Friday, January 24, 2014

Each to Their Own

By Diana J. Febry
Mystery/Crime, 369 pages
Cover art by Richard Stroud

Dan is determined to prove Kayleigh’s fall was not accidental. But when witnesses start to disappear it seems someone else is pursuing their own brand of justice. Dan must decide who to trust as he confronts the same dangers as Kayleigh to uncover the truth.


I fire off a few urgent e-mails before stepping out of my silver Jaguar and heading up the driveway to Sunnyside Retirement Home. The sun makes a brief appearance but does little to soften the sharp chill of the frosty morning. My blazer would be more use on, than flung over my shoulder as I hurry across the car park.

Inside the foyer, the air is stale and overheated. I try to wrinkle my nose to block out the smell of decay and disinfectant and ring the bell on the reception desk. I give my perfect work smile as a young girl in a starched uniform appears. I read her name badge, “Hello Amanda, can you tell Mrs Fisher Anthony Lines is here to see her, please?”

I resist the urge to flick through the magazines on the low coffee table while I wait, preferring to stand looking out of the bay window at the sweep of the drive. This would make a perfect family home.
“Hello, Mr Lines,” Mrs Fisher says as she walks briskly towards me, hand outstretched. “It’s a pleasure as always to see you.”

Mrs Fisher has her camp firmly in the world of business rather than the caring profession. It is my cheque arriving each month that gives her pleasure, but the home is efficiently run and I’m happy my money is put to good use. I give her my customary smile, “Did the nurse from last night explain I’ve come to collect the package from last week before I pop up to see Father?”

With an equally professional smile painted on her face, Mrs Fisher replies, “Follow me into my office.” The sharp heels of her shoes clack along the sanitised corridor while mine squeak occasionally on the buffed surface. Once she’s ushered me inside and closed the door she repeats the smile, “Won’t you sit down?”

Her office is a comfortable sitting room over- looking the front drive and manicured gardens. A small desk, computer monitor and a heavily disguised filing cabinet, the only functional office equipment in the room, take up a small space in the corner. The main purpose of the room is to put relatives at ease when she gives news of death or an increase in costs due to a decline in health. Yet I feel a slight sense of unease as I sink deep into the sumptuous armchair, “I’m in a bit of a rush this morning, I’m afraid. I need to get home to the boys.”

Mrs Fisher takes up her seat on the end of the sofa. She perches with her ankles crossed, hands resting in her lap and a sympathetic look on her face, “Yes, of course. It’s a shame you haven’t brought them. There’s a definite change in Bill when he sees them.”

“Next time, I promise,” I reply quickly. I might be trapped in here all morning if I explain my concerns about Father’s deteriorating state of mind. The last time I brought Matt and Simon to visit, he’d skipped back a generation and thought it was me and Jamie sitting on his bed. That conversation I’d prefer to delay for a day I have time to waste, “Could I have the package, please?” I wait anxiously while Mrs Fisher plays with a stray thread from her woollen skirt. I’m guessing something has happened and the time for that conversation unfortunately is now.

“I’m afraid, Mr Lines, there has been a slight mix-up.”

“Go on,” I reply, thinking the package had been destroyed by accident.

“Yes, you see there was a new girl working and we’ve been so rushed off our feet I didn’t have a chance to explain about our little arrangement.”

“What?” I fight the gravitational pull of the armchair and try to lean forwards. Through a forced smile, gripping the arms of the chair, I pointlessly say, “But we agreed.”

“I know and I’m terribly sorry. I know how difficult it can be when our parents become confused. I understand you want to save him from embarrassment but I’m sure no real harm has been done. The recipient will probably throw it in the bin if it’s complete gibberish.”

I instantly regret the lie I told to ensure Father’s mail was intercepted.

“We really have been very busy recently.”

Gravity pulls me to the back of the chair once again as I let go of the armrests. It gives the impression I’m relaxed about the oversight. In reality, alarm bells are ringing loud and clear in my ears, “Is it possible to speak to the girl who posted it?”

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