Samantha Jarvis reached the departure lounge of Newcastle Airport, relieved that at long last, she was due to fly to Crete. Owing to the volcanic ash disruption, she had to abort her original date of departure and had now rebooked, some six days later.
The twenty-seven year old brunette girl relaxed on the only seat available and could not help but notice the tall, handsome, blonde man next to her, whose red vest showed off his powerful biceps. He nodded to her and smiled, his perfect teeth immaculate.
Samantha browsed through her magazine, and noticed the blonde man staring at her. The pretty brunette now felt uncomfortable; her neighbour’s eyes undeviating from her face. She gave up on her magazine and confronted her admirer. “Do I know you?”
“I wish. I’m sorry… Was I staring?”
“Well, actually you were.”
“I must apologise. You see, I’m a little nervous about flying, and I suppose I craved companionship. Besides, you’re the prettiest girl I’ve ever laid my eyes on.”
Samantha blushed and covered her dark eyes with her sunglasses. “You’re travelling alone?”
“Yes, I’m visiting friends in Crete… And you?”
“My parents own a taverna in Crete.”
The prying man offered his hand. “Joe Frampton.”
Samantha lightened up. “Joe, I’m Samantha.”
Samantha returned to her magazine and awaited the order to board the flight. Samantha placed her knapsack in the overhead luggage compartment. She detected the aroma of expensive aftershave and realised who the owner was.
Frampton placed his holdall in the same compartment and winked at her. “Seems like we’re in the same section of the plane.”
Samantha smiled uneasily and nestled into her seat.
Frampton rechecked his ticket and settled down next to her. “Not only are we in the same section, but we’re in adjoining seats.”
“Bit of a coincidence, don’t you think?” quizzed Samantha.
“Coincidence or fate? Actually, I requested the extra legroom, as you may have noticed, I’m rather tall.”
The two settled down, selected their music and fastened their seatbelts. Shortly before takeoff, Frampton removed his headphones. “I was meant to be on an earlier flight last Tuesday, but the bloody volcanic ash pissed up my schedule.”
Samantha frowned. “Me too. I also was scheduled to fly Tuesday.”
When the refreshment trolley arrived, Frampton ordered a Bloody Mary. Samantha gasped and let out a chuckle.
“You okay?” asked Frampton.
Samantha looked towards the smiling stewardess. “A Bloody Mary, please.” She then addressed Frampton. “Another coincidence? I bloody adore Bloody Marys.”
Another hour passed, when Frampton removed a paperback from his holdall. Samantha was amazed, realising she too had a copy of "Dan Brown’s" Angels and Demons in her knapsack. She was now suspicious, and held back from confiding their latest connection to the stranger. She feigned sleep, not wishing to converse with the enigmatic man.
That evening, Samantha attended a party in a taverna, which overlooked the beach at Hersonissos. Her friend, Maria celebrated her birthday, and a host of young guests were invited. Samantha wandered towards the balcony and the fresh sea breeze cooled her hot face. She looked across the bay and admired the hundreds of colourful lights that reflected off the calm sea.
Samantha turned to face Frampton, who held two large Bloody Marys. With his white shirt undone to the navel, and his matching chinos, he seemed suitably attired for the occasion.
He offered Samantha one of the drinks. “You. Are you following me?”
Frampton shrugged. “I was about to ask you the same question.”
Maria joined the bewildered couple. “Do you two know each other?”
Samantha nodded. “We met on the plane… Don’t tell me you know him?”
Maria linked the beaming Englishman. “We met about…how long ago was it, Joe?”
“Six years… I told you I had a few friends in Crete.”
Maria grinned. “What a coincidence.”
The music of Zorba the Greek echoed throughout the taverna and Maria held Frampton’s hand. “Come on. Let’s dance.”
Frampton extended his hand towards Samantha. “You too.”
The brunette girl shook her head. “No, I don’t think so. I‘ll finish my drink and have an early night. I don’t feel too well.”
The lying girl watched her friend and Frampton dance eagerly. She focused on the coincidental stranger, now more suspicious than ever.
During the week in Crete, Frampton regularly encountered Samantha. Sometimes she was tipsy, although she was mostly in control of her behaviour. She even considered having a holiday romance with her handsome, fellow compatriot, but she quickly dismissed the notion. Although she was certain there had been a spate of coincidences, her inner conscience refused to eliminate her suspicions.During the flight home, Frampton made a bold approach to Samantha. “I was wondering; I could not help but notice the absence of a ring on your finger, so would it be presumptuous of me to ask you for a date?”
Samantha reddened. “Are you hitting on me?”
“I guess I am… Well…”
Samantha giggled childishly. “I don’t think so. Granted, you are sweet and are not bad looking, but we know nothing about each other.”
“My name is Joe Frampton and I’m self employed as an electrician. I live in Falmouth Street in Newcastle and…”
“What?” cried Samantha. “You live in Falmouth Street? Now I know you’re fucking with me… I live in Suffolk Street… Just what’s going on here?”
