ALIBI in detail

ALIBI in detail

Postby Lynnedean » Wed Jan 29, 2014 8:18 am

Alibi was written by Paul Abbott, the writer of Reckless, especially for Michael Kitchen. It was filmed in the early part of 2003 and shown in two parts on ITV in the UK at the end of August that year.

This thread contains a detailed write-up of the drama, which contains all scenes and almost all of the dialogue. It was done for the following reasons ... When the drama was released on DVD by a US distributor, a number of scenes were cut down or completely removed, for what reasons disappointed Michael Kitchen and Paul Abbott fans cannot fathom. The write-up is for those who have no opportunity to see it in its entirety as broadcast and would like to know what has been cut, especially as the cuts do lead to some ambiguity in places. When I get a minute, I'll re-post the chapters with the DVD edits highlighted on the text (Chris's work – ta, muchly, kidda). The transcript is also for those who have the DVD but may not be able to catch some of the words in the fast-paced English dialogue, and want to know what is being said.

Please note that the drama is divided here into chapters - the original was not. I created chapters for ease of posting, and added chapter headings to give the reader an idea of where she is in the story. Note, too, that throughout the write-up, in order to convey a sense of what is actually going on with the characters, I've indicated such as mood, facial expression, tone of voice, hesitations and pauses in speech, etc., as best I can.

~ Lynne
Last edited by Lynnedean on Wed Jan 29, 2014 1:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"Progress might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long." ~ Ogden Nash
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ALIBI in detail - Chapter 1

Postby Lynnedean » Wed Jan 29, 2014 8:19 am

Chapter 1: A terrifying discovery

Location: Somewhere in the South of England, one to two hours drive from London.

A young woman of about thirty years of age is sitting at her desk in the local government office in which she is one of a team of people who arrange payments to those out of work or on low income. She presses a button to indicate on a monitor above her head that she is ready to see the next claimant.

A young man approaches. Marcey looks up and with a brief smile says, "Morning."

The young man responds "Morning" and then sits down. He apologises for coming on the wrong day, and offers an explanation. "Sorry, I should have come Thursday but my daughter was taken into hospital."

"Oh dear. What name?"

"Stephen Clay. On-call doctor's going nah, it's just a temperature, and me going that girl is poorly! Two hours later, 999! St Mary's. Appendicitis."

"Which ward?"

"No, not by the time they'd got her open! Bloody peritonitis! Could have lost her."

Marcey repeats the question patiently but in a deliberate manner. "Which ward?"

"Eighteen."

Marcey's tone becomes harsh. "Eighteen's geriatric. And I'm warning you now, I am not in the mood for this shit!"

Clay is stunned to have been caught out in a lie this way and so sternly rebuked that he can't think what to say.

Marcey's voice softens again but retains a no nonsense edge. "Now, have you done any paid work since you last came to see me?"

Clay's mouth opens but no sound comes out. Marcey nods slowly as she feeds him the right answer to the question, stretching out the word. "Yyyes …"

Clay concedes. "A bit. Couple of days plastering."

Marcey opens a desk drawer and takes out some papers. "Earning what?"

"Fifty a day."

Marcey is not easily fooled. She slams her desk drawer shut as she gives her client a pointed look that suggests he'd better tell the truth. Clay caves in as he realises that this particular benefits clerk can see straight through him.

"Seventy-five."

* * *

After her day's work in the Benefits Office, Marcey goes to her evening job as a waitress for a catering firm. The firm's minibus takes the catering staff to a big house in the country where the owner Greg Brentwood, a man of about fifty years of age, has arranged a big surprise party for his wife Linda on the occasion of their nineteenth wedding anniversary.

While the catering staff prepare the dining table, Greg fusses over the arrangements, concerned that everything should go well. He comes into the dining-room, speaking on his mobile phone. "Look, Graham, I've done that. No it doesn't! Just get him! No - Rob!"

A young male member of the catering staff drops one of a number of boxes of wine glasses that he's carrying and Greg turns sharply at the sound of breaking glass. The lad says "Sorry", and when he sees Marcey coming towards him, follows it up with "I know. I'll pay."

Greg looks at his watch and mutters a foul word under his breath.

Bending to help the lad pick up the box, Marcey asks, "Can they be spared?"

The lad replies, "Only just."

Greg comes over and says, "Well, we've got some glasses."

Marcey assures him that it's alright. "Don't worry, we've got plenty."

"Yeah? What, that match?"

Marcey smiles. "I'll make sure, Mr Brentwood."

Greg says, "Yeah? All right." He smiles and turns his attention back to his mobile. The person he wanted to speak to has now come to the phone. "Yeah, Rob, these disco lights. I've seen traffic lights change colour faster, really!"

* * *

In due course, the guests begin to arrive bearing gifts, and Greg greets them at the door. After a brief word with his business partner Martin Shaps, he points to Marcey, who is carrying a tray of filled glasses, and says, "Grab a drink." He smiles at Marcey and says "Thanks" then turns to speak to another guest. Marcey offers Martin a drink, but he declines with a little dismissive shake of his hand.

There is a buzz of conversation as the guests mill around. Some people still have not arrived, and Greg is fretting. "Where are the rest of them? Really! Look …" He points to his watch.

Martin assures him that there's no need to be concerned. "We're going to get fifteen minutes clear warning at least. As soon as she leaves the auction, I've got three people ringing me up. Not two, but three. Relax, okay?"

Greg replies, "All right, all right. I'm just the tiniest bit worried," but he looks far from relaxed.


When Linda is about to arrive, Marcey goes into the kitchen and tells the staff, who stop what they're doing and fall quiet. The guests hide, and when Linda comes into the house wondering aloud "Why is every bloody phone engaged?" they emerge from their hiding places and pounce on her with hugs and congratulations. Greg greets her with a kiss.

Marcey is watching through the slightly open kitchen door, grinning broadly at the happiness of the occasion.

*

When the fuss has died down, Linda goes upstairs to change. After a little while, Greg enters the bedroom and finds his wife in her dressing gown, sitting on the bed. Linda starts to get up, but he says, "No, no, no, no, no, no, no. I'm not rushing you."

He is all happy smiles and doesn't notice that his wife looks as though she has won the lottery but lost the ticket. He sits down beside her.

Instead of thanking him for a wonderful surprise, Linda asks in a long-suffering tone, "When was this planned?"

Greg replies, "It's taken a while."

His wife continues to look unhappy, but still not detecting her mood, Greg hands her a black jewellery case. She opens it and finds a gold necklace. She smiles weakly and says in an admonishing tone, "Beautiful … and expensive!"

Greg is disappointed with her response. "Expensive implies more than it's worth, and I don't know what could be."

Linda explains her concern. "I was in the bank four hours ago, asking for more time on the mortgage."

Greg looks pained. "Linda, do please be quiet. Please wear it. I think it's beautiful … so are you. Stuff the mortgage!" Kissing her lovingly on the cheek, he says "Absolutely no rush at all … but we're all waiting for you" and then goes back downstairs.

*

At the end of the meal, Greg taps a glass to draw the attention of the guests, and takes some sheets of notepaper from his jacket pocket. Somebody says "Quick, somebody get some music on" and Linda groans "Come on, Greg, you'll spoil it. Nobody wants a speech."

Greg replies, "No, tough, it's really tough. It's taken a week to write this. … And it's still rubbish, y'know." He discards his notes and continues without them. "All I want to say is thanks for coming, thanks for keeping it quiet. Pretty successful, I thought." He beams at Linda. "I knew nobody had told her, because she wouldn't be here because she never ever wants to the centre of attention, so she just wouldn't have turned up … But seriously, every year of our marriage has been a bit of an eye-opener for me and I wanted to celebrate tonight cos it's the most I've loved her. It's a rod for my own back, I know, cos if I love her more each year, it's, em, next year's do is going to cost an absolute bloody fortune."

Everyone laughs, including Linda, who says, "If he asks you next year, you tell him a big no." More laughter.

Greg concludes, "But you know what? I really don't care, because she's worth every penny." He raises his glass. "To Linda!"

The guests join in the toast, and Linda's sister Steph then offers a toast to the couple. Greg glows with happiness, and kisses his wife.


As everyone begins to move away from the table and Greg's attention is elsewhere, Martin Shaps passes behind Linda and caresses her waist with his right hand as he does so. Linda reaches around behind her, takes hold of Martin's hand and gives it a squeeze. Marcey, watching through the slightly open kitchen door, sees the contact and knows immediately what it signifies. The smile vanishes from her face.

Someone turns on the stereo unit, and Van Morrison's recording of 'Someone Like You' begins to play. A general groan goes up from the assembled company, to which Greg responds, "Nah, think what you like. It's our tune and we're sticking with it. Linda!"

He beckons to his wife, and, smiling, she joins him in an area of the room that has been cleared for dancing. Marcey looks very troubled as she watches Greg take Linda lovingly in his arms and, cheek to cheek, the couple move slowly around the floor.

* * *

Later in the evening, all the members of the catering staff are together in the kitchen, clearing things away. Greg, accompanied by Martin, comes in to pay his bill.

Greg is in a very happy mood. "Hello! Listen, listen ..." He sees the assembled company and jokes "Oh God, you've multiplied!" then continues "Er, no – this is just a huge thank you, because it's, em, it was stunning, the food was stunning. So a big thank you and, em …" While speaking, he searches for something in his jacket pockets.

Martin is standing nearby, grinning smugly. Marcey, at the back of the room and unnoticed by Greg's business partner, glares at him with an expression that leaves no doubt as to what she thinks of him.

Greg beams as he jokes, "I'm actually bankrupt now, so what do you want me to wash?" Everyone laughs. Greg finds what he's looking for and hands the envelope to the man in charge. "No, em, listen, here it is. All in order. Scrutinise without embarrassment. There's an extra twenty quid for each of you, and I'm, er, saying that aloud, so he, em, doesn't spend it on a tumble dryer for the missus."

There are chuckles and murmurs of appreciation from the catering staff, and the supervisor says, "Honestly, that's more than generous."

Greg, smiling happily, concludes, "No, no – excellent work, fair reward. If we all believed in that, there'd be a lot less fighting, wouldn't there, or is that religion?"

From the back of the room, Marcey says, "Thank you."

Greg holds up a hand, acknowledging her, and says, "Pleasure!"

He wishes everyone good night, and Martin puts a friendly arm around his shoulder as the two men leave the kitchen.

* * *

The members of the catering team, having cleared everything away, change out of their uniforms in one of the upstairs bedrooms, and leave in their mini-bus. After they have been on the road for a while, Marcey realises that she has left something at the house. She calls to the driver. "Carl, I've left my bag behind! Carl!"

As she moves to the front of the bus, the driver turns off the radio and asks, "What?"

"Back at the house."

"You had one when you came out."

"No, no, no – my handbag. I had it in the bedroom where we got changed. Can you turn round?"

"Ah no, Marcey love, I can't. Everybody without cars got people waiting."

Marcey says urgently, "But my keys are in there. My phone's in there. And they won't let me in work without my security pass."

Carl says wearily, "Take a vote. If it's okay with them, I'll do a U-ie."


From a telephone booth outside a petrol station, Marcey rings for a taxi. "Look, I'm going start walking towards Braughton … Well, I'm not happy about it, either, but it's bloody freezing but the guy in the kiosk wouldn't let me in. … Give me the driver's name so I know who to expect. … Okay." She leaves the petrol station and starts to walk.

* * *

A little while later, the taxi driver drops Marcey off at the Brentwoods' House, telling her to give him a call when she's ready.

As the taxi leaves, Marcey approaches the house. There is light in only one window at the front of the building; the guests appear to have left. Getting no reply at the front door, Marcey goes around to the kitchen door at the back. She peers through the letterbox. The room is in darkness. She calls out "Hello?" but there is no response. Trying the door, she finds it unlocked, so goes in. Aware that she has entered without invitation, she makes her way slowly through the room, calling out nervously "Mr Brentwood? I'm from the catering company. … Mr Brentwood?"

As there is no reply, she goes through the hall towards the dining-room. She is startled by something that crosses her path at her feet, and she giggles when she realises that it is only the Brentwoods' cat. The animal must have come from having stepped in something wet, because its paws leave little prints on the polished floorboards.

On the other side of the darkened dining-room, a door stands ajar. Marcey can see light in the other room, and she hears someone moving around. She pulls the door further open and looks into the room. She has found Greg. He is bending over his business partner's obviously lifeless body, struggling to lift the shoulders in an attempt to drag it across the floor.

Marcey freezes, staring at the scene in horror. Greg looks up in surprise and also freezes. He sees the expression on the young woman's face, realises what she is thinking, and looks back at her in equal horror. For a moment, nobody moves, nobody speaks. Then Greg lets go of Martin's shoulders and the body thumps unceremoniously back onto the floor.

Terrified, Marcey lets out a scream that would curdle milk, and flees in panic. She tries to leave the house by a door in the hallway, but it's locked, so she runs back to the kitchen. Greg is in pursuit and, anticipating her escape route, has reached the kitchen before her. Marcey screams again and runs back the way she came. Greg starts after her, but it suddenly occurs to him to lock the kitchen door, and he goes back to do it, which gives Marcey time to find a hiding place in a cupboard under the stairs.

Greg, in obvious distress, looks into all the ground floor rooms and finally opens the cupboard. Marcey has heard him moving around in the hallway and is ready for him. She lets out a yell as she strikes his head with the handle end of a tennis racket that she's found in the cupboard. With a cry of "Jesus!" the startled man falls heavily to the floor. Marcey quickly steps around him and runs upstairs.

Greg gets up off the floor, uttering, "God!" As he goes after Marcey, he pleads in pitiful tones, "Please listen. … Please!"


Marcey locks herself in the bathroom on the landing at the top of the stairs. She goes immediately to the window, but it is secured and she can't open it. She's trapped!

Greg, now at the top of the stairs, hears her fumbling desperately with the window locks. He approaches the bathroom door and tries the handle, which prompts Marcey to begin screaming and yelling wildly for help as she beats her hands vainly against the window. Greg stops trying to open the door, and instead tries to calm her. "I don't want to hurt you. Why the hell would I want to hurt you?"

In a desperate panic, Marcey grabs a large plastic laundry basket and strikes the window with it, but succeeds only in breaking the basket. She is almost hysterical with fear and Greg can hear it.

He pleads, "Please … give me a chance to explain."

* * *
Last edited by Lynnedean on Wed Jan 29, 2014 8:21 am, edited 1 time in total.
"Progress might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long." ~ Ogden Nash
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ALIBI in detail - Chapter 2

Postby Lynnedean » Wed Jan 29, 2014 8:19 am

Chapter 2: "What do you mean - 'boyfriend'?"

Marcey is beside herself with terror. In despair, she hurls the broken laundry basket at the window and paces back and forth across the bathroom floor. Sobbing, she demands of Greg in an anguished tone, "Where is your wife?"

Her captor is subdued in his reply. "God knows."

The terrified woman glances frantically from door to window and back again. Still sobbing, she shouts angrily, "What have you done with her?"

Sounding confused and on the verge of tears, Greg responds, "I haven't … I don't know … Oh, Jesus, this is …"

At this point, Marcey has a sudden flash of inspiration and pretends that she has her mobile phone, which is actually still in the handbag she has not retrieved. She puts her face close to the bathroom door and says, "My mobile's back on, and I'm phoning the police! Touch me, they'll know that …" She breaks off with a sob.

Greg pleads with her. "Please, don't, don't … Please, please don't, you mustn't!"

She does. Supposedly speaking into her mobile, she says, "Hello! Police? Now … now … Damn!" She breaks off with the curse as her terror momentarily overcomes her, but quickly pulls herself together and starts again. Her panic still makes it difficult to get the words out. "Hello, er, it's er, it's Rose … Rosehill House, Braughton … er … er … a woman is dead! Her boyfriend is dead! And her husband is trying to kill me, so … to kill me. Please, now! Not two minutes - faster!"

On the other side of the door, Greg is listening intently and looking puzzled.

With her face pressed to the door, Marcey warns, sobbing, "They're coming! They know who you are, where you are … and if you touch me, they'll …" She breaks off, choking on her tears.

Greg is totally bemused. Her words have stunned him. "What do you mean - boyfriend?"

In her fearful state of mind, Marcey misses the inference in the question. Still sobbing, she tries to placate Greg and fend off what she believes are his murderous intentions towards her. "Look, I don't blame you. Nobody would blame you, you know, it's the anniversary party and he's touching her up…," she spits out the phrase, because the memory disgusts her, "right underneath your nose and it's obvious what's going on. And, y'know, I can say that I saw that … because … I did when I was out in the kitchen. I, I did – I saw it."

Greg turns away from the bathroom door and walks across to the other side of the landing. "What am I bloody hearing? I don't want to bloody hear this!" He covers his face with his hands and says almost inaudibly, "My God!"

A silence falls. After a few seconds, Marcey asks, "Are you there?"

Greg's face is contorted with anguish. He goes back to the bathroom door and places a hand on the frame on either side of it. His expression shows the anger of a man deeply, cruelly hurt. He cannot speak.

Marcey has heard his steps and, in fear, warns him off. "The police are coming!"

In pain and frustration, Greg shouts "Good!" and gives the door a mighty thump, causing Marcey to yelp with shock and throw herself backwards onto the floor, cursing. Pulling herself up into a kneeling position, she shouts, "Why did you kill him if you didn't know?"

"I didn't! I didn't kill him."

"Well who did?"

"I didn't, all I did was … I just hit him and he … Oh, Jesus! This is …" His voice rising in pitch, he snaps "What did you see?" and tries the door handle again.

"I'm not sure. I'm not sure."

"Who was touching who?"

"Him."

"And where was she?"

Marcey thinks back. "Next to … him. No, he was next to you …"

"Where?"

"Em, by the window. You see I was out in the kitchen …"

"No – where was he touching her?"

Greg is angry. He impatiently thumps the bathroom door again, and Marcey jumps with an exclamation of surprise and fear. She closes her eyes tightly as she tries to remember exactly what she'd seen. "Back … back, hand, waist."

Greg, in deep distress, puts a hand to his face and rubs his eyes, sobbing. After a second or two, he speaks, saying in a low voice, "She didn't bloody like him. She didn't even … She kept telling me that she didn't bloody like him."

In the moment of silence that follows, Marcey puts her face close to the bathroom door, and strains to hear what Greg is doing. He has turned from the door and is leaning with both hands on the wooden railing at the top of the stairwell. He speaks again. "And after twenty years …" he pauses and puts his right hand to his forehead in a gesture of pain "she changes her hair. That's why she changed her hair, isn't it?" He brings his hand down sharply on the railing. "Bloody …!" He leaves the exclamation to hang in mid air.

Marcey can hear his pain, and calms down a little. "Hit him? For what?" she asks, quietly.

"Talking! He was the last one here. She started saying that she - oh, she'd had so much to bloody drink - she started saying how flattered she was that I'd thrown the party, but she finished up going absolutely bloody ballistic. What the hell did I think I was playing at? How much had I spent? We can't afford it! … Well, she was right … I mean … but what if next year we really couldn't afford it? I mean, I'd only brought it forward a year. You can't not have a twentieth anniversary, can you?"

"Oh, so it was only your nineteenth?"

Greg is cut to the quick. In a high-pitched tone he retorts, "Only?"

Marcey realises that she's somehow put her foot in it. "Oh, I … er … nineteen is a lot."

Greg paces the landing. His words are now coming at the speed of rapid gunfire. "She flew out of the room. I had no idea she was going for the car until I heard her tearing off and I wanted to go after her, but he's got my car keys. I say give me the car keys. He says no. I ask him twice. He says no. I ask him politely. He says no. I say please. He says – you know what he says? – he says don't be such a bloody fool! Somebody else can say that to me and I wouldn't have a problem with it, but from him? Anyway, I surprised the bloody pair of us and I chinned him! I haven't hit anybody since I was fourteen. And he just lies there. … And I'm waiting – and I'm waiting for a pasting because I know he can and he will, cos he does ju jitsu or something like that, and … he doesn't budge an inch."

Marcey is touched by the man's obvious distress.

Greg speaks again, almost in tears. "And … actually … that is the very last thing he ever says."

He takes a bunch of keys out of his pocket and walks over to the bathroom door. He crouches down, and, using one of the keys as a tool, begins to undo the screws in the plate around the door handle.

Marcey can hear the scraping sound, and she backs away from the door in panic. She grabs the only things she can find to protect herself and, with the cistern lid in one hand and a piece of wood in the other, she shouts, "What are you doing?"

