فصل 05

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فصل 05

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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Chapter five

Tomatoes and Other Clues

Unfortunately, like the first note and belt, the second note and the blue belt offered no fingerprints. Of course there was plenty of trace evidence on the belt - tiny bits of dirt, plants and sand, traces that matched those found on the dresses. This was to be expected, since the victim had been found outside on the ground. Two single hairs were found on the belt, but they only matched the victim’s own long dark hair. The inspector was interested in a tiny fibre, however. He whistled to himself. It was a dark blue cotton-polyester blend and most likely came from a T-shirt. Identical fibres had been found on both dresses. So the sender of the belt had to have been at both crime scenes.

Well, that’s a start, he thought. If we find the T-shirt that matches that fibre, then we may have a piece of evidence that will hold up in court.

But first he had to find the person who had been wearing that blue T-shirt.

Inspector Hudson decided to take a closer look at the only two possible suspects he had so far. Both had an alibi, even though Wynfield’s was shaky, yet it still was an alibi. But Hudson was pressed for time because “Jack the Skipper” had already mentioned a third victim who “won’t die in colour - but rather in a bad mood”. What on earth did he mean by that?

And why did he write “in colour”? Did he mean the colour of the dresses he had made them wear? Even though Mrs Graham thought Hudson to have an eye for colours, he did not think of beige as being a real colour.

Monday morning Hudson would have his men check into O.U. Gray’s background, and into Paul Wynfield’s as well. If it was true that the murderer always struck during full moon, then James Hudson had three more weeks to find him. But for now there wasn’t much he could do over the weekend. He wondered if Miss Paddington could warm up that delicious breakfast he had abandoned over an hour ago.

“Of course I can,” she said when he got home. “I’ll warm up the biscuits and scramble some fresh eggs for you. But then I’ll have to hurry off to my painting class.”

The inspector followed her into the kitchen.

“Still the ‘Rose in Glass’?” he asked. “Or did you have to bury that project?”

Scrambling up two eggs, she said, “The poor rose died on me. But it was too difficult for a first still life, anyhow. Now I’m painting tomatoes instead. They’re red and round and rather easy to paint. I’ll call the painting ‘Tomatoes in Bowl’”

“Sounds tasty.” the inspector commented dryly.

The background checks took several days. The first piece of infor-mation about O.U. Gray’s background came unofficially - and from Elvira Elliot.

“O.U. Gray is the grandson of James Updike, the founder of the Updike Shipyard,” she reported to Hudson. “His full name is Oscar Updike Gray. That’s because his mother’s last name is his middle name. It is said in certain circles that he was supposed to take over the Updike family business, but that he just couldn’t manage that. Apparently that was a great disappointment to his grandfather and his mother. His mother doesn’t think much of his art, but she is very proud of his twin sister’s successful business.”

“The Updike Shipyard, you said? That’s very interesting,” Hudson said, whistling through his teeth. “And you found out all that in such short time? So when are you going to join us here at the Yard? We could use an investigative talent like yours!”

“Never,” Elvira answered. But she was smiling. He could hear her smile on the telephone right before she rang off.

So O.U. Gray was connected to a shipyard. Could that be the meaning of “Skipper”? But he had not become a skipper - to the great disappointment of his grandfather and his mother.

Did killing make him feel like less of a disappointment? Like a winner? As if he was in control of his life? As if he was the skipper his family had wanted him to become?

James Hudson had to wait on the results of the two background checks. Two of his character features that made him such a valuable member of Scotland Yard were his thoroughness and his impatience. He simply did not like to sit and wait.

So he decided to find out more about the first victim’s past. Could there be any connection between the two victims after all?

He rang up Melinda Jordan’s former colleagues and friends. He asked a lot of questions about her habits, interests and activities. She had liked the cinema, musicals and reading books. She had loved to travel - mostly to Italy and Spain for her summer holidays. She had enjoyed cooking pasta and dancing salsa. Really nothing out of the ordinary. But then he struck gold.

About six years ago Melanie Jordan had worked at the “Pale Ale Brewery”, a small brewery in the South of London. She had been in charge of the customers’ orders. She had quit that job when a larger firm had made her a better-paying job offer as a secretary.

But for two years Melanie had handled all orders - including those of the “Old Lion’s Pub”.

When Paul Wynfield was shown photos of Melanie Jordan, he denied having known her. He said over and over again that he always ordered his barrels of “Pale Ale” over the telephone.

But his waitress from Newcastle told a different story. “That’s not true, but don’t tell him I said so, Inspector. I’ve been working here for ten years - too long, if you ask me. And Paul used to go everywhere in person. Now he’s getting lazy, but a few years ago he didn’t believe in making phone calls. ‘I get the best results if I deal with people directly,’ he would always say.”

Melanie’s former colleagues confirmed what the waitress had said. It used to be Wynfield’s habit to come into their office, chat a little with everyone - specially the ladies - and order five or six barrels of ale.

“How well did he know Melanie Jordan?” Inspector Hudson asked the clerk who had had her desk right across from Melanie’s desk. The woman shrugged. “I couldn’t tell you that,” she said. “I mean Melanie and I weren’t close friends or anything like that. When Paul came over, he talked to me and flirted with her. He always paid her a compliment on her dress or her hair or the way she smiled. But I don’t know if they ever went out on a date.”

The background check on Wynfield revealed that he had been married for twelve years. So he had already been married at the time Melanie Jordan had been working for “Pale Ale”. But the inspector was more interested in another detail about the pub owner’s past: Before Wynfield had opened his pub, he had had several different jobs, including working as a cook on a ship.

