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Symmetry and Resolution

    Staring out of the window, he hung up the phone.
   "You were very quick."
   "What? Yes. Oh, I suppose I was." She was wearing only the red briefs. He ignored her, listening intently to a siren, growing louder in the streets below. A fire engine? Or an ambulance? Jillian didn't know how to tell them apart, and she thought it had nothing to do with them, so she ignored it.
   The harbour view glowed red in the setting sun. He continued looked at it. Jillian looked at him. She didn't think he was seeing the view. The siren stopped. It sounded quite close. "I suppose a hair drier would be out of the question?"
   "What? Oh. No, I didn't get it yet. The car was stolen."
   "I'd better phone my parents, then. I'll be later than they expected. We wouldn't want a hue and cry from that quarter, too, would we?"
   "No. No, I don't expect so. And Jillian?"
   "Yes, Keith, what is it?"
   "Please, when you've made that call, would you get into bed with me? Please? Just to be together and talk? Please? Don't ask why. Better you don't know. Please?"
   "Of course I will Keith. I can use the phone by the bed. There's not that much rush for my call. A few minutes won't make any difference." She went into the bedroom." Do you want me in my underwear, or stark naked, or just in my panties, or what?"
   "I hadn't thought about that. Just panties, perhaps. As you are is fine. Whatever you think. You don't mind?" He seemed distracted. He was standing in the bedroom doorway, staring around the kitchen, around the lounge, and then around the bedroom.
   He ran to the bedside table, snatched up the gun, carried it into the bathroom. From the splash and clank, guessed he had dropped it into the toilet cistern. He came back into the room.
   "Won't it rust?" It wasn't her problem, but she was interested in the way his mind was working.
   "I don't care." He was out of his shoes and trousers.
   "Isn't that the first place they look?"
   "That's only in the movies." He took off his shirt, hung it in on a hanger with his trousers, turned towards the wardrobe. She squeezed past him to let him hang his clothes there. They were both naked apart from their underpants. Her breasts brushed his chest. He still didn't notice.
   "I hope, for your sake, that you're right."
   "It's only a starting gun."
   "Won't they wonder why it's there, then?"
   "Oh, I don't know. Let me think."
   "Okay." She got into the bed, pulled the covers up.
   "Yes, you're right." He rushed back into the bathroom. She heard the sound of him taking the cistern lid off again. "Damn."
   "What's wrong?"
   "I can't reach the damned thing. There isn't room to get my hand down behind the flusher to grab it."
   "Do you want a coat-hanger."
   "What would I want that for?" He sounded panicked.
   "Oh, bend a hook in the wire."
   She heard a car stop. Two doors slam. "Keith, a car." She folded the bedclothes back on his side of the bed.
   "Oh, damn, damn, damn. It will have to stay there." There was the sound of the lid going back on. He rushed into the room, dived into bed and pulled the covers up,
   She picked up the bedside phone, dialled her parents' number. The doorbell sounded in the next room. Keith called out. "Coming." and got out of the bed, He went to the wardrobe, put on his dressing gown. Went out to the lounge, closing the bedroom door behind him.
   "Hello Mum. I think I'll stay in town for dinner. Yes, with Keith. No, no problem, we've just been talking, and there's a bit more to be said, before we're done. I'll tell you all about it later. Don't wait up. I'll be fine. Honest. Yes, of course. Say hi to Dad for me." She hung up, lay back down, covered herself up, and waited.
    Out in the lounge there was a conversation. Jillian could hear that there were several voices, all men's, Keith's among them, but she couldn't make out the words.
   There was a knock on the bedroom door.
   Jillian called out. "You can't come in. I'm in bed. What do you want?"
   "Would you get dressed, please Miss, and join us?" It was one of the visitors. A pleasant voice. One that she could warm herself with, Jillian thought. "Yes, of course. I'll be right out."
   A few minutes later she was ready, took the brush from her bag and ran it through her hair - a shame about the lack of a blow-drier, but you can't have everything - and opened the door to the lounge.
