Authors: Elizabeth Flynn
“Doesn’t he have a dressing room to be discreet in?”
“We asked Brendan about that but he said it wasn’t convenient, too much coming and going. So they were seen here and there in conversation, but not very often. Oh – and Jack overheard the occasional phone call coming through from Oliver. In any case, Brendan’s the star and he calls the shots. If he wants to talk to someone he can, it’s nobody’s business but theirs.”
“So it’s a perfectly innocent relationship and there’s no can of worms for you to open?”
Patrick looked at Angela. “You don’t buy that, do you?”
Angela gave a rueful grin. “No, not really,” she said.
Angela intended to interview the dead man’s sister when the following morning’s briefing concluded, but a call from the front desk derailed her plans. Someone had come into reception wanting to see her. She asked for the person to be shown to an interview room, and appeared there with Gary a few minutes later to find a very attractive blonde woman pacing back and forth across the small space. Her movement displayed more a desire for exercise than agitation. Dressed in a smart jacket and jeans with a wrap thrown around her shoulders, she presented a picture of casual elegance. Angela thought she looked familiar but couldn’t think where she’d seen her before. The question was answered as soon as they’d all sat down.
“Thank you for agreeing to see me, when I know you must be so busy. But I wanted to have a word about Brendan.”
, thought Angela.
That’s where I’ve seen you. On Brendan’s arm at some premier, photographed for a glossy magazine.
“You’re Tilly –”
“– Townsend. Yes. I’m Brendan’s girlfriend.”
“How may I help you, Miss Townsend?”
“I think I’m probably being very silly. I might even be wasting your time. I’m partly looking for reassurance and partly hoping to help the investigation in a small way.”
“OK, let’s start with point one; you don’t strike me as a silly person. We all need reassurance from time to time and all leads we get in any investigation are gratefully received.”
Tilly smiled and relaxed. “I didn’t think it would be like this. You’re quite human really.” Angela and Gary both
laughed. “The thing is, I talked to Brendan early yesterday but he was still out of it on whatever the doctor had given him, and I’ve been rushed off my feet with business meetings since then. A couple of the newspapers I’ve seen are speculating that the bullet might have been intended for Brendan.”
“That’s probably just those papers trying to boost circulation,” said Angela. She thought of what the runner, Carla, had said. “Of course the possibility has to be on our radar,” she added in a guarded voice.
“You can ditch that theory, no problem,” said Tilly, pushing a thick swathe of hair back behind her ear.
“Really? Why is that?” asked Gary.
Tilly looked at him through narrowed eyes. “Haven’t you discovered yet that they’re all crack shots on that team? If Oliver got shot, then Oliver was the target
quod erat demonstrandum
Angela thought for a moment before speaking. “Er…” she said, eventually, “the assumption I’d jumped to is that you wanted reassurance about Brendan as the intended victim.”
“No, I want reassurance that he’s not in the frame for the murder.”
“Oh! How much do you know about the event?”
“Not much,” admitted the other woman. “I couldn’t get any sense out of Bren, as I said, and when I tried talking to the others they all went a bit cagey and said they shouldn’t speak about it really, as the matter is under police investigation.”
“All very true, of course,” agreed Angela. “But I can tell you with certainty we are quite satisfied it was not Brendan who pulled the trigger.”
Tilly narrowed her eyes again as she considered this. “Hmm. I’m still not reassured. That sounds as though you haven’t ruled out a conspiracy.”
“Conspiracy?” Angela was intrigued. “Is this where your
hope of helping our investigation comes in?”
“Yes. Although, of course, I might just be muddying the waters.” She sat up straight in her chair. “There’s no way Brendan is responsible for Olly’s death. He just hasn’t got it in him, no matter how great the provocation.”
“There’s provocation?” asked Angela.
“Oh, I’m probably being melodramatic.”
“All the same, a man has been killed.”
“Yes. The thing is, there’s definitely something going on with that tour.”
“Can you be more specific?” asked Angela.
Tilly frowned. “I’m not sure I can. It’s just how Brendan’s been. I’m picking up the vibe from him, as you’d expect.”
The frown deepened. “Sorry, this is going to sound daft. A change would come over Brendan on a regular basis; I don’t know, about once a month, once every six weeks, something like that.”
“What sort of change?”