Greg doesn't answer, he just continues to work at loosening the screws. Marcey's panic increases and she fires the question at him again but more urgently.

Greg seems to have recovered his composure and he replies, quietly, "Well, you can't spend all night in there."

Marcey realises what it is that he's doing and she starts screaming for help again.
Greg grimaces. "Will you quit yelling, please? I can't …" His voice trails off as he concentrates on the job in hand.

Marcey whimpers pitifully as she hears the screws being withdrawn one by one. She kneels on the floor and having discarded the piece of wood, now grasps the cistern lid firmly with both hands and holds it in front of her as a shield. When the handle on her side of the door falls to the floor and the door opens slightly, she whimpers and sobs, and rocks back and forth, waiting for what she thinks is the inevitable.

But Greg stays on the other side of the door, and, trying to reassure her that he means her no harm, says gently, "All I'm saying is that you don't have to come out." He puts his right hand around the door and drops the handle from his side onto the bathroom floor. "I just wanted to show you that I could get in there if I wanted to." He walks away from the door. "I mean, why would I want to hurt you?"

Marcey is thrown by this and doesn't know what to make of it. She is further confused when Greg then asks, "Do you need a drink?"

She considers this to be a rather odd question in the circumstances, and has a bewildered expression on her face when she replies, "No."


On hearing Greg going down the stairs, she puts down the cistern lid and crawls over to peek through the slightly open bathroom door. Her captor is nowhere to be seen, but Marcey soon hears him returning, and she retreats behind the door.

Greg steps back onto the landing, carrying a bottle of mineral water and the bag Marcey had dropped when she hit him. He taps on the bathroom door. Still crouching on the floor, Marcey immediately grabs the cistern lid and the piece of wood, and prepares to defend herself.

Greg simply pushes the door open a little further and asks, "This yours?" as he drops her bag in through the gap.

"Where's my other bag?"

"What other bag?" The voice is soft.

"Left it in the changing room."

Greg fetches it from the bedroom next to the bathroom but thinks again, and instead of giving it to Marcey, takes it with him to the other side of the landing. He sits down on the floor opposite the bathroom door, rests wearily back against the wall and drinks from the bottle of mineral water.

Marcey has relaxed a little and laid down her weapons of defence. She ventures a question. "What if he's not dead?"

"He wasn't breathing."

"How do you know?"

"You a nurse?"

"No."

Greg has fished a paper out of Marcey's handbag and is studying it. "No … you're a civil servant?"

"Yes." Marcey wonders how he knows.

"What the hell are you doing waitressing?"

"I pay tax twice. It gets declared, so it's nobody else's business."

"What kind of civil servant?"

"Benefits clerk."

"As in …?"

"Benefits … clerk."

His mind returning to Martin, Greg states miserably, "He went blue … and then he went … grey."

"Why didn't you call an ambulance?"

"Why didn't I phone an ambulance? Cos he was dead! I was trying to help him, but he was dead! I was going to call the police, but then you showed up. I didn't actually hit him, you see, because I missed. I hit him sort of with my elbow and he … and I couldn't work out what I was meant to be saying. Then you showed up with a face saying exactly what it looked like!"

While talking, Greg has found an envelope in Marcey's handbag. "88B Pritchard Street. Pritchard Street? Which – in Failstone?"

Realising what he's doing, Marcey is alarmed and asks, "Will you stop rooting through my bag, please?"

Greg complies, and falls silent.


After a few seconds, Marcey asks in frustration, "Why didn't you just take your wife out for a meal?"

"Anybody could do that. It's not special. It needed to be special, because you work … you work to earn the money and that's all we've ever done. The only topic of conversation is what you need, what you haven't got and what you're not likely to get, and I absolutely didn't want that discussed in a restaurant!" Again putting his hand to his face and rubbing his eyes, he adds with a sob in his voice, "I just wanted to show her how much I loved her."

Marcey peeks around the side of the bathroom door and sees the man's distress.

Greg returns to the subject of the incident at the party. "What, he … he touches her …?" He puts out a hand as though touching something, trying to picture the scene.

Marcey, not wanting to add to his distress, replies, "Em … y'know I'm not clear what …"

Greg interrupts abruptly, saying sharply, "Well, you were sure enough before!"

Marcey retorts, "Well, you were scaring me!"

"Well, you scared me! Thank you …" – Greg looks at the name on the envelope – "Marcia!"

He prompts her again for more detail, sounding thoroughly miserable. "I mean, did he … he had his hand on her back? Just her back, or …?"

"No, just her waist."

"And she was … what, touching him back, or …?"

"Just …" Marcey breaks off. Tears fill her eyes, but now they are not for herself, they are for Greg.

"Was it like as if she loved him, or …?"

"Well … could have been innocent."

"But not from where you were standing." He says it flatly, resignedly.

Marcey takes time to speak, but finally and with great sadness has to admit, "No."

A beeping sound comes from Marcey's handbag. Greg locates the source and goes over to the bathroom door. "Somebody wants you – on your other phone!"

Marcey realises that Greg now knows that the police are not on their way. To her astonishment, he simply puts his hand around the door to give her the mobile. Wary, she snatches it out of his hand. A colleague has sent her a text message asking if she got home okay.

While she is looking at the message, Greg's hand reappears, this time holding out her handbag. She snatches the bag, too.

"Marcia?" Greg's voice is gentle.

"What?"

"When you go out, I'm going to call the police. They're going to make up their own mind, anyway, aren't they? Can't change that."

"Where's Linda?"

"Sister's probably, twelve miles on, double the limit." He reflects sadly, "Y'see, if I've hurt Linda, it didn't happen tonight."

Marcey is feeling sympathy for the troubled man now. "You should have left him where he was."

"Well, I tried doing that pumping the chest thing, y'know, but it only made it worse. The blood was coming out of his ear."

He puts his hands to his face and sobs bitterly. Marcey's own expression reflects his distress.

Pulling himself together, Greg takes something from his pocket as he walks to the bathroom door. "Just go home, Marcia." He hands a set of keys around the door and, wonderingly, Marcia takes them. Greg explains, "This is to the kitchen door. I'm going to go into this bedroom. You can watch me go into the bedroom, I'll shut the door. Let yourself out, and then I'm going to make the call."

Marcey can hardly believe it. Clutching her bags and the keys, she watches Greg go into the bedroom. When the bedroom door has closed, she warily steps out of the bathroom then runs across the landing and down the stairs as fast as she can.

*

Outside the house, and breathing heavily from her ordeal, Marcey makes her way around to the front. As she passes a window, she hears a noise in the room and, curious to know what Greg is doing, retraces her steps to look in.

Greg is sitting on a dining chair next to the table, elbows on knees and head in hands, weeping. He takes one hand from his head and Marcey can see that he is holding a telephone.

Greg makes an effort to pull himself together in order to make the call. He sits looking down at the mobile, and becomes aware that Marcey has entered the room only when she says gently, "Put the phone down."

He raises his head at the sound of her voice, and looks at her with an expression of bewilderment. For a long moment he stares up at her, saying nothing. He is at a loss to understand why the young woman, who was so terrified of him that she had fled from him in panic only a short time before, has returned and is now so calm and unafraid.

Without speaking, he meekly obeys her instruction, and doesn't take his eyes off her face as he places the phone on the table.

* * *
Last edited by Lynnedean on Wed Jan 29, 2014 8:42 am, edited 3 times in total.
"Progress might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long." ~ Ogden Nash
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ALIBI in detail - Chapter 3

Postby Lynnedean » Wed Jan 29, 2014 8:20 am

Chapter 3: Marcey takes charge

Marcey closes her eyes for a second in thought then speaks again. "I could say I saw everything."

She and Greg move into the kitchen, and Marcey elicits from the worried man exactly what happened so that she knows what to tell the police.

"We need to be saying exactly the same thing."

Greg gives a nod. "Yeah."

"Right. So, er … your punch overshot but your elbow caught him?"

With a regretful sigh, Greg remembers. "Yeah, he fell sideways."

"Right side or left side?"

"Left."

"So your punch didn't actually connect – y'know, he, he swayed back, he slipped, fell over, and the left side of his head hit the corner of the table."

"Not the table. He was nowhere near the table. The coffee table. Look, I'll show you …"

"I'm not going in there."

*

Time passes as the two go over the incident from every angle in an attempt to settle on a satisfactory description of what happened as supposedly witnessed by the returning waitress. As dawn approaches, the light coming in through the window of the room next door casts changing shadows over the lifeless body of Martin Shaps, still lying where it fell.

After two exhausting hours, Greg, with jacket off, tie loosened, top shirt button undone, is sitting at the kitchen table. Marcey stands to one side, leaning back against a kitchen counter as she rehearses her final verbal draft of the alibi: "… and overbalanced, and he slipped, and when he fell, he banged the left side of his head on the coffee table. And then … he just lay there. Does that sound convincing?"

Greg passes a hand wearily over his face and with a little shake of his head, says, despondently, "This isn't going to work." He puts his elbows on the table and rests his head wearily in his hands.

"Look, I don't know you, why would I lie?"

"No, you shouldn't!" Greg drops his hands to the table. "Ring a taxi. Go home. Pretend you saw nothing. I'm not asking you, I'm telling you. Thank you very much, Marcia, but you should get out now!"

He slaps the table with his left hand, signifying the end of the matter, and as Marcey moves slowly to take her coat off the back of a chair, he heaves a heavy sigh and puts a hand up to his face to rub his eyes.

Marcey is obviously reluctant to leave him like this and suddenly finds a reason not to as a thought strikes her. Instead of picking up her coat, she sits down and asks, "Who else knew that they were having an affair?"

Greg slaps the table again. "Well, if I'm the last, how the hell would I know? And if I was going to kill him for that, would I do it with a bloody coffee table?"

"But if nobody saw that, who's saying it happened like that? And whatever we're saying, why has it taken us nearly two hours to ring for help?"

They're both good points and Greg knows it.

***

It is now early morning and no longer dark. At the end of the driveway of Rosehill House, Greg, having donned an overcoat over his dinner suit and taken the precaution to wear rubber gloves, climbs into the driving seat of Martin Shaps's car. His late business partner is in the passenger seat with head lolled back, looking somewhat the worse for wear.

Marcey, muffled up in her coat and scarf against the winter chill, checks to make sure the coast is clear then signals for Greg to go, which he does.

After he has left, the caterer turns cleaner and sets to work to ensure that there is no evidence left in the house that could contradict their version of events. She begins by scrubbing bloody cat paw prints off the hall floorboards.

*

At a bend a few miles down the country road, Greg pulls onto the grass verge and stops the car just short of the point where the ground on the other side begins to slope downwards into a field. He clambers out and drags Martin's body into the driving seat. With the body now in its new position, he gathers up the sheet of polythene with which the passenger seat had been covered, walks to the rear of the car and begins to push it with all his might. The car rolls forward and picks up speed when it encounters the slope. Greg runs along behind it, still with his hands on the boot. The vehicle suddenly lurches forward and charges off down the slope, unexpectedly taking away Greg's support and making him go head over heels down the grassy bank. He is picking himself up when he sees the car slam into the stump of an old tree and burst into flames.

For a moment, he stares open-mouthed, horrified at the sight and the knowledge of what he has done, then he turns and runs back in the direction of Rosehill House.

Part-way home, he rounds a bend in the road and has not gone far beyond it when he hears the sound of a tractor approaching from behind. He stops and turns to look back and listen. He can't see the vehicle but he realises that it is about to round the bend, so he runs to find cover on the other side of the grass verge. Ducking down, he waits for the tractor to trundle well past before resuming his journey.

*

Back at the house, Marcey has been thorough in her cleaning. She has just finished washing the paws of the Brentwoods' protesting cat when, through the window, she sees Greg trotting wearily up the driveway. She grabs a large plastic bin-bag and a piece of clothing that she has had ready, and goes outside to meet him.

Greg is exhausted in mind and body, breathless and in great distress. "It blew up. The whole bloody thing went up. I can't believe it, it's just …"

"What - with him in it?"

"Yes!"

Greg is traumatised by the horror of what happened, but is shaken out of it when Marcey orders him to "Take your clothes off!" He gives her a stunned, uncomprehending look, and stands with his mouth open, totally at a loss for words.

She repeats the instruction, and explains: "Take your clothes off. There might be things on your shoes from his car. They can tell. If they check, they'll know. Clothes, shoes, everything."

Through the mist of his confusion, Greg can see that she is right. He utters "Oh" and starts to fumble with his overcoat.

Marcey drops the bin-bag at his feet for him to put everything into, and instructs "Leave the bag here."

She hands him what was obviously the first garment she found that would suffice for him to change into, and leaving him to strip on the doorstep, she goes back into the house.


Having done what he has been told, Greg enters the house, looking anything but chic. Marcey, coat on and ready to leave, meets him in the hall. He listens in befuddled silence as she goes over what they have agreed about her part of the story.

"I came back for the bag. Everything was quiet. You went and got it. I assumed your wife was in bed. You offered me a lift. I said no thanks, and left. I'll take your clothes home and burn them. Okay?"

Greg is too shell-shocked to reply and simply nods twice in acquiescence. He turns to watch Marcey leave the house. When the door closes behind her and she is gone, he is unsure of what to do. He looks around him as if not being able to work out in which direction to take his next step.

He presents a pathetic figure: a little lost soul in his wife's blue dressing gown.

* * *
"Progress might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long." ~ Ogden Nash
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ALIBI in detail - Chapter 4

Postby Lynnedean » Wed Jan 29, 2014 8:22 am

Chapter 4: Bad news for Linda

Having walked some distance along the road, Marcey anxiously waits outside a closed country pub for the taxi for which she has telephoned.

When her transport arrives, she climbs in, and as the car sets off down the road, the driver, assuming his passenger is either going to or coming from work, asks, "Early start or late finish?"

"Earlies."

The driver is one of those who likes to talk. "I'm normally on at four. Only cos the dog's a diabetic. Slept in, though. It's very hard sticking a needle into an animal that doesn't understand why you're causing pain. Little eyes accusing. And you're there, going, look, I know, I don't wanna to do this …"

Marcey cuts him short. "Could you just, em … not talk, please." With her mind on what has just happened and her emotions in turmoil, she's in no mood for chatty cab drivers.

The man mutters, "Sorreee," and shuts up.


Marcey sinks into her thoughts but is shaken out of them further down the road when the driver observes, "Here we go again, joyriders setting fire to their free ride home."

He stops his vehicle and gets out to check the source of a cloud of smoke that is billowing across the road ahead. He sees a car burning fiercely at the bottom of the slope on the other side of the grass verge, and something about it makes him rush back to his taxi and contact his base on the radio with great urgency. Marcey listens worriedly to his report.

"Frank! Frank! I'm on the second bend of the magic mile. There's a car burnt out. It's still burning."

The man at base isn't surprised at what is not such an unusual occurrence. "So what's new?

"I think there's somebody still in there!"


A short while later as firemen deal with the burning wreck and a policeman questions the taxi driver at the roadside, Marcey watches from her place in the cab from which she has not budged.

Her attention is drawn by a tapping on the window. A young police constable bends to peer in, and asks, "Are you okay? PC Blake. Can I have a word?"

Receiving no answer, the policeman opens the front passenger door and gets in, twisting around in the seat so that he can look at the woman in the rear of the cab. Marcey appears to be shell-shocked, and the policeman thinks he understands why.

"You've got my sympathies. Accidents are bad enough, but fires – horrible." The policeman prepares to write in his notebook. "If I can just start with your name?"

Marcey is paralysed, and just stares back at him in silence.

The policeman says kindly, "Take your time," and when Marcey still does not speak, he prompts, "What's your first name?"

Marcey continues to look blank, but manages to whisper, "Marcia."

* * *

Upstairs in Rosehill House, Greg has been getting ready for the day, and donned shirt and jeans. Hearing the sound of vacuuming from the floor below, he descends the stairs, and calls out, "Linda?"

The vacuuming stops, and Linda's sister emerges from another room with a duster in her hands. "Steph, sorry. I, er, left her in bed."

Greg, his mind elsewhere, acknowledges what he's been told with a distracted "Yeah."

"You okay?

"Er, yeah."

Steph admonishes him gently. "You shouldn't have let her drive in that state."

"I didn't let her."

"She was off her face when she knocked us up. She could barely speak. Greg, I'm not trying to sound like my sister, but how much did the party cost you, really?

Greg, rubs his brow with the fingers of his right hand, and look downcast as he replies, "Not relevant any more, is it."

"When you said laying on food, I didn't realise you were getting the caterers in."

Greg turns away, mumbling, "No, well …" under his breath.

"I came to help you straighten the house up, but it …" Steph falters as Greg leaves the room, but then concludes anyway, casting a glance around the spotless room, " … looks like you've had the little elves in! Have you been up all night?"

* * *

At home in her flat, Marcey is starting to burn Greg's clothes in the fireplace.

One garment is smouldering in the grate, and she is preparing another one for the flames when her attention is caught by a headline on a page of a newspaper that is lying on the floor. It announces: "Convicted killer gets life sentence." Marcey reads through the article and is suddenly spurred into action. She grabs the fire tongs, drags the smoking garment out of the grate and onto the hearth, and beats out the flames.

She runs to fetch a pair of scissors and proceeds to cut all the labels off Greg's clothes.

* * *

Next to Rosehill House, there is a workshop that Linda and Steph use for the restoring of antiques. Steph is in the workshop when the telephone rings. She answers it.

"Rosehill House."

Her husband Danny is the caller, and he asks urgently, "Steph, have you talked to Linda?"

"Well, I took her a cup of tea before I came out, that's all."

"I just rang home, I thought you'd be there."

"Where are you?"

"I was coming down Ashfield Road. There's been a crash."

"Danny, are you all right?"

"It's Martin's car. It's … it's all burnt out!"

Steph cries with great alarm, "No!"

She doesn't wait for any more information. She drops the phone onto a workbench and runs out of the workshop, calling out, "Greg!"

Greg is just outside, and as Steph runs towards him a car speeds down the driveway and comes to a jerky halt in front of him. A shocked Linda emerges, announcing, "Martin's dead! Danny saw the car!" She hangs her head and sobs.

Greg is rooted to the spot; he makes no move and says nothing. Linda goes to him and puts her head on his shoulder, weeping pitifully.

Greg's expression is one of a man deep in troubled thought. Still without saying anything, he puts an arm around his grieving wife and leads her into the house.

* * *
"Progress might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long." ~ Ogden Nash
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ALIBI in detail - Chapter 5

Postby Lynnedean » Wed Jan 29, 2014 8:23 am

Chapter 5: Greg begins to go to pieces

After dealing with the labels on Greg's clothes, Marcey arrives late for work in the Benefits Office that morning. She sits down at her desk, composes herself and then presses the button to indicate on the monitor above her head that she is ready to see the next claimant.

* * *

In Rosehill House, Linda is in the bedroom, sitting on the bed, sobbing her heart out. Greg enters the room but doesn't go over to his wife. He says quietly, "Police won't tell me anything."

Linda stems her tears and looks up. "I know. I've just rung."

Steph and Danny enter. Danny sets a tray of filled brandy glasses down on a small table, and Steph hands a glass to her sister. Danny walks over to Greg and puts a hand on his arm in commiseration. "I'm really sorry."

Greg glances down at his feet. "Yeah, we all are. Yeah."

Linda tells what she has learned from the police: "They're sending someone round later, but they won't even confirm his name until the next of kin. We should ring his dad."

Greg says, "Don't know his dad's number. I don't even know where his dad lives."

Linda responds with the name of the county. "Devon."

"Well, I know that, but that's about it."

Danny cautions, "Em … you need to wait before ringing Martin's old fella."

Trying to hold back her tears, Linda says, "We can't let Stan hear it from the police. We can't."

Steph agrees with her husband. "Danny's right. What if it wasn't him driving?"

Not wanting to give Linda false hope, Danny interjects, "No, Steph …"

Linda's grief overcomes her and she walks from the room, sobbing. Greg takes her vacated place on the edge of the bed. Danny picks up two glasses of brandy and hands one to him, advising, "Get that down you, Greg."

He sits down beside his brother-in-law and as he does so the telephone rings. Steph answers it. It's Marcey calling from her desk in the Benefits Office. "Could I speak to Mr Brentwood, please?"

"Er, I'm sorry, he's not taking calls at the moment. Can I take a message?"

"Oh, em … I was working there last night."

"Working? Oh, er, the catering firm. Sorry."

Hearing Steph mention the catering firm, Greg looks up, concerned.

Needing to give an excuse for having rung, Marcey says, "I think I might have left my watch behind. I was wondering if you'd seen it."

