Tuesday cont. then Wednesday Oct 10
Gary thought it would be a good idea to talk to Knowles without the presence of Phillis Cartwright so he, Dorothy and Cleo went down to the room in which Knowles was being asked to wait. Nigel went with them to record everything.
“We’ll need to talk to you again, Miss Knowles,” said Gary, “but if I’m not mistaken, Miss Cartwright made a fool of you and she was tryng it on with us.”
“You were foolish to let yourself in for that soup incident.”
“I thought I was just taking her for a ride. I didn’t know what was in that potion.”
“She did not know she was handling poison either, Miss Knowles,” said Cleo,” but on the other hand, it’s not a good idea to mess around with people think they are clever and cunning.”
“We don’t know that Phillis did not know about the poison, do we?” said Knowles, talking quite differently now it was clear that she was a lawyer. “I quite liked the idea of helping the singing by eating soup laced with some kind of vocally improving substance. Phillis really believed that, or said she did. I just went along with it for fun.”
“You’ll know better next time not to underestimate apparent stupidity. It took me quite a long time to understand that such people either have no reasoning at all or it is too perverted to be taken seriously,” said Gary. “Suicide bombers are made of such stuff. You can’t argue with them that they are taking their own lives at the behest of people who would not dream of taking theirs. They believe in a heaven full of innocent assassins.”
“There won’t be a next time, I promise you. I’m going to come out as a lawyer. I can see that I’m not clever enough to be a criminal, and my excursions into the working world were not a success.”
“Which brings me to something I have to ask you about the past, Miss Knowles,” said Cleo.
“Did you kill Laura Finch?”
“What makes you ask that?
“You were seen nearby.”
By Betjeman Crighton?”
“Yes,” said Cleo.
“Little skunk. I was never sure just how mad he was. I think he was just plain evil.”
“He is probably both,” said Cleo.
“He stalked Laura Finch. She never knew when he would pop up, and he exposed himself on several occasion. For an ex prostitute, Mrs Finch could look convincingly appalled,” said Knowles.” She and I did not really get on, but Mrs Finch knew I was lawyer and had asked me to look into Betjeman Crighton’s activities. He frightened her. I was to find a way of getting him locked up.”
“How did Mrs Finch find out about your profession?” Gary asked.
“She had been worried about her so-called nephew. I said I knew someone who might help her. When we were alone, I told her who I was. It was about Jason’s birth certificate, if I remember rightly. She wanted me to make sure the details did not get out, but it was too late to avoid the truth about her relationship with the man she had repeatedly said was her nephew. I think the main problem was that her own past was not to become common knowledge.”
“Did you know about it?”
“I contacted the shipping company and found out.”
“So what happened when Mrs Finch was murdered?” said Cleo.
“I followed Betjeman when I could, but he was usually on his racing bike, so I needed to know where Mrs Finch was going. She told me she was going to the garage yard that day, to where that nasty little grocer and the organist kept their cars. She would tell them both to get off her back.”
“I wish we’d heard all this sooner,” said Gary.
“You had your killer, so I kept quiet,” said Knowles. “I was too late to stop Betjeman pushing Mrs Finch to the ground and stabbing her, and I did not know that Bontemps attacked her because I had left.”
“It could mean that Bontemps came upon her later than we thought and was the last one to stab her, but it really doesn’t matter. The stabbings were located to him and Crighton and Bontemps committed suicide, believing that he had killed the woman he had actually asked to marry him.”
“I didn’t know that,” said Knowles.
“It’s your own fault that you have such a bad reputation, Miss Knowles,” said Cleo. “You cultivated it for reasons best known to yourself.”
“Those weird jobs were amusing. The legal profession is not amusing.”
“Phillis’s action at the hospital was clearly murder. She had confessed. Her motive was jealousy. I don’t know if you did anything to provoke it,” said Gary. “But that would not be illegal, would it?”
“I certainly didn’t encourage the woman. I’m happily married, Mr Hurley. I do look a bit like a prize fighter and I’m married to one. I’m not interested in women, but Phillis fascinated me because I could not quite make out what went on in that tiny mind.”
“There is no accounting for what people will do when they are jealous,” said Cleo. ”Murderous thoughts are quite natural in such circumstances, but the problems are normally solved without bloodshed.”
