Christian Creative Writers

HomeHome  PortalPortal  PublicationsPublications  FAQFAQ  SearchSearch  RegisterRegister  Log in  SpotlightSpotlight  JesusJesus  
Share | 

 What is the Lie?

View previous topic View next topic Go down 
Antony van

PostSubject: What is the Lie?   Wed Dec 13, 2017 4:41 pm

Chapter 20                                                                 Tue


Dazzling rays from the early morning sun shone through a gap in the curtains, pestering him into wakefulness. Tom grumbled his way out of bed and had a shower before joining Gil downstairs for breakfast. Chirpy as usual, Gil had already had a walk and was just settling down when he came in.

“So what’s the plan for the day?” he asked as Tom reached for some cereal and milk.

“Visit Aunt Alison and find out some of the history about this feud she and my mother had and,” his face seemed to wince with the effort of conjuring up an elusive thought, “I need to ask Rick a few things too.”

“You don’t have any issues with Rick do you?” Gil had a surprised look on his face.

“Well it’s just that he was the last to see …” he rephrased, uncomfortable with putting the murders into words again. “He was the last reported at the house.”

Gil was about to say something more, but thought better of it and chewed slowly on his toast while he watched the young man carefully. Finally he said what he was thinking.

“You don’t trust Rick?”

            Tom felt the scrutiny accompanying the words as he took another mouthful of cereal. When he swallowed, he shot back a glare at Gil. He had been stung by the criticism.

“What?” he shook his head with annoyance, “It’s not about trust; I have to know why he was there, and, more importantly, why he left,” he defended, answering the imagined disdain that the accusation seemed to carry.

Gil shrugged, “You do what you have to do.”

            The remainder of their breakfast time was awkwardly quiet; Tom distractedly munching the remnants of his cereal as Gil thumbed his way through the morning newspaper. Just as Tom was about to leave, Gil called out, “Hey Tom, take the Range Rover. I have someone coming over to work on the Mini.”

“Won’t you be needing it?” called back Tom as he stood at the doorway.

 “No, I have to be here for the mechanic. Besides, I can always give you a call at Rick’s.” He threw the keys at Tom. The quick grasp to catch the keys made him grimace as his shoulder twinged painfully. He fished in his pocket for the Mini Cooper’s key and gently underarmed them back to Gil.

            On the road he considered his approach. Rick had lied once. Maybe there was more to his visit than he had said. How could he sift through the lies to find the truth? Tom remembered that it was the lies that kept him running. It was the lies that had made his whole life a pretence. A sham of creating an image, of showing he could measure up; trying to prove that what he was doing was worthwhile. Now it seemed so futile. He was a prisoner of an existence in which he was desperately seeking some meaning. Could he get to know this Jesus who was the only Way—a liberator of prisoners to the lie?

            A voice welled up in his mind; “You’re all right. Compared to most people you’re a good man.”   Then it resonated through him. That was the lie! He was shackled by his own self righteousness. He had spent so much time convincing himself that he was a crusader for good with his environmental ethos, that he’d become entangled in his own sales pitch. If the truth be known, he longed for the approval of his peers … to hear their appreciation. How he really yearned to be free of his preoccupation with image. The ulterior motive to impress others, to gain the admiration of others and to think of himself as better, reared its ugly form like a spectre in his mind. Would his pride allow him to take hold of this freedom being offered?

            The shrill blare of a passing ambulance drew Tom’s attention to his whereabouts. He steered the Range Rover up the tree lined street and turned through the ornate arched gateway of the Tanon Mansion. At the top of the drive the police were leading Rick into one of their waiting vehicles. Tom pulled up some distance away along a service driveway and studied the scene. Aunt Alison was tearfully standing at the doorway as Burton spoke with her. Rolf was carrying Rick’s gun case and an overnight bag.

            When, eventually, the police had departed, Tom drove up to the house. Uncle George let him in. He was red faced and flustered.