“He’d be, like… haunted, in some way. And then it would pass, but not quite go away, if you see what I mean.” Angela didn’t, really, but she didn’t want to interrupt the flow. “It… kind of… holds him back. Take us, for instance. I’m not saying we should be married by now, but we’ve been dating for about a year and, in my view, our relationship should be in a different place. We go out and we’re seen around, but – I don’t know how to explain it – we’re not moving forward. When I ask Brendan if anything’s wrong, he pulls himself together for a while; he tells me he loves me and smothers me in kisses, but I feel…” Her voice broke and her eyes suddenly misted over.
“Fobbed off?” suggested Angela.
Tilly brought her hand up to her mouth and nodded
through her tears. “I know he’s not trying to be cruel or secretive. It feels more like he
“You’ve no idea what?”
She shook her head. “No, but whatever it is, I think this
was wearing him down.” She looked Angela full in the face. “It was affecting his music.”
Gary’s eyebrows went up into his hairline. “You could have fooled me. I was at that concert at the Apollo; he was marvellous. He’s won over a new fan.”
Tilly smiled, gratified on behalf of her boyfriend. “That’s good, and you’re right. He’s enormously talented.” She paused. “However, you’re probably not aware of this, but he hasn’t written anything new in a long while.”
“Didn’t he release a new album about six months ago? It was very successful from what my girlfriend tells me.”
Tilly nodded. “He did, but the songs were all written in his early days. Fortunately he was so prolific when he started out he’s got a lot of material he can draw on, so nobody’s noticed anything. From what I can gather, all he does is tweak old stuff. But he wants to get away from this theme of gunshots and whip cracks. It’s great and it works very well, but he’s growing up and so is his audience. He really needs to move on and develop his style and that’s just not happening.”
“And you think this tension you sense in him now and again and the lack of output are linked?”
Tilly wiped away a tear that was trailing downwards across her cheek. “He’s got some sort of monkey on his back and it’s putting the whole of his life on hold.”
“Yes, and what’s more, I think things were getting worse.”
Angela and Gary discussed their meeting with Tilly Townsend all the way to the south London address where they had
arranged to meet Kay, Oliver Joplin’s sister. Though her concerns intrigued them and they could see it all tied in with the sense of mystery they’d already picked up on, they realized they could get no further without more information, so they reluctantly called a halt to the speculation as they approached the terraced house fronted by a tiny garden. In spite of the shabbiness of the street, gloss paint glistened on the window frames and door and snowy lace curtains shielded the front room from prying eyes. A few shrubs in the garden battled bravely against London pollution.
The roar of traffic from the nearby A2 could be heard, a steady stream of cargo and ferry passengers making their way to London from the Kent coast. Angela and Gary’s appearance at the gate brought a curious Asian lady out from the adjoining house. She gave them a quick glance, adjusted a brightly covered shawl over her sari and disappeared back inside.
Kay greeted them at her door, a slightly built woman, not unlike Carla Paterson in type. They saw a pale face with large, round blue eyes, the lids of which were, at this moment, pink and swollen. She had a crumpled tissue in one hand.
When Angela introduced herself and Gary, she turned and led the way down a narrow passage to a room at the back of the house. They found themselves in an airy, cheerful kitchen. It looked as though the breakfast hadn’t been completely cleared away; two bowls of cornflakes and a plastic beaker with what looked like the dregs of some fruit juice stood on a counter running along one wall. The fridge door was a riot of activity. Magnets clustered across most of its upper half, each one pinning some piece of paper to the surface. A shopping list and a cake recipe half-obscured a couple of child’s drawings, and further over, Angela and Gary could see pictures of Oliver and Kay smiling at the camera at what seemed to be a party.
Another scene from what looked like the same party showed Oliver, a pint of beer in one hand, with an arm round the neck of another man. The picture oozed camaraderie.
Through the back door they could see two little children, with large dark eyes and halos of curly hair, peering in to see who the strangers were. The boy, about five, played on a bright red tricycle, and a smaller girl constructed something from plastic bricks. A baby girl of about four months was dozing in a stroller just inside the room.
“I can see you’ve got your hands full,” began Angela. “I’m sorry to have to disturb you.”
“S’all right,” said the woman, sniffing and raising the tissue briefly to her nose. “I knew you’d be here at some point. This is as good a time as any. Take a seat.”
