In the last prequel to “The Elephant Girl” we see yet another reaction to events, this time from…
The screaming headline reporting the murder of Mimi Stephanov left nothing to the imagination. Derek Moody had retreated to the dining room to finish his late morning coffee and read the newspaper undisturbed. It was his son Jason’s ninth birthday, and the boy’s excited chatter echoed from across the hallway as he played with his presents.
He smiled to himself. Business was going well, and he’d lavished presents on his son, including a bike with 21 gears. That plus paying this terms’ school fees and for the holiday to the Bahamas they were taking at Christmas had hardly made a dent in his savings. Life was good.
Well, maybe not that good. One of his wife’s empty-headed Pekingese dogs had left her side and was now standing beside Derek’s chair, peering up at him through raisin-coloured eyes, its lower jaw protruding and making it look every bit as dumb as it was.
‘Get out,’ he snarled.
Whimpering, the dog turned tail and clattered back across the hall, sweeping the floor tiles with its thick belly fur. Derek shook his head. What his wife saw in those mutts he’d never been able to figure out.
He glanced back at the paper, and at the photo of the smiling Mimi Stephanov, taken at a glitzy charity dinner two months ago. She looked every inch the successful business woman and socialite. Pity she’d been such a difficult person.
Carefully he folded it in half and dropped it in the log basket next to the marble fireplace he’d had installed recently, at great expense. Just then Jason entered the dining room followed by his mother and the infernal Pekes.
‘Thanks for the bike, Dad.’
‘You’re welcome, Son. The man in the bike shop said it was the best model on the market.’
‘Yeah, it’s cool. Dad,’ Jason asked hesitantly, ‘is it okay if I cycle down to Tom’s and we can go on our bikes together? I promise we’ll only go on the pavement.’
‘Tom? Do we know a Tom?’ Derek turned to his wife.
She nodded. ‘Tom’s father did our conservatory last year.’
‘So, he’s a builder?’
‘He runs a construction firm, yes.’
Derek looked from his wife to his son, saw the cautious look in their eyes. Well, they should know better.
‘Son, we don’t mix with people like that. Now, let me call Percy’s parents, and we can arrange something.’
‘Aww, no, not Percy,’ Jason protested.
‘Why? What’s wrong with him?’
‘He’s a wimp, Dad! He cries like a baby when he falls over.’
‘Now, now. You just have to be a little tolerant of him.’
Ignoring further protests from his son, Derek left the dining room to telephone from the hall. As he dialled the number for Percy’s parents, he thought of another child altogether. Mimi Stephanov’s daughter, who’d been in the car with her mother.
How much had she seen? He needed to know.