   There was a man in a suit, sitting in one of the armchairs, his back to Jillian. Keith sat in the other chair, looking at him. A uniformed policeman stood by the entrance. At the sound of the door, the man in the chair stood up and turned to face her, his eyes showing his appreciation. He held out an identity badge. "I'm Detective Sergeant Tindall. That there is Constable Harrington. Would you mind answering a few questions while your friend gets dressed?" A same warm voice, which she could now see belonged to a very fit, very mature young man. He had recently-healed stitches over one eye. She thought it enhanced, rather than marred, his strong, regular features.
   "No, I suppose not."
   Constable Harrington walked into the bedroom, through into the bathroom, looking around, and when he came back out nodded to Tindall, who said, "Good. You can get dressed now, if you would Sir. You might like to sit in there until we call you? Would you like to sit down, please Miss?"
   Jillian went to Keith's chair and sat down. Tindall resumed his seat. Harrington went back to his post by the entrance. They can't possibly think I'm about to make a break for it, a bolt for freedom, Jillian wondered. Nobody said anything. Tindall looked at her. Jillian looked back, put her head on one side, smiled. I've just had the five-week crash-course on gamesmanship, she thought. He'll have to do better than that to break down the she-devil. I've got the red underwear on. I'm invincible. How bizarre. He can ask his questions, and then I'll decide how to deal with him.
   "What's your name, please?"
   "Haven't you been told?"
   "Just answer the question."
   "Do I have to?"
   "I can't force you to, but it would help if you did."
   "I take it you were invited in?"
   "Did you explain why you wanted to come in?"
   "Shouldn't I know, too? I wasn't a party to that conversation. It puts me at a disadvantage. Is that your intention?"
   "No, not at all."
   Jillian gave him a small smile, co-operative, benign. And waited in silence.
   Tindall's face was expressionless. He looked at Jillian for a long moment. Finally, he spoke. "Your friend reported his car stolen, a short while ago. At about the same time it apparently hit and injured a small boy in a street nearby. Very seriously. Critical. The car was found abandoned at the scene, crashed into a parked van. The boy's ball was found in the gutter." He looked at her steadily.
   She looked back, said nothing.
   "Now, you are?"
   "I'm Jillian Jones. I'm a medical student. I live with my parents in Hunter's Hill. I can give you their address and phone number."
   "I'll get that later if I need it. About the car accident, now. Can you cast any light on that?"
   "No, I can't. Do you need me to?"
   "Were you in the car?"
   "When were you last in it?"
   "Why do you assume I have been?"
   A shadow of irritation passed briefly across his face. "It would be helpful if you co-operated with us."
   "Am I being uncooperative? If so, how, please?"
   "I think you are being evasive."
   "In what respect, please?"
   "You did not tell me when last you were in that car."
   "You had not established with me whether I had ever been, or not."
   "Have you?"
   He was irritated, now. Good. He might have found me in bed here, and he's assuming interpretations about that, too. I'd rather deal with facts, not guesses. With that voice, he can ask me anything. There's lots I'd love to tell him too, all about me, if I didn't have such a big secret of my own to guard. "Yes."
   "When last, please?"
   "Three weeks ago. Saturday night. I was given a lift home after a movie. Do you need to know it's name?"
   "That won't be necessary." He didn't seem to know what to ask next. Good, Jillian thought. He should ask for facts, not merely attempt to bolster up his preconceptions. "So you weren't in the car this afternoon?"
   "How could I have been?"
   "Just answer the questions, please."
   "I already had. Three weeks ago. This afternoon is thus ruled out. I don't know why you are threatening me."
   "Are you feeling guilty about something?"
   "Yes. No. Yes I am, but about the way I have behaved in another part of my life entirely. I'm trying to get my personal life back on track. But I'm not feeling guilty about the car accident you are describing. Would that have been the siren we heard a while back?"
