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Detective Alec Clacy is a young and popular officer within a small island's police force. With his entire life looking to be going full steam on-track, tragedy suddenly derails him, and his present, as well as his uncertain future, swiftly becomes a struggle he finds difficult in coping with. To compound matters further, an unprecedented and grisly series of well organised murders on the island, gradually chip away at his fragile and complex existence, as he finds himself balanced between personal demons, which have great potential in dragging him down further, and the on-going murder investigations, which are becoming increasingly violent, brutal and personal in nature. Time appears to be running out for Clacy before he could become the next casualty in this dark, sinister and gripping debut novel.
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© The Underworld, Anthony A. Newman 1993 - 2019
To the ones who have slipped into the mirror,
And the ones who reflect it in their eyes.
To the ones who must hide everything,
And the ones who lose what they hide.
To the ones who cannot be silent,
And the ones who must lie.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR & THE PROJECT
It has always been an ambition of mine to create something at a penmanship level. At school, there were only really two lessons out of the six I not only liked but actually enjoyed, and they were Geography and English Language.
So, was it the teacher that ignited the spark inside me to create a book? No, I believe that anyone with the right frame of mind can write a book about just about anything.
I was born on the island of Jersey, largely where this book is centred, in 1972. I am an only child, and therefore when I grew up, I slowly discovered I had a great opportunity to be creative and had copious amounts of time to think of things from the sometimes deepest realms of my imagination. This was the probable source and my ignition into the world of creative writing. I had written other things before this novel, but in 1993, when I was just 21 years old, I started something I couldn’t appreciate back then, would actually take me over a quarter of a century to complete.
I remember thinking over the Christmas of ‘92 about many things. My brain was working, almost overtime to think of topics, ideas, possibilities, and in the first two weeks of 1993, I started to put pen to paper. I had a rough vision in what I wanted to accomplish. It was now up to me how I could make it work. Feed fish and they bite, feed writer words and imagination and he (or she) can possibly create a book.
Along the way I stopped, I back-tracked, I stalled, slowed down but the direction I kept on going was ultimately forward. There would be six; seven months go by without me writing a solitary word on paper. This didn't mean to say I had scrapped the book, that I had run out of ideas, or that my time was being taken up by other matters. In those weeks I didn't write, I thought a great deal about how the book was going, and what direction the writing was to go, and ultimately how the book would end. There were literally a hundred ideas being written in my mind and my enthusiastic imagination. This book needed a beginning, a middle and an all-important ending., and this was something I was always very conscious of from the offset.
I admire people who can sit down and write and write and take only six to eight weeks to complete a book. For me, however, being an Aries, where patience isn’t our greatest virtue, I needed to learn that this could never be rushed, and never would I let it be.
I would like to believe that somewhere I have gained an advantage on some people who can seemingly write novels in a few weeks. I have had plenty of time to think over, think over and think over again and now that I am pretty much satisfied with my ideas and story-line content I have finally, at last, braved the world of fiction writing.
I finished writing my first draft of this book on New Year’s Eve, 1999 just before all the millennium celebrations took hold. At the time I was happy with what I thought was the ‘finished piece’, although re-reading the book in subsequent years, I felt the drawing was pretty much there but the picture alas wasn’t. So, I fine tooth-combed it further and embellished it somewhat, and this, without rushing, took a few more years.
Then in 2014, and with just moving house, I re-discovered The Underworld manuscript and took an entire summer’s afternoon to read the virtual contents again.
I knew then, as I know now, that I am somewhat a perfectionist, and decided straight away to take on the daunting task of rewriting it further, as I felt there wasn’t enough meat on the bone.
With added things happening, largely called life, this third and hopefully final rewriting process was completed in September 2018. A fraction under 121,000 words later and The Underworld, in my opinion, is at last, now done and I am now as happy with it as I could expect to ever be.
I am at this point undecided what to do with the ‘finished’ work, and hopefully, as you read this it is contained in a nicely published hardback book, or purchased through one of the numerous E-book vendors out there. That would be my fitting legacy for all the hours, days, months and over all the years I have devoted myself to this novel. It’s been truly epic, and I have largely enjoyed every second of it.
I would like to now say thank you to a number of people who have helped, contributed and supported me on this long road. My gratitude is immense, as is my love:
To the States of Jersey Police Force for their valuable information, a number of medical students & professionals whose names will remain anonymous. Daniel Fernandes & Jane de Ste Croix for the early proof-reading, Gianni Angelillo for certain Italian sections and elements in the book & Graeme Gilmour & Paul Henty for merely their interest and support.
A special mention to Vicky Fisher, who has been my proof-reader and editor on this project. A goldmine discovery who has been indispensable.
Also, and to especially, my parents Tony and Dolly for their love, support and devotion, to the memory of my grandparents, to my wife Caroline for her love and kindness, to Stewart & Shannon, my son and stepdaughter who I am both immensely proud of and don’t always show it, and lastly that guy at the bar in Toronto who gave me back that spark to enable me to carry on and complete the book, to at least a first draft.
I would like to add that I am not supporting or condemning the activities of terrorists and terrorist group elements across the world, as featured strongly in this book.
All characters (including names) described in this book are pure fictions of my imagination. Any similarity to characters and character names are purely incidental and does not depict anyone either living or dead.
Anthony A. Newman: Jersey, 2019
Enough about me, let's talk about you for a minute Enough about you, let's talk about life for a while The conflicts, the craziness and the sound of pretenses Falling all around, all around
Dedicated to Eugene Edward Le Pennec. A great man who fought for his country of France, as gallantly as he provided for his family. A man who I had much to learn from, but died too young for me to realise.
