The Wanderlust Lady and the Door to Door Salesman - 18
When I arrived back in Marple I thought that I'd better do some quick planning because now that Minnie was actually dead, and I'd said I was her relative – the police would expect me to know stuff about her. And they'd probably want me to prove my relationship. I didn't know how I could do that.
I'd have to say that she wasn't a blood relative – but a close friend of my grandmother's that was always called Aunt. They might not believe me – but if I tried to find some common relative through using ancestry at the library – that was just not going to work. I could try – and maybe luck would be with me – but I doubted it. I'd have to say my grandmother (who was long since dead so she can't deny it) was best friends with Minnie from when they met when Gran was on holiday in Marple back in the 60's or sometime like that.
One thing I did know – and that was that they wouldn't think I'd any right to inherit her house and the stuff in it. If I was going to get anything from the silver and gold in the house I was either going to have to remove it quick smart – or hope that I could sneak back sometime in the future and let myself in and up into the attic. I didn't think they'd kick me out straight away. It would take time for them to check up on her – and then they'd have to come to find out more about me and to confirm my story more.
I decided that on the way home, I'd get another copy of the front door key cut. I'd seen a shop in Marple that advertised that they did that – right across from the Co-op. I hoped it wouldn't cost too much, but I still had the change from the candy bar I'd bought the day before in my pocket. Lucky I'd forgotten about that, or the cop wouldn't have shelled out the fiver.
The key cutting was more than I expected – a surprising £4, but I paid it, and wasn't going to argue. I decided against picking up a sandwich, and sped my way back. No need to disguise myself now. Neighbours had been at their windows when the police came – so they'd have seen me dressed as myself coming out of the door. No doubt there'd be rumours going around about who I was and why I was there. I'd better talk to anybody outside when I got back – just to underline the idea that I was Minnie's nephew.
Now that the police knew what was going on, there was no way I could use Minnie's bank account. I supposed I could clean it out, and then try to disappear – but that would make me look guilty as hell, and I could always say that she invited me to use her card and gave me the pin. There was no way they could disprove that. The same with the library card number. I could've asked her where I could go for books that I liked, and she might well have given me her card.
All the silver was safely back in the trunk with the coins – and there was nothing to suggest that I'd found them. But when I got the coins out, I'd wipe the trunk and remove my fingerprints. They probably wouldn't look up there for awhile and dust would settle again evenly over it.
When I got back, I was amazed to find the bag from the gold company had been posted through the door. Talk about quick service. I just might get the coins off to them and the money back as quickly. I decided I'd send the whole bunch and take my chances. After all they wouldn't be doing Minnie any good wherever she was now, and why should the government get them. I wondered if Minnie had made a will, but would bet against it. And I'd heard that if you didn't have any relatives when you died, the value from all your stuff being sold went to the treasury.
First I put her her bank card and library card back in the secret box. There was no way that they'd know about the cash I'd removed from the other box.
Then I made my way up to the attic, taking a wet cloth with me. I didn't want my fingerprints on the trunk or the silver – and although the trunk being wiped clean seemed an odd thing to do – I could just say the place was so dirty that I wiped it down – which in fact was the truth. I could tell them that I knew Aunt expected me to sleep upstairs when she got back, and I was checking out what the room was like.
I picked out the bag of coins – put the little silver items that I'd taken previously back where they'd been, and locked the trunk. I wondered about putting the picture back too, but decided that it probably wasn't worth anything anyway. And if it was, there was no way I could've known that. I could say I wanted something as a souvenir of my aunt, if they asked. Something to remember this whole experience with. I took it out of the frame and put that back with the other pictures. I stuck the picture, which unframed was quiet small, in my inside jacket pocket.
I put the coins in the postage free bag, confirmed my name and address, and put in a little note saying I had decided to cash the whole bunch in straight away. I'd have to trust them. Then I walked to the corner and up the road to where I knew there was a posting box. Luckily the pick up time was just coming up.
As I was coming back again, I saw the man from the corner house driving in. He looked friendly so I said, “Hi.”
“Did you hear about Miss Jones from across the road there being the lady that was killed?” I asked the man.
“She was my aunt. She invited me to stay with her. She said that she was going off on a trip to see friends and wanted somebody to stay in her house because of the burglaries.”
“Oh, yeah. I heard about that,” said the guy.
“The police came today to get me to identify her body. Her face was a real mess.”
“Are you sure it was her?”
“Oh, yeah. It was her all right.”
“Do they know who did it?”
“Who was driving the hit and run car? A white van, supposedly.”
“A white van?”
“Didn't they tell you?”
“No, I don't think so. They asked me about a white van and whether it looked like it had been in an accident, but I didn't connect the two things.”
“Are you okay?” asked the man.
“Yes, thanks,” I said. But I expect I looked as shocked as I felt. They thought Sadie had run over the old lady. Maybe she had. Maybe she'd come back to Marple to check out my story about the key under the flower pot - and accidentally ran over Minnie before she got to the house. She probably didn't even know it was Minnie.
“I'll just go back to the house now,” I said, walking away from the man, who I could see was now about to talk to the lady next door to him, and no doubt pass on the message.
When I got back inside the house (I didn't think of it as my house any more) I sat down to think things through. I'd dealt with the silver and the gold coins. I'd put back the cards where I found them. I'd cut a new key – but I didn't want the police to know I had a spare key or the key to the trunk. I'd have to hide those somewhere in the garden, but in a very odd place where it wouldn't be noticed. I took the trowel which was by the back door and went to the bushes that were most concealed. I dug a hole, put the two keys in, and then replanted a nearby chrysanthemum plant on top. Nothing looked any different, I thought, pleased with myself.
Back inside again, I had to stop and get something to eat. I hadn't even had breakfast and here it was getting on for 1 p.m. I made myself a cheese sandwich and had a few biscuits and tea.
Now the only problem I faced was what Sadie would say. It sounded as if they'd already found her van, and no doubt examined it. If she'd hit Minnie, she would try somehow to put the blame on me. I remembered how she'd said that my note made it look like I was planning on robbing the old lady. Oh how I hoped she'd thrown that note away, but I was pretty sure that she knew the address, and had been snooping around only a day or two ago. No doubt it was her giving this address that had brought them here today looking for me. It was lucky that I hadn't lied about what I'd been doing here and my activities that night.
I didn't really want to hang around the house. The police might come back any time. So I thought probably the best thing I could do was go the library and see what I could find out about Minnie's family – if I was going to use her as a friend of the family, I'd have to have some details to back it up. If I could find out where they lived before they moved here, it would help.