“Come in my boy,” he commanded in his thick, wheezy voice. “Did you see it? They arrested Rick for the murder of your mother!” he sounded outraged. “I’ve just been on the blower to my lawyer. I’ve told Rick not to say anything.”

“Why?” Tom asked weakly.

“Why indeed? All the time they’ve been after you, and now, all of a sudden they arrest Rick … the fools,” he ranted.

“Uncle George, what would make the police think Rick had anything to do with this?” asked Tom trying to clarify his previous one word question.

George turned on Tom unexpectedly. “It was your gun wasn’t it … the murder weapon?” he challenged. Tom nodded. “The police say Rick’s finger prints were on the shell casings. Do you know anything about that?” he demanded croakily. 

“Rick’s fingerprints … Rick’s shells?” Tom sounded dazed. Suddenly the pieces started to fit. Rick knew about his gun. He was the last to see his mother. But why would he? What possible motive could Rick have?

             His uncle’s anger subsided slightly as the remote possibility of his son’s guilt gained impetus in his racing thoughts.

“Come with me,” he instructed huskily as he lumbered unsteadily along the broad entry foyer. “We have to calm your aunt. She’s absolutely beside herself.”

Turning into a large open living area, brightened by two walls of large bay windows, Tom saw his Aunt Alison bent over in a leather couch weeping uncontrollably in silent shuddering sobs.

“Ali dear, what is it? It’ll all work out. It’s just some huge mistake.” George’s rasping voice was even more strained by emotion. He comforted his wife with an arm over her shoulder and gave a helpless glance toward Tom.

            Gradually Alison gained some semblance of restraint. She tried three times before her voice stopped quivering enough to be heard.

“It’s just that … Rick was so angry with Clarissa. He said … he said this feud had to stop and he would make sure she saw reason.” Alison lifted her tear streaked face up toward her husband, “Oh George, what if … what if he lost his temper. I told him not to go but he must have snuck out.”

            George continued to try and calm her. Tom tried to imagine what series of events could have resulted in such a horrific end. He couldn’t, not involving Rick, or anyone else for that matter. Yet the police had arrested him. They had physical evidence linking him to the murders. Tom shook his head. His world seemed to be falling apart.

            It was about half an hour later when they were all drinking tea near one of the windows overlooking the sweeping lawns and gardens landscaped down to the distant roadway, that he began to formulate some questions in his mind. Talking quietly, Alison had calmed to the point where she asked for Tom’s opinion about Rick. Unsure about how to answer, he skirted the issue by talking about his longstanding friendship with his cousin. Eventually he admitted that Rick was not warm to his mother. The two seldom communicated, and then only the briefest of greetings in a detached recognition of each other. But that didn’t mean he killed her, argued Tom with somewhat hesitant conviction as he wondered about the lies to police, about the shell casings and about the recent realisation that the shooter knew how to shoot.

            The conversation was deftly nudged onto family history. Mining early in the last century had spawned the family’s wealth, and Tom’s grandfather had shrewdly diversified into property and a variety of other businesses which had protected them from market volatility. Tom carefully broached the subject he’d been stewing about since he’d examined Clarissa’s papers.

“Aunt Alison, who was Ashley’s father?” he asked.

She looked at him intently, alert and then, carefully weighing her words, she answered. “Of course you know about your half brother now, don’t you?” When she saw her nephew had an expectant gaze, Alison went on. “You know he visited me a few days ago. Asked me the same question … and I couldn’t help him either. You see, Clarissa was determined that no one would know who the father was. When she found out that he didn’t want to take any responsibility, because our parents threatened to cut her off if she tried to keep the child, she refused to let anyone know who it was or even to mention him.”

“So, no one knows who the father is?”

His aunt confirmed his comment with a tight lipped, eye squeezing, assenting nod as if she suffered pain at the thought. And then added, “Clarissa wouldn’t even let the hospital authorities know who fathered Ashley. She just ignored them.”

            Tom reached slowly into his pocket and retrieved the torn piece of card.

