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Searching for Scarlet

by Rob Watson 6 months ago in Mystery
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Chapters 6-10 of Murder Mystery Novel

Chapter 6

Jordan was rushing his breakfast, he knew Sabine was about to knock on his door any moment. They’d arranged for her to pick him up at 9:30am and Jordan already had the impression of Sabine that she was unlikely to be late. Just as he gulped down the last of his fruit juice he heard a car horn outside his apartment, grabbed his wallet, phone, keys and Sandi’s journal that he’d printed out. Opened his front door then, before stepping out, he quickly turned round and grabbed a pair of sunglasses. Waved to Sabine with one hand whilst he closed his door with another.

‘One of the many plus points this job has over being in the police is the no uniform situation,’ Jordan said as he got into Sabine's car wearing a sleeveless T-shirt, long shorts and a pair of battered, old trainers. ‘Especially when it’s as hot as this.’

‘Can’t argue with that, even though I was out of uniform for most of my police career, there were still dress codes I had to stick to,’ Sabine’s just above knee length skirt and white vest top wouldn’t have been allowed in her police days. ‘Anyway, enough fashion talk. Can’t believe we’ve been talking for nearly thirty seconds without mentioning that journal. Looks like you’re starting with a crazy case,’ she added as she started up the car and set off driving.

‘I was hoping to ease my way in with a few missing pet cases, but what the heck. Have to be honest with you, I fell asleep last night, somewhere around mid March, looks like jet lag caught up with me after all.’

‘I’ll let you off just this once.’

‘Thanks ever so much. So what did I miss?’

‘Just more of the same. Did you get up to that big party she went to?’

‘The one with all the high rollers ringing her up after it?’

‘Yeah that’s the one.’

‘That’s where I got up to before I finally fell asleep properly.’

‘Amazing that someone can have a life like that and hide it from so many people. Everybody we have spoken to so far on campus is convinced she is a quiet little angel.’

‘So did she ever get round to mentioning any names? Or was it just a bunch more “contacts”?’

‘No names at all I’m afraid, so no easy leads. Journal stops in June when College breaks up for the summer.’

‘The only name we have is that lecturer guy,’ Jordan pointed out.

‘That’s true, although, from the little we know about him, I really don’t think he’s the killing type. Massively creepy and sleazy, but not a killer.’

‘We’re still going to have a chat with him though?’

‘Oh hell yeah, coercing girls into having sex with him for better marks might not be classed as rape but it’s definitely way beyond wrong. At the very least it should ruin him professionally,’ Sabine confirmed.

‘Not sure the written testimony of a probably dead girl is going to be classed as conclusive evidence,’ Jordan said.

‘Me neither but I’m thinking if he did it with Sandi he probably did it with others, so if we ask them the right way we might get one or more of them to speak out against him. Oh by the way the blood in the room all matches Sandi’s and there’s only one persons blood there.’

‘Forensics done already?’

‘Yeah Fred phoned me this morning, only one set of fingerprints as well. They also said that there was approximately six pints of blood there and nobody could lose that amount of blood and survive.’

‘Looks like a murder then.’

‘It most certainly does.’

When Sabine and Jordan got to the campus they found out which class it was that Chad had been Sandi’s lecturer, then got a list of all the females in that group and went in search of those seventeen girls. After a couple of them not being in their dorm room and a couple telling them that they hadn’t had any such sexual contact with the lecturer, Sabine and Jordan knocked on Shannon’s door.

‘Hi, are you Shannon?’ Sabine said as the young girl, wearing a long t-shirt and her hair a little messed up, opened the door.

‘Yeah,’ she replied whilst rubbing her eyes, followed by a yawn.

‘I’m Sabine and this is Jordan, we’re private investigators looking into the disappearance and probable murder of Sandi Lords.’

‘Oh right, okay, erm, come on in then.’

‘Thanks.’

‘Thanks Shannon,’ Jordan added.

‘Sandi Lords, do I know her?’ Shannon seemed to be asking herself more than Jordan and Sabine.

‘You were in the same ancient history class with her first semester of last year,’ Sabine said.

‘Slim girl, mousy brown shoulder length hair, wore plain clothes,’ Jordan added.

‘Oh yeah, I know who you mean. Nice girl,’ Shannon said. ‘Hardly knew her though,’ she added quickly and started to fidget with her hair.