“I’m glad to hear that,” said Gary.
Cleo treated Gary to blazing eyes and a sardonic smile.
“I’d better phone Robert and tell him that his assistant will not be returning,” she said.
“Yes, you should,” said Gary.
“Wasn’t that butcher guy married to you, Miss Hartley?” said Knowles.
Gary did not wait for Cleo to answer.
“We’ve all had our moments, Miss Knowles,” he said.” You can go now. Let me know how you get on in your professional capacity as a lawyer.”
“I’ll do that,” said Knowles.
“You will also be called as a witness, even if you decide to defend Miss Cartwright. Think twice about that.”
Dorothy had stood by wordless the whole time.
“Don’t phone Robert, Cleo,” she said now. “I’ll pop into the shop and explain things to him.”
“Nigel, can you drive Dorothy to Upper Grumpsfield?” Gary said. “I’ll take my wife out to lunch when we’ve checked back at home.”
“Will do,” said Nigel.
“Take my car,” Gary said, giving him the key to the van. “You could pick me up in the morning. Then we could drive here together and I’d have my car back. Cleo can give me a lift home.”
Cleo wondered if Gary was serious about lunch since their relationship seemed to be on trial. Apart from that, he still had to question Ed Fargo while the iron was hot. His interview was set for three. Cleo planned to be home by them.
“When is Dr Fargo coming, Gary?”
“Tomorrow. Greg sent a text to that effect. Let’s go to Romano’s. We have plenty of time.”
“I thought you’d order something to be sent here, like in the old days.”
“Before we got together, I suppose you mean,” said Gary. “I’m glad we got all that sorted out. Ordering was really a ruse to keep you near me for a bit longer.”
“And I did not really notice the way things were going,” said Cleo. “Upstairs or downstairs?”
“Both, since you are obviously not still angry with me,” said Gary.
“I’m not angry with you, but I’m angry with myself. Why didn’t I ask Knowles to explain things before now?”
“Because it was all one of Dorothy’s famous hunches, Cleo.”
“That’s true. I’m not hungry yet. Upstairs sounds more like my kind of thing.”
“A wise decision,” said Gary.
After an hour in Romano’s guestroom where it all began and was still sensational, the lovers ate glorious pasta with Romano. He had made it specially and called it #lovers’ lasagne’.
“How is your love life,” Gary asked, knowing that his friend had suffered greatly from Cleo’s mother’s episode with Gabriel.
“She came to see me,” said Romano. “Gloria is still the best thing that ever happened to me. I was not passionate enough. She found another and it happened ot be my younger brother.”
“She wants to give you a second chance, Romano,” said Gary. “You must take it and show her that you are really a Latin lover as well as a great cook.”
“Do you think she would believe me?”
“I’m sure, Romano. Give it a chance. You’ve nothing to lose.”
“I’ll think about it.”
On second thoughts, I’ll go back to the office, Cleo. I’ll get a lift home with Joe if he can tear himself away from his Cop’s Corner.”
Nigel was waiting for him at HQ. Ed Fargo was brought to the office by a security guard who was instructed to stay. As a precaution, Gary had locked the door between his office and the observation room and pocketed the key.
“Good news, Mr Fargo,” Gary started, not knowing if Fargo already knew that his uncle had reappeared.
“The only good news I want to hear is that I’m going to be released,” said Fargo.
“I’m not sure you’d be so keen if you knew that your uncle has reappeared.”
“Then you know that I didn’t kill him.”
“You didn’t kill him, but you killed someone else, didn’t you?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Let’s talk about Miss Cartwright, shall we?
“She’s the lady who advertised her skill at making pills and potions, Mr Fargo. You contacted her.”
“Did I? I don’t remember.”
“Let me jog your memory,” said Gary.
“Where’s my wife?”
“Somewhere else, Mr Fargo.”
“I want to talk to her.”
“She’s not around. Talk to me instead. For a start, tell me why you contacted Phillis Cartwright.”
“Just for fun.”
“So you do know who that is, I take it,” said Gary.
“I wanted to see what kind of person would claim to be a white witch.”
“And then you gave her a try, didn’t you, Mr Fargo?”
“What if I did?”
“Making potions out of amatoxins is not very nice,” said Gary.
