Monday 4 – Tuesday 5 June 2012
Alone in the tiny village hall that the ornithologists called home on a Thursday night, Alan Willits waited for his partner in crime. Willits had pushed through all of the business in a timely fashion so that he could end the meeting unusually quickly. He had begun to worry that DCI James and his sidekick, DC Harris, were closing in on him, and wanted to conduct his second meeting as quickly and clandestinely as possible. As much as he wanted to believe that he had a legitimate alibi, that he had a legitimate reason for harming someone, he did not. He was a pawn in someone else’s game, and now he knew it. It was the smile on her face that gave it away.
‘You’re out? They let you go?’ he asked. Helen Carlisle slowly approached him.
‘For the moment. I gave DCI James a little of what he wanted. He really had nothing to hold us on. He just wanted to question us about the reporter,’ her voice was strong, and unfaltering. Willits envied her ability to remain calm in the face of interrogation.
‘So he isn’t on to us?’
‘No, Alan, he isn’t on to us. He has no idea whatsoever that you offed my father,’ she smiled.
‘Does he know what you did for me?’ Alan asked.
‘Not at all,’ Helen shook her head, and sat down opposite him.
She could see that he was trembling, shaking in fear she assumed.
‘What about the journalist? Who . . .’ Alan whispered the question.
‘Let’s just say that my mother is easy to manipulate.’ Helen could see that her response worried the bird-watcher.
‘You mean, you got your mother to kill the journalist? Oh my god.’
Willits, sweating profusely, turned ashen and looked to Helen as if he was about to throw up. He would be her undoing. If James and Harris thought to bring him in to the station for questioning, Alan Willits would give her up to save himself. She could not have that. She had a life to live. She had her father’s inheritance to enjoy. Alan Willits would have to disappear.
She consciously changed her demeanour, trying to appear seductive, as if she found him attractive. It was not a position that Helen had ever found herself in; in her experience, men threw themselves at her, not the other way around. Behaviour like that was demeaning.
‘Look, Alan,’ she began, leaning closer to him, ‘what do you say that we get out of here? We could go back to your place, maybe have a drink or two. You know, then see what happens.’
He blinked rapidly, her advances bringing a flush to his cheeks. He tried to speak, but simply stammered, too flustered to form a coherent sentence.
‘I’ll take that as a yes then, Alan.’ Helen rose, and offered Willits her right hand. Clumsily, he grabbed for it, almost pulling her down as he did.
‘Careful, Alan,’ she snapped.
‘Sorry. So sorry. Such a precious, precious bird . . .’
She led him out of the hall, stopping briefly so that he could turn out the lights and secure the locks on the front door. Given that the village centre was small, Willits had walked from his home to the hall in order to run the ornithologist meeting. Helen had walked from the centrally located police station to the hall. Once she had completed her business, Helen intended to take a short cut through the woods, back to the estate. Walking was a less conspicuous activity than driving.
They reached Alan Willits’ humble home, unseen by any villager, in less than five minutes. He ushered her into the sitting room and promptly headed into the kitchen to prepare them both a cup of tea. Helen sat comfortably in the oversized chair, biding her time. It wouldn’t be much longer and Alan Willits, ornithologist, would join the likes of John Mitchell, Lord Richard Carlisle, and Tara Roberts.
. . . To be continued . . .