‘Don’t worry, you’re no where near being a suspect or anything like that,’ Jordan said.

‘Yeah that’s right,’ Sabine added. ‘We’re really here to ask you about the lecturer in that class, Chad Johnson.’

‘What about him? I hardly know him either, he’s just a teacher.’

‘According to Sandi’s journal he was a bit more than that to her,’ Sabine said.

‘How do you mean?’

‘He persuaded Sandi to perform several sexual acts on a few occasions, in return for him giving her higher marks,’ Sabine explained.

‘You don’t look too shocked,’ Jordan said.

Shannon put her hands over her face for a moment or two then ran them through her hair. ‘Not shocked, not shocked at all.’

‘Did he have the same deal with you?’ Sabine asked.

‘No not quite,’ Shannon couldn’t look at her inquisitors anymore, she stared out of the window as she talked.

‘Look Shannon,’ Jordan said. ‘Let me make this perfectly clear, we’re not after you at all, we’re after him. If he did what Sandi says in her journal, then he’s the bad guy. So whatever you say we promise that we’ll do whatever we can to make sure you don’t get in any trouble.’

Tears began to form in Shannon’s eyes. ‘He started on me right from the start of the semester, leaving me notes all the time. All his messages were saying the same thing, if I wanted to improve my marks then all I had to do was come by his office some time and, what was the phrase he always used?’ “Pleasure me”, that’s it, “Pleasure me”. I was sickened by it right from the start, I sort of knew that I should tell someone, but I really didn’t think anybody would believe me. Then as time wore on I,’ Shannon stopped to take a few deep breathes and wipe her eyes. ‘I started to think that maybe it wasn’t that bad an idea, I mean he’s quite good looking and I knew I was going to struggle with the class. Oh God it sounds even worse when I say it out loud. Anyway when it got to exam time I was just so stressed, I knew my mark wasn’t going to be as high as my other marks and that my parents would not be happy. So the day before the exam I found him in is office and I set about “pleasuring him”,’ Shannon wiped away some more tears and looked thoroughly ashamed of herself. ‘Oh God you must think I’m such a slut, and you’re right. It’s just that I was so desperate for better marks. Then to make it all even worse, after I’ve made him come he just sits back in his chair and says: “Not bad, not good enough though. Think your marks will be staying the same. Feel free to try again next semester though.” So it turns out not only am I a slut, but I’m not even good at being one. If Sandi had an ongoing thing then I guess she was better,’ the tears and deep breathing had been replaced by a disconsolate, blank stare in the direction of her feet. ‘She seemed so cute and innocent though, just can’t imagine her being a slut.’

‘Look Shannon I really don’t know what to say,’ Sabine said. ‘You made a mistake, but you know that already. That doesn’t make you a bad person, you just keep remembering that he’s the bad person in this scenario.’

‘Yeah and well done for telling us, I can’t begin to imagine how tough that must have been,’ Jordan added.

‘Thanks for letting me tell somebody and not being too judgmental. It’s being gnawing away at me for pretty much a year now.’

‘We’ll be doing our best to make sure that at the very least the guy never works in any sort of education establishment again,’ Sabine assured Shannon.

‘That’s for sure,’ Jordan added. ‘Just one more question before we go. Do you know of any other girls that he’s done anything like this to?’

‘No I don’t, although I’d be surprised if it was just me and Sandi.’

‘Okay thanks Shannon,’ Sabine said. ‘You sure you’re going to be all right here on your own for now?’

‘Yeah, I’ll have a good cry then I’ll be fine,’ Shannon said and allowed herself a small smile.

‘That’s a good idea, a good cry can work wonders,’ Sabine said.

‘How would you know?’ Jordan asked. ‘You’re an icy bitch.’

Sabine smiled at Jordan’s comment then said: ‘Even the coldest ice can melt.’

It took the rest of that morning for Sabine and Jordan to track down the rest of the young ladies who took that class. They found three more that told them they’d been treated like Shannon. Of the ones that said they’d done nothing like that there were a few that Sabine and Jordan found hard to believe. None of them admitted to being a regular visitor in the way Sandi had described.

Once they’d done all their interviews, Sabine and Jordan went to present their findings to the Dean of the Campus. He was in his office and invited them in warmly, expecting to get an update on Sandi’s situation. Instead he heard the horrible tale about one of his teaching staff. As soon as Sabine had finished the brief version of the story, the Dean was on the phone telling Chad Johnson to come to his office immediately. Within a couple of minutes of the phone call Chad entered the office, looking concerned yet still somewhat arrogant and smug – in keeping with the image that had been portrayed to Sabine and Jordan.

