Meanwhile, back on the other side of town Celia was led through to the interview room. The police man looked serious and she knew that this time she was in trouble. She had asked for a lawyer to be present and sure enough a lawyer had been provided. A black suit, long legs with high heels and a stern look helped along by the tight chignon that her brunette hair was manipulated into. Celia didn’t instantly warm to her lawyer who sat there next to her across from the policeman.
The policeman started
“Celia Pemberton? You have been charged with fraud under section 2 of the Fraud Act 1979. Do you have anything to say to this?”
“No” Celia responded.
“Why were you in the old ‘Thorrs’ factory at 141 Long View Road, off Cheap Street on the 23rd April 2012?”
“Ok, can you tell me who this man is?” A photograph of the spotty youth that had also been arrested was put in front of Celia. She looked at it and shrugged once again.
“Ok, Celia. I have to tell you that your mother was taken ill earlier this afternoon. She was taken to hospital in an ambulance and as I understand it is critically ill. You know your mother’s health was fragile anyway” he paused “You can take your pick; co-operate with me and you will be free to go and see your mother in no time at all or don’t co-operate and you will stay in a prison cell, without bail until your trial from which point you will stay in a prison cell until the end of your sentence, which, could be up to ten years and you will not get to see your mother, probably ever”.
At these last words Celia recoiled. The police man could tell that he had hit a nerve.
Celia still didn’t say anything.
“So, are you ready to start talking?”
Celia sat in silence. The policeman pushed his chair back and said
“Ok then. You can wait in your cell until you are ready to talk.” And returned Celia to her cell.
Celia sat in her cell pensively for an hour, during which time the policeman walked past and looked in on her. She was sat on the floor, her head in her hands. Her eyes blood-shot and tired.
A short while later a shouting protruded the thoughts of the policeman as he sat at the front desk. He headed down to the cell block to find out what was causing the disturbance. As he got closer he could hear Celia calling out “I’m ready”
‘I’m ready to talk’
‘I want to see my mother’
The lawyer had gone home. Rachel was led back into the interview room where she sat opposite the police officer who set up the recorder.
“Celia Pemberton, you have been charged with section 2 of the Fraud Act 1979, do you understand”
“Yes” Celia said quietly.
“Please can you tell us how you came to be at xyz on the night of the 23rd April 2012”
“I paint pictures. I go there to paint pictures”
“What sort of pictures?”
“I paint pictures that have gone missing. They are sold to people who want them, that covet them”
“Why do you do this?”
“I do it to make money and to revive lost art that may otherwise never be appreciated again”.
And with reticence and resigned desperation Celia began to open up. She told the police the whole story, right from how she has got involved with these people when she needed money as a student; how her parents had bailed her out and how she still owed them money for bailing her out as they lost their inheritance through helping her. She explained that when her mother had been diagnosed with terminal cancer Celia had worked out that the only chance she had to repay her debts to her parents was by getting involved with these people and the obvious skill she had was her painting. Then, in an effort to help her father when he got into financial difficulties she had arranged for him to take a job too, although she had not shared with him either her involvement or the details of the nature of the business. She had been trying to protect him. As Celia spoke the tears ran down her cheeks, her sadness and desperation to see her mother making her compliant.
The policeman listened and made notes; the tape machine rolled around and around, picking up every word; and the chair that the lawyer once sat in now stood empty beside the door.
Celia explained about the death of Si and how the gang had not liked him working with them anymore as he was becoming ‘unreliable’ as they put it, so they chose to make a few phone calls and give away a few secrets about where he would be and when, knowing full well that he wouldn’t be a problem to them any longer.
“Would you be willing to testify to this in a court?” the policeman asked.
“I ….I…..They would never forgive me…they would come after me”
“What if we could guarantee you would be safe?”
“If you promised…really could guarantee…then yes, I guess I could do”.
After a draining couple of hours Rachel was led back to her cell. As the policeman opened the door and let her into the room she protested
“I want to see my mother now, please let me see my mum”
“Not just yet” the policeman said as he clanged the door shut and turned on his heel, walking noisily down the corridor.
“Let me out” Celia yelled after him but he just kept on going.
Meanwhile on the other side of town Frank sat beside Rachel’s bedside; her pale limp hand held firmly in his. As he talked to her, her eyelashes fluttered open. Frank leapt forward. “Rach, Rach it’s me honey” he cooed softly to her as she gradually took in her surroundings.
“Rach, you are in the hospital, they are going to make you better honey”
“Police? Where’s Celia?” Rachel whispered back. Concern creasing her still beautiful face.
“Where is she?” Rachel sounded irate despite the weakness in her voice.
“She’s on her way honey, she won’t be long”.
“No hon, the police let her go, she’s ok”
Rachel’s face relaxed, the corners of her mouth turned slightly upwards into the beginning of a smile and Rachel lay back and closed her eyes. As she fell into a deep sleep she could feel the warmth of Frank’s hand against hers and his face against the skin on her face as the world of unconscious pulled her into eternal oblivion.
“Good night my love, I shall see you soon” whispered Frank.
Four years later Celia woke up. It was eleven o’clock and she looked around her modest apartment on the outskirts of LA. Her light shade was dusky pink, not her choice; her carpet was a pale blue, not her choice either; and the woodwork was painted grey. Celia’s white fluffy dressing gown hung on the back of the door next to her name badge on a lanyard proclaiming her to be Maria Nelby, a museum ‘host’ at The Los Angeles Museum Of Art and Culture’. She had been working there a whole year now, since she was released from prison and entered on to the Witness Protection Program. Her father, also on the program, would be arriving shortly ready for their Saturday lunch time meet up at a local restaurant, after which they would take a stroll through the park. Celia enjoyed meeting up with her father and she missed her mother with every inch of her being with every day that went past.