Authors: Peter Robinson
‘Hang on a minute, Geoff,’ said Banks. ‘Let me get this straight. Did you kill Mr Green and Mrs Summerville?’
‘Yes. No. I put them to sleep. I ended their suffering.’
‘And your mother?’
‘It was what she wanted. It was what they all wanted. It was beautiful.’
Salisbury’s eyes shone. ‘The transformation. From pain to peace. Suffering to grace. It was like being God.’
‘Did either Mrs Green or anyone from the Summerville family suggest that you do what you did?’
‘Not in so many words, no.’
‘But that was how you interpreted their actions in letting you get away with stealing money?’
‘Like I said, they knew. It was their way of paying for what they wanted done. Close family couldn’t do it, could they? They’d soon be suspects, or they didn’t care
enough and were never around, like you and that Summerville girl. You don’t see their suffering. I do. Day in, day out. I was their saviour. Somebody had to be.’
Banks got up.
‘What are you doing?’
‘I’m going to ring the local police now, and I want you to tell them what you’ve just told me. Tell them everything. Maybe you’re sick. Maybe you need help. I don’t
know.’ All I do know, Banks thought as he took out his mobile, is that I want you off this estate and as far away from my parents as possible.
It was about
an hour later when two uniformed constables and one detective sergeant, grumpy at being dragged out of the Sunday night pub darts match, arrived at
Geoff Salisbury’s house.
‘You know, with all due respect to your rank and all, sir, we don’t particularly appreciate North Yorkshire CID poking around on our patch, doing our job for us,’ said the
surly DS, whose name was Les Kelly and who was going prematurely bald. Luckily, Banks hadn’t encountered DS Kelly on his last trip to Peterborough.
Banks smiled to himself. It would probably have been his reaction, too, had Kelly come up north. At least it would have been
he had been a DS and ten years younger.
‘Believe me, DS Kelly, it wasn’t my intention,’ he said. ‘I just came for the party.’
Banks sighed. ‘I was brought up around here. Down the street. I came home for my parents’ golden wedding and this is what I found going on.’ He gestured towards Salisbury, who
was giving his statement to the uniformed officers.
‘How about we go outside for a minute?’ said Kelly. ‘The uniforms can deal with his statement, and I fancy a smoke.’
Banks and Kelly stood on the path. Kelly lit a cigarette and Banks craved one. A few locals had noted the arrival of the police and a small crowd had gathered just beyond the patrol car. Not
that police cars were a novelty on the estate, but it
nearly bedtime on a Sunday.
‘I was winning, too,’ said Kelly.
‘The darts match.’
Banks smiled. ‘Oh. Sorry.’
‘Never mind. We never sleep. Always ready to bring another wrongdoer to justice. I just transferred here from West Midlands, myself. You say you’re from around these
‘Uh-huh. Long time ago. Came here when I was twelve. Grew up just down the street. Used to go out with the girl whose mother that bastard killed.’
‘They’ll put him in the nut house.’
‘Likely. As long as he’s locked up.’
Kelly looked around and sniffed the air, then he took a deep drag on his cigarette and blew out a long plume of smoke. ‘I grew up on an estate pretty much like this one,’ he said.
‘Not a part of the world I know.’
‘Look, while you’re here,’ said Banks, ‘there is another small matter you might be able to help with.’
‘Oh? And what’s that?’
‘The family that lives next to my parents,’ said Banks. ‘I don’t know their names but the bloke looks like Fred West—’
‘Ah, the Wyatts.’
‘Is that their name?’
‘Well, it’s easier that way. To be honest, though, I think he’s the only true Wyatt there. She’s a Fisher. Had kids with a Young and Harrison and a Davies. Need I go
‘How many of them are there?’
‘According to the council, only five. That’s all the place is big enough for.’
‘I saw a sleeping bag on the staircase.’
‘You were in there?’
‘Ah, yes. Well, our latest estimation is about twelve, give or take a couple.’
‘Can you do anything?’
‘Drugs, for a start. And I wouldn’t be surprised if some of those kids are being sexually abused.’
‘Nor me.’ Kelly finished his cigarette and stamped it out on the path. ‘It’s only a matter of time,’ he said. ‘You know how these things can drag on. But
we’ve got an eye on them, and the social’s investigating them, too, so sooner or later one of us will come up with something.’