Steph replies, "I'm sure if it's here, we'll find it, but it's, er, it's a bit tricky at the moment." She tells Marcey that if she rings back in a second, the answering machine will respond after six rings. "If you leave your number, we'll get back to you when we can, okay?"

While the telephone conversation is going on, Danny is talking to Greg, but he's not listening; he's trying to hear what Steph is saying and is becoming increasingly agitated.

By now, Danny is resting his head on Greg's right shoulder and is shedding tears. Steph sits down on the other side of Greg and tries to comfort them both, but Greg is not looking for comfort, he is anxiously waiting for the phone to ring again.


In the Benefits Office, Marcey redials the number of Rosehill House.


In Rosehill House, the telephone rings again. Greg rises abruptly from his seat on the edge of the bed, saying, "I'm just going to see if there's any more brandy."

As he leaves the room, Steph puts her arms around the sobbing Danny.

Greg dashes downstairs and snatches the kitchen telephone from its cradle just before the answering machine kicks in.

"Hello?"

Marcey keeps her voice down so as not to be overheard by her work colleagues. "Mr Brentwood? It's Marcia Burgess."

Remembering her address from the envelope in her handbag, Greg immediately stutters, "Where, where's Pritchard Street?"

"What?"

"Which Pritchard Street? I've been trying to get a number for you."

"I'm not listed."

Greg is extremely agitated. "Well, thank you! … Oh, God! I'm nearly … I mean I'm going round the bend here, really! I mean they've found the car and it's mayhem. Everybody's expecting me to … Christ knows … Je…!"

"You need to replace those clothes! If the police get involved and if they ask what you were wearing, you couldn't lie about that, everybody at the party saw you."

"Well, who's going to remember that?"

"You had a photographer there."

Greg puts a hand to his head in anguish and exclaims, "Christ, yeah! God! Yes, yes, you're right. Shit! Jesus!"

"You need to buy the same clothes, same shoes, everything."

"Where from?"

"Wherever you got them from originally."

Greg's voice raises a pitch. "Well, I can't remember that! What … the, the … what, the exact shops? Well, the shoes, yeah, yeah, but …"

At this point, Marcey's boss approaches, so Marcey immediately makes the call sound work-related. Interrupting Greg, she says in businesslike tones, "Er, we'll need your P45, a letter from your last employer saying why you were dismissed…"

Greg is mystified. "That was years ago!"

"And your birth certificate. Not a copy, it has to be an original"

Greg looks as though he has stumbled into the Twilight Zone.

Marcey continues, "Bring it to one of the clerks on the front desk and …"

She breaks off because the boss has walked on past her, but by now Greg is completely lost off and wondering if Marcey has blown a gasket in her brain. He queries, "Are you talking to me?"

"I am now. My supervisor was listening. "Listen, em …" Marcey consults a list of the shop names that she had noted from the labels on Greg's clothes. "Suit from Armani, shirt from Enarto, tie from Barries ..."

Greg's anxiety level is rising and he is too far gone to think clearly. He interrupts her in a tremulous voice. "This is bloody torture this is, really … really. I mean, everybody knows he's dead and I'm expected … and I can't … I mean, what sort of face am I supposed to be pulling? Jesus!"

"What leg are you?"

Greg is brought up short by the unexpected question. Startled, he responds, "Leg?"

He obviously cannot fathom what his inside leg measurement has to do with anything, but Marcey persists. "I scorched the label on the trousers. What size leg are you?"

"32, I think."

Marcey makes a note of Greg's reply. The distraught man is obviously in no state to do the shopping, so she is going to have to do it for him.

* * *
"Progress might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long." ~ Ogden Nash
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ALIBI in detail - Chapter 6

Postby Lynnedean » Wed Jan 29, 2014 8:24 am

Chapter 6: Greg telephones Stan and meets with Marcey

Brentwood Shaps is a company that fits out pub interiors. The office, workshop and showroom are all in the same building. Greg drives over there and enters the workshop.

He has a quick word with Eugene, the workshop foreman, whereupon the man shuts off a noisy piece of equipment and calls the attention of the men in the workshop. "Er, Greg's got some very bad news, lads."

Greg has been standing with his head bowed. He rubs his hand over his face, looks up, and with an agonised expression, begins to speak. "This is, em …"

He breaks off and bows his head again, obviously finding it hard to get out the words. Taking a deep breath, he raises his head sharply and speaks again, but with continuing difficulty. "I'm going to say this quickly and, er … then you can forget the rest of the day."

* * *

Back home, Linda is trying to ring Martin's father, whose telephone number and address in Kingsbridge, Devon, are in her address book. The line is engaged.

* * *

Stan's line is engaged because, after speaking to his employees, Greg has gone into his office, traced the number of Martin's father and is ringing it. He really does not want to make the call.

He sits with his elbows on his desk, his left hand holding the phone and the other supporting his head. When the receiver at the other end of the telephone line is picked up, the sound of a noisy television programme can be heard, and Martin's father doesn't lower the volume when he answers his phone.

Greg asks, "Mr Shaps? Stan?"

"Yes. Hello."

"It's, em … it's Greg Brentwood – Martin's business partner at Brentwood Shaps?"

"Oh yes, that's right. Yeah."

Greg grimaces as he struggles to find the right way to tell the old man the terrible news. "I'm the, em … the bearer of bad news, I'm afraid, Mr Shaps. Mar … Martin, em … was involved in a car accident this morning."

"Yeah. You'll need to speak up."

Greg is becoming frustrated; he squirms in his office chair. He speaks more loudly as he repeats, "Martin was in a car accident this morning."

"Yes, right."

Greg is taken by surprise. "Someone's told you?"

"Yeah, but that wasn't my fault."

Greg is confused and, assuming he has misheard, queries the old man's reply by saying, "Sorry?"

Stan's response indicates that he, too, is confused. "The other driver slammed his brakes on without any warning whatsoever."

"No! Martin – your son Martin – was in a car accident."

As Greg is still speaking, Stan says, "Yeah, hang on," then proceeds to read from something he has picked up. "Here's a police report … er, reference …"

Greg is surprised. "They've been to see you?"

The old man is obviously hard of hearing. He ignores the question and continues to read from the report sheet. "AG5240. Accident."

"No! Martin! I'm talking about Martin!"

Stan mutters, "This is ridiculous."

Greg is thinking the same. He puts an elbow on the desk, rests his head in his hand and, battling against the cacophony of noise from Stan's television, tries again. "Martin is … has … has … has died, Mr Shaps."

Stan replies firmly, "Look, I am his dad and I was alone in the car!"

In exasperation, Greg drops his hand to his desk with a thump and says, "Will you turn the TV off!"

At that moment, Stan's doorbell rings and he announces, "Ah. You'll have to ring back, I've got the police at the door."

Without waiting for a reply, the old man hangs up, leaving Greg sitting shaking his head in disbelief at the absurdity of the conversation.

* * *

That evening, Marcey drives to Brentwood Shaps. Greg meets her outside the workshop. As they transfer parcels from the boot of her car over to his, she tells him "They only had size fifteen in the shirt."

The task completed, Greg takes Marcey into the building, leading her through the workshop and into the showroom.

As they walk he says, "If the security guy turns up, act like you're a client."

"What would a client be doing?"

"Well, if we'd just priced up a job, they'd have a face a lot like yours, so you're fine.
You need a drink?"

"Oh, em …" She looks around at the bar they are walking through, but Greg says, "No, not here, these are blanks."

At the other end of the showroom, they go through a door and into an office. Marcey sits down and Greg fetches drinks, a short for him and a Coke for her. He sits down opposite her. Both are in sombre mood.

"Listen, I don't know how to thank you for what you've done."

Marcey simply nods and says quietly, "Right." She pulls the receipts for his new clothes from her handbag and gives them to him. "Three-hundred and eighty pounds. The suit was nearly two hundred."

Greg prepares to write a cheque, but Marcey says, "It can't be a cheque, can it?"

Greg, getting the point, replies, "No. No. … em …" After a moment, he suggests, "Nip to the cash point?"

Marcey gives another little nod. "Okay."

"Will tomorrow do?"

Marcey shrugs her shoulders. "Okay."


The two are startled by the office door being thrown open by a woman carrying a vacuum cleaner. Seeing that the room is occupied, the woman says, "Oh, sorry! Is it all right to carry on?"

Greg says, "Er, no, it's okay. We'll … em …" He says to Marcey, "Follow me," and, picking up the drinks, he leads her back into the dimly lit showroom.

In the showroom, Marcey sits on a bar stool, and Greg at one of the little tables. Greg explains how he and Linda came to be living away from the city and finances became tight.

"Yeah, I just started to hate London, y'know. Taking hours to get anywhere, never getting a proper day's work done. I'd been out here on a job and liked the look of it, and when the surveyor told me that the by-pass was being extended, I thought well, that's it, head out to the suburbs, double the size of your house before every other bugger gets to hear about it." He makes a dismissive "ch" sound, indicating that it wasn't a good move, and adds, "Yeah. 'Cept it didn't happen."

Marcey contradicts. "It did."

"Well the by-pass did but the junction didn't. Didn't get the junction. The commuters needed a junction. The hoards never showed, did they? Didn't you live round here then?"

"Well, yeah, I've always lived round here."

"What, you voted against the junction?"

Marcey replies with only a little nod and a weak, embarrassed smile.

"Yeah, right. Well, our income took a dive, the mortgage started to look like the Millennium dome and Linda only came on the promise of a better life."

"It wasn't your fault."

"No, and she never blamed me. It was a bad decision we both made together … except … it was my idea."

Greg takes a drink from the glass of whisky he's been nursing on his knee, and Marcey looks away from him, her face a picture of sadness. Greg's mind goes back to what she saw at the party.

"When she touched him back, could that have been her pushing him away, maybe?" He makes a motion with his hand, palm outwards, to demonstrate.

His voice and expression are almost pleading and Marcey cannot resist trying to play the incident down to ease his pain a little. She gives a slight nod and says, "Maybe."

"Cos that would make more sense, y'see. If you knew them, I mean if you knew Martin and you knew Linda. I mean I can see him being tempted, but I can't in a million years seeing her being interested, he's the total bloody opposite of me."

"Er … she didn't look happy about him doing it."

"What, at all? Or just cos I was there?"

"No, no, cos, um … her hand went like … that." She makes a sharp flicking motion with her hand, as if shooing something away.

Greg says, "Yeah." He nods half-heartedly and sighs. As much as he would like to be, he is not convinced. He fidgets with his whisky glass, and looks very despondent.

Marcey shakes him out of it by moving to a bar stool a little closer to him and saying, "I saw his car."

Greg looks up, startled.

Marcey explains, "The taxi driver stopped at the accident."

Greg shifts in his seat with alarm and stares at her intently.

Marcey continues calmly, "The driver phoned the police."

"What, you stayed there?"

"Well, I couldn't walk away. You wouldn't, not unless you had something to hide."

Greg nods, realising that she is right, but he is very concerned. "Wh…? The police talked to you?"

"Only to get a statement … not even …" She intends this to reassure Greg that nothing was asked that would require her to supply possibly incriminating information, but she only causes further alarm by continuing, "Name, address …"

Greg springs to his feet, scraping his chair back over the floor. "Your real name?" he asks in horror.

"I'm just a passenger in a taxi."

Greg is extremely agitated and asks in a raised voice, "But, but … from, to? You're going from, to?"

Marcey is flustered by his outburst. "Well, y'know, I rang a minicab and said I was outside a pub. The police didn't ask where from or to, just name, address and how I could be contacted."

Greg says, forcefully, "But you're real address! But you could have told them anything!"

"Oh, I'm sorry!" Marcey grimaces and puts a hand to her head, as if suddenly believing that she hadn't been thinking straight that morning.

Greg is losing it. "You could have said anything! Oh, God!"

His face screws up with anxiety and he paces back and forth, gripping his whisky glass and working himself up into a panic.

Suddenly, Marcey comes back to her right mind and says firmly, "Wrong! Wrong! No! Because …" She stands, pointing a finger. "Are you listening? Yeah?"

Greg looks as though he has just been stung by a giant wasp, but he stops in his tracks and with head bowed says quickly, "Yeah. Yeah."

"Carefully?"

Greg looks up and gives a sharp nod to assure her, as he repeats "Yeah" in a breathless voice. As Marcey speaks, he stares at her intently, willing her to give him an explanation that will calm his fears.

"I'd rang the taxi from my mobile, and if I'd given a false name, and they tried contacting me, well, they've got my number anyway if they want to look for it. They could trace me." Marcey smiles as she continues, because she knows she is right. "If I'd lied, they would know something was wrong, wouldn't they? Wouldn't they?"

Her facial expression urges Greg to see the sense of what she's saying and she stands watching him closely as he processes her words through the turmoil of his mind. The logic of what she has said drips into his brain like cooling water and gradually dowses the smouldering fire of his panic.

Drip … he gives a little nod … drip … another little nod … drip …"Yeah," he says quietly. "Yeah, correct." His head drops forward and he closes his eyes as he rubs the top of his head with one hand. The fire fizzles out. "Yes. I'm sorry." He steps back to his seat, sits down and sharply exhales as he exclaims with great relief, "Cor!"

Marcey has an evening job to go to. Satisfied that, at least for the time being, Greg is okay, she turns back to the bar. "Well, I'm meant to be catering, so …" She takes a last drink from her glass and, indicating the door, continues, "Well, I … I'm going to …"

Remaining seated, Greg confirms, "Yeah, that way. Yeah."

As Marcey leaves, he puffs out a little exhausted breath and puts his whisky glass down on the table in front of him. He has relaxed a little as he has regained a measure of calm.

* * *
"Progress might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long." ~ Ogden Nash
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ALIBI in detail - Chapter 7

Postby Lynnedean » Wed Jan 29, 2014 8:24 am

Chapter 7: Greg's first two encounters with the police

Greg drives back to Rosehill House and, on seeing a police car parked outside of his front door, declares with alarm, "Oh, my God!"

Finding no one at home, a police sergeant and a constable have been waiting for someone to return. They climb out of their vehicle as Greg arrives.

Inside the house, Greg does not invite the officers to sit, and he, too, remains standing, still with his coat on, throughout the interview. He tries to act and sound as normal as he can.

The burly police sergeant asks, "Can you be certain what time Martin left?"

"Well, when I say a quarter past two, it could have been half past. I wasn't really aware of the time."

The young constable, who is the policeman who had taken Marcey's details in the taxi, chips in a question. "Did he have much to drink?"

Greg seizes the opportunity to give the impression that Martin was in no condition to drive. "No, I don't think so, um … champagne toast, wine with the meal, just a couple maybe, er … dessert wine, then we had a slug or two of brandy with the coffee. I wasn't counting, to be honest."

The constable follows up with, "But five at least. And that's acceptable is it, for somebody you know who's driving?"

"Well, back of the invitation had local taxi numbers."

The sergeant asks, "What was the party in aid of, Mr Brentwood?"

"Wedding anniversary."

"Oh, I see. Big one, then?"

Ouch! This is a sore point with Greg. No one seems to understand why he should have thrown a shindig to celebrate an anniversary that was actually a year short of what might be called a 'big' one. "Nineteenth," he informs the policemen, closing his eyes for a second and looking as sick as a parrot.

The sergeant looks off to the side as he replies, slowly, "Right." It's obvious that he doesn't understand, either.

The sound of a car pulling up is heard and the sergeant switches his attention to that. "Will this be your wife?"

Linda's arrival has increased Greg's nervousness, but he tries to stay casual. "Yeah, yeah, could be … yeah." When both policemen then look at him expectantly, he asks, "Do you need her?"

The sergeant replies, "Well, we may as well get it over and done with if she's up to it."

"Ah, right! Yeah, I'll go and get her."


Greg realises that Linda has driven around to the rear of the house and will be coming in by the back door. He dashes into the kitchen to intercept her, making sure to close the kitchen door behind him.

As his wife steps through the back door, he says urgently, "Don't say we rowed!"

Linda has seen the police car out front. "The police?"

"Yeah. Just don't say we rowed, especially not about money of all things."

"Does that Matter?" Wearily, Linda puts her handbag down on the table.

"Yes! If they know I shelled out three grand for the …"

Interrupting, his wife rounds on him and queries loudly, "Three grand!"

Greg puts up his hands to urge her to keep her voice down. "Yes. Shush! Please!"

Linda can't believe what she's been told. "Greg, how?"

He ignores the question. "If they know I did all that and you slept somewhere else last night, I'm going to look a total fool. I don't know. Plus, do you want to tell them that you were driving round about five times the legal limit?"

"Three grand, plus the necklace?"

Greg responds crossly. "The necklace says, I love you! Forget what it cost!"

Linda is too exhausted to argue. She takes off her coat and tries to get straight what she's supposed to say. "So we just waved Martin off together?"

"Yeah. Two fifteen, we lit up the paddock so he could find his car."

"Two fifteen? But you said he left when I did."

"Yeah."

"Well, I was in bed asleep at Steph's by then. Did Martin stay after I'd gone?"

Greg can't think what to say. He is totally flummoxed and for several seconds just looks blank. Linda prompts him. "What did you talk about?"

Another dumb moment, then inspiration hits. "Gum disease." Avoiding looking at Linda, Greg expands his explanation. "He had a dental appoint, dreading the cost like he does. Should we get company membership of, God knows - Gum Plan, Tooth Plan, whatever. Nothing. We talked nothing."

He stares down at the floor, chewing the inside of his lip. Linda accepts his answer and leaves the kitchen to go to talk to the policemen. Having successfully negotiated the tricky patch, her husband straightens his back, puffs out a little breath in relief, and follows her.

* * *

Late that night, Greg, in his dressing gown, kneels down in front of the fireplace in his living room. A small fire burning in the grate provides the only light.

Greg takes out of two carrier bags the items of clothing that Marcey had bought. He unwraps each one as he does so, puts the item back into the bag and the emptied packet onto the fire, trying not to make too much noise as he scrunches up the cellophane. His furtive activity is halted abruptly by the sound of his wife calling his name. He grabs the bags, stashes them behind the sofa and stands before the fire.

Linda, in her blue dressing gown, comes into the room and looks at him quizzically. "Greg?"

Her husband's voice is somewhat shaky as he attempts to explain his behaviour. "I just, em, couldn't sleep. I was fr-freezing …" He pulls his dressing gown tighter around him. "So I'm, y'know … s-see if I could get a fire going." He puts out his hands out to warm them at the blaze.

Linda, rubbing her sleepy eyes, is puzzled. "Couldn't you just switch the heating back on?"

Greg replies lamely, "Yeah, yeah. I just thought … fire." He stares into the flames.
Linda's look conveys that she thinks he's gone daft. With a little shake of her head she says, "I'm going to stick the kettle on. Want some tea?"

Greg only manages to respond with an indecisive "Em …" as his wife leaves the room.

As soon as she's gone, he snatches up the bags from behind the sofa and after making sure Linda's out of sight, dashes up the stairs.

* * *

Next morning, Marcey is about to leave her flat to go to work, but when she opens the front door at the foot of her stairs, she is startled to find standing there, about to ring the doorbell, the young constable who had questioned her in the taxi.

"Miss Burgess? I just need to ask a couple more questions."

* * *

Greg is on his way to work, too. As his car approaches the bend in the road where he turned Martin into toast, he sees a parked police car parked to one side with traffic cones around it to create only one lane of traffic. He is immediately very ill at ease, and when a policeman waves at him to direct him around the cones to where a policewoman with a clipboard waits, he mutters, "Oh, God! Je…!"

He pulls the car to a halt next to the policewoman, who then bends to speak to him through the open passenger window. The officer greets him with a friendly, "Hi!"

Greg replies with trepidation, "Hi."

"Do you use this road regularly, sir?"

"Er, yeah, er, live about a mile back." He indicates the direction with his hand.

"So you know about the accident?"

"Er, yeah. Terrible. Yeah, it's a friend of mine."

The policewoman commiserates. "Oh, I'm sorry." She consults her clipboard. "Er … what time would you normally be travelling in this direction?"

Greg stumbles nervously through his answer. "Oh, around now … s-sometimes earlier … em … sometimes a bit later … depending on the, er … no, no, a bit earlier."

"And, as a rule, would you normally break harder on the first bend or the second?"

"First or second? The, em … oh, f-first or second? Yeah, em … well, I'm not sure because … no, no, second, because, you know where the camber changes it gets a bit skewered, doesn't it."

The policewoman says with a smile, "Thanks for your help."

