Episode Twenty-Nine

20 Weeks

The day of the wedding

Councillor Dustin Harris pulls his handcuffed hands up to his face and buries his face into them.

“You killed Gretel Helling, didn’t you?” Inspector Wesley Manning interrogates.

“My father was murdered,” Dustin says into his hands. “My mother killed herself.”

“And you sought retribution, didn’t you?” Inspector Manning asks. “You killed Gretel to avenge the death of your parents.”

Dustin pulls his hands down and gives the police officer a steely stare. “It’s not quite as simple as you make out.”

“Gretel Helling didn’t fall over the cliff when she was on her walk that morning,” Inspector Manning continues. “She didn’t take her own life, either. You did that, Dustin. You took Gretel’s life when you pushed her off that cliff!”

Dustin grimaces suddenly, reaching down and grabbing at his chest. “You have it all wrong!” he cries, before collapsing on the floor.

Four months earlier

Sergeant Michael Anders walks along the hospital corridor. In one hand he carries a large bouquet of flowers. He enters the room, closing the door behind him.

“How are you feeling?” he asks.

In the hospital bed, Amber Harp stirs. She had only just managed to get to sleep. “Good morning.”

“It’s actually afternoon, but I’ll forgive you,” Sergeant Anders says as he kisses Amber on the cheek. He places the flowers into a vase on the bedside table.

“They’re beautiful,” Amber says.

“I heard you had another CT scan this morning.” Sergeant Anders sits on the bed next to Amber.

“Just a final check to make sure everything is okay.”

“No brain injury then?” Sergeant Anders laughs.

“Don’t even joke about that.” Amber punches Sergeant Anders in the arm playfully. “It could have been worse.”

“You were very lucky.” Sergeant Anders puts his arm around Amber. “Do you remember anything?”

“Nothing,” Amber replies. “That’s the scary thing. The last thing I remember is being on top of your desk.”

Sergeant Anders laughs out loud. “At least it’s a good memory then!”

“Well…” Amber teases.

“Oh, really?” Sergeant Anders says, jumping on top of Amber. “Maybe we need to make some new memories.”

“Michael!” Amber laughs out loud as Sergeant Anders begins to tickle her all over her body. “We can’t do it here!”

“Who says?” Sergeant Anders asks, unclipping his holster and pulling his shirt off.

“What if one of the nurses walks in?”

“What a thrill for them!” Sergeant Anders throws his trousers to the floor and disappears under the bed covers.

Dustin Harris steps up to Constance Helling’s front door and knocks on it loudly. He had decided to see how the woman was getting on. He hadn’t spoken to her for a couple of weeks and he knew she was still having difficulty accepting that her son, Thomas Helling, was still missing. She was also still having difficulty accepting that her grandmother, Gretel Helling, was a mass murderer.

“Dustin,” Constance says as she opens the door. “What do I owe this pleasure?”

“Happy to see me, I see,” Dustin says, winking at the woman in front of him.

“I’ve misplaced the diary, if that’s what you want. I can’t find it.”

Dustin contemplates this for a second, before coming to the conclusion that Constance is probably not being altogether truthful.

“I’m here to see how you are, Constance. How are you holding up?”

“Just terrific,” Constance says sarcastically. “Everything is perfect. Now if you’ll excuse me.” Constance starts to close the front door.

“Constance,” Dustin tries to stop her. “I would really love to finish reading the diary. It may shed some light on what happened to my father.”

“I told you already, I’ve lost it,” Constance says sharply. “Besides, we both know that my grandmother probably killed him.”

“But why?”

“I have no idea,” Constance huffs. “Why are you asking me?”

“I think she was fragile,” Dustin offers. “She lost her first child, the Great Depression hit, the farm burnt down, her husband up and left her, and she had to raise two children on her own.”

“Robert Helling was gutless. He left his wife and two children. But his brother, Edward, was there for her.”

“Something must have happened. I couldn’t even begin to imagine what she was going through,” Dustin continues.

