January 29 – later
Detective sergeant Kemble together with two uniformed officers are at Amy’s flat. They arrived within twenty minutes and at first treated it all as a joke, Kemble asking if it could be the result of her falling out with a boyfriend. Fortunately, Dan had arrived by that time and assured him it was no joke and that it is not the first note to threaten Amy.
He told Kemble that Inspector Lamplight of St Helens Police knows all about it. Kemble had looked doubtful until Dan asked Amy if she had Lamplight’s number and after fishing around in her handbag, she had found his card. Dan rang him and told him what had happened and then handed the handpiece to Kemble who listened but said little until a final ‘yes sir’. He then turned to Dan and said that he has been instructed to inform DCI Willis. He also told Dan and Amy not to touch anything until the fingerprint people had arrived. He also said that an officer will be taking their statements.
As two uniformed officers go off to question neighbours, Keith and Dianne arrive. They both stare in astonishment at the dressing table mirror and Keith immediately takes Amy in his arms and mutters ‘I’m so, so, sorry’ in her ear. Amy says angrily; ‘Why is he doing this; what does he hope to achieve?’
‘You are coming home with me tonight,’ announces Dianne firmly and turning to Wilder she says: ‘You two need to talk but tonight is not the time. She then turns to Kemble: ‘Once we have given our statements, we are free to go. Right?’ He nods and then pauses. ‘I think chief inspector Willis might want to talk to her but I daresay that can wait.’
A constable appears at the door and says that none of the neighbours heard or saw anything and that there does not appear to be anyone in at the flat across the landing. Amy and Dianne exchange glances and Amy says: ‘His name is Colin Parker and I think he works at BICC at Kirkby if you need to talk to him.
‘No need if he wasn’t here,’ says Kemble indicating to the constable to take statements. He turns to Dianne and Wilder saying they can wait outside while the forensic people do their work.
They both obediently go down the stairs and emerge onto Kensington. She turns to Wilder and confronts him, saying firmly: ‘Keith you really are going to have to do something about this situation. It simply cannot continue like this. You know it can’t. That girl is going to have a breakdown if there is much more of it.’ She pauses. ‘And none of it is her fault as you very well know.’
‘None of it is my fault either,’ he retorts. ‘Some lunatic out there has decided to make my life a misery for reasons known only to him. If I could get my hands on the bastard…’ He leaves the sentence unfinished simply punching an open hand.
‘He is getting to you through her, isn’t he?’ says Dianne. Wilder nods.
‘There is something that might resolve it all,’ he says finally. ‘I am co-operating with the police over it, but I don’t want Amy to know because she will only want details and I cannot tell her or anyone else anything. She will only worry as well and I don’t want that either.’
He takes a deep, weary, breath. ‘Can she stay with you for a few days until it’s all over. That way I know she will be safe.’
‘Of course,’ says Dianne. ‘She can stay for as long as she likes. I have plenty of space and I will enjoy the company. It is also just down the road.’
Later that evening she and Amy were sitting on a sofa in Dianne’s spacious two-bedroomed flat, sharing a bottle of wine after a curry that Dianne had made. At first Amy was reluctant to eat but she was threatened with no wine unless she had at least four mouthfuls. It was said light-heartedly with a smile.
‘I was burgled once,’ she confided to Amy. ‘It was a long time ago, but it took me ages to recover from it, so I know what you’re going through. At first you feel a fury that somebody has invaded your space then a reaction sets in and you begin to feel afraid. It doesn’t feel like it’s your house or flat any longer.’
‘Yes, I feel dirty as if it is me personally that he has abused. The thought that somebody has been in my flat, in my bedroom and gone through my things makes me feel sick. My flat is going to feel like an alien place. I think I will have to move.’ She gulps down wine and trembles.
‘Well, that is something you and Keith need to discuss but for now you can stay with me. Why don’t you ring your head and tell him you have been burgled and take a few days off? I’m sure he would understand.’
‘Yes, he probably would, but I want to go to school. For one thing it will take my mind off it all. And I know I am going to be safe there.’ And before Dianne could express her doubts, she reminds her that the school is just a short walk away.
‘I don’t think the man behind this actually intends you any personal harm,’ Dianne murmurs softly. ‘It’s all aimed at Keith really. Whoever it is has an axe to grind with him personally. That’s why he’s doing it.’
‘It’s a pity Mr Parker wasn’t there for the police to question him,’ says Amy reflectively.
‘Why? You don’t think he has anything to do with it do you?’
‘No, he would have to be really stupid to go doing that to his next-door neighbour, wouldn’t he? After all, he would have been the first person the police would have talked to if he had been in.’ Amy grimaces. ‘It’s just that he’s a bit creepy, turning up unexpectedly all the time, like he did at the Walker yesterday.’
‘Just coincidences?’ suggests Dianne.
‘Maybe. I’m not sure I believe in coincidence.’
‘I’m not supposed to tell you this,’ says Dianne hesitatingly, looking at Amy a little uncertainly. ‘When I was talking to Keith outside earlier, he said that something is planned which may bring an end to all this.’
‘In what way?’
‘I think it is something the police are planning and which involves him. He wouldn’t go into details because it’s all a bit cloak and dagger from what I could gather.’
‘Why hasn’t he told me?’ cries Amy angrily. ‘Don’t I deserve to know especially since I am the one the killer is targeting at the moment.’
‘Keith did not want you to be worried,’ says Dianne soothingly. ‘And in any case, if he had mentioned it, you would have wanted to know more and he would not have been able to expand on it. I am telling you even though I promised I wouldn’t because I thought you should know that things are happening which could bring an end to this nightmare.’
As they top up their glasses with wine, they are suddenly plunged into darkness. The only light is coming from the window where the curtains have not been drawn and a moon is gleaming brightly. They look at each other and move to the window. Outside everywhere is in darkness. No streetlights casting their yellow pools of light along Kensington, just car headlights sending shafts of brightness along the road. Amy notices that the traffic lights are also off at the nearby junction.
‘It’s a power cut,’ mutters Dianne. ‘There was something on the radio early this morning about a strike. I didn’t take much notice to be honest because I didn’t think it would apply to us. I think I have some candles in a kitchen drawer. Sit tight. I’ll be back in a moment.’
Five minutes later she emerges with six white candles. ‘I knew I had a few somewhere,’ she says triumphantly stuffing one in an empty beer bottle and lighting it with a cigarette lighter. She spots a saucer on the table and melts wax from a second candle onto it before plunging the base into it. She lights that as well.
‘There!’ she says. ‘Who needs electricity anyway?’
‘We will when we need to cook a meal,’ replies Amy smiling.
‘Not us. You haven’t been in my kitchen, have you? It’s a gas cooker.’
They both stand at the window gazing out at the street below. People are standing in the street in small groups obviously talking about the cut and gesticulating.
Earlier that evening opposite Amy’s flat, had they looked, they would have noticed at man in a doorway smoking a cigarette studying with interest all the police activity across the road. He was not alone of course. Speculation among neighbours was rife and intense as it always is when police descend on a house.
The man watches with some amusement as police question people. He knows they will get nowhere because his favourite motto is that of the SAS – Who dares wins – but with caution and attention to detail. The police will find no fingerprints in Amy’s flat; they will find nothing that could lead them to him.
He smiles, dons his trilby and walks nonchalantly down the road.