Greg responds, "Oh!" as he realises that she has finished her questioning and is allowing him to drive on. He gives a brief nod of acknowledgement, and as he moves the car forward he puffs out a little breath of relief.


His relief is short-lived, however. A few yards further on, he drives slowly past two investigators talking on the grass verge, one of whom is the police sergeant who questioned him at Rosehill House.

Greg strains to hear what is being said, and catches the sergeant's voice part-way through his querying how the crashed car had come off the road. "… on the first. Could he have built up enough speed to lose it on the second? Unless he's swerved without breaking."

The other man observes, "Well, there's no skid marks on the road."

"Yeah. So he hasn't rolled or anything."

"No."

"No, I can't understand how he could lose it on that bend."

Greg mutters to himself as he drives on. He looks extremely worried and is tense at the wheel. Panic is rising within him.

* * *
"Progress might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long." ~ Ogden Nash
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ALIBI in detail - Chapter 8

Postby Lynnedean » Wed Jan 29, 2014 8:25 am

Chapter 8: Greg hits the Valium

In the Benefits office, Marcey finishes dealing with a client, and presses the button to indicate that she is ready for the next. Filing papers away in a drawer, she does not see Greg throwing himself into the seat on the other side of her desk. His voice makes her look up.

"I know! I know! I'm sorry!"

Marcey is horrified to find him there. She leans over the desk towards him, saying, "What are you doing? This isn't so clever, is it?"

"No! I know!" Greg's face is flushed and his voice trembles. He looks like a little boy who has been caught painting the family cat green.

"How did you know where I worked?"

"Your ID."

"It doesn't say here."

"Well, I've tried every other bloody floor in the building and you don't work there, do you? I am sorry, I'm sorry, okay? But they're all over the place, the police are bloody everywhere …"

He talks rapidly and looks as though he is about to burst into tears. Marcey urges him to keep his voice down. "Shh!"

"I've just gone through two red lights. I can't breathe … properly!" Greg puts his right hand to the knot in his tie and makes a choking noise as he sharply inhales. "They're stopping people and they're asking questions, so something's not right!"

"I know, I know. They came to see me this morning."

"Oh, Jesus!" Greg's face screws up in anguish. "What did they want?"

Marcey ignores the question. "Undo your shirt!"

"What?"

"It's a size too small, you can't breathe properly, it's choking you. Undo your shirt!"

He struggles to undo his top shirt button without first loosening his tie and succeeds only in making himself choke and go redder in the face. "I can't …"

Marcey despairs of his inability to do even this for himself. "Come here!" Like a mother with her small child, she reaches over the desk and does it for him, the computers on hers and the other workers' desks shielding the action from view.

As she loosens the tie and undoes the shirt button, Marcey expresses exasperation. "What are you doing, wearing it? You can't wear a party shirt for work!"

The pressure now eased, Greg breathes properly again. "Right! I needed it to smell of something, y'know?" Realising that he has been sweating profusely, he adds, "And it certainly bloody does now, doesn't it!"

Marcey realises that the poor man needs more help than she can give him in the office. "Where are you parked?"

Her question further taxes Greg's already over-taxed brain. He blinks as he desperately tries to remember. "I haven't a clue! … em …"

Again exasperated, Marcey instructs, "Go and find your car. Wait for me outside the front entrance. I'll be down as soon as I can."

He looks at her for a moment then, as her words sink in, gives a little nod and says, "Right."

He doesn't move, so Marcey urges, "Go on!"

As Greg leaves, she looks around to ensure that no one has taken any interest in her overwrought client, takes her handbag and a bottle of mineral water from a desk drawer, and quickly exits the office.

*

Greg has managed to locate his car and has obeyed Marcey's instruction to park it at the front entrance of the council offices. She finds him waiting in the vehicle, and climbs into the passenger seat. As she does so, a police car passes on the road, sounding its siren. Greg is in a state of heightened anxiety and when he hears the noise, glances around the car park as though expecting the heavy hand of the Law to descend upon them at any minute.

"I knew it! I knew it! We're going to bloody swing for this! I mean, if they're turning up on your doorstep and saying what, asking what?" Marcey hands him a pill that's she's taken from a container in her handbag, and he asks, "What's this?"

In contrast to the panicky Greg, Marcey is perfectly calm. She gives him the bottle of mineral water. "Valium. Take it." Greg is breathing quickly and shallowly, so she continues, "Then five deep breaths. Breathe from here." She prods his diaphragm and patiently explains, "Breathe from the bottom of your ribs."

Greg nods and says, "Yeah, alright."

He obediently swallows the pill and takes the breaths as best he can, puffing and blowing. Panic is still gripping him, but Marcey has to explain why the policeman called to see her that morning. "A farmer spotted somebody walking away from the fire."

Greg's face contorts as his anxiety rises a notch. "Oh, shit! Really! I mean …! Well, they know it wasn't an accident, cos I heard them remarking about it. I mean, this is a total bloody disaster, Marcey! What are we saying now?"

Calmly, Marcey explains, "If the farmer doesn't know whether he saw a he or she, it's saying nothing. Okay? Greg? Relax." She prods his diaphragm again. "Move your ribs … out … all of them."

"Yeah." Greg tries, but he is hopelessly flustered. He speaks rapidly. "I mean if they know it wasn't an accident, they'll start pick-pick-pick, they'll start going back over everything …"

Marcey puts up a hand to calm him down. She speaks softly. "Just keep telling yourself, the last time he left your house, he was in a really good mood. That's all you have to keep telling yourself, really telling yourself."

Greg nods and still struggling to get his breathing under control says almost inaudibly, "Right."

Marcey demonstrates what she means. Cheerfully, she says, "Bye, Greg! Great party! Bye, Martin! See'ya tomorrow." Smiling, she gives a little wave.

Greg grunts, "Yeah … right … hm."

Marcey points a finger in emphasis. "And you really thought that you would." She waves again.

Greg is concentrating and gradually calming down. "Hm … right … yeah." He gives a half-hearted little wave back with his right hand, practicing the action.

Then the car phone rings and Greg nearly jumps out of his skin, exclaiming, "Ohhh! God!" He knows it will be one of his employees. Pressing the answer button on the phone, he queries, "Eugene?"

"Hi, Greg. Hey, you know you've two suits from the brewery sitting in your office?"

"Oh?" Greg's eyes close for a second and he silently mouths an expletive. "Yes … they, em …" He glances at Marcey in despair. "Listen, y-you … I'm sitting in traffic here, y-you'd better tell 'em I'm sorry, but I'm not going to be …"

Marcey stops him right there with a stern look and a shake of her head. Greg says "Eugene – tunnel!" and shuts off the call. To Marcey, he says, "Look, I can't go in like this. Look at me!"

"You can't go cancelling everything, you've got to act normal."

"Normal? He's dead! I've killed a man! How is that normal?"

"Fine – be sad normal, confused normal, but you can't go cancelling everything." She gives the little wave again, repeating, "Bye, Martin. See you tomorrow."

Greg once more copies the wave, and repeats quietly, "Bye", trying to get it into his head. He wipes his hand across his face, straightens up and takes a deep breath to compose himself, and Marcey reassures him with, "That's it."

He presses a button on the phone and attempts to say his employee's name. "Eu-Eug …" He closes his eyes and puffs out a panicky little breath.

Eugene responds, "Still here."

"Hm? … Yeah, yeah, tel … get them some drinks. Tell 'em twenty minutes. Traffic's a bloody nightmare. Right?"

"Yeah, will do."

Greg is relieved to have ended the call but he is now back on a high level of anxiety. As previously instructed, he takes several deep breaths in an effort to bring himself down again.

Marcey puts some more pills in the palm of his hand. "Right, take another, and two more in a couple of hours."

Greg swallows another pill with another drink of the bottled water. Speaking rapidly, he says, "See, I'm fine if you're there and I know what you're thinking, but the minute something else crops up, I'm going, shit, what if Marcey's saying the bloody opposite? It's driving me mad!"

While he speaks, Marcey writes something in a notebook that she has taken from her handbag.

"Trust me, Greg, I won't say anything that we haven't agreed. You understand?"

"Right."

From her notebook, Marcey tears out the page on which she has noted her mobile telephone number, hands it to Greg and asks, "What's yours?"

Greg, who at this moment would probably have trouble recalling his own name, grapples with the question. He stares blankly at the paper for a few seconds, then, with a jolt, remembers. He gives her his number in little bursts, closing his eyes and rubbing his brow with his fingers to aid his concentration. "O … seven … eight, one, four, twenty-four, twenty-three, fourteen." He takes a couple of deep breaths.

Marcey says, "Okay," and having noted the number she returns her pen and notebook to her handbag. Ready to leave, she turns to Greg, and with a firm look gives him one final instruction. "Go to your meeting."

He nods and says, quietly, "Right."

When Marcey has climbed out of the car and closed the door behind her, he exclaims, "Christ!" and turns on the engine.

As Marcey makes her way back to her office, Greg starts to drive out of the car park. He does not know what effect the taking of Valium has. He is soon to find out.

* * *
"Progress might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long." ~ Ogden Nash
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ALIBI in detail - Chapter 9

Postby Lynnedean » Wed Jan 29, 2014 8:26 am

Chapter 9: The Valium hits Greg

Before Marcey reaches the front door of the council building, a sudden thought strikes her. A little while later, she is not in her office but in her upstairs flat in Failstone.

When the doorbell rings, she runs down the stairs and opens the door to the young copper who spoke to her in the taxi. "Hi!"

The constable acknowledges, "Miss Burgess."

Marcey says, "Come up," and beckons him in.

He steps into the hallway, removing his cap. "The sergeant says you might have something for us."

As Marcey leads him upstairs to her living-room, she says, "Well, I think so. I'm not sure."

Listen," the constable replies encouragingly, "anything's an improvement on what we've got."

* * *

In the office in Brentwood Shaps, Greg is lying back in his chair, with his feet up on his desk. His head is down, his chin is nestled in his open shirt collar and his hands are resting on his stomach. He is dead to the world.

Eugene comes in, saying, "Greg?" Getting no response, he repeats his boss's name, and smiles when he sees that the man is snoozing. He says Greg's name a little louder but to no avail, so he says it again more loudly and bangs on the desk.

Greg wakes with a little jump and looks up at him with bleary, half-open eyes.

Eugene laughs as he announces, "There's a lady here with an appointment." He turns as Marcey enters, and smiles at her as he leaves the office.

Fuzzily, Greg mumbles, "Oh," and shifts slightly in his seat. His eyes open wider in surprise when Marcey approaches his desk.

Marcey says, "Hi," and without waiting for him to speak, fishes a pill bottle out of her handbag and puts it down in front of him, saying, "I went to the surgery for another prescription. You can keep these."

Greg drops his feet to the floor and sits up, mouthing groggily, "What the …?"

He struggles to his feet, but the Valium is taking a heavy toll and the effort exhausts him. He hangs on to his desk to keep himself from falling over.

Looking as though he has the hangover to beat all hangovers, he blinks blearily, grunts and says in a low voice, "Can't even stand up on this stuff. Feel like a bloody elephant!"

Marcey sits down on a chair in front of the desk and advises, "If they're too strong, you can cut them in half."

Greg shuffles slowly over to a coffee-maker on which there is a pot of coffee. Referring to the Valium, he asks, "What do you take this stuff for?"

"Sleep's good. You needed it."

"Well, not in the middle of a conversation!"

Greg intends to pour himself a coffee, but in his present state it proves a complicated business. He takes the pot in one hand, but with the other picks up a saucer instead of a cup. He comes to a halt and stands there, bewildered, the fog in his brain having made him lose track of what he was trying to do. Blinking, and looking in danger of falling asleep on his feet, he mutters, pathetically, "I … I … oh!"

Marcey comes to his rescue and as she takes the items from him he closes his eyes and puffs out a little, exhausted breath. As she pours the coffee, he remarks, "Actually, they helped with the brewery, I think. I kept forgetting words … like Thursday ... and customer. And anyway, I looked such a wreck, they took sympathy, I think, and, em, anyway, they gave me another pub to do."

He makes his way back to his chair, screwing up his eyes as he tries to dispel the fog. Marcey puts his coffee down in front of him and resumes her seat. Greg is just about to sit down when she begins to explain the reason for her visit. "I went back to the police."

Greg freezes, his eyes suddenly open very wide. He stares at Marcey open-mouthed as she continues, "I said I vaguely remembered seeing somebody that morning – a female walking down the lane."

Alarmed and puzzled, Greg asks, "Why?"

Marcey smiles brightly. "So they stop thinking male."

Greg wrestles with the idea for a moment, but concludes, "No, that's still somebody walking away. That's worse!"

"No. I said I thought she had a dog."

"A dog?"

"Yes. If she was walking a dog, then she couldn't be connected with the fire. It's just a person with a dog, so she can be struck off their 'niggles' list."

Greg doesn't look convinced that the false information will stop the police seeking the person the tractor driver had probably reported seeing. Marcey, however, is quite satisfied.

She tells him, "Drink your coffee. Put your Valium away."

Greg picks up his coffee cup in one hand and is putting the bottle of pills in his pocket with the other when Linda bustles into the room, calling his name. He freezes and Marcey jumps to her feet.


Linda realises she has interrupted something. "Oh! Sorry."

Greg shoots an alarmed sideways glance at Marcey, wondering how she is going to get them out of this one. After a second's pause, Marcey obliges. Her startled look quickly melts into a smile and she says to Linda, "You might have just saved my neck. Mr Brentwood was just asking me if I'd ever done wages before and, and I was probably going to say yes, but actually no … no."

Puzzled, Linda looks at Greg, but he just stands there with his mouth open, looking from one woman to the other in something of a daze.

Marcey quickly continues. "It doesn't mean I can't. I-I'm just being honest."

Linda catches her drift. "Oh, I see. You're a temp."

Marcey nods.

Linda looks thoughtfully at Greg for a moment then turns her attention back to Marcey. "Sorry. I'm Linda – Mrs Brentwood."

She holds out a hand and Marcey shakes it, freely giving her real name. "Marcia Burgess – Marcey."

On the other side of the desk, Greg is unsteady on his feet, and wobbles a little. He looks at Linda, then at Marcey, then back at Linda again.

Linda continues speaking to Marcey. "I don't know if Greg's explained to you, Marcey, but, em, his business partner died two days ago and we're all in a bit of a state."

Marcey commiserates. "Oh, no. I'm really sorry." Greg's eyes close for a second. Marcey continues. "Look, em, I can just come back and we can do this another time."

Greg seizes the opportunity to expedite her departure, and enters the conversation, saying, "Yeah, that's a good idea. Tuesday, but not before three, cos …"

He is interrupted by his wife. "Greg – can we talk about that?" To Marcey, she says, "Let me borrow him. Two minutes, promise."

Marcey pauses for a second before responding, "I'll just nip to the loo, and …" Linda gives a little nod, but there's a slightly puzzled expression on her face, and it prompts Marcey to speak again. Much to Greg's consternation, she takes a step towards Linda and observes, "I know you, don't I?"

A look of dismay crosses Greg's face. Still standing with his coffee cup in one hand and the fingers of his other hand resting on the desk to steady him, he sways a little and blinks blearily.

Linda smiles at Marcey, acknowledging recognition. "Yes – the party!"

Marcey confirms it as though suddenly remembering. "I was a waitress at your anniversary party!"

She looks from Linda to Greg, and Greg attempts to speak in response, but he hasn't a clue what to say. He manages only a befuddled and almost inaudible "You … were … oh!"

Marcey explains, "It's only seeing the two of you together that … Well, I'm sorry, Mr Brentwood, I just didn't recognise you."

Greg says weakly, "No?" He is totally at a loss to understand why Marcey has admitted being at the house that night and what on earth to say to follow it up.

Marcey continues brightly, "Em, you know how it is when you see people out of context. ... They're two separate agencies. I only do the catering when work's thin on the ground, which, well, when is it not?"

Linda sympathises. "Well, we all know what that feels like." She indicates the door. "The toilets are down the corridor, second on the right. It's all blokes here, so I won't make apologies for the state of it."

The telephone on Greg's desk begins to ring. He ignores it.


Marcey picks up her coat and handbag, and heads for the door. As she goes out, Linda turns to Greg and asks, "Who's going to get that?" She nods towards the ringing telephone.

Greg looks down at it and replies, "Oh, em, it'll transfer."

His wife replies exasperatedly, "Yes – to home! Me and Steph have been fielding your business calls all day. Where have you been?"

With a pained expression, Greg explains, "Well, Martin used to do this."

"I know." Linda sighs heavily. "I know you're shell shocked," she continues, moving around the desk to be closer to Greg, "but we need all the help we can get. You know that or you wouldn't have called the agency in the first place."

Greg blinks blearily and opens his mouth to speak, but before he can think of something to say, Linda takes his hand in hers and perches on the edge of the desk. He is surprised by the unexpected physical contact, and gazes at her intently, listening with all the concentration he can muster.

Linda looks down at their hands. "Look, we can get through this if we just …" She looks up at her husband. "One foot in front of the other, okay? … If she's good, give her the job, okay?"

Greg responds immediately, "No, she's crap."

"Why?"

"She's just told us – she doesn't do the wages."

Linda replies, "Oh, now, just right now." She lets go of Greg's hand and stands up. "You only need somebody fielding the calls and running the office." The telephone begins to ring again. "Take her on for a week, 'til we can manage to advertise."

The insistent ringing of the telephone diverts Greg's attention, realising that he should answer it.

At that moment Marcey returns. "Mrs Brentwood, the toilet door's locked."

Before the call transfers to Rosehill House, Greg sits down and answers the telephone with, "Brentwood Shaps."

Linda responds to Marcey. "Oh, right. Only because the builders in the next unit kept using it." She takes a key from a hook on the wall and gives it to Marcey. "Well listen, Marcey, Greg seems thrilled with you …" Marcey looks over at Greg and gives him a weak smile. " … so what's the soonest you could start?"

Greg still has the telephone to his ear but is not listening to the person at the other end of the line, because he's concentrating on the conversation between the two women in his office. He looks sick and, through the Valium-induced fog in his brain, he tries to signal to Marcey to reject the job offer, dozily giving a little shake of his head and his free hand.

Linda continues, "Tomorrow would be brilliant, because we're really stuck."

Marcey stares into the other woman's face blankly for a moment, but, for once, is unable to think of a way out of an awkward situation. She replies simply, "Okay," and Greg casts his eyes to heaven.

Linda says, "I'll show you round the wages software in less than an hour. Honestly, it's dead simple."

Marcey smiles back, repeating, "Okay," and, clutching the key to the toilet door, leaves the office.

Linda gives the thumbs up to Greg, who is still holding the telephone to his ear, and whispers, "She's nice. You'll be fine."

She follows Marcey out.

Greg's caller has attracted his attention, and he switches his befuddled mind back to his client. "Er, sorry, yes … erm … would you repeat that please?" He picks up a pencil and prepares to write. "No, just … just … erm … from … from the beginning."

* * *
"Progress might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long." ~ Ogden Nash
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ALIBI in detail - Chapter 10

Postby Lynnedean » Wed Jan 29, 2014 8:27 am

Chapter 10: Marcey pulls a rabbit from what Greg believes to be an empty hat

That evening, at Rosehill House, as Linda and Steph unpack a take-away meal, Danny comes from the kitchen, carrying drinking glasses and a bottle of wine.

"Is Greg coming, or what?"

Steph replies, "Yeah. He's left something in the car."

Linda remarks, "His head's a fair bet."

Steph chides her. "Come on, Linda, you're not the only one taking this badly."

"I know, but we've got to keep functioning and he's …" She looks at her brother-in-law. "Will you take him out for a drink or something, Danny? He needs to be talking to somebody and I'm obviously not on the list."

"No problem. I will, yeah. Hey, have you seen these?" Danny picks up a packet of photographs and hands them to Linda. "I got them developed this afternoon."

They are the ones taken at the anniversary party. Linda oohs and aahs over the first picture - herself, with Martin and Greg on either side of her, smiling.

Danny says, "You can keep this set."

Linda continues to gaze at the first photograph. She remarks, "That's lovely," and smiles at Steph, who smiles and nods back in agreement.


Outside, Greg is at the rear of his parked car. The boot is open and he is bending over as if searching through it, but he's actually talking to Marcey on his mobile phone. He keeps looking up to make sure that no one is watching from the house.

Marcey asks, "What else could I say?"

The effect of the Valium has worn off, and Greg is fully awake now. He's somewhat cross and is starting to panic again. "Well, dead easy! How about no? I mean, how is this going to work now? How? I mean, you've got a bloody job! She thinks you're starting tomorrow, for God sakes! How?

