Detective Constable Kathryn O’Hara paced the length of the meeting room determinedly, her hands held out in front of her, fingers interlocked. She fixed her eyes on the constables who were sat around the table, collecting her thoughts.
‘Here’s what we know so far, Fred Williams and other, yet unidentified, individuals were responsible for a deed, likely a crime. Notes dated shortly after Salim Akhtar’s disappearance, disclosed this information. These were written by Robert Smith. Jerome Walters had visited Robert Smith twice in the weeks before his death.
‘Now three people have shown up, with a statement, wishing to admit to a crime. They, not coincidentally, know Fred Williams. Am I missing something?’ Kathryn summarised.
‘Nope, good job boss, that’s everything,’ Frank concurred.
Kathryn raised an eyebrow, before continuing, ‘Ok, next steps: Frank and Harry, you need to go and invite Mr Walters for an interview. The evidence implicating him is currently circumstantial, but I’ll interview the three that have come in and see what they’ve got to say. Eleanor, I need you to update Superintendent Anderson concerning the progress of the investigation. All clear?’
Eleanor nodded, struggling to mask her smile at being entrusted with the update. Frank and Harry stood up to prepare for their delegated task.
Jerome Walters sat at his desk, his eyes blankly staring at the screen of his laptop. He did not how long he had been sat there. He was oblivious to what documents he had opened on the laptop. Jerome’s mind was overwhelmed with one fear. The Police had questioned Fred. It would only be a matter of time before their line of enquiry led to him. The Police would find out. Fred was not even responding to any phone calls or text messages.
‘What’s wrong? You’ve been in here all day,’ Jerome’s wife, Claire enquired concernedly.
‘Nothing,’ Jerome responded, his eyes not shifting from the screen. Exasperated, Claire left the room.
At that moment, a knock on the door resounded through the air. His pulse quickening, Jerome uneasily got to his feet. A lump formed in his throat. He trudged to the door, his shaking hands unlatching the lock. He eased the door open. It was the Police.
‘Hi, I’m Constable Frank Phillips and this is Constable Harry Goldfield,’ Frank introduced. Jerome did not respond. ‘We’d like to ask you a few questions about Robert Smith. Would you like to go through these here or at the station?’ Harry asked.
Claire appeared at the sound of the voices. ‘What’s going on Jerome?’ she enquired, her eyes reflecting her bewilderment. His gaze averted, Jerome answered, ‘I’ll explain later. I’m sorry.’
He turned to the Officers. ‘I’ll come to the station,’ he said. With that, Jerome stepped outside in their wake. He squinted as the glare from the sun obscured his vision. Silently, Jerome followed them to the police car. He climbed inside, his heart pounding.
Jerome sat silently in the room. His thumping heart resonated in his ears. It was over. The secret was up.
‘Why did you visit Robert Smith twice on 13th and 20th March?’ Frank questioned. The words burst from Jerome’s lips.
‘He messaged me, asking to meet. He wanted to confess what happened to Salim; that we were responsible for his death. I kept delaying him. I told him to wait. That it was a group decision, we had to discuss it with everyone else. He was not listening. He had secretly written notes to us to get us to confess years ago. He had written another one which he was going to send to everyone. He just wouldn’t listen to me. He was going to come to you.
‘I didn’t know how to stop him. I didn’t mean to push him. Then he fell down the stairs and…gone,’ Jerome said, tears flowing down his cheeks.
‘What was Fred Williams’ involvement?’ Frank questioned.
‘He didn’t know anything until I told him what I’d done. He said we had to hide what had happened to Salim. That was all we were doing. That was all I was trying to get Robert to agree to. It was an accident,’ Jerome whimpered.
The disdain palpable on his face, Harry recited the caution prior to arrest.
Salim dropped the heavy suitcase into the boot of his car. He shut the boot. A gentle breeze drifted across him, wafting through his hair as he approached the driver’s door of his car. He opened it and climbed inside, his eyes focused on the horizon that lay ahead. He set the navigation system for Bracken Wood. Salim did not know who he was or what his life had been. All he knew were the last 15 years. There had been struggles associated with not knowing his past; at times they felt insurmountable. However he had overcome them thankfully. Now it was time to piece together his former life. His foot pressed down on the accelerator and he was on his way.
Kathryn O’Hara sipped her coffee as she sat outside on the patio. She watched as Anna ran through the grass, occasionally plucking flowers from the soil. The rays from the setting sun tinged everything they touched in orange. ‘I’ll go get dessert,’ Pete, who was sat beside her, said. With that, he left the table. Charges had been brought against Jerome for manslaughter and Fred for his kidnapping of Salim. Greg, Saira and Ashraf had been unaware of the kidnapping plan, playing a peripheral role in it all at best. Along with Jerome’s statement, theirs had helped in bringing the charges against Fred Williams.
It had been a long time since Kathryn had enjoyed some annual leave. She smiled, her eyes fixed on the slowly disappearing sun.
Ashraf sat at his desk, proofreading the letter of advice to his client which was open on the screen. He glanced outside where Saira and the children were basking in the sunlight. It had been a difficult two weeks but thankfully they had passed. The burden of the secret that they had carried for the last 15 years had been lifted to an extent. He had been foolish in his youth. If he could, he would have gone back in time to change his choices. Unfortunately that was not possible.
Ashraf had learnt that Salim was still alive, albeit without his memory. It did not make sense. Ashraf did not know how it was possible. He had made tentative steps to reintroduce himself with scant response thus far. Ashraf returned to his work.
Greg felt the cold water cascade over his toes, as the tide came in. His legs were spread out in front of him and his hands were pressed into the soft sand underfoot. He watched the setting sun in the distance. The tranquil water shimmered as it reflected the suns rays. He was glad to know Salim was alive. Their regrettable actions had irrevocably altered his life. That was something Greg had to come to terms with. A gentle breeze blew across him, tousling his hair. Greg had enjoyed a small break at the beach after a long day at work. However, now, with the evening dawning, he had to go home.