I thank my LadyCibelle and Techsan for their patience, proof reading, editing skills and of course encouragement. I'd also like to add that we don't always see eye to eye, they tell me off sometimes - well quite often really. Anyway I take full responsibility for the content and any cock-ups in this story.
"Are you ready, babe?" Sheila asked as she, without waiting for me to reply, she carefully lowered herself on my erect phallus. At first she moved herself up and down slowly. "God, I've missed this," she smiled down at me. But then just as she began to pick the pace up a little, in the back of my mind somewhere, I could hear a strange banging noise. Sheila's smile turned into a mocking laugh as the vision of her began to fade from my mind.
I was almost fully awake now; the dream or nightmare as it always turned into was gone. I realised the noise was someone banging on my front door. Struggling out of bed I grabbed my robe and made my way towards the door of my flat.
"Mr Sleeman, open up! It's the police!" I heard a voice demanding as I got closer to the door.
On opening the door I was confronted by four men, one of whom I recognised and two in police uniforms.
"Martin Sleeman, I'm Detective Sergeant Moon," The one in plain clothes that I didn't recognise said as he flashed his warrant card at me, "Can we come in? I'd like a word with you if I may."
I'd seen enough warrant cards in my life to know it was genuine at first glance, But having grown up on what some folks would consider the wrong side of town, I asked for a better look at his card just to piss him off a little. Look, I didn't know what the wankers wanted but I hadn't done anything that I needed to worry about.
"Okay, what is this all about?" I asked as I switched the kettle on after I had led them into the kitchen.
"If' you don't mind, I'll ask the questions," DS Moon replied.
"In that case, I won't answer any questions until my solicitor is present."
"Have you got something to hide, Mr Sleeman?" he demanded.
Alarm bells started really going off in my head. To be honest I'd known DC Douglas Collins, the other arsehole, for years; he knew my name was Marty to everyone. The Mr Sleeman bit spelt trouble, big time.
"No, but I feel slightly out-numbered here. If you want to ask me questions, I want to know in what context you're asking them. It's not often that I get woken up at..." I looked at the clock. "Shit, it's five o'clock. What the hell's so fucking important that you've got to wake me at this time of the bloody morning?"
"I'm making enquiries concerning your wife's accident."
"What fucking accident?"
"Your wife was involved in an accident last night and I would like to know where you were around eleven PM."
"I was here alone, as I am most evenings nowadays. Is my ex-wife badly hurt?"
"She's in intensive care, but the doctors tell me that the prognosis is reasonable. Now would you be so kind as to tell me where we can find your Range Rover."
"Do you suspect I had something to do with my ex-wife's accident?"
"Mrs Sleeman and a Mr Anthony Pride where walking down the Finchley Road at approximately eleven o'clock last evening. A Range Rover travelling quite fast mounted the pavement and drove straight at them. The car hit your ex-wife but missed Mr Pride. He claims that it was a deliberate attempt to kill both of them. The Range Rover drove off without stopping. Now I would like to take a close look at your Range Rover please."
"You'll have to wait a couple of hours yet. Bessy's in Rowland's garage having the gearbox replaced, again. She's been in there all bloody week!"
DS Moon looked at the two uniformed officers and they left, I assume to go and visit Rowland.
"Is there anyway you can prove that you were here last night, Mr Sleeman?"
"That's a good one. How the hell am I expected to prove that I was alone in my flat? The definition of being alone means that I had no one here to vouch for me, doesn't it?"
"Well, in that case I'm going to ask you to come down to the station and help me with my enquiries."
"Sure, but you won't mind if I call my brief first and then get dressed will you?"
I called my solicitor, who wasn't best pleased to be called at that time in the morning and then I got dressed. As we left the flat, I just happened to notice Mrs Cummings, our local Nosy Parker, watching as we passed her kitchen window. Since her husband passed away some years ago, Mrs Cummings had little else to do but watch the comings (pun intended) and goings of her neighbours.
