Witch Is When Everything Went Crazy (9 page)

BOOK: Witch Is When Everything Went Crazy
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Chapter 12

 

“He pretty much kept himself to himself,” Terry Woodyer said.

“Yeah. We tried to include him in things, but he always found some excuse,” Dawn Treadmore agreed.

Terry and Dawn worked in the same office as Norman Reeves. They’d been reluctant to talk to me at first because they thought I was hell-bent on blaming Norman for the disappearance of the holiday cash. Only when I’d managed to convince them that I had an open mind, did they relent.

“You both got on okay with him then?”

“He was very shy. People who didn’t know him thought he was strange, but really he was just very awkward,” Dawn said.

“What did you think when you heard about the holiday money going missing?” I asked.

“That it couldn’t have been Norman,” Terry said. Dawn nodded in agreement.

“You seem very sure.”

“I don’t believe Norman would ever steal anything. He didn’t seem to care about money,” Dawn said. “He was one of the most honest, generous people I’ve ever met.”

“If he didn’t take the money, why do you think he disappeared?”

“I don’t know.” Dawn frowned. “I’m really worried about him.”

“Had he been acting strangely at all before he went missing?

“Not really. No more than usual, anyway.”


Anything
you can remember might help.”

“It’s just that—” Dawn hesitated. “When he started seeing Natasha, I was like—wow!—Norman has a girlfriend?”

Terry nodded. “He was shy and awkward at the best of times, but around girls, he was a nervous wreck.”

“It took him months before he could make eye contact with me.” Dawn smiled.

“How did he and Natasha meet?”

“As far as we could make out, he got talking to her in a coffee shop,” Terry said.

“It must have been the other way around.” Dawn corrected him. “There’s no way Norman would have made the first move.”

“Did he talk about Natasha much?” I asked.

“Not really. Not unless we asked, and even then he never went into detail. He hadn’t seen her for a few days, so I was beginning to think that maybe it was over. I didn’t like to ask.”

 

Winky was sulking underneath my desk.

“What’s wrong with you?” I said.

He shrugged.

“Is it because I won’t let you use the computer?”

“Nah, I can get on there any time I like.”

He probably could.

“What’s wrong then?”

“She’s gone.”

“You’re going to have to give me more than that.”

“Bella.”

“Your semaphore buddy?”

“Yeah. I haven’t seen her since yesterday.”

“Maybe she’s out catching mice or something.”

“Bella does
not
catch mice.”

“Don’t all cats catch mice?”

“That’s a cover for the benefit of humans.”

“To hide the fact that you’re really hacking computers?”

“Bella isn’t a hacker. She’s an actress and model.”

“Catwalk?”

“You’re hilarious. Have you seen the latest CatDreams ad?”

“Can’t say I have.”

“Check it out. She looks divine in that.”

“Maybe she’s out on a shoot.”

“No. She definitely said she’d be in her window last night, but nothing. Same again today. You have to do something.”

“What am I supposed to do?”

“You’re a private investigator aren’t you? Go investigate stuff.”

I eventually managed to placate Winky with the promise that I’d investigate Bella’s disappearance as soon as I’d finished up at the office. The computer screen prompted me for my password, but when I entered it, it spat it back out. I tried again with the same result.

“I’ve changed it to ‘ILoveBella’,” Winky shouted from under the desk.

As soon as I signed into the dating website, a small red flag began to blink in the top right-hand corner of the screen. I had three messages.

The first was a generic welcome message from the site’s admin. The other two were from members who had responded to my profile. Daze had given me the name of the Rogue she was trying to ensnare, and sure enough he was one of the two respondents. She had obviously done her homework in creating a profile which would attract his attention.

I gave Daze a call.

“Jill? Hold on a minute, would you?”

“I can call back later—”

She’d obviously moved the phone away from her ear. I could hear her voice and another—a man’s—on the other end of the line.

“You can’t give me a ticket!”

“You’re illegally parked, sir.”

“Technically speaking, maybe. But I always nip in here for a coffee. I’ve only been gone a minute.”

“One minute too long.”

“Can’t we come to some arrangement?”

“Are you trying to bribe me, sir?”

“No. Not at all. I’m just saying—”

“There you go sir, have a nice day.” “Jill? Sorry about that.”

“Sounds like you’re beginning to enjoy the new job.”

“It has its moments.”

“I’ve had a reply from Damon Black.”

“Great. I thought he’d
bite
.” She chuckled at her own joke. “Have you replied to him yet?”

“No. I was waiting until I’d checked in with you. When do you want to do this?”

“The sooner that scum-bag is behind bars in Candlefield, the better.”

 

I’d no sooner posted my reply to Damon Black, than my phone rang. It was Jack Maxwell.

“Hi, Jack. Do you need someone to whup you at bowling again?”

“Funny, very funny. Look, I wouldn’t normally do this, but I know your sister was one of the people affected by the holiday fund theft.”

“What’s happened?”

“Norman Reeves’ car has been found.”

“What about him?”

“No. Still no sign.”

“And the money?”

“Just the car, so far.”

“Where was it?”

“Parked on the ground floor of the long-stay car park next to the train station. Looks like our friend, Norman might have done a runner.”

“I’m not buying that.”

“Why? What do you know that I don’t?”

“Nothing really, but I’ve spoken to some of his work colleagues. According to them, he’s as honest as the day is long.”