‘Sit down Johnson and listen to what these private investigators have to say,’ the Dean’s tone was more in keeping with talking to a naughty ten year old.

‘Mr Johnson,’ Sabine took on the role of explanation giver. ‘During the course of some inquiries we’ve been making, we have been reliably informed by several sources that you offer female class members the chance for improved marks in return for sexual favours. We’ve spoken to the girls in question and they are all prepared to give evidence against you if it comes to that.’

‘These are extremely serious allegations Johnson, what do you have to say for yourself?’ The Dean asked.

‘Is having sex with students illegal?’

‘You admitting it?’ Sabine checked.

‘No, just wondering.’

‘Let me guess,’ Jordan said. ‘You want us to say something along the lines of, “no but it is frowned upon”. Do you really think ruining young ladies lives is something just to be frowned upon?’

‘Can’t see how sex with me could be classed as ruining their lives, not that they’ve had sex with me,’ Johnson spoke with a disgusting arrogance.

‘From what we’ve heard it would be,’ Sabine said.

‘What’s that supposed to mean?’ Johnson replied quickly.

‘She means that all the girls that have had sex with you, weren’t in the least bit complimentary,’ Jordan said and fixed Johnson with the sort of glare he used to use on his most hated opponents.

‘At least you never took up too much of their time,’ Sabine said. ‘And on at least one occasion you couldn’t even finish yourself, barely raising anything, let alone her marks.’

‘That bitch Wendy said she’d never say anything about that.’

‘Wendy? Who’s Wendy?’ Sabine asked.

‘Don’t look so smug bitch,’ Johnson said.

‘Don’t talk to her like that,’ Jordan said. ‘She’s an icy bitch, get it right.’

‘Sure am,’ Sabine said.

‘You both know there’s no chance I’m going to be criminally convicted.’

‘What happens from now on really isn’t up to us, we’re just happy to have brought to light the fact that you’re a horrible, sleazy guy who takes advantage of young girls and you’re not even any good at it,’ Sabine told him.

‘I thought you guys were here to investigate that girl going missing or getting murdered or whatever.’

‘Is that your defence?’ Jordan wondered. ‘Bad news for you is that it turns out Sandi kept a journal and she wasn’t shy about what she put in there.’

‘Sandi Lords? I never touched that chick.’

‘Little late now for denials. The police will be around soon and you better hope you have a great alibi for Thursday night,’ Sabine said.

‘Seriously, she was not really my type, a little too plain if you know what I mean.’

‘Johnson,’ the Dean barked out the name in an attention grabbing manner. ‘In this crazy mixed up modern world, I’m now duty bound to merely suspend you while we conduct a formal investigation. But I’m going to say fuck the crazy mixed up modern world, you are fired you sick son of a bitch. I’m hoping the door hits you on the ass on the way out.’

Chapter 7

She woke up from what felt like only a short sleep and didn’t take long for her to realise that she was still handcuffed to the bed.

‘You drifted off there for a while Scarlet,’ her kidnapper said. ‘I promise I didn’t drug you this time.’

‘Thanks that means a lot to me, guess this being kidnapped is just taking a lot out of me.’

‘There’s that feistiness again.’

‘Were you expecting me to be all teary, and begging and pleading with you.’

‘Didn’t give too much thought to what you’d be like, but yeah I guess I was expecting something along those lines.’

‘Sorry to disappoint.’

‘No problem, think I prefer it this way. The other way would have been boring.’

‘I’m anything but boring.’

‘I can guess that from the bright red hair. So if I hold you here long enough will your natural colour come out?’

‘I suppose it will.’

‘What is it?’

‘Oh I don’t want to ruin the surprise.’

‘Something tells me you’re usually the one in control when you’re with a guy.’

‘That’s a correct assumption. Trust me most me most guys want me to be in control.’

‘I can imagine.’

‘Thought you said this wasn’t a sex thing.’

‘Promise it isn’t, I can have sex pretty much anytime I want if I really want it, so I assure you that forced sex is not on my criminal resume.’

‘Fancy yourself much.’

‘Maybe just a little.’

‘Seems to me like I can forget about you fitting into any of my “most guys” categories.’

