Day 260 – Half Hour Hitman – Part 19

Word count: 885

Fortrose was in the café, two streets away from Andrew Hawkins’ parents’ house. He had ordered coffee and chatted up some Polish girl who had been serving him. She added a cookie at the side of his cup and smiled. He felt guilty. He shouldn’t be flirting with anyone but his wife. He didn’t know why he did it, perhaps it just felt good. It did. She was pretty, young and brunette. He liked brunettes. He was never one for blondes.
They glanced at each other while she served other customers and he tried to pretend that the coffee that she had made didn’t taste of tar. Fortrose was feeling grim. Right now, he was meant to be in work doing the pile of paperwork that he had been avoiding for the best part of a year. He was not meant to be here. He was not meant to be within a mile of the family or the case. It was closed as far as the rest of the team were concerned, although they were not informing the media so. Everyone had deliberated that Andy had ran off to join some commune in the country and would remerge three years later with an apology and a hippie haircut. Fortrose refused to conform to their opinions. There was something strange about this case and Fortrose was determined to find out why.
He had called the mother this morning and said he would be dropping in by. He was expected. Was she expecting good news? There was no news. There was nothing – save some strange phone calls. Was that enough? Was that even related?
Checking his watch, it was time to leave. Smiling one last time at the waitress, he gathered together his belongings and downed the rest of his coffee; the cookie he stuffed into his pocket.
It was another grey day in London. Spring was due in the next few days according to the weathermen. So far the only sign of spring was warmer rain. Fortrose was bored of it all. The grey skies were reflected by the grey buildings with dull people roaming the streets, hiding their boring lives from view. They all had a story to tell, but it was all the same. All had tough childhoods, parental rows, horrible relationships and money worries. Fortrose was sick of these stories. Throughout his career he had heard them all. Murders that happened because of jealous ex-lovers; because the tea wasn’t made correctly; because Christmas was a disaster: now he had come across a case where there was no such excuse. There wasn’t even a trace of an explanation.
Fortrose stood at the front door. He was seized with anxiousness. The doorbell rang out for an eternity and a shuffling towards the door inside answered as an echo. Mrs Hawkins appeared. Her clothes were falling off her she had lost so much weight. Her skin around her eyes was sagging. She clearly was still not sleeping and who could blame her?
“Come in, come in,” she welcomed him, frailly.
“Thank you.”
She showed him into the living room. It stank of cigarettes and alcohol. The place was a complete mess. Fortrose wasn’t surprised. It had been the same the last time he had visited.
“Any news?” she started to roll her own cigarette. Fortrose didn’t question if tobacco was the only thing in it.
“I need to understand. I need to get to know Andy more.”
“The more I can get inside his head, the more I can figure out what has happened to him.”
Mrs Hawkins slumped into her brown armchair, still fiddling with the cigarette, “He’s dead, Fortrose. Everyone knows that.”
Her voice was shaking.
Fortrose couldn’t look her in the eye; she might be right, but his gut feeling was fighting her words. “I don’t think so.”
“You know something?” her voice lightened, she put the cigarette making on hold.
“I’ve been through cases like this before. None of the conclusions put forward make any real sense. Your son doesn’t sound like the kind of kid to run away like that. Nor does he seem to have any enemies.”
“Someone mugged him? My boy isn’t coming back, I know it.”
“It’s been months. It’s been fucking months.”
“Hope, Mrs Hawkins. Hope.”
“Hope? Where is it?” she raised her hands up in the air and stared around the room. “Hope that my son comes wandering through that door tonight? Hope that he’s going to phone at the end of the week? Where do you think that hope is right now? Is it here, in this room? Perhaps I keep it under my pillow at night? Hope is too late, wherever it is. It is not welcome here now. It hurts. It hurts more than you know, don’t tell me I should hope.”
She lit her cigarette.
Fortrose was frozen. He was caught between wanting to give her hope and tell her about the phone call he had received; and at the same time he knew the very real truth was that he might cause her immeasurable pain if he was wrong. What to do? He needed to know more about her son. He needed to know everything. Could he really break a heart all for the sake of possibly mending it?

~ by S.G. Mark on June 23, 2012.

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