Authors: Katherine Pathak
Tags: #International Mystery & Crime, #Mystery, #Thriller & Suspense, #Police Procedurals
‘I don’t, Ma’am. He must have seen me out in some of the bars. I honestly don’t recall speaking with him. I would have informed you if I had.’
‘I hope you realise, that I have no problem whatsoever with you being gay. But you visiting the same bars as Lomond and McLaren has a
bearing on my case. You should have told me immediately, DC Clifton. This information has placed me in an impossible position.’
Dan made his tone as strident as he could manage in the circumstances. ‘I’m very sorry, Ma’am. I’m so used to keeping my sexuality a secret at work that it never crossed my mind to inform anyone. I swear I did not know Nathan McLaren. I’d never seen him before. Tony Lomond hasn’t ever approached me in a bar, either. I believe that Lomond recognised me from the Glasgow scene and then decided to use that information as leverage in the interview.’
Bevan thought about this. ‘Well, it certainly worked.’
‘I can see how you might want me to steer clear of the McLaren side of the investigation. But why don’t you let me work with Caitlin on the Ross case instead?’ He gazed pleadingly at her.
‘The DCS hasn’t actually granted me the budget to link the two crimes into a multiple murder hunt yet, so I don’t see why not. I have no intention of allowing Tony Lomond to manipulate my choice of team’
‘Thank you, Ma’am.’ Clifton beamed. ‘You won’t regret it.’
Alice Mann was mightily pissed off. She was a little upset that Dan hadn’t felt he could tell her that he was gay, especially with all the issues that had been raised by the McLaren case. But it wasn’t him she was angry with, it was Lomond. The guy had deliberately set out to make them look like idiots; using Dan’s sexuality to wriggle his way out of some awkward questions. He’d not hesitated in outing him to his colleagues. Talk about solidarity. Bastard.
She stared hard at the screen. Alice was determined to dig up everything there was to know about Anthony Elliot Lomond.
Lomond’s parents, Michael and Rosemary, lived in Inverkip, a couple of miles from Wemyss Bay. Tony’s father was now retired, having at one time been a manager at a shipyard in Port Glasgow. His mother was a housewife. They were both now in their late sixties. Michael Lomond had received three points on his licence the previous year for speeding on the A78. There were no other convictions recorded for the pair.
Alice considered Tony’s background. Like her, he was an only child with slightly older parents. Alice’s mum and dad lived further down the coast from Wemyss Bay in Largs. The DC could imagine why Tony hadn’t yet told his family he was gay. Her own parents had always seemed strangely old-fashioned and at one remove from the social changes that had taken place in the modern world over the past thirty years.
Tony had attended the prep school at Wemyss College and remained there all the way through his schooling, until leaving for the University of Aberdeen to study Environmental Sciences in 2002. Alice assumed this was when he took up the rowing. According to Lomond himself, before that point he’d been a small, weedy adolescent. Tony didn’t become a fully grown adult for another five years after Douglas Ross’s disappearance.
She studied the map of Renfrewshire closely. There were two small reservoirs within five miles of Wemyss Bay. Then there was Loch Thom to the north east and the larger Gryfe Reservoirs further to the east of this.
DCI Bevan had already informed her that the DCS wouldn’t release the funding to search these areas for Ross’s body. There wasn’t enough evidence to suggest he’d been murdered. Besides, the man could have been dumped in the sea just as easily as in these lochs.
But Alice had a feeling that the poor teacher was weighted down at the bottom of either Daff or Crawhin. These were the two bodies of water closest to Wemyss Bay. It fitted with their killer’s MO that the disposal site would be near to where Ross had last been seen.
Despite her annoyance with Tony, she wasn’t feeling aggrieved enough to inform his parents of their son’s sexuality. Alice preferred to have the threat of that possibility in her back pocket for the next time they interviewed him. But she was keen to talk to the couple. The detective flicked over the pages of her file and sought out their contact details.
he day was clouding over. Andy hadn’t intended to come back to this house again so soon, but it couldn’t be helped.