Dedicated also to Stewart Anthony Kelly. My son wasn’t on the horizon of my existence when this book started. Now he is the foreground and back-drop to it, and I will always love him unconditionally.
PREFACE: - ‘PASSION AND PAIN’
PREFAZIONE: 'La Passione è il Dolore'
The long green blades were flattened around him, as he woke from a short but shallow sleep. The slight, warm easterly breeze blew into his hair and face with the sun beating down as it rode high in the sky. There wasn't a single cloud around, not in the sky or for that matter his life.
She had watched him wake from his brief snooze; her soft hand gently reached out and touched his. He glanced to his side and smiled. She was gorgeous, like an angel, he thought. Her long blond flowing hair, together with her cute, sweet innocent face, seemed the same now to him as the first day he had met her.
He sat up and slowly reached into the picnic basket and took out an apple. He was enjoying today’s ‘outside lunch’ it was a pleasant and welcome change from the usual sandwich bars and cheap restaurants he normally frequented.
It was now one thirty as the scent of summer flowers wafted into his nostrils. He couldn't imagine a better place he would like to be than at this very moment in time. It was like he was in heaven with his angel. It was simply just a combination of beauty and idyllic peacefulness, and a moment of sheer bliss.
Wendy had known him all her life, since their innocent school days. She always liked his crazy, carefree approach to life and his sense of fun. He made her laugh. He was a great friend who happened to now be her great lover and together, if you were to ask anyone, they were inseparable.
He was twenty-six years old today and yet another mile on that clock they call life.
They had arranged for a few weeks now that they would celebrate his birthday with a picnic, weather permitting of course. A chilled bottle of sparkling wine, freshly prepared sandwiches, some home-cooked ham, chicken and sausages. It was a Friday afternoon, in the late spring of 1983 and neither of them had to go back to work until the following Monday. They were to have the whole weekend to themselves to decide what to do, and without the need of plans, this was not only unheard of but also was a welcome blessing from their` normal full-on hectic lives.
He focused his eyes on some little yacht miles out to sea. It was just a mere white speck on the horizon, slowly drifting in from the nearby French coastline. He could just picture himself staying here forever, it was just so relaxing and peaceful and, in many ways, it was also just supremely perfect.
He threw his half-eaten apple-core away. The moment it landed, a nearby magpie, who had been spying unknown him, swooped down from a nearby vantage point to retrieve it, before quickly flying back off with the core embedded firmly in its mouth.
Alec laid his head to one side slowly on her chest, as she placed her hand and fingers in his short brown hair.
'Alec,' she said softly. Alec made no sound but raised his head slightly.
'I've got something to tell you and I have only really known for certain for a day or two, so it's fairly new to me also, but Alec, I'm pregnant', she said with growing excitement in her voice.
Alec now looked at her, he seemed somewhat shocked at first, but that emotion soon gave way to more of a visibly happier one, in fact, he was more than happy. He was over the bloody moon and he let out a sudden joyous whale before swing his arms quickly towards his wife. 'Oh, Wendy you do not know how much that makes me feel darling? How amazing I truly feel', he said. 'What a heck of a birthday present. I love you ,babe this is great news.'
'And I love you too honey and I always will', she replied.
He kissed her full on the cheek; her lips were soft and moist. She moved her arms and stroked his back with increasing passion. He swept the hair away from her eyes. Her eyes were telling him a lot, a lot of what he already knew. He rolled her over in the flattened grass. She moaned as he kissed her much harder. The afternoon was theirs and theirs alone and in some sense, it seemed as if the moment was created just for them. Their youthful eyes looked into each others. They spoke at great lengths about the news of Wendy’s pregnancy, their plans and hopes, as the spring afternoon eventually drew to an end and the arrival of the early evening came upon them.
They had no plans to return home, not just yet, so they decided to make their way onto a small quiet beach, where they searched and gathered together a small pile of driftwood from between the rocks which covered the top half of the bay. In the farthest corner of the beach, and where the last outpost of sunlight was still holding out, they lit a small fire.
As the dimming brightness slowly folded into darkness, the small fire had become like a beacon shining in the light, a sudden, evident brightness glowing in an otherwise darkening environment. The flames warmed their bodies and their hearts. They had spent so many evenings like this, doing what they were doing now, but tonight, to them was just so extra special.
Alec kissed Wendy before embracing each other as if they had only just met. She started to unbutton his cotton shirt. She stroked his chest with her long fingers and pressed deep into his flesh. She yearned for not just somebody but someone.
Still kissing her, Alec reached around her slim waist and slowly pulled up her tee-shirt. She held her arms straight up into the night sky and her clothing was slowly taken from her. He kissed her repeatedly on the cheek as she arched her back forward. Alec unbuttoned her brassiere from the front to reveal her pert breasts in the flame light of the fire. They loved each other so much. So much, it nearly hurt, and so much so they nearly felt like bursting.
They made love under the stars on that beach that spring evening. The sound of the ocean a distance away, and as the flames of the fire slowly ebbed down, their love soared higher than any eagle could ever reach.
It had been a perfect end to what had been a pretty much perfect day.
During the following week, Alec was happy, his smile radiated almost continually across his face, and despite him largely enjoying his job, the work was at the moment to him coming in a constant second. His wife was on his mind every minute of the day and he was going to be a father, a good father and the best of what a father could be.