“Uh oh - so he was a sailor,” Hudson murmured, whistling through his teeth. “It doesn’t look too good for you, Paul. Could you be our ‘Skipper’ after all?”

O.U. Gray’s past, however, only revealed that he was regularly suffering from bouts of depression. There had been a few times when he had got so depressed that he had had to be hospitalized for a few weeks.

Funny - the man seemed so relaxed and easygoing, Hudson thought. Could he be hiding a different personality behind his friendly exterior? The person who could answer that question best was Miss Paddington. You could not hide anything from her. He decided to take her to “Gray’s Boutique” soon to have a look at O. U. G.’s paintings.

But a depression does not make a murderer yet, and Paul Wynfield had just become Suspect Number One on the inspector’s list. Here was a former connection to a ship, and he had lied about the fact that he had personally known the first victim.

When the owner of the “Old Lion’s Pub” was confronted with the statements made by Melanie’s former colleague, he broke down and confessed.

“Yes, yes, I did know her,” he confessed. “She used to work at the brewery some years ago. But that doesn’t mean that I killed her, does it, Inspector?”

“Then why did you lie to me?” Hudson asked. “Now things look even worse for you.”

Wynfield averted his eyes. “I don’t know. I read about Melanie’s murder in the papers and was shocked. Then - four weeks later - my own waitress is strangled the same way Melanie was. It’s a coincidence, but it makes me look as if I killed them both.”

Wynfield gave the same alibi for the night Melanie Jordan was killed - that he had been home with his wife. Of course she confirmed his alibi again. A search warrant of Wynfield’s home did not shed any new light on the matter. No dark blue T-shirt was found that might have matched the fibres on the victims’ clothes. No receipts from “Gray’s” for any dresses bought there.

It could be a mere coincidence that Wynfield had known both women personally and that he had been a sailor in the past. It looked suspicious but it was not enough to charge him with murder.

All Hudson could do was tell Paul Wynfield not to leave the City of London.

And wait for the next murder to happen.

Miss Paddington liked the idea of being hired as a police psychologist - even if it was just for a day.

“But of course I’ll go there with you and take a look at the paintings,” she declared. She was sitting on the terrace; her painting utensils were scattered everywhere. “Let me just clean up here first.”

For the next five minutes she was busy putting away her paints and brushes. When she picked up a white canvas with nothing but two red dots on it, the inspector asked curiously, “Are those two red dots the ‘Tomatoes in Bowl’?’’

“Well, I’m not finished yet. I just started on my first still life”, she said a bit offended, adding, “and anyhow - they are not red. That colour is called ‘vermilion’.”

“They look nice,” James Hudson said hastily. “They have a very pretty colour. Actually they look very juicy.”

“You think so?” the housekeeper asked happily. “I’ll put them into an ultramarine bowl. That’s ‘blue’ for laymen.”

“Ultramarine? It sounds like the ocean,” Hudson commented.

“It is like the ocean - it is a brilliant sea blue. Look, this is the bowl I will paint.” When Miss Paddington brought him a bowl as blue as the dress the second victim had worn, something clicked in Hudson’s mind.

“What other names do you professional painters have for colours?” he wanted to know.

“Well, beige is ‘ochre’”

Oh my God, Hudson thought. “O” for ochre and for Oscar - “U” for ultramarine and Updike - and the “bad mood” for - for Gray! O.U. Gray. The colours the victims wore stood for the murderer’s initials! And he is planning to kill a third woman. I bet she would have worn a grey dress, Hudson thought, rushing to the phone.

O.U. Gray had played his evil game with Scotland Yard long enough. He had been laughing to himself, dressing his victims in colours that for him, the artist, spelled out his name and his mood: a grey mood was a bout of depression. He who had become a painter instead of a “skipper” wanted to become immortal by killing three women as an “act of art”.

“Yes, that is likely.” Miss Paddington nodded when Hudson told her his theory of the murderer’s motive, after he had telephonically ordered that Gray’s flat be searched for certain items. “If he feels like a failure, he will compensate for that by doing something the world will really notice.”

But the inspector had already grabbed his car keys to rush to his office.

In O.U. Gray’s flat the officers found not only Gray himself, but also a painter’s rag which used to be a dark blue T-shirt, a tape recorder with his voice singing a pop song and a dummy, wearing a wig with short dark hair. Through the white curtains it looked like the artist himself was sitting on a chair, painting.

When asked, his sister admitted that her brother had managed the shop for two days in spring, while she had been ill with the flu. That was when he had taken three dresses and rang up the bill, putting the correct amount of money into the cash register.

When Hudson called Elvira Elliot that evening to tell her the good news, she was shocked. “O.U. Gray is the Thames Murderer? I can’t believe it! A murderer? Why would he go round and kill women? Why, his new series of three paintings, the ‘Moonshine Serenade’, was just bought for a lot of money by a New York gallery!”

“The ‘Moonshine Serenade’?” the inspector asked.

“Yes, the three pictures at ‘Gray’s Boutique’. That’s the title he gave them. Why do you ask?” Elvira wanted to know.

Now he could tell her. “Because he killed the two women during a full moon. And he announced a third murder - he most likely planned it for the night of the next full moon.”

Elvira’s shiver was almost audible. “Now I don’t think I will buy that peachy dress after all,” she said. “It would seem like a bad omen.”

Hudson had to agree. “Yes,” he said and cleared his throat. “It’s a shame, though. I know you would have looked lovely in that dress - but then you always do, anyway.”

“Thank you, James,” she said gracefully in that sultry voice of hers.

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