   "Probably, it was only in the next block. We need to know when you were last in the car, and if you drove it recently, as it is being dusted for finger-prints and we will need yours, both of you, to help exclude or identify each of you as the potential driver."
   Jillian nodded.
   "Now, once more, when were you last in the car? Who was driving it when it hit the boy?"
   "I already told you, three weeks ago."
   "And who was driving whe it hit the boy? You or your friend?"
   "Am I under suspicion? Shouldn't you warn me? And for the record, how do you know whether or not he is my friend? You've not asked me." She smiled at him.
   He didn't smile back. "You were in bed in his flat."
   "You don't know that."
   "'You can't come in, I'm in bed.' Those were your words, I believe?"
   "Yes, Oh. Now, please answer me. You seem evasive. This isn't helping you."
   "Am I in some sort of trouble for which I need help?"
   "Then please, do not keep putting me on my guard by implying that I am. It makes me scared and less able to answer clearly and to the point."
   "Oh, I don't think that gives you any trouble."
   "Then you do not have to pressure me with your questioning, surely?" She smiled at him again.
   "You don't like the police?"
   "On the contrary. Some of them are very nice." She smiled again, trying to put extra warmth into it for him. On a whim, she turned and smiled at the young constable, too. He at least responded, going red to the roots of his hair. "What exactly do you really want to know from me? What help do you need in your enquiries? Why are you really here? I'm not stupid. I don't want to make trouble. Ask. Do."
   "We don't think it was you in the car this afternoon. Someone was. And ran away from it. It's fairly certain that it was a man. Leaving the boy bleeding in the gutter. We want to find who it was."
   "I have been here since one-thirty this afternoon, when we walked back here from the cafe on the Finger Wharf, where we had lunch from twelve fifteen. We were at table nine. Keith is an acquaintance, not my lover. It might once have been on the agenda, but never eventuated. I had got very sticky from the humidity and eventually decided to have a shower. Until then we were playing a sort of intellectual mind game. I was alone in the shower. I wanted to set my hair with a blow-drier when I got out. Keith doesn't have one. He offered to buy one for me at The Cross. They aren't expensive. Actually, it's cheaper to buy a drier and throw it away than to pay for having it dried in a salon. But you don't need to know that part, I guess. Shall I go on?"
   He now had a slight smile. He nodded. Good, she thought.
   "I don't know when I got into the shower or when I got out. I was thinking about other things. I don't know where Keith was when I was showering. He closed the bedroom door when he left. I was about to dress when I heard him on the phone but I couldn't make out the words. I opened the bedroom door to hear the end of his conversation. It sounded as if he was reporting a car theft. Of course he hadn't got the drier. He wasn't very happy about the theft. It's not a great car, but I thnk he depends on it to get to work. I believe that's up the Northern Beaches somewhere. I took him back to bed and gave him a cuddle. Then the door-bell went. Oh, and I phoned my parents after I knew the car was stolen, to tell them I might arrive home a bit later but was with Keith and might have dinner with him. I think that's about it. Oh, we had coffee with biscuits and cheese at some point in the afternoon. We were playing a sort of intellectual game. Before I had my shower. Have I run on too long? I guess you would have stopped me. I still need the drier. My hair doesn't look right yet." She maintained the friendly smile. Let's see what he makes of that.
   "Who won the game?"
   "Oh, we conceded a draw. I might have won in the long run. I play chess with my father, and I won for the first time ever, last week."
   "I can believe that. What do you know of Mr Heffernan's movements when he was going to get the hair drier?"
   "I don't. When he wasn't in the bedroom with me, he wasn't. He might have been in here, or in the kitchen. I don't know. Obvously I thought he went to buy the hair-drier, but he couldn't if the car was stolen. He might not have left the flat at all for all I know. He hasn't said anything since about driving the car, or an accident, not to me. Anyway, the one time he gave me a lift he seemed a very good driver. I wouldn't want him to get into trouble for anything he didn't do, but if he did it, I would imagine he would say so. He's usually pretty straight with me."
