Corporate Killer – the Town Hall Cuts

Garden Party

Sally was ready and waiting at seven thirty the next morning; wearing a new black cotton blouse and her best black skirt.  Her hair was neatly plaited and her favourite red lipstick was the only concession to colour.  Her shoes shone with uncustomary polish and whilst she felt remarkably plain, she hoped that the outfit would act as some kind of camouflage amongst the flash and cash of the local nobility.

DC Long pulled up outside the house and waved from the car, looking equally ill at ease in his stiff white shirt and black bow tie.  Sally got in next to him and fumbled with her seat belt.

“Nervous?”

“I couldn’t eat breakfast this morning.  I feel really sick.  How’s DS Hammond?”

“Firing on all cylinders again this morning.  We’ve had a bit of a breakthrough thanks to your observational skills.  The lad at the lock is the same person as the lad seen on the beach in Portugal.  Except he isn’t actually a lad, he’s in his thirties but looks about eighteen. We’ve a witness who thinks he saw the same lad at the library, the salon owner is sure that he’s a relief delivery driver and he may have been seen sitting in a car at the golf course with an older man and young woman.  We’re still waiting to hear back from the hotel but I won’t be surprised if he’s been hanging around there too.”

Sally took a deep breath and leaned back in the car seat.  “have you got a picture of him with you?”

“In the folder on the floor.”

She picked up the folder and found the picture.  This was a much clearer shot and although it wasn’t a close up there was something familiar about him.

“Wow.  If you know his age, you know must know who he is then?”

“He goes by a number of aliases and whilst he’s been arrested several times, we’ve never been able to pin anything on him.  He’s something of a computer genius and specialises in fake documentation too.  We’ve put out an all points bulletin to track him down but no news yet.”

“So, if he’s responsible, then Donal is off the hook?”

“No, I’m afraid not.  As far as we know Donal and his wife have left the country; we know now that she took a ferry over to Zeebrugge on Monday.  We’ve tracked Donal to France but the trail goes very cold from there.  Their bank accounts have been cleared out and when we searched the house, we found that their computers had been completely and very proficiently wiped.  This has been planned for a while; they’d even cancelled the papers before they left.  Our IT guys are really annoyed about it and are hoping they might find something on Donal’s work computer.”

“Some chance.  I’ve a feeling that Donal may have been wiping everything off his hard drive when I left the other night.  He was certainly very intent on something.  What about Tom? Would he or Mark have known this lad that’s been carrying out the killings?”

“They may have known him under one of the names he used on line but I doubt if they ever met him.  We need to find something, anything that links him to Donal and to the actual murders.”

“Do you think Donal actually murdered anyone though?”

“Definitely not Colin, Sharon or Shirley because we know exactly where Donal was on all of those occasions.  There’s some confusion about Derek’s murder, I would say that if Graham wasn’t actually murdered by Donal, then he did at least let the killer into the building to put the poison in the whisky bottle, but I think Donal and his wife were already out of the country by the time Tracey and Angela were killed.”

“Derek and Donal were good friends; that’s why it doesn’t feel right to me.  DS Hammond said that Derek’s murder was more savage and passionate than the others.  Trouble is, Donal was off sick that day and he told me that his wife had been out buying him clothes but according to you, she’d already left the country by the time Derek was killed.  Donal always wears grey, black and dark green clothes and to see him dressed in such bright colours was really bizarre.  I don’t want to think that Donal killed his friend but it made me wonder if someone who knew his clothes size but nothing else about him, might have bought those clothes in a hurry.  If his wife took off with all their belongings and Donal’s only clothes got covered in Derek’s blood – well that would explain it.”

“The lad in the car perhaps?  But who was the woman?”

“Derek’s wife?  Donal is a very moral person.  He didn’t approve of Derek’s affairs or the fact that he was conning us out of a lot of money.”

“Hang on a sec.”  DC Long pulled the car over to the side of the road and picked up his mobile.  In a manner slightly reminiscent of DS Hammond he barked a few orders to the officer on the other end, requesting that someone get to Derek’s house with a search warrant and start asking his wife a few questions.

“Let me get this straight then Sally?  You think that Donal was taken to the golf course by our mystery lad, that Derek’s wife was there too.  Either of them may have killed Derek – and they both got blood on them.  If the lad got clothes for Donal in the right size but the wrong colours, I’d lay money on it that Donal’s clothes are still at Derek’s house.”