"I-I'll have to think of something."

"Well, like what?

In a calm, measured tone, Marcey issues a warning. "I don't know. But stop shouting at me or I'm slamming the phone down."

Greg immediately recants. In a meek little voice he says "I'm sorry! I'm sorry! Really!" and shoves a pill into his mouth.


Back in the house, Steph and Danny look over Linda's shoulder as she goes through the photographs.

On seeing one of the pictures, Linda exclaims, "Oh, I know this girl!"

"Who?" Danny asks.

Linda points to Marcey, who can be seen in the background of the shot. "Her. Yes, she's with a temping agency. I've just talked Greg into taking her on."

Danny replies, "Oh, right."

Greg comes in and is greeted with, "Oh hi, Greg!" from Steph, to which he responds brightly with a smile and a "Hi!"

Danny asks, "Do you want a beer?"

Greg tries to be casual. "Yeah, brilliant, yeah."

Linda asks him, "What had you forgotten?"

He looks blank. "Sorry?"

"In the car?"

"Ah … oh … the, em … the, um …"

As Greg's voice trails off and Linda and Steph exchange knowing looks. Linda shows him the photograph. "Look who's here."

She smiles as she points to Marcey in the background on another of the shots. Greg mumbles recognition and looks discomforted, his discomfort being added to by the fact that a grinning Martin is in the forefront.

Linda shows another photograph. "And here." Again, one of Martin with Marcey in the background.

"Oh, yeah, yeah, so she is, yeah." Greg sounds as though he isn't really interested, but as he walks away he looks sick.

* * *

In her flat that night, Marcey, in her pyjamas and ready for bed, sits on the sofa, deep in thought, pondering the problem of how she is going to do two day jobs at once.

* * *

Next morning, Marcey saunters into work late and as she goes to hang up her coat, her colleagues greet her with sarcastic calls of "Afternoon, Marcey!" and "Bright and early, Marcey?"

She goes casually to her desk and drops her handbag into a drawer. As she sits down, her boss advances upon her with a stern expression and stands in front of her on the other side of the desk, his hands folded behind his back. He says, "Morning," and indicates with a jerk of his head that she is to follow him into his office.

In the office, Marcey sits meekly in the chair in front of her boss's desk as he reprimands her for her behaviour. "You're on the front desk to ascertain whether people deserve assistance or whether they're robbing us blind. But at this rate, you are the worst offender. You stroll into work when it suits you. You left yesterday lunchtime and nobody saw you again. You stroll in this morning as though you were doing us a favour!"

Marcey looks miserable. She says quietly, "I'm sorry."

"Thank you, but it's a bit late for that." Her boss puts on his glasses and consults Marcey's work record, which is lying on his desk. "You'll be getting your, er … second written warning in the post first thing tomorrow. Understand?"

The young benefits clerk looks as though her thoughts are miles away and she does not respond.

"Miss Burgess?"

Marcey lifts her head as though suddenly shaken out of a reverie and states, "I saw a dead body! Car accident. Fire. I was one of the first on the scene. I had to wait for the police to take a statement."

Her boss is shocked and asks, "Have you logged this with your supervisor?"

Marcey shakes her head.

"Where?"

"Near Braughton. The police will probably want to talk to me again because there is bound to be an inquest." She launches into her story, relishing the telling of it. "The car shot off the road, hit a tree, exploded. I tried to get the man out, but the flames were everywhere. The heat was …" She fingers her hair. "Well, you feel how dry my hair's gone! The door handles were red hot. I had to stand back and watch!" Her boss is horrified but transfixed. Marcey has him in the palm of her hand. She continues, with feeling. "There's nothing peaceful about it. I was shouting and … I think he heard me, but the heat was … a-and you know the worst thing? The worst thing? You know when you first stick meat on a barbecue? …"

That does the trick. The boss can't stomach any more of her description and comes to his feet abruptly, thoroughly shaken. Sympathising with the poor young woman who has obviously been through a very traumatic experience, he says, "You, er … obviously shouldn't … shouldn't be here. Go home. Em … get your stuff together and er … er … go home." He ushers Marcey out of the office and she looks at him with a suitably upset expression. "Sign yourself sick for a week and em … we'll er … we'll take it from there. You …you'll be fine … hon-hon-honestly."

Her boss, himself, looks a touch ill.

Marcey walks slowly away from his office, and as she goes down the corridor, she grins.

* * *
"Progress might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long." ~ Ogden Nash
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ALIBI in detail - Chapter 11

Postby Lynnedean » Wed Jan 29, 2014 8:27 am

Chapter 11: Greg speaks to Stan in tears and Marcey speaks to Greg in fury

Marcey, not having to worry about her job at the Benefits Office for at least a week, drives straight to Brentwood Shaps. She is met at the door by Eugene, who accompanies her as she makes her way through the noisy workshop to the office.

He chats with her about the business while they walk. "The priority's getting the timber in. If they say two or three days, it's here by four." He breaks off to introduce Marcey briefly to Stuart, one of the workers, then continues, "Cos if we haven't got the timber, we can't do a thing. So, er, are you doing the wages and that?"

"Yeah, I'm just learning the system."

Eugene replies, "Oh, that's great." He calls out to the lads, "She is doing the wages!" and they all yell back, "Yesss!"

Marcey smiles at their delight and Eugene explains, "Yeah, Greg's really not been up to scratch since we lost Martin. I mean, he's a lovely bloke, great boss to work for, but Martin was the money man."

He introduces her to Clive, another of the workers.


In the Brentwood Shaps office, Marcey is going to have to use Martin's desk, so she clears it, putting his personal stuff into a cardboard box. Amongst the items are a couple of small models of old cars and two photographs. One of the photographs is of Martin's car, itself an old model, gleaming as though newly polished, and with the roof folded down, and the other is of the man posing in front of a Brentwood Shaps sign.


Greg arrives downstairs and makes his way to the office. He seems a little brighter and smiles at the lads as he passes through the workshop.

His brighter mood is short-lived, however, as in the office he has to deal with a telephone call from Martin's father. Marcey pours herself and Greg cups of coffee while he does so.

"That's absolutely fine, Stan." The expression on Greg's face belies the words. The old man is having trouble hearing him again, so he has to raise his voice. "I said that's fine, Stan. … Yeah. Whatever's best for you, really. … Yeah. Okay, see you then."

Greg puts down the receiver, places both elbows on the desk and with a little sigh, drops his head into his hands.

He raises his head and looks over at Marcey, who is back at her desk. "You okay?"

"Meaning you're not?"

"No." His voice catches as he explains, "Martin's dad wants to come and collect his things."

"Well, they're all boxed up."

Into the palm of his hand, Greg tips a couple of pills from the Valium bottle Marcey had given him. Marcey takes a paper cup of cold water over to him, and returns to her seat.

Greg sniffs, and voices his misery. "He's a nice man. He's a nice, deaf old man, and I don't think I can face him."

"You can't not. How bad would that look?"

That's not what Greg wanted to hear. He doesn't respond.

Marcey enquires, "When's he coming?"

Restless in his chair, Greg replies, "He's driving from Devon tomorrow, so about six-ish." He looks at his temporary office assistant. "You'll be here, then, won't you?" he asks in a pleading tone.

"Of course."

"Well, if I'm out on a job and I'm stuck in traffic, and I say …"

Marcey stops him dead in his tracks. "No! No! No, Greg!" She speaks sternly and stabs the air with a pointing finger as she gives him two reasons. "A, you are not leaving me to sort that out and B, you have to be here!"

Another sharp stab of her admonishing finger dismisses the possibility of further discussion. Greg looks pained, but gives a little nod in acquiescence. He cannot argue with that tone of voice, or with that finger.

* * *

At around teatime the next day, Stan, Greg and Marcey stand in the Brentwood Shaps showroom, Stan filled with sorrow.

Struggling with his emotions, Greg says, "He was a great … great bloke to work with, em, Stan. … We all got on really well, y'know."

Stan lowers himself slowly onto one of the chairs at one of the little pub tables.

"Sorry. I'll... I'll sort myself out in a minute. I've just been around to his flat, collecting things. Silly things. I don't know why – bagged all his socks up. Taking them home with me."

Greg's fights to hold back tears as he says, "No, not silly at all."

Marcey is watching him and, concerned to see that he is nearly at the point of breaking down, steps in and gives him an excuse to leave early. "Greg? Haven't you got someone coming around to the house?"

Stan looks up at Greg. "Should you be somewhere else?"

Greg dearly wants to be somewhere else, but although it is causing him great distress to remain, he cannot bring himself to run out on Martin's dad just yet.

He replies, "Yeah, but it's, it's out of the question, Stan, really. Really."

Stan doesn't want to hold him back. "No, no, I'll be off in a minute. I want to go home so I can get some Scotch." When Greg doesn't move, he urges, "No, honestly, you go!"

The old man gets to his feet and turns to Marcey. "I'd just like to see his desk, if that's okay."

Marcey, realising that there is now nothing of Martin's there for Stan to see, replies, "Just give me two secs," and dashes to the office. She hurriedly clears the desk of her own things and replaces them with Martin's.

In the showroom, Greg takes Stan's hand, but avoids eye contact. With a sob in his voice, he says, "I'm really, really sorry."

Stan nods. "We'll all miss him."

The two men go to the office. As Greg opens the door for Stan, Marcey realises that she's left the now empty box on Martin's chair. She quickly moves it to the floor then stands back and smiles as Stan enters the room. Greg comes in behind the old man, rubbing tears out of his eyes.

Fearing that Greg is about to be faced with what could well prove a painful scene too far, Marcey hands him his coat and car keys, saying, "You'd better get a move on."

Greg, trusting Marcey's judgement that it really is okay to go at this point, takes the items and replies, "Yeah, yeah." He turns to Stan. Speaking loudly, he says, "We'll see each other again at the funeral, Stan, yeah?"

Stan puts out a hand to shake goodbye, and remarks, "He's still with us."

Greg says, "Yeah," and returns the handshake.

Stan adds, "Always will be."

"Yeah." Greg turns his face away, and leaves quickly.

The old man walks over to Martin's desk and sits down behind it. He holds out to Marcey a plastic bag that he has been carrying, and explains, "This was in his wardrobe. Looks like working stuff that belongs here."

Marcey smiles and takes it from him.

Indicating the items on the desk, Stan asks, "Is it okay if I take some of this stuff?"

Marcey smiles again. "Oh, anything that you want. Just put it in the box and I'll get one of the lads to bring it down to your car."

"Thanks. I'll not take anything to do with work, just his personal stuff."

While she waits for Stan to sort through Martin's possessions, Marcey perches on the edge of the other desk and takes a look at what is in the carrier bag. It is a black ring-binder bearing a hand-printed label, reading "MAR LIN".

Stan comments, "He kept his desk tidy, didn't he. He was like that at home. Never had to ask him to tidy up his room."

Marcey is not listening. The ring-binder is filled with bank statements, and she is studying the first one intently. The account name is printed as:
    MARtin Shaps
    LINda Brentwood

The statement shows amounts of £2,500, £300 and £3,500 as having been paid into the account within the period of one month. The first is a funds transfer from Brentwood Shaps, the second, a standing order from Linda Brentwood, and the third, a deposit by the Queen of Hearts Design Company.

Marcey moves on to the next statement.

* * *

In Rosehill House later that evening, Greg is sitting in an armchair, picking slowly with a fork at a plate of food on his lap. The television is on but he is taking no interest in it. He is in no mood to eat, and finally gives up trying.

He looks over at Linda, who is sitting at a table nearby, a pen in her hand and paper before her. She has been watching her husband, but when he turns his face towards her, she immediately switches her attention back to trying to write a letter of condolence to Martin's father.

Greg can't sit there any longer. He says, "That was lovely. Thank you," and with the plate of little-touched food in his hand, rises from his chair and leaves the room.

Linda stops writing to watch him go. She rests her hands on the table and looks thoughtful.

* * *

In the Brentwood Shaps office, Marcey is alone. Since Stan left, she has been sitting at Martin's chair, studying the papers from his secret file that she has spread out in front of her on the desk. Contemplating the meaning of what she has discovered, she anxiously chews her fingernails. She begins to look through the papers again.

She can see that the account bearing the names of Martin and Linda has been established for some time. Over many months, small amounts had been paid in on a regular basis by Linda, drawn on her own bank account by way of a standing arrangement. Much larger amounts had been transferred into the account by Martin, again on a regular basis, and apparently from Brentwood Shaps accounts. The most recent statement showed a balance of £120,000.

As she continues to look through the papers, Marcey discovers something else: two brochures giving details of houses for sale in Devon.

Her mobile phone rings and she snatches it up from the desk, checks to see who's calling and, breathing heavily, presses the answer button.

Greg announces himself, keeping his voice down to avoid being overheard at home. "Marcey, it's me."

Before he can get out another word, Marcey unleashes fury. "I know who it is! And I know who you are! You are a lying two-faced bastard! I believed every word you told me!"

Greg is taken aback and exclaims, "Marcey!"

Marcey speaks rapidly, hardly pausing for breath. "You knew he had nicked this money before he died, didn't you? I mean, that's why he died! That is why you killed him! Well, you'd better start telling me the truth, or I'm straight to the police! Right!"

She ends the call before Greg has a chance to respond, and dumps her phone onto the desk. In a turmoil, she puts her elbows on the desk and her head in her hands, and rocks back and forth. She is not only furious, she is very afraid.

* * *
"Progress might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long." ~ Ogden Nash
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ALIBI in detail - Chapter 12

Postby Lynnedean » Wed Jan 29, 2014 8:28 am

Chapter 12: It appears that Martin had also been doing to the company what he had been doing to Greg's wife

Greg alights from his car outside Brentwood Shaps. He goes into the building, closes the big sliding doors of the workshop behind him and walks to the office.

Marcey is sitting at Martin's desk, waiting for him. Prepared for a quick getaway if necessary, she has put on her coat and slung the strap of her handbag across her shoulder. Her hands are resting on the top of the desk, one on either side of the pile of incriminating bank statements, and her fists are clenched. She believes that she has discovered an appalling truth, and has prepared herself to confront a murderer. She looks very grim.

As Greg enters the room and approaches Marcey at the desk, there is no sense of panic about him, only the appearance of extreme perplexity. Before he can speak, the frightened Marcey issues a warning. "I sent an email to myself, saying everything, so if they find me in a ditch, they'll know it's you. You can't touch me!"

Greg is totally mystified. "What the hell are you on about? W-what have I done?"

Marcey again speaks rapidly and angrily. "You killed Martin Shaps … and convinced me it was an accident and … you … I help you make it look like an accident because I thought it was a mistake that anyone could make, but it wasn't, was it? You really wanted him dead. You knew for a fact that he was having an affair with your wife!"

"Why are you saying this?"

"Oh, don't come that!" Marcey spits out the words vehemently. She has pushed the bank statements towards Greg and now she stabs at them with her finger. "Bank account! With a hundred and twenty grand in it!" Greg stands staring down at the papers in bewildered silence. "You knew he was stealing money! You knew all that when you killed him and you played a blinder because I believed every word that …"

Abruptly, Marcey breaks off, convinced by the expression on Greg's face that what she has told him is news to him.

Greg begins to leaf through the bank statements.

The fear and the fire have gone out of Marcey. Quietly and haltingly, she explains how the papers came to light. "Em … it's just that … Stan gave me this file from, er … Martin's flat and … he assumed it was to do with business."

Struggling to comprehend, Greg queries, "Who's been taking all this?"

Knowing that she has hurt him and that he is about to be hurt again, Marcey replies in gentle tones, "It says it's a V.A.T. account, except … no money ever goes out."

Still unsure of what he's seeing, Greg asks, "Who are the signatories?"

Marcey points to one of the papers. "The file says Mar Lin."

"What's a marlin?"

Marcey replies "Well, it's a fish …" but then hastens to explain. "It's their names – Mar-tin and Lin-da."

She looks up at Greg with sadness, because comprehension is dawning on the man and the pain of it is showing in his face. She makes a desperate bid to save him from it.

"Y'know, now I come to think of it, there's probably a perfectly reasona …"

Too late. Greg closes his eyes for a moment as his mind and heart accept the awful truth, then, with the bank statements in his hand, he turns and walks out of the office. There are tears in Marcey's eyes as she watches him go.


After a moment, she follows him and finds him sitting at one of the little pub tables in the showroom with the bank statements in front of him. His head is bowed and he is staring downheartedly at the floor. As she sits opposite him, he gives a little shake of his head.

Marcey says softly, "Sorry."

He takes a heavy breath. "Bloody months! Bloody months! … Scraping around, juggling cash flow to make the wages, and me wondering why the hell we're not … Oh! I mean – bloody months!" He's near to tears. "Three steps forward and two steps back!"

"I can't see how you wouldn't know."

"Well, me neither!" he responds loudly, then sighs. Suddenly he pronounces, "Well, he did the books! He's always done the books!" Another sigh. "A hundred and twenty grand …" His voice catches on a sob.

"Yeah, more or less."

"I mean, she was going to leave me, wasn't she? I mean, she obviously decided it wa … When was this account opened?"

"Last June."

"Yeah." Greg gives another little sob, but then to Marcey's surprise, he begins to chuckle. He lifts his head and announces triumphantly, "Hey, but I killed him!"

"It was an accident."

"So what? He's dead! Bastard shaggin' my wife, robbin' me blind, is dead, and I did that!"

Marcey is worried that the man is saying such things so loudly. "Greg, if security come round and you're…"

He cuts her short. "How good do you think that feels, eh?"

"Greg, would you keep your voice down."

But Greg is now well into the upturn of his sudden mood swing. Having discovered that Martin had been doing to the company what he'd been doing to his wife, he has decided that the man only got what he deserved, and he's pleased that he was the one to dish out the punishment.

His speaks more loudly. "When they ask why, I'll go: well, it's the least, no, honestly, it's the very bloody least I could do!"

Marcey warns, "You can't go to Linda with this."

Greg ignores her completely. "And not just decked him. No! Fried the devious, dirty bastard to a crisp in the luxury of his over-waxed car!"

He finishes the sentence with bright eyes and a broad grin and, stuffing the wad of bank statements into his coat pocket, rises quickly and heads for the door.

It's now Marcey's turn to panic. She goes after him at a run. "Greg! Greg! You can't tell Linda you know!"

Greg is fired up and just keeps walking.

Marcey is so worried about his intentions that she can hardly get her words out. "Y'know, we ... we … we … we need to think about this." She tries desperately to bring him to his senses, saying sharply, "You need to think!"

But Greg is not to be dissuaded.

"Think?" he replies, without pausing in his stride or turning around. "It's all I've ever done and it's got me abso-bloody-lutely nowhere!"

Then he's out of the door and heading for home – and Linda.

* * *
"Progress might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long." ~ Ogden Nash
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ALIBI in detail - Chapter 13

Postby Lynnedean » Wed Jan 29, 2014 8:29 am

Chapter 13: Greg delivers a low blow to Linda and a couple of high ones to Martin

Greg pulls his car to an abrupt halt at the rear of his home, climbs out and strides purposefully to the back door. He enters the house and immediately begins looking for his wife. He walks through to the hallway and peers into the living room. No Linda. As he turns to check elsewhere, he casts a quick glance through the open door of the dining room and stops dead in his tracks when he sees the two policemen who had interviewed him earlier sitting at the dining table with Linda.

The sergeant greets him with, "Mr Brentwood, sorry about this."

Greg is sorry, too. He stands open-mouthed while the sergeant goes on to explain. "We're just struggling a bit, em … we're under pressure to dot the 'i's, cross the 't's, and Martin Shaps' family are pressing for a funeral, which, of course, they can't have until the inquest reports."

Greg acknowledges, "Yeah, fair enough."

He remains standing as the cop gets down to business.

"Now, in your statement, you reckon Martin drank about …"

The sergeant leans over to his colleague and indicates the open notebook that the young constable has on the table in front of him. PC Blake reads from his notes of the earlier interview. "One champagne, two table wines, plus dessert wine and two brandies."

Casually, Greg replies, "Yeah, I remember saying that, em, I wasn't aware he was driving or I'd have done something about it."

The older cop throws him a curve by saying, "But the four other guests we've taken statements from say he wasn't drinking at all."

Greg looks surprised. Turning his face to Linda, he queries, "Wasn't he?"

She replies, "I saw he had a glass. I don't know what was in it."

The sergeant looks over at her and asks, "Apparently because he had a dental appointment the following morning?"

Linda nods.

