Chapter 5. Another Body.
Ada and Maeve talked on the phone and agreed to meet the next day. Their relationship had changed. They were working it out. It needed a lot of going back over the past, seeing things from different perspectives. Legacies of blame and disappointment hung between them but there was a new sense of urgency to get through this and maybe arrive at a place where they could be on the same side. It was still a bit like walking on eggshells. They met in Folkestone, neutral ground. ‘The Chambers’ cafe/bar in Cheriton Place, a flat white and a latte. Enough to take the corner table and buy the time to go through it all again. Not many people were in at this time of day, so no one was going to rush them. Ada started. “I am hearing things too. I don’t mean I am hearing things, I mean people, spirits, are talking to me too.” Dramatic pause, Maeve had no time for the ‘drama’ of it all. “Well don’t leave it there…what are they saying to you?” Ada continued “Sorry, I am so used to people needing to feel that sense of mystery, needing the occult to come with incense and deep sighs. It’s part of me now, I am trying to get this right so be a little patient with me. What I am hearing is that something bad is happening. Someone evil is doing something bad. I know it sounds vague and portentous all the stuff you hate, but that’s all I’ve got at the moment. Oh, and, they like you, the spirits like you. I guess that means that you will hear more from ‘Susan’ or from others. You are trusted.” Maeve frowned, “does that mean that you have a spirit like a ‘familiar’ who is a voice for other spirits or does one spirit keep contacting you until their issue has been resolved?” Ada smiled, “that depends on them and on you. It only becomes clear when you look back on things. In my professional opinion” Maeve winced at the idea that this was a profession “in my professional opinion, you will have to wait and see. But I am feeling urgency and upset, so maybe not long.” Maeve was glad the bar was empty and no one could overhear the conversation. It wasn’t warm enough to sit outside but the cafe was at a crossroads of shopping streets and through the large windows they could still see people coming and going. Maeve found the ordinariness of people shopping, friends stopping to chat and going about their everyday business comforting. Leaving Ada to do her own shopping, Maeve wandered on to her secret parking space at the back of the church. She was at a change point in her life, she’d lost her job and wasn’t sure what to do next. Time for a career change or just take anything to pay the bills? She had enough savings for six months so wanted to take a moment to think. She drove out via Cheriton, and on her way wanting a moment to reflect she turned into the Enterprise park just before the M20 roundabout. She had worked here when it was just built. It was familiar, it had changed but had the same feeling, a bit soulless, not much character. There were a lot more buildings now, you could just see the railway tracks. As she turned the car around to leave, a young man bundled himself into the passenger seat. Stunned, she sat there. “What do you want?” He didn’t look at her, he had a denim jacket over a black hoodie which was half up, covering most of his face. “We don’t have much time, I have much to tell you, let’s go!” He didn’t seem threatening, just in a hurry. Maeve registered exactly where they were, the track she could see is the first place the EuroTunnel freight trains slow down coming over from France, she had seen people creeping from under train carriages years ago. Maeve tried again, slowly, “Are you seeking asylum here? I am not the right person for you to talk to. You need a policeman.” He was impatient “No, I have papers. I need to talk to you. I believe that you are a friend. We must drive, so I can talk to you.” His English was good enough but clearly not a local. The penny dropped, he might be the next spirit to contact her. Beginning to see how these things worked, Maeve went with the flow, started the car and decided to head home, fewer decisions to make, and if change was needed something would happen. As the car moved off, he started to talk. “My name is Kamal Ghazi. I have information for you and then please contact my mother in Iraq.” Not wanting to interrupt Maeve waited. “I am not long gone. I have papers in my bag. My bag is hidden by the bushes near the road. I show you where. I have business I want your help with. Then you can find my mother’s address. You can call her, tell her I didn’t make it. I tried but I couldn’t tell anyone. Now I will tell you.” Maeve really wanted to stop and get a notebook to write this down. “No, no time, you can remember.” Clearly Kamal could read her thoughts too. She was desperate to have a good look at him. And she needed to remember everything he said but she was driving. So first she focused on listening and driving slowly. “I am Kurdish. I am a student in University of