Boston-Wright thought having Creed sleeping on the sofa would calm her nerves and deliver her a peaceful night’s sleep. Nothing could be further from the truth. It was a warm night and with the windows locked tight, the room was stifling. The ceiling fan offered some relief but its creaking, swirling noise made it more of a hindrance than a blessing.
The sheets on the bed looked as though they had been in a thrashing machine. Boston-Wright tossed from side to side, her head bursting with thoughts as she replayed the conversation with Talbot over and over again. At 2.30am Boston-Wright had given up the fight. She had been awake more often than asleep and sat up in bed, turning her bedside lamp on.
She grabbed a notebook and started to write out the conversation. Perspiration beaded on her forehead as she looked at the window, tempted to open it, but thought the better of it. The sound of the toilet flushing distracted her from her writing, dropping her eyes down to the underside of her bedroom door. A shadow passed by, indicating Creed returning to the sofa.
The clock radio alarm rang out at 6am, waking Boston-Wright from a deep sleep. She woke startled and groggy, her eyes feeling like she was covered in the thick blanket of cloud. The sound of pots and pans clanging hastened Jo out of her bedroom to the kitchen.
Jack was fossicking around under the kitchen sink looking for a fry pan to cook some bacon and eggs.
“Thought I might surprise you with some bacon and eggs,” Creed explained with a smile. Jo stood before him, her hair a total mess. Her Tweetie bird pajamas were not flattering either.
“Sorry, Jack. No bacon or eggs. But there is Bircher muesli, Greek yoghurt and fresh strawberries if you are hungry.”
“Not that bloody hungry. I’ll grab something at McDonalds on the way home. Get cleaned up and I’ll see you in the office by 8am.”
“Okay, will do. And Jack? Thanks for last night,” Boston-Wright said, knowing full well that Creed may have saved her life.
Creed called the team into the incident room. Pratt had called on his psychologist mate Dan Mitchell to sit on the playing of last night’s recording of Boston-Wright and Talbot to give his expert account of the event. Boston-Wright felt a bit more under scrutiny but welcomed the analysis. This case was heating up and they needed to be on their game.
Mitchell highlighted Talbot’s audacity to just show up. To him it indicated an air of confidence, a man wanting to show he was in control. Talbot’s annoyance at Boston-Wright referring to Fife as being smart clearly brought out his frustration, as it seemed the focus was moving onto somebody else. Serial killers liked to be thought of as the smart one.
In Mitchell’s eyes, Talbot was clearly using Boston-Wright to form a relationship. He was using her to get information on the case while at the same time trying to steer it in a particular direction by offering up certain information, like naming Fife as a potential suspect.
Boston-Wright didn’t feel too good about being front and center in this discussion. She objected a few times to protest her vulnerability in that she was in control at all times. The other team members looked back with blank stares. They weren’t buying it and Boston-Wright could see they weren’t listening to her.
“Was I in any danger last night?” Boston-Wright asked, glancing around at the team as she directed her question to Mitchell.
“No, not last night. At the moment you are useful to him but that could change at any time,” Mitchell remarked with a questioning, somewhat puzzled look on his face.
“But you don’t seem convinced,” Boston-Wright replied.
“Hm, it’s not that necessarily. What puzzles me is that he didn’t talk about the shoulder bag you found in Fife’s flat. It would be the type of evidence that would further incriminate Fife.”
“Maybe he didn’t know it was found during our search,” Boston-Wright said.
“Remember, Talbot gets off on being intelligent. He knew full well that you’d find drugs and the bag at Fife’s place when you searched it. No, just not normal for these types of killers to let something like that slide. They are calculating and Talbot would want to bury Fife fast. It’s just odd,” Mitchell explained.
“But he is our man?” Creed asked, to which Mitchell gave a questioning shrug.
“I don’t have all the facts, Detective. That’s where you come in,” Mitchell replied.
Creed thanked Mitchell for his time and abandoned the meeting. In his mind Mick Talbot was still in the frame for all the murders; he just needed to figure out how he set up Fife. Creed jumped into Pratt’s car, which had been idling in the carpark, to head back to Pottsville to question Fife. Boston-Wright stayed at Kingscliff to tidy up some loose ends.
The two detectives pulled into Pottsville Station just as Fife was being taken by the constable from the security van. He looked a little worse for wear with some cuts and bruises about the face. Pratt passed comment to Creed that Fife must not be making too many friends at Nerang.
“We have you for drug possession,” Creed started, “but we want to talk to you more about Darlene Ferguson’s murder.”
“Like I keep on telling you, I didn’t murder anyone,” Fife replied forcibly through a split lower lip.
“So you say but the evidence is against you,” Pratt replied. Fife dropped his head and inhaled on his cigarette.
“You told us you knew Mick Talbot from the Army. When was the last time you saw him?” Creed asked.
“Like I said, at Woolies the day they found Darlene’s body. Don’t you listen?” Fife smarted.
“Listen here, Sunshine. You’re in the hole for murder. You’ll be spending 15 to 20 for this, and if we connect you to the other four murders, you’ll get life. And considering how you look today, that won’t be very pleasant for you, so I suggest you start paying attention,” Creed warned.
“Has anybody come back into your life over the past few months? Any old business acquaintances, girlfriends, anybody?” Creed asked.
“Nope, not really. Except for some sheila who came to the club,” Fife said, scratching his head.
“And who was she?” Pratt asked.
“Don’t know. Walsh, my dish pig and doorman, came in and said there was a woman at the door asking after me. I thought she might be an old root or worse still I had got her up the duff and we had a kid and she was chasing money,” Fife said.
“An old root?”
“Walsh said she was no spring chicken, so I immediately thought alimony. But by the time I got to the door, she had bolted.”
The duty constable entered the room and slipped a note across to Creed, who stood and excused himself from the room. Boston-Wright was on the phone and needed to speak to him urgently.
“Jack, forensics have just phoned. They have found a piece of bubble gum wedged up under the passenger seat in Fife’s car,” Boston-Wright stated.
“Do they know what type?” Creed asked.
“Dubble Bubble,” Creed replied.
“Never heard of it.”
“And you most likely wouldn’t have. It’s American. We are seeing if there is a DNA match with Sharon Berg. And you know something else?” Boston-Wright commented. “It’s around eight months old.”
“Fife didn’t own the car then. Talbot is our man! Good work, Boston-Wright. We’re on our way back. See if you can get a DNA match.”
Creed returned to the interview room with a grin from ear to ear. Fife looked up and feared the worse. Pratt wondered what the good news was that had changed Creed to such an upbeat look.
“Mr. Fife, you’ll only be charged for drug possession. We’ve found our murderer.”