No Welcome Home
Chapter 1: Sandra's Story
"Hello there, I'm Sandra Laurence, it looks like we're going to be rooming together for a while."
"Oh, you've heard of me. You know you mustn't believe all you hear. Look; let me tell you what really happened. Well, all I know of it anyway."
I first got the nasty feeling that something wasn't quite right as the train pulled into the station and my husband was not waiting on the platform for me. Dave was always there to collect me when I came home from my seminars. It was the same procedure four or five times a year, I would be away for five days. Well actually the seminars only lasted two days but I would stay over for an extra day in the city and do some shopping and things, then travel home on the Friday. David always insisted on driving me to the station, as he didn't like the idea of my car being left in the station car park all that time.
But for some reason Dave hadn't made his usual evening call to me on the Thursday night and when I had tried to call him I could get no answer from the home phone and his mobile was apparently turned off. I found this a bit disconcerting as Dave was a creature of habit and had never failed to call me on time before.
After checking around the car park, to make sure Dave wasn't there; I had to get a taxi home. The house was very quiet and dark when I got inside and there was no answer when I called out for him. After putting my bags down, I did a quick search of the house. I didn't know what I was expecting to find; maybe Dave had fallen and hurt himself or something. He wasn't anywhere inside and I had to use a torch to search the garden; but there was no sign of him there either. When I checked the garage I found both Dave's and my cars were in there.
I was getting really concerned now. The house was immaculate unlike it usually was, when I got home after being away. You see Dave's a writer, well an author really and when he gets into one of his books, nothing gets in the way. If I'm not at home he tends to eat Chinese or pizzas that he has delivered and he has the annoying habit of leaving the packaging all over the place, usually on the kitchen table. Well you know what men are like. The sink should have had a stack of Dave's used coffee cups in it, but that day it was empty and the Coffee maker was cold. I can never remember it ever being cold before when Dave was around; I think he lives on the stuff. So something was definitely not right.
I phoned the near neighbours to see if Dave had gone to call on any of them. Then the local Pub as Dave sometimes walks down there. No one appeared to have seen him since the previous Sunday. But that didn't make sense as I had spoken to him on the Wednesday and I was sure he told me he was at home. I was getting really worried by now and got the idea of calling the takeaways that Dave normally uses. None of them could remember delivering to our house that week. I just didn't know what the hell was going on?
I called Dave's agent John Andrews, if Dave had gone off on a research trip John would know about it. But John hadn't spoken to Dave for a fortnight and he didn't know of any trips Dave had planned. By now I was getting desperate and called the police. Well Paul Johnson anyway, he's a Detective Inspector who lives just up the road from us. He's a good friend of ours and Dave gets advice from him on police matters.
Paul came right over and had me check if any of Dave's clothes were missing, as I hadn't thought of doing that. But all his clothes appeared to be there. He took a quick look at our computer and said that no files appeared to have been changed since the previous weekend and Dave's e-mails apparently hadn't been downloaded for a week either. Paul said besides checking the local hospitals, which he would do for me; we couldn't do anything more that night.
I didn't sleep that well and on Saturday morning Paul came back
He said Dave wasn't in any of the local hospitals and asked me for the precise details as to when I had last seen and spoken to him. I told him Dave dropped me off at the station early on Monday morning. And he had called me at my hotel every evening at 6.30 until Wednesday. I had been expecting him to call me again on Thursday. When he hadn't called me by 7 o'clock I had tried to call Dave, as I had a table booked for dinner. But I had not got an answer.
Paul asked if I knew from were Dave had called me and I told him our home phone. But Paul then told me that no calls had been made on our home phone between the Sunday evening and when I had gotten home on Friday evening.
Paul asked if anyone had seen Dave drop me at the Station, but I said I didn't think so, as it had been very early; I had caught the first train. Then he wanted to know were I had been staying. I noticed that Paul was taking notes now and asked him why.
"In this job, you have to take note of everything. Now I am going to need access to Dave's computer if you don't mind?"
I told him, to go ahead. But he then surprised me by taking the computer away with him, saying he would drop it back to me in a couple of days.
By Sunday afternoon I had called everyone I could think of, but no one had seen or heard from Dave. I was beginning to really worry that something might have happened to him. Monday morning I went to work as usual. I wasn't really in the mood for it, but I had to try and get my mind off worrying about Dave. The morning dragged on very slowly. Some of the girls in my office said I should go home because I was so upset.
