Book excerpts 3: The Case of Amy Owens
Sandra Robinson was a mousey little thing. A nervous flush crept from her neck, invaded her freckly cheeks and settled under her eye bags.
“I thought this case was all over and done with,” barked Sylvia Robinson from her fireside chair. “Our Sandra would never have gone if that Melanie hadn’t persuaded her. Reckless, that’s what it was and where did it get them? Tell me that. Who are you again?”
“M-m-Mother, please,” stuttered Sandra. “I invited them. I-I-told you, they are Private Investigators.”
“Hmph. Well, the police were a fat lot of good. Don’t be all day about it. Sandra has bread to bake and chores to carry out.”
Anna’s eyes darted from mother to daughter to her father. If they were going to get anywhere at all, they must separate these two women.
Bill took the hint. “I quite agree with you, Mrs Robinson. About as useless as a chocolate fireguard, from what I’ve heard.”
“I’m glad somebody sees my point of view. Crawling all over the place they were. I could tell you more about the goings-on around here than they ever could…”
“Really? Do you mind if I take notes?” Bill humoured the woman, distracting her while Sandra and Anna slipped into another room.
Anna gently rubbed Sandra’s arm, putting her at ease. “It’s quieter in here isn’t it? Please don’t be afraid, I don’t bite! Amy’s mother is beside herself after all these years. Anything you can tell me, anything at all about that weekend, or Amy, might be able to help us with our inquiry. I’m not here to judge, please be frank.”
“It… it wasn’t Melanie’s fault,” Sandra whispered. “I wanted to go as much as everyone else. Mother wasn’t keen you see. And afterwards, well, she told me to tell the police I hadn’t seen anything, she didn’t want them at our door, disgracing her in front of the… the neighbours.”
Staring at the floor was making it very difficult for Anna to barely hear what Sandra was whispering. “Sandra, look at me. You can tell me anything, it won’t go any further, you aren’t in any trouble. The police have closed the case. This is unofficial and confidential.”
Barely raising her head, Sandra Robinson whispered from the side of her mouth. “There was something, it may have been nothing…”
“Sandra Robinson. What are you whispering about?” The booming voice of Sylvia bounced around the walls. Bill stood behind her wheelchair, shrugging his shoulders, he’d tried his best. “You’ve wasted enough of our time this morning. We’ll bid you good day.”
“Thank you. We’re sorry to have bothered you and won’t take up any more of your time,” Anna smiled feebly. Sylvia spun around in her chair, racing towards the front door. Anna slipped a business card into Sandra’s hand. “Call me,” she whispered.
Anna and Bill walked up the path.
“Battleaxe.” Bill exhaled a large sigh.
“With a capital B.”
“Although, I did manage to get something out of her. Apparently now is not the best time to predict the weather for the summer. Unless you count crow’s nests high or low in the trees.”
“Fascinating. Damn woman, Sandra was just about to tell me something of interest.”’