“I guess we’ll never know,” Constance says, as she goes to close the door again.

“I was there, you know,” Dustin suddenly throws at her.

“Where?” Constance holds the door ajar, curious.

Dustin lowers his head, forlorn. “I was there when Gretel died. I confronted her about the whereabouts of my father.”


“I didn’t mean for her to fall,” Dustin says, reminiscing. “We were talking one moment, and the next moment she had fallen over the cliff.”

“It was you!” Constance screams out suddenly. “You killed my grandmother?”

“It was an accident, Constance. I didn’t mean for anything to happen.”

“Get out of here!” Constance screams hysterically. “Get the hell away from me! I never want to see you again!”

Sergeant Anders and Amber Harp’s bare feet protrude from under the covers at the end of the hospital bed.

“How was that for a memory?” Sergeant Anders laughs.

“Best one ever!” Amber pulls her lover in closer to her. They hold each other, concealed only by the bed covers.

“You should be out in a few days then, if everything is looking good,” Sergeant Anders says, kissing Amber on the forehead.

“Hopefully. I’m going crazy in here. I could have done with a few more of these kinds of visits.”

They both laugh as Sergeant Anders’ mobile phone begins to ring. He pushes back the covers and pushes himself out of the bed. He reaches down to lift the mobile phone out of his trousers pocket. “Sergeant Anders,” he says into the phone.

On the other end of the line he can hear an unfamiliar voice. “Sergeant, my name is Geraldine Jenkins. I’m Cathy Gilmore’s mother.”

“Geraldine, so good to hear from you. Everyone’s been worried about Cathy. I hope she’s doing okay.”

“That’s the thing, Sergeant. Cathy isn’t with me.”

“What do you mean? Mark told me she left a note saying she was visiting you.”

“If she did, she never made it,” Geraldine says. “I just received a call from Joanne asking about her. I haven’t seen her in some time, Sergeant.”

“No one has seen her since Mark found the note.” Sergeant Anders is starting to get worried. He begins to pull his clothes on.

“Sergeant, she wrote that note eight weeks ago,” Geraldine says, trying to hold the panic out of her voice. “My daughter has been missing for two months.”

Joanne Evans passes her aunt a glass of water over the bar of The Grand Hotel.

“You should be at home resting,” Joanne says impatiently.

“I’ve just come to see how everything is going,” Valerie Pickering says. “It looks like you’re doing a great job here.”

“I’ve got everything under control,” Joanne says as she wipes down the bar. “You don’t need to worry. You just need to focus on your health.”

“Stop fussing over me,” Valerie says, skolling the glass of water in front of her.

“Do you want some more water?” Joanne fills up Valerie’s glass and passes it back to her aunt.

“All this dialysis is making me thirsty,” Valerie says, gulping down more water.

“Have they found you a donor yet?”

“Not yet.” Valerie finishes her second glass of water. Joanne reaches for the empty glass, but Valerie quickly grabs her hand. “Thank you for taking care of things for me.”

Joanne smiles at her aunt before grabbing her other hand. “Just focus on you right now.”

Joanne goes to move away, but Valerie holds onto Joanne’s hands tightly. Joanne looks at her aunt curiously.

“You should know, Joanne,” Valerie whispers.

“Know what?”

“About your mother.” Valerie squeezes Joanne’s hands even tighter. “I never should have hidden it from you.”

“Aunty Val, what are you talking about?” Joanne pulls herself from her aunt’s firm grip. Joanne suddenly feels light-headed and steadies herself by holding onto the bar.

“Your mother couldn’t have children of her own, honey,” Valerie says, tearing up. “She was not your biological mother.”

“I don’t understand.” Joanne holds her hand to her head to try and stop it from spinning. “She gave birth to me. She died having me.”

“Yes, honey, she did.” The tears flow from Valerie’s face.

Joanne’s head continues to spin as she tries to steady herself. Her vision turns blurry and all she can see is flashes of the colour red.

Next Episode – Monday October 19

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