Christina Howard heard the outer gates slide open, it was that time again, her eyes remained closed, as she listened to the slow footsteps of the Prison Officer’s, on ‘F’ Wing. One by one the cell doors were unlocked, she knew that time had finally come, after serving fifteen years for a crime she hadn’t committed, she was finally being released.
She did not think of it as going home, because she had no home anymore. It was not surprising, her being a convicted murderess. What friends she had, didn’t want to associate themselves with her, and what family remained had made it clear, that in their eyes she no longer existed.
Finally, the permanent facial frown was gone, making way for a face of beauty and intrigue, with those cool blue eyes, which bore down into you. Fifteen years ago she had entered this institution, and remained here for the best years of her life, saying goodbye to her past life.
The words she remembered from the trial, were the Judge’s comments; calling her callus and a disturbed individual. From her teens, her young life had been a mixture of drug and alcohol abuse. From petty thief, turned murderess in two easy steps.
She was seventeen years of age, when she started her life sentence for two counts of murder, and at the age of thirty-two, with much of her life before her, was being released back into society on licence.
As she closed her eyes, the only image before her was one of a room, splattered with blood everywhere. Her skin and hair drenched with her victim’s blood. She had been there, convinced to this day; she was no more than a watching victim.
Therefore, who killed them, and why?
Her only memories of that time had been a drug-induced life. After fifteen years, living in an artificial environment, she was drug free, and the world looked different to her.
At that moment, a screw banged on the open door, bringing her back to this time, “come on girl, have you forgotten what day this is?”
She quickly scurried around, putting all her treasured possessions in one bag, not much to show for fifteen years. Then sat back on her bed drinking her final cup of coffee, the minutes dragged by endlessly, as she waited to be, escorted from the wing.
She finally passed through the foreboding gates of High Holloway Prison, as she trudged away to the halfway house, daring herself not to look back, as she heard the gates shut behind her. At last she knew and believed she was free!
“Free at last after fifteen years of confinement,” she said to herself. As she breathed the fresh air, and took in her surroundings.
Without realising it, she headed to the train station, boarded and watched intently as it headed back towards the heart of the city. She disembarked and walked along the old streets, once a familiar site to her, expecting to see shops or people she might recognise. The area had changed so much; she felt a stranger here, an area she had grown up in many years ago.
With much apprehension, she walked up the narrow path to the front door of her childhood home. After much trepidation, knocked and watched as her mother, much older now walked up the hallway.
Suddenly the door flung open, and her mother stood their speechless.
The look upon her mother’s face, was one of sheer hatred.
“Get lost, Christina – and don’t ever show your face round here again. They should have locked you up for good, and thrown away the key, you’re trouble, nothing but trouble, so clear off.”
Slamming the door in her face, as she looked on.
She fell in a disjointed heap on the doorstep, and sobbed for a moment, as she hadn’t expected that from her mother. She sat awhile hoping the door might open again, but in her heart, she knew it wouldn’t. She knew it never would. Having disgraced her family, more than, words could say.
In a distressed and frail condition, she walked away from the family home, as she headed for an old friend, who lived close by, near the old Gasworks on Layer Road. Their had been no contact from her whilst she had been inside. She wondered what type of reception; she would receive, frosty?
Jennifer Cummings heard the doorbell, as she lay snuggled down under her duvet, eyes closed and trying to ignore the sound.
However, it was no use, the doorbell rang again, followed by the caller hammering on the knocker. In a disgruntled mood, leapt from her bed, grabbing a dressing gown as she headed to the front door of the flat. The door opened slowly and hesitantly, with door chain still attached.
“Christina Howard! I thought you were inside?”
Christina gazed back at her for a moment. “Got released this morning, well can I come in?”
Jennifer removed the door-chain. “Of course you can come in its good to see an old face.
As she walked into the flat, she was taken aback by the lingering smell of; fried food, stale perfume, alcohol and drugs. A smell she hadn’t smelt in a long time.
“Coffee, tea or something stronger?”
“Coffee please, black no sugar.”
“So how long has it been? It seems ages, since we hanged around together.”
“Its’ been fifteen years, and its good to see a friendly face,” as she followed Jennifer into the kitchen diner.
