I’m back home and this story has been sitting on the back burner for a few months, waiting for some more to be written.
The trouble is, there are also other stories to write, and I’m not very good at prioritizing.
But, here we are, a few minutes opened up and it didn’t take long to get back into the groove.
Chasing leads, maybe
I gave it about five minutes before I think I started breathing again and then headed back to Jennifer.
Or where I thought I had left her.
She wasn’t there. I think, in the end, it didn’t surprise me. She had been reluctant from the start so if I had to guess, she had done a bunk. This was not her fight, nor mine, but she had a ticket out. Why would you want to come back after being betrayed by the likes of Severin and Maury?
I hope she left the car behind.
Now that I was here there was no point leaving, so I took a few minutes to search the surrounding area, just in case she was still here, just someplace else, and when she wasn’t, I quickly and silently made my way back to the side of the house with the open door from a different direction.
There was another set of French doors, these curtained, and with an overhead light above the doorway, so I kept my distance in case there was a movement activator, another which looked to be a servant’s entrance at the back. Neither door looked to be an easy viable entrance.
The original side door was still unlocked, with no lights or movement inside.
I waited, then opened the door wide enough to slip through. Again, I waited in case there was a silent alarm, then when nothing stirred, slipped through and closed the door behind me.
On the other side of the door, it was quite dark, except now I could see, on one wall, the dying embers of a fire. Someone had been in the room earlier and most likely gone to bed.
It meant the house was occupied.
It also meant I had to be careful.
On the other side of the doors, it was a lot warmer. Again I waited a few minutes, just in case someone came, and, when they didn’t, I pulled out a small torch and turned it on.
In front of me were two chairs and a table, one I would have walked into without a light. The walls had shelves and those shelves were filled with books. Some behind glass doors, others not. There was another chair by the fire, and beside it, a stack of cooks, and a table with had an empty glass and a bottle, and a pair of reading glasses.
The downstairs reading room.
I cross the room slowly, hoping there were no squeaky floorboards, to be expected in an old house like this one. The timber flooring was exposed only at the edges of the room, the rest of the floor covered in a large, discolored, and fraying carpet square.
It was old, like everything else in the room.
I was tempted to have a look at how far the books dated back to but resisted the urge. I was looking for information on the owner.
At the doorway to what looked like a passage, I turned off the torch and peered out. It was not exactly dark, my eyes had adjusted to the low-level light from low wattage lights about a foot above the floor.
Lights to help guide the way at night.
Left, rooms, right, rooms, at the end of the passage a wide doorway leading towards the other side of the house. Larger rooms perhaps.
I turned right and headed towards the front, and they stopped at the doorway to the next room. I’d deliberately walked on the carpet runner in the middle of the passage, and just managed to catch my foot when one part of the floor creaked softly.
The room next door was almost the same as the one I’d entered by, with chairs and shelves but only on two sides. This room had a long window and no French doors.
On one side there was a writing desk, open, with papers scatted on the writing surface. I quickly crossed the room to it, switched on the light, and checked.
Bills. In the name of Mrs. Marianne Quigley. This had to be Adam Quigley’s mother, and by deduction, O’Connell’s mother.
Proof I was in the right place.
Then I heard the squeak of a floorboard followed by the clicking sound of a gun being cocked.
“Don’t move, or I’ll shoot. Hands in the air. And don’t make me ask twice.”
Hands up it was.
© Charles Heath 2020-2021