The Fall Guy Ch. 06byThe Wanderer©
I thank my LadyCibelle and Techsan for their patience, proof reading, editing skills and of course encouragement they always give me. As I've been known to fiddle with stories, after they've seen it. I take full responsibility for the content and any cock-ups in this story.
While I'm at it, I think from now on I'm going to thank all my friends out there, who write to me and encourage me to continue writing and posting these demented ravings of mine. Your emails are greatly appreciated.
The Last Dance
The room appeared to be empty at first sight. So I very gently pushed the door to open the gap a little and enlarge my field of vision. I'd just got to the point where I could see a man's foot on the floor, when everything went black.
As I slowly regained my senses, I discovered that I was lying on the floor of the room I'd been trying to peer into. I had a pain in my head that informed me I'd been struck on the back of it. How long I'd been unconscious I had no idea. Slowly my eyes focused on the inert body lying before me. As my mind and vision cleared, I realised that it was Bill Simmons who lying there not a couple of feet from me.
I think I lifted myself onto one elbow, to get a better look and convince myself that I was correct in the impression I'd had that he was dead.
"Yes, John, he is dead!" Angela's voice came from behind me somewhere.
Stunned, I looked around to see her sitting on the other side of the room, holding an automatic pistol in her hand.
"What happened?" I asked, not really knowing if I was asking about Simmons, or what had hit me.
"I - or rather as far as the police will be concerned - you shot him!" Angela replied. "Yeah, I think that it shouldn't be too difficult to convince them that you came here looking for revenge on Bill for stealing your once loving wife away from you. You had a gun and were intent on killing both of us. You shot Bill first, but unfortunately for you he had a gun in the desk here. I managed to get to it whilst you had an altercation with Bill, and in panic I shot you in self-defence. It wasn't quite the way I'd planned things originally, but it serves the same purpose. You'll both be dead and it'll save me organising an accident for Bill later."
I know, that what Angela had said did register in my befuddled brain, but I had other things I was worried about.
"Where are the children, Angela?" I demanded.
"Don't worry about them, John. They're in a nice boarding school in Kent, quite safely out of the way."
"You won't get away with killing Bill or me that easily, Angela!"
"Oh, I think I will. I've had time to think this out. This gun is an automatic and as far as the police know, I never fired a gun in my life before. I intend to spray bullets all over the room in a very random fashion. I've thought about this carefully. It will be one of those random shots that will kill you. It'll be an accident of course, just a poor frightened, defenceless, panicking housewife defending herself from a very jealous, vicious, murderer of a husband, who's already been convicted of killing Mary Simmons. I think I can convince a jury of that, even if I can't convince the police."
"But why? What's the point in all this? Why was it necessary to kill Mary and frame me for it in the first place? You and Bill Simmons could have just run off together."
"Oh, Johnny, you never did understand me, did you? I didn't give a shit for Bill Simmons. Christ, he was never very good in bed, I can assure you of that. Hey, maybe that's why Mary was always running around on him. You see Johnny; it was the money I always wanted. With all of Mary's money as well as yours, I can enjoy the nice life I've always dreamed of, down in the south of France."
"Is that what all this was about - money? You and Simmons framed me and sent me to prison for seven years, just so that you could get your hands on Mary's money!"
"I'm sorry, darling, but that's about it. I was bored and I wanted to live the high life. There wasn't much sense in having you bumped off. I couldn't have lived the life I've always wanted on what you had."
Suddenly it struck me, that if I hadn't safely squirreled all that money away abroad; I could have been the one who got killed in the first place. Angela had always been a spendthrift so I'd siphoned off as much as I could get away with, to avoid arguments over her excesses.
"You know at one time I did think about taking out a big life insurance policy on you, John." Angela continued, "But I'm pretty sure that would have made the police suspicious if you'd suddenly turned up dead. And then poor old dumb Bill there, started making passes at me. You know he had nothing. It was all Mary's money, so it wasn't too difficult to talk him into it."
"So you planned it all?"
"Yes, you didn't think Bill there, had the brains or the nerve to murder Mary, did you?"
"Christ, Angela, you stabbed Mary Simmons? Holy shit, you killed Sheila Thomas and George Cafrey as well. And it was you who tried to run me down the other day. That's why I couldn't see who was driving the car that night; you were so low down in the seat."
"Yeah, the girls at school always did call me short-arse!"
"You know you're not going to get away with this, Angela, not this time."