Ever since his mother had died, while he was still young, he vowed that when he would have kids he would do things his parents did with him. He loved the idea of family life. To him, he couldn't ask for more. It would make him complete and give him a purpose and a focus, and another undying bond with his wife Wendy.
Patrick Nelson stepped into Alec's office one morning. His desk already strewn with paper. How does he get his desk so bloody untidy? he thought. Maybe just to look busy? Alec glanced up at Patrick as he smiled.
The delight covered half of his face. Patrick was happy for Alec; he knew what he really wanted in life.
'Greetings Alec, how's the father to be this morning?’ Patrick greeted brightly.
'Hungover but feel like the top of the world', he answered with an equally bright reply.
'Did you go down to the White Swan after work?’ he asked
'Yes, something like that', Alec’s reply, even though cheerful sounded slightly rough, and maybe he even looked certainly a little tired.
He knew Patrick was right. He spent the whole previous evening, from a quarter past five to half-past ten drinking with a few mates. Wendy had let him go out with her approval, of course.
He hadn't got so drunk since he came home between college terms. One time a few old school friends and he had got drunk one night and decided to hijack a small motorboat from its moorings at Greve de Lecq Bay. This was obviously before he turned into a policeman and a man of the law. They must have taken it around the harbour more than a hundred times that night, before the engine cut-out, presumably out of fuel.
'Do you want anything in particular Animal?’ asked Alec.
'Do I ever?’ he smiled, 'yeah, what time you knocking off today Alec?’ he asked.
'Wendy has a clinic appointment at eleven, and I will be taking the rest of the day off, so to answer your question, be about half past ten’, he answered.
'You bloody bastard, you know it's not really even worth-while coming into work today is it’, he joked.
'It is time owed to me, besides, why do you ask?’ Alec enquired.
'Thinking lunch, but maybe tomorrow eh?'
'Yeah let me know, besides tomorrow is just another day’, he replied.
'I'll drive', insisted Alec. He was eager to get home and spend the rest of the day relaxing.
Wendy was a good careful driver but he always felt she never put her foot down onto the peddle when it really mattered, and never seemed to get herself in fifth or even sixth gear.
The day was wet; the morning's rain was still lingering under the threatening grey and white clouds above. Today, spelled the first rainy day in nearly four weeks, it was a shitty day for early summer but not for Alec. Shitty days were far in the distant past for him to care about them now.
Another shower of rain passed as Alec and Wendy came out of Dr. Evan's clinic on the outskirts of Saint Helier. All was well, everyone was pleased, and both the would-be parents were relieved of the fact that the baby was coming along perfectly as it should be in its second trimester.
They ran carefully to the car, trying all along to avoid the large drops of thundery rain which fell from the heavens. Alec opened the door for Wendy and she jumped speedily in.
The traffic on the roads wasn’t as bad as they had expected. Usually with the rain, comes the uber-careful drivers, and with that comes the traffic and the queues. Today, they are all shopping, working or elsewhere he thought. It should be almost a breeze to get back home, without any of the bumper to bumper jams he so very much resented and tried at best to avoid.
They lived in the country parish of Saint Brelade. The parish, for Jersey's size was big, but not quite the biggest, and was from the furthest distance only nine miles from town in the south-western corner of the island. They usually drove, depending on traffic, at between twenty-five and thirty miles an hour heading steadily towards home. The rain was becomingly increasingly more like drizzle.
The white builder’s van sped out onto the straight main road like an out of control animal in a stampede. Alec was talking to his child's mother-to-be, momentarily his vision on the road ahead was lost for a brief split second. When he did look ahead, he had virtually no time to slam the brakes of his Vauxhall on. They slid however, with the disadvantage of a completely wet surface, along the road like skis on icy snow. He couldn't stop in enough time, and his whole life suddenly flashed before him like a thunderbolt.
The impact of Alec’s front bumper and the van’s back bumper was massive. The vehicles screeched in a cloud of brake smoke, sparks and shattered glass. Their structures battered ferociously together, twisting and turning uncontrollably across, what were now both sides of the road. Alec had tried to keep the vehicle under control, but it was almost impossible, his reactions just weren’t quick enough. It happened so fast, so very fast, like a short blink of an eye.
Another vehicle, a red Toyota, was driving in the opposite direction. It didn't really have much in the way of time to see the accident ahead, and had even less time in seeing Alec’s vehicle almost stationary in front of him, as it slammed side on, the impact deafening to the ear.
Alec's now battered Vauxhall ended up lying smoking on the side of the road. Alec's face was pressed up against the steering wheel. His eyes were bloodshot and his skin pale and lacking colour. Several large gashes were present on his face and arms, with blood streaming out of his wounds like an unrelenting spring of water. He had been from heaven to hell in just a matter of a few mere seconds. He slowly lifted and swung his head to the body lying on his passenger’s side in-between the shattered remains of the left side of his vehicle. Wendy lay there motionless, her eyes wide open, staring at him. She had taken the full impact of the Toyota’s collision with them. Her left hand appeared to be almost crushed as was the entire left side of her body. Blood dripping from what looked like an extensive head wound, down her porcelain-like chin and ending up finally resting on her flowery dress. The same flowery dress she had bought just a few days earlier, when the joys and excitement of the summer sun was radiating down.
