Monday 18 – Tuesday 19 January 2016
Anderson Greene remained slumped in the chair backstage at the psychic’s show. Her assistant paid him no mind as he returned to the room with Beatrice’s laptop. Julia couldn’t shift the grin from her face, and Beatrice the fake psychic giggled on last time.
‘Well, that’s a sad disappointment,’ said Greene.
‘Sorry,’ replied the psychic. ‘Some of us just aren’t anywhere near as legitimate as your partner here.’ She pointed accusingly at Julia. ‘She gives us fakes a bad name . . . not to mention criminal records for fraud when she catches up with us.’
‘Hey,’ replied Julia, ‘it’s my job, and I take it seriously. You can’t be going around ripping people off. It’s called fraud.’
‘I’ve gotta make a living somehow.’
‘Then why,’ Julia asked, ‘don’t you go out and get a real job. Or become an actor or something, because you’re really, really good at pretending like you’re a legitimate psychic.’
‘A researcher?’ whined Greene as he looked squarely at Ted. ‘I’m just . . . I don’t actually know what I’m just, but there’s a level of disappointment here that I can’t cope with at the moment. You have a researcher who does all of your background work!’ He propped his head in his hands, and sighed.
‘Like I said, sorry.’
‘But why? Why do you do this?’ asked Greene.
Beatrice Corman didn’t even take the time to think of how to reply. ‘Because I’m not Julia Poole, detective extraordinaire, real-life psychic.’
Julia cringed at Beatrice’s description of her. ‘Please, Bea, enough.’
‘And to make matters worse,’ continued Beatrice, ‘she doesn’t want anyone to know what she can do! I’d be screaming it from the rooftops, and supplementing my detective’s salary with side jobs using my gift. But nooooooo, Julia won’t do that.’
‘And you know why I don’t want anyone to know, Bea, so leave it alone. Now, can we please get on to Susan Quartermaine’s visits with you? When did they start? Before or after her daughter went missing?’
Beatrice grabbed the can of cola she’d opened a few minutes before, and chugged the sugary drink down. She shooed Ted back out of the room to deal with the hordes of women who wanted to make appointments for one-on-one sessions, and booted up the laptop. Poole and Greene watched as she navigated through files, and opened up the one containing Susan Quartermaine’s information. She turned the computer around so that the detectives could see the screen.
‘There you go. Everything that Susan Quartermaine asked, everything that I told her. There are transcripts of our sessions, each logged under the date she saw me, and there are voice recordings of the sessions. The visual recordings of the sessions use up too much space, so Ted put each client on a thumb drive.’ She offered Julia a purple USB stick. ‘It’s all on there. I realise you’ll want to take my computer with you, so could you at least promise to get it back to me as quickly as possible. Everything I need to know about my clients is on there.’
Poole pocketed the thumb drive without a second look, trusting that it contained the information Beatrice said it did.
* * * * *
Her room was a shrine. All of Holly’s belongings, everything she owned, left behind for her parents, friends, and the police to pick through in the hopes they’d discover the key to her disappearance. Her father, David, sat silent and alone in the room, just as he’d done every day since he’d arrived. Still, nothing at all jumped out as being relevant to her disappearance. He’d settled there this afternoon after Susan had explained her recent visits to a crackpot, fake psychic. He’d aggressively argued with her but it had got him nowhere.
Susan sheepishly walked into Holly’s room. She’d figured that three hours of alone time would have been enough for her ex-husband to calm down. She looked at the sullen man sitting at his daughter’s desk, and immediately regretted her decision. She’d seen the expression he currently wore so many times before when they had been unhappily married.
‘You have your way of coping, David, and I have my way of dealing with this,’ she replied.
‘Mine doesn’t involve paying an obscene amount of money to a woman to tell me things she’s made up about our daughter, Susan. What the hell were you thinking? She’s a fraud . . . a fake . . . she’s stringing you along just to get money out of you.’
‘That’s your opinion, but at least she listens to me. Unlike you, David, she listens to me.’
Unable to hold in the emotion of the last few days, Susan collapsed in a bundle of tears on the floor. Uncontrollably sobbing, Susan battled to catch her breath. David just watched from his seat.
* * * * *
Trailer park living wasn’t exactly the way Holly wanted to spend her days, but it was a necessity if she and Ross were to make their way, uncontested, across the country. Ross had paid for a site for three nights.
‘Why are we staying so long?’ asked Holly.
He sipped the ice-cold beer he’d taken from the RV’s fridge, and smiled. ‘If we only stay a night at each place we stop over, someone will get suspicious. We need to mix it up, here and there, spend a few days longer in a couple of places. The cops will be looking for us to move quickly, so if we take our time, stay careful about what we’re doing, and only make a run for it if it seems we’ve been spotted, no one will be any the wiser. It’ll just seem like we’re on a road trip. Nothing odd, nothing suspicious about that.’
She nodded, still put out by the fact that they were staying in a trailer park.
‘Now,’ Turner ordered, ‘why don’t you get on with cooking our dinner, and then we’ll have an early night.’
With Holly’s attention focussed on making dinner, Ross could peruse the photographs on his phone without interruption. He swiped through photo after photo of young women bound and gagged, and finally splayed out on kitchen tables like dissection models. If Ross Turner got his way, Holly would join them once they reached Switzerland. There, he could work without disruption, and away from American authorities. He turned his eyes to Holly, and imagined in detail what he would do to her supple, youthful body before he posted pieces of it back to her mother.
. . . To be continued . . .