I was stalling for time by then. I reckoned the boss and Bernie couldn't be far away. I don't know why actually, but I had the distinct impression that they were outside the door in the passage. The problem was Angela was sitting on the other side of the room, away from the door and she had a gun pointing at me.
"Oh, I think I will. John Carpenter, the convicted murderer, gets let out of jail and hunts down his ex-wife and her new love. I can see the headlines in the Sunday papers now. I should imagine that I'll lay my hands on whatever money you had left after the divorce as well. After all, the children are your next of kin. That, and all Mary's money that dumbo Bill here, put in numbered Swiss bank accounts. I've got all the numbers and pass words, by the way." Angela waved a piece of paper she was holding in her other hand at me. "Bill was hopeless at paperwork. I should be set-up very nicely for the rest of my life, thank you."
"There's one thing I don't understand, Angela. Why did you wait until I got out of jail? Why didn't you and Simmons just run off and disappear whilst I was in prison?"
"Darling, Bill was a dumb idiot. That's one thing that I knew you never were...."
"Except when I married you!" I cut in.
"Whoa, that wasn't a very nice thing for a loving husband to say, John," Angela said with a weird smile on her face, "Anyway I knew that you'd track me down one day. You're no fool, although it was a bit stupid of you to come sneaking around here on your own. Anyway I had no intention of spending the rest of my life looking over my shoulder, waiting for you to be standing there, one day."
I knew that if I attempted to move or stand up, Angela would probably shoot me straight away. I had to distract her somehow and keep her talking long enough for the boss and Bernie to realise what was going to happen and, I hoped, do something about it. I put my hand to the back of my head and felt the large bump there where I assumed Angela had hit me and knocked me out.
"Jesus Christ, girl, what the hell did you hit me with?" I asked as I did so.
"A wooden rolling pin, the normal 'little woman's' weapon. Remember I'm just a scared little housewife who married a crazed killer. What was that?" Angela asked, as there was a distinct noise outside the window.
That was my cue to be ready to move, I figured that the boss or Bernie was trying to divert Angela's attention. Then suddenly the whole damned window burst inwards. I was to find out later that Bernie and the boss had thrown a garden bench seat through it.
As best I could, I tried to dive behind the couch, but at almost the same instant Angela fired the gun in my direction. The damned bullet must have come through the arm of the sofa and hit me a glancing blow on the side of my head, although I never felt the impact. I just had vague memories of someone, who I later discovered was Gary shouting.
"Armed police! Put your weapon down or I'll shoot."
Then all hell broke loose and there were a multitude of gunshots that appeared to be coming from all around me; then silence! I'm not sure if I was unconscious or not, but I lost track of things after that for a little while.
Then I was suddenly aware of the boss asking, "Johnny, are you okay?"
I opened my eyes and looked up at him bending over me.
"Don't move. You been shot in the head," he said as he studied my head for a couple of moments. "Oh don't panic, it looks like nothing more than a graze. The ambulance is on its way."
"Angela?" I asked.
"She's dead, John. I'm afraid I had to shoot her," Gary's voice came from somewhere.
"I'm sorry, Gary," I said, knowing that killing people isn't what a man like him joined the police to do.
"I did my firearms training, John. I'm certified to carry a gun and I've always known there was an outside chance that I'd have to shoot someone one day. I never thought it would be a woman though! Christ, this is going to be a bloody mess; I had to use your friend here's gun.
"Look, you two had better make yourselves scarce before the local boys turn up," Gary said, turning his attention to the boss and Bernie. "We'll have to come up with some story about me finding this gun in the house here. Damn, I should be nicking you for carrying the blooding thing. You know that's a five year stretch, don't you?"
The boss and Bernie looked at Gary and nodded.
"Oh, and if this fucking gun turns up with a forensic match for any other crimes, I'll be after you like fucking greased lightening."
"No chance! It's clean, that I can assure you of that," the boss replied. "Picked it up myself, brand new in the States last year." Then after taking my car keys, they were out of the house in an instant.
"What a fucking mess!" Gary said turning his attention back to me. He studied my head wound and agreed with the boss that it only looked like a graze.
The ambulance and the local police seemed to take forever to arrive. Luckily in a way because it gave Gary, Frank and myself time to get our story sounding convincing.
Gary had heard all of what Angela had said; it had been him whose presence I'd sensed outside the door. Apparently Curtis had somehow escaped; Marko, the guy who was supposed to be guarding him, had called the boss and warned him that Curtis might ring Simmons. So the boss, thinking things could be getting out of hand, had used my mobile that I'd left in the car to call Gary and Frank.
