The address took them to a small, neat, terraced house and as Simon walked up the narrow path the blind at the front window lifted in one corner. He rang the bell and smiled as a dog inside set up a racket and a distant voice sent it to a basket.
A tall, slender woman with shoulder length, dark hair opened the door. A little girl of about five years old, dressed in a cute school uniform peeped out from behind her. “Yes?”
“Hello, sorry to bother you. Are you Michelle Buj erm Bug?” The woman grinned and nodded, “Yes, that’s me. Who are you?”
“Sorry. My name is Fulton, Simon Fulton. I’m really sorry to bother you but I wondered if I could talk to you about the accident you saw on the moors the other day?”
“Are you the police?” He was aware of her fight to drag her eyes away from the scar that snaked down his cheek and under his chin. He never thought about the wound from his time in jail until he met someone new and saw them struggle between curiosity and good manners. His solicitor had once tentatively suggested that he could have the state pay for plastic surgery on that and the slashes across his belly. He didn’t care about the way they made him look and they made him remember. Every time he looked in the mirror he remembered it had happened because he let his sister down. If he hadn’t become bored waiting for her, then she would still be alive today. No matter what happened, he knew it was a guilt that would be with him forever, so why not wear the scars it had caused. He dragged his thoughts back to the present.
“No, no I’m not. I suppose you’ve already spoken to them?”
“I did. I gave them a statement. You’re not a reporter are you? Because if you are you can get lost right now. Anyway, I’m in a hurry, I have to get my little girl to school. We can’t be late.”
“No, no I promise you I’m not a reporter. I’m – well, I’m sort of working for Mr Clegg. The man in the car.”
“Oh right. How is he?”
“He’s doing alright now thank you. He reckons you saved his life, he’s very grateful.”
“I’m glad he’s okay but anyone would have done what I did.”
“Well, maybe – maybe not. It must have been pretty shocking for you.”
“Yes, it was. I was just glad Keira wasn’t with me.” As she spoke she wrapped an arm around the child’s shoulders, drawing her close.”
“You had to drag the door open?”
“Yes, I did, had to clamber up on that car and then once I saw he was breathing and not bleeding too badly I just left him as he was, I didn’t want to make things worse by moving him. I called the ambulance and just talked to him while we waited. I didn’t think he could hear me but you know, just in case.”
“Well you did a good job.”
“Look, I really do have to get going. Thanks for coming by, tell him – Mr Clegg is it? Tell him I’m glad he’s okay.”
“I will. I did wonder if you could just give me a few more details though?”
“How do you mean?”
“Well, did you see the accident for example?”
“No, I didn’t but it must have happened just before I got there because the engine was still hot, I burned my hand on the exhaust.” She held out her arm and Simon saw the nasty reddened skin on the back of her hand. “Bit of nuisance to be honest, I’m a beauty therapist, I can do without something like that on my hand.”
“It looks sore.” She nodded and frowned as she studied the damaged skin.
“Well it’s nothing compared to what happened to that poor old bloke is it?”
“No, I guess not. So, you didn’t see any other cars, nothing like that?”
“No, nothing. Oh, well – hmm.”
“Well for one thing he didn’t have his seat belt on. I didn’t tell the police, these older men, I know what they’re like. My uncle’s always doing it, stubbornness that’s all it is. They possibly thought I’d taken it off, but I hadn’t.” She smiled and shrugged. “There was something else and again I haven’t mentioned this to anyone. I wondered if I should have told the police. To be honest when they came I was still a bit upset about it all and it was only afterwards I remembered. I thought about it and decided it didn’t really matter anyway because they had pretty much assumed that he‘d fallen asleep at the wheel or something. You know him being an old bloke and that.”
“Yes, I think that’s their explanation. But you saw something else?”
“Well, I don’t know. While I was sitting waiting for the ambulance. I saw a woman, or maybe a girl. Just on the top of the hill. Off towards where that narrow road goes. I think there’s a farm down there. She was standing on the rise and then she disappeared. I did wave to her, I thought she might be able to bring a blanket or something but she didn’t wave back, just vanished. I thought she’d probably gone to get help but I was already talking to the ambulance by then anyway so It didn’t matter. Look I really do have to get going.”
“Sorry yes of course. If I need to, could I come back and talk to you again? Could I take a number so I can ring, in case you’re busy or whatever?”
“No, I don’t think I want to give you my number but I’m here most days after five, you can come in the evening if you like.”
“Great, that’s great – thanks.”
“Tell Mr Clegg I hope he gets better soon.”
“I will, yes I will thank you.”
Simon slid into Gloria’s car and they pulled away as Michelle buckled her daughter into her own vehicle and as they reached the junction at the end of the road the two cars were together. He turned and waved at the child in the rear seat, grinning at him through the window.
“Did she say anything that might help?” Gloria didn’t look at him as she pulled into the line of traffic.
“I’m not sure. She didn’t see another car or anything like that but she did say she saw a woman, watching from up by the farm.”
“Oh, well maybe that should be somewhere else we could go, see if they saw anything?”
“Yeah. I think so. Can we go there now?”
“Might as well, as we’re out anyway.”