“It’s almost Halloween again, sir.”
“It’s been two years running now, sir.”
“The Press seem convinced this will make it three.”
Detective Inspector Heddison held his head in his hands and wished that, just once, everyone else in the squad room would quietly disappear.
“Do you think it will happen again, sir?”
“Sergeant,” Heddison looked up at his junior, standing beside the desk, and ground his teeth to control the rising anger. His dentist would not approve, but his dentist didn’t have to work with Sergeant Parkinson on a daily basis. “Please stop telling me things I already know and asking me questions I can’t answer.”
“Yes, sir. Shall we put out the usual warnings just in case, though, sir?”
“Do they pay you to be annoying, Parkinson?”
“I don’t know, sir. I’d have to check my job description.”
Heddison hesitated. If he hadn’t known, after four years working together, that Parkinson had a somewhat twisted sense of humour, his temper might have finally snapped. Instead, he allowed himself a sigh and a slight smile, easing the tension in his shoulders and the ache in his back.
“Yes, sergeant, you do that. And before you ask, include the descriptions we have from previous years, although they’re not exactly unique on Halloween: Witches, warlocks, horror movie villains, evil old crones…”
“How is your mother, sir?”
Heddison should have spat venom, instead, he laughed.
“She’s finally settled into the nursing home, I think, making their life hell instead of mine.”
“That must be why you’ve been so cheerful lately, sir.”
“Just get the warnings out to the press and the Neighbourhood Watches will you? Let’s see if we can prevent another bloodbath this year.”
Mrs Eileen Heddison, 84 years old, widowed and abandoned by her ungrateful son in a prison they called a ‘nursing home’, slumped in the armchair in front of the TV and glared at her fellow prisoners.
A young girl, probably in her twenties, wearing a white tunic, black trousers and a name badge that said ‘Sally’, came smiling towards her. They called themselves Care Assistants, but Eileen thought of them as Warders.
“And how are you today, Eileen?”
“Now that’s not nice, is it, Eileen? We need to watch our language, don’t we?”
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