Angel 54 (new deal)
Angel heard the shuffle of feet coming up the stairs. She could still taste fried food in the air and the dank smell of unwashed kiddie clothing piled on the floor beside the washing machine. She was sorting through the twin’s washing. They were sitting in their cot, on the kitchen table, frowning like royalty at the workload they’d created and how slowly she was working and tugging each garment into shape. The lightbulb in the lobby needed replaced and the light from the kitchen window wasn’t enough and she squinted to see who was calling her name.
Stacey sounded choked up with the cold. There was a sharp rap on her room door.
‘I’m in here,’ shouted Angel.
Stacey shuffled into the kitchen. Her face was more washed out than normal and her nose glowed like a kid’s toy. ‘There’somebody to see you,’ she wheezed, breaking out a hanky to cover her coughing fit.
Two policewomen in uniform sneaked a glance over Stacey’s shoulder at Angel. They held their hats in their hand as if they’d just come off parade. The older officer with short hair and stripes on her arm took charge. She had a deep, mannish voice, and shrewd, hangman’s eyes. ‘We’re here to interview you about an alleged rape incident in which you went to trial.’
‘Nothing alleged about it.’ Angel stuffed the washing into the machine. She’d already added washing powder. The machine began to rattle and vibrated and the twins began to cry. She picked up the twin’s carrycot and flounced out the door and past them. ‘Time for their feed.’
‘I could make you a cup of tea?’ Stacey offered the two policewomen, in a bright voice, ‘while you wait’.
Angel heard the senior officer saying that would be alright. She knew their game. Their two male colleagues had probably kicked up a bit of a fuss back at the station. Casually, mentioned hormones and women and feeding babies and how that was really women’s work and how they couldn’t really get the job done. Then they’d drafted in two women officers, better suited to the role of gazing at women’s nipples as they fed their babies. Angel settled down on the couch and turned daytime telly on. She let the twins suckle. She was in no hurry and felt justified in keeping them waiting.
She heard the polite chap on the door and realised she must have dozed off. The kids squashed against her breasts were sleeping too. ‘Come in,’ she shouted and turned her head.
‘They have no shame at all,’ she informed the cops in a stage whisper, as the twins farted and burped, their eyes two dark slits.
The senior cop took the only chair and smoothed out the nylon slacks she wore as she sat down.
The younger cop squeezed her pear shaped body on the couch beside Angel and draped a hand softly on her shoulder as she stole a peek at the babies. ‘They’re lovely,’ she declared, smiling. ‘What age are they?’
‘They’ll be just over two-month’s old, next week.’ Angel smile was reflected back in the cop’s warm hazel eyes.
‘Emm,’ she muttered, in agreement. The policewoman reached across and stroked their heads, her long, slim fingers, not at all like a cop’s.
The older cop cleared her throat. ‘If we can just get on…’
When Angel looked over she had a notebook in her hand and was flicking through the pages.
Her deep voice made the twins eyes flicker, but they stayed shut. ‘We’re having another look at the case because the man you assaulted has been accused of some other crimes.’
‘Whit crimes?’ Angel asked.
‘Crimes against underage girls,’ whispered the young policewomen.
‘We’re not at liberty to comment.’ The senior cop gave his colleague a sharp look. ‘Suffice to say, we’re trying to establish a pattern and a modus operandi.’
Straight, dark hair hanging over her face, Angel saw the young cop had rolled her eyes, biting her lip and trying not to smile.
‘Whit you’re trying to say is he’s raped other wee girls,’ declared Angel. ‘Apart fae me?’
‘I didn’t say that,’ the senior officer, corrected her.
‘Whit are you saying, then?’ Angel looked from one policewomen to the other.
‘We’re saying there’s a pattern,’ the young police woman looked over at her colleague to check she was speaking the required policese. ‘And that the man who you said allegedly assaulted and allegedly raped you, has also allegedly plied young girls with alcohol and other drugs and raped them.’
‘And we’d like you to tell us what happened to you,’ her senior colleague had a pen in her hand, ready to jot down anything Angel said.
‘How many young girls are we talking?’ asked Angel.
‘Six or seven,’ the young cop touched a thin gold chain, just visible underneath her collar.
‘That’s enough, Officer Mooney,’ her senior colleague spat out a warning. ‘We’re not trying to make friends. We’re conducting a criminal investigation here. I’d appreciate it if from here on in you keep your mouth firmly shut.’ She took a deep breath. ‘Understand?’
‘Yes, Sir!’ Officer Mooney kept her head down, eyes studying the carpet.
Adam groaned and Lisa slobbered as Angel lifted them and put them in the cot. She took her time tucking them in, sticking in a pink rattle they weren’t yet ready to play with. She needed time to think, her eyes welling up, and a tearful rasp in her voice. ‘Whit about the other rapist, the paedophile’s friend, potentially, the father of my children, are you also investigating him?’
‘We can’t comment on that,’ the senior officer intoned, flipping backwards through her notes.
Out of the corner of her eye she saw Officer Mooney give the smallest nod of her head. Angel didn’t know whether to be grateful or angry.
She glared across at the older cop. ‘I’ve always had a problem wae people that said they want to help me. Usually, the only person they want to help is themselves. You see a pattern emerging here? Why don’t you talk to me like a normal human being and we can maybe get somewhere. And if you cannae dae that, well, maybe you’re better fucking off then.’
Her face softened as she looked down at the twins in their crib.