Episode Twenty-Six

12 Weeks

The day of the wedding

“Get your hands off me!” Dustin Harris yells at the police officer as she pulls both hands behind his back and secures them together with handcuffs.

“Save your protests,” Inspector Wesley Manning says. “Take him away.”

The two constables lead Councillor Harris to the police vehicle, where he is ushered into the back seat.

“You won’t hear the end of this! You can’t do this to me!” Dustin protests, as the door to the car is closed.

Sergeant Michael Anders, dressed in a black suit, rushes over to Inspector Manning. “What’s going on here?”

“Don’t you look smart,” Inspector Manning says mockingly. He looks the police sergeant up and down. “Sorry to interrupt the wedding.”

“I said; what’s going on here?” Michael Anders shouts.

I finally found him, Michael,” Inspector Manning says. “After all this time, I finally found him.”

Six months earlier

Dustin Harris places his reading glasses on his nose. Clearing his throat, he looks over to Constance Helling sitting on the lounge opposite him. “Are you ready?” he asks.

“As ready as I’ll ever be,” Constance replies.

Dear Diary,” Dustin reads from the first page of Gretel Helling’s diary:

I’m feeling so sad today. I have decided to keep a record of my thoughts and feelings in the hope that this makes me feel better and help me through this grief.

Our little girl was born yesterday. She was an angel – Maria Gretel Helling.

I don’t know if it was something I did, or didn’t do – but there was something wrong with her. The doctor said that she had a rare condition. She would never grow any of her own teeth.

I wanted to care for her – she was my little angel. Now she will be looking down upon me – taking care of me.

“So sad,” Constance says, as Dustin finishes the first page. “Read on.”

“Surely Constable Cook has been a suspect,” Amber Harp says to Sergeant Michael Anders.

“I mean, he’s done some questionable things, but I never thought…” Michael Anders trails off, trying to wrap his head around what The Holgate Times reporter is telling him.

“It just makes sense. How else could Thomas Helling have done all those things on his own?” Amber presses.

“But Kyle Cook? Really?” Sergeant Anders is not convinced.

“Richard Evans’ throat was cut from right to left. Thomas is right-handed, so it makes more sense that Kyle killed Richard.”

“Why’s that?” asks Sergeant Anders.

“Kyle Cook is left-handed.”

Dustin continues reading on through a number of the diary entries, each one giving an account of the trying times that Gretel Helling went through after the death of her daughter.

“It looks like she stops writing for a little while,” Dustin says as he skims through the pages of the diary. “The next entry is dated almost two years later.”

“Go on, read it,” presses Constance.

Dear Diary,” Dustin reads,

It has been some time since I last wrote to you. Time has been a blessing. I still think of my angel Maria every day, but these days I have two new angels to look after.

My two sons, Elias and Jack, came into this world to heal my grief. I know it to be true. Maria is still looking down on me from above.

Why is it then that I cannot shake this feeling?

Maybe it’s because I’m not a good person.

Maybe it’s because of this secret I’ve been carrying with me these last few years.

Maybe it’s the secret I will always need to hide from my family.

Maybe it’s the secret that I will kill for to keep hidden.

“Please stop!” Constance suddenly yells at Dustin. “I don’t want to hear anymore.”

“Don’t you want to find out what the secret is?”

“Whatever it is, maybe it’s best to be left untouched,” Constance reasons. “No good can come of this.”

“Let’s take a break for today,” Dustin suggests. “You just let me know when you’re ready for more.”

“I don’t know if I can do this,” Constance holds her head in her hands.

“What would you have me do?” Sergeant Anders asks Amber.

“Investigate him. Keep tabs on him,” Amber replies.

“I don’t have any proof,” Sergeant Anders says.

“If you don’t do anything, I’ll report it in The Holgate Times,” Amber threatens. “Then you’ll have to do something about it.”

Sergeant Anders looks at the woman in front of him. He is exasperated by her persistence, but admires her for seeking the truth. He gives her a smile, which she returns, though hesitantly.

“I’ll keep an eye on him,” Sergeant Anders eventually says. “I can’t promise anything else.”

“You’re doing the right thing,” Amber says, gently touching the police officer’s knee. “Let’s do this for Joanne. She deserves the truth.”

“What are you doing for dinner tonight?” Sergeant Anders says, changing the subject.

“I…nothing.” Amber is thrown by the question. “Are you asking me out on a date?”

Senior Constable Kyle Cook pulls his car up outside the front of Valerie Pickering’s house. “Here we are, Val,” he says to her as he jumps out of the car to open up the passenger door.

“Thanks, Kyle,” Valerie says, as she heaves herself from the vehicle.

“It will be nice to be back in your own bed, I’m sure,” Kyle says, as he grabs her suitcase from the boot of the car. “I’m sure you won’t miss the hospital food, either.”

As Valerie reaches the front door, it is swiftly opened. Sitting on a wheelchair inside the front door, Joanne lets out a gleeful cry. “It’s so good to have you home,” Joanne says to her aunty, as Valerie leans down to give her niece a hug.

“It’s good to be home,” Valerie says. “It’s good to see you looking well too, Jo.”

“I couldn’t be better now that you’re home.” Joanne can’t let go of her aunty.

“Where do you want this bag?” Kyle asks, as he enters the house.

“Just pop it on my bed,” Valerie says, as she reaches for her lower back. She lets out a small moan and grimaces.

“Are you alright?” Joanne asks, noticing her aunt’s face go pale.

Valerie smiles at her niece. “I’ll be okay,” she says. “It’s so good to be home.”

Valerie grimaces in pain again as she grabs for her back a second time.

“Aunty Val?” Joanne yells out as she sees her aunty collapse on the floor in front of her.

Next Episode – Monday September 28

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