“Aunt, do you remember anyone called Bert … someone who knew my mother?”

“Bert?” she looked at him curiously. “No, I don’t recall any one called Bert.”

“What about a nick name for, say, Robert or Herbert?”

“There were a few Roberts at school, though I don’t know if she kept in touch. Oh,” she inserted as if just remembering, “there was an Albert. He actually pestered her for a while until he heard she was pregnant … then he disappeared.”

“You don’t know his surname?” queried Tom hopefully.

Alison shook her head, “Sorry.”

The name ‘Albert’, stuck in his mind. How could he track him down? Later, he spent some time looking through old school photos. He saw one student listed as Albert Sheehan. His Aunt Alison identified him as the Albert she remembered.

            His Aunt, thinking that helping Tom might take the scrutiny off Rick, offered to contact the past students association of their old alma mata to try and locate Albert Sheehan.

            Tom left the Tanons soon after their lawyer arrived with a brief report to say that Rick was not answering questions unless he was present. And, at the moment, the police had only circumstantial evidence.


            The drive back to Gil’s was lost in a storm of emotions. He was relieved that he was no longer the prime suspect; however the situation was little improved if someone who was both his friend and cousin was somehow implicated. The time he’d recently spent at the cabin reminded him of how well he got on with Rick. If Rick had really orchestrated the whole thing, he was sure it would create a schism between the two families. The potential added upheaval to the greater extended family was too much to contemplate. Both sides of the Bank’s family (his mother’s family) would have the ugly scar of violent crime as part of their history.

            With an abrupt thump of the steering wheel Tom knew what he would do next. There was a yearning in his innermost being. He wanted to speak with William Grose … find out what he needed to do to have that contentment, that inner peace that William and Marge and Gus had. Lori and her dad were also ones who seemed to have that understanding of what it’s all about. Not that they understood it all but they had the right frame of reference. He wanted that.

            He would spend some time alone at the cabin. Just the seclusion and quiet would be a boost, he was sure. Then he would visit William and get the whole story.

            When he arrived at Gil’s his plans seemed to falter. The Mini had been taken away for some major work and he couldn’t just drive off in Gil’s four wheel drive. Gil gauged from his mood that he was at a loose end and finally extracted Tom’s get-away-from-it-all idea. He offered to drive Tom and pick him up on the Friday. Tom quickly accepted Gil’s suggestion and got together a few things, remembering he still had clothes at the cabin.

            A text appeared on his cell phone soon after he turned it on. It was Lori checking up on him. Was his arm getting better? Was there much bruising? She hoped he was resting. He sent a return text telling her he was taking a few days away at Rick’s cabin. He then turned his mobile off and left with his quasi uncle.



            Burton was becoming frustrated. At first he had a clear cut suspect. Now he had Al Towers, Charlie Charlton, Rick Tanon and Ashley Moore, along with the original suspect—Tom Witney. At present he had Harry Witney in front of him. The problem was the safe … the one that had the real jewels in it. It had been opened. And it was opened by someone who knew the combination.

“Mr Witney, you say that you and your wife alone knew the combination. The jewels are gone. What do you expect us to think?”

“I didn’t take the jewels. I wouldn’t,” he said flatly.

“How do explain the open safe then?” Rolf interjected.

“I can’t,” Harry replied and then miserably rubbed his forehead as if in acute pain. “Don’t you think I’ve been wondering about that? Maybe Clarissa was forced to open it before she was …” he tailed off.

            The team met back around Burton’s desk. He discounted the ‘forced to open the safe’ idea, since it didn’t fit the crime scene at all.

“Towers was right,” he said, “It was an execution.”

They all understood what he was saying. The shooting started in the lounge with Clarissa, then Towers senior being shot as he fled and the girl shot cowering under a table. It was difficult to work in any other scenario to the one they had with the facts they knew.

It was time to refocus on the key issues Burton said.

“Look, if we don’t come up with something soon, we’re going to have to release the lot of them … except Charlton of course,” he qualified.