Angela and Gary sat down at the plastic-topped table and Kay seated herself opposite them.
“We’re very sorry to intrude on your grief for your brother,” said Angela, “but we need to get as clear a picture of him as we can.”
“Yeah, I understand.”
“First and foremost, I have to ask, do you know if he had any enemies?”
The sleeping baby stirred slightly. Kay turned towards her, reached out a hand to the pushchair handle and jogged it gently up and down. “Shouldn’t think so. Why would he have enemies?” she asked.
Because somebody killed him
, she thought. “It’s a question we have to address,” she said.
Kay turned a mournful face towards Angela. “Yeah, sorry, I know. I think I’m in shock, still.”
“That’s understandable,” replied Angela.
Kay dropped her gaze to the table. “Don’t think so anyway,” she said. “Not that I know of.”
“No enemies,” said Gary, writing in his notebook. He looked up at her. “What about his friends?”
Kay gave a mirthless smile. “He was a bit of a loner, Olly. He liked to go his own way.”
“But he must surely have had one or two friends,” persisted Gary, his pen poised.
Kay shrugged. “I suppose; but I didn’t really know them.”
“What about the people he worked with?” asked Angela.
“What about them?”
“How did he get on with them?”
Kay took her hand off the pushchair handle. “I think he got on all right with them. He didn’t really talk about work much.” She brought her eyes up to Angela’s. Fresh tears formed and began to roll down her cheeks.
“What about Brendan Phelan? Did he speak about him much?”
“Not recently. Brendan was just on the way up when Olly got taken on. You couldn’t shut him up about it then ’cause it was really exciting. You know – a big star, all those fans. Sometimes, if they saw him in the street or the pub and recognized him from the crew, they used to beg him to introduce them to Brendan. But the novelty wore off. He hasn’t talked about it for a long time now. Not to me, anyway.”
“But he did get on with Brendan?”
“I suppose so. He’d been working for him a long time. Brendan must have felt comfortable around him. He didn’t have to keep him on.”
Angela felt frustrated.
These answers are trailing off into nothingness
, she thought,
and I can’t figure out why.
She tried a different tack. “How about
relationship with your brother, Kay? Did you see much of him?”
Kay’s eyes brightened; the first sign of animation they’d seen lit up her face. “He was very good to me, a really good
brother. He looked after me. If I needed something I only had to ask. And he was good to the kids.”
This raised a question Angela couldn’t let pass. “How about your – er – the children’s father?”
“What about him?”
Frustration rose in Angela. This was heavy going. “Well – did Oliver and he get along? Did they see much of one another? Is he around at the moment?”
“Sometimes. He’s around sometimes. You know how it is.”
Angela didn’t, but she could guess.
“He got on all right with Olly,” continued Kay. “They had a beer together now and again.” Just at that moment a catchy ringtone sounded and Kay pulled a mobile phone out of her pocket, livened up a little more as she read the name on the screen, and lifted it to her ear.
“Yeah?” she asked, looking at the two officers.
They could hear a distant voice saying what sounded like: “You OK, Kadey?”
“Yeah,” she answered. “The police are here, right? They’re asking about Olly… Yeah, see you later.” She finished the call and put the phone back into her pocket. “That’s their dad,” she said, casting her head around to take in all three children. “He’s coming over later,” she said, her brief animation departing once more.
“He uses a different name for you,” said Angela.
Kay smiled. “That’s just his pet name for me. He calls me Kadey; sometimes Kadey-Wadey; silly really, but – you know. My name’s actually Kayleigh.”
Angela smiled and nodded, resigning herself to the reality that this conversation had driven into another dead end. She looked across at Gary, raising her eyebrows, expecting to see confirmation of frustration equalling her own, but to her surprise he persisted, asking: “What about Oliver’s friend
in that picture?” He pointed to the cheerful photograph attached to the fridge door, showing Oliver at the party, his arm around his friend.
A flash of irritation appeared on Kay’s face, as if the sight of it annoyed her. “Oh, that was ages ago. He hasn’t been around for a long time.”
Gary would not be fobbed off. “They look very friendly, though.”
“Nah – Olly was probably just drunk, or well on the way to it, when that was taken. He could get sentimental when he’d had a few.”