I turned to John Collins. "If you have a word with the old witch in there, she will probably give you a detailed list of my movements all week. Nothing gets past her no matter what time of night."
DC Collins and DS Moon exchanged glances. Then Collins walked back and knocked on the old girl's door. DS Moon and I continued down to their car. After sitting there for some time, DC Collins appeared out of the block of flats and Moony went over to meet him. They had an animated conversation for a few moments then DC Collins came over to me.
To be fair Doug Collins wasn't really a bad bloke; at school we'd got on quite well together. But I'm afraid we'd had a couple of run-ins with each other since he'd taken up his chosen profession.
"The old girl says there is no way you left your flat between eight o'clock when you got home and two in the morning when she went to bed. Does the old girl stay up until all the neighbours are in bed?"
"Fucked if I know, but she likes her bit of gossip. I suppose you got the story of her in number 22. The old witch reckons she's on the game whilst her old man is at sea."
"Yeah, I got chapter and verse on that one. Anyway the Sarge reckons that what the old girl says puts you right out of the frame. Mind he's still going to take a bloody good look at your car."
"That's his prerogative but he'll find fuck all. Anyway what hospital is Sheila in? I'd like to check up on her."
"The Royal; I'm afraid she's in a bad way, Marty. She's in the ICU. They are not sure if she will pull through or not. You realise we have to treat it as murder until we know for sure which way the cookie crumbles, and what with that last little debacle between you and Sheila, we had little option but to investigate your whereabouts."
"Don't worry; I understand you've got a job to do. Right now I'm going back up to have a shave then I'm going down there."
"Marty, you're still hung up on that woman, aren't you?"
"What do you think, Doug? You've known us long enough."
"But she dumped you for that slimy prick Tony Pride, didn't she?"
"To be honest with you, Doug, I'm not sure what happened to start with. But you know me; once I got out of my pram, I wouldn't listen to any explanations and blew my top.
"I thought she divorced you."
"She did but she never had much choice, I was climbing the wall and threatening to kill her and Pridey. I suppose that's what sent your DS chasing around here so quickly."
"Not really. It was Pridey who pointed the finger at you. Look, I think we need to have a word off the books about all this later on, if you don't mind."
"I'll be in the Plough about six-ish, I tend to eat there as soon as the kitchen opens."
"I'll try and make it there tonight. I'd better go now. The Sarge is getting impatient. He hasn't had his breakfast yet."
"Oh, what was his plan? Let me sweat it out in a cell while he had his breakfast?"
"Not far off, but as you hadn't been charged he'd probably left you waiting in an interview room for an hour or so."
I watched the officers drive away and then went back up to my flat to call my brief and let him know he wouldn't be required at the nick and then prepare myself for my visit to the hospital.
Sheila and I had met in a bar about twelve years ago. The guy she'd been with was apparently one of those guys who, when they get a few pints down them, thought he was the king of the world and looked for a scrap. But he picked a fight with the wrong guy, someone quite small who, I suppose he thought, he could handle easily. He might have been half cut, but he wasn't that stupid. His trouble was, he picked on a guy whose brothers were in the other bar. It might have been very messy if the governor hadn't been quick off the mark in getting the police to turn up.
Anyway, after her date was hauled off to the nick by the local constabulary, I, being the gentleman that I am, and with an eye for the off chance, offered Sheila the benefit of my protection and a lift home. Well, we never actually went straight home. We stopped in another pub for a quiet drink, to calm Sheila's nerves down a bit. From there we dated steadily for several months until she went off to University.
It was four years later, and I was playing best man at a friend's wedding. Who should turn up as a bridesmaid but Sheila? Now everyone knows that the best man is supposed to look after the bridesmaid. So, the next thing you know Sheila and I wake up in the morning in the same bed. Damn that, I had been too pissed to remember our first night together.
Although I do remember rogering one of the other bridesmaids earlier in the evening, Sheila must have played hard to get to start with. I think she had expected me to wait for her whilst she had been in UNI. But as I'd heard she was playing the field up there, I had no intention of being played for a fool.