“Suffolk Street?” grinned Frampton. “That’s the next street to…”
“I know where it is. How come I’ve never seen you before?”
Frampton shrugged. “Beats me… So you must know, Linda Kettering, Ann Darwin, and Jenny Faraday?”
“I went to school with them."
"Well, Samantha, what about my offer? Will you…”
“No. Please, I’m not ready for another relationship just now… Now, if you don’t mind, I’m watching Benidorm.”
Three nights later and Samantha was lounged on her sofa, watching television and tucking into a Chinese meal, when she heard the motor outside her house. She peered around her curtains, to view a maroon Mondeo parked on her front. Due to the streetlamp, she could see that the driver was looking towards her house. She stampeded up her staircase, and after reaching her bedroom, she rummaged in her drawer for the binoculars. Danny, her ex-boyfriend was an avid race-goer and had left them after he abandoned her. Samantha knelt on her bed and carefully moved the curtain to one side. She focused on the face of the motorist and gasped, realising it was Joe Frampton.
Without hesitation, she reached for her mobile phone and called the police. Ten minutes later, and the police arrived, but there was no sign of the Mondeo or Joe Frampton. After taking her statement, the police officers promised they would check on Frampton, even though they stated no crime had been committed.
The following evening, Samantha watched the local news on her television. She fought for breath when the image of Joe Frampton appeared on the screen. “Have you seen this man? Yesterday, in the early hours of the morning, nineteen-year old, Susan Garvey was found murdered, close to Newcastle railway station. Witnesses claim the man was between twenty-five and thirty-five, was tall, and had blonde, wavy hair. He was believed to be driving a maroon car, possibly a Ford Mondeo. Anyone with any information, could you please call the number at the top of your screen… Now today’s other main stories. There are to be more job cuts at…”
Samantha wept silently, her breathing in spasms. She trembled uncontrollably, and pondered about her encounters with Frampton. She hesitantly reached for the telephone.
Samantha waited outside the Crown Court, her mind in turmoil. She was angry, yet determined. She was angry that the police had dismissed her reports of the stalker outside her home the night the girl was strangled. Frampton was about to walk free, as there was not enough evidence to convict him. That was, until Samantha intervened. Certain that Frampton was the murderer, and that she no doubt was an intended victim, she had come to a decision. She had never meaningfully lied before in her life, but if the falsehood justified the means, then surely she was acting correctly. She also felt a sense of guilt, and supposed that Susan Garvey would still be alive today if Frampton had not deviated from his original victim. Her conscience was clear. Her lies would protect other defenceless, young girls from the hands of this killer.
The usher’s voice startled her. “Samantha Jarvis!”
She swallowed deeply and preened her hair before entering the court. Like a hospital that retains its antiseptic odour, the courtroom reeked of furniture polish and beeswax. Samantha was led towards the witness box; her eyes refusing to look towards Frampton. There was no going back now. After swearing the oath, the prosecutor smiled at Samantha, his wig seemingly lopsided. “Miss Jarvis, on the 4th May of this year, you shared a flight with the accused. Is this correct?”
“Y-yes… I met him in the departure lounge, and then sat next to him on the plane.”
“In the departure lounge, how did you meet the accused?”
Samantha hesitated. She was about to tell her first lie. “He sat down next to me.”
“That’s a lie!” yelled Frampton.
“Silence!” ordered the judge. “I will not tolerate another outburst such as this in my courtroom… Mr Carlisle, you may continue.”
“Miss Jarvis; didn’t you find it strange that the accused also sat next to you on the plane?”
“Yes, but I put it down to a coincidence.”
“I object!” shouted the barrister for the defence. “My client had pre-booked his seat on the flight and opted for that particular seat because of his stature. How could he have possibly known in the departure lounge that the girl he conversed with would be sitting next to him on the plane?”
The prosecutor conceded. “Granted, that may have been a coincidence, or there again, perhaps the accused was watching the check in desk… Miss Jarvis; could you recall the gist of your conversation on the plane?”
Samantha’s eyes involuntarily drifted towards Frampton, whose head was bowed. “Yes… At first he was polite. Then after a while, I felt unsettled… I could feel him, constantly staring at me. And then…“
“Go on, Miss Jarvis.”
“And then, he said something strange. He said, have you ever wondered what it would be like to murder someone.”
The public gallery stirred, and Frampton moved his head from side to side repeatedly.
“Order!” demanded the judge. “Please continue, Miss Jarvis.”
Samantha lifted her head and looked towards the disbelieving killer, whose eyes were glazed. “H-he then reverted to speaking normally, which I found unsettling and strange.”
The prosecutor once more intervened. “Indeed. Did you happen to meet the accused on the island of Crete?”
“Yes. It happens that he knew a friend of mine, Maria. We attended her birthday party on our first night on the island. He approached me, and when I insisted I wished to be alone, he objected. It was only when Maria intervened that he left.”
