“Okay, okay.” Sam exploded into the small, sterile room with a cocktail of anger and excitement – the former on account of the concessions he’d had to wrestle out of the Crown Prosecution Service and the latter because of the concessions he’d managed to wrestle out of the Crown Prosecution Service. He knew he’d achieved the impossible, but also that he’d pay for it in due course. Favours from the CPS weren’t free; they were merely supplied with delayed payment terms. And often incurred interest.
“So we’ve agreed to reduce the murder charge to manslaughter, push for concurrent sentences for Breaking & Entering, Public Indecency, and Unlawful Imprisonment.
In return, you’ll sign a full confession, and not incidentally you’ll explain how the hell Mr. Adams’ head came to rest on top of this station in the middle of the day without a damned person noticing!”
Clare appeared to ponder this for some time.
Sam took the opportunity to calmly (well, calmly relative to the circumstances) remind her that this, the fourth such deal, was absolutely the best she was going to get, and that his patience wasn’t limited. Granted his delivery of this little speech conveyed the latter sentiment by itself, but he thought spelling it out represented a sound course of action.
Clare shuffled in her seat, causing he handcuffs to clank gently, almost musically, against the metal interview table. She didn’t look dangerous, but as Wodehouse once wrote “Many a man may look respectable, and yet be able to hide at will behind a spiral staircase”.
“I wonder, Captain, whether you’re more concerned about justice at this stage, or about solving the mystery.” Something in his demeanour suggested this wasn’t a tactful line of questioning to pursue, so Clare did: “The middle of the day, remember. My oh my. That part was fun, I can tell you”.
Sam’s likeness to a beetroot grew with each passing second, but he tried to remain impassive: “You’ll get nothing further from us, Clare. Just sign the bloody thing and be thankful you don’t live on a country with a death penalty.”
Clare reached for the paper, which Sam slid across the table to within her reach. With uncharacteristic optimism, he slid a pen across neatly after it, which she duly picked up.
She scribbled on the signature line with a smile that a recently-deceased wildebeest, looking forlornly down at the remainder of its earthly body (and, not incidentally, the adjacent crocodile), would have recognised in an instant. Sam, no wildebeest but cautious nonetheless, leaned over to check her signature and promptly turned white and started to shake like a geriatric dog attempting to dry itself off after a heavy rain.
She had simply written “No comment”.