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Abigail: Chapter 14
“Sorry Charlie, I’m just in the middle of something right now. Can I phone you back?” I could hear laughter in Rob’s voice when he answered the phone.
“Don’t you dare!” I grinned. “So what have you got for me?” I got myself comfy on the sofa, Missy curled up against my legs, ready to listen.
“What, no ‘how are you?’ or ‘nice to hear from you’?”
“Ha ha! How are you? Nice to hear from you. Now tell me what I need to know!”
“Yes ma’am.” Rob chuckled. “I took a look at the file and it was just like I told you. Low risk. Nothing to go on. Case closed.”
“Did they search the house? Interview Abigail?”
“A couple of the uniform boys spoke to her, had a quick look round with her permission, but they drew a blank.”
“And that’s it?” I felt outraged on Abigail’s behalf. “A man goes missing and your lot just shrug your shoulders and go back to your coffee and doughnuts?” I leapt to my feet, sending poor Missy to the floor, and started pacing.
“Doughnuts? No-one here eats doughnuts. Talk about a cliché.” He laughed again.
“This isn’t funny Rob.”
“Tell me about it. Doughnuts are full of all sorts of nasties. It’s definitely not a joking matter.”
“Look Charlie, what do you want me to say? The guy’s an adult. So what if he’s decided he wants a break for a little while? We can’t spend half the force budget looking for a man who clearly doesn’t want to be found.”
“And if he’s been kidnapped? Forcibly held against his will? Drugged and pushed into a moving van?”
“Show me some evidence and we can talk about it.”
I sighed. “I don’t have any evidence. But …”
“Then it’s case closed Charlie. Sorry, I want to help but there’s nothing I can do.”
“Humph!” I threw my phone onto the sofa and carried on pacing.
Nothing he could do my arse. He just didn’t want to ruffle any feathers or get himself in trouble. Too bad that there was a man out there who might need police help. Well if it was evidence he needed, I would damn well get him evidence. I pulled Abigail’s file out of my bag and started making detailed notes of everything that had happened that day. From Bill and our conversation about life insurance to Abigail and her mysterious bank transactions. If Abigail hadn’t made those withdrawals and her card hadn’t been stolen, someone was accessing their bank account. Whether it was Toby himself or someone who was holding him captive, if I could just get evidence that it wasn’t Abigail, that might be enough for Rob and his colleagues to start taking this more seriously.
I started by plotting the distance between here and each of the three locations. Unless she’d made alternative arrangements for school pick up, there was no way Abigail could have made those withdrawals. I knew that of course, but I had to prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt. It was then that I had my first flash of inspiration that day: CCTV.
Fifty-six minutes later I had to admit defeat. The Internet is a wonderful invention, opens doorways to experiences and makes this beautiful, big world of ours feel smaller. There are some things though you cannot do online. Accessing CCTV records is one of them. I thought it would be easy to find in the public domain but apparently financial institutions are a little bit reticent about giving out that kind of information to just anyone. I toyed with the idea of phoning Rob back, to see if the firm arm of the law might be able to apply a bit of pressure but decided against it. The next time I saw him I needed hard evidence and I definitely didn’t have that yet.
I glanced at the clock and was surprised to find it was only six o’clock. It was so dark and cold I’d convinced myself it had to be at least nine but maybe that was just wishful thinking. Would Louise and Grace be at the theatre now or still eating their pre-show dinner? I imagined that eventually I’d get used to sharing the girls with their dad but I wasn’t there yet. Every time they did anything without me the time dragged and I wasted my time wishing I could fast forward to the moment they’d be home again. At least today I’d been a bit productive, that had to be a good sign.
For the briefest of moments I considered phoning my mum. If nothing else her unrelenting criticism would serve as a distraction from the boredom but I talked myself out of it and instead opened a bottle of wine and ordered a takeaway. While I waited for the food to arrive I opened Abigail’s file again and looked at the list of towns where someone, maybe Toby himself, had withdrawn cash from the family bank account. There was only one thing for it I decided. I’d have to go and ask in branch about CCTV. Maybe someone would take pity on me and tell me what I needed to know.
Barnstaple looked to be the closest so I started planning a route along the M4, booked myself a room in the Travelodge, and packed an overnight bag. I wouldn’t go until Monday after the girls had gone to school and I still needed to arrange for one of the mums in the village to check in on them Tuesday morning but the thought of a road trip was exciting. I’d load my iPod with Christmas music and be like a solo Thelma and Louise, except without the attempted rape or murder or rubbish ending. On second thoughts, I should find myself a better pair of role models, I decided.
By the time my takeaway arrived I was feeling much more positive. The large glass of wine had done the trick and taken the edge of how much I was missing the girls and I was starting to relax. I was just thinking that maybe this co-parenting lark wasn’t so bad after all when a text message arrived from Rob. You okay grumpy? I was far too chilled to dignify his message with a response so instead I poured myself another glass of wine and thought about my trip. I still had my doubts about Abigail but the more Rob pushed me, the more determined I was to prove that Toby Rogers hadn’t vanished out of choice. I crossed my fingers that Barnstaple would hold some answers for me.