“I don’t know what you are talking about.”
“Toadstools, Mr Fargo, possibly of foreign extraction if you say so.”
“Sally picked them. We looked them up and they were harmless.”
“All of them?”
Do you expect me to believe that, Mr Fargo?”
“Why shouldn’t you?”
“So what did you do next?” said Gary.
“I gave them to the white witch. She made up a translucent potion and sold it to me. She said it was a pick-me-up.”
“But you knew better, didn’t you, Mr Fargo?”
“I don’t know what you are getting at, Inspector.”
“What did you do with the liquid?”
“I don’t remember,” said Fargo.
“Of course you do. As far as I’m informed, you decanted it into a bottle of wine and gave it to a tramp. Why did you do that?”
“Sally did that.”
“You told her to, Mr Fargo.”
“I don’t remember.”
“You wife remembers everything,” said Gary.
“She makes things up,” said Fargo.
“What she did not know until now was that the tramp you picked on because you needed a corpse was possibly her father.”
“It’s true. We’re getting a DNA test done and that will settle the matter.”
“So she killed her father,” said Fargo, sneering, and Gary noted that the guy was a really nasty piece of work..
“What makes you say she killed him, Mr Fargo?”
“She gave him the wine, didn’t she?”
“You had prepared it with poison, Mr Fargo.”
“You’ll have to prove that, Inspector.”
“We will. We know you wanted to be rid of your uncle. Identifying the tramp as your uncle was the first part of the plan.”
“Blast you. I did not even know where my uncle was.”
“But you moved into the villa and dressed a doll in his clothes so that people would think her was at home. That was before the idea of the tramp occurred to you, Mr Fargo. If your uncle was dead, you could inherit the villa. No one could prove it wasn’t your uncle if he had been cremated. If or when he turned up, you would dispose of him, probably in that freezer in the cellar and then in a suitably large hole, possibly under a tool-shed from the DIY. It’s been done before.”
“You can’t prove anything,” said Fargo. “I haven’t done anything.
“I think we can,” said Gary. “We know where you got the amatoxins and we know what Miss Cartwright did with the rest, which she had kept for her own use as a beautifier and restorer of singing voices.”
“It isn’t funny. It cost two people their lives, three, if you count that tramp. Forensic science can prove that the poison was unique – the fantasy of a woman who thought she was a white witch – and supplied wih the poisonous plants by you.”
“You don’t believe that woman, surely.”
“We’ll also have your wife’s testimony, Mr Fargo.”
“She is lying, Inspector.”
Ed Fargo realized that anything he said would incriminate him. There was nothing left of his plan to become rich on the inheritance from his uncle.
“Oh, and there’s also the business of your first wife, Mr Fargo. I’ll have to get that case reopened. Your wife will tell the truth about that this time. How did you get her on your side?”
“Mind your own business,” said Fargo.
“Take him back to his cell, please,” Gary ordered the guard.
Nigel declared that Fargo was one of nastiest characters he had ever come across.
“He would make a perfect pair with Phillis,” said Gary.
“Revolting,” said Nigel.
“We’ll talk to Dr Fargo tomorrow morning,” said Gary. “I don’t suppose Fargo will still be in line to inherit anything.”
“I can’t wait,” said Nigel.
“I’ll take you home now Nigel. Thanks for helping me with that little crisis Cleo had. I’ve never know her to be jealous.”
“You’ve never flirted with a suspect like Knowles before,” said Nigel.
“I wasn’t flirting.”
“The mutual attraction was unmistakeable, Gary.”
“She was just interesting. That’s all.”
“You don’t have to convince me.”
“What do you suggest, Nigel?”
“Flowers and jewelry. They always work.”
“Thanks for the advice. We did make it up at Romano’s at lunchtime, but a little more spoiling is probably a good idea.”
A dark red ruby pendant set in gold on a gold chain and a huge bouquet of roses later, Gary arrived at the cottage to find Cleo cooking dinner.
“You have a clever assistant in Nigel, Mr Hurley,” she said.
“I have wonderful wife, Mrs Hurley,” said Gary, fastening the chain around his wife’s throat.
“These are counted out trysts,” he added as he put the roses into a vase.
“Make sure you don’t forget about your wonderful wife again, Mr Hurley.”