Anyway let's cut to the chase, Sheila and I were married six months later when she was four months pregnant. I think we were very happy together. I'll say "I" because you can never really tell what other folks are thinking, can you? All you can ever be certain of are the feelings in your own heart.
Unfortunately we lost our little Kathy at three months. Cot death syndrome they said. That's just a way of them saying we don't know why your baby died. The trouble with that one is, there are always folks who will make their own mind up about what happened and gossip behind your back.
Sheila's cycle went to pot after little Kathy went. We tried really hard for the next few years, but Sheila just didn't fall pregnant again. The doctor put her on the pill to regulate her cycle but that of course didn't do much for the baby making plans. She could however hold down a job after she was on the pill, something she'd had a lot of trouble with over the years. PMT is only supposed to last for a couple of days; when Sheila's cycle was up the creek, hers could last for a couple of weeks at a time.
Things were happier at home as well; with her cycle going haywire home life hadn't been too pleasant on occasions.
Well things settled down for about three years. Then the subject of children came up again. We figured that the pill could have sorted out Sheila's cycle problem and if she came off them, with luck things should return to what they should be.
Best plans of mice and men. Yeah, Sheila's periods now came at regular intervals. But we still didn't get lucky in the child stakes. Still these things can take time. Then one afternoon I came home from work and Sheila wasn't home yet. She was always home before me. I started getting dinner ready - well, I tried - but I'm not much cop at the old cooking lark. After wandering around the kitchen like a lost sheep for half an hour or so, I resorted to the old stand by and called the local Chinese to have a take away delivered.
By seven o'clock the Chinese had arrived but there was still no sign of Sheila. I've got to say by now I was getting very worried. After all you read some strange stories in the newspapers nowadays. I called her office but the security guard said they had all left hours ago.
I started calling her friends from work. Luckily we had one of those personal phone books by the phone and Sheila had written everybody's number in it. I couldn't get an answer from any of her work mates. So from that I assumed she must have stopped for a drink with them after work. But by now it was gone nine o'clock.
Well, it was half eleven when the taxi pulled up outside and a very noisy Sheila staggered out shouting good night to her friends. I took up a superior stance sitting in the kitchen awaiting her arrival.
I think I should point out here that we tended to use the kitchen door as the main entrance. It's just the way that house was laid out when they converted it from a barn. That is nearest door to the road.
Maybe I overdid the look of disdain I had on my face, I'm not sure. But when Sheila walked in the door she took one look at me and then before I could really get into playing the annoyed husband bit, she just said "Fuck you, I've got a right to go out for a drink with my friends now and again!"
And then she turned, I assume with the intention of going through the door that led to the hall and the stairs to the bedroom. Unfortunately Sheila opened the door to the basement instead and then promptly went arse over tip down the stairs. As quick as I tried to be, I wasn't able to get there in time when I saw Sheila turning the wrong way. Did I shout a warning to her? I really couldn't remember; I just saw her disappearing through the cellar door.
The ambulance arrived surprisingly quickly and Sheila was hauled off to casualty. Luckily Sheila hadn't broken any bones; the Docs said that was most likely because she was drunk. Something to do with the body being relaxed. But she had taken a nasty bump on the head and she was suffering from concussion, so they kept her in for observation.
What I couldn't understand was her attitude to me that night. But then I didn't like what one of the Docs said to me. He asked if Sheila and I were in the habit of taking recreational drugs. I told that there was no way either of us took any drugs. He just raised his eyebrows and went to turn away. Look, I've never been to hold my tongue, I asked him to elaborate on why he'd asked the question, but he wouldn't.
The following day when I went to visit Sheila in the hospital quite late as I had been up most of the night, Detective Constable Douglas Collins was coming out of her room as I arrived. He just said hi to me and kept on walking passed.
When I asked Sheila what he was doing there she said he was investigating her accident. But Sheila apparently had no recollection of the previous day at all.
