‘Sorry, love. I dumped it. Not fit for human consumption.’
‘Anything else I could wolf down?’
The cook began tidying up the shelves. ‘Sorry, love. We’re closed for meals until the night shift starts.’
Jackie decided to fill up later. With Gilbert resting in the cells pending the DNA results, she could focus on following-up her leads; all priority. First on her list was a visit to Georgina, then the hospital morgue. That would keep her out of Hillock’s range for the rest of the day.
The cold wind outside hit her. She shivered and pulled her coat tighter; there was plenty of room with her empty stomach – or so she felt. It was still snowing; now been on and off for several days but the exercise would do her good, and it would blow away the cobwebs.
She trudged carefully through the compacted slush to the town hall, and then slithered down to the station and into Railway Road. Number 17 had a Xmas wreath hanging from a nail on the door. She looked at it in surprise. Not nicked - yet.
She rang the door-bell; shuffled her feet, trying to keep warm. No answer. Rang again, and knocked; called out “Georgina” several times. No response. She peered through the letter box. No movement inside; empty.
She started to turn away, but she heard the upstairs window open, and Georgina stuck her neck out.
‘Sorry, sugah. Busy.’
Jackie held her hands out. ‘It’s important.’
Georgina hesitated; frowned as if thinking. She stuck her head back inside. Jackie could hear voices murmuring. Georgina returned. ‘Come back one hour, okay?’
No, it’s not bloody okay - calm down, you need her assistance.
‘Are you alright? I need to talk to you.’
Georgina waved a small cross at her. ‘Sugah, I’m fine. Christ is with me.’
Jackie grimaced, pointed to her watch and made it quite clear. ‘Okay, one hour.’ Which was enough time to eat at the hospital restaurant before visiting the morgue - steak and kidney pie with greasy chips; lashings of gravy, and a couple of slices of bread to mop up the plate.
Helga wasn’t about, nor was Archie. They were both at Bristol Royal Infirmary according to the animated lab technician, Dave, who seemed to enjoy every moment in telling her the gruesome details of a vehicle pile-up on the M5 near Bristol. A few fatalities, many casualties; blood and gore spread all over the fast lane - a crimson snowdrift.
Her meal sat heavy; she was conscious of the fluids burbling around inside her stomach.
‘Okay ... I get the picture.’ She’d had enough; put her warrant card back in her bag. ‘Tell Helga I’ll call her tomorrow, okay?’
‘Hey, you’re not going already, we could be getting a few newcomers here soon.’ He chuckled. ‘It’s the last-minute Christmas rush.’
She didn’t answer; gurgled instead as she made her way out into the fresh air. Several deep breaths later, she was on her way back to Railway Road. She looked at her watch.
Gosh, was that the time?
Hopefully, Georgina’s punter would be long gone.
Oh, shit. What if Georgina’s client had been Plum Mouth? Or even Danny Boy?