Observing Murder – A Short Story Part 3
Now, just what is a girl to do when she is surrounded by sparkling precious stones and gold? I hate to admit it but I couldn’t help myself, I stared. No, I mean I really stared. I don’t think my mouth was open – I certainly hope it wasn’t, but at some point I noticed the young man had a smirk on his face. I immediately stopped staring and made a great effort not to let my jaw drop as he walked me past cabinets of exquisitely made rings, necklaces, bracelets, watches, pins, brooches – honestly, I ask you, what would you have done?
I was taken through to a room towards the rear of the shop where we could discuss the drawing of the ring and its supposed relevance to a decades old murder. I found out that the young man’s name was Jeremy and he was interested in the drawing as he believed he had seen the exact ring somewhere before but couldn’t remember where. My internal antennae was buzzing – he’d lied, but why? I looked at him quizzically, and he had the grace to blush. ‘I must apologise’, he told me ‘I don’t believe I’ve seen the ring before, I KNOW I’ve seen it before. It used to belong to my great-grandmother and on her death it passed to my grandmother. She wears it every day. What I can’t understand is how and why you have drawn an exact image of it. You see, it was a commissioned piece made specifically for my great-grandmother by Garrards. There were no copies ever made. As far as I know it has never been photographed, so has never appeared in the press’.
I looked long and hard at Jeremy as he was speaking. What he’d just told me appeared to be the truth and it meant that the ring had been found. But what about the other pieces that had gone missing? I asked Jeremy for some paper and a pencil and began to sketch out the pendant, as far as I could remember it. I’m not a bad artist and the image took shape quite quickly. I could remember the top of the gem being encrusted with diamonds which led up to, what I believed to be, the bale itself and seemed to spread out along the top to make the bale part of the overall design. The chain, as far as I remembered, fed through and became part of the necklace. The yellow stone was cut in a tear shape and was a beautiful golden yellow, I could still visualise it sparkling on the woman’s throat as I turned and ran after her killer. Jeremy, I could see, had gone white. He looked at me as though I were some kind of alien and then, just as I thought I was going to have to call for some help, he kind of croaked then whispered ‘how did you do this’? It was clear that the poor man was in shock. It was also clear that he recognised the pendant. I said one word to him – ‘great-grandmother’? He just nodded his head as confirmation.
I stayed silent whilst he mentally pulled himself together. I had no idea what all this meant, but it was clear to me (and by implication, Jeremy), that the woman I had seen murdered had been wearing the very same jewels that Jeremy’s great-grandmother had owned. Looking round I noticed a coffee/tea making machine standing on a cabinet in the corner of the room. I asked if he would like a cup of tea, but he looked at me and said he would rather we went for something stronger where I could explain to him exactly how I had managed to copy the one-off pieces that were, currently, being worn by his grandmother. I really felt sorry for him. He looked as though his little world had collapsed around his feet and I had no idea why.
In my head I could hear the sound of gentle crying. I was increasingly worried about Laurie. She had always seemed so strong, the person who would give me a good talking to and set me back on the right road if I seemed down. I mentally asked her if she was ok, but there was no reply, just the gentle crying sound which rather unnerved me.
Some fifty minutes later we were sitting at a sheltered table in a very nice wine bar, making our way through a perfectly chilled bottle of Pinot Grigio. I had told him all about the very detailed dream I’d had and Jeremy had listened very attentively. Then Jeremy started explaining his family history to me, which was rather interesting but really none of my business. However, I let him carry on until he’d finished. I’d already decided I would make notes about what he told me later that evening – ok, Laurie had told me that that is what I should have to do, I just do as I’m told. After having told me about his parents and siblings (one brother, one sister), he moved on to his grandparents and their little quirks, likes and dislikes. I admit I was fidgeting a bit as I really wanted to know more about the jewellery, but it was clear that Jeremy had something he wanted to tell me and he was trying to find a way which would enable him to do it. Eventually, after pouring himself a third glass of wine, he told me about his great-grandparents.