Much later, when all the children were asleep, Cleo and Gary chatted over their espresso nightcaps about what was in store the following day, when Dr Faro, Eve Fletcher, Sally, Ed Fargo and Phillis had to be ‘processed’. Gary thought Phillis had burnt all her boats already and would be passed on to the public prosecutor without delay. Ed Fargo was in a similar position and could no longer rely on Sally Fargo to dig him out of his deep hole.
“We didn’t ask Miss Knowles why she visited the Crightons, Gary.”
“Can you think why, considering she is not guilty of any crime?” said Gary.
“You really believe that, don’t you?” said Cleo. “That’s an assumption I can’t really go along with.”
“It’s your female instinct again, Cleo.”
“Leave the gender out. The truth is that you don’t want her to be guilty of anything.”
“I would not have let her go if there had been any doubt in my mind, Cleo.”
“That’s what I thought until a few minutes ago, but what if she did have an ulterior motive? Would she go all that way to visit the Crightons for the hell of it? She didn’t know them. I wonder if she had sex with Betjeman. He seems to have been around women quite a lot, and so has your Miss Knowles. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to have anything to do with the guy, but it takes all sorts. Maybe he raped her.”
“I doubt it and. I protest. She isn’t mine. I don’t give her red roses or anything else, for that matter, and if you can prove she is guilty of anything, I’ll be glad to put her under arrest despite her wily lawyer qualities. She’s fortunately married, so her erotic moments are probably taken care of .”
“Mine weren’t,” said Cleo.
“Yes they were, Cleo. With me. Have you forgotten?”
“All wives are taken care of – more or less,” said Cleo.
“You thought Knowles merely wanted to make sure that evil and mad Betjeman was safely behind bars, didn’t you?” said Gary. “But bars would not stop him talking about Laura and involving Knowles?”
“Would anyone believe him, Gary? He’s had time to think about the reason he is in that mental hospital. He is not manic all the time and he will have been getting treatment. What if Knowles was mixed up in Laura’s murder after all?”
“We’d never be able to prove it. You saw how clever she is.”
“She certainly had you wound round her little finger,” said Cleo.
“Don’t begrudge me a little fun, Cleo,” said Gary. “There is something erotic about her. I admit, but wasn’t she just deliberately turning me on? I could almost see the vibes. Hookers have tried that on me before, but not a lawyer.”
“She’s a woman first and a lawyer second. That’s how it works with the sexes, Gary.”
“Don’t scare me!”
“She was not very clever about Phillis, was she? In fact, Phillis nearly made fools of all of us,” said Cleo. “Or did Knowles have an ulterior motive for all that performance? Did she want to get at one or the other chorus member? Was someone we have not taken into account blackmailing her?”
“Do you realize that trying to fathom all that out would drag it on for weeks and months and probably end the way it has now.”
“I want you to get Knowles in. I won’t have peace of mind until you do, Gary.”
“OK. You win. I’ll phone her now. Don’t listen in. I may have to get raunchy.”
“I’d like to hear that.”
“It would embarrass me.
“OK. I’ll look in on the kids and take a shower.”
A male voice answered the Knowles phone.
“Can I speak to Miss Knowles, please?”
“Mrs. I’ll ask her. Who shall I say is calling?”
“Chief Inspector Hurley.”
“Hold the line. I’ll get her.”
Gary assumed that Knowles went in a different room to talk to him. After about two minutes she said
“I’m outside. My husband does not like cops phoning. What do you want?”
Gary made a mental note of that statement. Wasn’t Mr Knowles squeaky clean, either?”
“I’m sorry to trouble you, but you’ll have to come to HQ again tomorrow morning. Something has come up.”
“Has it? I won’t read anything into that, Mr Hurley, but I did notice the attraction you have for me.”
“You have an obsessive mind, Mrs Knowles.”
“So do you.”
“Like today, Mr Hurley.”
“Between us, yes, but that’s as far as it goes.”
“That’s promising,” said Knowles. “We could…feel our way.”
“Is that what you want, Mrs Knowles?”
“For a start,” said the woman.
“Can you be at HQ by eleven?” Gary persisted. He could kick himself for phoning her. His request had sounded almost like an assignation, Cleo should have phoned. It was her idea.