Greg realises that he's steered himself down a one-way street and he tries desperately to turn around. "Well, I mean, it looked like wine. I sort of assumed …"

The constable interrupts, "But when you thought he had a brandy, that was in a brandy glass? I mean, you can put a brandy in a straight glass, of course you can, but you wouldn't put a soft drink in a brandy glass."

Greg struggles to find an adequate reply. "Well, I can't, em … Straight? … Yeah, you know, like, em … tumblers. Linda, wh-what do you call those tumblers we got in the Lakes."

"Tumblers," Linda answers, flatly.

"Cumbrian tumblers - yeah!"

The two policemen look steadily at him, expecting him to elaborate. Greg isn't prepared for responding to awkward questions, let alone elaborate on answers that just spring into his head, but he hits on an idea. Holding up a finger to indicate they should wait, he says, "I'll show you," and darts off to the kitchen.


In the kitchen, he opens a cupboard and searches through rows of glasses on the top shelf. Finding what he wants, he heads back to the dining room.

On the way, he passes the refrigerator, and sneers at a party photograph of Martin that Linda has stuck on the front with a magnet. After a few steps, he turns back to the refrigerator and with a 'take that!' expression, gives his double-dealing partner a hefty punch on the nose.


Back in the dining room, Greg holds up a short, dark brown tumbler. "See, this'd be why I… I couldn't tell what he'd got in it, you see. I'd just assumed."

From her seat at the dining table, Linda looks at him in puzzlement and interrupts, "What are you talking about? Those haven't been out of the cupboard in years."

Her husband babbles a response. "No, I mean something like this. I mean, he could have had water in there, what would I know? Some … in something like this, I mean."

Linda says, "I thought the caterers supplied the glasses."

It's Greg's wife who is interrogating him now and it's irritating him.

He responds, sharply, "Well, some of them, yes. They supplied some of the glasses – some yes, some no!" Looking from Linda to the policemen pleadingly, he complains, "This isn't fair!"

The sergeant commiserates, saying, "I know, and there's nobody more sorry than us, Mr Brentwood," and the constable adds, "He was a well-liked bloke."

Greg, relieved at having fielded the question about the brandy, says, "Yeah, well, we were celebrating our marriage."

The sergeant continues, "So nobody's expecting your recall to be a hundred per cent, but I wouldn't be nagging if it wasn't so vital. Are you with me?

Greg replies, "Yeah, yeah," and puts the glass down on the table.

The sergeant resumes his questioning. "Now, you were the last people to see him alive. Did he seem drunk to you?"

"No," Linda replies immediately and definitely.

"Did he come back for anything after?"

Linda looks at Greg, who shakes his head and says, "Er, no."

The constable explains, "We've still got a farm worker insisting he saw somebody walking away from the fire."

"Yeah, that's what we'd heard, but, I mean, if you'd been starting fires, would you walk? You wouldn't walk! Who'd walk?"

Greg's babbling again and Linda looks at him in bemusement.

The sergeant smiles briefly and the young policeman explains patiently. "No, we're thinking passenger."

"Oh, er, yeah."

The older man asks, "Did he bring someone to the party - a girlfriend …?"

Before he can finish his sentence, Linda states a definite "No" and shakes her head.

The sergeant reminds her, "Ah, but you weren't here when he arrived, Mrs Brentwood," then directs his next question at Greg. "Did he turn up with anyone?"

Greg spots an opportunity for getting a bit of his own back on his wife and he can't resist it. He takes a deep breath and says in a casual manner, "Well, to be honest, em, when I opened the door a bunch of them pitched up together and, em, I'd got a thousand things on my mind cos I'd been trying to organise this for months, y'know. Big surprise for Linda, massive surprise for Linda to thank her for all those glorious years." He looks at his wife, who is somewhat uncomfortable. "Nineteen glorious years as a matter of fact. So I couldn't say who came with who … whom. Whom?… Hm! But it wasn't like, em, Martin to play the gooseberry. Knowing him, he'd have brought one of 'em."

He now has Linda's rapt attention and he knows it. She stares at him, unable to believe what she's hearing.

The constable asks, "So he was seeing someone?"

Warming to his mission, Greg takes another breath and replies, "Well, not in particular cos, em … well, y'know, its one of the main reasons Martin and me went into business together - and anybody who knew him would back this up, wouldn't they Linda - he was at his very best doing two things at once."

He looks at his wife as he speaks. She is still staring at him, her expression unchanged.

The sergeant seeks clarification. "As in women?"

"Yep. Work, life, women."

The constable prompts, "Names would help."

Linda immediately jumps in with, "We never saw him with anybody after he split up with Carole."

She gives Greg a sharp look, but he's on a roll and is not about to be stopped.

"No, em, not names. He wasn't a yapper. Neither am I. Young woman – blond, lipstick, lawyer or something - showed up at the office a couple of times a month. Yeah, lunch dates, em, locking up times. I only ever got a chance to say hello or, em, good morning if she was driving him back in."

Linda is horrified. The policeman are very interested.

The constable enquires, "Recently?

"Em, last Thursday most recent." Greg darts his eyes at Linda to see how she has reacted to this last piece of information and when he sees that she's very disturbed by it, casually adds, "Or Tuesday, was it? I forget, em …"

"From round here?" The constable again.

"Er, Bedford, he said. Yeah." He gives the pot of mischief one last stir with, "Worth the journey, obviously," and then immediately creates a reason to leave the room. "You been offered a drink? I'll stick the kettle on, shall I?"

Without waiting for a response, turns and walks out, leaving Linda listening to the sergeant explaining the problem. "The struggle is, he left here to drive home, but he's only a mile or so …"


In the kitchen, Greg closes the door behind him and takes his mobile phone from his pocket. As he taps out his own home number, he mutters to himself, "A few more days, I'm starting the rumour syphilis. You watch her face!"

Martin, grinning at him from the refrigerator door, receives another vicious punch in the face.

Greg paces the kitchen floor while he waits for the house phone to ring, and when it does, he shouts, "I'll get it!" and snatches it up. Speaking loudly close to the kitchen door, he pretends to be taking a call from work. "Oh, you're bloody kidding! … No, that's ridiculous!" He opens the kitchen door to ensure that the other three can hear. "No. Why do we pay a maintenance contract? … No, I can't, I can't. I've got people here. This is vital, I can't just … No? Oh, okay, okay. … Yeah … Yeah, fair doos."


He returns to the dining room and in answer to the enquiring looks from the three occupants, explains, "Yeah, alarm's going off at work."

The young constable offers, "Well, we can send someone round faster than you can get there."

Greg counters, "No, it'll be a dud." He looks at Linda. "Second one tonight, isn't it?"

His wife bobs her head slightly in confirmation.

"So I'll, em … I'll just …"

Greg nods in the direction of the door and within seconds he's through it. Having made his escape from another uncomfortable situation, he drives to Failstone and the safe haven of Marcey's flat.

* * *
"Progress might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long." ~ Ogden Nash
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ALIBI in detail - Chapter 14

Postby Lynnedean » Wed Jan 29, 2014 8:30 am

Chapter 14: Greg learns that Marcey has troubles of her own

Greg stops his car outside of Marcey's address in Failstone. He is not in a panic but in a serious mood as he climbs out of the vehicle, goes up the few stone steps to the front door of the flat and rings the bell. Marcey has been watching for him from her upstairs window and sees him arrive.

In her kitchen, Greg tells her his latest worry while she makes coffee. He is agitated about the secret account, not knowing what course of action to take, if, indeed, there's any he can take.

"I mean, what can I do? I can't even sue him. And if I sue her and I'm going, you and that thieving bastard were ripping me off so you had me paying for you to leave me …"

"Which you're not going to do," Marcey warns.

"Well, I can't can I? Cos the least that does is make it look as if I killed him."

As Marcey turns from the kitchen counter, she gives Greg a pointed look, which prompts him to add, "Deliberately," followed by a frustrated, "Oh!"

Marcey takes more crockery from a cupboard. Greg continues to fret.

"If there was a God, I'd get a replay, just so I'd known!" He sighs then glances around the kitchen, asking, "You haven't got any whisky, have you?"

"On top of Valium, driving and blood-pressure? Best not."

Greg acknowledges the sense of her reply with a muttered, "No."

Marcey issues another warning. "I don't care how wound up you get …"

Greg can guess what's coming and says, "I know."

Marcey continues, "… say one word and you'll get us both strung up."


In the living room, a fire burns in the grate, the dancing flames adding to soft lighting partially provided by lit candles. Marcey is sitting on the floor and Greg is sitting on her sofa. Their coffee cups are on a low table between them, along with a plate of biscuits.

Through a mouthful of munched biscuit, Greg says, "I mean, she must bloody hate me."

Marcey says gently, "No, she doesn't."

Greg's mind turns to Martin. "I mean, if you'd met him you'd piss yourself. I mean, this is a guy whose central heating is timed to come on at exactly twenty minutes before he comes home because he always gets home at twenty-five past six. He used to iron his socks! I mean, where the hell was she going to go with a bloke like that?"

"If you hate someone and you tell them to their face, they get sick of it and walk. That's what Ben did with me."

The significance of the remark escapes Greg, and he goes on, "I mean, his ex-wife said it was like living with Cliff Richard. She actually said that in court. Even the judge laughed."

Marcey chuckles.

Greg rests back on the sofa. He's realised what Marcey has said and looks thoughtful. In a quiet voice, he asks, "Whose Ben, again?"

"Husband."

"You married?"

"Not any more."

"You never mentioned it." He says it with a question in his voice and in the expression on his face.

"Why would I?"

Greg turns down the corners of his mouth and makes a little movement of his head from side to side, indicating that he takes her point.

He asks, "Where's he now?"

"Stevenage. He got the house."

"Right."

"And custody of my son."

Greg is surprised. "Ah!" he says, softly, and with a little smile, he asks, somewhat superfluously, "You a mother?"

"On paper."

"Of?"

"Boy."

"With a name?"

Marcey smiles as she thinks of her son. "Ben."

Greg thinks she has misunderstood. "No, the son?"

Marcey smiles again, this time at Greg, and repeats, "Ben."

"Oh. How old?"

"Eleven."

"How come he's there and not here?"

"He wanted to be."

"No, I mean, if you're his mother, why is little Ben with … big Ben?"

Marcey chuckles then explains, "The judge said it's a big decision and you don't have to make it now, but, in an ideal world, which parent would you …? And he yelled dad."

Her words touch Greg deeply. After a moment of silence, punctuated by the crackling of the fire, he says softly and with tenderness, "Oh, I'm sorry."

Marcey shrugs. "No big surprise."

It suddenly occurs to her that she can show Greg the people she is talking about. She gets to her feet and crosses to a bookcase in the corner of the room. She takes a framed photograph from the top shelf and looks at it as she carries it to the sofa. "I was always the least favourite person in the house and the older he got, the less I could do about it. And, obviously, they both preferred Gillian."

Sitting down next to Greg on the sofa, she shows him the picture of a boy in a blue football shirt, sitting on grass. A man in a similar shirt is crouching behind him, his hands on the boy's shoulders.

Still speaking softly, Greg prompts for a little more information by saying, "I've forgotten who Gillian is."

"My sister Gillian. She's moved in now."

After a thoughtful pause, Greg asks, "Why have you never told me?"

"Why have you never asked?"

"Ask? How, if you never said? I mean … you haven't got a dog, but I wouldn't assume you did have a dog cos it's not here, would I? 'Marcey you look like the type to own a Labrador, but I don't see one anywhere. Is there a story behind that?'"

She laughs. "No. So you can forget about all this. What's your life, Marcey? Have you got a life, Marcey, or were you just beamed down to bail me out? And I go, funny you should ask, Greg, because, actually, I was married and I did have a son and, actually, I did have a dog – not a Labrador, a schnauzer. But now they're all gone – two to Stevenage and one under a bus - but thanks for looking vaguely interested."

Greg looks down at his knees and thoughtfully chews the inside of his bottom lip. "Sorry."

"You've been busy."

Greg's eyes close for a moment, as the truth comes home to him that he has been so completely wrapped up in himself that he has not stopped to consider Marcey. The woman to whom he pours out all his troubles, and on whom he leans so heavily for comfort and support, has troubles of her own to deal with and pain in her heart, too.

Marcey rises and returns the photograph to the bookcase.

As she resumes her seat on the floor on the other side of the coffee table, Greg says, "I was the last thing you wanted in your life, wasn't I?"

She looks up at him. "I'm not gloating, but … state of you made me feel normal." She chuckles.

Greg nods and rolls his eyes to heaven.

* * *

Outside of Rosehill House, there is a sign, advertising the property for sale. Inside, Greg is sitting slumped over the kitchen table, his head resting on his arms folded on the table top. The Valium is still doing its job and he is fast asleep.

Linda puts a mug of hot coffee down in front of him.

"Greg?"

No response.

"Greg!"

She gives his shoulder a shove and he stirs and grunts but remains head down.

Linda talks as she busies herself in the kitchen. "The Lawrences have just rung. She couldn't get out of work this morning and they want to see the house in daylight. Sounds eager enough."

Greg slowly turns his head. He half opens his eyes for only a second but it is long enough to catch sight of Martin grinning at him from the door of the refrigerator. His eyes open again as he realises what he has seen and he jerks his head back, gives the man in the photograph a filthy look, and mouths a silent curse.

His wife doesn't notice as she bustles around and talks about the prospective house buyers. "The agent reckons they're going to try bidding thirty grand under. He's saying we should stick to our guns, and you're probably agreeing, but, Greg, for thirty grand I don't want to see these people walk away."

Greg wearily wipes a hand wearily over his face and his wife tells him: "Get yourself in the shower. I'll bring your coffee up."

Greg pulls himself to his feet, picks his jacket off the chair and walks slowly out into the hall. As he does so, Linda walks over to the refrigerator and on the way notices a pill bottle standing on the kitchen counter. Not recognising it, she picks it up, studies the label with curiosity, then returns it to the counter with a thoughtful expression.

In the hall, Greg rummages through the pockets of his jacket but is unable to find what he is looking for. He comes back into the kitchen, still fumbling with his jacket, and his wife asks, "What have lost?"

He mumbles, "Em … car keys."

Linda takes a bunch of keys from a bowl on the table and hands them to him. He takes them, and grunts in acknowledgment. As he leaves the kitchen, he casts another glance around, spots the pill bottle on the counter, picks it up and takes it with him. His wife watches the action, and wonders.

* * *

In the busy Benefits Office, Marcey's supervisor is nowhere to be seen and her colleagues are too occupied with their clients to notice her when she walks in.

Without taking off her coat, she sits down at her desk, turns on her computer, opens her email programme and locates the message that, if discovered, would have Greg behind bars faster than he could say pass me the Valium.

Subject: MURDER
To: Whom it may concern
From: Marcia Burgess
If I am dead when you read this Greg Brentwood killed Martin Shaps. I helped him make it look like an accident because I believed it was. When I discovered it wasn't an accident I confronted him.
If anything happens to me, Greg Brentwood is guilty.

Marcey sends the incriminating item to the recycle bin, and to ensure against recovery adds the files governing the running of the office computer network. She then cleans out the recycle bin, and as her colleagues monitors all go blank, and cries of dismay fill the room, she dashes out. In the confusion, no one notices her leaving.

* * *

Back at her desk at Brentwood Shaps, Marcey is surprised when Eugene sticks his head around the door and asks, "Hey, you keeping secrets?"

"Me?"

"Is it your birthday?"

"No."

"You wouldn't lie to me?"

Puzzled, Marcey repeats, "No."

Eugene enters the office, carrying a big bouquet of flowers. He smiles as he remarks, "Someone's happy!"

"They're not mine."

"Well, the guy who delivered them said they were."

The foreman hands her the flowers and leaves without asking who the happy person might be.

Marcey looks at the card and reads the printed message, which says simply: NOT FROM STEVENAGE.

* * *
"Progress might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long." ~ Ogden Nash
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ALIBI in detail - Chapter 15

Postby Lynnedean » Wed Jan 29, 2014 8:31 am

Chapter 15: Greg finds himself in hot water in more ways than one

The prospective buyers have arrived to view Rosehill House, and Linda is showing them around.

As she leads the young couple through an outbuilding, with Steph following behind, she explains, "This bit already has planning permission for commercial development with all the other outbuildings. We were going to make it into a showroom for my husband's business, but … anyway, the planning's still valid for, em … oh, I'll have to ask Greg when he shows up." At that moment, she spots her husband, who has stepped out of the side door of the house and into a partially-constructed conservatory. "Oh, there he is! Excuse me. Steph, could you, em …?"

She goes off to fetch Greg, who is obviously in no hurry to join them.

Steph takes over the tour, commenting to the couple, "I'm sorry you're interested and I wish I could afford the place. The best you're going to get from me is hostile." The Lawrences grin.


Linda hurries over to her husband, who is standing beside a pile of bricks, looking forlornly at the incomplete building work. Keeping her voice low, she says, "Greg! Come on, shift it! They're asking about the planning and I'm having to busk!"

He throws up a hand, indicating the house. "See, all this could have been finished now, couldn't it?"

Linda replies exasperatedly, "Well, it is not!"

"I was absolutely certain it would be finished. I told you it would be finished. You went, not a chance! And, hey, you were right! Isn't that weird?"

"Does it matter now?"

"Well, apparently not."

Linda is impatient with his attitude. "What is the matter with you, Greg? They're really keen. She's already been on to the building society. Will you please come and do your stuff!" She dashes back to the Lawrences.

Greg stands for a moment looking down at the ground in thought, then he nods to himself, throws back his head and turns to follow his wife. The look on his face indicates that he's going to do his stuff alright and that his wife is not going to like it one little bit.


He catches up with Linda just as she rejoins Steph and the prospective buyers at the front of the house. The Lawrences are all smiles.

Full of bounce, Greg walks straight up to them and says, brightly and rapidly, "Er, right – planning. Not at all a problem, er, it'd only be a problem if you were going get our house and that's not gonna happen because it isn't for sale, never should have been for sale." He fires a pointed glance at Linda then turns back to the Lawrences. "So why don't you get into your car, turn it around and piss right off out of it!" He makes a sweeping gesture with his arm, pointing a finger, as if to say, that way – now! And with that, and a little smile of satisfaction, he walks off.

Linda is aghast. "Oh, God!" To the astonished and angry young couple, she stutters, "I … I'm so sorry! Stay there, please, just …" She turns and calls out, "Greg!"

But he is already in his car. She hurries over to stop him, but he revs up the engine and speeds off down the driveway.

* * *

A little while later, Marcey is carrying a tray of coffee mugs through the workshop of Brentwood Shaps when she sees Linda stride in through the main door and speak urgently with Eugene. She puts down the tray and dashes back to the office where Martin's secret bank account statements are spread out on her desk. Quickly scooping up the papers, she manages to hide them from sight and sit down just as Linda enters the room at a rush.

"Where is he, Marcey?"

"Well, nobody's seen him."

"He hasn't rung in?"

"Not yet."

With a heavy sigh, Linda exclaims in frustration, "Oh, Christ!"

Casually, Marcey asks, "Something wrong?"

The other woman perches on the edge of Greg's desk, saying, "Yes, wrong! More wrong!"

"Can I get you a drink?"

"No. Can you try ringing him on your mobile? If you get through, don't say I'm here, just hand it to me."

She goes to Marcey's desk, places both her hands on the top of it and leans over towards Marcey. Marcey is plainly worried, but Linda is too busy thinking of other things to pick up on it. Nervously, she rings Greg's number.

Knowing it's from her, Greg answers straight away, asking, "Does 'not from Stevenage' mean anything?"

Marcey immediately looks at Linda and says, "Straight to voice mail. Do you want to leave a message, Linda?"

Linda shakes her head.

At the other end of the phone, Greg enquires, "Is she there?"

Obviously, Marcey cannot answer. She shuts off the call.

Linda is extremely frustrated. "You wouldn't believe what he's just done."

Marcey's expression indicates innocent enquiry as to what it could be, but Linda straightens up and says, "No - if I say it, I'll scream." She moves towards the door but then stops and turns around. "You know he's got a prescription made out to you?"

Marcey is taken by surprise. "Has he?"

"Diazepam - Valium."

"Right." Marcey looks blank for a moment then offers an explanation. "I don't use them any more and … well, he seemed to be all over the place."

Linda can't argue with the fact that Greg has been in a state, but she is puzzled. "That prescription's only three days old."

"It's a repeat. Never cancelled it. My landlady, she's a bit …" Marcey lets the sentence hang in the air, leaving the impression that her landlady, too, is in a state and she was letting her have her the sedatives.