   "He might not be very reliable on his facts about sex and women, but I've never met a man who was. Not in my very limited experience, anyhow." She smiled again. Disarmingly, she hoped.
   "How would you feel about coming back with us to the station, and giving us that formally?"
   "How will it help? What could I add? And when would you want that done?"
   "Why do you ask that?"
   "It's about dinner time, isn't it? If we're going to be long I'd rather have a meal first, that's all. Don't detectives eat?"
   "Yes, sometimes. When we get the chance. I'll see you get something, too. We might even feed your boy-friend."
   "He's not my boy-friend. No way. He might have wanted to be, be never really got past word-games. Why can't I just go straight home? I've told you all I know."
   "No, we need to come and give written statement, your exact words, signed. Not merely what I remember of them or as Harrington here mistranslates them from the crabbed shorthand of his well-licked pencil." He glanced up. There was an odd cough from behind her. It sounded more like suppressed laughter.
   "So, you will grill me again?"
   This time he smiled broadly. Nice. "No, somebody else will do that to you next time. To give us a second opinion, so to speak. Same for Mr Heffernan. While they are speaking to him, you can go for a meal nearby. Under escort, of course. Can't have you skipping the country. Actually, I am about due for my meal break. Or you can be escorted by Harrington or a woman constable if you prefer." He kept smiling. There was another odd cough. He looked up and frowned. The coughing got worse.
   "Oh, you will pass with a push. No notebooks though?"
   "We are always on duty."
   "That will be fine. Thank you."
   "Oh, you should thank me, indeed. We have an witness expense allowance. It will be on the office, and it needn't be a floater, either."
   "Thank you, indeed, then."
    -."Right, constabule, "another cough from behind her, "let's be having them, then." He stood up. Jillian followed suit.
   The constable went to the bedroom, opened the door. "Mr Heffernan? If you would get your keys and join us, please?"
   Keith came into the lounge. He looked more than a little shaken, Jillian thought. He gave her a wan smile. She gave him a gentle one. I won't be surprised, she thought, if it happened the way they suspect. But I am totally ignorant of what happened outside the bedroom. Nothing will change that.
   "We will give you both a lift down to the station, and another officer will confirm and record your statements ready for your signatures, and then you will be free to go. For the moment. Probably."
   They filed out, Keith last, locking the flat. Going down in the lift, nobody spoke. Jillian glanced at Tyndall. He was studying her, apparently pleased by what he saw. She looked quickly away again.
   In the police car, the constable drove, Tindall beside him. Jillian was behind the driver, Keith beside her.
   Leaving the apartment building, they headed off, in the dusk, through the winding Woolloomooloo streets towards Kings Cross. Before they had gone very far they were stopped by a uniformed police-woman, standing in the middle of the road. She came over to the car. The driver's window opened. She peered in. "Oh, it's you Sir. They will be a while here. You had better go round the other way." Behind her an old-model red Honda Civic was being winched onto a flat-bed car-carrier.
   "That's fine constable. Carry on." Tyndall turned in his seat, looked across at Jillian. "That the car?"
   "I couldn't be certain. I don't remember the number."
   "It is, no mistake. Registered to your friend here. That's how we got to him so fast. I thought they would have got it away by now. It's headed for the evidence store. We've taken a number of latent prints off it, and they can get DNA or whatever else we need, later, if that's required." He looked out of the corner of his eye, at Keith. "'Someone stole my car' indeed. What a give-away. Oldest mistake in the book." Turning to the driver, he added, "Go round the other way, then, like she told you. We've finished here."
   As the car came to a stop, in the flood-lights of the enclosed yard behind the Kings Cross police station, Keith tensed in his seat, and made a grab at his door handle, jerked it suddenly. Nothing happened. Tindall laughed. "Child-proof locks. Wonderful things. Work for adults too."
   From a door at the back of the building, a uniformed policeman walked across to the car, joining Harrington who had got out, gone around to Keith's door, and now opened it. "If you would be so kind as to come with us now, Sir?"