Alec sat forward, and soon realised the terrifying and agonising situation that he suddenly found himself in. He stared at his motionless wife as a middle-aged man who was the first on the scene, tried desperately to open the badly damaged passengers' door, or what was left of it. He failed in budging the door to open, no matter how hard he pulled, it appeared the whole frame of the door had bent in on itself. He peered in through the smashed glass window for a few seconds, quickly taking in the results of the injuries the woman before him had suffered. He composed himself to reach into the vehicle and tried to take off her seat-belt, but that in itself proved futile. He then pressed two fingers into her bloodied neck, trying at best to search for a pulse and after a matter of several seconds or so, he finally gazed at Alec, and muttered the words which would probably haunt him for the rest of his days, 'I’m so sorry, I think she’s gone.'
The man, who introduced himself later to Alec as a relief ambulance driver, tried several further attempts in finding and verifying a pulse, but this proved pointless as the gravity of her injuries were just too severe, as she had pretty much taken the full impact on her left side
Her pain wasn’t a factor, it had sympathetically happened so suddenly and quick. She had gone from a smiling happy living life, with so much in front of her, to a breathless fatally damaged creature in literally seconds. She, and her unborn child, would have died instantly from their injuries, which in some ways was a merciful blessing.
Did anyone in the whole world know what it felt like to lose someone like her? he thought. She was someone who had filled his cloudy days with endless sun and a bright ever so optimistic future.
Grief and loss instantly hit his face. The only thing Alec could think of right now was what he said to Patrick, earlier that very morning. "Tomorrow's just another day".
He really couldn't remember the last time he cried, it was probably at his mother's funeral. He wailed, and cried loudly realising that his Wendy was sadly now taken from him, and with her the unborn child she was carrying in her womb. As for Alec, he wasn't dead, not even badly injured but he suddenly realised he may as well have been killed in other ways.
He mourned her death, and their unborn child, badly. His own injuries weren’t too severe, but he knew that life wasn’t going to be the same from now on. If it wasn't for his loyal and devoted sister, and quite a bit of counselling, it would have been a good bet to presume he maybe would have considered taking his own life. That's not what Wendy or his sister, Kirstin would have wanted. Life no matter what direction it sometimes takes you, is nearly always a straight and privileged ordeal, and in the immediate aftermath of all this shit, he wasn’t made for quitting and just simply giving up.
The driver of the builder's van was arrested for reckless driving and drink driving as he was measured to be three times over the legal limit. The female driver of the red Toyota, who wasn’t wearing a seat-belt was thrown out of her seat, and from a badly sustained head injury died a day or so later.
Despite the fact the driver was found guilty at the trial and sentenced to eight years in prison, Alec just couldn't forgive himself over Wendy's death. To him he was responsible. It was him who was driving the car, but no way could he have foreseen what was going to happen that fateful moment when his life was put on hold. If only he had slowed down a little, or paid more attention to the road ahead, it may never have happened, or have been as serious as what it was.
The real truth hurt so badly and it was this that was something he probably could never handle or process properly. It had happened, and there was not a thing he, or indeed anyone else could do about it. Wendy who was once full of life, had now gone. Gone from him, and everyone else who knew and loved her, forever. The only element of the tragedy which had occurred which had given him a partial realm of solace, was that she had died happy, suddenly and without pain.
Kirstin talked and listened almost all day to him. She never tried to show her real inside emotions to him. She knew he was in a terribly fragile place, and that she missed Wendy desperately also, but she had decided that her grieving would be done privately. Despite that many an evening would pass and she would be there for her brother, to talk to, to listen and to try and heal some of the pain and hurt that was, at first, all too raw.
She had always been there for him, and was probably the only person whom she loved unconditionally. Their loyal brother and sister bond was as solid as ever, and it was times like this that only reinforced that.
The greatest thing in his life, probably ever, was now gone. The woman who he had loved for so long, his true whole existence and a large part of what would have been his future, abruptly ended by a badly timed eye-blink, and a split-second lack of concentration.
Many nights and many months passed, the funeral came and went, the police inquiry was a standard formality, and Wendy’s family didn’t cast any blame or negativity onto Alec whatsoever. Their loss was truly Alec’s loss, and they grieved together throughout.
Over time, Alec became better adjusted to what had occurred, and more conscious of what could have happened. He himself could have died, although in a sense, he often felt part of him did. People would constantly remind him that ‘someone upstairs had spared him’, quite a sentiment, as most people who knew Alec, knew he didn’t care too much for religion, let alone the belief in God. At first, he wished he hadn’t been spared, for life to him served little or no purpose, but during the weeks and months that followed, he came slowly to the conclusion that what was meant to be, was simply just meant to be. Life, it doesn't matter how down it can get you at times, or how bad it really ever becomes, life should still go on, no matter what. It’s like a giant cog that keeps turning around. If there is a force that constantly powers the mechanics, then the cog itself should never seize.
To Alec the cog had momentarily stopped for him, but never did he think the cog had completely seized, there was simply too much momentum from himself and others, to ever let that happen.
'There is still some steam in this ole engine yet', he occasionally said to himself.
‘Besides life should be a constant resource until something more purposeful came about!’
BOOK I: - 'AT THE BEGINNING’
LIBRO I: 'All’Inizio'
The cars shimmered in the baking heat of a near ninety-degree early summer’s afternoon along the waterfront. Vehicles bumper to bumper, maybe a hundred long, rolled slowly but surely to their destination. This was every local’s nightmare. It was like a bad dream that seemed to play out every single day this time of year. Instead of taking approximately twenty minutes to get to Saint Helier, the main town and capital, it took the best part of an hour. For such a small island, there was in the summer months an awfully large amount of traffic on the roads and this increased sometimes further depending on where you were, and where you were trying to get to.
Alec Clacy had seen his island of birth become a haven for too many people and their vehicles. He still remembered when people didn't really know where Jersey was, let alone spend a holiday here. He had become increasingly disappointed with Jersey, and frustrated in what the island was fast becoming. Overcrowded.
