Maxwell’s Movie

Free Maxwell’s Movie by M. J. Trow

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Authors: M. J. Trow
upright.
    ‘Nobody,’ Maxwell beamed, swiftly, ‘nobody at all.’
    She snapped shut her file and stuffed it back into her bag. ‘I can’t do this,’ she said and she stood up to go.
    ‘Wait,’ Maxwell was standing with her, ‘if this was a movie, I’d stop you with a kiss now, wouldn’t I? Cut to steamy sex scene.’
    Jacquie Carpenter looked at him in an old-fashioned way. ‘As this isn’t a movie, try anything like that and you’ll have an extra pair of tonsils, followed by a charge of assaulting a police officer.’
    ‘Well, fine,’ Maxwell smiled, ‘I just like to know my parameters, you know – just in case.’
    She stood there for a moment, facing him. Then she collapsed into giggles and sat down. ‘All right.’ She took the glass from him as he sat beside her. ‘But you breathe a word about this to anyone and I’m finished.’ Her smile had gone. ‘Now let’s get on with it before I change my mind again.’
    ‘I’m sitting comfortably.’ He sat back and raised his glass to her. ‘You may begin.’
    ‘Carly Drinkwater,’ she said, ‘a twenty-year-old student,’ she placed a black and white photograph on Maxwell’s coffee table, ‘from the London School of Economics.’
    Maxwell crossed himself. ‘God save us,’ he muttered. ‘By the way, are these the things you shouldn’t be showing me?’
    She looked at him, out of touch with the depth of his academic snobbery, ‘Yes. And He didn’t save her. She was found dead on waste ground in Raines Park two years ago. She’d been raped and strangled.’
    Maxwell looked at the dead girl, the clear eyes, the warm smile, the everything-to-live-for in her face.
    ‘Unsolved,’ Jacquie said. ‘Incident Room closed down.’
    ‘You mean, you’ve just given up?’
    ‘I mean,’ she told him, ‘you can only do so much. The Met is the most public institution in the world. It’s also one of the busiest forces in the world. Do you remember this case?’
    ‘No.’ Maxwell shrugged.
    ‘Well, there you are. She was somebody’s daughter, Max. She could have been yours.’
    He looked at the photograph again and for a moment a little girl sat smiling back at him. His own little girl, Jenny, two and a half. Then there was a roar of screaming tyres and he wrenched himself back to the safety of the here and now.
    ‘I expect you read about it in the papers,’ Jacquie was saying, ‘You saw it on the news.
Crimewatch
did a piece on it. But it was just another statistic, wasn’t it? To you, to Joe Public. But to the blokes – and the women – who worked on this, it was more than that. Far more. You had to be there. To pick up the pieces of somebody’s life. I’ve been to murder scenes like the one they found her in. It’s not something I’d wish on my worst enemy. She’d have looked like a broken doll. Naked. Sodden with rain. The rats had already taken bits of her. And people ask why the police want the death penalty brought back.’
    There was a silence. ‘How do I feel?’ Maxwell said at last.
    ‘The investigating officers tried all the usual angles. There was a boyfriend, um …’ she rummaged through her notes, ‘a Kenneth Cassidy. They’d had a row’
    ‘Ah …’
    ‘Apparently not.’ She saw the way his mind was working and shook her head, ‘He was eliminated. Watertight alibi. He was distraught, the report says. Either he was genuine or a bloody marvellous actor. The irony was, she’d gone off in a huff to the cinema immediately after their row. That was the last time he’d seen her.’
    ‘He identified the body?’
    ‘No. That’s done by next of kin wherever possible. Her father did that. Didn’t want to put his wife through it.’
    ‘I don’t really see …’
    ‘That was March two years ago.’ Jacquie produced a second photograph, ‘This is June of last year. Georgianna Morris, twenty-three. What do you notice?’
    Maxwell placed the girls’ photographs side by side. ‘My God,’ he murmured, ‘they could be

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