This week’s words for CAKE.shortandsweet’s Wednesday Write-In were:
fly in the ointment :: suspect :: fairytale :: green :: shame
‘So. You’re paying us another little visit, are you?’ Sergeant Grehan lowered himself into his creaking chair with a sticky exhalation of breath, shifting a pile of shedding paperwork as he waved vaguely at the seat opposite. I took it with every show of gratitude.
‘Just keeping up with developments,’ I said. ‘You know yourself.’
Grehan raised a flabby eyebrow. ‘Hmm.’
‘So, about this new suspect,’- I reached into the pocket of my coat, where an envelope, stuffed fat, was sitting.
‘Now, now, let me just stop you there,’ said Grehan, holding up a moist palm. ‘You know as well as I do that whatever you have in that envelope could be prejudicial. It could be damaging. It could be a fairytale, for God’s sake!’ He slapped his hand off his desk, tutting loudly. ‘Just, listen to me for a minute. Will you get out of here and let us get on with our jobs. Will you do that?’
I licked my lips. ‘The only fly in the ointment with that,’ I said, slowly shoving the envelope back into its hiding place, ‘is that I might have information which you lot need. Did you never think of that?’
Grehan chuckled, his face wobbling. ‘Now, now. A high opinion of ourselves, haven’t we?’
‘I’m good at what I do,’ I said, my eyes flicking around the framed photographs and certificates on Grehan’s walls.
‘And what’s that, exactly?’ he sneered, drawing my gaze back to him. ‘Wasting police time? Poking around in cold cases? Destroying evidence, making mistakes that no officer – no matter how green – would make?’ He wiped his sweating face with one large hand. ‘Get out of my office, now, like a good man. Will you? I’m sick of pandering to your nonsense. Any more of this sort of carry-on, and I’ll see what I can do about having you brought in for questioning.’
I put my hands up. ‘Right, right. I’m only trying to help. In all honesty.’
‘In all honesty, Frank, you’re a pain in my rear end,’ said Grehan, hauling himself to his feet. He stuck out one warm, damp hand. ‘Will you give me your word, now, that you’ll leave this alone? I don’t want to see you in this office again. Let the poor girl rest in peace. There’s nothing you can do. Leave it to us, now.’
After a second’s frowning hesitation, I shook Grehan’s hand. I felt his sweat cooling on my skin as I stood. ‘Right, so. I’m sorry, Officer. I – look, I won’t be back. If ye hear anything,’-
‘God, Frank, of course we’ll let you know,’ said Grehan, blinking, lying to my face. ‘Straight away. Make sure you leave your contact number with the desk, there.’
‘I will. I’ll do that. And, Sergeant Grehan?’ He was already back in his chair, turning towards his ancient, clapped-out computer. He frowned at me before raising an eyebrow in polite, patient inquiry. ‘I just wanted to say thanks. For all you’ve done, I mean. Fair play to you, and all your lads.’
‘Grand, grand, Frank,’ he said, waving his hand again. ‘I hope I won’t be seeing you again for a long time. No offence to you, now.’
‘Oh, God, I think I can guarantee you that,’ I said, chuckling. I turned for the door.
‘Good luck, Frank,’ called Grehan as I stepped out into the corridor. I nodded, throwing him a quick grin.
I winked at the officer behind the desk as I left the station, ignoring the mocking light in her eyes, and I stepped out into the warmth of the bright spring day, putting my face to the sky and dragging in a few deep breaths. The thick envelope was making my jacket uncomfortable and so I dragged it out, wondering for a few seconds whether I should put it in the bin just outside the station door, or if that’d be hubris. Eventually, I strode off into the bustle of the town, the envelope held lightly between finger and thumb, like it was nothing.
I’d wanted to confess. God knows the truth of it. I’d had everything Grehan needed, right there. My confession was stapled to the front of the photographs I’d taken of Maisie’s body, signed and everything. I’d been ready.
What a shame, then – what an absolute crying disgrace – that he’d given me another chance.