying to pay people off – even if that meant not being able to fulfil his commitments to his own family. Neil, on the other hand, was stringing them along because he kept telling them that his ‘wife’ had money, and that she was ‘dying of cancer’ and he was about to come into a lot of money. Gio explained that he had considered this – not an unusual thing for Neil – to be purely a bluff to buy time. Neil was – to quote Gio – ‘self-obsessed and without any natural feelings for anybody but himself’. That ‘bluff’ had been going on for a few months, and it was plain that dangerous people were getting fed up with it.

One night, on the way home in a cab, Neil had confided in Gio that he was going to arrange with ‘somebody’ to ‘move things forward’.

Dillon pushed Gio on what he thought that this had meant, and why he would confide such a dangerous thing to him, when he was a relative of Georgia’s?

Gio was taken aback and seemed reluctant to dig himself into an even bigger hole but could not build up the energy or courage to bluff it out or refuse to answer.

“Well, I thought he was going to buy a hit on Georgia, if I am going to be honest. As for why tell me – well Neil things we are all cut from the same cloth – us men – and since - well Georgia and me – well – we’re related, but not close. The relationship has gone downhill since we moved in – I think she thinks I am a bit of a waste of space, and always takes my wife’s side in everything. Put it this way, we are close enough for her to know I should ‘do better’. Even, take today, there she is off up to console my sister over the death of her daughter! Did I even contemplate that? No, frankly I was too sorry for myself to even telephone her. …. So Detective, now you know why Neil ‘trusted’ me with that secret.”

“So what were your thoughts when this terrible event took place in the house?”

Gio took a long time to answer.

“I thought two things: I thought that people had lost patience and that they had paid Neil a visit and Fran had got in the way. That was what I thought.”

“Were Neil and Fran close then?”

Once again the long pause.

“Neil was besotted. Fran? She was young. Why would she get tied down by somebody like him? He was more than ten years older; he was living with Georgia (who regularly paid Fran and Amanda’s rent and bills) and who she got on well with. No, it was definitely one way … but Fran strung him along. She couldn’t help herself.”

“Do you think he killed her?”

Gio’s eyes widened. It was obviously the first time he had ever considered that possibility. He started to look more wary – but also less sure – perhaps less sure that his previous reading of the situation was correct.

“No … I don’t think he’s personally capable. I don’t think he has it in him” … he stopped and considered his next words before adding “to do his own dirty work. And what’s more I don’t for a minute think he would have it in him to kill Fran. He worshipped the ground she walked on, and permanently lived in hopes that Georgia would die, and he would have enough money to offer Fran the kind of lifestyle that he (and I) believe she wanted … expected. So No, he couldn’t harm Fran… No ... No way.”

It was clear that Gio now was in a dilemma. Had he thrown his friend under the bus? …He frowned and said ”I had thought, though, that if people had seen him a lot with Fran – which they could easily have done, because Georgia has been off hawking her bloody books around the country in recent times, and Neil has been out on the town a lot with Fran – that they might have thought she was Georgia. Add on the name similarity, and …. Well, that was what I thought, if you want to know.”

To Gio’s surprise, Dillon then thanked him for his time and for his honesty and sent him on his way home – escorted by Alice.

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