“Would you consider me biased if I said that I’m sure it was Derek’s wife that killed him?  Hell, hath no fury like a woman scorned and all that?”

“Encouraged by Donal though.  He will have told her about the cleaner.”

Sally felt as if she’d been up for hours and the thought that she had a whole day of pretending to be a waitress at Susie’s pretentious party made her wish she was back in bed.  DC Long ran a finger inside his collar, obviously unaccustomed to wearing starched shirts and bow ties.  They were almost at Susie’s house now and neither of them was happy about the day ahead.

The field across from the house had been borrowed to serve as a car park and more than a couple of familiar faces from the incident room had swelled the ranks of the marshalling staff.  They crossed the road and were greeted by a house that looked as if it came from a Hollywood film set.   The shrubs and flowerbeds surrounding the driveway and front of the house had been supplemented by an army of hanging baskets and tubs in various shades of white, lavender and purple.  They made their way round to the servants’ entrance and stopped to observe an immaculately mown lawn, three large white marquees and even more baskets and tubs.

The party wasn’t due to start for another two and a half hours but already the whole place was bustling with gardeners, florists, caterers and people who were still putting up the marquees.  A public address system had been rigged up near the end of the garden; a raised dais with a flowered canopy had a microphone and several chairs ready for Susie and her very special guests.

“Sally!  Sally!”  Turning toward the sound of an all too familiar voice, Sally saw Susie, clad in a pink chiffon and feather dressing gown, her hair in curlers and her feet in matching pink high-heeled feathered mules.

“Hi Susie, this looks wonderful.  You must have worked so hard to get it like this.”

Susie’s face stiffened.  “It isn’t finished yet.  Look Sally, I’m not quite sure why DS Hammond insisted on you being here, but now you’re here you’d better make yourself useful.  They’re short-handed in the kitchen so run along there and help out.”

“You want me to – help out in the kitchen?”  She turned to DC Long who was beginning to look just a little annoyed.

“Of course I do!  You aren’t a guest after all and if you’re dressed as a waitress you won’t look out of place.”  Susie peered closer at Sally’s outfit.  “I don’t think I’d employ you as a waitress though, you don’t really look the part.  Couldn’t you have found something a little smarter to wear?  There are some very important people coming here today and I don’t want you showing me up.”

DC Long motioned for Sally to stay where she was and putting a gentle but very firm hand on Susie’s shoulder her, he guided her toward the shrubbery.

“Susie, I appreciate that you feel this is a very important event but your life is at risk and you have to let us take control of the security issues.  Sally is helping us but I need her close by me at all times and that means she will not be tucked away in the kitchen doing chores but out here keeping an eye out for trouble.”

Susie’s chin began to wobble and she pulled a dainty lace edged handkerchief out of her pocket and dabbed at her very dry eyes.

 “My best friend was killed yesterday and nobody is giving me any sympathy at all.  I’ve spent all year organising this party and I’m not about to let anyone ruin it, not Sally in her shabby old clothes, not your mob of clodhopping policemen and definitely not any old killer!”

She stamped her tiny foot and as she staggered back into the house, her dressing gown streaming out behind her, she looked like a small demented pink budgerigar.  Sally managed to keep a straight face until Susie was safely inside, but could contain herself no longer and had to sit down on a nearby cast-iron love seat until the laughter had subsided.

DC Long was able to maintain a more professional attitude but a definite smile had replaced the stern expression and twitching muscle in his cheek.  “What a horror!” he muttered.  “She wants help in the kitchen, does she?  We’ll get her some help then.”  Taking out his phone he called for two officers to come over to the house specifically to carry out security duties in the kitchen.

Sally looked at him in puzzlement.  He grinned; a much broader grin than before.  “Someone might try to put poison in the food and that would never do.  We need some security in the kitchen.  The fact that I’ve put my two laziest and greediest officers in there is a side issue.  She can’t say we haven’t done anything about it can she?”

“Your prompt actions have been admirable, I will certainly commend you to the Chief Constable next time I bump into him,” said Sally, every trace of ill-humour gone now.

” By the way, Sally?”

“Yes?”

“Your clothes do not look shabby; you look perfectly fine and if you’ve managed to work with that awful woman without strangling her all this time, then you deserve my undying admiration.”

