A Matter of Minutes by Sandra Crook
Detective-Constable Gregory seems tired, world-weary.
“What time did you find the victim?” he asks, pencil poised.
“I’m not sure. I left the nursing-home at eight, but Matron waylaid me. I missed my usual bus.”
8.41 actually, I’d checked my watch.
“And how long would you say he’d been there?”
“I didn’t ask. I was only there a minute. I just propped him up, said I’d go home and ring for help. I don’t have a mobile phone, you see.”
I’d helped him sit up, that’s true, but we’d talked for a good ten minutes. And, God help me, I’ve just noticed my mobile phone is charging on the sideboard behind DC Gregory.
“You knew him?”
Hmmm, tricky. It’ll be in their records. How thorough is he?
“Doesn’t everybody round here know Jimmy Kelly? He’s lived here years.”
He stares at me.
“How’s your husband these days?”
Very thorough then.
“Improving. Matron says he’ll be home soon.”
“You’d problems with Kelly, right?”
A touch of outrage now - I don’t like the turn it’s taking.
“You’re not suggesting I killed him?”
He looks startled.
“God, no! I just remember him terrorizing the neighbourhood, before he graduated to serious crime.”
“Oh, just the usual hooligan stuff. Chucking bricks at windows, scratching cars... “
He’d probably broken every window in this house. We spent thousands on paint jobs and graffiti removal. Kelly’s the reason George had a breakdown… but that’s another story.
“He didn’t say who’d shot him?” Gregory asks.
“No… he was panicking, bleeding badly.”
Kelly told me it was the Connors boys, but do I look like someone wanting to swap one load of trouble for another?
“Well, we’ve made some arrests. Hopefully, there’ll be a conviction.”
I muster concern. “Did the paramedics get him to the hospital before…?”
“No, he died at the scene. Massive blood loss, as you said. A few minutes might have made a difference, who knows?”
A few minutes… would those be the minutes during which I strolled slowly home, or the ones where I put the kettle on and made a nice cup of tea? Or perhaps the minutes I stood shivering in the garden whilst the dog checked out her toilet arrangements?
“How awful,” I said, “lying there alone like that.”
Especially knowing I’d not be in any rush to fetch help. I could see that in his eyes… after I told him I knew what he did to our Glenda that night … that we’ve never seen our daughter since.
“You called the emergency services at 9.30pm. Right?”
“I think so.”
He stands up.
“That’s all then. I hope your husband comes home soon.”
I’m hoping Glenda might too, once she knows about Kelly.
But as he walks to the door, the mobile phone on the sideboard beeps loudly.
He glances at the phone, but doesn’t break stride.
“I think your oven timer just went off, Mrs Duffy. I’ll let you get back to your baking.”