Chapter 9. And Then It All Started To Add Up.
Maeve decided that it was time for a full family pow-wow. No more secrets. It was only a 15minute walk downhill from the University. On the way she called Ada to see if she could come round for supper “its only pasta and salad, no meat because Orla’s gone veggie, but I guess you know that already.” Maeve wanted to reconcile her relationship with Ada but at the same time she was jealous that Orla had gone to her grandmother instead of her. Old habits are hard to change but she could try “Ada, I’m sorry I didn’t mean it to come out like that. We would really like you to come over. There are family things that I would like you to be here for. Also, you were right, I don’t need to go through this alone and now I hope we can work together, in fact all three of us can work together.” Ada almost hooted with joy, “Hurray! At last! Maeve, love, you have made me very happy! I will be there, sadly no wine though, I’m driving.” The call with Pascal had gone very well. He had never been in favour of college, the concept of apprenticeships suited him better. His most useful comment was ‘when she knows what she wants to do she will do it. That girl has the willpower to move mountains, never underestimate her!’. But they all agreed on one thing. Oral should finish her exams this summer, at least then she would have her GCSEs. Satisfied after good food, they settled down around the table over fresh mint teas and decaf coffees, without saying anything they knew that they were a stronger group than they had been for years. Marieanne had been brought up to speed with their various adventure and momentus life decisions. Her main response being “I am so glad I don’t have this ‘gift’! You guys can do all that and leave me out of it. Oral should do what she needs to. You know Orla and when she decides she wants to get grades and go to college she will find a way. But I know what she has been going through recently and it's not for her right now. I am happy for you that it's out in the open, no secrets is a very good principle, and that goes for you too Mum!.” Having resolved Orla’s issues at least on a temporary basis Maeve turned the conversation, “can we share what we have ‘heard’ over the last few days? Ada and Oral, you both said you were getting messages. I am still really new at this so what were they and how did you get them?” Ada enjoyed regaling them with all of her ‘war’ stories. For Ada this was the first time ever that the whole family believed her, and were hanging on every word, with Maeve taking notes, “...and another thing, they are not good at time, I mean spirits often think something has just happened when it was years ago. They seem to get caught in a time loop until you can set them free. This can be very useful, because you don’t have to say wait a moment I’ll get back to you, you don’t say anything, you just agree with the spirit and if it takes years for you to do whatever they need that’s fine. They go round and round not knowing that any time has past at all. Oh,” Ada took a deep sigh, “there are so many things I have to tell you, but there’s no rush. We can take it a step at a time.” The next morning Steve was first at the cafe, he had his coffee in front of him and when Maeve tried to order hers, the barista said ‘it’s okay, he’s already ordered, (and paid), I’ll bring it to you in a jiffy’. Steve was feeling chuffed, he had got some information, and wanted some admiration so he could do his ‘it was nothing, it's just what we do, all in a day's work’ routine. The rug was pulled from under him when Maeve sat down with a ‘you won’t believe what I found yesterday up on the campus!’ Oh well, his turn would come. “Go, on, don’t stop there”. “Just like with the hospital I couldn’t officially get access to any of the records for confirmation, or even any information to give us dates, the only thing they would do is to verify a degree but you have to have the exact name and dates, plus there is a £12 charge. I thought it would be in the public domain if someone qualified from a University so that the employers could check their CV.... Anyway as I was leaving I saw this.” She pulled out her phone and showed him the photo that she had taken of the picture on the notice board. It was of an old, scruffy, and probably forgotten picture that had been up for some years. It had faded the colours now moving towards the yellow end of the spectrum, but the faces were clear enough. There they were. Susan and Kamal. Part of a group of students who had launched a model rocket into space. They were laughing, happy, having some very student goofy fun. On closer inspection you could just make out, someone older, who looked like a lecturer, in the background. “When I got home, I looked it up online and it was taken in 2011 just before Susan was murdered. So my detective work says that they knew each other! Is that a strange coincidence or something more sinister?” Maeve took a sip of her coffee as she waited for his reaction. Steve seemed to like to think before he spoke, pause, “that’s very interesting.” Understatement of the year, thought Maeve. He went on, “I found some information too. You left the bag on the table when you dashed off yesterday. By the way, I’d like to hear more about that too. Why the sudden dash, I don’t think I said anything and I wouldn’t want you to think I was trying to make a move too soon.” The colour began to rise in Maeve’s cheeks, she carefully studied her coffee and began to stir it unnecessarily. She didn’t look up but feeling the need to fill the gap in conversation went on, “It was my younger daughter Orla, who should have been at school. She and her older sister are both doing their big exams this year, I worry, and not without reason, but that’s another story. Go on, what did you find out?” “After you departed in haste and you left the bag with me. I went through it and the date of Kamal’s visa is from September 2014. There was also a ticket stub in the wallet so he got the train on 19th Sept which was a Friday. I checked and the University term started on 29th September, he probably planned on having the week to settle in before starting his studies. Then I cross-checked with our records and that ‘hit and run’ I told you about. It was on the 19th Sept. Actually the body was discovered on the Saturday, the 20th Sept, but the autopsy placed the accident the night before.” Silence, they looked at each other, allowing the implications to sink in. Maeve started, “so are we thinking that the facts and the visit from my friend in the spirit world are beginning to stack up?” Steve was unwilling to agree, but in spite of himself he nodded his affirmation, Maeve continued “we have also ascertained that victim number one knew victim number two even if the deaths were separated by a little over three years?” Steve nodded again. “I don’t know how you do things in ‘police world’, but it seems to me like the worst case scenario is that we are looking at a serial killer in this very area who may still be active!”