That evening after I arrived home DC Collins came to call. I had to give him chapter and verse of the previous day's events. He took a good look around the kitchen and at the basement stairs; I had to show him where I had been sitting. I pointed out the security monitor that I had watched Sheila arrive home on. Then I found and played him the part of the video that showed Sheila arriving home so he could see and hear her, getting out of the taxi and staggering towards the house.
ThenAfter that he did a strange thing. He asked me to go outside the door and shout. When I came back in, he asked me to put the video back on and I was surprised you could not only hear me shouting to Sheila that it was the wrong door she was going through but her scream as she fell. He left apparently satisfied that it had been an accident. He steadfastly refused to tell me why he thought it was anything else.
It was the next day, when I visited Sheila in hospital, that I first clapped eyes with Tony Pride. As I walked along the corridor, several of her friends from work were coming away from her room. Later I was to find out that one of them was Tony Pride.
When I entered her room Sheila told me the doctor had told her she could go home, but she was to take things easy for a while. I helped her to dress and then drove her home. Of course I wanted to know why she had not contacted me to let me know she was going out with her friends. But she claimed she couldn't remember the day at all, so she couldn't tell me.
The thing I was really upset about had been her attitude when she got home that night. I had never stopped her going out with her friends, the same as she didn't object when I went for a drink with the guys. But we always let each other know what was going on so that we wouldn't worry.
For the next few months, things appeared to go on as normal, but I noticed that there was a greater distance than normal between us. Look, things had never been that normal. Sheila's strange PMT symptoms as I said went on longer than most folks did. Oh yeah and her cycle was slowly getting all screwed up again.
But this time, things where definitely different. Only I couldn't put my finger on what was causing the problem. Yeah, it would have been easy to blame the PMT but I somehow wasn't convinced. Sheila was spending more evenings with her friends and was treating me in a very strange way. Don't ask; I can't explain it really.
But she showed a keen interest in exactly whom I was drinking with when I was out with the boys and where we went. A couple of times she would show up at the pub with one of her mates. With hindsight I should have suspected something but as her friend Amy, whom she normally brought along, was sweet on one of my pals, I took no notice. I just assumed it was the old match maker thing.
Then it must have been eight months after Sheila's accident. I came out of work one evening to be met by DC Collins and a couple of other officers. They asked me to accompany them to the station to help them with their inquiries. They told me that if I refused they would arrest me.
At the nick, a detective inspector who I didn't know, questioned me about Sheila's accident on the basement stairs again. For hours he went over the events that evening again and again. After sixteen hours of questioning they suddenly told me that I could go home.
When I got home I was totally shocked to find that Sheila had moved out of the house. No note of explanation or anything. I tried to call her on her mobile phone. We had joined the yuppie mobile phone set after our last debacle which meant we could get in touch with each other wherever we were. But her phone was switched off.
The following day I was standing up the road from her office when Sheila finished work. She came walking out of with one of her colleagues. I went up to her to ask her what the hell was going on. But as I got close Tony Pride appeared and put his arm around her. Now I could see that Pridey had seen me coming, but I'm positive that Sheila and her friend had no idea I was there. Sheila made a move to push his arm away, that I noticed, but it didn't register in my mind at the time; I was angry and not really thinking straight.
"Sheila, I need to talk to you!" I said as I got close.
"She has nothing to talk to you about," Pride said, as he stepped between us.
"Get lost, arsehole. I'm talking to my wife."
What happened next was more of a farce than anything else. Pridey took up the classic boxer stance and started skipping about like he was Cassius Clay or something.
"I'm warning you, I'm an amateur boxer!" he announced.
"Fuck me, I'm really scared."
"No, Tony, stay out of this. He'll kill you!" Sheila said, apparently in an attempt to get Pridey to back off.
But Pridey was having none of it and moved in close. I assume he was planning on putting me down. He aimed a left jab at my face, probably planning to follow that with a cross as I noticed his right arm going back a little. Unfortunately for him, his left fist found my hand waiting for it. Grabbing his fist I gave it a twist to the left and he was forced to turn with it. We all heard something go as I kicked him in the side of his left leg just bellow the knee and he collapsed in a heap.