“No trouble, Mr Hurley, but I thought we’d cleared up the other things.”
“I expect we have, but you must sign a statement, Mrs Knowles.”
“If you insist. We can take time to make a date for you know what,” said Knowles.
“Let’s get the statement over first, shall we?” said Gary.
“We can go somewhere neutral later, Mr Hurley.”
“What do you suggest?” he said.
“Not Romano’s,” she said. “You go there with your wife, don’t you? There’s a nice club on the Oxford Road. We could do a threesome if you want to bring your wife along.”
“I prefer twosomes,” said Gary.
“As you wish. See you tomorrow.”
Cleo had eavesdropped. She was furious and flung herself into the kitchen, from whence Gary had been phoning on the house-phone, not considering that Cleo would be too curious not to listen in.
“You got off quite lightly, I thought. And so did I. I wasn’t reared to go in for what she suggested. At least you did not let me in for that.”
“I didn’t let you or me in for anything. You don’t seriously think I would want to go anywhere with her, do you?
“I don’t know, do I? Wives tend not to notice.”
“She’s coming in tomorrow. That’s what you wanted, isn’t it? I don’t think you’ll get anything more out of the woman. She’ll have had a good reason for going to Oxford. She wanted to see Betjeman and didn’t. End of story.”
“Sure. She wanted to make sure loony Betjeman does not spill the beans in a fit of sanity.”
“Let’s wait and see Cleo. I can’t speculate any more tonight. I need my duvet.”
“So do I, Sweetheart.”
“As long as Mrs Knowles stays out of our lives.”
“She will, I promise you.”
“I haven’t taken that shower yet.”
“Neither have I. I’m not sure whether I need a cold one to get over that unambiguous invitation or a hot one to return to normality.”
“I’m not getting under a cold shower, Gary.”
“That’s settled then.”
Breakfast at the cottage was as hectic as usual, but with the additional apprehension felt by Cleo and Gary before a tense working day. Fortunately, Grit and Toni could cope with the agitation expressed by the little ones in the form of crying and being generally uncooperative. Cleo and Gary would drive into HQ separately so that Cleo could drive home for lunch. Gary did not think he would have time. Dorothy was not invited as that would have complicated things even more. Gary loved Dorothy, but often at a distance since she had a habit of turning things upside down.
Dr Fargo turned out to be a spritely gentleman in his sixties. He was accompanied by a rather attractive woman in her fifties, whom he introduced as Veronica, ‘my new wife’.
“Where is he?” said Dr Fargo. “He’s due for a piece of my mind.”
“He’ll get it, Dr Fargo,” said Gary. “I’ll take you down to the arrest cell.”
“Veronica can stay here, Can’t she?” said Dr Fargo. “I don’t want her to be exposed to the expletives my nephew is bound to spout.”
“You can get him charged with breaking, entering and squatting, Dr Fargo. But that will pale in comparison with the murder charge he is facing.”
“I want to talk to him,” said Dr Fargo.
“I’ll get him here,” said Gary.
He phoned down to security and had Ed Fargo brought to his office.-Cleo had gone into the observation room. She did not want to distract the Fargos and would prefer just to observe what happened. Nigel stayed in the office. A digital camera was switched on and Nigel sat in the corner as usual and took notes.
Ed Fargo took one look at his uncle and tried to leave.
“Who do you think you are, Ed?” said Dr Fargo. “You broke into my house and understand that you want to kill me.”
Ed did not reply.
Dr Fargo turned to Gary.
“What exactly has he done,” Dr Fargo asked.
“He poisoned a tramp, Dr Fargo.”
“I did not,” said Ed. “Sally poisoned him.”
“You know that’s not true,” said Gary as the house phone rang.
It was Chris with the news that Toby Bates was indeed Sally Fargo’s biological father.
“Thanks Chris. That was perfect timing,” said Gary.
“Your nephew killed his wife’s father, Dr Fargo.”
“He did what?”
“I didn’t know,” said Ed.
“So you are admitting to killing Mr Bates, are you?” Gary said to Ed.
“It was an accident,” Ed said.
“You’re lying, Mr Fargo,” said Gary. “Poison does not get into a wine bottle by accident.”
“A second phone call informed Gary that Sally had arrived with her parents.
