• Gina Fegan

Chapter 21. The search....?

Updated: Jul 16, 2020

Maeve almost ran back to the house. Steve was already up and dressed, “I thought you had walked out on me, before anything had even started!”, there was fresh coffee on the table and a twinkle in his eye. 

It washed right over Maeve who was in a hurry, “Okay I have information.” Before she went on, Maeve mentally replayed what she had heard, thinking how much of it would make her sound as if she was losing her grip on reality. She would need to do an edit, select the key information, minimal description of Kevin but enough to convince Steve that this was serious. 

She made breakfast as an excuse to take the time to martial her thoughts. When she had finished telling her story Steve was silent. They were sitting down over the breakfast table, on a second cup of coffee surrounded by the remains of boiled egg and homemade brown bread toast.

Taking another mouthful of coffee, Steve started, “you know, really I have only just met you, what is it a week ago that you came to the station?” Maeve nodded thinking how much had happened in such a short space of time, “just under, it was a Sunday, last Sunday.” Steve went on, “a week ago, I thought you might be a bit touched, ‘radio rental’, but I have a good nose for people and I felt that you were telling me the truth, however hard it was for me to believe. Then you came in with the information on that ‘hit‘n’run’, manslaughter possible murder. How could you have known that? So you have been showing me more evidence that you are getting information from somewhere. Or, you are the one committing the crimes. Those are the only two explanations and I don’t believe for a minute that you are a murderer, so somehow you are getting information.” Maeve was listening intently as her teaspoon was grinding against the bottom of her cup which had already been well stirred. She had been going through her own internal ordeals, and simply hadn’t thought how it might look from the outside. Of course Ada and Orla had made communicating with spirits seem normal. “However,” Steve resumed “the business with Anne, changed it again, this time you were getting information that might have stopped a crime if we had known how to use it.” Here he stopped, pouring out the dregs of the coffee pot, to give him something to do as he reflected on the ramifications of what he had just said. In his world, this would be seen as crazy, as if he had flipped. Talking to ghosts was a ‘no-no’. If he was going to act on any information that Maeve had received then it would have to be down as an ‘anonymous tip off’.

Maeve seemed to wake up from having been lulled into Steve’s mindset. “Wait a moment! This is my daughter we are talking about. I was thinking that you could gather a few strong policemen/women and that we could go and break the door down. I don’t need to hear you decide whether I am telling the truth or not. I need help. Brute force. If you are not going to do that then I will go myself. I have a crowbar somewhere.” She was already rummaging through tools under the stairs and pulled out the aforementioned crowbar with a triumphant ‘gotcha’. 

Steve talked over her hasty actions with a “you don’t understand how the police work. This isn’t my investigation. We haven’t officially called Marieanne in as a missing person yet. The other young lad is being followed up by my colleague, Tim Houghton who is a police inspector and they will call in the local authority to organise a search but that wouldn’t start for at least 48 hours. Plus the young man might just have taken the weekend off, so everyone will wait till Monday.” What Steve hadn’t explained was the office politics that surrounded getting involved with other peoples cases and that in this unit there was particular tension between ‘Police’ Inspector Tim and himself as a ‘Detective’ Inspector. The chip on the shoulder because Tim hadn’t been to university, Tim was a uniform policeman who had risen through the ranks. They were at the same level but Tim was going for promotion and wanted to make sure that Steve didn’t get there before him. In fact Tim was the one who had been behind a lot of the jeering or mocking of Steve. He didn’t say any of this because Maeve was already heading for the door, what he actually said was “Stop!”, as he caught her in the open door and held her by the shoulders physically stopping her from leaving, “Wait a moment. If you go over on your own it is dangerous; you will be breaking the law, its private property and you will be treated like any thief ‘breaking and entering’.” 

Maeve had lost all patience,“So come with me and help!” This was a total stand-off. Silence. Maeve’s phone pinged, a text message. Steve let go of her as she reached down to look at her phone. It was from Marieanne, “Having a wonderful time. Didn’t see Dad. Will be home this evening. Love you. xxxxxx”. They had been standing with the front door open, a gust of wind caught the door and slammed it shut, the wind also disturbed Marieanne’s note which now floated down to the floor by their feet.