“I thank you!  She isn’t that bad usually; we’ll just have to put it down to nerves.  This is a big thing for her and if she survives today – and I really do hope she does – the loss of Tracey will hit her very hard.  I know she appears to have registered what’s happened but I don’t think it’s sunk in yet.  If this garden party turns into a fiasco you may end up escorting her to the nearest mental health facility.  Dead or mad – what a choice!  What do we do now?”

“Let’s have a stroll around the perimeter and then we’ll get you an apron and see if my officers have eaten all the food in the kitchen.”

They walked up to the waist high hedge that separated Susie’s extensive garden from the neighbouring fields and woods.  The florist had already begun wiring white and lavender bows into the foliage, and a constant stream of burly young men were placing delicate white iron tables and chairs strategically around the garden.  Over in the distance Sally could see an abandoned tractor and trailer and wondered how much Susie had paid to keep the farmer out of his field for the day.  Turning back to the garden, she had to admit that it looked very elegant; completely over the top but elegant nevertheless.

DC Long took several calls as they walked round the garden; it took some time and Sally was glad that she had worn sensible shoes.  The raised dais at the end of the garden was covered in flowers now and the central chair – obviously a throne destined for Susie – was particularly over-bedecked.  Sally fervently hoped that none of the officers or local dignitaries suffered from hay fever.

“Yes!” said DC Long triumphantly, punching the air.

“What?  What is it?  Can you tell me?”

“We’ve got him.  The lad from the boat – and beach – and hair salon, not to mention the library and hotel.”

“He was there then!”

“We’ve found finger prints that match his on the filter cap at the swimming pool and on the collar of one Tracey’s dogs.  Officers are on their way to pick him up now.”

“Won’t he have skipped the country like Donal and his wife?”

“No, we’ve had him under surveillance since we heard about Tracey.  Two officers have been outside his house but he’s a tricky customer so I’ve sent two more out in case he tries to leg it.  Oh, and I’ve sent the dog handler out too – he seems to like dogs after all.”

“Any news about Derek’s wife yet?”

“No, that will take a bit more time.  She may not be very bright but she’ll have had good advice about where to hide things.  No sign of Donal and his wife yet either – I expect they are bound for a better climate than we have.”

Sally shook her head.   “I doubt it.  I probably shouldn’t be telling you this but Donal hates the heat; he’s more likely to be headed for the Siberian wastes. “

“Technically speaking, I should report that piece of intelligence but I can smell bacon and I would deduce from that, that my bobbies have persuaded the catering staff to provide a few butties.  You hungry yet?”

She hadn’t been, but it was true, the smell of frying bacon was very seductive and as it was liable to annoy Susie intensely, Sally felt that she and DC Long should get to the kitchen and check that all was well there.

Slurried

Suitably fortified by a bacon butty, freshly brewed coffee and a trip to Susie’s downstairs toilet (supposedly out of bounds but as Susie was upstairs being pummelled into a less frantic state by her Swedish masseur, she was in no position to argue) Sally acquired a clean white apron and was fitted with an ear piece and radio by one of the kitchen bobbies as he waited for the next round of bacon to be fried up.

Instructed by DC Long to go to the drinks marquee and introduce herself to the officers on duty over there, Sally stepped out into the sunshine and was impressed by the way the garden had been transformed over the past half an hour.

Each of the little tables had sprouted a lilac or white umbrella and was decorated with a matching floral display.  With less than an hour before the guests were due to arrive, the speed of delivery had stepped up and even Susie would have been mildly pleased with what had been accomplished in such a short time.

The drinks marquee was dark and cool; illuminated by dozens of tiny lights suspended from the roof poles.  Bottles of champagne were chilling, whilst fresh oranges were being squeezed in readiness for Bucks Fizz, and St Clements for the teetotallers and drivers.  Sally was given the option of handing out drinks or collecting glasses and opted for the later, knowing that her natural inability to carry liquids could only result in spilling a sticky drink on someone really important.  This task also put her in an excellent position to wander around and look out for whatever it was DC Long expected her to look out for.

Sally’s only real concern was that one of the important people from work might wonder what she was doing collecting glasses at Susie’s garden party.  Susie had been briefed to tell people that Sally had volunteered to give a hand when one of the caterers went sick but she had a feeling that Susie would tell a different tale that might make senior management think that Sally was in the picture for a spot of moonlighting.

Watching from the shade of the marquee; Sally was one of the first to see the vision that was Susie emerge from the house, surrounded by a doting entourage. 