"Why do people come here for the worst two weeks of their holiday lives, time and time again, when it’s this bloody overcrowded?” he moaned to himself, while taking one last drag out of his cigarette. He understood perfectly well why, Jersey was a great place for a holiday, but Alec was having a bad overheated day, and he wasn't much interested in being reasoned with.
It was two o'clock, the hottest time of day for the sun and yet another blistering afternoon lay ahead of him. He liked the sun, but didn't like the warmth. He was by far an indoor person. An indoor person in an outdoor island called Jersey.
Detective Clacy had a day-off. It was the first "do what you want to do day" he had in over six months, since the sad departure of his wife Wendy almost eight months ago. He never felt like taking time off work, he couldn't stand spending time at home because it reminded him of her. It had taken him a while to get over her death but the truth he never told anyone was that he would never fully get over her death. Her death, in a sense was also his own. She had been five months pregnant and what he thought was the beginning of a new chapter was to be the end page of an all too short book.
Now the unwelcoming situation was a whole different way of life to him. He knew he had changed, and mostly not for the best. God, how he misses her like crazy, and how he thinks of her every single day, but he also knows that life goes on all the same. That would be exactly the way she would want it for him, but still nevertheless justifying it all of the time, and to everyone else, was sometimes just too much to think of.
He lit another cigarette; he never really used to smoke until the accident. He was usually the guy who would have typically only drink a pint or two at the weekend, and he used to always deplore smoking and smokers, drinking and drinkers. The smoking he found now helped him function, and the extra drink or two, well he found that just took some of the pressure and edge out of the everyday bullshit. In short, a year ago, he was probably born to be a family man; and certainly, would have been regarded as an astonishing father. Today the reality he found himself in, was that he was far from that happy idyllic place he was so familiar with and accustomed to. Now that place he seemed to find himself to be in, was the same place as any other smoker and drinker who had once had everything. Addicted. Frightened. Lost.
He strolled, casually along Kensington Place. He knew he should have phoned beforehand, but wanted to call round to see if Kirstin would be in. He rapped on the door with two sharp knocks, as he knew the door buzzer was out of order. After around ten seconds or so. the door swung open to reveal the familiar face of Kirstin.
"Good morning Sis", he said warmly.
"Hi there Al", she said "Come in".
Kirstin was slightly younger than her brother, she was 25. Her initial appearance was one of beauty. Long blonde hair flowed over her shoulders and her cute, almost innocent smile would knock a man out at a hundred paces. She was a real stunner, and, most of the time, she knew it, and often used it to her advantage.
Kirstin was his only sister and when he could he would pop around to see if anything and everything was in order. She really appreciated his concern towards her and always warmly encouraged Alec to call around.
"Have you heard from Trevor?” he asked optimistically.
"Now what do you think Alec?” she replied bluntly.
From the tone of her voice, he knew she hadn't.
"He walked out on me Alec and I don't think he is ever coming back." He could sense a build-up of emotion appearing in her eyes. He knew he shouldn’t have asked that question and immediately regretted it.
"It's been two weeks; you would have thought he would have tried to contact me." Her voice became slightly broken and with it a solitary tear ran down her porcelain-like face. She was even beautiful when she showed her vulnerable side thought Alec, but hated nevertheless to see his sister so sad.
He decided it best if he changed the subject, he didn't want her to feel any worse. He felt sorry for his sister and remembered how she had spent considerable time and effort helping him just after Wendy had passed. She had been a real tower of strength to him, at a time when he desperately needed help.
"Hey I know it’s short notice, but I was wondering if you would like to join me for dinner tonight?” he said trying to change the subject and at the same time cheer her up.
She hesitated then smiled "That would be lovely Al, thanks."
"Hey, what're brothers for", Alec said lovingly.
The rush-hour traffic through Saint Helier trundled at an incredibly slow pace. Despite it being ten past five, the air was still hot, almost stifling. The pavements were crowded full of mostly office workers who had just vacated their work for the day, as vehicles, bumper to bumper were sat largely stationary only moving merely inches every so often.
Halkett Place is more or else in the centre of Saint Helier and is a modern, vibrant street with flashy shop displays, the central market – a popular feature within town, and restaurants in abundance. It is laden with so many things to see and so many things to eat. It is an accepted place to be seen and hang out, especially balmy summer days like the present.
Mark Fullerman, along with many others, was busy hurrying home. He had just finished for the day at the nearby Beckerman’s DIY shop. He couldn't wait to get home and put his feet up; he was hungry and always looked forward to this time of day when he would see his wife and their baby girl.
He walked briskly to the front door of his apartment block, and with key already in hand turned it into the door and went in; closing behind him he started to briskly precede upstairs to his flat.
The apartment building was old and in most part, semi-run down, but it was ideal for him and his small family; who didn't currently earn enough to live in better conditions. That said the location was perfect for them as it was close for work and still pretty much in the town centre. It was good enough to call it home for him and his family, and that was all that mattered to him.
He opened the door of his flat and walked in. He noticed the waft of cooking didn't greet him as usual, the smell was different, there was none. He walked into the small lounge and straight away noticed an odd peculiarity to what was normal. The room looked different and oddly out of place. The sofa had been moved about a foot away from the wall, and closer towards the centre of the room.
Mark called out ‘hello’ and received no reply. He walked slowly into the kitchen, not certain of what he may discover.
What he did eventually see, simply didn't fully register until he walked closer and found himself staring for several long seconds at what was in front of him.