Relief flooded through Maeve, “I knew she wouldn’t do anything like this without leaving a message!” She had it in her hand, “see, she didn’t want to disturb me, that’s why she left the note and didn’t call. God knows how it ended up there….” Steve stepped back as she rambled on while putting the crowbar in the umbrella stand as if it was the most normal place to keep one. He recognised all the signs of shock and this time relief. “I think a cup of tea is in order”, by now Steve knew the basics of the kitchen and went to put the kettle on while Maeve collected herself. 

Mugs in hand, they both went over the situation. “Thank God, she is alive!”, Maeve had already texted Marieanne to see what the plan was and should she come and pick her up? Equally she had messaged Pascal, Ada and Orla, the world could return to its proper place. When the happiness wave had begun to pass, Maeve said, “so what about the message from Kevin? Could it relate to your young man, what’s his name?” Steve had to share more of the background politics than he really wanted to, but if he was ever to act on information that Maeve received then they needed to work out how, and she needed to know that it would be at a distance. No running in with battering rams and Maeve leading the charge! But Steve had been convinced that Maeve really was communicating with spirits who could help solve crime and he promised that as a result he would take whatever actions he could. They officially shook hands on it. A deal.

After Steve left, Maeve got the vacuum cleaner out, put on Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Born in the USA’ and went on a cleaning blitz. By the time the house was back in order Maeve was hot, sweaty and very happy. It had been interrupted by messages and calls all round. They had decided to meet up in Ada’s for supper. Orla had taken charge and had invited Pascal, Marie-Odile and the kids to come over too, encouraging them to take a cheap EuroTunnel day pass saying it wasn’t far and the kids could sleep in the car on the way back. So it had turned into a full scale surprise party for Marianne. Ada joining in with ‘if it doesn’t kill me, I must be cured!’ Maeve was to pick Marieanne up from Ashford and drive her over to Sandgate, theoretically to collect Orla and so keeping the surprise. 

It turned into one of those impromptu family gatherings that stays in the mind long after other ‘important’ events have dissolved from the collective memory. Life changes, life decisions, flowed through the conversation, there was time for everyone. The afternoon turned to evening interspersed with children throwing stones on the beach and the great food that Orla had ‘assembled’. As she said ‘assemblage’ is the new cooking’ to which Maeve added ‘which only works if you have delicious raw ingredients. Like the perfect brie, fresh bread, super thin prosciutto and a good glass of red wine here.’ The atmosphere was warm and generous. Acceptance and support all round with the oft repeated ‘no more secrets’, relating as much to Ada’s health as Orla’s ambitions and of course Maeve’s new ‘friends’. The addition of Pascal, Marie-Odile and the children added the festive air and the realisation that they needed to see each other more often. As much because they enjoyed each other’s company as because of the family connections.

The end of the evening had turned into a bit of a sing-song ranging from half remembers advertising jingles to ballads to Taylor Swift as no one wanted it to come to a close. Finally it was Marie-Odile who looked at the time and everyone made their moves with lots of hugs and kisses and ‘see you soons’.

Ada and Orla were coming back to Canterbury on Sunday, after Orla had cleaned up the house, which in fairness she had offered to do. She really is becoming more mature, thought Maeve, as she and Marieanne made their way through the countryside at the same moment Marieanne said it out loud. “She is.” Maeve was smiling at their similar thought processes, “And you have found yourself?” Maeve said more as a statement looking for confirmation than a question. “Yes, I needed to come to that decision myself. I needed to know that there are other possibilities. And I needed to believe in myself, to know that I will not be defined by exams, I am more than that. Now with the pressure off I can study at my own pace. What will be will be, but I will have done what I can.” Marieanne sounded a little drowsy and fatigue eventually overcame her, she had begun to doze off when Kamal spoke. 

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