Clad in a hideously expensive silk body con dress in shades of lavender and white that showed off her slim tanned legs, Susie had completed the outfit with a fascinator of silk, tulle and flowers that wouldn’t have looked out of place at the races, a dainty white clutch bag and lavender stilettos that made her walk like a newborn foal; all stiff legs and wobbles.  Sally dreaded to think what would happen if Susie had to get anywhere in a hurry.

As it was, she had obviously decided to hold court from her floral throne and despatched her satellites to fetch people to her as they arrived.  The local press were already there and Susie was in her element, posing with her legs draped elegantly to one side, and what she fondly imagined was a girlish laugh on her lips.  From Sally’s vantage point she could see that Susie’s usually tanned and frown-lined face seemed exceptionally smooth and wondered if it was an expensive makeover or whether the Swedish masseur had run amok with the Botox as well. 

Susie glanced over in her direction and Sally shrank back into the shadows, almost stepping on DC Long who had appeared at her elbow.

“We have a little problem,” he said, his expression betraying barely controlled anger.

“Oh no, what now?”

“The lad – he wasn’t at the house and according to the sniffer dog, probably hadn’t been there since yesterday.  My officers swear blind that they were watching the house the whole time; they watched him go in but they didn’t see him come out.  I feel really gutted.  Those two are usually pretty good; that’s why I put them on that job.”

“This guy is really good at what he does though isn’t he?  He’s able to blend into so many different backgrounds because he looks inconspicuous. I’ve seen CCTV footage of him but I doubt if I could pick him out in a line up, let alone in the kind of crowd that’s going to be here today. “

“Ah, well I can do something about that.”  DC Long pulled a photo out of his pocket and handed it to her.  She looked closely at the young man; short dark hair but not so short that it made him look aggressive; dark brown eyes that were set a little too deep in a face that was vaguely handsome but unmemorable.  The only real distinguishing feature was the scar on his neck which showed up vividly on the profile shot.  “Would you recognise him now?”

Sally nodded.  “I think so, especially if I saw him from behind.  That scar is really distinctive.  I’ve got a feeling I have seen him though.  In the canteen once and out in the car park too.”

“Keep your eyes peeled then. If you see anything that worries you just press the red button on your radio.  I’ll be there straight away and so will several other bobbies – except maybe the two that are on kitchen detail.  That chef has proved too much for even them; she’s got them washing up now.  I’m going to the front now.  Are you okay?”

“I’m fine, honestly.  They’re letting me collect glasses and I’ve been told not to pick up more than four at a time in case I drop any.  I can cope with that.”

DC Long grinned, then reached out and squeezed her hand before striding off towards the entrance.  Sally was touched by his solicitous behaviour and hoped that he had some nice lady – or man – tucked away somewhere.  She thought of her husband and boys and how they would laugh when they found out what she’d been up to today.  Her youngest would be deeply envious of the radio and the possibility of being involved in a murder. 

The first visitors had arrived; inevitably of minor importance because the really impressive guests would arrive fashionably late.  Sally watched as her fellow waiters and waitresses left the marquee and proffered the flutes of orange liquid that clashed quite horribly with the lavender decorations.  Perhaps Susie should have gone for Kir Royale and a grenadine punch.  It seemed that these early visitors were also hell bent on consuming as much alcohol as possible so Sally was soon busy picking up the empties and returning them to the cheerful girl washing glasses at the back of the marquee.

Moving from table to table gave her an excellent opportunity to look at a variety of necks and she tried to do this as surreptitiously as possible.  Waiting staff had also begun to circulate with platters of finger food; Susie had obviously decided that Spanish tapas was the order of the day but neglected to advise the staff to supply her guests with napkins or plates.  Using her initiative Sally acquired some from the kitchen and supplemented her original duties by handing out lavender and white napkins to guests with oily, tomato and garlic-stained fingers.

Taking her latest load of empties and used napkins back in to the marquee, Sally spotted DS Hammond and the Chief Constable; he was resplendent in full dress uniform, she looked cool, elegant and extremely classy in a brown shantung silk sheath dress and amber pashmina draped effortlessly round her shoulders.  She spotted Sally and nodded imperceptibly with just the tiniest tilt of her eyebrow.  Feeling oddly pleased that she seemed to have passed a test of some kind; she turned back towards the marquee and laughed to herself as she noticed that despite Susie’s commands the farmer had started up his tractor and was moving slowly up and down the farthest field.