His wife lying half-naked on the floor, with what appeared to be a single wound to her head, possibly from a bullet hole. From her injury, had trickled a sizeable pool of blood which had appeared to surround virtually her entire upper lifeless body.
He stared in disbelief before wasting little time in running to her aid. He placed his fingers on her wrist to find a pulse and soon realised there was none. He laid his head onto her chest to find a heart-beat, only to discover there was none.
Mark Fullerman placed his hands to his face and let out an agonising scream. Long sobs were sometimes replaced with short icy cold silences. Without doing anymore to discover if his wife was alive, for he now knew, he sat along-side her motionless body, wailing in desperation, the sudden realisation she was dead in front of him.
His long heart-breaking screams and howls of agonising sadness, overwhelmed him until anxious neighbours ran in to see what the sudden pandemonium was about.
Before too long, the whole building was aware of the ghastly circumstances and the terrible outcome soon filtered out into the street below.
The hand expertly guided into the refrigerator and pulled out a cold bottle of beer. He loved these Friday evenings for which he had no plans, and tomorrow being a Saturday meant only one thing, he didn't have to work this weekend. He was pleased and relieved, as it had been a long winding, and somewhat largely unrewarding week.
He walked over to the answer-phone machine and pressed the grey play button. The small cassette tape inside rewound and played back the single message which was contained on it. The voice message said "Meet you tomorrow Alec, half seven at The White Swan. See you there." He immediately recognised who it was and sat down in his arm-chair. He opened his beer and thought to himself that tonight was going to be a good evening in. Have a light snack, a couple of ice cold beers, which would go down pretty well as the evening was sticky and humid, maybe watch a film or some sport, or read a good book. Just the idea of generally lazing around, doing pretty much nothing seemed to him just perfect.
"Ohh shit!” he abruptly said out-loud. It had suddenly dawned on him that he had arranged to meet his sister this evening, and he knew he couldn't let her down. Not all the cold beer in his fridge would make him want to stay in now. He really cared about his sister, and her feelings. They had always been a close family, especially more since their mother died young. That was now over eleven years ago but that special bond between them had stayed very strong every day since. They had been through a lot together, in coming to terms with their mother’s sudden and unexpected death, and because of this it had instilled a mutual closeness of love and understanding between them.
He decided to open the bottle of beer he had selected and took a big gulp in, and whilst he reached over to switch the television on, the house phone suddenly rang. He stared at it for a second or two, contemplating if he should answer it or not, before reluctantly walking to it and picking it up.
‘Hello’ he answered in a mono-tone voice
"Evening Clacy, there's been a body discovered, we think a murder, I would like you to come in and help with the investigation."
It was his immediate boss at work, Inspector Bob La Page.
"Shit Bob, really? It’s my weekend off, what's' wrong with other people helping out?” asked Alec.
"I'm sorry Alec, but Simpson is away effective from today on holiday and maybe you haven’t heard but Morris has landed himself in hospital with a broken leg. We need you here Alec. I'm sorry, can you come down?", La Page asked, almost pleading in his tone.
"Okay fine, where shall I meet you?" Alec asked with a slight resignation in his voice.
"The apparent murder has happened in a flat in Halkett Place; meet me at the Command Unit when you get here. You should have no trouble in parking; the road has been totally cordoned off and closed until we have got a handle on this.
Alec put the phone down and immediately walked to the fridge and grabbed another bottle of beer. It’s bloody typical he thought, just bloody typical. He sat for a moment, glugging away at his now second beer whilst quietly contemplating things. He decided he wasn't going to leave until that second beer had gone down. That was his story and he was definitely going to stick with it.
He reluctantly phoned Kirstin to tell her he would have to cancel their meal for this evening. With such short notice, she took it reasonably well, but considering the circumstances she understood that being a policeman it was just all part of the job, and she knew, being the sister of a policeman, that job sometimes came first.
"Phone me tomorrow Al", she said disappointingly.
"Now of course I will, what are brothers for and I'm sorry again Sis." he apologised.
He put the phone down and quickly reached for his car keys which were on a table in the hall. He took a filter out of his cigarette box, lit it and locked the door behind him.
"Typical, just bloody typical", he muttered softly under his breath.
Detective Alec Clacy walked the short distance between his car and the alleged murder scene. The area was, as La Page had described it, totally cordoned off from anyone, not connected with the police investigation. This was no mean feat as it was now early Friday evening and a usually busy street in the town centre, which would normally be full of residents, diners and party-goers, was now a total no go area.
The evening remained hot, sticky and in the main part humid.
Alec threw out another cigarette as he entered the quickly erected police command unit out on the street.
Chief Inspector La Page was talking to another detective. Alec immediately recognised him as Patrick Nelson. His affectionate nickname was Animal. This guy had monster eighteen-inch biceps muscles which made him look somewhat of a beast, however, this was so far from the man and who he was. He came across in fact as a pretty unassuming, maybe even slightly shy man if you didn’t at first know him.
"Evening guys. What do we have then? Alec asked, still slightly peeved he had been called in.
La Page opened his pad and began to read some hastily written notes. "Evening Alec, as I was just mentioning to Patrick, we have an unusual and, at the moment, a fairly motiveless murder. Mr. Mark Fullerman of number 23, Halkett Place, Saint Helier walked into his flat, after coming back from work at Beckerman’s DIY shop at around quarter past five. He found his wife, aged twenty-six, Janet Fullerman dead in the kitchen. She was discovered semi-naked and had been shot once in the middle of the forehead. She was found alone, although they had a baby girl together who, fortunately, was visiting her grandparents for the afternoon."
