Crime Fiction. High Stakes. Part 2 of 2
High Stakes. Continued.
From Part 1......
"All good things come to an end, time for goodbyes to new friends and staff, the usual exchange of phone numbers and addresses that will never be called, the coach arrived, and the journey home began."
5. The Test.
Back home and back to reality.
Though Jon did show interest in his families chitchat on their arrival back home, his main thoughts were on his next visit to the Rolling Dice. He had every intention of calling on Friday, but should he return on Saturday? Should he quit when he has won a certain amount? Should he purposely lose occasionally? Should he continuously frequent the same casino or should he venture farther a field in search of others? Should he confide in anyone with his method that in his opinion couldn’t fail if carried out correctly?
Jon seemed very agitated, this would be his third casino visit since perfecting his method, surely if it worked this time, Liz and the family would have to accept that it works.
7pm, Jon had donned his best suit for the occasion, “I’m off Liz, be back around midnight, are you waiting up for me? If you are I can call for a pizza or a burger on my way home.”
“I’ll wait up but I don’t want any supper, good luck” Liz replied.
“Luck doesn’t come in to it, it’s more skill and technique, see you later” Jon gave Liz a quick kiss before leaving.
Liz was woken by the sound of rattling bottles as the milkman drove down the road; it was 4.45am and no sign of Jon.
She called his mobile but was greeted with “it has not been possible to connect your call, please try later.” Although rather concerned, she decided to get a few hours in bed, hoping that the morning would bring better news.
Liz rose at 8am, still no sign of Jon, still the same message calling his mobile. She woke Tony to see what his thoughts would be. “Tony, your dad hasn’t come home and I can’t get him on his mobile, I’m worried, what shall I do?” Tony tried to call him from his mobile, to no avail, “I really don’t know mum, could he not have moved on to a friends house to continue playing cards after the casino closed, I think it closes at 3am?”
James heard them talking and headed to Tony’s room to see what the problem was, “Jon’s not come home, can’t get him on his mobile, he’s in trouble when I get hold of him” Liz blurted before James could get a word out, “Probably been carding all night at someone’s house and fell asleep, could have switched his phone off so he wouldn’t be disturbed, so it wouldn’t disrupt his concentration. I wouldn’t be too worried as yet, give him a little time, he’ll be back” James replied in his sons defence.
Liz spent most of Saturday continuously calling Jon’s mobile, still getting the same reply. She called a couple of his friends who he usually drinks and gambles with, neither of whom were out last night. She called the casino, to which she was greeted with a recording that simply stated the opening times.
That evening, after a really stressful day, Liz told Tony and James that she was going to go down to the casino to see if she could find anything out about Jon. James said that he would go walkabout, on a pub-crawl, and make some enquiries, Tony said similar, he was heading to town with Lynne.
Having never been inside a casino, Liz was quite impressed as she entered the main gambling section, it was clean and pleasant, and seemed well organised. There was plenty security persons and she also noted cameras absolutely everywhere surveying every angle.
She approached an official requesting the possibility of seeing the manager, he seemed reluctant and asked if there was anything that he could do. Insisting that she needed to speak to the manager, he stepped aside and muttered a conversation over his walkie-talkie. Returning to Liz, he said that Mr Carter, the owner-manager would be with you in a moment.
Within the minute, a well-dressed, very polite gentleman greeted her, “hello, I’m Richard Carter, Ricky to you, and to what do I owe this pleasure?”
“I’m sorry to bother you but I am a little concerned about my husband, he came here last night and he never arrived home, something that he hasn’t ever done before.” Liz said in a very shaky voice.
“Come into my office” Ricky took Liz’s arm and guided her towards his office where she was offered a comfortable chair and a drink; she chose water. “Firstly, who are you and who is your husband?” Ricky asked in a very polite manner.
“Liz Houghton, my husband is Jon” was Liz’s quick reply “he came her last night, left home around sevenish and I haven’t seen or heard of him since.”
There was a long pause before Ricky spoke again, “I know Jon Houghton, ha” nodding his head as he spoke “he left here last night several thousand pound richer than he was when he arrived” Ricky stood up and headed toward the door “bear with me a moment.”
Within a couple of minutes Ricky returned with several photographs, “Is that Jon?” he passed them to Liz,
“Yes, these are all Jon, seems to be enjoying himself” she said pondering through the pictures. Some where of Jon at the tables and two of them were of Jon leaving the casino and heading down the street, 2.53am printed on that one.
“As you can see, he left here a happy rich man. Will that be all then, I do have other business to attend to?” Ricky stood and opened the door inviting Liz to leave. “Sorry I can’t be of anymore assistance” Ricky smiled.
“Thanks for you time” Liz replied more puzzled than ever.