“And Gene Towers,” added Gully.

“Couldn’t we technically hold Moore on the theft of those car keys?” offered Rolf tentatively.

“Not if Miles doesn’t press charges. And he’s brushing it off as an ‘ill-considered prank’,” Burton countered, quoting the latter in an affected imitation of Ed Miles’ voice.

“Tanon’s lawyer is making threatening noises too,” Arnie Lee put in.

“Well, where do we go from here?” Rolf wanted some action. He looked to Burton.

Burton stared at the whiteboard covered with names and arrows and captions. “We’re missing something. We have a gun with Witney’s fingerprints. We have shells with Tanon’s fingerprints. We have a robbery committed by Gene junior, threats made by Charlton and some other bit players. What if someone else has set this whole scheme up?”

            They all looked at him expectantly.

“Who?” urged Gully.

“Miles?” suggested Arnie.

            In the contemplative silence as the other three policemen studied the creased brow of their boss, Fred Arrington hurried into the room and broke into the huddle. His animated expression instantly drew Burton’s attention.

“What have you got Fred?”

“It’s weird really,” he spoke with enthralling intensity. “When Harry Witney purchased his safe, someone else bought the same model, the same day!”

“Get on with it Fred,” berated Rolf, denying his moment of theatre.

“The Manager from Onslow Safes remembers it well. Almost immediately after Witney had left the store Gilbert Trentham comes in and states that he noticed Witney leaving and, because he considered him such an astute judge of quality, he wanted the same safe. Although it was a strange event, he, nevertheless, relished the opportunity to make two substantial sales so quickly.” Arrington was reading from his notebook as if replaying a conversation.

“So, Trentham buys the same safe on the same day. What does that mean?” Arnie looked sceptical, but there was a glint in Burton’s eyes.

            “You checked the serial numbers, didn’t you Fred?” Burton had a knowing expression on his face. Arrington nodded.

“The safes were switched.” It wasn’t a question. Again Fred nodded.

As if by osmosis, or telepathy they all deduced what that meant. But Rolf put it into words.

“So, Trentham knew the combination because he bought it and then switched it. That means Trentham stole the jewels. But why, he’s wealthy himself isn’t he?” Rowan looked at the others.

“Maybe he wasn’t rich enough,” speculated Gully.

            Burton was galvanised into action. He blurted out a string of instructions.

“Arnie, find out where Trentham is, but don’t spook him. Fred, find out everything you can about Gilbert Trentham. I want every connection with the Witneys explored. Gully, I want you to talk to Harry Witney. Find out what Trentham really is to them … how often he visits … his relationship with Clarissa Witney. Rowan, you ask Tanon the same questions … I’ve got a call to make,” he said to himself enigmatically.

            There was a flurry of activity as Gully and Rolf headed off to the interview rooms and the others went to their desks to make their respective calls and do research on their computers. Burton picked up the piece of note paper he had left there earlier and then checked a number on his address list. After spending longer than he planned on the call sharing pleasantries with his favourite judge, he headed out. He grabbed a female constable on the way explaining that he needed a ride to Judge Forrester and then to City-Metro Bank.



            “It’s good to see you Adrian. We ought to get together sometime,” drawled the judge.

“Yeah, we should do that,” Burton commented a little too hastily. “Is it ready yet?”

Forrester pulled out an envelope and handed it to Burton. “You must be desperate for this. You usually send one of your boys. Who’s that young one? Ralph?”
“Rolf,” he corrected. The detective was becoming a bit agitated. “You’re right Louis … this could be the breakthrough we’re looking for, and … honestly, any progress is most welcome. This investigation’s become a bit of a debacle.”

“You still chasing that triple murderer?” the judge squinted and asked the question.

“Yup,” Burton managed through clenched teeth.

  “Well, get a move on then.” Forrester waved him away dismissively. “And catch the killer,” was his parting cry as Burton exited the door.