“I was working last night, didn’t get into three, this morning. Of course you wouldn’t know, the old Odeon Cinema, was demolished some five years back, and is now the home of Jacinto’s NightClub.”
As she spoke of Jacinto’s NightClub, she spoke with a nervous twitch in her voice; this bothered Christina, what had she to hide?
Jennifer eyed Christina; it was obvious the years inside had been kinder to her, than she expected, looking good for her age.
“You look good Jennifer,” but Christina lied, being kind to her, the years had taken their toll upon her.
Jennifer placed two old battered mugs of steaming hot coffee on the table.
“You’re out on license aren’t you,” Jennifer asked, she had to know. “I mean that’s what happens after a long stretch for murder.”
“Yeah, if I put a foot wrong, they can throw me back inside, but that ain’t going to happen.”
“There’s one thing I’d like to know? Did you really kill those two people, you were convicted for?”
“To this day, I can’t remember, the only recollection I have, is of being a victim not a murderer, but I was found at the scene, covered in blood, my fingerprints were everywhere, especially on the murder weapon. As far as the court was concerned, I was guilty. Now I am free, having served my time.”
“So what are you going to do now?” Jennifer enquired.
“Settle back, and get my life back,” Christina replied, trying not to give anything away, as she had her own agenda, but as yet didn’t know who to trust.
“So where are you staying, with your parents?”
“No, called round there as soon as they released me, but my Mother told me to clear off. The prison have arranged for me to stay at a halfway house, across the other side of the river, talking about that, I had better make my way there, or they will think I’ve got lost.”
As she left, Jennifer said. “Come back soon, and we can talk about old times.”
“I’d love that,” she thought to herself, just what I needed to hear, maybe jog a few old memories.
Christina awoke to the banging upon her door, to find an old woman with silver-grey hair, standing before her. She greeted her with a smile.
“Angie Maxwell, that’s my name.”
It was a statement, rather than an introduction.
Christina smiled, and nodded in response.
The old woman outstretched her scrawny hand. “I’m in the room next to you.”
“I’ve been in the same situation as you, a convicted murderess. They released me some ten months ago, and have been here ever since; it takes time to acclimatise one self to life on the outside. I’m not prying, but if you fancy company anytime, just bang on the wall.”
She smiled with her semi-toothless grin, and walked off.
Christina wasn’t ready to make new friends, this encounter had left her fearful, her heart pounding away inside. As she returned to the confines of her room, she listened in sufferance to the radio blaring through the wall. Lying back on the bed, the one thing she desired most, was to be free of this place. She couldn’t stand people prying into her business, just because she was new.
Friendship, had once been her lifeblood, now the thought frightened her. As she closed her eyes, she saw once more the two bloodied bodies and the sickly feeling in her throat.
For the time being, friends were a luxury she could well do without, it would be safer to trust no one!
Marcus Philby, the owner of Jacinto’s NightClub, and one time friend of Christina, was overjoyed when news reached him, she had been released. For deep down, he feared what she might do in retaliation, if she ever discovered the truth of that fateful night. Having been set-up to take the fall, by a close friend and her sister. The thoughts of her, being locked away all these years had preyed much on his mind.
Although, what had happened that night should never had happened, he knew it went too far, and should never have set her up to take the fall. If it wasn’t for Christina’s sister Maxine, egging him on, none of this would have happened. Christina, Maxine and I were always looking for a fix, but Christina was always on a high, strung out on whatever she could get her hands on. Drugs were an illness, whatever people thought of us then; it was a self-inflicted illness, which resulted in two deaths.
At that moment, Jennifer walked over to him, as he was preparing the club for its’ evening trade. “Christina’s back in town, have you heard.”
He looked up for a moment. “Yes, I have heard, bad news travels fast,” he didn’t know what else to say to her.
“Look Marcus, I ain’t trying to add to your problems, but Christina, is not exactly flavour of the month around here. All I’m saying is have a word with her. There are still a lot of people who feel she paid for a crime she wasn’t capable of committing.”
“What do you expect me to do, about it?”
“Have a word, clear the air.”
“Are you mad girl, I just can’t, and I don’t even know where she’s staying, and if I did I…”
“Remember, I did warn you.”
“Its’ no good going on about it, her sister doesn’t even want to discuss it.”
