Some people should never play poker

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Georgia and Neil

Neil had still not returned, but Georgia would have been lying if she said she was bothered. At first, because of the fate of Francesca, his obsession with her, and the possibility that he was the cause of her death, she was concerned that he might take his own life. He was narcissistic and under-estimated other people’s ability to find him, so it was only a slight worry. It was very unlikely, but it was now the third day and nobody that she knew had seen or heard from him.

It was not a good barometer. He had spread so many lies and bad impressions around their circle of friends since she had ‘got money’ that many of them believed her to be a selfish, miserly bitch of the worst order. Neil had a way with wit that made people at the same time feel sorry for him and hate the person he was disingenuously ‘excusing’ of their faults. He had said to Gio (who was very jealous of people with money – particularly women with money – being a committed misogenist) “Poor Georgia has never had money before, so she is a bit like a kid with sweeties, reluctant to share. Poor love, she’ll grow out of it. Give her time”. Naturally Gio had moaned about it to Alice and Alice – being just slightly more pro-Georgia than pro-Neil - had told her. Georgia therefore knew that ‘his’ friends … formerly ‘their’ friends …were not necessarily telling her the truth. She was, though, less sure that if it came to the police asking them a direct question, they would be so fallacious. ‘His friends’ would very likely decide that ‘so far, but no further’ was their mantra for protecting Neil from himself. Georgia gave up. In those immortal words, uttered by archetypal teenagers’, she thought ‘Wha’evva’.

She rang Maria again. Naturally the poor woman was distraught. She had mentioned that Gio – her brother – had not called her. She had not ‘complained’ but had ‘mentioned’ this fact in a tearful voice - which in itself indicated that she was upset by it. Georgia tried to deflect the hurt by telling Maria that she had tried many times to get through to Maria before finally getting her. Perhaps he had tried but had failed. Maria had said that she did not always feel like answering calls. She had said that people were very kind, but she did not feel like talking to anyone. Maria had said ‘but not family!’. But Georgia had reminded her that until she picked up the phone how did she know if it was family or not! It had been the closest they got to anything remotely like a smile.

Georgia knew that though the family in Glasgow had been extensive once upon a time, the days of lots of kids playing in the street, overseen by a maternal grandmother sitting on a chair with her lace making or her crochet had long since gone, and the big Italian community so supportive of one another in years gone by had now dispersed. Some round the city, some around the country – and many dispersed to the four corners of the globe.

She decided that – whether DI Dillon thought it was a good idea or not – she needed to go up to Glasgow to see Maria and to see what she wanted to do about the sad affair of a funeral – once the body had been released. Did she want Francesca brought up to Scotland? Would Maria now like to move down to London? Georgia knew that Maria had been – probably still was – a home bird and apart from various school holidays (both her own and the children’s) trips to family in Italy, she had never left Scotland. Georgia needed to make sure that she knew she need not be worried about money. Even if she wanted to go and settle somewhere else - perhaps, close to Uncle Marco or Lina in Sicily - she could do that. She needed to talk to her face to face. Spend some time with her. Make sure she was OK.

She tried ringing Dillon at the police station, but he was ‘out’. She left a message that she was going to go up to Scotland – Glasgow – if he needed to speak to her. She was told that she had perhaps better wait until he gave her the go-ahead to do that. However, Georgia being Georgia, she merely said ’No, I cannot delay. I am going. As far as I am aware, it is not a police state yet. I have committed no crime; I am not wanted for anything. I have said all I can to the detectives already, so I have to get on with what has to be done. She hung up.

She packed a small bag and tidied up so as not to leave the place in too much of a state. And headed for the door, leaving a message on the answerphone that she was away and please call her mobile or ring back in a few days.

As she was closing and locking the door, a reluctant Gio and Alice were coming down the stairs on their way to the police station.

“Oh, Gio. Alice. That’s good. Alice … could you do me a favour. I have tried ringing them, but only get the desk sergeant or somebody. Can you ring that Dillon chap for me and say that I am going up to Glasgow for a day or two.” She looked directly at Gio. “I think somebody needs to be with Maria at this time …. Have you called her Gio?”

Alice replied quickly because Gio looked as though he might strike Georgia any minute. “Yes. We rang her earlier. She does sound – well why wouldn’t she? – as though she has lost all her sparkle. She was such a lively, vivacious woman. I guess losing your husband last year and your only daughter now would definitely do that to you.”

“Yes, now that there is really nobody up there – all the old neighbours have moved away and she lost touch with a lot of people after Claudio died. So I need to go. Can you ring Dillon – or the other police girl … Lucy Somebody … for me. I am not being awkward – and I promise I am not on the run … I just have to go .. call it a mercy mission.”

“We are just on our way to the police station to see D.I. Dillon – Gio was out when they were here before – so I can tell him in person. No need to ring him.”

“Oh, Alice, better still. That’s marvellous.” She looked at Gio, and said “Good luck, Gee, with the police”. She had not meant this to sound menacing or accusatory, but in his present state of mind he immediately misunderstood.

“Fuck off! Georgia! What’s that supposed to mean? You should look closer to home! Fran was not the only person in this building close to Neil – and with Taddei as a name! Ever considered they might have got the wrong one?”

Alice stiffened. She wanted to push her husband out of the building, but part of her wanted him to elaborate. That was a really fascinating thought. Why had she not thought of that?

Georgia frowned. But …. It was Gio. Talking rubbish again. He was such a bitter and twisted man he had to make a horrible situation infinitely worse. But somewhere in her subconscious his words had begun to set thought in motion.


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