My thanks go to my proofreaders LadyCibelle, and my friend SH, for attempting to sort out all of my co ... foul-ups! But I must remind the reader that I still retain my annoying habit (Well I would be surprised if I doesn't get right up their noses, after all the effort they put in on my behalf!) of fiddling with my tales of woe, almost every time that I open them. So blame for typos, spelling mistakes and all grammar foul-ups, should be laid at my door.
Clarification: - The Met = London's Metropolitan Police Force, often erroneously known as Scotland Yard; New Scotland Yard is their headquarters, and they shouldn't be confused with the City of London Police, who police the square mile. HEMS = London's air ambulance and rapid road response medical teams, based at the Royal London Hospital. Broadmoor and Rampton are high security mental institutions.
Where do I start, I'm not sure? Maybe by explaining that I was away at one of those damned seminars on environmentally-friendly disposal of industrial waste. We're talking a few years ago now, before what could be described as the environmental revolution — or re-evaluation - that's overtaken the world. I can't say that I was particularly enamoured to have been picked-out by my boss to look into our company's waste policies, and generally clean up the company's act in that area.
However, I can't say that I had objected to either kudos I'd gained by the promotion amongst my fellow workers, or raise in pay. The travelling involved — around all the company's different plants — was turning out to be a real pain in the arse though.
Much to my surprise, Maureen took my sudden need to travel in my job in good heart. She understood that it wouldn't be for very long and agreed that - with two young children and a mortgage to pay - the extra cash coming in would prove very useful to us. There were the odd times when she'd have a little gripe but they weren't very often.
Actually I got to enjoy my trips away ... well not so much the trips away, but the coming home again. The kids would be over the moon on my return, and Maureen would try to love me to death on the night of my return and for several nights — well we couldn't behave like that whilst the children were up, could we — after my return.
I must admit that I thought my three or four nights away every week, had given Maureen's libido a bit of a boost. As it does after children - in our case twin girls born within two years of our wedding - come along, our sex life had fallen into a bit of a rut. Even more so after she'd gone back to work (part time) when the girls' started school; we'd been a bit strapped for cash and living a little close — or maybe a little beyond — our means for a while there. So, the moment she got the chance, Maureen went out to see her old employer and then went back working for them on a part time basis. As the children got older, she'd increased her hours until she was almost working full time again.
I can't say that I very much liked idea of Maureen going back working for Norman Coolidge again. But Maureen had a gregarious nature and she hadn't enjoyed being cooped up in the house so much whilst the twins were little.
Oh, Norman Coolidge was all right — well, I thought he was at the time — but his wife when we met her on the odd social occasion — Norman and Greta had both been at our wedding — well, she always struck me as a bit of a weirdo. You know, she always had a strange look about her eyes, kind of unsettled me some. Whatever, Greta Coolidge didn't actually work for the company and from what Maureen told me I gathered she rarely visited the office. Maureen knew her old job well and really enjoyed working with the other girls.
Anyway, that was the state of play, when I went to that five-day seminar in Manchester. I've got to admit that for the most of it I was bored to tears. I'd actually met most of the people giving the presentations and discussed in person with them what they were trying to put over. But there were a couple that were of some interest to me.
It was late that night and I was sitting in one of the lounges discussing the relative merits of different boiler exhaust sulphur scrubbing systems with a couple of guys I'd got to know quite well over the previous year or so when one of them suddenly pointed that the bell boy was wandering around calling out that there was a message for me. You know the sort of thing the lad was apparently touring the public rooms trying to say "Message for Mr Broom!" loud enough to be heard but not too loud as to disturb everyone else.
"Here!" My friend called out and pointed to me.
"There's an urgent message for you at reception, Mr Broom." The young lad said when he reached our table and then he stood there expectantly.
I slipped fifty pence — can I help it if I'm a cheapskate - into his hand and then, telling the guys I'd be back soon, I headed out of the lounge. I figured that Maureen, who for some reason hadn't been in the house when I called earlier, was returning my nightly call home.
It was as I approached the desk, that I began to get a bad feeling in my stomach. Standing nearby waiting a little impatiently — or they were looking uncomfortable about being there anyway - were two police officers.
"Broom room 268. You have a message for me?" I said to the young woman stood behind the desk.
As I feared that she was going to do, she took a quick glance towards the two uniformed police officers and then said. "These gentlemen would like a word with you sir!"
My heart sank further, remember Maureen hadn't been home when I'd called and now there were two policemen at the hotel looking for me. I instantly assumed there'd been an accident of some kind and I feared for Maureen and the children.
"Would you mind coming with us sir?" One of the officers said. Immediately heading off towards the managers office.
I followed without answering, dreading what they were going to tell me once we got inside.
As we walked into the office, the manager himself left, closing the door behind him.
"Would you like to take a seat sir?" the first officer said.
"I don't think so; I'd rather know what it is you are putting off saying if you don't mind. Has there been an accident or something? Are my wife and children all right?"
"Your children are fine sir, as far as we know. But I do think you should sit down." The officer replied, physically guiding me towards a chair as he spoke.
Why is it that people think you needed to be seated to receive bad news? Well, he'd said the children were fine; that could only mean that Maureen wasn't, and that she had been involved in some sort of an accident, couldn't it.
"I'm afraid we have to inform you that your wife is in hospital sir. She has sustained some serious injuries and we believe she is being operated on as we speak. The Met has asked us to inform you that you should return to London immediately."
"What sort of injuries; how seriously hurt is she?" I demanded, jumping up from the seat that I'd unconsciously taken.
"We don't have the details sir, other than that your wife is apparently suffering from several bullet wounds."
"Bullet wounds ... what, are you telling me, that she's been shot?" I demanded.
"Apparently so, sir!" The officer replied.
"How? Why?" I said, really not believing what the officer was saying.
"I'm afraid we aren't aware of the circumstances, sir. The Met just asked us to find you, and assist you in getting back to London as soon as possible. There are police cars and drivers waiting to escort you all the way to the hospital sir."
"My children?" I asked.
"They are safe and well, sir, of that one fact I can assure you. I'm sure that the Met officers will have all that in hand. Now, we'd better get moving, there was a distinct sense of urgency in the Met's request." The officer said as he opened the door.
Things certainly got hectic after that, we left the manager's office to be met by a female police officer and one of the hotel staff carrying my bags; it was explained that they'd packed my stuff for me. Then I was bundled into a police car and driven at breakneck speed to somewhere where a helicopter was waiting. I learnt later that the chopper had been laid on by my employers, after the police had got in touch with them asking about my whereabouts.
I'm not sure where the chopper landed in London. But wherever it was, a limousine (also laid on by my employers) was waiting and under police escort I was rushed to the hospital and up to the intensive care unit; where I found an unconscious and very pale looking Maureen hooked up to all the paraphernalia we are so familiar with from all those TV hospital programs. Even down to the beep, beep, beep of the heart rate monitor.
I think it was a doctor who told me that they thought Maureen was going to make it, only not in those words of course. He told me she had sustained six bullet wounds, four that he said had only caused minor injury; but two more that - but for the fact that a Hems unit had been in the vicinity - would most likely have proved fatal.
I'm not sure how long it was that I sat there staring at Maureen's inert body, whilst listening to the incessant beeping of the machines and holding her hand, before a nurse came over and told that there was a police officer waiting who wished to speak to me.
As soon as the officer had introduced himself as Detective Sergeant Sharp, I asked him what had happened.
.... There is more of this story ...