“Send them up to my office,” he told reception.
“The more the merrier, Mr Fargo,” said Gary. “Your wife will be here any minute now.”
“What happened to his first wife?” said Dr Fargo. “I didn’t know he was married for the second time.”
“Don’t you know?”
“I was told that his first wife had been killed in a car accident. I lent him five thousand to give her a decent burial.”
“She was run over by your nephew, Dr Fargo.”
I always knew he had an evil streak, Inspector,” said Dr Fargo.
“What’s it to you?” said Ed.
“Everything, Ed,” said Dr Fargo. “I know your first wife was a prostitute, but she did not deserve to die.”
“Who are you to judge?” said Ed.
The office door opened and Sally entered with her parents. She went straight to Ed and slapped him across the face.
“Stop that, Mrs Fargo. Your husband will be punished by the law,” said Gary.
“He would have killed me too,” she said. “It was only a matter of time.”
“This is Dr Fargo,” said Gary. ”This is Frank Ryan and Eve Fletcher, Sally’s parents, Dr Fargo.”
Sally shook hands gravely with the uncle who had figured so much in her thoughts.
“I’m glad you’re not dead, Dr Fargo,” she said.
“So am I, but it’s not thanks to my nephew.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t realize what kind of a person he is,” said Sally.
“I have news for you and your parents, Sally,” said Gary. “That tramp Toby Bates was your biological father.”
Eve Fletcher gasped.
“Do you know what you’re saying, Inspector?”
“We compared the DNA taken from a glass out of which your daughter had drunk,” said Gary. “There’s no doubt about it.”
“But Eve was raped, Inspector,” said Frank Ryan.
“Sally went to her mother to comfort her. She put her arms round both parents to assure them that it did not make any difference.”
“Cut the sob stuff, Sally,” sneered Ed, and Gary had to restrain Sally from taking another swipe at the man to whom she was unfortunately married.
“I’ll tell the truth about that day Ed’s first wife was killed,” said Sally. “I lied in court, Mr Hurley. I’m sorry.”
“Fortunately murder does not go out of date, Mrs Fargo.”
“I thought I loved him, and I imagined that what I had seen was not a deliberate attempt on Ed’s wife’s life, Mr Hurley. I swear it. But I was in denial, wasn’t I?”
“You can swear it in court, Mrs Fargo,” said Gary. “I believe you.”
He turned to Ed Fargo and charged him with the murder on his first wife and the murder on Toby Bates.
“She did it,” said Ed pointing at Sally.
This time it was Dr Fargo who commented.
“He’s a nasty bastard, a thief and a killer, Mr Hurley,” he said.
Ed Fargo was led away by two strong guards. He was kicking and cursing.
“He’ll get a life sentence,” said Gary as Cleo came into the office and shook hands with Dr Fargo, Sally and her parents.
“Missions accomplished,” she said.
“Almost,” said Gary. “Can you take Sally’s family to the canteen for a drink, Cleo? I have another appointment, but it won’t take long.”
“It won’t take any time at all,” said Cleo.” I’ve cancelled your appointment with Mrs Knowles, if that’s what you were referring to.”
“But why?” said Gary.
“Because you haven’t a hope in hell of pinning her down on anything,” said Cleo. “I’ll take our guests to the canteen, Nigel. Help Gary to come to his senses!”
“Cleo’s right, Gary. We have no proof of anything.”
“But it was Cleo and Dorothy who suspected Knowles of crimes in the first place. I’m only following up what they had decided was the way forward.”
“I advise you to put it on the back burner, Gary.”
“I suppose you’re right, Nigel.”
“One day the Knowles woman will make a mistake and then you can get her.”
“I can’t imagine Mrs Knowles making a mistake, Nigel.”
“I couldn’t imagine you being at loggerheads with Cleo, but you are,” said Nigel.
“You’re right, Nigel. I’ll see to it right away.”
Gary sped down the stairs two at a time and collided with Cleo on the second flight.
“I’m so ashamed, Cleo,” he said, clutching her.
“You needn’t be, Sweetheart,” she replied. “We’re in this together, remember?”
“How could I forget even for one moment?”
“Fact is that you are only human, Gary.”
“I love you Cleo, and no one else.”
I thought you’d say that.”