   Was that really the way they spoke these days? Or was Tyndall's sense of irony infectious? Jillian wondered how his style of humour affected his ability to get the job done. Police work seemed an odd choice for him. But then, so was medicine, for herself, she had to admit.
   Her own door was opened for her, and she got out to join Tyndall in the yard. "If Madam would step this way? We will no go and have a modest meal, you on witness expenses, me out of my own pocket, hence the 'modest'." He walked beside her, taking her arm gently. "We can't have you doing a runner."
   They were soon seated in a modest diner a few doors away. "I come here quite often," he confided, "and all the food is quite good. Order whatever you want."
   "Thank you. Now," she asked him, "Do I call you Tindall, or Detective Tindall, or what?"
   "Andrew, please."
   "Jillian. But isn't that fraternising with the enemy?"
   "Interfering with a witness. Conspiring to pervert the course of justice." He smiled. The same warming smile.
   She could do with more of that. Fat chance. If she couldn't get too close to Chris because of her secret, she couldn't get close to this Andrew, either. "Oh, I'm not into perversions."
   "Then that's one problem you wouldn't have."
   "Thank goodness for that." Regretful, she looked at his face. Studied the new scar over his eye.
   He sat quietly under her scrutiny. "Are you planning to make an offer for this property? When you've sufficiently inspected the premises?"
   "What? Oh, no." She felt her face warm. Well, this is one person who I don't mind seeing me blush. Picked my thoughts aright, too. Nice. "I was wondering about that little scar. Close to your eye. You were lucky. About a month ago, I'd say. A couple of stitches?"
   "Three. Four weeks and a day. Almost. About midnight on Saturday."
   "Wasn't that the night of the big storm?"
   "Up on the Northern Peninsula? Yes. I was on my bike. Falling off it, actually."
   "I thought you had to wear helmets?"
   "I was, but it got pushed to one side as I fell. I got spiked by the end of a branch. Those helmets are not well designed. Not like motorcycle helmets. There was blood everywhere for a while."
   Jillian felt her heart pounding. It must be written all over my face, she thought.
   "Hey, you've gone pale. Are you okay? Have a sip of water. It's not the talk about blood, with you being a med. student, surely?"
   "No, I'm fine, I think. You were very lucky not to have lost an eye. Just tell me, oh please, where was this?"
   "On the Wakefield Parkway. Climbing from the lakes. Teeming down, made the little bloody headlight totally useless. Hit a pothole in the dark and got thrown. Ended up down a little gully. The torch was still working, fortunately. Are you sure you are all right? You look truly dreadful."
   "No, no, I'm fine. Getting better by the minute, in fact. You don't mind me asking? Please?"
   "Not at all. It was all very innocent. Bump. Bounce. Bang. It was so wet and dark that I didn't know I was bleeding until my cape caught the light of the torch and I saw how it was streaked. There was so much blood it was almost as if the cape had changed colour. I couldn't staunch it until the rain eased, fortunately very soon after. Made it much easier to get back up the bank, too. I was too shaken to keep pumping up the hill, so I just sat on the bike, luckily it was less damaged than I, and free-wheeled back down to the lakes, then wobbled out to the coast, into the all-night medical centre at Narrabeen. They got out the sewing machine, and here I am. Any further questions?"
   "Only two. You don't mind?"
   "Well, I think you are in the wrong business. You would be great in a interview room. I wouldn't mind being grilled by you, any day."
   Oh, my lad, will I ever put you over a slow flame if I get the chance. "Colour of cape? Yellow?"
   "Full marks."
   "Any cars around?"
   "One. came along just about then. Bounced through the same pothole, no doubt. There was a minor washout, from one verge to the other. I saw what it was like when I got back up to the road. Of course, it's harder to fall off a car than a bike. They stopped and a bloke asked me if I was okay. Of course, I hadn't seen the blood then, and I said I thought I was and they pissed off. Bastards."
