Thursday, 31 July 2008
At times like this Gloria’s first reaction was to make tea. Malcolm thought that he could do with a brandy but as it was only just after lunch he supposed that tea would have to do.
Gloria was a firm believer in the restorative powers of a hot sweet brew no matter that it was 32 degrees in the shade, shock was shock.
‘So tell me again when did the police turn up at Michael’s house?’ asked Malcolm putting extra milk into his tea.
‘Lizzie said that the police car passed her when she was on her way down to the village to open the shop, so it must have been about 9 o’clock. As soon as she reached the shop she phoned Fliss to tell her.’
‘And what did Fliss do?’
‘Well apparently Fliss had been feeling guilty ever since she had found Carla. She blamed herself for not going to see her sooner. She thought that the police were going to Michael’s to ask him about Carla so she rushed over to his as soon as she had put the phone down from Lizzie.’
‘So when did she realise that Michael had been arrested?’
‘As soon as she pulled up at his house. That tall officer, you know the one who was here the other day? He was leading Michael out of the house in handcuffs. Poor Michael was sobbing and Fliss didn’t know what to do for the best.’
‘So what exactly has he been arrested for?’
‘Murder. Oh Malcolm it’s ridiculous. The police have made a terrible mistake; poor Michael wouldn’t hurt a fly.’
‘Well they must think that he’s capable of it. I’m surprised though that they told Fliss what they were arresting him for. It’s not as if she’s family or anything.’
‘Oh it wasn’t the police who told her. There was a journalist outside the house and he told her that Michael had been arrested for the murders of Sonny and Clara. The cheeky beggar asked her for a comment. She refused of course.’
‘’Well it just go to show that you never know who you are living next door to.’
‘You don’t believe it do you?’ asked Gloria incredulously. ‘Well I think that there has been a terrible mistake. Michael isn’t capable of murder. Look at the way he helps us with all the fund raisers. And you saw him at Sonny’s funeral. He could barely hold himself together that day.’
‘Maybe that was his guilty conscience kicking in.’
‘Malcolm how can you say that. You saw the state he was in. and why would they think that he had anything to do with Carla’s death, they were friends for heaven’s sake.’
‘I overheard her neighbours talking to Maria the other day. Apparently they had told the police that they saw Michael calling at Carla’s the night she died. They didn’t think anything of it at the time, they often saw him at her house but when the police said that her death wasn’t an accident they went down to the police station and saw our officer Arroyo.’
‘This sounds all very circumstantial to me’ said Gloria as she got up from the table to clear away the tea cups.
‘And what would you know’ snapped Malcolm ‘you don’t know hat’s going on the world half the time.’
‘What’s that supposed to mean?’
‘Well my dear, you must admit, you can be a little naive at times.’
‘Just because I think the best of people, rather than taking notice of idle gossip’
‘It’s not gossip you silly fool it’s a police investigation. Michael has been arrested for murdering two of our friends. Dear god woman one more and he would be a serial killer and you still believe he’s a nice man.’
Gloria couldn’t believe what she was hearing ‘How dare you patronise me’ she shouted
‘Well don’t be so bloody stupid then’ muttered Malcolm knowing that he had gone too far but still unable to drop it added ‘it’s about time that you joined the real world.’
‘And which real world would that be, your world?’ she snapped ‘the very important world of Malcolm Westbury headmaster. Who spent so much time in his precious school doing his very important job that when he retired he didn’t have a life to live anymore, well not in England. Your real world Malcolm? One that meant I had to up sticks and move out here to Spain with you so that you could reinvent a life for yourself?’
Malcolm looked at Gloria in horror. Had she really felt this way all along? He couldn’t believe that she had realised that when he retired he was leaving behind the only life he had ever known. What had happened to the quiet little mouse he had married to turn her into such a bitter woman.
‘Did it never occur to you Malcolm that I might have wanted to stay in England? No I suppose it didn’t, after all what did I have to stay there for. It wasn’t as if we had to worry about leaving children behind. Was it?’ She spat in fury.
‘You know that I wanted a family as much as you did, but we agreed a long time ago that what would be would be. And if that meant that we couldn’t have children then that’s all there was to it.’
‘Malcolm don’t you understand, it was mean to happen.’
‘What do you mean? I thought that you’d come to terms with the fact that you couldn’t have any children?’
‘But I do have a child.’
Malcolm looked at Gloria in disbelief ‘When?’ he asked
‘Before I met you. A long-time before I met you in fact. I was seventeen years old and my parents made me have him adopted.’
‘It was a boy’
‘Yes, I called him Simon, he’s all grown up now of course and I’ve not seen him since the day I gave birth to him.’
‘Why are you telling me all this now?’
‘Because his son has found me. You know him, Ollie, the young chap who was been working for Liam and Cassy.’
‘Yes’ laughed Gloria ‘he’s mixed race. Just like my son’
‘Why didn’t you tell me before? Why have you kept him a secret all these years?’
‘Why do you think Malcolm?’ cried Gloria ‘you wanted a child so much how I could I ell you that I had given mine away. Then, as the years, passed it got harder and harder to tell you.’
Malcolm was shocked to realise that his face was wet with tears and reaching out for his wife he clung to her feeling his silent sobs wracking his body.
‘So when do I get to meet this grandson of yours’ he asked through his tears
Gloria looked up into the face of the only man she had truly loved and whispered ‘Soon my love, very soon.’