It was now Sunday morning and Liz was becoming frantic, she had no other option but to involve the police, preferring to call in person as opposed to phoning, off she went.
At the station, with the help of a police officer, Sergeant Adams, Liz had to complete a fine detailed report. Her statement began with the facts of Jon having won quite a sum from the Rolling Dice casino during his past two visits and that she had visited the casino and been shown pictures of Jon at the tables and leaving the place in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Along with a couple of recent photographs that she had taken, she had to fully describe Jon. His height, his build, his hair and eye colours. What he was wearing where he frequently goes who his friends are? What mood he was in, how much money did he have, and his bank details? Etc. Etc.
Having now been at the station for almost three hours, Sergeant Adams explained what would happen next. Details of Jon will be entered onto the Police National Computer where all stations and officers will have access to it. Officers will call at your home later today to conduct a search that may produce further evidence that could assist us in finding Jon. They will probably ask for his toothbrush, this is normal; it will be used to define his DNA. You may be asked several questions similar to those you have just been asked, this is normal procedure. Should you recall anything else that may assist us in our investigation, please contact us immediately.
Later that afternoon, three officers led by Sergeant Lewis arrived at the Houghton’s home to conduct a thorough search of the house, garage, shed, even neighbouring gardens. They did request Jon’s toothbrush and they did ask more questions, also inviting Tony and James to add anything that may be relevant.
Upon leaving, Sergeant Lewis, being very sympathetic, told Liz that people go missing for many different reasons, sometimes we all simply want a little time on our own, hopefully this case is something along those lines. We will be in touch with any updates as and when we can and please don’t hesitate should you discover anything new to the case.
A further officer was noted conducting questioning of neighbours.
All that was done was normal procedure during the investigation of a missing person.
Mid week Sergeant Lewis returned to see Mrs Houghton, Jon hadn’t been found, he called to say that all leads had been followed, and that the investigation was still on going.
Footage of Jon at the casino had been watched, he was seen leaving from the casinos cameras and was noted walking down Market Street in town, that being on the town council cameras.
Hospitals had been notified and no persons of Jon’s description had been admitted.
Again Sergeant Lewis left with a promise that he would keep in contact.
Weeks passed. Sergeant Lewis, along with other officers still kept in regular contact with the Houghton family, never though with the news that they wanted to hear.
The Houghton family were all trying the very best to get along with their lives but yet still living in hope that one day Jon would be back with them. As the days went by though, that wish seemed to fall farther and farther away.
One Saturday afternoon Liz was watching TV, with very little interest, when she noticed Sergeant Lewis and two other gentlemen walking toward her front door. She ran to the door to greet them hoping that they would be bearing good news. Sergeant Lewis introduced the two gentlemen as Detectives Dawber and Howarth and asked if they could come in and have a chat with the family.
They were invited into the living room, James was already in there; Liz shouted upstairs telling Tony to come down.
All present, Detective Dawber opened the conversation, “I am afraid that we haven’t come with good news, quite the opposite actually. We have no news relating to the disappearance of Jon Houghton, every lead on that case seems to hit a blank. We’re investigating the suspicious deaths of a local businessman and two of his employees. Do any of you know anything of this?”
The family looked at one another in a puzzled manor, each stating that they hadn’t heard any news relating to any deaths. Liz angrily asked, “This must be something to do with Jon’s disappearance, are we suspects relating to these suspicious deaths? Who are these three people?”
Howarth quickly reacted, “Calm down Mrs Houghton, your not being treated as suspects, not as yet anyway, we’re here to try to eliminate you from this investigation.”
“So we’re the possible suspects, guilty until proved innocent is it? Who has been killed?” Tony shouted.
Dawber, “I take it you all recall the last place that Jon was seen? Just to jog your memories, it was at the Rolling Dice casino.”
Nods all round from the Houghton family acknowledging this fact.
Dawber continued, “Well then, do any of you know the owner of this casino?” “Yes I do,” confirmed Liz “Richard Carter, I’ve met him, as you well know. Is he the businessman whose been killed?”
“I’m afraid so” said Dawber “Along with two of his employees, David Tring and Edward Melling, do any of you know these?”
None of the Houghton family admitted to this.
Tony remarked “Probably all deserved what they got?”
“When and where were these people killed?” James spoke, “More to the point, how were they killed?”
Howarth responded, “Answering the first part of your question Mr Houghton, let me reply by asking where each of you were between the hours of 3am and 6am this morning?” quickly adding, “This is not in any way an accusation, we need to rule you all out so that we can concentrate our efforts elsewhere.”
“All three of us were at home tucked up in bed,” Liz growled, “Where most normal people are at those times.”
“Just following procedure Mrs Houghton, we have to ask” Howarth defended his questioning. “I really don’t intend to upset any of you but would you mind if we took a look around, you can refuse, but then again we can get a warrant.”