Kent, studying rockets, full name ‘Rockerty and Human Spaceflight’. There are other students in the Uni from Iraq, they are learning how to make chemical weapons to use against Western forces in our region. These people are bad people, not my people, they would like to kill me but everyone thinks we are the same because we come from the same country. This is not true. I tried to tell the officials. I love the UK, but many, many people in the UK think we are all ‘bloody foreigners’ and if you look Arab like me and have a bag, then you are a ‘terrorist’ or ‘suicide bomber’. So no-one would listen. Then my visa was taken away. Same thing happened to many students, they said I paid for my exam results, my English was not good enough, I was sent home.” By this time had got through Hawkinge and were on a relatively quiet, straight stretch of road. Maeve could see his body without turning much, she twisted the rear view mirror to see his face. Dark hair, brown eyes, olive skin with clearly defined features he was a handsome young man. Calm but when he spoke it was with energy and passion. His clothes had some mud on them and the knees of the jeans had rips, could be fashion or could be that they were worn out. She didn’t stare because she didn’t want to take her eyes off the road for too long. Aware of the pause in his story she asked “Did these other Iraqi’s…?” Her question trailed off, as she was not sure if she could address the fact that he was a spirit directly or not. “No, no, they don’t know that I hate them. They are Iraqi’s, I am a Kurd from Iraq, I want them in prison, but they don’t know that, they think I am soft, not brave, not a real man like them. Why does the University not look into their reason for coming here? They are fanatics and they have to be stopped! They are very bad for my people, they want to kill, to exterminate all the Iraqi Kurds.” Another pause, Kamal was lost in thought. Suddenly he seemed to realise that time was passing. “I have to tell you how I got here. I got a new visa and came back to finish my studies but on my journey I made a mistake and got off the train in Folkestone, I should have stayed on till Ashford and changed there. It was late. I thought, quicker to take a taxi. There were no taxis there. But a car and the driver said ‘where to?’ I told them and £35 was a good price so I took the car.” He stopped for another moment, it was all very raw, he was still processing it. “We past a village near here. Up a hill where the trees made a tunnel overhead. On till there was a driving entrance to something off the road, the driver said that he had to stop to use the bathroom. “Get out and stretch your legs.” I opened the car door. Habit made me take my bag with papers.” By now Maeve had guessed exactly where the driver stopped, it was at the entrance to Barham Crematorium. Ironic. Maeve had been listening intently whilst concentrating on driving through the village. “I took a few steps, looked around. Then the car engine was going fast, the driver hit me with the car. My bag went out of my hands into the bushes by the tall tree. The driver didn’t stop. He drove the car over and back. Until I stopped.” Silence. On up the hill she drove under the branches of the trees that had grown over the road and intertwined forming a green tunnel, at last she pulled into the entrance to the crematorium with its own mini roundabout and stopped the car. Of course when she turned to look directly at him, he was no longer in the car. So many things went through her mind. Too much and too little information. He wanted her to find his papers. Then she could contact his mother. Those seemed to be the most immediate tasks. He had thrown or flung his bag into bushes by the tree. If she started rummaging would that damage the crime scene? Just then a number of cars began to leave the crematorium car park, all going round the mini roundabout and driving past the spot she had guessed was the crime scene. If there had been any evidence on the road there wasn’t any more. She got out of the car and walked across the driveway towards the biggest tree, it was a large evergreen. Looking around and under the neatly trimmed hedge she spotted a small shoulder bag. The kind people use for travel documents. It was in the hedge almost as if someone had posted it there, the brown leather blended with the mature branches of the shrubs making it almost invisible. She took the bag out of the hedge, it was worn, well used or had been there for some time. She noticed that there were tyre tracks on the grass verge, similar to the ones she would probably leave on the other side. Was this evidence? Or just the last car who stopped here. She felt totally ill equipped to deal with any of this. Sod it, she thought, taking the bag back to the car. She needed to know if this was even relevant. Sitting inside she opened it. There was an Iraqi passport. The text was in Arabic, luckily the name was also in English, Kamal Ghazi! What next.