a short story by wallace m greensage
Todd directed his attention to the three young men and one girl assembled in the narrow hallway of the small flat in which they all lived. ‘My name is Detective Inspector Matthews and with me is Detective Constable Chapman. Your names please,’ Todd commanded civilly, notebook in hand.
The other two gave their names as James Calderwood, the sleeper, and Liam Patterson. Tanya’s surname was Russell.
‘Thank you. All three of you men gave statements at the police station after the stabbing of Nolan Kruger, right?’ Nods from the three men.
‘Have you heard how he is?’ Todd asked. The three men and the girl looked down, shuffling their feet. ‘No? Well, before coming here I checked and the doctors believe he will make at least a partial recovery, despite all fifteen stab wounds he received in that unfortunate frenzied attack.’
‘Yeah, we heard.’ Calderwood lied. ‘Good news, right?’
‘It is for us as he’ll be able to make a full statement in a few days time.’ A few weeks, more like, but Todd wasn’t going to let them know that. ‘So, were you all together when this attack happened?’
‘Course we were,’ James, the obvious leader said.
‘I see. But when the police arrived at the scene, two of you weren’t there. Only you were there I believe, Mr. Jinks. Is that correct?’
James acted as spokesman. ‘We told the coppers. Liam and me just went for a piss. We came straight back.’
‘Right. Who called the ambulance and the police?’ Todd asked as Constable Chapman eased past and entered the second room.
‘Hey, you can’t go in there,’ Tanya yelled.
‘Tanya, shut up and put some clothes on, you slag.’ James told her. ‘We can see your scrawny arse!’
‘Something to hide in there, is there?’ Chapman asked Calderwood quietly, leaning close to his ear.
‘Course not,’ James sneered.
‘If there is, you’ll have hidden it as you got out of bed, I expect. Probably under the mattress,’ Chapman said accusingly. ‘You want me to fetch that warrant now, sir?
‘Not yet, Constable. We’re just having a friendly chat. I think you were going to tell me that the club doorman called for the police and ambulance, right Mr. Calderwood?’
‘If you know, why did you ask?’ Calderwood spat indignantly.
Todd ignored him. ‘So did all three of you see the attacker? Oh yes, of course, it was in your statements – all three identical statements – a big man in a hoodie, hood up, dark tracksuit bottoms and trainers. And he ran off. Did you run to help Mr. Kruger? Chase the man?’
‘Yeah, ‘course we did. But he run off, din’t he?’ Jinks said.
‘You see, I’m just a bit puzzled,’ Todd went on as though Jinks hadn’t spoken. ‘You were all there, three against one. It takes time to stab fifteen times, right? Let’s say three seconds a stab on average. That’s forty-five seconds. Three quarters of a minute. To help the victim from where you say you were standing would take no more than a few seconds to run to him, a few seconds more to stop the stabbing while the attacker tried to fend you off, half a minute for you three big strong strapping lads to overcome him. Right? Or am I missing something?’
Jinks rose to the bait. ‘It weren’t like that!’
Calderwood swung his arm to shut him up, striking Jinks in the face with the back of his hand. Jinks staggered backwards, blood bursting on his lips.
Todd stepped towards Calderwood. ‘That wasn’t nice,’ he said quietly, inches from Calderwood’s face. James Calderwood glared back.
Todd turned to Liam Patterson. Patterson looked back at him anxiously. ‘So, Mr. Patterson, help me with this. If, as Mr. Jinks says, it wasn’t like that, would you explain to me what it was like.’
Patterson looked at Calderwood who was shaking his head at him, looked down at Jinks who was crouched down, his bleeding face in both hands and then back at Todd. ‘I wasn’t…’
‘Shut it, Liam!’ Calderwood screamed. Chapman sensibly came out of the bedroom and stood between Calderwood and Patterson in case Calderwood attacked Patterson too. He surreptitiously revealed to Todd a small packet containing something greenish-brown. Only Tanya saw this; her shoulders sagged. She backed into the bedroom to put more clothes on as James had instructed.
‘You weren’t what, Mr. Patterson?’
Patterson groaned and looked again at Calderwood. ‘I ain’t goin’ down for that fuckin’ madman!’ he yelled at Calderwood, pointing at Jinks. ‘I warn’t there! And James warn’t there neither!’
‘I see. So are you telling me that you would you like to change your statement, Mr. Patterson?’ Patterson nodded, eyes closed, head down. ‘And what about you, Calderwood?’ Todd asked him coldly. ‘You want to change your statement too or do you want to go down with your pal, Jinks?’ Calderwood was beaten and he knew it. Before anyone could stop him, he turned towards Jinks, his leg swinging and kicked Jinks hard in the side. Jinks sprawled back into the kitchen with a loud agonised yelp. Chapman grabbed Calderwood, spun him and cuffed him; Calderwood didn’t resist. He knew it was all over. Jinks was hauled unceremoniously to his feet, still moaning.
‘Good work, Constable.’ Todd said. ‘You can bring in that search warrant and the rest of the team now.’
Chapman left and a moment later re-entered with the search warrant and three more constables, one to search the premises and two plus Chapman to take away the three men and the now fully-clothed girl, Tanya. They would be charged at the nick.
‘If it’s any consolation, gentlemen,’ Todd told them, ‘we re-interviewed the club doorman this morning and he decided it was in his best interests to change his statement for the truth. He told us Jinks was the sole attacker after a heated argument between Jinks and Kruger and that you two,’ pointing to Calderwood and Patterson, ‘showed up immediately afterwards. So, don’t blame each other for grassing; it wouldn’t have made any difference. I believe you took charge of the situation at the time, Mr. Calderwood, so you’ll be charged as an accessory at the very least. Oh, and I must commend you boys for hatching this flimsy plot to stick together,’ Todd added mockingly. ‘That’s what friends are for.’
Todd smiled to himself as all four were escorted through the front door. He had his convictions in the bag.
Look out for part five tomorrow. Charlotte and Todd have decisions to make.