‘I am hard to pigeon hole.’

‘Yeah you wouldn’t need me to be in charge. Most guys are always just looking for somebody to look after them. It’s a bizarre conflict though because they all want to be the dominant partner in terms of being the provider and all that crap, and they see themselves as superior to women and yet they all just want somebody to look after them, to mother them.’

‘You’ve been spending way too much time thinking about this.’

‘Guilty. So what’s your story? How did you get into this bizarre life?’

‘My story? I’m kidnapping you and you want to know my story?’

‘If I’m going to be stuck in a room with you, may as well get to know you.’

‘Trust me you could be stuck in a room with me for ten years and not get to know me.’

‘Secretive, mysterious, loner, never lets anybody get close to him.’

‘That’s all accurate, but doesn’t exactly make you psychic to work that out.’

‘So how about you’re upbringing? I’m always fascinated by what sort of upbringing people with such rare lives must have had.’

‘So is this the point where I’m supposed to blame my parents, saying how they are responsible for how bad a person I’ve become.’

‘If you want to.’

‘I’m an orphan so that’s one card I can’t play.’

‘Oh really?’

‘Yeah, that so outlandish?’

‘No it’s just that,’ she paused for a moment. ‘I have a friend who was an orphan, just taken back by the coincidence. She’s told me all about being brought up in a home, she says it wasn’t that bad at all.’

‘I guess it depends what home you get put in.’

‘Yeah I can imagine some aren’t the best.’

‘Speaking of my friend, you haven’t kidnapped her too have you?’

‘Do you think I offer some sort of two for the price of one service?’

‘No just checking you haven’t kidnapped or killed her.’

‘I haven’t killed or kidnapped her.’

‘Can you be sure you haven’t killed her?’

‘You think I kill so many people that I forget about some?’

‘No it’s just that you don’t know her name or what she looks like or anything.’

‘I know I haven’t killed her because I have never killed a woman. I’m not a total monster, I kill people who….’

‘Deserve to be killed?’

‘It’s not up to me to decide who deserves to be killed. But I do only kill people who are caught up in he sort of world I’m in, most of them are killers themselves.’

‘You trying to justify yourself to me?’

‘Why in the world would I want to justify myself to little old you?’

‘Maybe you’re trying to justify yourself to you.’

‘Are you charging by the hour for this therapy?’

‘See I’m getting inside your head already, given ten years I reckon I’d know you pretty well.’

‘Here’s hoping it doesn’t come to that then.’

‘Just out of interest how do you get into a job like yours? Not like there are adverts for it in the paper.’

‘Like most jobs in a lot of ways. Start by knowing somebody who wants something done, you do it. From then on if you keep doing your job well then you’ll never have to apply for a job, the work will always find you.’

Chapter 8

Jordan came out of a sandwich shop that Sabine had highly recommended, carrying a bag with a baguette for himself and one for Sabine as well as a drink each. He wandered across the road to join Sabine, who was sitting on a bench on the edge of the beach looking out over the ocean. Sabine was just finishing on the phone when Jordan got to her.

‘Told them about our work this morning,’ Sabine began to tell Jordan of her conversation with the police. ‘They’re interviewing Johnson right now.’

‘Did you send them a copy of the journal?’

‘Yeah Fred was reading it when I phoned him. They’ve done a background check on Sandi, turns out she’s an orphan with no close family to speak of.’

‘This case isn’t full of leads is it?’ Jordan said as he handed Sabine her baguette

‘Not the most straight forward one for us to start with. Tuna Mayo, no salad and bottle of still water, well remembered. What did you get?’

‘Couldn’t resist the cheese and pineapple.’

‘Good call. Have to tell you I was expecting you to come out with a couple of them for yourself, with maybe a few muffins as well.’

‘Oh no, I’m more than wary of becoming one of those ex-sportsmen that balloon in weight after they stop playing, because they stop the exercise but carry on eating just as much.’

‘So you used to eat a lot?’

‘Oh yeah. Mostly healthy stuff to be fair, but you can’t do all the running I did and stay around sixteen stone without eating a heck of a lot. Here’s an interesting point, what would you call what we’re eating now?’

‘This?’ Sabine looked a little perplexed and gestured towards the food in her hand.

‘Yeah.’

‘You’re playing around a little with the term interesting. I’d call it a baguette.’