“You’re a fool, she looks good, and all I’m doing is trying to avert a disaster waiting to happen. Remember there are many people out there, from the old days who kept their mouths shut, but will they continue, you’ve got to ask yourself that?”
He watched her walk back to her table; she wasn’t a bad girl really, great at the poker table. However, at that moment, he hated her for raking up the past, knowing his wife Maxine, was in the back, and would go berserk at the mention of Christina’s name.
He knew he was a coward, but with Maxine acting like she is, always going berserk at any small thing, it would be dangerous to mention Christina’s name!
Three weeks on, and her probation officer, had arranged an interview for her at the local Job Centre. Before her release, she had been informed her chances of employment on the outside was slim. Nevertheless, she tried.
Her future life would be under the watchful eyes; of her probation officer, social workers and the police. She had to become a model citizen, or they could return her to prison, to serve the remaining three years of her sentence.
As she sat listening to the employment Officer, a bombshell was dropped on her lap; an interview for a job. Utter disbelief and bewilderment struck her, after all she had heard.
“Mr Carmichael, owner of Carmichael,s Engineers, is prepared to give you an interview. He read the case in the papers, but still he’s prepared to consider you, for a vacancy in his stock department. Pay is not very good, but as you have no work history, it’s a start.”
Minutes later, Christina was on the way to an appointment at Carmichaels’. She desperately needed to make a good impression, she wanted, and she desperately needed this job. It didn’t matter how much the pay was, it would be a start.
In the old times, money meant everything to her, it paid for dope – cocaine – heroin, and life without her daily fixes, were unbearable. That had been in her past life, now she needed to build a new future. Having been given a second chance, she needed to prove herself.
Carmichael gestured Christina to a chair as he sat behind his large oak table, piled high with papers. He was a well-built man in his late forties. She felt his eyes glancing over her, a feeling she had not felt for a long time, but she ignored it.
He sat reading her CV, as it was; “I see you have qualifications in Computer Technology and Accounting. The vacancy is for a Computerised Stock Controller, which you are well qualified for.”
“Times go slow in prison, and I needed something for when I was released.”
“You spent a long time there, I see you got out three years early on good behaviour.”
I nodded. “When I was first admitted to prison, I was a Category-A prisoner, and eventually moved down the categories until I was transferred to an open prison. Now I have been given a second chance, and I must not waste it.”
He smiled, but said nothing.
“Cards on the table, we both know I am a convicted murderess, and have served fifteen years out of an eighteen year sentence. I am over qualified for this job, but if you give me a chance, I won’t disappoint you.”
He glanced at her for a moment, remembering those gory photo’s in the papers when she had been convicted. She looked good, even in those old clothes, but with smart clothes could be a stunner.
“Can you start on Monday?”
“I look forward to seeing you hear at 8.00am, and we will show you your duties, and where you will work.”
She felt light-headed with joy as she headed back to the halfway house.
Christina, with much caution answered her door, standing there was Alice Galloway, who looked after the house and all us girls.
“Well done, I just heard you got the job.”
“You can’t possibly go to work in that outfit. A local Charity helps us out with clothes, these recently came in, and I thought of you. They look about your size. One navy and one grey trouser suit, and a few white-embossed blouses,” she handed them over to an over-whelmed Christina.
“Just what I needed, I don’t know what to say.”
“Nothing to say. I hope they fit!”
“Christina, you have been given a second chance of a new life, embrace it, and try and leave the past, where it should stay – in the past.”
“I’ll try – but memories are hard to forget.”
After Alice left, Christina tried the suits and blouses on and they fitted her perfectly. It made her feel good about herself, the first time in a long time.
It was the first night in many years; she had a good nights sleep. No dreams of that dreadful night, but she would always remember, until truth prevailed.
She had taken her first step, in a long road fraught with obstacles, the beginning of a new life.
Carmichael sat in his office, gazing out a Christina in an adjoining office, recalling the day of her interview. Six months had now passed; her first four in the stock department, then moved up to assist him in the running of the company accounts.
Christina had become one of those small band of workers, who never asked questions, just got on with her job. However, deep down, she could see the accounts revealed, income payments from elsewhere, used to support an ailing company. In her mind, she always questioned was this legal? But she didn’t want to know.