Mr Carlisle continued. “Was that the only time you encountered the accused during your stay?”
“No. I saw him several times… He used to wait outside my parent’s taverna.”
The prosecutor interrupted. “Not the behaviour of a sane and respectable man, Miss Jarvis.”
“No, I was terrified, but did not want to bother my parents.”
“And the flight home,” quizzed the prosecutor.
Samantha was becoming more confident as the questioning continued. “I tried to ignore him, but he then said he wanted to marry me. I, of course refused, and it was then when he again mentioned about what it must be like to murder someone. That was the last of the conversation, as I pretended to sleep.”
“Did you ever see the accused after that?”
“Yes, three nights later. I was watching the television at around ten-thirty, when I heard the revving of a motor outside. I noticed it was him, and when he saw me, he ran his finger across his throat.”
“Him being Joseph Frampton?” asked the prosecutor.
“Yes. I called the police, and when they arrived, Frampton had driven off.”
Mr Carlisle faced the jury. “And Susan Garvey was murdered early morning, just hours later… Thank you, Miss Jarvis, I have no more questions.”
Samantha was trembling and her throat was dry. She made to leave, but the barrister beckoned her to stay. The short, bespectacled defender addressed her. “Miss Jarvis; would you describe yourself as a brave and heroic girl?”
“Then why did you not do what every sensible girl would have done and demanded to change seats for the return journey? Surely, that was the rational thing to do, given the circumstances.”
“I… I didn’t want to cause any inconvenience.”
The barrister placed his hands on his hips. “Inconvenience? A stranger confides to you he has a fantasy of murdering someone, and you didn’t wish to inconvenience the staff… Miss Jarvis, in your earlier testimony, you stated that it was my client who sat next to you in the departure lounge. Could you not be mistaken?”
“N-no. He sat next to me.”
“Hmm, you see; although nobody can recall the incident, my client checked in twenty-two minutes before you did. Of course, he may not have made his way to the departure lounge immediately, but he swears he did… Such a pity that the CCTV cameras were out of service at that time… You claim that several times, my client used to wait outside your parent’s taverna. Could it be possible he was smitten with you and was merely trying to court you?”
The barrister continued. “Why then did you not report this to your parents, or indeed the police?”
“I didn’t wish to inconvenience…”
“Ah! You didn’t wish to inconvenience anyone… My, what a disciplined and considerate girl you must be, to put other’s convenience before your own life… Outside your home, you claim you saw a maroon Mondeo parked there. You also claim my client was the driver. You must have particularly good vision to see him bring his finger across his throat in the darkness.”
“There’s a streetlamp outside my home; and besides, I saw him through my ex-boyfriend’s binoculars.”
The barrister smiled smugly. “And you claim that the car was a maroon Mondeo?”
"Joe Frampton does indeed own a Ford Mondeo, but it is brown and not maroon.”
Samantha felt her bowels loosen. “It could have been…”
“You could see my client’s face clearly, but not the colour of his car… No more questions just yet, Your Honour.”
Samantha walked towards the courtroom exit, and her legs felt as though they were made of putty. She refused to make eye contact with Frampton, but clearly heard his damning words. “You lying bitch.”
Fifteen years later and Samantha was married with two young daughters. Joe Frampton had been found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment, and she never ever mentioned to her husband about her involvement in the case. Without Samantha’s fabricated statement, Frampton would no doubt have walked from the courtroom a free man.
One evening, Samantha played snakes and ladders with her daughters, when she was attracted to her husband’s newspaper. She squinted, and her mouth dried up when she neared the tabloid. She snatched the newspaper away from her protesting husband and focused on the photograph and the headline on the front page. Killer caught! was the headline.
Samantha was confused. She gazed at the photograph, but realised this could not possibly be Frampton, as he was still serving his prison sentence.
“What is it, darling?” asked her husband.
“W-who is this? I… I mean…how can…”
“He’s David Cairnes. He murdered some poor girl last week and now he’s been caught. He’s confessed to some other murder, fifteen years ago. Should bring back hanging if you ask me.”
With trembling hands, Samantha ignored the moans of her daughters and read the column. She read that Cairnes used to own a maroon Mondeo, but burnt it out after Joe Frampton was convicted of the murder.
Samantha’s head throbbed when she recalled what seemed way back in her lifetime, the incidents on the plane. That Frampton had sat next to her in the departure lounge and on the plane was indeed a coincidence, as was the fact they were both fond of Bloody Marys, they both liked "Dan Brown" novels, and they were both acquainted with Maria. That they lived in adjoining streets could also have been coincidental, but the Mondeos, and that Frampton had a double, defied belief. This far exceeded the logic of coincidences. This was impossible. What had she done? It now seemed plausible that Frampton had merely attempted to win over her companionship.
Over the years, she had come to believe that what she told in court was true. She sought only justice, and was merely trying to protect others from his clutches.People would understand. They must.Samantha slapped her own face and screamed. Her daughters cowered and watched their father console her. Outside, a police car pulled up.