‘You see I’d call it a butty, or maybe a bread roll.’

‘Must be an Anglo American thing.’

‘No not at all, plenty of people back home would call it a baguette or a sandwich. People who are, or would like to give the impression of being, upper class would do so, others like myself would call it a butty.’

‘Butty? That’s cool, I like that word, I think I’m going to start using that.’

‘There you go, an open mind, that’s what I like to see. Another thing, you probably call this meal lunch?’

‘Yeah.’

‘I’d call it dinner. You see back home upper classes have breakfast, lunch and dinner. Lower classes have breakfast, dinner and tea.’

‘Fascinating insight into the British social structure,’ Sabine smiled.

‘Now you’ve taken it too far, it was borderline interesting, to call it fascinating is just plain silly.’

‘I’m gathering from all this that one of your great fears is that somebody one day calls you a snob.’

‘Damn you’re good.’

After their midday meal in that scenic location, Sabine and Jordan headed back to the campus, figuring that more people would be arriving there on the Saturday, therefore more people to interview. Sandi’s room still had the police tape around it and a uniformed officer on guard, so it was still attracting a lot of attention, especially from the people arriving on campus that day. Sabine and Jordan interviewed as many of the passers by as they could. To begin with it was all the same story as the previous day, quiet, shy, polite, nice, kept herself to herself, didn’t really know her that well. Then at a time when there were no other passers by a female student came up to Sandi’s room.

‘Oh my God! What’s happened to Sandi? I keep hearing terrible things,’ she spoke with a tremble in her voice as she approached the room and saw the police tape and Sabine and Jordan.

‘Are you a friend of Sandi’s?’ Sabine asked as she moved herself to block the young ladies path to the door.

‘Yeah I’m her best friend on campus, what the hell has happened? Some people are saying she’s dead, some are saying she’s just missing.’

‘Officially she’s just missing, but I’m afraid that it looks in all likelihood that she’s dead, I’m sorry,’ Sabine spoke with sympathy even though she knew from experience that there was no way to make something like that good to hear. ‘What’s your name?’

‘Stacie.’

‘You feel like talking to us about Sandi? Sounds like you know her better than anyone else around here.’

‘Okay, okay,’ Stacie wiped away a tear from each eye. ‘If it’ll help catch the person who did this.’

‘It might just do that Stacie. By the way I’m Sabine and this is Jordan, we’re private investigators working on this case. So what can you tell us about Sandi?’

‘Just that she was the sweetest girl ever and you couldn’t ask for a better friend. I suppose we weren’t amazingly close, but we spent a good deal of time together, she tended to keep herself to herself but she seemed to like spending time with me.’

Sabine and Jordan looked at each other slightly despondently as they thought they were about to hear nothing new at all.

‘Did Sandi ever mention anything about her life off campus?’ Jordan asked. ‘Night times, weekends for example.’

‘No not really, she liked to just stay in her room, watch films, read books and such.’

‘That’s what everyone else thinks,’ Sabine said.

‘What do you mean “thinks”?’

‘Sandi lead a secret life,’ Sabine said.

Stacie looked at both of them in a puzzled manner. ‘Have you guys read her journal?’

‘Yeah, did you know she kept a journal?’ Jordan checked.

‘The journal where she leads a wild hedonistic lifestyle and makes money out of having sex with married people and public figures?’

‘Yeah,’ Sabine said and now it was hers and Jordan’s turn to look puzzled.

‘That journal is totally fake, she made it all up.’

‘You sure?’ Sabine checked.

‘Yeah we had this idea to write a fictional journal and send it to each other to read. In mine I win American Idol.’

‘Can you be absolutely sure that Sandi didn’t do the things she wrote in her journal?’ Jordan asked.

‘As sure as anyone could be about something like that.’

‘How?’

‘Because on most of the nights she claimed to be out having wild sex, she was actually sat in one of our rooms watching some chick flick on DVD.’

Sabine and Jordan looked at each other and shook their heads.

‘So do you know of anybody that might have done this to Sandi?’ Sabine managed to get back into investigation mode.

‘No not at all, as far as I know most people didn’t even know she existed. Let alone want to kill her. I just can’t imagine her getting caught up in something like this.’

‘She never mentioned anything about any weird guys, stalkers or anything like that?’ Jordan asked.

‘No she never said anything like that to me, in fact we didn’t really talk about guys that much.’

