This week, the Belles continue their criminal investigation in a less than expert manner, but with plenty of determination… and for today’s eye candy, I include photos of the amazing (male) members of the cast in Prime Suspect series 3. Truly a stunning roster of talent. Without even counting Helen Mirren.
19. Prime Suspects
Before two o-clock, they had reached each of the five suspect men and questioned them. Each was told that the police had come by Ellen’s condo early that morning to ask for a list of the party guests, as a downstairs neighbor had complained that two hundred dollars was stolen from her hall table after she inadvertently left the door open during the hour between midnight and one. The men might be hearing from the police, so they needed to remember where they were and whether anyone else had left the room during that period. Kim made half the calls and Ellen the other half.
They phoned Charlie and Jaime simultaneously to keep them from comparing their stories. “Oh yeah,” said Jaime, “Charlie left to use the crapper while we were playing Warfare 1917. In fact, he was gone so long, he had to log in again.” Ellen frantically scrawled this information on a piece of paper and showed it to Kim, who was on the phone with Charlie. “Uh huh. So Jaime said you left the room while you were playing the video game. Is that right?” she asked casually. “No, no, I’m just saying you should think about this in case you hear from them. Yes, I agree. All right. Catch you later.” She hung up. “Charlie was a little defensive. He says it shouldn’t be a federal case if he has to take a dump. Oh, and Ellen, he thinks you have a killer bathtub.”
“Well, their accounts match,” said Emily, “but Charlie could simply have claimed he wanted to use the bathroom and then gone to the guestroom instead. And if he really was in the bathroom, Jaime could have left Ellen’s room during that time. So I’m not sure we’ve made much progress.”
Next, Kim called Owen and gave him the same story. In response to her questions, he confirmed that Gerry had left early. He hadn’t seen anyone go down the hallway after midnight, but noted that he himself had been waiting in the hallway to use the bathroom right after Tina went to bed, and that Charlie had taken at least fifteen minutes in there, and stunk it up to boot.
“Oh, was that Charlie?” said Ellen. “I wondered who was responsible. I’m starting to believe his story now.”
“That means the crime probably took place later in the hour, if Owen is right that he and Charlie were there just after midnight,” reasoned Emily. “Nobody could have entered Tina’s room without Owen seeing it. But on the other hand, Owen could have decided to try Tina’s door while he was waiting.”
“Honestly, I don’t think Owen did it,” said Kim. “We had sex as soon as I got home, and typically he’s not capable of getting it up twice within a couple of hours.”
“Can anyone else confirm your story?” asked Val rather snidely.
Now it was Ellen’s turn, and she had to call Hugh. “Ellen,” he said, sounding pleased. “How are you?” Hearing his voice, she had a sudden sense memory of feeling his fingers on the back of her neck, and of being kissed. She felt her face turning pink as she told him the fake cover story, and she realized that her voice was faltering. Kim stared at her pointedly, and raised an eyebrow.
“…So they might ask whether you remember anyone leaving the condo or going down the hall between twelve and one,” she finished.
There was silence on the other end of the connection, and then Hugh said, “I see. You remember that I went out for a smoke around that time, after midnight.”
“Yes,” said Ellen. “And you came back…”
“What’s this really about, Ellen? I passed all the doors on my way downstairs, and none of them was open. I would have noticed that.”
“Oh. Well, all I know is what they told me,” she said lamely. “Did you see anyone else in the hallway, on your way back?”
“No,” he replied. And waited, she thought, for her to tell the truth.
“Okay. Well, I had better be going now. Thanks.” She hung up, feeling sick. “He agrees that he went out for a smoke, but he was skeptical of the whole story.”
“I’m not surprised. You didn’t pass it off very well, darling,” said Kim. “You’d better let me be the one to call Hector.”
Hector reported that he had gone home at some point after his conversation with Val, but he didn’t remember exactly what time, and he hadn’t seen anyone else in the hallway. Ellen’s sick feeling increased. She had slept with Hector. What if he was the rapist? What if Hugh was?
“So the chances that it’s Charlie or Owen seem reduced, because Charlie’s constipation story seems…uh… solid,” concluded Emily, “and Owen is a once-per-evening kind of guy. That leaves us with Jaime, Hugh and Hector. What do we do next?”
Kim tapped the end of her pencil on the table, thinking. “We should research them. Nobody has a criminal record, but maybe there’s something in their past, a smoking gun.” She cast a shrewd glance at Ellen. “You’re interested in Hugh. Why don’t you look into his published work and see if you can discover anything? And go to one of his gigs, maybe talk to the other bandmembers.”
“All right, but what could I ask them?” Ellen was aghast at the idea of prying into Hugh’s life, and even more at the thought that he might catch her doing so.
“Try Lily,” suggested Tina. “She’s more likely to spill the beans on him than one of his buddies would be. And she’s probably slept with him herself.” Ellen didn’t find this encouraging.
“I’ll take Hector,” said Emily. “He’s published a fair amount, and one of his stories won a Bridport Prize. I always meant to read it.”
Kim volunteered to take Jaime. “I know some of the people in the Philadelphia Repertory and I can make a few discreet inquiries,” she said. “Actors love to gossip about each other.”
“What do we do in the meantime?” asked Val. “We can’t have a meetup as usual.”
“Yes, we can,” said Kim, and when they all began to protest at once, she said, “Whoever it is, we’ve raised his suspicions with our story about the stolen money. If we don’t meet, he’ll definitely know something’s up. We’ll have it someplace quiet, like the Cavern, and go home early.”
“But what if one of the prime suspects wants to sleep with us?” protested Val.
Kim brushed off the objection. “Just think of something. Tell him you’re on your period.” She turned to Tina. “You don’t have to come if you don’t feel up to it. We can say you had to go out of town.”
Tina slowly shook her head. “No. That would tip him off. I should go, and then he’ll assume I don’t realize what happened, or that I don’t care. Just for now, I want him to think he got away with it.”
Copyright 2016 by Linnet Moss
Notes: I think Emily and Ellen missed their true calling. Instead of (respectively) running an art gallery and teaching the history of science, they should have become Detective Chief Inspectors. LOL. On the negative side, one must admit that there was a bit of sexism in Her Majesty’s Constabulary during the 1990s. But on the other hand, the job seems to have this incredible perquisite of getting to meet early career Mark Strong and David Thewlis and Ciarán Hinds…