Mae was expecting him. She opened the door with a thin smile, standing back to allow Calder to enter. When he glanced at his uncle’s widow, he wondered what had made him lust after her so passionately. The woman just seemed brittle and full of melancholy to him now.
‘Did you manage to dig anything out?’ Andy asked, without any preamble.
Mae led him into the living room, where a tea chest had been placed in the centre of the floor. ‘This is it. Gavin brought it in from the garage last night. I sent all of Don’s clothes to the charity shop. These items were the things I packed up when we moved out of the old house. I thought the kids might want to sort through it when they were a bit older.’
Andy experienced a surge of anger to see the way the chest had become saturated with damp and the cobwebs had gathered in the corners. It hadn’t even been covered with a dust sheet.
Sensing his dark mood, Mae slipped silently out of the room into the kitchen, busying herself with preparing some coffee for them both.
Calder took out the items one by one. They were mostly books and vinyl records. The sight of them made him smile. As a rule, men weren’t great collectors of sentimental items, like letters and cards. Don was no different. A few albums of Panini football stickers were all that remained of his childhood.
Then Andy reached the items relating to St Columba’s Football Club. There were piles of dog-eared programmes, tied together with string. Don had obviously been reading the biographies of their greatest players, the copies of which were lying discarded amongst the rest of the stuff. Underneath this layer of books and football magazines were Don’s files. Andy lifted these out carefully. He had no idea that his uncle had collated all of his notes from the articles he wrote for the Paisley Post so carefully.
Mae came into the room with a tray. She placed Andy’s mug on the table. The woman edged slowly towards the articles laid out on the polished floor. Finally, Mae lowered herself to the ground, beginning to pick them up, flicking through the pages as if the contents might burn her.
‘I didn’t realise Don kept copies of all his articles for the paper. They’re here in this binder.’
‘Oh, aye. He was very proud of his writing. John and Liz were too young to read them at the time. I’ll have to show them his pieces now. The editor loved Don, he really rated his work.’
Andy pulled out the last of the files and notebooks. ‘Do you know where Don was writing his draft of the book about St Columba’s? There’s no sign of it here.’
Mae put her arms around her knees, like a wee girl in assembly. She crinkled her face in concentration. ‘He wasn’t writing the thing by hand. It was going on the computer. We had one with a big monitor back then. It took up the whole desk in John’s room. Don used to tap away at it for hours in there, even when the boy was asleep.’ She smiled.
‘Then where is the draft copy? Have you still got that computer?’
Mae shook her head. ‘Och, I’ve no idea what happened to it. When we all got laptops it probably went on the tip. Sorry.’
Andy sighed. ‘It’s most likely not important anyway. I just know how much that book meant to Don. When you reminded me about the amount of time he was spending on it in the weeks before he went missing, I got an inkling it could be significant.’
‘A copper’s instinct,’ Mae muttered. ‘A feeling in your stomach.’ She looked up and caught his eye. ‘That was the feeling I had about Don not having killed himself. I couldn’t prove it, but I just knew.’
‘Then you had me and my Da’ insisting he’d thrown himself into White Cart Water.’
‘It made sense at the time.’
Calder shuffled closer to her. ‘When the polis talk about a copper’s gut feelings, they don’t really mean it’s anything supernatural. It’s usually something concrete that the copper has picked up on. They’ve sniffed something out amongst the evidence. Did that happen with you, Mae? Was there a reason why you didn’t believe that Don had taken his own life?’
Mae blinked several times. ‘Well, I knew about Don’s struggles with his sexuality and how terribly low he could become, but that wasn’t what I’d been sensing from him in those weeks before the Glasgow Fair in 2005.’
‘Then what was it that you’d noticed about Don?’
