A Death to Remember

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Authors: Roger Ormerod
they weren’t.’ He was walking away from me, not so much impatient as uninterested.
    ‘ Heh!’ I called after him. He’d gone out the back and I caught him at the foot of the outside staircase. ‘Don’t come that with me,’ I said, tugging at the tail of his jacket. ‘There were three, that day. Let’s have their names.’
    Looking down and back at me, he seemed suddenly confident, and his memory of it angered him.
    ‘ Don’t think you can stir that up again. You’ll never find ‘em now, anyway, and they wouldn’t talk to you, any more than they did then. Trying to make ‘em admit...whatever it was you were after, and God knows what that was.’
    I let him go, and he stamped on up. I stared after him, remembering how I’d climbed those stairs that day, wearily and dispiritedly because I knew I wasn’t getting anywhere, knowing it’d be so much easier all round to tear up the four statements and pretend I’d never seen Clayton’s team...
    Four statements! I ran up and burst into the office. He was standing at the window, hands on his hips, staring out at nothing.
    ‘ How many were there?’ I demanded.
    ‘ How many what?’
    ‘ Men, that day, in the working bay. I said three, and you didn’t contradict me. Was it three?’
    ‘ Three men,’ he said savagely, not turning to look at me. ‘All working on their own jobs and minding their own business.’
    Yet the number four had come into my mind. Tear up four statements, I’d thought, and it’d come without prompting.
    ‘ Yet there were four statements,’ I said quietly, to myself, really, but he pounced on the words, whirling on me.
    ‘ That was it , wasn’t it! That was what it was all about. Making out there’d been an accident, going on and on about it. What accident? What bloody accident, that’s what I want to know!’
    ‘ All right,’ I said. ‘Take it easy. If you went on like that, it’s no wonder we finished up shouting at each other.’
    He raised his shoulders, slapped his hands against his thighs, and flopped down into his chair.
    ‘ That’s better,’ I said. ‘Now...if I came here about an accident, and you said there wasn’t one, then I’d get statements all round, then go back to the person who’d said there was, and have another go. It’s not something I’d go wild about and upset everybody. If the worst came to the worst, I’d arrange a confrontation. Somebody says he’s had an accident here, and you say there wasn’t, then the thing to do is get you face to face...’
    ‘ What the devil are you talking about?’ he asked wearily, looking at me as though I was insane.
    ‘ You said there hadn’t been an accident...’
    ‘ Of course there’re accidents. We get ‘em all the time. But not your accident. Not the one you were chuntering about. And how could we come face to face, as you say? You daft or something? The poor bugger was dead.’
    ‘ Dead?’
    ‘ Why else did you come round?’
    ‘ I’d had...I don’t...a statement...’ I realised I was babbling, and shut my mouth firmly. There seemed no solidity in the room, none in my memory. I’d actually recalled the words of George Peters as he wrote them on his statement. Nothing less could have brought me to this place. And George Peters had been alive.
    ‘ Well say it, say it,’ he demanded angrily. Clayton was the sort of man who can spot an uncertainty or weakness in a flash, and not hesitate to take advantage. There was a sneering challenge in his voice.
    ‘ Who had died?’ I asked carefully.
    Lifting his chin, he said: ‘A chap called Colin Rampton. Mean anything, does it?’ Now he was looking at me with one raised eyebrow, my sanity still in doubt.
    I shook my head. The name meant something, but it was too vague to capture.
    ‘ Just one of the fellows who used the garage for their own purposes. They paid a small fee. Not employed by me. Get it? Do I make myself clear?’
    Oh yes, I got it. He was pressing in with his advantage because of my

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