She had become embroiled in an unattainable situation, being constantly under the supervision of her parole officer. If she left this job, she would have to say why. Better to say nothing. Carmichael, was the first person to give her a chance in many years?
As Carmichael watched her working away, he couldn’t believe it possible, this woman was a murderess, it just didn’t sit right with him!
Christina felt it was time to rake up the past, she had secured herself a job, and everything was going well. Her memories of her previous life, before being imprisoned were patchy.
Some would say forget it, and get on with your life, but fifteen years of her life, had been, taken from her. Memories of that fateful night will always remain with her, until the truth is finally, revealed.
Every Saturday morning on her day off, she would rise at 7.00am, wash quickly followed by breakfast of Corn Flakes and toast. Catch the 8.15am bus at the bottom of the road, to the town’s public library, a two-storey redbrick building.
A short petite woman occupied a counter by the main entrance, with a youngish man near by, both heads turning in my direction as I entered.
“Good Morning,” I said.
“Good Morning,” they replied in unison.
“I’d like to view the back issues of the national and local papers, for the period 1987-2002,” smiling at that moment.
“The early years are stored on Microfilm.”
“That would be alright,” I replied.
Seldom is this machine used, except for the older issues, it is now located at the far end of the reading room.
The petite Librarian opened one of the metal cabinets behind her and withdrew a small grey-box. “I’d better explain the machine to you.”
“There’s no need. I’m familiar with microfilm viewers.”
The expression on her face, was one of dread as she handed over a box of microfilms. I was her worst nightmare.
“Don’t be alarmed, I have been coming here the past few weeks, viewing the files.” I said trying to reassure her. At that moment, her face resumed its normal stance.
Settling down at the machine, I checked through the boxes within the carton, and inserted, the film, and wound it through the viewer. The machine was a manual operation unit, making it slow and time consuming.
Within minutes, text and pictures came in and out of focus, and so the weekly headache had begun. I flicked through spool after spool, returning to the front desk; eventually the sympathetic librarian allowed me three boxes at a time.
I skimmed quickly over charity events, church socials, minor crimes, vandalism, garage sales, car boots and announcements, of births, deaths and weddings.
By mid-morning, my head pulsed and my blood sugar had dropped to a dangerous level, incapable of sustaining life, as we know it. Stealthily, I slipped my hand into my pocket, withdrew a chocolate bar, and quietly munched my way through it, as I watched yet another spool.
Eventually, I was able to switch over to files stored on the computer, as was the storage method of later years. One of the entries in the local paper, stood right out, I just sat there looking at it in disbelief.
Youngest son of Michael Philby, local crimes boss; Marcus marries childhood sweetheart Maxine Howard, sister of local murderess, jailed for life. Marcus and Maxine, were given Jacinto’s NightClub, by Michael Philby as a wedding gift.
Christina sat their stunned beyond belief, “I just can’t believe it,” she said under her breath. Childhood sweetheart, it was originally Marcus and myself.
This left Christina bemused, but the mention of Michael Philby changes everything, he would do anything for his son!
Her eyes moved to the accumulated printout’s she had acquired from subsequent visits to the library. As she ruffled through the pages, looking for a reference within a local or national newspaper, suddenly she found what she sought.
Local man on the Mount Pleasant Housing Estate, when interviewed by the police spoke of a young man and two girls. In his opinion, one of them seemed worse for wear, as they forced themselves into the couples flat on the evening of 12th September 1987.
On that same evening local man, Daniel McConnelly a close neighbour of the couple passed their second floor flat on his way home after his evening shift, at the local cash and carry. His eyes were taken aback, by the sight of blood outside their door, and blood on the doorframe. Quickly he rushed home, and called the police.
Police Constable Anderson responded to the call and forced an entrance into the flat, where he found an elderly couple battered, one already dead lying facedown in a pool of blood in the living room. Whilst the other was located in the hall, in a serious condition. In the kitchen on the lower floor a third person was found, a young woman dressed in black, unconscious with what was considered the murder weapon close by, and covered in blood.
The local CID arrived at the scene shortly, along with paramedics and doctor, who confirmed one, was dead, and had apparently been beaten to death in a frenzied attack. Before the second victim died, he is reported to have said to the CID Officer that he told the younger of the two girls’, where the money was but she wasn’t interested she just kept attacking us for no reason.