“They all are—until they’re not.”

I knew Maxwell was right. People could change. How well did anyone really know the people they worked with? “Okay. Well thanks for letting me know.”

“Don’t forget. This arrangement has to work both ways—if you know anything—you tell me. Understood?”

“Absolutely. Could I take a look at the car?”

“There’s nothing much to see, but sure knock yourself out. I’ll let the officer down there know you’re coming.”

 

“Don’t forget about Bella!” Winky called after me, as I left the office.

“Don’t worry, I’m on it.”

This new working relationship with Maxwell was kind of unnerving. When we’d hated each other’s guts, I’d known precisely where I stood. Now, I didn’t know how to play it. Maybe I should have reported the Daleside affair, but how would I have explained being on the scene wearing ‘old lady’ clothes? From now on, I’d do my best to play ball. Maybe.

It wasn’t difficult to spot Reeves’ car. It was cordoned off by bright yellow tape with the words ‘Police - do not cross’ printed on it. The solitary policeman standing guard must have drawn the short straw. He eyed me suspiciously.

“Jill Gooder.” I flashed him my
sweetest
smile.

He remained stony faced. I had a way with men.

“Detective Maxwell said it would be okay for me to take a look at the car.”

He still said nothing—obviously the strong, silent type.

“Hello?”

“Go ahead.”

I was getting a certain vibe. Something told me he’d read the Bugle article, and wasn’t a fan.

“Thanks.” I ducked under the tape. Norman Reeves was obviously the kind of guy who took good care of his car. It was ten years old, but looked as though it had just come out of the showroom. I checked the door pockets and the glove compartment—nothing. I pushed back the seats to check if there was anything underneath—nothing. After thirty minutes, I’d seen all there was to see, which was precisely nothing.

“Anything on CCTV?” I asked Mr Happy.

“Nothing. Camera’s out.” He gestured towards the camera mounted on the wall, above the emergency exit.

I took a closer look. Sure enough, it looked as though someone had taken a hammer to it.

It took me a few minutes to locate the security office. The man had his feet up on the desk, and was playing a game on his phone.

“Hi.” I stuck my head around the door.

He grunted.

“I’m working with the police—with Detective Maxwell.”

He grunted again, still more interested in the game.

“What happened to the camera on the ground floor? The one near the entrance.”

He shrugged. “They’re always getting smashed up.”

“When did it happen?”

“Last week some time.”

 

Mrs V wasn’t happy.

“I’m not happy.” She sighed.

See, what did I tell you?

“What’s the matter?” I took a sneaky glance at her legs—just in case.

“I don’t know. It’s never happened to me before.”

I waited for more.

“I’ve been doing this for the best part of sixty years.”

And waited.

“Why should it start now?”

Any time now.

“I keep dropping stitches.”

There we go—worth the wait, no?

“I wouldn’t worry about it. I had the same problem.”

She fixed me with her gaze.

“What?”

“You aren’t seriously trying to draw a comparison between me, a regional competition winner, and you? Are you?”

“No. Of course not. I only meant it can happen to anyone.”

“Not to me. Annabel Versailles did not become a regional champion by dropping stitches.”

“I suppose not.”

“Something is amiss.”

“How do you mean?”

“Sabotage.” She looked furtively around the room. I followed her gaze.

“Sabotage?”

“There are a lot of people who would like to see me lose my crown. They must have interfered with my needles.”

“How would they do that?”

“I don’t know, but nowadays everything is digital isn’t it? Anything is possible.”

I could feel a migraine coming on.

“Maybe we should get the office swept,” she said.

“The cleaner comes in every other night.”

“Not that kind of swept. Swept for devices.”

“What kind of devices?”

“Knitting needle jammers or blockers or whatever it is that they’re using.”

Sure. I’ll give them a call. What’s the number again? Oh yes, Crazytown911. “Okay. I’ll see what I can do.”

 

“Thank you!” Winky began to rub up against my leg. “You’re the best!”

Now, I was scared. “What’s wrong with you?”

“Thank you for finding Bella.”

“Bella?” I’d forgotten all about the missing feline supermodel.

“She’s back. I thought I’d lost her.”

“Did she say anything? With her flags, I mean?”

“She must have lost them.”

“So you haven’t actually been able to exchange messages, then?”

“No. Just loving glances.”

In that case, I totally found her. “It was nothing. Pleased I could help.”

“I owe you. If there’s anything you need.”

“I don’t suppose you know anything about digital knitting needle jammers, do you?”

 

To escape the madness I took a walk down the high street. The coffee was more expensive than in my office, but there was less of the crazy. I sat at a window seat, and did a quick mental review of the cases I was working on. I’d recovered my mother’s ring, so that was one down. I hadn’t made much headway with the missing holiday funds. As for the one paying case on my books, I was still waiting to hear back from Seamus-the-wheel. I was due to give Colonel Briggs an update, and we’d arranged to meet at the dog show in a few days time. He thought it might be helpful for me to talk to some of the people who had known Mrs Vicars from the Dog Show circuit.

The coffee shop was on the opposite side of the road to Ever a Wool Moment. From my seat, I could see a steady stream of customers going into the shop. Grandma might be many things—most of them unprintable—but she knew the yarn market.

BOOK: Witch Is When Everything Went Crazy
13.82Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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