"Do we have any clues or leads at the moment?” asked Clacy.
"The dead woman was found an hour ago and at this stage, we have very little to go on, and therefore, at the moment we have nothing to go on and have no obvious motives”, answered La Page. "That is what you chaps are here for. It’s important we get a detailed forensic of the apartment at this early stage, and also get a complete background on both Mrs. and Mr. Fullerman's lives.”
"What about Mr. Fullerman?” asked Clacy.
"What do you mean what about Mr. Fullerman?” asked La Page.
"I think we should try and ask him further relevant questions”, replied Clacy.
"Yes, of course, we would obviously like you Alec, and Patrick, to ask him a few questions. He hasn't said very much at this stage, he is obviously very distressed and badly shaken up at this tragic time, but it’s important we ask him questions almost immediately. It’s important we find out answers quickly, this brutal killer may strike again. Now I must go, I'm going on television to do a press statement. I'll catch up with both of you later."
As Chief Inspector La Page walked off Alec and Patrick made their way first into the apartment to get a first glimpse of the grisly murder scene.
After quickly assessing the situation there, they promptly went off to interview Mr. Fullerman, who was being comforted by relatives on the other side of Saint Helier.
"Drink this, it'll make you feel better”, said Belinda comfortingly as she passed him a sizable measure of Brandy.
Belinda was Mark Fullerman's sister-in-law, and they were both very close. Belinda was older than Mark, by five years. They had actually known each other from childhood days, in fact, they schooled together, but it was Janet who Mark picked all those years ago to be his life’s partner.
As Mark held his drink tightly in his hands, staring down towards the floor, there was a double knock on the door. Belinda quickly got up and walked to the door and greeted the two gentlemen.
"The police are here Mark; they are here to speak to you. Would you like to speak to them right now?” asked Belinda comfortingly.
Mark remained silent but instead nodded his head slightly.
"I'm sorry to hear about your tragic news, Mr. Fullerman," said Alec. "I am Detective Clacy, and this is my colleague Detective Nelson. We would firstly like to offer our condolences to you and your family. How are you bearing up?’
Mr. Fullerman remained silent but instead looked up. Despite his silence, the words in his expression gave Alec his answer. It was a look of fear and desperation one man shouldn’t see in another’s eyes.
‘May we proceed to ask you a few routine questions which may help to track down the killer of your wife?"
"Okay", Mark agreed quietly.
"Now I understand when you came back from work at quarter past five, what was the first thing you noticed that you felt wasn't maybe normal or quiet right Mr. Fullerman?" asked Clacy.
After a brief moment of thought, Mark spoke "I didn't smell her cooking. I usually smell her cooking like I do, every evening”, he replied quietly and slowly.
Alec quickly glanced at Patrick and then back at Mark.
"Were there any other unusual things you noticed, you know things that didn’t look quite right, or maybe out of place? asked Patrick.
"Yes, I noticed our sofa seemed if it had been moved."
"You say moved, in what way?" replied Alec puzzled.
"It’s normally straight up to the wall, but it wasn't when I returned. It was more in the centre of the room. It may be nothing, but Janet always kept the place looking tidy. She was pretty house-proud you know" he replied.
Mr. Fullerman started to sob, his agony and realisation of the situation becoming more evident to him. It was, to him, an almost an unbearable state to be in.
Alec listened to the conversation and decided to write notes which would be helpful in understanding the motive and intent of the killer.
"Would you or indeed could you, tell me who would want to kill your wife, Mr. Fullerman?" asked Patrick.
"No, no I don't. No idea. She, she had no enemies, not to my knowledge; she was a much- loved person. A great mother" Mark answered, almost forcefully and constrained as he shook his head.
Both Clacy and Nelson witnessed Fullerman struggle to answer the questions laid down before him, but slowly and sometimes painfully, he managed to confront his dramatic emotions and full-fill the detective’s inquiries.
"Tell me about your wife, what she did, what were her interests and tell me if she was a member of any clubs or organisations?” asked Alec.
"Janet didn't work, not since the arrival of our baby girl Victoria. She used to work at Sally's Boutique in Mulcaster Street but that was about a year ago. She had a few friends who would often come around to see her..."
"...do you know the names of these friends please Mr. Fullerman?” interrupted Patrick.
"Yes, there was Catherine Irving, erm, Jill Durbano, oh Judith Burgess and Kirsty someone" answered Mark. "She wasn't a member of any club or organisation as far as I was aware of. She kind of kept herself to herself, a bit like me you know" he continued.
"And what about her interests, she did have any?"
"Well not especially, she loved animals, films and going out. She was a normal woman I would suppose"
Mr. Fullerman again started to sob. The loss he was experiencing right now, was painful to witness and there appeared nothing unusual about Mr. Fullerman’s reaction at a time like this. The sudden loss of his wife was clearly devastating and the two detectives didn’t want to prolong the questioning any further at this stage.
"Listen Mr. Fullerman, we will keep in touch with you and if there is anything further you can help us with please don’t hesitate to contact us, even if you think it may be nothing much, it just might help us. Don't worry also; we will try our utmost and hardest in catching the murderer. In an island like Jersey, they can't get very far. Thank you very much for your time, and obviously, we are very sorry to hear of this tragic news", spoke Nelson.