‘It wasn’t that he was depressed. It was more that he was jumpy, forever looking over his shoulder at imaginary shadows.’ She reached out to touch Andy’s arm. ‘I think that he was afraid. Very, very afraid.’
here have you been?’ Carol asked abruptly, as Andy entered the kitchen of their flat, to find her seated at the table. The place was quiet. Amy was still at nursery school.
He frowned. ‘I was at Mae’s house, going through a box of Don’s belongings. I told you this morning, remember?’
She nodded. ‘Yes, of course. It’s just that when I returned from the shops, I found this note stuffed under the door.’
Instinctively, Calder opened a drawer and took out a packet of disposable plastic gloves. He pulled them on before touching the crumpled paper. The note had been written in black felt tip. The spelling was awful, but he knew that was most likely deliberate.
‘Do you know what your husband gets up to when he goes out at night? I do. It’s disgusting and sick. Get yourself a real man and a proper dad for that pretty daughter of yours. He’s bad news.’ Calder felt the blood rush to his cheeks. ‘What time did you find it?’
‘I got back from the shop about eleven. It was there then. I hadn’t seen anyone hanging around, so whoever posted it was gone.’ She stared hard at him. ‘What does it mean?’
Andy slipped onto the seat beside her. ‘I don’t know, love. It’s just some nutcase. I deal with them every day at work. I suppose there’s a chance a lowlife I arrested once has got hold of my address.’
‘But this person knows about Amy.’ Carol put a hand up to her mouth. ‘That man who was hanging around the playground. He was watching me. Do you think this note is from him?’
Andy laid his hand on her arm. ‘Why would it be?’
‘I don’t know.’ Carol looked down at her lap. ‘A few weeks back, you were working late nearly every night. There were times you didn’t get home until the early hours of the morning. That time you said you were with DCI Bevan, I called her. She told me you’d been there all evening. I knew she was lying. Her first loyalty is to you, not us. Is that what this is about? Have you slept with another man’s wife and now he’s out to get revenge?’
Calder managed to take a deep breath and place his arms around her. ‘I was going through a difficult patch, what with Don’s disappearance getting raked up all over again. I spent a few nights just driving around Paisley in the car. Other times I walked along the river bank. I didn’t know where I was going or what I was doing.’
She nodded, burying her face into his shoulder. ‘Are you back with us now?’
Andy squeezed her tight. ‘Of course I am. I love you, I love you both.’
Andy had secured the letter into an evidence bag. It was sitting on top of the ring binder of notes that Mae had allowed him to take away from her place. Calder’s mind kept drifting back to the day they had Sunday lunch at the Mortimers’ house. His nephew, John, had been watching him and Mae arguing in the kitchen. Andy couldn’t help but worry that the note might have been sent by him.
To John, the notion of his cousin sleeping with his mum would certainly appear disgusting and sick. Calder thought it probably was. The idea of the lad being so eaten up by it that he’d send an anonymous note to Carol made him feel bad. He’d have to think of a way of setting things right with John. For now, Andy was so preoccupied with getting into Don’s head during the summer of 2005 that it didn’t seem a priority.
Calder’s uncle had made a great deal of notes about St Columba’s. He’d been focussing on the period during the early to mid-1990s, when the club’s fortunes were growing and they’d moved away from their ground on the outskirts of Paisley to the newly built stadium just off the M8. Andy’s own fondest memories were of going to the matches at the old ground, with its uncovered terraces and tiny bar. It had cost about ten times less for a season ticket too. If he were going to take Amy for a game, it would have to be a one off treat.
Calder got the sense that Don hadn’t been keen on the move either. These handwritten documents catalogued escalating costs and delays by planners and building contractors. Andy thought it was no bloody wonder the ticket prices had to go up. St Columba’s Park was completed towards the end of ’96. It received another refurb in 2003, when a new hospitality wing was built. This addition had a corporate sponsor, Walmer Beers and Spirits, a company based locally. Don had scrawled
next to the name of the firm, suggesting to Calder that this was the amount Walmer had donated to the build.