Around ten A.M. on the Monday morning my life took a frightening turn. Two police officers came to my office and asked me to accompany them to the police station. I asked them if it was about Dave and had they found him. They said no they hadn't found him and yes it was about my husband's disappearance.
At the police station Paul came over and suggested that it might be a good idea for me to get a solicitor. I found this strange but did as he advised. Once my solicitor had arrived, we were taken into an interview room and another police inspector introduced himself and told me he would like me to repeat everything that I had told Paul. So for the next hour or so I went back over everything.
When I had finished, he asked if I was sure that Dave's calls were made at exactly 6.30 and I told him that Dave was a creature of habit. When I was away from home he would have the computer set up to remind him to stop working to do things. That included eating and calling me.
He took me by surprise and asked if I knew a man called Andrew Swingfield. I told him, he was a man who I knew was at the same seminar as me. He asked me how well I knew this Andrew Swingfield. I told him I had met him a few times, but I didn't know him very well. He then informed me, the calls I had received at the hotel; that I claimed came from Dave at our home were in fact made from a mobile phone that was registered in the name of Andrew Swingfield, and they had all originated through cell-phone antenna that was located across the road from the hotel.
I was flabbergasted and didn't know what to say to that. Then my solicitor interrupted and requested that we take a break at this point; as he had things he wished to discuss with me. The police turned off their tape recorders and left the room, but before they did, they told me they had obtained a search warrant for my house, its grounds and my car and they asked for all my keys.
I suddenly realised that they appeared to think that Dave could well be the victim of foul play and it appeared they were looking at me as the culprit.
When we were alone my solicitor asked me what my connection with Andrew Swingfield was. I thought it best to admit that Andrew and I had been in the habit of getting together at the seminars.
"So you're having an affair with him?" He asked.
"No, not an affair, we just enjoy having sex together when we're away from home."
"Well to most people, that's called having an affair. How long has this affair been going on for?"
"Two and half, nearly three years."
"Does your husband know about it?"
"Don't be silly! He would divorce me in a moment if he found out. Christ, he might even kill me, Dave's very possessive."
"Mrs Laurence I have to ask you this and I would advise you that it is in your best interest to tell me the truth. Did you have anything to do with, or do you know anything you haven't told me about your husband's disappearance?"
"Don't be silly. Of course I didn't! I love my husband; I wouldn't do anything to hurt him."
"You don't think sleeping with another man would hurt him them?"
"Only if he found... Oh God! You don't think he found out, do you?"
What I think doesn't matter. But I'm convinced the police believe you, probably with the help of Andrew Swingfield, have disposed of your husband so the two of you can get together."
"But I haven't, I love my husband."
Well you've got a very strange way of showing it Sandra. Now our problem is damage control and staying ahead of the game. The police are searching your house now. I want you to think! Are they going to find anything there?"
"No, nothing I can think of."
"No diaries of yours, or letters to you from this Swingfield fellow or anything?
"Oh shit! They've got the bloody computer. It's got Andrews e-mails to me on it, and my replies."
"Please! Don't tell me they are very graphic?"
"Some of them are a bit over the top. Yes""
"Well we had better hope that your husband turns up in the very near future, hadn't we?"
Well you've probably read the rest of it in the newspapers and seen it on TV. From then on my life has gone downhill.
Look! It's the truth; I honestly haven't got the faintest idea what has happened to Dave or were he is. All I know is, he has never used his credit cards or taken any money from our bank accounts.
Inexplicably the police found traces of Dave's blood in the house and in the boot of my car and a camera booked my car for speeding on the motorway at three in the morning on Monday before the seminar; when I know I was in bed with Dave beside me. They even claimed that they found DNA evidence that appeared to prove Andrew had been in our house. I swear to you, to my knowledge Andrew has never been anywhere near the place.
But the thing we just couldn't explain was how the hell Andrew's garden spade came to turn up in my garden shed. Oh yes, and that bloody cell-phone Dave was supposed to have used to call me at the hotel; it was found in Andrew's Locker at his golf club.
Andrew and I are both due to be sentenced next week; they found us guilty of Dave's manslaughter. My brief thinks they're going to throw the book at us, but he say's we can try an appeal.
I'm convinced Dave is alive and out there somewhere. I'm sure he found out about Andrew and me. He's always been a bloody good author of crime novels, and he knew just how to set us up. He's surely got his revenge on me for cheating on him.
I'm wondering just how vindictive he is going to be. Is he going to make me serve the full term? But then, who would blame him if he did?