Short Story: The Mystery At Hammond Mansion Part 3 (Of 5)

 

 

Emment lay in bed. He looked over at Janet sleeping peacefully beside him. He wished he could sleep with that ease. She looked so cute when she was asleep that he couldn’t envy her though. The case rattled in his head. His mind oscillated to and fro, and his sense of worry deepened. He tired to circumvent all the snags, went through all the possible suspects.

Soon he was awake and had a light breakfast. A knock came on the door. He went to answer and was surprised to see Josh standing there. He didn’t bother saying that it was a bit unconventional to come to a cop’s house as opposed to the station but he thought better of it. By now he realised that Josh didn’t really do conventional.

“I was thinking about what you said …”

“Well I’m on my way out the door to work so if you’d like to accompany me …”

“Oh yeah, sure. Do you think …”

They walked to Emment’s police car and Josh got in the passenger seat before continuing.

“Do you think it’s Matthew? She recently broke up with him.”

“At the moment, we haven’t really made any definite links.”

“So he is a huge possibility.”, Josh grinned.

“As I said …”

“I know, I know.”

“I wonder if her family could shed some light on Matthew. Although they seemed to love him so it might be difficult to gain any information.”

Josh looked surprised by Emment’s openness.

“Look, I know you didn’t do it. I haven’t been a cop this long and not be able to spot when someone definitely isn’t a killer.”

“Alexander isn’t either.”

Emment smiled. This whole defending the husband thing was sweet but Emment didn’t really know enough to rule him out or into his investigations. So he said nothing.

“Matthew came by the house one time. He has a fierce temper. Lost his head with her. Still I fight with Al all the time – well not all the time – so it’s probably nothing Emment.”

But your husband’s not just been murdered Josh, thought Emment. Everything could mean something under these circumstances.

“Did you hear what it was over?”

“A bit of it. He just basically thought she was growing away from him.”

“He told me as much himself.”

“As I said probably nothing.”

“How did she get on in her interactions with the Hammond family?”

“Just ‘Can I get you anything else?’ It was all work-related really.”

“So you just wanted to tell me it was Matthew then?”

“Advise. I’m a helpful citizen.”, Josh smiled.

That night Emment buried himself in the news reports on the internet about the Hammond family. And there was a wealth of material available. Mostly posh gala functions with the family in fine attire and pictured with people Emment had never heard of but seemed to be influential in whatever fields they were in or were socialites or possibly hangers-on. It looked all very grand.

Janet came over, placed her hand gently on his shoulder and peered at the screen from behind him.

“So who’s who?”, she asked.

Emment enlarged a group photograph.

“Going from left to right that’s Mitchell beside Charlotte …”

“I love her dress. Mind you, I’d say it cost a fair bit. It looks like a Ralph Lauren.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, that very classical, timeless style.”

“And next to her is her husband Mitchell …”

“He’s the doctor?”

“No. That’s the eldest son Gregory that’s the doctor. They own a restaurant together.”

“Oh yes, the restaurateurs. Seafood, is it?”

“Tapas. And next to them is the daddy Marcus with mama bear Mary-Anne. Then we have the doctor Gregory …”

“In Agatha Christie it’s mostly the doctor.”

Emment raised his eyebrow and smiled.

“Jan, it’s not Agatha bloody Christie!”, he laughed.

“Next to him is his wife Emilia, she’s a professor …”

“Of what?”

“Psychology.”

“Brains as well as beauty I see.”

“And next to her is Alexander …”

“The other man?”

“Ha?”

“The other man in yours and Josh’s bromance?”, Janet grinned.

“Shut-up!”, Emment laughed.

“And he’s a judge?”

“Not quite. He’s a lawyer. And then that’s obviously Josh beside him.”

“Can you spot the killer amongst them?”

“There mightn’t be a killer amongst them.”

“That’s true I suppose. But you think there is. Otherwise you wouldn’t be spending half the night poring over all this stuff.”

“Possibly.”

Emment’s eyes were getting more and more blurry as the night went on. He’d seen enough glasses of champagne to last him a lifetime. He was becoming so tired that he almost thought he was seeing things in the background of one of the photographs of Charlotte and Mitchell. He rubbed sleep from his eyes and looked again. It was unmistakable.

There was Marie Shepherd in an expensive-looking ballgown talking angrily to Gregory Hammond. Jeez Jan, maybe it is the doctor after all, thought Emment.

He enlarged the picture and noted the worried face of Gregory. Things were certainly beginning to get more and more interesting.

Well, well, well Gregory. Were you playing away from home with Miss. Shepherd?

The next day there was only one stop. Gregory’s and Emilia’s house. A large remote house with a large garden. Emilia was away teaching in the college so it was the perfect time to catch Gregory on his own.

“Would you like some tea? This visit is rather unexpected. How’s the case going?”, Gregory asked as he let Emment in.

“I think I best just get down to what I came here to talk to you about.”

Gregory looked puzzled.

“Well ok, take a seat.”

They sat on the sofa.

“I’m going to cut to the chase. I noticed in the background of one of the photographs from the Cancer Awareness Ball a curious scene. You and Marie Shepherd. And it appeared like you two weren’t on good terms.”

His face falls.

“So what if she was there? Means nothing.”

“What were you arguing over? You looked somewhat worried.”

“I don’t need to answer these questions.”

“Was your marriage going well at the time?”

“How dare you?! I want you to leave this house immediately!”

“Gregory, right now you are making yourself look very guilty indeed …”

“So what if I was having an affair with her?! It doesn’t mean I killed her!”

“So you admit to having an affair with her?”

“Yes!”

“And that night …”

“She was blackmailing me. Told me she’d tell … told me she’d tell Emilia.”

“And did you pay her?”

“Yes.”

“How much?”

“Ten grand. And she promised me the problem would go away.”

“Just like that.”

“She kept to her word.”

“Likely …”

“It’s the truth. Now, if we’re done here …”

“We’re done for now.”, Emment replied and saw himself out.

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