He swung his legs off his table and marched down the corridor to the desk sergeant. ‘Albert ... put Granma Willis in interview room two.’ He watched Albert dip a digestive into his half drunk mug of tea. ‘Now would be good.’ Albert frowned, but he ignored the etiquette that tea-break time at the desk was sacrosanct. A daily ritual. Albert crammed the biscuit into his mouth and slurped the tea, whilst nodding okay.
Angers didn’t wait. He entered the interview room and switched on the recording equipment. He listened to it hum. Put in a fresh tape, sat down, and waited. Elbows on the table top. Patiently. Doctor had warned him about his blood pressure; said it was too high, and told him to lose weight. That reminded him. He fumbled around his pockets for some sweeties, picked out a couple of Allsorts that he had liberated from Marty’s office, removed the fluff, and started to chew.
Granma Willis was ushered in, and she plonked herself down on the chair opposite him. He went through the formalities. She asked for a lawyer. He told her it was a fact-finding interview; she was a witness, not being accused of anything.
‘So the answer’s, no?’
He hummed, while picking a piece of liquorice from his teeth. ‘I’ve already explained.’
She put on a defiant look. ‘What is it you want? I’m losing customers. I’ll make a complaint.’
He hummed again. A bit louder. ‘Just tell me what you know about Serena Naringa, and you can go.’
She looked suspiciously at him. ‘Who’s Serena Naringa when she’s at home? She on telly? Eastenders or something?’
He half-rose out of his chair. Sod the tape. He would edit it later. Or erase it. Spittle foamed out of his mouth. ‘No she fucking ain’t. She’s lying on a fucking mortuary slab ... dead. Do you hear me? Dead.’
She shrunk back.
There was a loud knock on the door. He heard Albert asking if he needed any help. He shouted ‘interview suspended at thirteen hundred hours’, switched off the machine and threw open the door to confront Albert and a worried looking Jackie. ‘This is an interview, not a bloody union meeting. Everything is under control, okay?’ He slammed the door shut, stomped back to his seat and switched the recorder back on. ‘Interview recommenced at thirteen oh-two.’
He looked hard at Granma Willis, changed gear, and went for the softly, softly approach. ‘Now where was I?’ he said pleasantly.
‘I want a lawyer,’ she replied.
Angers gave her a toothy grin. ‘And you shall have one. As soon as I arrest you for possession of class B drugs. Namely cannabis our sniffer dogs found on your premises.’
‘You cautioning me?’
He crossed his arms across his chest, holding in the blood pressure. ‘Fucking right, if you carry on like this.’ He switched off the recorder; made sure she saw the red light blink and diminish. ‘Look Granma. What you say in these four walls remains between us.’
‘I want a lawyer.’
‘I’m arresting you under the Misuse of Drugs Act for possession of Cannabis. You do not have to say anything ...’ He finished the Miranda caution.
Then she spoke. ‘Okay, drop the charge. I’ll talk.’
He slumped back in his chair. Exhausted, he closed his eyes. ‘Serena Naringa,’ he prompted.
‘I read about her in the Evening Argus, she was found on a landfill site.’
Angers opened one eyelid. Tania Simpson, the Argus crime reporter, was another bone stuck in his gullet. He had avoided her calls, but the Chief Constable thought differently; wanted to keep well-in with the press. He felt the burden press him into his seat. ‘Yes, she was,’ he said wearily.
‘That’s most of what I know.’
He couldn’t be bothered to bang his fist on the table. ‘Anything else?’
Her thin lips parted and a torrent of words escaped. Much to his surprise. Perhaps the caution had sunk in to the one remaining brain cell. She gave a sanitised version of Serena’s life, being deliberately vague about the men. Didn’t want any trouble on her doorstep, thank you. Accidents can happen. She had felt sorry for Carol, her sister. Gave Carol a part-time job.
‘Okay, I’ll show you some pictures. If you recognise any, give a nod. Then you can go.’ To which he nearly added, and I’d like nothing more than never to see your ugly mug again.
After Granma had left, Angers contemplated his next move. No luck with the ID. No known sex offenders registered any bells with Granma Willis. Not that he really expected it. Killing Toms was in another league. He trudged back into his office, and dialled Tania Simpson. He had fenced with her several times at press briefings; even had an extended lunch together one time. She was a dark haired, dark-eyed ferret, slim, well-dressed, and she enjoyed opera - Carmen preferably, at full blast.
She went into Toreador attack mode the minute she heard him. ‘Why the news black-out on Serena Naringa?’
‘It’s not a major incident ... yet.’
‘So what is it then?’
‘The coroner hasn’t ruled out natural causes.’ Even to him that sounded lame.
She snorted. ‘For Christ’s sake. She was found on a landfill site with a fucking great hole in her gut.’
Interesting. How did she know that? Someone had leaked that information. ‘Yes ... well ... I cannot comment on the coroner’s position.’
‘Come on Orson,’ she pleaded. ‘Give me a bone.’
That made him feel hungry again. He searched around the paper pile on his desktop until he found a new packet of dinosaurs, opened it, and picked out a brontosaurus. He sucked on its tail thoughtfully. ‘Tania ... Serena isn’t newsworthy. All of our top resources are linked to the missing Bristol schoolgirls. I’ve got a sergeant covering for one of my inspectors; it’s low key.
She sniffed. ‘All right, Orson. What’s the name of your DS? Just for the record.’
He wasn’t fooled, but Jackie could cope. He gave Tania the details, and ended the call.
Jackie’ mobile vibrated. Incoming call from someone not in her contact list. She frowned, but answered it.
It was a woman. She sounded excited. A little breathless. ‘Hello Jackie. Orson ... I mean DCI Angers, gave me your number. Told me to call you about filling in a bit of background about Serena Naringa. I’m Tania Simpson, Evening Argus.’
Jackie screwed up her face. Press, huh? What was Angers playing at? She decided to act dumb. ‘Background?’
‘I did a short article on her body being found on the landfill site. I just want to tick off a few questions, that’s all.’
‘Rather than talk about it on the phone, how about we meet up this evening for a quick drink? Maybe at the Butcher’s Arms?’
Jackie was curious, but also cautious. ‘Well I don’t think ...’
Tania interrupted. ‘Look it shouldn’t take long. I promise not to bite.’
Jackie took her time weighing the options. Maybe she could learn something from this woman. ‘Well, if I can make it. Say tennish? I’ll need a drink by then.’
Tania laughed. ‘It’s a date. In the lounge bar. I’ll be perched on a stool with a gin and tonic.’