They thanked the Fullerman's again for their time leaving them to grieve
Alec got home around eleven. He switched on the television, opened a beer and settled back. He couldn't help thinking something was wrong. Something just didn't fit into place. He couldn't put his finger on the pulse of the situation. He knew that time was still young and after a while of investigation, things will hopefully become clearer, but something was starting to niggle him, and at this moment in time he couldn't quite put his finger on it. A seemingly unprovoked murder is something that simply doesn’t happen in Jersey. He also knew it was now going to be a busy weekend, and as soon as he had finished his beer it was probably best he headed to get some shuteye, and to not indulge himself in what he really wanted to do, and with another.
It was Saturday morning, at ten o'clock. The phone rang. Alec sluggishly got out of bed. He picked up the handset and spoke "Hello."
"Alec, it's Animal, how about we do a bit of name-checking?"
"What! I'm not working this weekend" Alec said sarcastically.
"Meet you in half an hour, we'll get some brunch at Mungo's in Seaton Place" and with that, the caller hung up, without giving Alec enough time to respond to Animal's requests.
Alec had hardly slept all night. It was a culmination of Janet Fullerman's death and the hot and humid weather. He hated the hot and sticky humid weather, especially when he had been trying, most of the night to get some sleep. Instead, he lay awake, tossing and turning and feeling very restless. Now he knew he had better get up and meet Patrick he thought. He walked over to the kettle and filled it with cold water from the tap over the sink.
He thought to himself he had been a cop too long. Too damn long. Patrick had more get up and go than him, and with that more life or more passion for it also. He smiled; he had once been a cop like that. Maybe he still was, but there again maybe he never was.
After having a wash, shave and drinking his coffee, he walked out to his car. He stopped and thought. Then, without prior warning, he began to jog, all the way to his car. It wasn't too far and besides, he needed the exercise and he wanted to prove to himself that he was just as fit and as able to keep up with a spot of physical exertion. There was still something in that old Clacy engine yet. Health-wise or fitness-wise, he wasn't over the hill just yet, but it was fair to say, even if he admitted it only to himself, he was pretty close to the top.
Catherine Irving, Jill Durbano, & Judith Burgess’s names were written, one after the other, with almost illegible handwriting on a small tatty piece of paper and placed on table four at Mungo's. Patrick thought he recognised one of the names, but at this moment in time he could not be too sure, or at least place a face to the name.
He sat down and waited for Alec. He too was tired; his younger girlfriend had kept him up all night. She never knew when to stop. A faint smile appeared on his face as Alec stood at the door. His face was like a ripened tomato, red and flushed. He looked as if he had a golf ball stuck in his throat by the way he was gasping for air.
"Morning. Shit, never again”, panted Alec almost uncontrollably.
‘You err OK?’ asked Nelson, trying not to grin.
"I parked my car and jogged in”, he continued.
"You bloody fitness freak" eventually laughed Patrick.
"Yeah whatever Nelson," said Alec.
As soon as Alec had regained his breath they busily started their discussions about motive and what they had to go on. They briefed over the four names they had. Patrick told Alec that he had heard of one of the names, possibly Judith Burgess, before but couldn't think where from, and indeed how or why.
After brunch, they ran the three complete names through the computer database at headquarters. It gave them no additional information, and none of the names were known to the police. All they had were three probable addresses, they made a note of and made their way to the squad car outside.
Saturday mornings were hell and were considered even worse than weekday rush-hour. There were many more vehicles on the road than either Clacy or Nelson had first thought there would be. It was going to be another scorcher. It must already be eighty in the shade, and would certainly top the ninety levels by the afternoon. It was truly an unbearable and oppressive heat.
As the squad car made its way through the traffic, Patrick turned to his partner and said: "So which one first then Al?"
"I think we will try this one”, he said, as he showed his partner the name written on the piece of paper in his hand.
"OK let’s do this, first lets’ get out of this bloody traffic and make our way to Chemin de Moulin, Saint Ouen's" said Patrick aware that so much traffic at such an early hour would soon pass as they made their way to a quieter corner of the island.
The phone rang; she walked over and answered it.
"Can I help you ", she softly replied
"Have you heard? Janet, she's dead", the caller said, bluntly.
"What!” sudden shock, maybe even fear, entered the woman's young voice.
"She died last night, she was shot”, the caller replied calmly.
Catherine was suddenly stunned and sat down in an armchair beside the phone. It wasn't true; it just couldn't be true she thought.
"How do you know this?” she asked.
"It has been on the television and radio this morning”, he answered. "Now whatever you do, don't say anything to anyone. Got it.”, his voice was strong and threatening in tone.
The caller then promptly hung up. She replaced the handset, got up and proceeded to the lounge, quickly grabbing a bottle of Bacardi from a nearby table and pouring herself a more than generous measure into a tall glass. She suddenly felt a grey cloud was looming over her, watching her every move and listening to her every word.
Catherine was barely a woman, only twenty-four, but a lot could be said about her, in particular, her appearance. She owned expensive clothes, maybe more suitable and fitting for ladies much older than herself. She liked to wear clothes for all occasions and for all tastes.
Her long, dark hair swept over her shoulders like a cascading waterfall as it meandered its way into the middle of her back. Her face was like a priceless portrait painted long ago.
She had the looks some woman would, and certainly could kill for. She looked like she was every guy’s darling, but beneath those eyes, in her soul lay pain, and now fears.
Her heavy breasts rubbed against her arms as she wiped her face. She couldn't cry, not even if she wanted to. She now felt slightly dead herself. Her very existence had maybe now started to die, or at least she just felt empty of emotion inside. She did truly mourn Janet, she had become a close friend, but she had no real feelings to show for it or at least none that she could show at this moment in time.
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