"You bastard!" Sheila shouted at me as she knelt down beside the not so proud Pridey rolling on the floor in pain.
"Well, he asked for it."
"And you had to be the big man and break his bloody knee?"
"What the fuck was I supposed to do, let him hit me?"
"You shouldn't be here. I don't want to see you any more and I certainly don't want to be married to a man who tried to kill me."
"What the fuck are you talking about? I've never done anything to harm you."
"Oh, yeah? Well, I've had therapy and it's helped me remember what happened the night you threw me down the stairs."
The conversation stopped at that point as the two police officers grabbed hold of me from behind. I hadn't heard them arrive. They handcuffed me and pushed me into the back of a meat wagon.
At the nick, I was charged with assault and battery and shoved in a cell. You might get the idea now why policemen aren't my favourite people.
Anyway I called the local criminal solicitor. He'd represented a few acquaintances of mine in the past. It didn't take him long to get me out.
Unfortunately for Pridey, security cameras covered the street outside Sheila's offices. Foolishly I didn't press charges against him because the film, although it had no sound, showed him attacking me.
After that I tried a couple of times to talk some sense into Sheila, but to no avail. Things really came to a head when a few of the boys and myself went to a restaurant for a meal on evening.
We'd been there for sometime when who should I spy walking in but Sheila and her best mate Amy. Followed by Pridey and some other guy. Pridey was still limping a little and he was using a walking stick.
They didn't notice us sitting in our corner, when they sat down for their meal. Pridey sitting opposite Sheila. There was nothing lovey dovey about the way they behaved to each other, but I was really pissed off at seeing them together.
The boys managed to keep me under control as we finished our meal rather hurriedly. The plan was for us to leave quietly, but Pridey couldn't keep his bloody mouth shut when he saw me. As loud as he could, he said, "Right now, Sheila my love, what would you like for your sweet?"
It was so loud it was obvious that it was meant for my ears. I changed direction so that I would walk past their table. The expression on Pridey's face changed from belligerence to a look of apprehension. When I got to the table I stopped and leaning down so I wouldn't have to speak too loudly myself, I told them, "If either of you try to embarrass me in public again, I'll not be held responsible for my actions. Now, Sheila, if you want to set up home with this arsehole, apply for a divorce like any civilised person and don't try to think up lies to get me put in prison."
"I didn't! Marty, this is not what it looks like. I was just..."
I didn't hear anymore as I had walked out of earshot. As we got into the car outside, one of my friends told me that Sheila's friend Amy had followed us out and was standing on the pavement calling my name. I just told the guy driving to drive on.
A few weeks later my solicitor informed me he had heard from Sheila's legal people. Divorce went through in a few months. Our lovely house was sold and our assets divided equally. As there were no children and apparently Sheila was getting married again, there was no alimony to discuss. Well she didn't ask for any.
So that bring us to where we were just over a year after the divorce, Sheila was in hospital again and the police suspected that I was involved in some way.
When I got to the hospital, I was surprised to find that Sheila was registered as Sleeman. I had thought she would have married the prick by now. After I had identified myself to a nurse, she showed me into a room and asked me to wait for the doctor.
"Mr Sleeman?" the doctor asked as he entered the room.
"Sorry, I'm confused. There was a man here earlier who said he was Mrs Sleeman's fiancé."
"He could well be. I haven't seen Sheila for over a year now. I'm her ex-husband. But you remember the vows, in sickness and in health, for better for worse and all that crap. Just because we're divorced it, doesn't mean I'm not concerned about her."
"Um, this is a bit unusual but besides her fiancé there doesn't appear to be anyone else, no other relatives."
"That's correct; as far as I'm aware Sheila has no other relatives. She was orphaned some years ago before I met her."