   "Of car?"
   "I think it was a Holden. Late model. Hard to see clearly, what with the rain and being in the ditch and all. Hey, you're crying. What have I said?"
   So relieved, she spoke without thinking. "Oh, god, I love you. I'm yours. Tell me what you want. Anything." Then she realised what she had said. Could she rescue herself from it? Of course. "Almost anything." The she looked at his eyes, amused, quizzical, thoughtful, admiring. His face crinkled when he smiled like that. That was his warming smile. What would she have to do, so she could keep basking in it like this for ever? She thought she could guess that. And now she was free. Free of blackmail, free of Keith. She didn't have a guilty secret. She had hurt nobody, let alone killed someone. No more nightmares, no more fear. She could enjoy herself with policemen, even.
   "It must be a great relief for you to know that I came out of it okay. The man got into the passenger side. I never saw the driver. Never knew who it was. Probably will never find out." His smile got even broader.
   Oh, my word, she thought. How can this ever be bettered? But I have some unfinished business. Keith conned me with a bluff about his virginity, which was innocent enough, I suppose. He conned me with a bluff about the gun, which was bad, but I suppose could be excused as a bad practical joke. But the bluff that I cannot forgive is his convincing me that I killed a man and then blackmailing me with it. No wonder he didn't want to push me too far: he never had anything to turn me in for.
   I've had a month of agony, for nothing. No, not for nothing. It has changed my life. I have grown. I know myself better. I study better. I have chosen a speciality. I have learnt how to deal with deception and coercion. I have become proud of my body, and lost all shyness. I've met this Andrew Tindall, too, and that's fun, even if I never see him again, though I'd like to know him better before I give that option up completely. On balance, that agony has been a price I am happy to pay for what I have gained. And hey, I can now beat Dad at chess.
   But what about Keith? He has injured someone. Fact, not fiction. I'm sure of that. Of course, he had to persuade me not to turn myself in a month ago, and I was wrong to have listened to him. That was a month ago, before I changed. But he was still lying to me, after we swore truth this afternoon, prepared for me to go off still thinking myself a killer. Till the end of my days. A life sentence of guilt. Enough! "What about Keith?"
   "What about him?"
   "I would suspect him of having been the driver, of running back to the flat and making up a story about the car theft. But of my own knowledge I couldn't state who actually driving the car. I don't really believe that he was in the flat the whole time. He seemed very distracted. Much more edgy than I would expect even loss of his car would cause. Even if it wasn't insured it wasn't of any great value."
   "Oh, we will get him. We won't actually need a statement from you. You can't add anything. you aren't a witness to anything useful. Besides, that's a street of gossips, quite a tight-knit little community, and when the car crashed into the van it attracted a lot of attention. We had several phone calls. We are doing a house-to-house. As he ran away, he will have been seen by someone looking out because of the noise. He probably left his prints all over the car, and we won't find any for the 'thief'. Even if he wiped the prints off, that only makes them unrecognisable. The DNA is still there, smeared but identifiable, to be tested and compared."
   "A child," he continued, "We don't let that lapse. We daren't. Not in that tight little enclave. Not a child as well known and loved as that one seems to be. Ten years of community policing would go down the toilet if we don't nail this one down hard. I don't care how good his lawyer is. If the worst comes to the worst, and he twists away somehow, we will have him without bail, on remand, for as many years as necessary for him to learn some redemption. Unless we find another party who was really the driver. That could happen. He could be telling the truth, but if I read your face correctly, he's never once told the truth in all the time you've known him. Am I right?"
   "Yes, that's right."
   "And you would tell me if I guessed wrong, but I think he would be the sort of passenger who might try to persuade a driver to flee the scene without offering aid?"
   "Yes, I would tell you if you guessed wrong."
   "Even on a stormy night up the Parkway?"