Kelly laughed. ‘And then? You know as well as I do. Then the farce just begins. They’ll end up on another estate much like this one, most likely, and it’ll start all over
The uniforms came out with Geoff Salisbury, slump-shouldered, between them. ‘Done,’ one of them said. Salisbury gave Banks a look that was half pleading for understanding and
forgiveness, and half pure hatred. Banks didn’t know which half he liked less.
‘Right.’ Kelly clapped his hands. ‘Let’s go see what the custody sergeant has to say, shall we? And I’ll say goodnight to you, for the moment, DCI Banks. We might
need you again.’
Banks smiled. ‘I’m only a phone call away.’
By Monday morning,
when Banks awoke to sunshine and the sound of birds beyond his thin curtains, news of Geoff Salisbury’s arrest had spread around the entire
estate. When he went down for breakfast, he found his parents sitting quietly at the table. He poured himself a cup of tea. His mother wouldn’t look at him when he walked into the room.
‘You’ve heard, then?’ he asked.
‘About Geoff?’ she said, tears in her eyes. ‘Mrs Wilkins came to tell me. That was your doing, wasn’t it?’
‘I’d no choice, Mum,’ said Banks, resting his hand on her arm. She jerked it away.
‘How could you do that? You know what he meant to us.’
‘Mum, Geoff Salisbury was a murderer. He killed Mr Green and he killed Kay’s mother.’ Not to mention his own mother, Banks thought. ‘I don’t see how you can defend
those people. They were your neighbours.’
Mrs Banks shook her head. ‘I don’t believe it. Not Geoff. He wouldn’t do anything like that. He’s gentle as a kitten.’
‘He admitted it.’
‘You must have forced him. Interrogated him until he didn’t know what he was saying.’
‘I don’t work like that, Mum. Believe me, he did it. He might have thought he was doing good, doing the families a favour, but he did it.’
Banks looked at his father, who caught his eye. He knew right away that they were thinking the same thing: who was next?
Banks stood up. ‘Look, Mum, I’ve got to go now.’
‘All you brought was trouble. It was supposed to be a happy occasion. Now look what you’ve gone and done. Spoiled it all, as usual. I wish our Roy was here.’
Banks’s heart felt heavy, but there was nothing more he could say. There was as much point in telling his mother that Roy didn’t give a shit as there was in telling her that Geoff
Salisbury was a cold-blooded murderer.
‘I’m sorry, Mum,’ he said, then dashed upstairs to throw his few belongings in his bag. He looked at the boxes of records and exercise books again and decided to leave them.
All he took was the poetry.
He was standing at the door of his room when he saw his father come slowly up the stairs. They stood on the landing facing one another. ‘She’s upset,’ said Arthur Banks.
‘She doesn’t know what she’s saying. I’ll take care of her. I’ll make sure she knows what’s what.’
what, Dad? I’m not even sure I know. Did I do the right thing?’
‘Only you know that for certain, lad. But you did your job. You’d no choice. You’re a copper and he was a bad ’un. Your mother’ll get over it. She really liked him,
that’s all. He was useful around the house. And he could be a right charmer.’
‘I know,’ said Banks. ‘His type usually is.’
‘You know she never likes admitting she’s wrong about people. But if he killed those people, you were right. You were only doing your job. I don’t mind a bob or two here and
there – and don’t think I didn’t notice, I just kept quiet for your mother’s sake – but I draw the line at killing.’ He laughed. ‘Who’s to say it
wouldn’t have been me next, eh?’
They both knew there was a lot more truth in that fear than either cared to explore.
‘Bye, Dad,’ Banks said. ‘I’ll be in touch.’
‘Don’t be a stranger, son. And don’t worry. Your mother’ll get over it. I’ll tell her to ring you in a day or so, shall I?’
His father smiled. ‘Or send you an email?’
Banks moved forward impulsively and hugged him. It was quick, and he felt only the slightest pressure of his father’s hand on the back of his shoulder, but it was enough.
Banks dashed down the stairs and walked down the path to his car, tears prickling his eyes. He felt a weight in the side pocket of his jacket and realized it was Kay’s copy of
. Now he decided he might as well keep it. Maybe he would even get around to reading it, over thirty years after he’d borrowed it.
When he got to the driver’s side of his car, he cursed out loud. Some bastard had taken a coin or a nail and made a deep scratch along the paintwork all the way from back to front. He
thought he saw someone watching from an upstairs window of the Wyatt house.
Bugger them. Bugger the lot of them
, he thought, and got into his car and drove away.