            Walsh, the police woman, greeted him by handing him the radio microphone. She listened as the detective’s voice increased in volume with each successive phrase.

“You can’t find him? … What about Witney? … “No, Tom! … Not him either … Check with his sister or the Miles’ girl … Find them!”

Walsh watched the senior homicide investigator take a deep steadying breath and then in a quieter register he said, “Walsh is it?”

She nodded,

“Okay Walsh, let’s get to the bank. We have an account to settle.” He momentarily pulled an exaggerated grinning face at his own repeated witticism, before looking ahead absent minded. The traffic courteously gave way to the squad car with its flashing lights. 

            At the bank, the manager soon had escorted the officers to a rear office. It obviously wasn’t good for business to see the police asking questions at the counter. After officiously perusing the subpoena, he said pretentiously, “It all looks in order. This says you want a copy of the account records emailed. So, has this customer been involved in illegal transactions?”

Burton had no time for this. He tried not to be rude, but his response was sharper than he intended. “Look, send the account details as soon as possible, but not now. I just want to know who this account number belongs to. That shouldn’t be too difficult.” Burton thrust the number Tom had given him at the self important banker.

The manager visibly shrunk back. “No, no, no … not at all. No, I can do that.” He swivelled his chair to face his computer and rapidly navigated his way into customer accounts.

“It belongs to a Gilbert Trentham. Yes, Gilbert Trentham of …” he turned around but the police had already gone.

            All the way back Burton incited Constable Walsh to greater speed. His mind raced. ‘This had to be handled right’. He wanted all the pieces of the puzzle in place before proceeding. He hoped the others were ready to fill in the gaps.

            When he got back into the office they all drew around him like moths around a street lamp. Facing his computer he noticed the email had arrived. He was scanning the details of Trentham’s account. The first thing he noticed was a recent sizeable deposit, two days previously. Before that, apart from investment annuities and interest payments, there were no credit entries for almost two years. Then monthly, going back, ten thousand dollar instalments were paid into the account. Burton turned, and grabbing a white board marker, was chafing to hear their reports. He was writing furiously ‘probably blackmailing Clarissa Witney about illegitimate child.’ Without turning he called out, “Okay, Rowan and Gully, what did you find out about Trentham?”

“Been around for as long as Witney can remember,” Gully began. “… Seems to have been a friend of the family. Everybody got on well with him … except maybe Clarissa. She didn’t like him at all.”

“Rick Tanon says the same thing,” Rolf added. “He says he is a bit of a loner except for the gun club, golf and occasional trips with him and Tom Witney. Apparently they get on really well with him. In fact he says they refer to him as Uncle Gil.”

“Anything else?”

Rolf ventured a further comment, “Well, it may be nothing, but Tanon reckons ‘Uncle Gil’ must have been going through some tough times. He said he reined in his free spending ways over the last year or so.”

“That matches his account,” confirmed Burton. “So where is he Arnie? They all looked at Lee.

            Lee squeezed his nose and had a self-conscious, scrunched up face.

“Nothing new since I called … At the moment I have no idea, sir.” His formal response indicated his embarrassment at failing to locate Trentham. “I have an APB on his vehicle. There’s a squad car staking out his place. I sent Reeves and Goss to check out his clubs. I guess we’ll just have to wait.”

“What about Witney?” Burton was terse.

“Well the girl was cagey. She asked if we were still after him; and … well … I guess I didn’t tell her the whole truth. I said we had some new suspects and were concerned for his safety.”

“So, what did she say?”

“She hung up.”

“Good grief Arnie, you know she’s going to try and warn him?”

Lee couldn’t conceal a broadening grin. “We’ve got a tail on her.”

Burton felt a warm glow inside. He had a good team.
Back to top Go down
What is the Lie?
View previous topic View next topic Back to top 
Share this topic...
Link this topic
Page 1 of 1

Permissions in this forum:You cannot reply to topics in this forum
Christian Creative Writers :: CHRISTIAN WRITERS' FORUM :: Fiction Novels & Short Stories-