The police had their murderer, and they looked no further. She who was found to have slipped on the stairs and knocked herself out whilst under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
The other couple have never, been traced. Believed to be connected with some form of loan shark business. During police investigations, evidence proved that the victims, were running a loan shark business on the local housing estate, in opposition to Michael Philby. Rumours abounded that Marcus was trying to prove to his father, that he had the ability to sort out the opposition, but it went tragically wrong.
The police believed, people in the area knew who the missing couple were, but were not talking, for fear of repercussions.
As she looked at the collection of articles she had attained from the library, whilst sitting quietly in her room, back at the refuge. It stood out, Maxine must have killed them, and Marcus had covered up everything for her, because he was in love with her. Set up by my own sister and boyfriend, and covered up by Michael Philby local crime boss.
However, now that Michael Philby is dead, can these questions be truthfully, answered?
Marcus and Maxine have no one to protect them now, is there, anyone out there who will talk now?
No wonder they are scared since my release, they don’t know what I remember of that night! That is my strength, but to prove their guilt, that is a different story.
For weeks Maxine thought she was being followed, but was that fear, following various sightings of her sister in the vicinity of the club. Several times in the night, she awoke, and each time felt a presence in the house, but fear prevented her leaving her bedroom. These feelings, were further enhanced, by rumours that Marcus had heard at the club.
“Christina’s, been delving into the events that sent her to prison,” stated Marcus. “But I’ve got a hunch she knows what happened that fateful night or is very close to solving it.”
“Don’t worry Maxine, I will protect us.”
“But who will protect you? Anyway its’ not you she’s after, its’ me, stated Maxine. “I’m the one who killed those two people that night, and left my sister to take the blame.”
“But we were both there.”
Fear of being caught, swelled up in her over the next few days. In an effort to resolve the problem hanging over her, she took one of Marcus’ rifles, and parked up across the way from the refuge, waiting for the return of her sister Christina, from work.
Christina turned on her room light. As she walked across to draw the curtains, a bullet splintered through the glass catching her in the shoulder, sending her reeling to the floor. A second shot shattered the adjoining window, glass fragments falling on her body, enhancing the burning pain from the first shot.
As she gazed at her dress, blood seeping over it from the wound in her shoulder, her hands covered in it. Her heart beat at a fantastic rate, fearing for her life.
The pain to her shoulder was excruciating as she lay on the floor, in a pool of blood. Five more shots penetrated her room, then silence as police sirens, were heard in the distance. “At last, someone had come to my rescue, saving me from the blaze of bullets that had ransacked my room.” Christina thought, while she lay on the floor.
Almost at once, the reality of what had happened seemed to overwhelm me, as the police and paramedics arrived on the scene. After leaving the hospital a few days later, I was interviewed by D.I.Dawson, following the attack on my life. During which I explained what I had done since being released from prison on licence. How I had obtained a job, and was in the process of getting my life back, and my weekly visits to the library, reading up on the events leading to the dreadful murders.
He was one of the new breed of police officers. By the end of the interview, he was convinced, there was a possibility that my sister and boyfriend had eluded justice. But as he pointed out this had been an open and shut case in the eyes of the law as you were found on the property, unconscious, but your finger prints were on the murder weapon.
Justice, had to be seen to be done, and you were charged and brought to justice quickly.
Christina pulled from her folder of library print out’s a letter she received some months after her release. Within the contents it stated: I know that you were not responsible for the two murders, and for answers you should look closer to home.
After which she was allowed home, leaving the police with many unanswered questions.
My room was a mess, but at least I was alive!
“Are you okay? Asked Alice Galloway.
“I’m okay. They had their chance, now I want mine, I want justice!” Christina spoke in a defiant tone.
Marcus was horrified that his wife had tried to kill her own sister.
“Do you know what you’ve done, you silly bitch.”
“Hopefully, warned my sister off.”
“No, more likely made her more intent in finding out the truth.”
“But trying to shoot her, that was stupid, it won’t take the police long to become suspicious of the connection between the both of you, and using one of my guns, how could you.”
“You worry too much, we got away with murder last time.”