It turned out that Gary had a damned good memory. When he learnt I'd been heading for Southampton area to find Angela, he'd reached back into his mind and vaguely remembered Angela saying her only living relative lived in the New Forest, from when he interviewed her during the investigation into Mary Simmons' murder. Apparently when I'd been arrested he'd suggested that Angela call a relative to be with her and Angela had mentioned that the only relative she had living was in an old folks care home down there.
Anyway that had been enough for Gary and Frank to head for the general area of the Forest. By chance when the boss had called them, they hadn't been that far away. The boss and Bernie had been in the house and had spotted Angela sitting there pointing a gun at my inert body before Gary and Frank arrived. Apparently Gary was all for going in unarmed but the boss - placing himself in danger of arrest for even possessing a hand gun - had offered Gary his.
I don't know whether Gary or I will ever get our heads around what the boss did that day. The boss is a well-known career criminal - well known in certain parts of London, that is. For him to pull out an illegal weapon and give it to a police officer for his own and my protection was probably inviting a stretch at Her Majesty's Pleasure. However Gary for his own reasons decided not to pursue the boss for his action.
Luckily several other guns were found in the house when the police search it. All of them were clearly related to Angela in one way or another; they were hidden amongst her clothes and things. So apparently no one asked too many questions about the one that Gary had supposedly found in the kitchen.
I was dragged off to the hospital where I was kept overnight and had several stitches put into the wound in my head. Helen and Jenny turned up to see me there, and they both tore me off a strip for going after Angela and Simmons on my own.
We managed to dodge the press when we left hospital; so it was sometime and things had cooled down a bit before they discovered where the cottage was. They turned up again around the time of the inquests, but seemed to lose interest pretty quickly.
Mind you, they were a bloody nuisance when the hardest job I had to undertake became due. I had to get my girls from that boarding school and tell them that their mother was dead. This was made even harder by the fact that Angela and Simmons had told them that I was dead. The children hating that damned school made things slightly easier. But even so I don't know if I could have done it without Helen and Jenny's help. And the help of the local police who kept the press and sightseers away from the cottage as much as they could.
The boss laid on - what he liked to call - some security as well, and that also proved handy around the local school when the children started going there. Jenny - who was living at my house by then remember - played governess to the children. And to Helen's children as well, when she brought them with her on her regular visits.
The appeals court threw out my conviction for murder surprisingly quickly; well, they had to do that before I could get custody of my children back. Gary's testimony of what Angela had said that day saw to that.
Curtis vanished into thin air, but Gary reckons that he'll show up sometime. If nothing else the little shit faces charges for perverting the course of justice and perjury. Gary's not sure he can get "accessory to murder" charges to stick for stealing the cars that Angela used.
The sex between Jenny and I had cooled down considerably by then, but there were occasions when she sneaked into my room during the night while the children were asleep.
However as time went on, it became apparent to Helen and me that there was someone else interested in Jenny's charms and it soon became obvious that the interest wasn't completely one sided. Bert, one of the police officer's who'd been on bodyguard duty at the hotel, took to showing up in his patrol car and having coffee with Jenny.
Jenny tells me that until all the children are "old enough" she doesn't intend to accept Bert offer of marriage. Hell, she refused to actually go out with Bert until her divorce was final. Oh, she hasn't stipulate how old "old enough" is either.
Helen and me - well, we are getting on just fine. She moved in with her children a few months after everything had cooled down and we have talked about tying the knot. I think that both having been severely bitten once, we're quite happy to take our time about things.
One last point: Mary Simmons money and where the hell it went to. Angela had waved that piece of paper under my nose that she claimed had the numbers of those Swiss bank accounts on. Somehow it had disappeared from the house that night. It was nearly a year later when the boss paid me an unexpected visit one morning. He suggested a walk in the garden and when we got down near the pond he produced that piece of paper.
"Now I didn't give this to you earlier because we needed to let things calm down a bit. All there needed to be was another one of these lists in the house somewhere and the law would have been all over you when you tried to access the accounts. I'd leave it a bit longer before you move the money about and don't move too much at once. Good luck my boy and thanks for what you did for me on the inside."
I never have discovered what I was supposed to have done for the boss whilst I was in the nick.
Life goes on.
I'm sorry if it upset some readers that I broke chapter five off where I did. But that was too good a cliff-hanger to pass up on.
I'd like to thank all of you wrote who to me about this one. Your encouragement (and criticism) is most welcome and greatly appreciated.
Life goes on DC