“By all means do so” Liz replied, opening the living room door, “You won’t find anything untoward here?”
Tony Jumped up at that point and headed toward his room, “Just need to check my Emails, don’t want to leave my personal mails open for you lot to see.”
Howarth and Sergeant Lewis left the room to conduct a search the premises.
Dawber remained seated and waited for Tony to return, once back he continued “Whilst they’re conducting the search, I’ll tell you as much as I can without damaging the case, after all, it will all be in the newspapers later. Edward Melling was found by a passer by, beaten to death in a side street by the casino, seems he was attacked as he was getting into his car. David Tring, again beaten to death, again by his car, found on a car park at the back of an all night burger bar, by an employee. Richard Carter, as you know, the casino owner, was discovered on the canal footpath by two cyclists, again beaten to death, very violently.”
“Surely you don’t suspect that the three of us have done this, which one am I being blamed for” Liz sarcastically replied.
“Mum, they’re just doing their job, don’t take it to heart, we all know that it’s nothing to do with us.” Tony answered comforting his mother.
“Mrs Houghton” Dawber continued, “You are not the only family that we will be interviewing relating to this case, these three men aren’t without enemies.”
Howarth and Sergeant Lewis returned, “I see you play cricket Tony, noted your kit upstairs.” said Howarth.
“I do quite a lot of sports, like to keep myself fit, is that a problem?” Tony reacted.
“Not at all, just making observations, used to play myself” Howarth smiled, “anyway if you’ve all finished in here, I think we’ll call it a day. Sorry for the trouble, we’ll be in touch.”
As the officers were leaving, Sergeant Lewis whispered to Liz, “Don’t worry about this, you’ve other things on your minds, I think you’re ruled out of this enquiry, take care of yourselves.”
Later that afternoon Liz went out to buy the local newspaper, simply to confirm what the police had told them. Seems that the story hit the front page, “Three Local Men Found Beaten To Death With A Cricket Bat,” was the headline. None of the victims were robbed; all still had their belongings on their person. The deaths were linked to the casino but the police are stumped as to the motive.
The deaths of Edward Melling, David Tring and Richard Carter were obviously linked together so we need to slowly progress through the series of events during the early hours of that Saturday morning.
All three men were killed with the same weapon, a cricket bat.
Richard was always the last to leave the casino, usually twenty minutes or so after everyone else, he locked the takings away in a safe that Fort Knox would be proud to own, he set all the alarms and he ensured that the place was invincible. So we can leave him till later.
Edward always parked his car in the same place every opening night, always arrived at the same time, generally always left at the same time. Routine, just like clockwork. As Edward was the biggest and fittest of the three, if he can be sorted then the other two would be easy.
As Edward stooped to enter his car, he received the first hit, to the back of his head. As his hands reached up to cradle his head, it was obvious that he was still conscious, still alive. Several more swings to the head area and Edward was still, no vital signs, so that was one down, two to go.
More often than not after work, David Tring would call at the all night burger bar for his supper, unfortunately for him, this night was no different.
From the spot where Edward lay was a two-minute run to the burger bar, leaving plenty time to lie in wait ready to pounce.
David could be seen at the service counter, awaiting his meal, giving a little time to get ones breath back after a brisk run.
As almost a replica of Edward’s death, David was caught at the back of his head as he was entering his car. Several more swings of the bat, and job done, two down and one to go.
Hoping that Richard is still counting his takings, another brisk run back to the casino. Now its just a matter of waiting, can’t break into his car, his alarm would be set off.
Minutes after the office lights dimmed, Richard emerged, the final shutters rolled down and the place was secure. As he approached his car he disarmed his alarm, he entered his car and pulled his seatbelt over. Time to jump into the back seat.
“Don’t turn around, just drive.”
“Do you know who I am?” Richard asked.
“I know enough about you, turn right here.” “Now turn left here.”
“Going to the canal are we?” Richard quizzed.
“Park here and give me the keys, we’re going for a walk.”
On the approach to the loch, Richard received several blows to his body, dropping him to his knees. “Is it money you want, I can sort you out with money, take me back to the casino, I’ll sort you out.”
Another blow to the body, “What is it you want, let me know I’ll sort it.” Richard sobbed.
Yet another blow, “Please, lets sort this out, I beg you.” Pleaded Richard.
“You beg me? But in my experience, those who beg for mercy seldom deserve it, do you deserve it?” “Remember this line?”
A final blow to the head and Richard was no more.
That’s right, I didn’t die. I took one hell of a beating from those three men, the snooker cue missed all my vital organs and I landed on a ledge not too far from the cliff top.
How I recovered and got to this point is a different story.
How I am going to get my life back with my family is also a different story for a later time.
How I survive, isn’t that obvious, I play cards!
The End. For now.
Open to comment ant criticism!