A police car screeched into the yard. There was, by now, no fight left in Stanley and he was slumped against the shed wall, his head in his hands, sobbing. Dave stood in front of him, legs braced, ready to counteract any attempt at a break for freedom. Carl was kneeling on the floor beside Flora, pumping on her chest as Jean continued to breathe into her open mouth, muttering in the intervals between breaths, “Please, please, please. Come on Flora, just breathe.” They were getting nowhere.
With a glance at his captive, Dave stepped away and strode to the door. He yelled to the men climbing from the car. “This way, in here. We need a defib machine. We need an ambulance. Christ, hurry up. There’s a woman dying.”
In response the driver dashed to the boot of the car, the other headed straight for the shed door. Dave stood aside as he pushed passed.
The scene in the hut no longer held the sense of danger and threat. Lipscow was in a world of his own. He was on the floor, back against the wall, his knees bent, arms across them and his great hands hung between them. Tears tracked down his cheeks, dripping unheeded onto his jacket.
He looked up as the police entered, made no move to speak or acknowledge what was happening. He lowered his gaze back to the floor. In the corner where Flora lay the situation was self-evident and that is where the police sergeant headed. Jean and Carl were still desperately trying to revive her. In a short break between the chest compressions, and the mouth to mouth, the copper laid a finger on Flora’s neck. “Steve, quick as you can. This woman’s unresponsive.” He spoke to Jean “How long have you been at this?”
Jean shook her head. “I don’t know, it seems forever.”
“Has there been anything?”
Carl swallowed hard. “Nothing, not yet. Nothing.” The policeman nodded and pursed his lips. His partner was fiddling with the machine he had carried in and Jean gasped in shock as Flora’s thin blouse was ripped apart, exposing her white cotton bra and the pale skin of her chest.
They tried. It was the same as Jean had seen on the television countless times, the shout to stand clear, the whine of the machine and the robotic voice giving instructions, the dreadful jerk of Flora’s body. An ambulance was on the way but they knew, they all knew it was too late.
They took Flora away, they could have left her there on the dirty floor waiting for the Coroner’s people but it was too heartless, too cold. They had done all that was possible, trying to make the young heart beat again, to force air into her lungs but it had been a useless task..
Stanley was taken away, still silent, unresponsive, lost to them. They had tried to make him talk. In the polite and careful way that they had to proceed, with all the requisite warnings and information but it meant nothing to him. They had put handcuffs on his wrists and recited the legal jargon but they were dealing with an automaton, unresponsive and broken he was driven from his farm.
There was a flurry of activity around the little shed, plastic sheeting thrown over the disturbed grave site, crime scene tape across the farm gates and Jean, Carl and Dave were left sitting on the wall, wrapped in silver sheets, numbed by what had happened. Requests went out for detectives, coroners, scene of crime personnel.
For Jean and Carl, it was very close to the scenario when Jean had been shot and she leaned against him in the back seat of the car and closed her eyes, wishing she had never come back here, that she had kept her memories of this place safe and happy.
Eventually they were allowed to leave but they insisted Jean go to A and E and she didn’t have the energy to argue. They dressed her wrists, dispensed pills and advice and she was by a young detective. She told him all she knew, right from the start. He insisted repeatedly that there was nothing she could have done to save Flora, though how he knew that, she wasn’t sure and it tore at her spirit. They had been there, such a short distance away and yet the poor woman had been murdered. Jean played and replayed it in her mind. Had there been a cry for help? She didn’t remember one. Should they have kept a more careful watch? Well, obviously they should and how could they ever forgive themselves for that. At the moment she couldn’t imagine that the dreadful guilt would ever leave her.
When she tried to talk about Ted she was told, that was for later, there would be more questions, more answers now that they had found him, but she mustn’t worry. She had done everything she could. After he left, and she laid her head back against the stiff pillow case, went over it all again, and again. It wasn’t true was it? She shouldn’t have interfered, if she had kept her nose out then this may have ended differently. There had been a great wrong done. It was the proper thing that Ted Smart would be laid to rest and his family allowed to grieve but at such a terrible cost and, try as she might to cling to the reassurances she had been given, Jean believed, deep down, that she had been the cause of it all going so very horribly wrong.