At 11:22 PM on Friday evening, PC Beresford and PC Dalton arrived at 18 Rose Hill Gardens to investigate reports of a disturbance. Neighbours had heard a commotion and the sound of a woman screaming. The house appeared quiet on approach, with a single light on in the first floor window. After ringing the doorbell several times, the door was finally answered by Shirley Cobham, a petite woman in her early 50s. She was wearing a silk kimono and appeared indifferent to the arrival of the police.
“Morning Detective,” Gregory said. “Lovely morning for a murder, wouldn’t you say?”
“You’re sure that’s what it is?”
“Well, unless he’s a blooming contortionist, I don’t see how he could have stabbed himself in the back like that.”
Durban shrugged. He never ruled anything out unless he had to.
The first one is my neighbour. He plays his music all day and night, but then has the balls to complain to me about some mould coming through the walls, as if that’s my fault. I’m just leaving my flat and locking the mortice when he comes out to meet me. He’s probably still up from the night before and it’s difficult to make out what he’s saying, but once I’ve finished locking up, I put my keys back in my pocket and turn to face him.
What about the mould? he asks. What are you doing about it?
My answer is one quick karate chop to the throat.
Johnson’s really starting to get on my nerves. I know it’s inevitable, given that we’re alone together in the Antarctic studying ice samples, but I really am beginning to find him quite tiresome. He keeps making the same jokes over and over again. If I hear him say one more time that he’s just popping out to the shops for a pint of milk, I think I might snap.
On the 1st of January at 12:02 AM, the following took place at The Wash nightclub in Dalston.
Jim and Toby had both worked in the health service long enough to know that you took Christmas when you could. Jim was a radiographer and was rostered on-call for the 24 hours spanning Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, while Toby was a paramedic working the graveyard shift of Christmas Day evening to noon on Boxing Day. They resolved, therefore, to have their own little Christmas on the 23rd, in Jim’s flat, while everybody else was still shopping and making last minute preparations. It was early days in their relationship. They had been introduced by mutual friends at a work function some four months earlier and while neither of them were quite ready to say it, both thought that this could be something special.
When the phone call came, the staff at the Orange Blossom Palliative Facility tried not to get excited. The hospice had been home to several notable figures in their final days, but none of them had warranted a phone call from the White House. As much as the staff wanted to be around to eavesdrop, they recognised that this was a moment they could not intrude on and left the patient to have his conversation with the president in private.
I told myself it was only ten minutes. Ten minutes was nothing. There were any number of reasons why a person would be ten minutes late. The cab could have got a flat tyre. There could be roadworks. She might have spilled something on the dress and stopped at a dry-cleaners. Really, when you thought of all the things that could prevent a person from arriving on time, it was a miracle that anyone ever got anywhere. I wasn’t worried. I knew she would get here. It was only ten minutes.