انگوس فلمیمینگ - نویسنده داستان های مجرمانه

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فصل 09

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  • زمان مطالعه 9 دقیقه
  • سطح خیلی سخت

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Angus had a restless night. He couldn’t stop thinking about the case. What had started as a bit of harmless nosiness - just research for a story - had turned into something more serious: he’d had tea with a suspected murderer and was looking after her dog.

He knew he should disentangle himself but was finding the whole situation quite thrilling. It was a puzzle and he liked puzzles. Though he didn’t have access to all the information the police did, he still wanted to solve the mystery of the red-haired girl, even if it was only for his own satisfaction.

He struggled with his conscience telling him to leave well alone and only finally fell asleep, having decided to put off the decision until the morning.

It was another sunny day, white clouds dotted a blue sky, as Angus got up and went to get showered. With the water beating down on him, he reached a decision: he’d stop meddling in the case. He had wanted to relax after all his PR stuff and that was what he’d do, no more research and asking questions. With the decision made, he hurried to get dressed - he wanted to be outside and making the most of the lovely weather.

He had a quick breakfast and then left the flat, Jessie following behind him. It felt a bit tactless to take her to Arthur’s Seat, so the Meadows would have to do for a morning walk. With one of the many paperpacks beside his bed stuffed into his pocket - in this case, one that Susie had recommended - they set off along the quiet street.

The park looked lovely in the early-morning light. The cherry trees which lined Middle Meadow Walk had only just blossomed and a glorious haze of pink set against sharp green leaves and the blue sky created a gorgeous canopy over his head. He turned off the path in the direction of the tennis courts.

Arriving at the triangle of grass at the east end of the park, he let Jessie off her lead and found a stick to throw to her. She brought it back so obediently to him that he sat down on a bench and started to read his book, only looking up when she reappeared.

Time passed and he was so absorbed in the novel, everything to do with the case forgotten, that he didn’t immediately notice that Jessie hadn’t come back. When he did, he stood up to get a better look but couldn’t see her. Panic mounted as he pictured her running out into the road behind him. He rushed towards the centre of the grass, hoping to see around the hedge that bordered the tennis courts while also looking over his shoulder for any signs of a black and white shape on the road.

With a sigh of relief he spotted her wagging tail after only a few steps. He found her being petted by a red headed girl he recognized at once: it was the girl from Arthur’s Seat, and possibly, if he was right, the artist in Brodie’s gallery. Should he speak to her?

“Hello, hi there,” he said to the figure crouched down beside Jessie.

She looked up, startled, and blushing slightly stood up. He understood at once what had struck him about her before: she was pregnant, perhaps five or six months along.

“I’m sorry, is she your dog? I thought I recognized her …” she trailed off.

“Uh, yes, well no, I’m just looking after her for someone.”

There was a moment’s awkward silence and she looked as if she was about to go: “I think I’ve seen you before. At Arthur’s Seat when the body was found,” Angus voiced the first thing that came to mind, wanting to see how she would react. And was both pleased and disappointed to see the colour drain from her face and her air of discomfort be replaced by one of anxiety.

“No, I think you must be mistaken. I really must be going now.” And with that she turned and was halfway up the path before Angus could do anything.

He knelt beside Jessie, stroking her soft ears while his mind went over what had just happened. For a dog that so disliked strangers, Jessie had been incredibly calm and quiet with the woman. She must know her, but what did that prove?

Suddenly, he realised that he just had to find out who she was, and all his intentions of doing the right thing went straight out the window.

Attaching Jessie’s lead to her collar, they set off in the direction the woman had gone in.

Rounding a corner, he saw her and then continued to follow her as she walked along Bucchleuch Terrace and over George Square. He almost lost sight of her as she weaved around the students that were going to and from classes.

At Bristo Square, she turned right and, disappearing under the overpass at Potterrow and going against the stream of law students, hurried down the cobbled lane to Chamber’s Street.

Nearly colliding with a skateboarder, he reached the street corner and didn’t know at first which way she had gone. Standing on tiptoe, trying to get a better look, he finally thought he saw someone with red hair going through the revolving door of the museum.

Apologizing to Jessie as he tied her up outside, he also entered the light-filled Victorian atrium and stopped again. The place was packed: tourists, pensioners meeting for lunch, school kids crowded round the fountains with the goldfish and museum wardens directing people to different parts of the collection.

She could have gone anywhere - Angus would just have to take his chances, maybe he’d be lucky.

Climbing the stairs to the second floor, he walked into the calm and quiet of the Asian collections: ceramics, glassware and textiles were all neatly displayed behind glass in metal-framed cabinets.

The museum was a maze and it wasn’t long before Angus was lost in its charm, his hope of finding the girl fading. He became absorbed in the artefacts around him and nearly jumped out of his skin when someone said: “Why are you following me?”

It was the girl with red hair and, though she spoke quietly, she was clearly angry. Angus again said the first thing that came to mind: “Are you Katrina McPhair?”

“Why do you want to know?”

Angus took that as a yes. “I saw you at Arthur’s Seat when they found… when they brought down the body.” The girl didn’t react, so Angus continued: “He was - or still is - exhibiting your paintings. So you must have known him. And I think you knew him very well, is that right?”

“Who are you? What has this got to do with you?”

“Nothing, it’s got nothing to do with me,” Angus admitted. “I was just intrigued.”

He was aware of how lame this sounded and waited for her reply. She looked him up and down and must have decided he looked harmless as her posture relaxed a little.

“Yes, I knew him, knew him well,” she touched her rounded stomach and her look confirmed what Angus had suspected - Brodie was the father. “But I didn’t kill him, if that’s what you think. I was angry but I would never have done that. I loved him,” she added softly, eyes on the ground. Then she looked up at him, expression firm once again, “So, leave me alone! I don’t ever want to see you again.”

Angus nodded shamefacedly, and waited until she had left before slowly making his way to the exit to collect Jessie and go home.

He believed her and only wondered what that meant for Eleanor Brodie.

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