"Well, thanks for trying, Marcey, but it isn't helping a bit. Opposite if anything. So do's a favour and keep them to yourself."

Linda again makes for the door, but stops when she spots the bouquet, which is still in its wrapping with the card attached. She examines the card.

"What's 'Not from Stevenage'?"

Marcey giggles. "It's my mum's joke. Only funny if you know her."

Linda doesn't smile, she's got her mind on Greg. "If you see him before me, give him a bang in the head. Two, if he stands still long enough!"

As Linda turns again for the door, Marcey nods, perhaps thinking that she'll give Greg a clout on her own account. When Linda has gone, she sighs with relief and drops her head onto her hands on the desk.

* * *

That evening in the bathroom of her flat in Failstone, Marcey hums to herself while filling the tub with steaming hot water. She has created a relaxing mood, having placed large red and small white flickering candles all around. As a finishing touch, she adds soothing bath oil to the water.

Meanwhile, in the living-room, having come running once again to his guardian angel, a very uncomfortable Greg is waiting. He stands with his overcoat on and his arms folded tightly across his chest as if to ensure that the coat stays put. As he listens to the water running, he pulls a face and squirms. The bath is for him and he wants none of it.

Marcey comes from the bathroom and stands in the doorway of the living room, resting a hand on either side of the doorframe.

"Okay?"

Greg's not okay about it. He reaches into his coat pocket and pulls out his mobile. "Well, no, em … she's just texted, Linda's just texted. I think I'd better go and face the music, I think, y'know."

Marcey smiles. "No, she hasn't. Show me."

Greg holds up the mobile but doesn't take it to her. He simply nods at it, as if to say, but it's true!"

"Show me!"

Greg winces and gives up trying to fool the woman who can tell a fib when she hears one and, in any case, knows him too well now. He shoves the mobile back into his pocket and tries a different tack. "Alright, she's not, but I … I-I-I can't sit in baths. I … I have showers. I do showers!"

Still smiling, Marcey remains resolute. "I am not going out 'til I know you're in there. Nobody's watching, nobody's peeping, nobody's interested, but if you don't relax, you're going to pop." She marches over to him, takes hold of his arm, and, ignoring his struggles, propels him in the direction of the bathroom. "And if you drop dead where you're standing, no way am I shifting any more bodies. I'll just move out and leave you to rot, and then you'll look a mess. In you go!"

She shoves the extremely reluctant Greg into the bathroom and as she closes the door behind him, he groans.

* * *

Meanwhile, at Rosehill House, Linda is in the living room wondering where on earth her husband has got to, and looking very displeased. Steph and Danny are there, too, but don't attempt to make conversation, because Linda is obviously in no mood to talk, even if they knew what to say. The three sit in awkward silence.

* * *

Back in Failstone, Marcey comes down the stairs from her bedroom, wearing a sleeveless black dress with a low back. She crosses to the coffee table on which crusty bread, cheese and wine are laid out, and small candles burn. The sound of slopping water can be heard from the bathroom.

Marcey calls out, "There's some food here when you've had your bath."

She pops a piece of cheese into her mouth, picks up a gift-wrapped box from the table and turns on her CD player, releasing soothing music into the room. Gathering up her handbag and coat, she goes over to the bathroom door, saying loudly, "Make sure you shut the front door properly as you go out, you really have to pull it."

Sounding much more relaxed now, Greg comments, "Music's nice."

Marcey casts a glance around her to check that everything is okay and then calls out, "See you at work."

Greg responds, "Wish your friend a happy birthday."

Marcey smiles and goes down the stairs to her front door, leaving him lazing happily in the bathtub.

They should both know by now that a period of calm usually heralds a storm.

* * *
"Progress might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long." ~ Ogden Nash
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ALIBI in detail - Chapter 16

Postby Lynnedean » Wed Jan 29, 2014 8:32 am

Chapter 16: Marcey is special and Linda is suspicious

In the living-room of Rosehill House, Linda is still in her armchair and Steph and Danny on the sofa opposite, when Greg, refreshed and positively upbeat after his leisurely soak, arrives home. As they hear the front door slam, Linda's displeasure shows on her face.

Greg walks briskly through the hallway. As he is about to go straight past the archway that opens onto the living room, his attention is caught by his brother-in-law, Greg, don't take your coat off."

He stops short, turns and looks into the living-room. He actually looks cheerful and Steph smiles happily at the change in him. He says brightly, "Hi!"

Danny says, "I've got my name down for a game of snooker at ten. Fancy getting thrashed?"

"You know what? No!" Greg grins.

Coldly, Linda asks, "Where have you been?"

"I've been in London, em, after a bit of business that, er, normally Martin would have, em … followed up. But it obviously went well because, em …" He pulls a bottle of champagne out the carrier-bag and holds it up. "Fancy some of this?"

Danny is surprised, as are the two women. He replies, "Yeah, why not?"

Greg goes off into the kitchen. Linda leans forward in her armchair and looks at the others with a mystified expression, but while her husband is busy in the kitchen, no one speaks and the only sound is of the clinking of glassware from down the hall.

Greg returns, carrying on a tray the bottle and four drinking glasses, three of which he's filled with the champagne.

"This is not the usual kind of order, y'see? Bit more modern, bit of a challenge, y'know," he says.

Linda has had a bit of the angry stuffing knocked out of her by Greg's new-found cheerfulness and she replies fairly calmly with just a touch of exasperation.

"I'm talking about the house. We can't afford to string this mortgage out."

Greg puts the tray down on the coffee table. "Now, well, maybe we can, you see, if this comes off." As he fills the fourth glass, he says, "Should pocket a fair whack, say, em ..." He hands a glass of Champagne to his wife and shoots her a pointed look as he completes the sentence: "… a hundred and twenty grand."

"Phew! Jesus!" exclaims Danny.

"Profit?" queries Steph, incredulously.

"How's that possible? Are you sure?" asks Linda, completely taken aback.

"Dead sure! Yeah." Pleased with his wife's reaction Greg sits down in the armchair opposite to her and crosses his legs, getting comfortable.

Steph asks, "Wouldn't you be better stashing that to make a move, Greg?"

Danny follows it up with another query. "We're not tipping good money after bad?"

"Bad meaning what, Danny?"

Danny, with a sharp sigh of exasperation, replies, "Come on, Greg. I mean …" He looks around the room and waves a hand to indicate the house. "Bottomless and pit not ringing any bells at all?"

"Well, the house is nearly finished. It's only nearly finished because I couldn't earn enough to, em … finish it, and, em, well now I can. Just did! So - cheers!" He smiles, happily and takes a drink of champagne.

Linda looks miserable.

Danny changes the subject. "You, em … you heard about Martin's inquest?"

Linda looks even more miserable.

Danny explains, "Wednesday at two."

Greg freezes for a second at the mention of the inquest and the realisation that he is of course expected to attend. "Ah… they need me back in London for an eleven o'clock, Wednesday." He sees this doesn't go down well and quickly adds, "Oh, no, but that's all right, no, because the inquest's crucial, isn't it and, em, A41 fairly clear midday. Fine. No, Wednesday's fine."

He takes another drink from his glass. He appears not to be treating the subject of the inquest with the gravity Linda thinks it deserves and, again, displeasure shows on her face.

* * *

Wednesday morning.

Linda, Steph and Danny are outside the main door of the Magistrates Court where the inquest is to be held, waiting for Greg to arrive.

Danny finishes a call on his mobile phone and reports, "Well, his secretary thinks he is coming."

Relieved to know that Greg is intending to show up, Linda says, "Oh, well, you go ahead. I'll wait for Martin's dad, he won't want to go in on his own."

Steph says, "Okay," and takes Danny's arm for comfort as they go into the building.

* * *

From a telephone booth in the forecourt of a garage at the side of a busy road, Greg has rung Marcey at Brentwood Shaps. He speaks loudly to be heard over the roar of passing traffic splashing through the rain. "I've tried WD40. Nothing!"

"Why's your mobile off?"

"No battery. I must have left the charger at the office or somewhere."

Marcey casts a glance over at Greg's desk. She doesn't accept his excuses. "Greg, you can't not go to the inquest. We need to know what's said."

"Well, what can I do if the car is dead and the breakdown guy is going 'well we'll be about an hour' every time I ring him?"

"I know you're lying."

Greg rolls his eyes to heaven.

Marcey continues, "You could have nipped into a garage and got yourself a car charger."

"See, that's why you're … isn't it? Only you think of things like that."

"That's why I'm what?"

"Well, you're special."

"Special?" Marcey is disconcerted by his use of the word. "But … er … that is not special, Greg, it's bloody basic. It's a basic bloody mistake."

"Yeah, and you stop me making them!"

"I have to, for my sake."

"Well, now, see - I can't sit there pretending to cry for him. It wouldn't be fair to ask me. Why don't you just ring the court and find out?"

Marcey, losing the will to argue, replies simply, "Okay," and hangs up before Greg can speak again. She sits at her desk, thinking.

* * *

Outside the Magistrates Court, Linda sees Stan's car pulling jerkily into a parking space. She goes to the vehicle and before the driver can get out, she opens the passenger door and climbs in.

Stan says, "Linda! I've been trying to contact you!"

"I know, Stan, I'm sorry. I just need to know whether you got my letter."

"Letter?"

"I posted it on Monday."

Stan shakes his head. "No."

Linda sighs and then takes a deep breath before saying, "When I came to Devon with Martin, we should have said then … I'm married, Stan."

The old man is surprised. "I wasn't invited?"

"Not to Martin."

"I see!" Stan says, soberly.

"I'm married to Greg – Greg Brentwood, Martin's business partner."

"That must have caused a bit of static!"

"Nobody knows. I just needed you to know that I wasn't messing Martin around. I loved him, Stan, I really loved him." On the verge of tears, she continues, "Nobody knows, so I need … I wonder if I could ask you not …"

Stan looks at her with understanding. "I might be deaf, I'm not stupid." As Linda fights back the tears, he suggests in a gentle tone, "Why don't you come down to Devon, so we can talk about him properly, eh?"

Linda nods and smiles. "I'd really like that."

* * *

At the inquest, PC Blake is giving his report before the coroner. "The emergency call was received at 06.10 on the 30th from the Fares Fair taxi company …"

He breaks off at the sound of the a door opening and he, and everyone else in the room, turns to see who is coming in late. The coroner waits patiently as Stan and Linda make their way to their seats.

As the old man sits down, he says, "Oh, my apologies, but the directions were bloody awful!"

The coroner asks the constable to proceed, and, seeing Stan adjusting his hearing aid, adds, "And a little louder, if possible."

The constable continues. "The vehicle, a maroon Triumph Vitesse, registration BWJ 160H, was in the latter stages of incineration, having gone off the road."

The constable obliges and Stan hears him only too well. He is upset by the description and holds Linda's hand tightly for comfort.

Consulting the accident report, the coroner comments, "But professional accident investigators found no evidence of collision, nor vehicle breaking defects."

The constable explains, "Speculations are that the early frost could have melted, taking crucial indications of the driver's reactions with it." He consults his notes and takes a little time to find the right place. "Er … sorry. Statements taken from the taxi driver, Derek Wells ..." Wells is in the room and adjusts his tie nervously at the mention of his name. He gives a little nod as the policeman quotes from his notes. "His alarm call to his controller said, 'A car's gone off the road on the magic mile. I think there's someone in there.'"

Linda closes her eyes as she hears the statement, but she opens them again in amazement when the constable goes on to say, "And his passenger, a Marcia Burgess, independently repeated the same assumption, that the vehicle appeared to have shot off the road. That was the consensus."

Linda's face first shows puzzlement then the dawning suspicion that something is very, very wrong.


Immediately after the inquest, Linda goes out to the car park and searches for the taxi driver, to catch him before he leaves. She finds him in his cab and climbs into the back seat.

Off duty, Wells turns around to look at her and says, "Er, you'll have to take the one in the front, love!"

Linda doesn't explain her presence but begins firing questions at him.

"You're the driver from the inquest?"

"'Fraid so, yeah. Are you family?"

"The passenger, Marcia Burgess, what did she look like?"

The taxi driver considers how to describe the passenger who didn't want to talk, and then says, "Darkish, quietish, dullish."

"Where was she coming from?"

"Em … outside the Black Horse."

Linda asks, earnestly, "What time was that?"

The taxi driver smiles, thinking he understands. "I had to do all this when my mother died in a gas explosion. I had to know every last detail - who smelt gas first, said what, did what, saw her last." He turns to face the front and settles back in his seat, looking thoughtful. He sighs and continues, "They take over your life, y'know. Yeah." As he again twists around to look at the woman in the rear of his cab, he starts to say, "No, my best advice to …"

But the woman has gone.

* * *

Greg is still in the garage forecourt on the A41, sitting in his car and sipping coffee from a paper cup while anxiously waiting for Marcey to give him the result of the inquest. His mobile rings. He reads the text message: Verdict - accidental death.

Greg seems more thoughtful than relieved. Could he be wondering why, especially as the news is good, he received a text message from Marcey, and not a telephone call.

* * *
"Progress might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long." ~ Ogden Nash
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ALIBI in detail - Chapter 17

Postby Lynnedean » Wed Jan 29, 2014 8:32 am

Chapter 17: Linda sets out on the trail, and the move Greg says he didn't make

After receiving Marcey's text message, Greg makes a beeline for Brentwood Shaps. Eugene spots him walking briskly through the workshop and enquires, "How did it go?"

His boss doesn't pause in his stride but asks, "What?" as he passes.

"Inquest."

Greg stops and turns. "Oh! Pretty good! Accidental, em, death …" He suddenly realises that 'pretty good' is not quite the way one would be expected to describe an inquest into the tragic death of one's business partner and he quickly adopts a suitably solemn tone and expression. "Er … very … dignified."

The solemn expression disappears quickly as he hurries on up to his office, preparing to greet Marcey with a smile.


He is disappointed to find that she's not there, and his disappointment turns to concern when he sees that none of her personal things are there, either. He stares down at her cleared desk. Not only is Marcey not in the office, she appears to have packed up and gone from Brentwood Shaps.

Wondering what she has done with the MARLIN bank statements, Greg begins to search through the drawers in her desk. The first two are empty. The third contains only the keys to a filing cabinet. He takes them and begins to check each cabinet to see if one is locked.

Then he sees something that stops him in his tracks and redirects his thoughts. In a container on one of the cabinets, still in its wrapping, is the bouquet of flowers he had sent. He stands looking at it thoughtfully for a moment then forces his mind back to the bank statements and continues his search.

The filing cabinet behind his desk is locked and the keys fit. Greg finds what he is looking for in the top drawer and, spreading some of the papers on his desk, begins to look through others in his hand.

He is startled by Eugene entering the office and announcing, "There's a lady here to see you, boss."

The foreman shows in a smiling, middle-aged woman, who approaches Greg's desk, puts out her hand and says, brightly, "Earlier than I said! There was a train just waiting to go out."

Greg hasn't a clue who she is or what she's talking about. He says nothing and looks at her blankly while shaking her hand.

The smiling woman explains. "The lady who interviewed me said that if I could be here for four, the job was mine." When Greg continues to stand in open-mouthed silence, looking nonplussed, she feels the need to prompt him. "Unless it's not?"

Greg still does not answer. He's lost in thought.

* * *

A short time later, Greg is standing on the short flight of stone steps leading to the front door of the flat in Failstone. Marcey appears to be out, so he rings her telephone number on his mobile and looks up at the window while he awaits a reply.

Her answering machine picks up the call and while Greg is listening to the recorded message, Marcey arrives, carrying bags full of groceries and a new bunch of flowers. Without a word, she walks straight past him and up to her door.

* * *

Meanwhile, back at Brentwood Shaps, it is just as well that Marcey has gone and Greg hasn't remained long on the premises, because Linda has come looking for them both. Having found neither, she is in a flurry of frustration, hunting through files and papers all around the office, looking for something that will give her a clue to she knows not what.

Finding nothing in one handful of papers, she throws it back onto the shelf and looks at another, asking the woman sitting at Martin's desk, "How long have you been temping, Verna?"

"Eight years."

"Ever left a job with two hours notice?"

The new temp shakes her head as she replies, "No!"

Turning her attention to papers on Greg's desk, Linda asks, "What's your agency?"

"Frederick Ball."

"Phone them. I want Marcia Burgess's home address."

As Verna makes the call, Linda gives up on the stuff on Greg's desk and walks over to Marcey's bouquet that is still on top of the filing cabinet. After a brief look at the reverse of the card to see which florist supplied the flowers, she takes it from the wrapping, a stern expression on her face.

The Brentwood Shaps foreman comes into the office and Linda throws out her hands, and says with exasperation, "Where is he, Eugene?"

"I wish I knew!"

"Did Marcey say anything to anybody about leaving?"

"Well, not to me and the lads, no."

Verna finishes the call to her agency's office and informs Linda: "Mrs Brentwood, Marcey didn't come from our agency. Sorry."

After a moment's thought, Linda grabs up her handbag and marches out, throwing a quick "See you!" at Eugene as she goes.

Eugene responds with, "See y'a, then!" He looks at a puzzled Verna and answers her unspoken question with a shrug of his shoulders and a facial expression that says, 'don't ask me'.

* * *

In Failstone flat, Greg stands in the kitchen, watching Marcey as she puts her groceries away.

As she moves backwards and forwards, opening and closing cupboards, she tells him about the new temp. "She's better qualified than I am. Well, I'm not qualified, not for wages."

"So, what will you do?"

Marcey pauses in the middle of putting something in the small refrigerator under her kitchen counter and looks up at him. "What will I do? If I'm not pretending to work for you?"

"Yeah."

She puts some items in the fridge. "Back to my not pretend job on the benefits board, on top of the catering job I don't do for a hobby." She closes the fridge and chuckles as she walks past Greg and on through the door to the living room, saying, "So … don't go fretting, Greg, I won't be stuck for ideas."

Greg begins to follow her, but she's already on her way back with a flower vase and he has to backtrack. Marcey is still talking. "Unless you meant, what will you do?" She takes the vase to the sink and fills it with water from the tap. "We got a verdict of accidental death, so count your blessings and keep your mouth shut. Beyond that, you don't need me."

Greg is fretting because his problems are not over and does still need Marcey. He takes a wad of bank papers from his inside jacket pocket, and says, "But all this stuff, it's still such a bloody mess."

At the sink, Marcey arranges her new bunch of flowers in the vase. She glances over at Greg to see what he is referring to and replies, "What's complicated about that? He's been fiddling, paying false invoices into an account your company technically owns, and, if you look at the main banking agreement …" She leaves the sink for a moment to leaf through the documents in Greg's hands and point out the one she means. "See, two of three signatures - yours, his or Linda's. He's dead, so you just need hers. Nothing complicated. You haven't lost anything."

She carries the vase through to the living room, puts it on a low table and kneels down to finish arranging the flowers to her satisfaction.


Greg follows her into the room, looking troubled and asking, "So, what am I …? Am I saying I knew?"

"Not straight away, no. Give it a fortnight and let Verna trip over it."

"Who?"

"Your temp, Verna."

"Oh, yeah. Thanks for nothing."

"She's done about three hundred years in the Inland Revenue, so drop enough clues and she'll be onto it like a shot."

Marcey chuckles.

Greg takes little steps back and forth in agitation, as he says, "Yeah, but it still leaves me knowing that she opened an account with him to leave me, doesn't it?"

"Look …" Marcey stands up and Greg stops pacing. She draws close to him, looks directly into his eyes and says quietly, "You'll have to talk to Linda about your marriage, yeah … but I can't help you with that."

Greg nods unhappily in understanding and looks down at the floor, but immediately lifts his eyes again to Marcey when she says, "Look …"

He does, with expectation.

She continues, "I need to get ready for work. I'm catering tonight, so …"

Greg replies, "Oh! Right." There is disappointment in his voice.

Thoughtful for a moment, he then gently puts his hand upon Marcey's arm and looks into her face. At first, it appears as though he's going to thank her for all she has done and say goodbye, but he says nothing; he simply looks at her with tenderness. Marcey was not expecting the touch and doesn't know what to make of it. She says nothing and her eyes avoid his, but she doesn't pull away. The couple stand in silence for a moment, then Greg, still with his hand on her arm, finally lowers his eyes. He takes his hand away and drops his head. If he intended to say anything at all in that tender moment, he has been unable find the words, or he has not had the courage.

Then he raises his head again and asks, in a quiet voice, "It's been bloody terrifying, this, hasn't it?"

Marcey doesn't reply but looks at him intently.