‘All right thanks Stacie,’ Sabine said. ‘Here’s my card, if you think of anything that might be of help to us please give me a call.’

‘Sure.’

‘Oh just one more thing,’ Sabine said. ‘Did Sandi ever mention any other friends she had off campus?’

‘She mentioned an old friend that she’d had from childhood, Erica her name was. Then there was the girl she shared a house with, Scarlet. I never got to meet either of them.’

‘Know either of their surnames?’ Sabine asked.

‘No sorry.’

‘No need to apologise, you’ve been a big help,’ Sabine said.

‘Yeah, biggest help so far,’ Jordan added.

‘And once again I’m really sorry about your friend,’ Sabine said.

‘Thanks.’

After Stacie telling them the truth about the journal both Sabine and Jordan agreed that the best way to start finding some real answers was to track down Scarlet. Meaning a trip back to the house where they’d started their investigation. Just as they started to head for Sabine’s car three male students walked up to them.

‘Hey are you the guys investigating the murder?’ One of them asked, directing his question at Sabine.

‘Yeah, did you know Sandi?’

‘Oh no, not at all, I was just letting you know that you can investigate me anytime baby.’

‘Please say you didn’t put too much thought time into that line,’ Sabine dismissed him.

‘Come on, you know you want to find out what it’s like to be with a younger guy like me.’

‘Seriously guys,’ Jordan intervened. ‘Have you heard of the saying; “out of your league”?’

‘Out of my league? Do you know who I am?’

‘Have you got concussion?’ Jordan asked.

‘What?’

‘Forget it, I was warned about using subtlety with Americans.’

‘I’m the UCLA first choice running back.’

‘And?’ Jordan said. ‘I don’t give a flying fuck if you were the MVP in the Superbowl in your fancy dan, excessive pad and tin hat wearing second rate sport, she’d still be way out of your league.’

Sabine and Jordan walked away from the running back and his two friends, leaving them not knowing what to say in response to Jordan’s little outburst.

‘Just let me know any time I step over the line from protective to over protective,’ Jordan said to Sabine as they got to the car. ‘I have been known to flirt with it a few times over the years.’

‘Hey protect me all you want, I could get used to that. Plus I’ll definitely tell you if it gets annoying,’ Sabine opened up her car and they set off looking for some answers in general and Scarlet in particular.

Chapter 9

‘Not getting any withdrawal symptoms are you Scarlet?’ The kidnapper said as he came into the room with a glass of water and put it on the table by the bed that she remained handcuffed to.

‘Like what?’

‘I don’t know, I was just thinking that if you have any addictions to any substances that being handcuffed to that bed is depriving you of, then you would be likely to suffer withdrawal symptoms some time soon.’

‘You looking at me and assuming I’m some sort of drug addict? Judging people on appearances is not an attractive characteristic.’

‘I never said anything about you being a drug addict. Just that I can imagine you leading a wild lifestyle, and that you might be missing certain aspects of that right now.’

‘In actual fact I am quite enjoying the quiet life, it’s a pleasant change.’

‘And you’re not missing any stimulants?’

‘Right back to the drugs angle.’

‘I don’t mean drugs, what about alcohol.’

‘Alcohol is a drug.’

‘You know what I mean.’

‘Under any definition alcohol is a drug and it’s one of the most dangerous out there.’

‘It’s not that dangerous.’

‘Try telling that to the relatives of people who die from liver failure,’ she said.

‘If you do almost anything to excess then it can become dangerous.’

‘It’s an unarguable fact that if alcohol was invented today then it would be made illegal. Yet it is not only legal, but accepted to the point of being championed.’

‘It’s generally used as a way for people to enjoy themselves,’ he countered.

‘If people can’t enjoy themselves without artificial aid, then there is something very wrong.’

‘That’s probably true, but they’re not doing anyone any harm.’

‘Are you joking? You might want to try saying that to someone who’s sister wasn’t killed by a drunk driver.’

‘I’m sorry, obviously I had no idea.’

‘Actually I don’t know of anyone who has been killed by a drunk driver.’

‘In that case then you are sicker than I am.’

‘I’m just making a point. There’s so many people killed all over the world by drunk drivers. If I had a sister who had been one of those people it wouldn’t have made it any more or less acceptable to drink and drive.’

‘Extreme way of making a point, but I agree that drink driving is contemptible. However I have to say that it’s the fault of the person not the alcohol.’

