Discover more from Heaven & El
Abigail: Chapter 25
For the second time in less than twenty-four hours I found myself heading along the motorway, this time towards Cardiff. The address Rob had for Toby’s parents was in Caerphilly, a small town I knew nothing about. Rob didn’t have sat nav but assured me he knew it well so I sat back and enjoyed being chauffeur driven. Thanks to all his police training, Rob was an excellent driver. He also knew about my tendency towards travel sickness so once we got off the M4 he took the corners gently and we arrived without any dramas.
Toby’s parents lived in a pretty looking semi opposite a school. Between their view of the castle and the huge weeping willow in their front garden, I found myself a little envious. I loved Gloddfa Bont but there was something about the quiet street we found ourselves parked on that was appealing. I took a deep breath as we opened the little gate and walked up their path. It was Saturday afternoon and we were calling uninvited. I just hoped that after coming all this way they’d not decided to pop out for the day. I pushed the doorbell firmly and waited.
Thankfully our luck was in and the front door was soon answered by a tiny lady in slippers. We’d already agreed this would be my conversation to lead so Rob held back as I smiled and introduced us both. She nodded intently as she listened to me explain my role and said she’d of course be happy to help in any way she could.
“Would you like to come in, have a cup of tea?”
“If it’s not too much trouble that would be great, thank you.”
She led us along a hallway into the kitchen where the biggest dog I’d ever seen was sitting fast asleep on a beanbag. The dog opened one eye lazily, looked us over and soon went back to sleep. I tried hard not to laugh as I imagined Toby’s mother being dragged around the streets when it was time for a walk.
“Oh just ignore him. That’s Samson. He’s harmless. Tea or coffee?”
“Coffee please Mrs Rogers.”
“Call me Carol dear. Mrs Rogers makes me sound like my mother in law. Not that she wasn’t lovely. But you know how the in laws can be.”
I smiled and agreed. Drinks made, she carried them into the front room on a little tray and invited us to take a seat. “I’ll just give my husband a shout. I’m sure he’ll want to meet you both.”
We listened as she called up the stairs. There was an exchange of words then Carol appeared again, swiftly followed by a man so tall he had to duck as he walked through the doorway.
“This is Charlie Diamond and Rob, her assistant. Come and sit down. Charlie, this is Saul, Toby’s dad.”
I hid a smile at hearing Rob described as my assistant and he pinched my elbow. “Don’t get used to it,” he said in a whisper.
Tea and coffee distributed, the pair sat together side by side. Her perched on the edge of the seat and him, with his legs crossed. It was like observing a meeting between Mr Tall and Little Miss Tiny.
Mr Tall took the lead. “So how can we help?”
Ah those immortal words, they were like music to my ears. Most meetings started like this, with the other person so keen to help. It was just a shame they didn’t always end as happily. With Toby’s parents though I could see no reason why things couldn’t be plain sailing. It wasn’t like they had anything to hide.
“When did you last see your son? Before his disappearance I mean.”
Saul appeared to consider the question carefully. “I’m not entirely sure. It had been a couple of months. What do you think Carol? Was it Easter that we last saw the boy?”
Carol nodded. “Easter yes, that sounds about right.”
“He came here with Abigail and the children? Or did you go to them?”
“He came here.” Carol hesitated.
“And Abigail and the children?” I prompted.
I saw a look pass between Toby’s parents. “Just him.”
“Any reason why?” When they didn’t say anything I decided to try a different tack. “No-one’s in trouble here. It’s not an interrogation. I just want to get a picture of Toby’s movements in the time leading up to …”
“In the time leading up to June,” Rob said.
I smiled at him and nodded. “Are things a little strained between you and your daughter in law, Carol?”
She gave the briefest of nods. Saul looked at her and put his hand on hers.
“I think it would be fair to say that we don’t have the easiest of relationships with Abigail.” Saul smiled at his wife. “But we love our son and have to respect their choices.”
“Oh lots of things. We had hoped that when they had children it would make things easier but she moved them all even further away.”
“Abigail told me the move from Cardiff was Toby’s idea.”
Carol made a sound like a wounded animal.
“I’m sorry Mrs Rogers, Carol, I can tell this isn’t easy for you.” I smiled at her. “Are you telling me Toby didn’t want to move?”
“Toby didn’t know what he wanted. She had him wrapped round her little finger. She only had to say the word and they were packed and gone. Little tramp!”
“Shhh, come on Carol.” Saul patted her hand but she brushed it away.
“No Saul, I won’t have it! She can’t go around making up stories like that. It’s just not fair!”
She was shaking as she spoke and for the first time I saw just how impressive this tiny framed woman really was. Having exposed the wound I wanted to dig in and get to the root of the hostility but I knew what would happen if I pushed her too quickly. I caught Saul’s eye and smiled.
He didn’t return my smile. “If you don’t mind, I think’s enough for today,” Saul said. “As you can see, it’s upsetting my wife. I’ll show you out.”
I stood up. “Would it be okay if I left you my card?”
When we got back to the car Rob looked at me, eyebrows raised. “So what do you make of all that?”