Sunday 6 – Wednesday 9 May 2018
The interview room that Steven Benson was holed up in was typical of a police department held to ransom by politicians, political parties, and lobbyists viaing for a bigger piece of political funding. The constant lack of funding and the increased expectations on an overextended workforce created an atmosphere of disenfranchisement in the building. Benson looked around the room for the umpteenth time since he’d been brought in by Detectives Gates and Turner.
‘Shithole,’ he mumbled to himself. ‘I’m stuck in a stinking shithole.’ He looked up at the camera in the corner of the room. He knew they were all in another room, probably the one next door, watching him as they wasted his time. Benson had seen enough cop shows to know they were softening him up to make a mistake. Now was the time he had to keep the story straight and his wits about him.
Gates squeezed the shoulder of the detective who was assigned the job of overseeing the interview from the surveillance room.
‘Here we go, Charlie. Watch this shit squirm.’
‘What made you change your mind about him, boss?’ Charlie dared to ask the question everyone had been thinking since the Miller’s wife had left the station.
‘I didn’t think this case was anything more than a suicide or an accidental death, and then when we spoke to him and the wife earlier, she said something that didn’t sit right with me.’
‘So,’ he drew the word out, ‘basically a hunch.’
‘Yep, got it in one, Charlie boy.’ He left Charlie alone to observe the interview.
* * * * *
12 hours earlier
She’d known what she was going to do from the moment Harry had invited Steven on the trip. Steven Benson had had a thing for her for years, and she had no qualms using it to her advantage against Harry. Steven would do anything for her, especially if he knew that Harry had been a brutal bastard. A few well-placed cuts and scratches, a touch of make-up to give the appearance of aging bruises, and Steven would fall hook, line and sinker for her charade. Harry wasn’t capable of raising a finger to her. He was crude but never physically violent. All she needed to do was change tiny elements of the story to raise the detectives’ suspicion and she could lay it all on Steven. He’d never realise that she’d set him up.
It was the perfect opportunity when Detective Gates called and asked her to come in for a follow up interview. Within minutes, Claire was making tiny alterations to the story she and Steven had agreed to tell the police. A slight change of time, a correction on when she last saw Harry, some doubt about where Steven might have been. Little things that a good cop would find suspicious. She was careful not to go overboard. The last thing she wanted to do was draw all of the attention to herself. Still, she felt confident that Gates was falling for her ruse just the way Steven had fallen for it.
* * * * *
‘I don’t know what you’re talking about, Detective Gates. What are you on about?’ Steven nervously ruffled his hair. ‘I told you what happened.’
‘Mr. Benson, listen, I’ve got new information about the disappearance of Harry Miller, and some of the things you previously said don’t reconcile with the new information.’
‘That’s ‘cause your new information is wrong. Ask Claire. She’ll tell you exactly the same thing as me.’
Gates glanced up at the camera and smiled. ‘That’s part of the problem, Steven. Claire’s changed her version of events.’ He snapped his head back to look at Benson.
‘She’s changing her story. And by changing her story she’s . . . well, she’s dropped you right in it.’
‘I want to talk to her. Can I talk to her? Where is she? Am I under arrest?’
‘No, you can’t talk to her. She’s not here. Depends how you answer my questions. Does that answer your questions?’
Benson broke into a cold sweat. He hadn’t been able to contact Claire since she’d returned from her interview with Gates earlier in the day. Was she really dumping this all on him?
* * * * *
Claire sat on deck watching port fall away behind her. The Lady Windermere was easy enough to skipper alone. She’d done it many times when Harry was working, anything to get away from the droll life of being the little housewife to him. By now, Steven would be answering Gates’ questions and trying to dig himself out of the hole that she’d buried him in. With any luck, Steven would spend much of his future in prison for the murder of Harry Miller, especially if Gates found the evidence she’d conveniently left behind. Implicating Benson as a murderer suited her well enough.
. . . To be continued . . .