‘Ultimately it is I suppose. But if it wasn’t so readily accepted as part of society then the number of people drinking alcohol would decrease and therefore the number of drink driving related deaths would decrease. Not to mention all the outbursts of violence that occur only because the people involved are all liquored up.’

‘So you think alcohol should be made illegal?’

‘I think in a utopian society it wouldn’t exist. But in real terms I don’t think it would be practical or much use to make it illegal. What I particularly object to is the way it is portrayed in the media so favourable compared to other drugs. Using some drugs can make a public figure be criticised to such an extent that they can lose their livelihood and be treated like a leper, someone who excessively drinks can be held up as a hero.’

‘So you want to see alcohol treated the same as all the other drugs?’

‘Pretty much. In actual fact I think all drugs should be legalised.’

‘What?!’

‘Most people think I’m crazy, but never mind.’

‘Seems so odd that you have such harsh views on alcohol, yet you think cocaine and heroin should be legal.’

‘It’s a completely separate point.’

‘How can you think that making all drugs legal is a good idea?’

‘Think about it. The instant drugs were made legal, all drug dealers would be out of business. So many crimes all over the world, from the most major to some minor crimes are related to drugs. In one go all those crimes would go away. Also a lot of deaths from drug use come when the quality of the drug is impaired because some dodgy dealer has mixed the drug with other substances to bulk it out.’

‘Surely you can’t think it’s a good idea to have drugs readily available for anybody to buy in high street stores?’

‘There would be an age limit on it, eighteen or twenty one, just like alcohol. Obviously there’s a risk that the number of users would go up if it was so readily available, but at least the quality of the substance would be better. Anyway I believe that the number of users would go down. As soon as something is illegal people want to try it, there is a mystery attached to it. I’m sure that if apples were illegal, more young people would eat them. That sense of longing after a forbidden fruit is a strong one.’

‘You honestly think the number of users would go down?’

‘I think there’s a good chance that they would, certainly over time. Don’t forget that during prohibition there were more Speakeasies than there were bars before prohibition. Along with the control over the quality of the substances and clearing up all the masses of drug related crime, I think it’s an idea worth giving serious consideration to.’

‘Heck, who knows, maybe you’re right. Can’t see it happening though.’

‘Me neither.’

Chapter 10

‘Do I get to knock the door down this time?’ Jordan asked as Sabine was driving.

‘No sorry, the police have already had a look round. They’ve had a new lock put on the door, I’m just going to stop off at the station and get a one of the keys they’ve had cut.’

‘They’ve changed somebody’s lock? Can they do that?’

‘They have. There’s not a lot police don’t think they can do.’

‘And they’re just going to give you one of these keys?’

‘Always good to have contacts. Not to mention a great smile.’

‘Use whatever you can to get an edge.’

There were still no sign of Scarlet in the house. Plenty of signs of two young females living there, but neither of them were around at that time. The two bed rooms both looked as if they were home to a young female. What appeared to be Sandi’s room was tidy, Scarlet's room was a mess, Sandi’s wardrobes and drawers were full of smart but plain clothes, Scarlet's were full of ripped, tight fitting jeans, hot pants, short skirts, cut off tops and vest tops, Sandi’s underwear was again plain, where as Scarlet's were thongs, g-strings and extravagant bras.

‘Guess opposites can attract,’ Jordan said as he looked through Scarlet's wardrobe after having looked at Sandi’s.

‘Certainly looks that way.’

On Sandi’s walls were maps, classic film posters and some Monet reprints, Scarlet's walls were covered with pictures of heavy metal and rock stars, gothic images and martial arts film posters. As if to emphasise their differences Sandi had a San Francisco 49ers calendar and Scarlet had an Oakland Raiders replica top in her wardrobe.

‘They can’t even agree on which Football team to support,’ Sabine said then looked at Jordan. ‘You’re thinking about telling me off for not calling it American Football aren’t you?’

‘Little bit.’

Looking around the kitchen they found a few signs that Scarlet or Sandi or both had definitely been planning on being back in the house soon.

‘Nearly full bottle of milk gone sour,’ Jordan said after opening the milk and smelling it. ‘Recently home-made cookies in the jar and a tub of home made brownies,’ nobody would have voluntarily left these behind.

‘I know I wouldn’t,’ Sabine agreed. ‘Think we should go and ask the neighbours a few questions.’