Greg continues, "We can't just walk away from it like this, can we? ... Can we?"

Ignoring the questions, Marcey asks, softly, "What was that about?"

Greg doesn't know how to answer her. He gives a very slight shrug of his left shoulder, makes little stuttering noises, then says lamely, "I dunno."

Marcey presses him to explain, by startling him with harsh question. "Do you need something else not to talk to Linda about? How many do you need, nearly need?"

"You think it was a move? No! Christ, Marcey, no! It was a … oh, do bugger off!" He turns and walks a few paces with his hand to his head, then turns back, saying, "I know I'm a bit flaky, but I'm not deluded. I'm old enough to be your bloody father. It was not a move! Please!"

He stands directly in front of her again, his expression pleading. Marcey lowers her eyes to avoid his gaze and, with a half smile, she nods understanding.

Greg thinks he knows what prompted her question. "Special, wasn't it? I said 'special', didn't I? And it scared you, didn't it?"

Marcey turns her head away at the use of the word again as Greg continues, "I mean, that's why you bolted. I didn't mean it like that. I meant … oh, God, what? … I … a …" He's lost for words and turns away with a part exclamation of frustration. "Je…!"

He folds the bank papers he's been holding all this time and stuffs them into his inside jacket pocket as he heads for the stairs leading down to the front door.

Suddenly, he stops and turns back to Marcey. "You know more about me than I've ever told anybody, and that's petrifying. I mean, what you've done for me is a debt I wouldn't even know how to start repaying and it … it … that … that … it, again, it is scary! I don't know anyone like you and it … it's fine. But, you see, you only don't like 'special' because you don't think you are and that's kind of why you are …" He looks away, desperately searching his mind for a different word. Failing, he repeats, "Special! And it's my word, anyway. I'm perfectly entitled to use it, so do bugger off. I'm sticking with it! Thank you!"

He turns, goes down the stairs and out of the flat, leaving Marcey, the thinker, not knowing what on earth to think.

* * *
"Progress might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long." ~ Ogden Nash
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ALIBI in detail - Chapter 18

Postby Lynnedean » Wed Jan 29, 2014 8:34 am

Chapter 18: The sky begins to fall

Linda is now determined to find out just what the link is between her husband and the young woman from the catering company who ended up behind Martin's desk at Brentwood Shaps. Knowing the name of the catering company, she goes there first.

Outside of the building, catering staff are loading a van in preparation for that evening's job. A woman carrying a heavy bag to the vehicle sees Linda standing wondering who to speak to, and asks her, "You okay?"

Linda says, "I'm here about Marcia Burgess."

The woman replies, "Oh, I don't think she's in yet," and continues walking to the van.

Linda falls in alongside and begins questioning her. "What time's she due?"

Being unsure, the woman calls over to another member of staff. "Do you know if Marcey's coming in or are we meeting her at the twenty-first?"

The man replies as he passes, "No, she's going straight to Hayfield Hall."

"Oh, right." Turning to Linda, the woman says, "I can get a message to her."

Linda makes a mental note of the mentioned venue and explains, "She worked at my place on the eighteenth – Rosehill House."

Reaching the van, the woman puts her heavy bag inside and turns to the enquirer. "I thought I knew your face. Oh, it was a lovely party."

"She left with the rest of the crew, didn't she?"

"I think so. Is there a problem?"

"No, no, but somebody rang the next day. They'd left a watch behind."

"Well, to be honest, I've no idea."

As the busy catering assistant starts back to the building, she asks a young female colleague, "Do you remember Marcey leaving a watch behind at that thing we did?"

The girl shakes her head, but just at that moment the woman, herself, remembers. Stopping suddenly in her stride, she turns to Linda. "No – she left her bag, didn't she."

Linda's face registers satisfaction at having discovered a piece of the jigsaw puzzle.

The woman continues, "Yes, she left her bag, so she had to schlep back for it."

Linda nods knowingly. "To the house? What time?"

"Well, we'd reached Kenfield by then, so about two-ish?"

"You all came back?"

"No, no. Some of us, me included, had lifts waiting at the other end. But if there's a problem, I can get her to call you."

Linda smiles and shakes her head. "No, if she got her bag, then …"

The woman smiles back and nods. "Yes, she did. I've seen her with it since."

Linda smiles again. "That's absolutely fine. Thanks for your help."

The catering assistant returns to her work and the look on her face says glad to have been of help. Linda returns to her car and the look on her face says 'gotcha!'

* * *

Later that evening, the twenty-first birthday party at Hayfield Hall in is full swing. Marcey, in her green uniform, passes between the guests with a tray of nibbles.

Enter Linda, in a mood for confrontation.

Marcey smiles sweetly as a partygoer takes something from her tray, but her smile vanishes as she looks up and sees the uninvited guest. She doesn't know what the other woman's presence there could mean, but when Linda walks towards her with a face set in concrete, she suspects that she hasn't come to deliver a singing telegram.

Linda is in no mood for hellos and her opening words take Marcey by surprise.

"Did you kill him?"

Of all the questions Marcey could have expected to be asked, this would have been the last. Knocked completely off balance, she responds without thinking, "No."

Linda snaps back, "Who?"

"What?"

A nearby guest looks around in concern at the middle-aged woman in the blue coat who looks as though she might be about to drown one of the catering staff in the punch bowl.

Linda asks, "Didn't kill who?"

"I don't know."

"Who could say you didn't before you'd ask who?"

Marcey looks dazed, because Linda's questions have hit her like blows.

Her accuser throws another. "Wasn't an accident, was it?"

Marcey tries a feeble parry. "Linda … I don't know what you're talking about."

But Linda has already won the bout. She turns sharply and sweeps out.

Marcey stares after her for a moment, unable to move, then she puts down her tray, much to the confusion of two guests who were about to take something from it, and bolts out of the room to get her coat and bag.

* * *

Marcey in a panic is a disturbing sight. The one who could be relied upon to keep her head when all about her are losing theirs is now pretty nearly headless. She charges down the street with her mobile pressed to her ear and, just as Chicken Little tried to warn others that the sky was falling in, Marcey tries to warn Greg that it is about to descend upon the two of them.

Breathing rapidly with fear, she says into the phone, "She knows! She knows! Linda's just … she …"

Realising that the voice that is answering her call is only the recorded message on Greg's answering machine, she gives up in frustration and despair. As she runs along the pavement, panting, she turns her head this way and that, scanning the road for a taxi. She spots one and runs to the roadside, nearly bowling over an elderly man in her haste to hail the cab.

* * *

A while later, Greg is back home, sitting at the kitchen table and studying the bank statements. The telephone rings on the counter behind him. He reaches around and picks it up. "Yeah?"

Marcey asks urgently, "Can you talk?"

When he realises who it is, Greg is only too pleased to be able to say, "Yeah."

But neither of them gets the chance to talk. At that moment, the sound of Linda's car alerts Greg to his wife's arrival and, as the lights of the vehicle sweep across the kitchen window, he immediately cancels his yeah with a "No!" and puts the phone down.

He hastily gathers up the bank statements, grabs his jacket and dashes upstairs.

Linda climbs out of her car and makes for the front door of the house. She, too, is in a hurry. Entering the hall, she takes a quick look around to see if there is any sign of her husband.

Greg goes into the bedroom and stashes the documents into the bottom drawer of a chest, while, downstairs, Linda begins to rummage in the drawer of a table in the hall, looking for something important and heedlessly scattering papers all over the floor in her effort to find it.

Wishing to make it appear that everything is going on as normal, Greg kicks off his shoes, tears off his tie and begins unbuttoning his shirt, preparing to take a shower. As he is going into the bathroom, his wife is coming out of the kitchen and heading for the stairs.

By the time Linda reaches the landing, Greg is in the shower and the sound of running water tells her he's there. She goes straight into the bedroom where she continues what is now a frenzied search. She rifles first through the drawers in the dressing table and, as she did downstairs, leaves part of the contents strewn on the floor.

Over the noise of the shower, Greg can hear her moving about. He shouts her name, but she does not respond.

A small bedside chest of drawers is next in line for Linda's attention, but she's still unable to find what she's hunting for, so she turns to a larger chest and begins by rummaging through the bottom one. She drags out various pieces of clothing and tosses them aside, and as she does so something catches her eye. Amongst the clothes strewn on the carpet are two packets of photographs. Linda snatches them up and, content with her find, fetches a bag from another room and hurriedly begins to pack it, putting the photographs in before anything else.

Greg hears her clumping about and shouts from the shower, "Linda? That you? I didn't hear you come in."

His wife doesn't reply, but, taking her bag with her, she heads for the bathroom. On the way, she spots Greg's shoes and kicks them across the floor with feeling.


Blissfully unaware of his wife's activities and of what's going on in her head, Greg, speaking loudly, says, "Did they tell you that I broke down on the A41? Tried to get you, but your mobile was off. I phoned from a pub for the verdict. I mean, it's, em, good that there was one, I mean, yeah, well, of course we'd get one, but I mean …it's really good that, em, they can get on with the funeral now."

All the time he's been rattling on, Linda, unnoticed by her husband, who has been too busy performing his ablutions, has been in the bathroom, grabbing various items off the shelves, and other things from the bathroom cabinet, and cramming them into her bag. Satisfied that she has enough, she makes haste down the stairs, steps into the kitchen to collect Martin's photograph from the door of the refrigerator, then heads for the front door.

Seconds later, Greg, dressed in a bathrobe, and towel in hand, emerges from the bathroom, crosses the landing and enters the bedroom, where he half expects to find Linda. Instead, he finds chaos. He stops dead just inside the door and surveys the mess, not sure what it means. Uttering, "Christ, Almighty!" he goes over to the large chest of drawers and stares down into the drawer that has been pulled open. The bank statements he hid there have been uncovered, but they have obviously not been touched.
Confused, Greg walks quickly out of the bedroom, along the passageway and down the stairs, calling out, "Linda? … Hello?"

When he reaches the downstairs hall, he discovers the front door standing wide open, the hall table drawer pulled out, and papers strewn all over the floor. At the sight of this, he immediately steps into the kitchen, grabs the telephone then comes back into the hall and calls the police. "Yeah, em, well, I'm not sure, but I think I've, em, been burgled … Yeah, em, Rosehill House off Standish Lane. … Yeah. No, I'm not touching anything …" He pushes the front door closed with his elbow as he speaks. "Right. Yeah. Thank you."

He looks down at the phone as he pushes the button to end the call. When he has finished, he looks up and sees something he hasn't noticed before. To say that it comes as a shock to Greg would be something of an understatement.

Linda has left her husband a message scrawled in lipstick on the hall mirror. It's not exactly a love note. It reads in block capitals: MURDERING BASTARD.

* * *
"Progress might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long." ~ Ogden Nash
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ALIBI in detail - Chapter 19

Postby Lynnedean » Wed Jan 29, 2014 8:35 am

Chapter 19: Greg receives a visit from the police, and Linda plans to make sure he gets another one

Linda has driven straight to the home of her sister and brother-in-law to tell them what she has discovered. Steph is sitting on the sofa in her living room, regarding her sister with concern, because Linda is pacing up and down in extreme agitation and rattling on at length about Marcey.

"When I first set eyes on her, I knew I'd seen her before, and she knew I knew, so she brings it up first – 'I was catering at your house'. And at first I'm going caterer last week, temp this, but she said agency, so I go, fine, casual worker, fine. No - not fine! Not bloody fine!"

Danny enters the room carrying a bottle of liquor that he's just been out to buy. From the expression on his face, Linda was obviously ranting before he left the house and he's not happy to see that she is still at it. Steph rises from the sofa, takes the bottle from him and walks over to the table.

Linda has not paused for breath. "… Cos she's going back to the house, cos she's left her bag. On her own! How, if that's not planned? She lives in Failstone, but she's still seven miles away at six in the morning, witness for the police. How, if that's not planned?"

Steph is looking very worried because her sister appears to be cracking up under the strain of Martin's death.

* * *

At Rosehill House, Greg, still in his dressing gown, comes downstairs to answer the doorbell. He's rather uneasy because he can see a couple of bobbies through the glass door and he thought he had managed to put them off coming. He doesn't invite them in. "Oh, I, em, rang to say don't bother."

A female constable explains, "Yeah, I know sir, but we've got no option if it's a 999."

"Yeah, well, it was just my wife, er, she bombed in and bombed out again. I … I heard a bit of a noise, and anyway she's fine. It's fine!"

He smiles and is about to close the door when the policewoman speaks again. "Mind if we come in?"

Greg smiles weakly. The last thing he wants is police in the house if Linda returns, but there is nothing he can do but give a nod and stand back to allow the officers to enter the hall.

* * *

Linda is still giving Steph's and Danny's ears a battering and wearing out the carpet. The liquor she now has in a glass in her hand has not calmed her down, she is even more agitated than before. "If he was picking her up in Braughton, delivering her back into Failstone - fine! Even that would …" She slaps her head. "Oh! even that would make half a pint of sense two hours earlier, but it wasn't! …"

Danny is sitting back on the sofa, looking fed up. Steph is beside him, perched on the edge, looking even more concerned. She tries to get her sister's attention. "Linda …"

Linda ignores the interruption. "She's there the night Martin died. Ask the taxi driver, you go and ask him."

Danny also has a go at stopping the torrent of words, but without success. "Linda, we know about …"

"She's there when the police get called. She's there in Greg's office within days of this. And where? Sitting at Martin's desk, for God's sake! And she's there when he's needing bloody Valium …"

Steph again: "Linda …"

"Cos I saw it! Her Valium, her prescription - Marcia Burgess. How? If she's only known him a week?"

As Linda speaks, Danny sits forward, his concern rising now, too.

His sister-in-law keeps pacing and talking without pausing for breath. "What's all that, if she's only known him a week? She can't have! He knew her before. He'd … he'd met her before. He must have been seeing her. That's what scares me."

At last she halts. She slams her glass down onto a table and drops onto one of the chairs at the side. It seems that she has drained herself to a stop and Danny seizes the opportunity to say what he was trying to say earlier. "Linda, we know about you and Martin."

Linda is distraught and takes no notice. "So, if I'm in the way – bang! What will happen to me? What happens to me?" She picks up her glass to take another drink, but puts it straight down again, puts her hand to her head and with an anguished, "Oh, God!" starts to sob and moan.

Steph moves to a chair close to her sister, to try to comfort her. She reaches over and strokes Linda's hair, saying, "Sh!"

A young boy and girl in their pyjamas have stuck their heads around the door to find out what all the fuss is about. Steph sees them and indicates to Danny, who gets up from the sofa to get them back to bed. As Linda continues to soothe their aunt, he ushers the children upstairs, saying, "No, she is not round the twist! She's upset, okay?" He thinks for a moment then adds, "Bit of both actually, as it happens, but your mum's onto it."

* * *

Back at Rosehill House, Greg waits nervously in the bedroom as one police officer finishes looking around it and the other completes his check of rooms along the passage. When the young woman's colleague returns, and she says to him, "Seems fine." As she speaks, she picks up a framed photograph of Greg and Linda and looks at it. "I think we can, er, verify that he lives here."

Greg is greatly relieved and with a cheery, hopeful little smile, says, "That it, then, yeah?"

The telephone has begun to ring, but he is ignoring it. The female constable asks, "Don't you want to get that?"

"Er … the, er, answering machine will kick in, in a sec." Another little smile. The officers don't move, so Greg raises his eyebrows questioningly and asks, "Done?" The constables leave the room with him on their heels, saying, "Well, anyway, thanks for coming. Appreciate the service!"

The phone is still ringing as they walk down the stairs and the policewoman comments, "It's not kicking in, is it?"

Greg replies uncomfortably, "Yeah, I know, but after a while you just don't hear it, do you?"

He follows the constables across the hall and to the front door, saying, "Great!" as a last word of appreciation of their visit, and prepares to see them out. He thinks it's all over and is relieved, but the policewoman turns at the door and looks pointedly at the telephone ringing insistently on the hall table. With no option but to answer, he says, "Yeah, yeah, I-I'll get it. Let me get it," and doubles back from the door to pick up the phone. "Yeah, Rosehill House."

Marcey's voice says, "It's me." Greg jumps and nervously switches the phone to his other hand. His back is to the police officers.

Marcey is almost whispering as she asks, "Is she there?"

In contrast, Greg speaks more loudly than necessary. "Er, oh, not at the moment, no. Can I take a message?"

"She turned up at work. She knows. I need to know what I'm saying."

Greg doesn't flinch at being told that Linda knows. He knows she knows - the words 'murdering bastard' had given him just the tiniest hint of a clue. With the police officers listening, he cannot say anything, so he simply responds, "Okay."

Realising that there is a problem, Marcey asks urgently, "Is she with you?"

Greg replies, "Yeah, will do … em … yeah, can't really talk at the moment, I've got the police here. Okay?" He says it with a chuckle as though the caller will think it amusing, trying to give the attentive officers the impression that he is at ease.

Marcey exclaims, "Oh, God!"

Greg repeats, "Okay," and ends the call, chuckling again for the officers' benefit. Turning to them, he says brightly, "Right, that's it. Yeah, thanks again!"

The constables smile and say goodbye as they leave. Greg closes the door behind the them, sinks into a nearby chair, sighs with relief and utters, "God!"

* * *

Back at Steph's, Linda wants action. She says to her sister, "Ring the police."

Steph is against it. "You don't want the police."

Linda says slowly and deliberately, "I want the police."

"No."

Linda rises from her seat, saying, "Well, I'll go myself."

"Not 'til we've straightened you out."

Linda reaches for her keys on the sideboard, but Steph grabs them before she can, saying, "And you are not driving in this state!" Linda stands staring miserably at the floor.

Steph says gently, "Look, it's been a massive day for all his friends, you more than most."

Danny has returned from having settled the children back into bed, and he stands listening.

Linda heaves a troubled sigh and asks, "Who told you?"

Steph explains, "Personally, I didn't believe you could be that stupid. It was Danny counted the times you and Martin avoided each other in a room. Then I watched you. Like polarised magnets, so, good or bad, something had happened."

Danny adds, "And I saw you on the M1, heading south in Martin's Vitesse when you'd said you were off to an auction in Scotland."

Linda sits down at the table and takes up her glass. "So you told Greg. Thanks." She drinks.

Danny has resumed his seat on the sofa and Steph has sat down beside him. He leans forward, affronted. "Eh? Me? No way! No, Greg is a mate. You don't do that to mates.
Linda clatters her glass down again. "Well, somebody told him. Martin's death wasn't an accident!"

She had seemed to be a little calmer, but she's back on her subject and the edge has returned to her voice. Danny has had enough. "Linda …" He breaks off with a sigh of exasperation then warns, "You're welcome to stay, but if you're going to start that …"

Linda holds up her hands, palms outwards, to stop him speaking and, with a determined look on her face, picks up some papers and carries them over to the coffee table that is in front of the sofa. Sweeping a pile of children's building blocks to one side, heedlessly knocking some to the floor, she puts down in front of her sister and brother-in-law a photograph of Martin at the party with Marcey in the background.
Slowly and deliberately, she rehearses the facts as she knows them.

"She leaves her mates to go back for her bag." She places a newspaper report of Martin's death alongside the photograph. "She's less than a mile from my house four hours later. She's working for my husband within a week. He's the only one telling the police that Martin had been drinking ... check! And she's telling the police absolutely nothing about ever having been near the house. Come on, Danny, say that aloud. See what it feels like."

Steph is beginning to see her point. "Put like that, what else can it sound like?"

She looks to her husband for agreement, but with a shake of his head he says, "There must be some kind of explanation."

Linda continues, "And I asked her - straight! You didn't see her face."

Danny asks, "Scared?"

"Bloody right – scared!"

Danny is not convinced and he's having no more of it. He states, "I'm off to bed," and before anything else can be said he leaves the room.

Linda sighs with frustration, claps her hands to the back of her head and walks back to the dining table for another drink.

* * *

In Rosehill House, Greg has dressed and is standing at the bathroom sink. He tips a pill from Marcey's Valium bottle into the palm of his hand, pops it into his mouth, and turns on the tap to fill a paper cup. While the water is running, he rolls the pill around in his mouth, staring at his reflection in the mirror on the bathroom cabinet above the sink, and thinking.

Suddenly, he makes a decision. He spits the pill into the sink, turns off the tap, crumples the paper cup and tosses it after the pill, and leaves the bathroom with a purpose.

There is a seriousness in his expression that spells trouble. He knows that his wife will be at her sister's house, and he's heading for a showdown.

* * *
"Progress might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long." ~ Ogden Nash
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Lynnedean
 
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