The garden was filling up now with a throng of expensively dressed and perma-tanned women accompanied by elderly men in linen jackets, beautiful young boys and girls and some very imperious elderly ladies who were knocking back the Bucks Fizz and filling up with tortillas as if their lives depended upon it.  Susie had arranged for a charity raffle and tombola with the kind of prizes never even dreamed of at a church fete.  The tombola tickets were selling for ten pounds, and one hundred pounds for a book of five raffle tickets. Wandering past with her latest batch of glasses, Sally couldn’t resist taking a quick look at the prizes on the table and a further list of raffle prizes donated by local businesses.

“Don’t you have anything to do?  This is way out of your league Sally; get back into the marquee where you belong!”  Susie, temporarily away from her dais hissed into Sally’s ear. 

Mustering all the dignity that she could, Sally picked up a few more glasses and walked back into the tent noting that the farmer had moved into the field next door and seemed to have a different kind of trailer fitted to the back of the tractor now.  Sally hoped that he might come close enough to drown out Susie’s impending speech and decided to take a trip back to the house for more napkins. 

Looking back from the house, she saw the tractor moving round the edge of the field towards the house slowly.  She went into the kitchen and spent a happy ten minutes picking at canapés with the bobbies who had finished the washing up and were now practising their vegetable chopping skills.  Feeling a little guilty, she gathered up another pile of napkins and came out of kitchen door in time to see Susie take her place on the dais; waiting impatiently while a pony-tailed young man adjusted the microphone so that she could reach it. 

The tractor was approaching the marquee side of the garden and Sally glanced over, expecting to see some elderly farmer hunched behind the wheel.  The figure, face hidden by a large black baseball cap, seemed quite young and athletic.  It was only when the tractor rounded the corner and moved closer to the hedge that the scar on the person’s neck became visible and Sally’s very acute sense of smell allowed her to appreciate the purpose of the trailer.

She hit the red button on the radio and ducked into the marquee; managing to catch DS Hammond’s eye and beckon her over frantically. Stopping only to kick off her heels, she sprinted towards Sally and was safely inside before the first spray of evil-smelling slurry hit Susie and the other figures on the dais.  Unfortunately, the Chief Constable had been asked to come up and draw the raffle; so together with Susie he received a total drenching.

Watching from inside the marquee, Sally was amazed at how far a trailer of animal waste could go when shot at speed out of a tube.  The majority of guests had congregated at the front of the dais with their raffle tickets at the ready and they too had caught the full force of the spray.  DC Long and the other officers were racing across the field in pursuit of the tractor driver.  The speed of Sally’s response meant that they were scrambling over the hedge by the time the slurry had done its worst.  One of the officers from the kitchen lumbered up into the cab of the tractor and turned off the engine but by that time the trailer was almost empty anyway.

Susie was still on the dais; immobile and completely brown; she seemed to be in some kind of fugue state and was completely oblivious to the chaos surrounding her, a smile frozen on her face.

DS Hammond turned to Sally and raised her eyebrows.  “Thanks for that.  This dress cost me more than I care to think about.  My shoes seem to be out of the danger area too.  I have a feeling that this garden party is going to grind to a halt shortly.  Shall we go out and assess the damage?”

“How strong is your stomach?   Slurry has a particularly pervasive smell,” Sally wrinkled her nose.  “Did you come in a car with the Chief Constable? “

“No, we drove separately and met up at the car park.  We’ll have to breathe through our mouths.”

“Hang on,” Sally reached behind the bar and pulled out her handbag which was full of a variety of useful objects.  Dosing two napkins with lavender oil, she passed one to DS Hammond and clasped the other to her own nose. 

“Just one thing.  How did you know what was going to happen?”

“I didn’t.  DC Long showed me a photo of the lad and he had a scar on his neck.  It wasn’t until the tractor went past me that I could see the scar.  That’s when I hit the red button and got out the way.”

Giggling like two naughty school girls they emerged from the tent and surveyed the scene.  The more sober guests were standing in outraged silence or trying to wipe off the worst of the mess with Sally’s napkins.  Most of the waiting staff, not wealthy enough to buy raffle tickets and not interested in who was going to claim the prizes, had taken the opportunity to eat and drink in the marquee, so they too were unscathed and odourless.  They opened up some more champagne and brought it out to the garden to ply the more inebriated guests who were comparing their varying states of disarray.

“Hammond!”  The Chief Constable’s voice boomed across the garden.  Stopping only to put her shoes back on, DS Hammond strode over to him, holding the napkin to her nose.” How the hell did you manage to stay clean?  Who was driving that tractor?  Have we caught him yet?”