"I'm not sure how we go on this one but it can't do any harm to tell you. And we'll need someone to help us with the release forms. Her fiancé tells us she's a Jehovah's Witness. But we really need to operate on her, the sooner the better. Her fiancée says she wouldn't agree to invasive surgery but without it she's going to die."
"Jehovah's Witness! What the fuck are you talking about? Sheila isn't religious and she couldn't have changed that much. No, hang on a minute, I know she isn't. I saw a friend of hers the other week and I'm sure she would have told me if Sheila had got religion. Give me a minute and I'll check with Sheila's best friend Amy. I'm surprised she isn't here anyway."
I got out my mobile phone to call Amy. She would know if this Jehovah's Witness lark were true or not. But the doctor stopped me and told me to turn my phone off and use a landline.
Then I called Sheila's office. Amy was shocked to hear that Sheila had been in an accident. I asked why Tony Pride hadn't told every one at the office about it and she informed me that Tony didn't work there any more. When I mentioned the Jehovah's Witness lark, Amy was shocked and said there was no way that was true.
I told the doc who was still standing there waiting and he asked me if I could get Amy to the local magistrate's court in a hurry. Then the doctor and I set out for the court ourselves but in a police car. Amy arrived just as we did.
We were ushered into an office where we found Tony Pride and a guy who I took to be a solicitor. They were apparently trying to get the judge to issue an order that no invasive surgery was to be carried out on Sheila. It was apparent that the judge did not like the idea. Once Amy and I had had our say, he gave the doctor authority to do what he thought was in the patient's best interests until she was able to make those decisions for herself.
The doctor immediately called the hospital and Sheila was in the theatre by the time we arrived back there. Strangely, when we came out of the courthouse, Tony Pride was nowhere to be found.
I was sitting in the waiting room when Doug Collins arrived.
"I see you never made it to the pub. I guessed you'd still be here."
"Christ, what's the bloody time?" I asked."
"Bugger! Where's the bloody phone?" Amy said as she rushed out of the room, I assume to call someone and put off a date.
"How is she?" Colin asked.
"Still in the theatre, she's been down there for hours."
"Damn, I hope she makes it for your sake."
"Thanks, Doug. Now what did you want to talk about?"
"Well, you know what they say about a copper's nose. It was something that the old girl said to me this morning. I'm pretty sure someone was trying to set you up for a fall last night. That nosy neighbour of yours spotted a Range Rover just like yours come into the car park by your flat a couple of times last night. It was in there twice - once about half ten and then again about half eleven - and the second time it turned up it only had one headlight working.
"I get the feeling whoever was driving it was playing dirty. If it happened to pass any video cameras on route to the accident it would show up at the right time on the right cameras going both ways. I suspect they expected your car to be parked in the car park and they would have most likely smashed your headlight to match the damage on the Range Rover that hit Sheila."
"Hang on, I haven't finished. You remember when Sheila fell down the stairs the other year. I came around and had a word with you. Well, we were acting on an anonymous tip off. I'll give you one guess where that tip off came from."
I must have looked confused.
"The call box in the foyer of Sheila's office building. We know it was a guy because it was recorded. And guess what time it was made. Just after half a dozen of them had returned from visiting Sheila here. I think she told them she couldn't remember what had happened the day before and one of them decided to get up to some mischief.
"Well, since that day I've had a good idea who, but I haven't been able to figure out the why. Of course you knocking him about didn't help any."
"You think Pridey set about driving Sheila and me apart."
"I'm bloody sure he did. What better way to separate a couple than to get her to believe her husband tried to kill her?"
Amy returned at this point.
"Well, I suppose he wanted Sheila divorced and single so he could marry her."
"He might want to marry Sheila. But she doesn't want to marry him," Amy said with an uncharacteristic tone to her voice.
"But they're engaged," I said.
"According to him, but not according to her! She goes out with him socially but that's all. I don't think they have even kissed each other, let alone anything else. He's asked her to marry him on more than one occasion but she's got a problem about accepting. He tells everybody that they are engaged, but sometimes Sheila has had a real go at him over it."
