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Goon and Fatty exchanged glances. There was a moment of silence before Goon cleared his throat.
“Would you please explain, Mrs. Miller? What makes you think someone is trying to kill you?”, he asked.
“It’s quite obvious, isn’t it”, said the old lady, “why else would I find a skateboard at the top of the stairs with the landing in the dark because the lightbulb is missing?”
“How many kids live on this floor, ma’am?”
“There are no kids on this floor, you see.”
“There are some on the other floors?”
“Oh yes, there is one family on the first family with two boys. They have odd names. Odd boys too. ”
“How old are they?”, asked Goon.
“Oh, I don’t know for sure, I would have guessed fourteen and twelve. They never smile, you know.”
“Do they skateboard?”
“I have never seen them play anything. They stand around with the kids from next door. They are odd too. The tall, thin lad seems to be their leader.”
Goon leaned forward in his chair.
“Then where did that skateboard come from? If the kids don’t play anything… you say you have never seen them play. Have you ever seen that skateboard before?”
“Ma’am”, said Fatty, “where did you see the…”
Mrs. Miller, waved her hand at Fatty.
“Wait a minute, young man. Mr. Goon, is that the name? Yes, I had seen that skateboard before, twice before. You see the lightbulb was still working then.”
“And so you saw it on the landing?”
“Oh no, it was in its package. It had this cellophane wrapper around it.”
“The skateboard was lying there packed? On the landing?”
“Of course not. That would be quite odd. No, it was with the gentleman who lives in 610.”
Fatty glanced quickly at Goon who nodded imperceptibly.
“Mrs. Miller, ma’am, you saw the gentleman in 610, whose name is…”, Fatty paused.
“It’s a foreign name, now, isn’t it. Zoogi, or something like that. only it isn’t spelled that way.”
Goon said, “So this Mr. Zoogi, was carrying a skateboard. How many children does he have?’
“I’m quite sure it isn’t spelled that way. It is odd, you know, Mr ..uh..Goon, that he hasn’t any children of his own. He lives alone.”
“Are you sure it was the same skateboard? He may have bought it as a present for someone.”
“Then why did I find it lying on the landing at the top of the stairs?”
There was a silence in the room. Goon shifted uncomfortably in his chair.
He said, “Is there any reason someone would want to kill you?”
“People do kill other people, you know. You read about it in the newspapers. I get the newspapers and read them daily with my tea. There is always someone found dead in a ditch or packed in a suitcase at the station.”
Fatty spoke before Goon could, “Ma’am, do you have any family? Did your husband have any family?”
“Oh George and I don’t have children. George’s brother is in Holland.”
“Where in Holland, ma’am?”, asked Fatty, with his pen poised over his notebook.
“He is in Volkel, about an hour from Arnhem.”
“What does he do there?”
“Oh, Monty doesn’t do anything. He’s dead you see. He was in the RAF, too, you know. He flew a Mosquito. He lost an engine and was trying to reach the nearest airfield, which was Volkel. He crashed on the runway. They could not get him out in time before the flames took him.”
Goon leaned back and Fatty smiled at Mrs. Miller.
“So George flew Tempests and Monty flew a Mosquito. That’s so fascinating. You must be very proud of them both, Mrs. Miller.”
“Oh yes. Such a handsome pair, they made. Monty was older by two years. He’s the reason George signed up for the RAF too.”
“I see. What about parents? Or cousins?”
“My son-in-law lives in Porthleven. He teaches surfing to tourists there.”
“What about grandchildren? Your daughter?”
“Eileen was drowned five years ago. Her boat hit the rocks. They never had any children. Aaron decided to stay on there. I think he wants to be near her.”
“Sorry to hear that, ma’am.”, Goon said, standing up.
Fatty got up, too, putting his notebook away as he did so. Goon put his hand out to Mrs Miller, as she started to get up.
“I can manage, thank you, Mr. Goon. I suppose you’re going away and forget what this little old lady told you?”
“No, ma’am. We do have to go back and look at some records and do some detective work in the office. We may come back if we have any further questions.”
“And what do I do, meanwhile? I told you someone is out to kill me.”
“Ma’am, I would keep your eyes and ears open. Here is my card. Please call me, if you see or hear anything, also if you remember anything else that you may have forgotten.”
As the door closed, Fatty and Goon looked at each other. Goon grunted and nodded his head in the direction of the stairs. They made the climb down and Fatty waited for Goon to heave himself into the car.
“Where to, Chief?’
Fatty eased the car away from the curb. The strange kids were still standing there, staring at the car sliding past them. Fatty drove in silence till Goon motioned to the right and Fatty swung the car into a slot at the curb.
Seated at a table by the glass window, Goon took a sip of his cup of black coffee and watched Fatty assemble his tea.
“Don’t have time for suchlike. Coffee is good for me.”
“Chief, you have no idea how a cup of tea can invigorate one’s inner soul and wash away the scent of an old apartment with old memories and a very mixed up old lady.”
“I don’t think she’s batty”, said Goon.
Fatty stopped stirring his tea.
“Good grief, Chief! Don’t tell me you bought her story?”
“I’ve been thinking. Her memories are very strong and clear. She didn’t mix things up and she notices things.”
“Oh, come on, Boss, why would anyone want to kill her? She must be over 80 by now.”
“Check out her son-in-law. Find out more about the daughter who drowned.”
“Whoa, now that’s an angle!”
“Yes. Also check out her husband and his brother. Holland. See if that is true.”
Fatty looked at Goon in surprise.
“You think that has something to do with this?”
“No. I just want to make sure. What I also want you to do is check out those neighbours. Especially, that Mr. Zoogi or whatever his name is. And most importantly”, he paused to sip his coffee.
“Check out that kid, the tall one.”