‘We’re going to drive to next door aren’t we?’ Jordan said shaking his head.

‘Look I’m all for a healthy lifestyle, but it’s over a quarter of a mile away in either direction and it’ll just save time.’

‘All right then, when in Rome I suppose.’

There were only two other houses anywhere near Sandi’s and Scarlet’s house. First house they went to was occupied by a retired couple.

‘Hi there, sorry to trouble you,’ Sabine said as the lady of the house opened the door. ‘My name is Sabine and this is Jordan, we are private investigators looking into the disappearance of the two girls that live in the next house down from here,’ she added and showed her identification.

‘Oh hello dear. Sabine what a lovely name, is it French?’

‘My mother was Belgian.’

‘Oh I see. You can ask me and my husband some questions if you like but I don’t think we’ll be much help, we didn’t know them well at all. The police have already been round and we’ve told them the same thing.’

‘If you don’t mind we’ll ask you some questions anyway,’ Sabine said.

‘Of course dear, come on in. I’m Eileen and my husband’s name is Malcolm,’ Eileen was most welcoming and happy to have people to talk to. ‘Oh my you are a big fellow aren’t you,’ she added as Jordan stepped into the house behind Sabine.

‘So people keep telling me,’ Jordan replied with a smile.

Eileen showed them into the living room where Malcolm was sitting, reading a newspaper.

‘Malcolm, these two nice young people are investigating the disappearance of those two young girls down the street. Their names are Sabine and Jordan.’

‘We’ve already talked to the police haven’t we?’

‘We’re private investigators Sir,’ Sabine said.

‘Oh okay, this won’t take long though, we haven’t got much to say about them. Plus the ball game is coming on soon, so I really haven’t got too much time to chat.’

‘We won’t take up much of your time,’ Sabine side. ‘Can you tell us anything about either of those two girls?’

‘Well,’ Eileen began. ‘One of them we only tended to see when she was out jogging. The one with the bright red hair, Scarlet I believe her name was, she really did wear very revealing outfits when she ran.’

‘Yes she did,’ Malcolm added with a smile.

‘Malcolm really, you’re just about old enough to be her grandfather. Anyway we never really met her, the only other time we’d see her was if we were out walking the dog and we went past their house and she’d be out in the front garden, usually just sunbathing. She’d always say hello if we did, but that was all. The other one, Sandi, came round to our house a few times, but only because our dog often found his way out of our garden and into their’s. First time it happened she brought him back because our name and address is on his collar, she introduced herself to me when I answered the door, and told me about her and her friend living in the next house. She’s been round three or four more times bringing the dog back, we have a little chat each time but they really are just brief chats. I think all I really know about her is that she goes to UCLA and is a 49ers fan. Only thing she’s ever told us about the other one is that she is some sort of model and actress, not a famous one obviously otherwise she would be living somewhere else.’

‘Thank you Eileen,’ Jordan said. ‘Anything to add Malcolm?’

‘Can’t think of anything, Sandi talked to Eileen a lot more than she did to me. From what I know they’re both nice young ladies, despite the way that Scarlet dresses, she always seemed nice to us.’

‘Thanks for your time,’ Sabine said to them. ‘We’ll let you get ready for the ball game.’

Eileen showed the two of them out and the set off back past the girl’s house to get to the neighbour on the other side.

A man who looked around thirty opened the door and Sabine did her usual sort of introductory spiel, prompting a defensive and agitated response.

‘Look I’ll tell you what I told the police, I know virtually nothing about them, I hardly knew they existed. Pretty much anybody could have lived there as far as I know.’

‘You know absolutely nothing about your neighbours?’ Jordan asked, picking up on the man’s defensiveness.

‘Look I’m a writer, I picked this house because it is away from people. All I know is that I’ve seen one with bright red hair jog past my house a few times and I saw the other one washing a car once as I walked past their driveway.’

‘All right, thanks Sir. Sorry to have troubled you,’ Sabine said and went back to her car with Jordan.

‘You believe him?’ Sabine asked Jordan as soon as they both sat down in the car.

‘I found him about as convincing as Pinocchio.’

‘Definitely worth pursuing, he knows something he’s not telling us.’

Mystery

About the author

Rob Watson

I love writing, and I love sport. So many of my stories will be about sport. But I also love writing fiction too, so there will be short stories, extracts from novels and maybe some scripts and even some poems too.

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