"I don't understand. What's her problem?"
"You! You lug head. She's in love with you."
"Talk sense, Amy. Sheila divorced me remember!"
"Yes, because she likes living. Sheila has been in a real mess for the last year or so, ever since you started playing around with that girl. Sheila knew you wanted to get her out of the way so you could marry the mother of your children."
"What the hell are you talking about now? I haven't been playing around with anybody and I certainly haven't got any little bastards out there."
"Well, that's what Sheila believes, because someone put the idea into her head that you've got a girlfriend somewhere and she's convinced you tried to kill her. I know she's been very confused that you haven't moved in with the girl."
"Amy's right, you know, Marty," Doug added, "And I think it's Tony Pride who's been putting these ideas into Sheila's head. I'm pretty sure it was Tony Pride who accused you of throwing her down those stairs. It was Tony Pride who attacked you outside the office that night and it was Tony Pride who claimed it was you driving that Range Rover last night."
"But what's the guy up to? Assuming that it was him who organised that so-called accident last night, what the hell is his motive for trying to kill her? Surely it couldn't be because she wouldn't marry him."
"I know, it doesn't make any sense. But that's what we've got to find out. Find the motive and you've normally got the crime solved. Whatever, with all that farce about Sheila being a Jehovah's Witness, he certainly showed his hand. It looks to me that he wants Sheila dead for some reason," Doug said. "Let's start at the beginning."
"One. He or someone plants the idea in Sheila's head that you've got a bit on the side. They added some children to make it look like a long term affair."
"Two. Someone convinces Sheila that her falling down the stairs when she was drunk wasn't an accident. Oh, by the way, you do know that Sheila didn't have enough alcohol in her blood that night to be done for drunk driving."
"That's rubbish. She could hardly stand up."
"Well, that isn't what the blood tests they took here showed. The trouble is they left it too late to find out what else could have been in her blood that night. The doc thought she had taken what he termed a recreational drug. But that could mean anything."
"What? You think that Pridey drugged her? Do you think he was after getting her into bed that night?" I asked.
"No, it wasn't Tony who had those kinds of ideas," Amy interjected. "It was some friend of his. Look, we all went to the pub for a drink that night to celebrate one of the other girl's birthday. Around seven some of us went up the road to get something to eat. Sheila didn't come with us; she said she was going home when she had finished her drink.
Anyway when we got back to the pub about nine, Sheila was out on the floor dancing. Honestly she was off her head! I'd never seen her dancing like that before; it was like she couldn't stop. Just after eleven the drink seemed to hit her and she virtually collapsed. This Bob or whoever he was said he would take her home."
"Oh, yeah, and you can see us letting that happen when Sheila was as drunk as a skunk. The girls and I insisted that she come in our taxi with us. This Bob guy wasn't too pleased about that, but we were adamant and then Tony stepped in and told him to leave it."
"Hmm, let's make that three. What would have been your reaction if Sheila had woken up in someone else's bed in the morning, Marty? Don't tell me; I can guess. That plan didn't work, so when our friend finds out Sheila's had an accident and can't remember what happened, he points the finger at you."
"But Sheila did remember, that shrink guy she went to. He was a doctor who hypnotised her and she remembered." Amy exclaimed.
"Oh, yeah, I got the report on those allegations," Doug said. "Look, I was in that kitchen the following day. Nothing Sheila said fitted correctly. If there had been the fight that Sheila claimed they had... Look, there just wasn't the room, unless half the furniture had been smashed and it wasn't. And that door to the cellar, it opens outwards. How the hell could Marty have pushed her through it? Remember there were no marks, no damage, nothing! Plus the security camera is just outside the back door; the microphone would have picked up any shouting or screaming. All it picked up was Marty shouting a warning to Sheila and her scream as she fell. No, I'm damned sure Sheila opened the door herself and walked through it thinking it was the door to the hall.