   "Just so, Andrew. I would tell you if you were wrong." Looking straight into his eyes, she asked him, "Is there any chance of my having a word now with Keith? It doesn't have to be in private. It would mean a lot to me, provide closure? Isn't that what they say?"
   "Of course. You've given me some useful insights into his mind. I think we owe you something for that. If you've finished eating we can go back now, and see what we can do for you."
   Back at the police station, they went into what Jillian recognised, from her father's description a year ago, was an interview room. Andrew pulled out two chairs, on the side of the table nearest the door. "These are for us. Either will do. Give me a few minutes." He went out.
   A short time later he returned, sat beside her. "They will bring him here soon. His prints were already on file. Did you know he had a record?"
   "But you felt that you couldn't say anythng? No, of course you couldn't. He had wiped the steering wheel, but he'd forgotten the handbrake. He will go down for this, for years. Without any doubt, given his record. We've told him that. What we haven't told him is that the child is still critical, but will probably pull through."
   "Oh, that's good news, at least."
   "Yes, but you know? - "
   "What?" His sudden hesitation was puzzling.
   He thought for a moment. "You aren't bound in any way to be truthful. I couldn't stop you lying, saying the child was dead."
   Could I do that, she wondered, just to see his face when he was told? Oh, could I ever! "What a Machiavellian idea? Thank you." Her face lit up.
   It was a wicked smile, he thought. What fun this woman could be. He wasn't going to let her just walk out of his life. "Be my guest. And in case you are wondering, he won't get bail. He is going to be held on remand. The court won't be prepared to let him disappear, or go intimidating witnesses. And we don't want him threatening you any more, either."
   The door opened. A constable brought Keith in, sat him down in one of the two chairs on the opposite side of the table, and went to stand by the closed door.
   Keith looked from Andrew to Jillian, and back, leaned back in his chair, smiled. He seemed confident. He thinks I'm still on his hook, she realised. I'm going to enjoy wiping that smile off.
   "Hello, Keith. Detective Tyndall is very kindly letting us have a personal chat. Just three friends together."
   Keith looked a little puzzled, but said nothing.
   "We've known him for about a month Keith. Remember? Oh, you should. You know him better than I, actually. You spoke to him, when I knocked him off his bike on the Parkway. You know, after his brain exploded."
   Keith was sitting bolt upright, now, his face ashen.
   "You got me totally panicked. You're very good at that. Quite made me overlook that a skull fracture could never look the way you described it. And after swearing to tell me the truth, earlier today, you would still have let me carry that fictional load of guilt to my grave, to remember every day of my life."
   Watching his face, she was appalled at the hatred she now saw there. How did I ever miss it, she wondered. From her reading she realized that she was probably looking into the eyes of a true psychopath. "No wonder the idea of fifty years was so appealing to you. You had a life sentence in store for me, and you were never going to let me off that hook. You must really hate us for getting to the truth of what the two of you pulled on us a year ago. You got away with a suspended sentence that time, but I think you will find a child's death much harder to talk your way out of."
   His face had gone stony blank, and showed no further expression as Jillian pushed her chair away from the table, stood up, turned her back on him and walked through the door that the policeman opened for her.
   Andrew followed her out into the hall. The door was shut behind him. "Wow. If that's the way you do closure on your enemies, I will have to work really hard at being you friend."
   "Oh, Andrew, I am still surprised at myself, at the changes in me since you fell off your bike. I couldn't have done that a month ago. I was a total dormouse."
   "Surely not."
   "You didn't know me. I should be grateful to Keith, he shook me out of it."
   "Oh, I think you should be more grateful to me. I played the crucial role. Without me, none of it would have happened. And just think - "
   "If Keith hadn't been there, you would have got out, and come down the bank to help me, I know you would, yes?"
   She nodded, her eyes sparkling.
   "And we would have got to know each other a month earlier. Yes?"
   "Yes. Oh, yes."
   "So, we never needed him at all, did we. Now, tell me," he went on,
   "Do you think you might like ice skating?"

Copyright © 2003 Peter Leon Collins
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