His great-grandmother’s name was Elizabeth Denvers. She had married her husband in 1924 on her 25th birthday. His family had never known very much about Elizabeth’s life or family as she had never, ever, talked about them. The man she married had turned out to be a very good catch for her and she had adored him, bearing him three children, one girl and two boys the girl, obviously, being Jeremy’s grandmother, who she had named Rebecca. Apparently Elizabeth and Oswald had enjoyed a very happy marriage, her husband showering her with gifts whenever he had had to go away. Jeremy imagined that one of those gifts would have been the beautiful citrine pendant that I had drawn. Oswald seemed to have gone away quite a lot and I asked Jeremy what it was he had done for a living. He replied that he didn’t really know and he suspected it had been something to do with the government but he didn’t have a clue what. Whatever it was it had provided his family with a very comfortable life, a large family home in the country and a very nice town house in the city. Both of which were still in the family.
I realised that I didn’t know Jeremy’s surname, his mother’s original surname, or Elizabeth’s husband come to that. It suddenly seemed important that I knew, so I asked. Jeremy went silent. Up to that point he had been quite forthcoming with his family history and I wondered what it was that had made him clam up, and whether, perhaps, he had just realised that his family history wasn’t something he should be telling a complete stranger in a wine bar in the middle of London. I apologised, really I had been quite rude asking him such a question and I was well aware that I had had no right to do so. Then he smiled – it was a lovely smile which seemed to light up his whole face and expanded to encompass the space we were sitting in. What he said next was totally unexpected: ‘Would you let me take you out for a meal tonight Miss Maitland’? Gosh, me? Go out for a meal with a totally ‘hot’ bloke who – get this – works in Garrards? Of course I said I’d love to, but only if he dropped the ‘Miss Maitland’ formality and called me Naomi. He beamed again and we agreed to meet for a drink here at 7pm before moving on. I was feeling rather pleased to be honest. I liked Jeremy and I knew he had more to tell me. Did I want to know what he still had to tell me more than I liked him for himself? I didn’t yet know the answer to that, but I liked him well enough.
As we were making moves to leave he told me that his surname was Curtis. I liked the sound of that – Jeremy Curtis – it sounded solid, grounded somehow. It sort of matched his physique, tall, slim, fair haired and very smartly dressed. Oh, listen to me, I sound like some idiotic teenager who’s just having her first crush and I’m almost 25 for goodness sake, but his name really did suit him. Unfortunately he then threw me a bombshell. Just as I was about to turn and walk away, with the intention of having a good soak and planning my outfit for the evening, Jeremy told me his great-grandfather’s name – Oswald Archibald Jefferson – O.A.J.
He carried on talking, about what I simply have no idea, I was in total shock. Jeremy, though, didn’t seem to notice and I remember him giving me a quick peck on the cheek and confirming the time we would meet later that evening. I remember I nodded and said something along the lines of ‘looking forward to it’ and we parted company. I managed to get to my hotel, I’m not really sure how. All I could think was that Jeremy’s great-grandfather may have been the man who I had seen murder the woman in my dream. How on earth was I going to tell him that? How could I possibly broach that subject? I couldn’t, I simply couldn’t. Not without further proof anyway, and I had no idea how I was going to find that. Then it registered with me that Jeremy must have realised the implications of telling me his great-grandfather’s full name. I’d told him everything I could about my dream, including the initials found engraved on the silver-topped cane and the woman’s watch.
I sat down on the little chair in front of the shelf that acted as a dressing table in my room and began to compile a list of the information I was lacking:
- Who was the woman who was murdered?
- Why had she been murdered?
- Was Oswald Archibald Jefferson really the same O.A.J. as the initials engraved on the silver-topped cane the murderer had carried and on the watch which the woman was wearing?
- Were there any photographs of Oswald and Elizabeth which would help to either identify him as the murderer or prove to me that he wasn’t the man I had seen?
- Who had stolen the jewellery, specifically the ring?
- Elizabeth might have worn it but how did she come by it? Jeremy had said the ring had been commissioned for her. If so, then how had the woman in my dream come to be wearing Elizabeth’s property?
- Who had originally purchased the ring?
- Why were there no further news reports about the murder?
I had no idea how I was going to go about finding the answers to these questions, but I knew they had to be answered and Jeremy was possibly going to be able to shed some light on the issue, though I was going to have to be very careful about how I questioned him. If his great-grandfather turned out to be a murderer it was unlikely that Jeremy would ever forgive me for bringing it all to light. For some reason I really cared about that.
‘He’s very nice’ said Laurie in my head. A comment I thought quite inappropriate given the seriousness of the whole situation. I selected the outfit I had decided to wear that evening and busied myself with the preparations which must be gone through by every female before heading out for a date with a man.