By Parson Thru
John tried to follow what the surgeon was telling him. One moment, he felt he understood, the next it was gone. His mother was sitting on the opposite side of the bed. Jason, who had brought her to the hospital, had gone for a coffee and croissant.
“As far as Orthopaedics are concerned, you could be moved onto a ward, but we need to resolve your headaches and memory problems.”
“But he’s getting better, though, isn’t he?” his mother asked. “He looks a lots better than he was.”
“He’s improving, Mrs. Chine, but slowly. Stubbornly. The last scan shows some swelling behind the fracture, and there’s inter-cranial pressure that we still need to manage. I want to keep him on High Dependency where we can do that best.”
“So he’s staying here?”
“Yes. For now.”
“Well that’s better for you, John. Let’s get you mended and you can come and live with me for a while.”
She turned to the surgeon. “Is that why he’s sleeping so much?”
“Yes, really. It’s the body repairing itself.”
He looked across towards the vestibule and the ward office.
“I think there’s someone here to see you, Mr. Chine.”
Two men were standing waiting a few feet from the door. One in uniform, the other in a suit.
He patted John’s hand.
“I’ll be keeping a close eye on you. Don’t worry.”
He said goodbye, then stopped by the two men.
“You’ve come to speak to Mr. Chine?”
“Yes. Are you his doctor?”
“Is he fit enough to be interviewed?”
“Gently. No more than twenty minutes. Stop if he becomes fatigued.”
They both nodded.
“Don’t worry. We will.”
They walked over to the bed.
The uniformed policeman took off his cap. It was “footballer” with his thick, combed-back hair. He ran his hand through it.
“Hello Mrs. Chine. How are you?”
John’s mother looked round and beamed.
“Hello Fran! Where’s Jamie?”
The man in the suit smiled “Do you two know each other?”
“Fran brought me to the hospital the first time, and then to the station.”
“Old friends, then.”
“Jason’s here, too.”
“Jason McMahon?” PC Fran asked.
“Yes. He brings me to the hospital.”
He looked at his colleague.
The other man shrugged. “Are you going to introduce me?”
“Mrs. Chine, John, this is Detective Inspector Steve Farmer. I filed a report of the interview with you, John. It included the allegation you made.”
“I just wanted to come and meet you." DI Farmer said. "To get a feel for things from the horse’s mouth. It’s interesting that Jason’s here. Where is he now?”
“At the café. The doctor wanted to talk to John.”
“Ok. When he comes back, we can ask him to take a little walk or something. It’s not that he’s any kind of a threat, I’d just like to keep things separate when we’re speaking.”
They brought seats over to the bed.
DI Farmer spoke to John.
“You alleged during the interview that the collision wasn’t an accident. Why?”
John's vision was blurred. He tried to focus on his new visitor.
“I was on a zebra crossing. I saw the car. It was maybe fifty yards away. I heard it accelerate. I started to run. It swerved across the road to hit me.”
“You said you’ve been followed.”
“Who’s following you, John? Why?”
“I’m being watched. Sometimes from cars. Sometimes on foot. People follow me.”
“Are you sure about that?”
“Yes. Online, it's trolls. I’ve had a lot of threats.”
“You’re a journalist?”
“Do you work for a newspaper?”
“Originally. I’m freelance.”
“Yes. Various digital titles. Are you a cyber-crime detective?”
“No. We have a specialist department.”
“Are you interrogating me?”
DI Farmer leaned back in his seat.
“I guess everyone’s the enemy just now.”
John didn’t answer.
“Do you trust me?”
John strained to focus on DI Farmer's face.
“Trust is something you have to build.”
The door buzzer sounded. PC Fran got up and walked over. A nurse opened the door. It was Jason. He saw PC Fran and smiled.
“Hi, Jason. We’re just talking to John. Could we have a bit of time alone?”
“Of course. Would Mrs. Chine like me to take her home?”
A few moments later, Jason and John’s mother had left the ward.
The two policemen settled back down. John tried to concentrate.
“How long have you been a journalist, John?”
“Nearly twenty years.”
“I joined the force twenty-one years ago. I was like Fran, here. Imagine. A young PC. Idealistic. Wanting to make the world a better place. All that. Ring a bell?”
“Then comes responsibility, family, mortgage. The slippery-slope up the career path. More money. Seniority. Still with me?”
“Yes. I recognise that. Except for the family.”
“Twenty years on and things seem to have ground to a halt. Maybe I should go freelance, hey?”
“You could do worse.”
“I’m in a lucky position. Retirement in a few years. Pension. I could just time-serve, I suppose.”
“But you’d rather not.”
DI Farmer shrugged.
“What is it you’ve found, John, that makes people want to follow you around and drive cars at you?”
John waited a few moments, weighing the risks.