“I have Sally to thank for that Sir.  She recognised the man we’ve been looking for and alerted Long.  She also alerted me thankfully.  I think you’re going to need a new uniform Sir.”

“Thank you.  That observation was totally unnecessary.  I thought psychopaths were devoid of humour.”

“Not this one apparently.  Shall I get your driver Sir?”

I’m not sure he’ll even let me in the car in this state.”

Sally stepped forward.  “There’s a hose round the back of the gardener’s hut, we could wash the worst off and put a table cloth over the car seat.  The sooner you get it off the better.  Slurry’s a bit like skunk spray really; it’s because it ferments in the pit.  Excellent fertiliser but stays on your skin for ages.”

The Chief Constable looked at her suspiciously.  “You seem to be very knowledgeable about this slurry stuff?”

“I grew up in the country; kids tend to have a bit of an awful fascination with slurry pits.  Adults ban you from going near them and as a consequence you just have to go and look – and smell.”

Pulling himself up to his full height and trying very hard to look dignified, the Chief Constable stepped down off the dais.  As he moved toward the house, less slurried people moved out of his way.  He frowned.  “Where is this hose?”

“Follow me,” said Sally and led him round to the hut.  I suggest that you take your jacket and hat off at least.  They seem to have taken the worst of it.” 

One of the police officers from the kitchen came forward and took the Chief Constable’s clothes, wrapping them up in one of the hastily obtained table cloths.  Wielding the hose as gently as he could, he proceeded to wash off the worst of the slurry from the now slightly more grateful Chief Constable.

Sally and DS Hammond walked back to the dais where Susie had been led to the throne and was sitting down, wrapped in a blanket but still covered in slurry.  She looked up as they approached and she pointed at Sally.

“You!  Why aren’t you covered in this shit!  Did you plan this?  Did you?  You’ve ruined me!  No one will ever come to my garden parties after this!  I’ll be blacklisted in every decent house in the county and I’m sure that you’re behind this!”

She threw herself to the floor of the dais and began sobbing noisily, hammering with her tiny fists and screeching.  Those around her moved away quickly.  Sally looked around and called out “Any doctors in the garden?”

An elderly gentleman removed his soiled jacket and threw it on the table; he stepped forward and knelt down by the side of Susie who was now rocking from side to side and keening like a wild animal.  He looked up at Sally.  “Better call an ambulance I think, she’s beyond anything I can do here.”

DS Hammond summoned one of the officers over and sent him scurrying back to the house to make the call.  As she turned to watch him Sally caught sight of DC Long coming back across the fields with a very big grin on his face.  She nudged DS Hammond and the two of them moved over to the fence to meet him.  The bow tie had disappeared and the immaculate white shirt was extremely grimy. 

“We’ve got him!  The lads are walking him back to the road, I thought that was better than bringing him in here.  What the hell happened?  What’s the awful smell?”

“Slurry – fermented animal waste and water – used for fertilising” said Sally. “Smells like hell and hangs around forever.  Susie and the Chief Constable copped for the worst of it.  Susie’s completely flipped out and the CC is being hosed down round the back of the kitchen by one of your officers.  The rest of Susie’s guests are either very, very drunk and will spend the next month smelling to high heaven or extremely sober and hell bent on snubbing Susie for eternity.  Faced with this I think she really would rather be dead.  Actually, I don’t think she is thinking now.  Remember that mental health facility we were talking about this morning?”

“Wow!”  DC Long looked over at DS Hammond, coolly standing by and reunited now with her pashmina and bag.  “Looks like the two of you had a miraculous escape.  That would appear to be a very expensive outfit?”

“More than you and I earn in a month.  I’m heading back to the station to get changed and have a little chat with your tractor driver.  We’ll get one of the other lads to drop you home if you don’t mind Sally?”

“No, of course not.  You’ve got work to do and I’m just relieved that I don’t have to spend all day collecting glasses after all.  I’ll stay and see Susie into the ambulance though if that’s okay?”

“Sure.  I’ll send an officer round.  There’s one other thing.  Tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow?  It’s Monday– you know – back to work.”

“We haven’t exactly finished yet.  A few loose ends to tie up tomorrow.  We’ll come and get you.”

Sally grinned resignedly and waved goodbye, a lavender scented napkin still clutched in her hand.

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