“Yes, but my father was much respected and a feared man in the community. He sorted everything. But he isn’t around to help us this time, and many of those still alive, who were around during those murders, will remember you killed them and framed your own sister. Those same people are unlikely to help us this time.”
“What you’ve done, might anger some of the old firm, thus putting us in a dangerous position.”
“The best thing you can do for now, is keep quiet about the whole affair, and if approached by the police say nothing without me being present. Also keep clear of the club for the next few day, give things a chance to blow over.”
Maxine scooped up the national newspaper from behind the front door, turned, kissed her husband as he left for the club. Standing in the porch, watched as he drove away that morning, knowing that they should be going together, but her actions had jeopardised that for the time being.
She closed the front door behind her, and emptiness enveloped her as she walked through to the conservatory. She sat down, poured herself a black coffee, as she scanned the paper to see what’s new.
Maxine was horrified that her sister had made the news, again. Christina Howard; an attempt had been made on her life, and police are following up enquiries. “Wish I had got it right.” Fear got the better of her. She wrote a short note explaining to Marcus, her husband that she would be in touch soon, hastily packed a few clothes into an overnight bag and headed for the M11 motorway, and Cambridge in her red Triumph Stag. The sound of Barbara Streisand, played on the radio, freeing her from all thoughts of time.
For hours on end, she drove mile after mile without any destination in mind; she just wished she could turn the clock back, to that night in September 1987.
In the heart of the English Countryside, she found quaint pub miles away from all her troubles, in the village of Barton on the outskirts of Cambridge. The barman within gave her a reassuring gaze, as she ordered a white wine, and deposited the glass in front of her.
A youngish priest, who observed, she was troubled, joined sitting at a corner table, close to a roaring fire.
“Can I be of assistance my dear.”
“I wish you could, but I feel it’s too late for that.”
“Nothings too late, things can always be sorted, one way or another.”
“I wish I had met someone like you many years ago, and maybe I wouldn’t be in the mess that I am.”
“Things can’t be that bad, why not tell me all about it, maybe I can help.”
She thought for a moment, but all the while she was shaking with fear, knowing the police were close behind, and it wouldn’t take them long to piece it all together, so what had I got too loose.
“I framed my sister for two murders, which I committed, whilst high on drugs. Since her release, she has been close to finding out the truth, and I tried to kill her, to stop it coming out.”
“My parents believe her to be wicked, when the guilty one is really me. Many of my husbands associates and my friends, know I am guilty of these horrendous crimes, and still they have kept quiet all these years, but for how much longer?”
“My dear you are in a predicament, aren’t you. One that’s eating you away with guilt.”
They talked for a long time, and it had been the first time in many years, she had openly talked about the events.
“I think it’s time to admit to your parents, that you were guilty of these crimes, and put things right with your sister, once and for all.”
“You mean confess to the police, don’t you Father.”
“Yes my child, but the choice has to be yours.”
“I’m scared, would you come with me?”
“I would be pleased to assist you in your time of need.”
Later that day before entering the Cambridge Police Station, Maxine rang her parents. She explained to them that she had been guilty of the original murder in 1987, not her sister, but with the help of Marcus, they had left her there to take the blame. Furthermore the recent events, as accounted in the newspapers of her attempted murder; it was I who am responsible for this, I could not allow the truth to be revealed. If you are in any doubt, ask Jennifer Cummings, she’s one of many who know, but feared for their safety, if she spoke out.
Her parents stunned by these revelations, found they were unable to comprehend her actions, and they had raised a daughter to lie.
“You’ll more likely hear from the police shortly, as I am going to confess to the police at Cambridge Police Station.”
“Please forgive me.”
James Howard, Christine’s father entered Jacinto’s NightClub mob handed, with pain on his face, looking for justice. As he walked up to the bar, surveyed the place. Two men sat in the corner, tooled up, he knew them both, and they acknowledged him, but did nothing, just observed. He yanked the barman over the bar.
“He’s not here, should be back later,” the barman replied in a frightened voice, as James’ henchmen tore the place apart.
None of the patrons spoke, they hurriedly left the club, fearing for their safety.
The place was damaged beyond repair, and everyone knew Marcus would know all about it, but still they didn’t care. They knew it had been a long time coming.
James walked behind the bar remnants and poured himself a large scotch. The only thought in his mind, was how Christine had served time for this piece of scum. She deserved justice!
