This is the 46th Instalment in the Novella Series detailing the life and career of Murder Squad Detective Joseph Lind and his long suffering young partner Detective Shelley Anne Shields.
A Crime Stoppers phone call details a possible homicide that occurred in the early Nineteen-Fifties or Sixties. Around sixty years ago! Because of the claim of murder, our two favourite Detectives obliged to investigate the claim.
A woman watches horrified as her drug-fuelled son kills her husband then himself.
An aging Lothario, a "Man about Town" and a Mover and Shaker in the Commercial World of Sydney is shot dead outside his Eastern Suburbs Harbourside mansion. There are few suspects or a lot, depending on how you view the antics of the man throughout his adult life.
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As we get older we tend to reminisce on one's life. Recalling sometimes the silliest of episodes.
Our lives, as we travel through those recollections, take on a more innocent tone the older we get. Events become cloudy, negative things glossed over, sanitised, or even deleted entirely from our memory banks while those warm, fuzzy memories take on more importance.
Some couples become closer. Others drift apart while others stay together because it is comfortable while others grow to hate one another.
An elderly woman has lived her life with all those memories intact. A loving, loyal, and responsible husband. A clutch of six children now successfully forging their own way in the world. A family ... and a life to be proud of.
That World suddenly is upended by a confession from her dying husband.
All those years of contentment, love and security shattered.
Is it the fantasy of a dementia riddled mind or the last chance for a man to unburden his soul before dying?
His deathbed confession has huge ramifications for all those who had loved the man.
Is a close, loving family destroyed because of it? Or is there strength to overcome the shock of the revelation?
"Yes? Who are you?"
She was nervous, hiding behind her locked screen door as many elderly people do.
We showed her our ID cards.
She peered at them intently through the insect screening.
"Police people..." She muttered "I don't think I can help you at all...it says Murder Squad on your Card. Is that who you people are from? Dear God! Who has met a terrible death around here." She hurriedly crossed her heart. "Dear God, I am glad that I am moving away. Things have been going downhill for ages since the Government let in all those immigrants. They talk funny and don't believe in God as we do...and their houses smell of strange food. They don't look like us, you know. I have been terribly worried...about things, since my husband passed away, living by myself worried who might break in through the front door. You hear it all the time on the Television about masked thugs bursting through the front doors of innocent peoples' homes to rob them. Kill them or leave them terribly bludgeoned. Terrible, really scary, isn't it?"
She directed the question to Shelley who smiled and nodded her head earnestly.
"Missus Tierney? We would like to ask you a few questions if we may. May we come in?"
"Oh, no! Not until my daughter comes back. I do not know you. Why would you want to ask me a few questions? You are from the Murder Squad, so your Card says...I do not know of anyone who has been murdered recently...or at all" Her voice a weak and worrying tremor. Her hands one on the another cupped up near the base of her throat. She played nervously with the edge of her collar with a thumb.
"You rang Crime Stoppers on Wednesday afternoon..."
"I did? Yes...yes, I did. Now I remember..." She looked at me with myopic eyes. I was sure that she could not focus on me correctly. "Isn't that supposed to be anonymous? You know, when you ring the Crime Stoppers number they say it is anonymous, don't they? That I do not need to provide my name or my address...or phone number." She asked, surprise in her voice. "How have you obtained my address, if it is? They say you can ring in to report a crime and not leave your name or address. Are you sure you are coppers and not some of those people who try to rob old people of their life savings?"
"Missus Tierney..." I commented soothingly. "We are the Police. You can ring the Main Switchboard of the Police Building in Parramatta to have us identified, if you wish? No? Um...as soon as you mentioned the other day to the Crime Stoppers Operator that you thought a murder had occurred, your call was recorded and traced. In most cases, that is accepted protocol...we're instructed to investigate any claim of a murder taking place anywhere within the State. That is our job. May we come in to obtain more details of your recent telephone conversation?"
"Oh, dear. What am I supposed to do? I have not told my children...they do not know anything of this...their father, you know...they love their father. He died not long ago. This business...none of them were born when all this happened. No! That's not right. The two youngest children were no more than eighteen months and three-years of age when my husband...you know. I do not want my children involved. I am preparing to move...this house is way too big now that my Harold has gone...and my six kids too, though I would often have all of them here at times...with the Grandkids...on holidays. They'd all come down when my Harold was alive. I suspect to see him more than me..." She turned to peer down the street, almost touching the insect screening. "There is my daughter just coming up the street now...she has been doing a little shopping for Tea to-night. Perhaps if you come by tomorrow. Yes? No...that's no good. Two of my other Daughters will be here helping to pack up things. Next Monday at ten. Would that be fine by you? Yes? I must go now as we are packing things up. We will be moving all the stuff out this week-end coming. I do not want my daughter to know about her father...he confessed to me on his deathbed...last year...that he had killed some-one. How do you look at your life now knowing he had done something like that? So terrible. After almost sixty years of marriage it appears I did not know the man at all...what was my life but one big lie?"
Clem 'Lofty' Hills Series:
Murder Squad Series: