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Abigail: Chapter 47
Unfortunately for me, my very next move was back to Abigail’s house for tea with Toby’s parents. I was looking forward to seeing Carol and Saul again but I was worried about which Carol we’d see today: the bitter, angry woman from our first meeting or sweet and ready to do anything to help. Abigail only knew about the one meeting I’d had with them so I’d not had opportunity to warn her but they were both adults and they both loved Toby. I kept repeating the mantra in my head that that had to be enough. The Beatles song, All You Need Is Love had been playing on a loop in my head most of the morning. I just had to hope it was true.
When I pulled up outside Abigail’s house I saw a car I didn’t recognise on the drive. I glanced at the time. If it was Toby’s parents they were early. I rang the bell and was greeted by a smiling Abigail.
“Charlie, thanks for coming. We’re in the front room.”
“We? They’re here already?”
“Called an hour ago and asked if they could come early.” She whispered into my ear. “I was a bit worried but it’s all fine.”
We walked into the front room where I saw Carol and Saul sitting together on Abigail’s sofa with young Lucy on Saul’s knee. Lucy turned and looked at me and her bottom lip quivered but she was soon distracted by Saul bouncing her up and down. Sitting in the corner playing on an iPad was Alexander, Abigail’s son. We’d not met so I decided to introduce myself. I walked over to the boy and offered him my hand.
“Alexander? I’m Charlie, your mummy’s friend.”
He looked up from his iPad and eyed me suspiciously but then he grabbed my outstretched hand and gave it a little shake before returning to the iPad. Introduction over, I said hello to Carol and Saul.
“Don’t get up. You look like you’re nice and comfy there.” I gestured to Lucy.
I was about to offer to help make tea and coffee when my mobile rang. I glanced at the screen and saw it was Jack from the service station. Keen for any news he might have for me I made my excuses and went out into the hallway to speak to him.
“Hi Jack, how you doing?”
“Good thanks Charlie. Just wanted to let you know I’ve been asking around and I’ve come up with a name for you.”
“Winkman and sons. Does that name ring a bell?”
“Other than sounding like Winkleman no, not a clue.”
“Well I have it on good authority that they’re one and the same. Something about insolvency or bankruptcy. I’m not sure of the legal jargon but rumour has it Winklemans was set up after Winkman went under.”
“And they got away with that? They sound almost exactly the same, it hardly seems possible.”
“Just telling you what I heard.”
“I appreciate it. Thanks Jack.”
I said goodbye and then sat on the stairs in Abigail’s hallway. If Winklemans had been trading as Winkman, they wouldn’t have come up during my search of Companies House. I felt my heart beating in my ears as I loaded the Companies House app on my phone. Ten seconds later I wanted to throw the wretched thing out the window when it pulled up hundreds of results. I decided to try the website instead and this time it was better. Much like the last time I’d checked, Bill Winkleman’s name didn’t bring up any matches and Toby too was clean but finally, just when I thought I should give up and go back into the front room, I struck gold. Winkman & Sons, dissolved August 2015. Last registered address, a PO Box in Bridgend.
Bingo! And I bet if I check the registered address for Winklemans it’ll lead me to the same location, I thought.
I couldn’t understand why Bill wasn’t a company director though, that made no sense to me. Even if his wife had been a director, that would have come back in the search results and it wasn’t like there could be that many Winklemans in South Wales. I clicked through to the list of officers and it was then that I had the biggest shock of the week. Listed as secretary for Winkman & Sons was one Tobias Rogers. His correspondence address was listed as somewhere in Cardiff but that had to be him. The little weasel!
There could be a perfectly reasonable explanation for all of this. It was entirely possible that it was all above board and honest, but Abigail’s father had told me he introduced Toby to the company. There’d been no mention of him being in any way connected to Bill’s previous company. Whatever was going on, Bill Winkleman had some explaining to do.
I went back into the front room to be greeted by the heart-warming scene of Abigail and her in-laws chatting, the children with them, one big happy family, and I was torn. For the first time in years they were all getting along. I didn’t know how it had happened or who had said what to make it all right again, but they were happy, united by their love of Toby. How could I take that love and tell them their precious son and husband might actually be embroiled in something dodgy? Besides, I still had more questions than answers. I didn’t know if Bill was connected to Toby’s disappearance. I didn’t know what connection, if any, this latest revelation had to the ransom request. I didn’t even know how the creditors listed on the paperwork from the bailiffs tied in. Until I could give them a concrete explanation, I was quite content to let them enjoy their family moment.
In the meantime though, I had more work to do than ever. I had to go back to the site and see Bill and if like last time he wasn’t there, I was perfectly happy to apply as much pressure as necessary to find out where he might be. It was time for them to know that I, Charlie Diamond, meant business.