"Have you ever heard of planted memories, Amy? Well, that's what I suspect was somehow done to Sheila; by that quack or whatever he was who hypnotised her. Her story was inconsistent with the facts, as I know them. Have you any idea who this therapist was she went to see?"
"Someone that Tony knew, I think," Amy replied.
"You see, Tony Pride again. But just what was the bugger up to?" Doug asked looking at me.
"Well, I'm buggered if I know. If he wanted to steal my wife, why the hell would he try to kill her?"
"Maybe we are looking at this wrong. Supposing Tony Pride wanted Sheila dead all the time," Doug suggested.
"But why would he want to separate her from me first?" I asked.
"That's what we've go to work out, Marty." Doug sat back in his chair, obviously thinking.
Amy, who had been looking very thoughtful, suddenly asked, "Marty, could Sheila have had any relatives with money?"
"Not that I know of. Why?"
"Look, I'm speculating here. But what if Sheila was going to inherit a lot of money from some relative you didn't know existed. You know a long lost aunt or something. Look, this is all a bit Agatha Christie, I know, but I like her books. Now let's just imagine for a minute that Tony Pride is also related to this unknown benefactor; but a little further removed so if Sheila dies he would inherit."
"Now if Sheila was to die whilst she was married to you, even though she didn't know she had inherited the money, it would go to you as her husband. But if you were divorced first before she inherited, it wouldn't go to you. It would go to the next nearest relative in line. And I'll bet I can guess who that is going to turn out to be!"
"But why the attempted frame on me for the accident last night?"
"Because you can't legally benefit from a crime in this country, even if you could prove that whoever it was the money is coming from died and left it to Sheila before you were divorced. If you had killed her, you couldn't inherit the money anyway."
We both sat there looking at Doug now.
"Far fetched, I'll give you, but it certainly fits the scenario. I'm going back to the nick to see what I can dig up on our Mr Anthony Pride and while I'm at it, Marty, give me Sheila's maiden name and do you know where she was born?"
"Smith, her maiden name was Sheila Smith. But I haven't got the faintest idea where she was born. She never has been very forthcoming about her childhood. All I can really tell you is that she's an orphan. But her birth certificate must be somewhere."
"I'll need to find it if I can."
"I think there must a copy in the files at home. I don't remember her taking it with her. I'll have a look and dig it out later."
"Right. If you don't hear from me first, call me on my mobile; here's the number," Doug said. He gave me a card and then left the room.
Amy and I sat alone together for another hour before one of the doctors came in to see us. The operation was over. Sheila had a fractured skull and there had been a lot of bleeding into her brain. We gathered they had had some difficulty stopping the bleeding.
I wouldn't say the doctor was pessimistic but he was annoyed that Tony Pride had delayed the operation with all the crap about Sheila being a Jehovah's Wtness. With the way litigation goes nowadays they needed to get the permission of a judge before they could proceed once they had been told that.
He said the prognosis was fair but not good. They would keep Sheila sedated for the next few days while they waited for some swelling of her brain to go down. Amy and I went in to see her, but all we could see were bandages and tubes going everywhere. You know, you've all seen those machines beeping away on the telly. The doctors told us Sheila had numerous broken bones but it was the injuries to her head that they were worried about.
Amy and I left the hospital together and we went for a meal at a nearby fish and chip shop. I dropped Amy home and she asked me to pick her up and take her back to the hospital in the morning. She had no intention of returning to work until she knew Sheila was alright.
At home, I searched our files for Sheila's birth certificate but couldn't find it. Then it struck me. None of our papers were there. No marriage licence or decree nisi and Sheila's old passport was gone. I'd given her current one to her solicitor when he had asked for it. But I was sure he hadn't asked for her other papers.
Yes, I had been playing silly buggers at the time of the divorce; if Sheila didn't ask, she didn't get. Well, when you're playing a losing hand any small victory makes you feel a little bit better.
I didn't sleep well that night. Shit, I don't think I slept at all. Amy and I were back at the hospital at eight o'clock. But there was no change in Sheila's condition. Tony Pride hadn't showed up again either.