After finishing his drink, threw the empty glass against one of the remaining mirrors, and kicked, opened the locked office door, and ransacked it.
Finally, they grabbed the frightened barman, “don’t forget to tell Marcus, it was James Howard who wrecked his joint. Also, the truth of September 1987, is out!”
By the end of the day, Christine’s nightmare was over, both Maxine and Marcus were in police custody!
Christina sat in the police station, answering questions and listening to her probation officer Margaret Hanks and Detective Inspector Dawson.
“Since the attack on you, many people have come forward, originally connected with the Philby’s, and recalled the events of 1987, clearing you of the original murder. Your sister Maxine walked into a police station in Cambridge and confessed to the murders of September 1987 and the subsequent attack on your life, and her husband Marcus Philby has been picked up and charged to being an accessory.”
Christine realised, Maxine’s confinement along with Marcus, meant justice, had been served at last. They would learn to accept their punishment for their crimes.
As D.I.Dawson gazed into her eyes, he noticed the surprised and relieved expression within. His heart went out to a woman, who had suffered so much, she had a look of vulnerability. He guessed that it was this part of her, which got her into so much trouble when she was young.
She looked as if she had gone into a trance, for a moment, then when she spoke her voice was laden with sorrow.
“It’s in the hands of the CPS? I hope they’re thorough with them both as they were with me.”
Dawson, looked on unable to reply to her comments, he just nodded in confirmation.
Holloway Prison didn’t impress Maxine Philby. The smell, reduced lighting and mixing with other women. Sharing a cell with a murderer and a junkie was not what she expected.
Her first visit since being on remand was from her father.
“All right Maxine.”
“What do you think. So what are people saying about me?”
“The public response is not good, you were well out of order, setting up your own sister to take the fall for you. You are considered as bad as the family you married into, if not worse.”
“So where’s Mum?”
“Well, she’s upset obviously, that you set up your own sister, to take the fall for you – you murdered two people, and left your sister there, doped up to the eyeballs. Then after arranging evidence, fled knowing the police would discover your sister.”
“Let’s just say, your Mother has made it known, that you no longer exist in her eyes. Finally when released, tried to kill her, to prevent the real truth, coming out.”
“But I did give myself up to the police.”
“That’s the only good thing you’ve done, but you waited sixteen years. You took away Christine’s life, her home. I will never forgive you for that. Neither of us will be at your trial.” He rose and left the prison, not turning to take a final look at his daughter Maxine.
Her father was a great comfort to her now, as they sat together, the first time in sixteen years at the local Chinese Restaurant. They ate slowly, Christine, enjoyed her food, after many years of stodgy prison food. They sat there, both aware they had much to discuss.
“What are you going to do now, Christine?”
“Try and make up for the lost years, and make you and mum, proud of me.”
“Things got so bad back in 1986/87, that me and your mother, had to step back and let you and Maxine, get on with your own lives, you were both out of control. We just couldn’t take any more of your drinking and drug binges.”
Tears welled up in her eyes as she listened to his words, realising the ordeal she had put them both, through.
She searched out and grasped his hand.
“I’m ever so sorry, Dad. I still think to this day of the old couple. I only remember snatches of that night, but most important to me, I knew I hadn’t killed them.”
She swallowed deeply, as tears ran down her cheeks.
The recent events, allowed her to face up to life, she had no false expectations, and made no demands.
He put his arms around her, until she ceased crying it reminded her of her childhood years, when he was there to comfort her.
She looked around the room that had become her home and felt nostalgic for it. However, she knew the day would come when she would have to leave. It would be a big step, after all these years of confinement.
She would immerse herself in her remaining family and try and make amends for the lost years.
Time passed, slowly but surely time passed, and with each passing year of her life imprisoned as a double murderer, she had felt strong and able to cope with what she was supposed to have committed. She remembered lying in her cell, knowing the door was bolted on her and the light turned off. Even in summer, the confines of her cell were cold.
She glanced at herself in the mirror and saw a middle-aged woman in a fine-looking suit, with good skin and a trim figure, with sad looking eyes. But she was alive, she had survived the rigours of prison life, and now those responsible were doing the time they so justly deserved.
It was good to be free at last!!!