Hinbrid Valley changed very little within those twenty five years. Some of the residents remained there, and all of the buildings remained unchanged. It was like the murder of Dawn never happened.
Tammy Williams moved into Hinbrid Valley, two doors away from the house where the horrific event occured. She moved into number 2, next door to Vera Thomas, the sister of Dawn, and Anna Barclay, who had lived there for three years. Tammy had recently gained a fiancee, Danny, who she was going to marry in eight months time. Danny was the manager of a major company, so his income was substantial, and together with Tammy's job as a detective, the pair of them were becoming very wealthy indeed. After three years of been a detective, Tammy was ready to settle down and move into the quieter areas of Manchester.
While everything was getting sorted with the delivery men, Tammy decided to talk to her new neighbours, because Danny said that he would take over with the packing.
First, she decided to go to number 6, where the Gardiners lived. John and Eva Gardiner had lived in the area for over ten years, and they were both very successful play producers. They owned a theatre in Manchester and had written some fantastic plays. All of their income depended on those plays. They also had an eight year old son, Harry.
"Hello", said Tammy, "I'm new here".
"Are you in number 2?" asked Eva, sat on her front lawn, sipping a red wine.
"Yes, and I've just moved in with my fiancee".
"Well, Hinbrid Valley is going to see some changes today, isn't it?" said Eva, pointing to number 4.
"Is someone there, too?"
"Yes. I don't know who, but the sign was taken down a few weeks ago, and I saw some people coming in the other day, so they might be moving in today".
"Is the area quiet?"
"Yes, very. I'm Eva, and my husband, John, is in there. He's just coming out now".
John left his house, and sat next to his wife. Together, both of them looked like a pair of film stars. John was clearly pushing for fifty, and he was wearing clothes that were obviously expensive. His wife was the same. Eva had made the effort to dress formally, like she wanted to make an impression on her new neighbours. She wore a giant sunhat and her hair was tied back into it.
"So, what's your job?" asked Tammy.
"Both of us run our own theatre. Have you seen any of our plays?" asked John.
"I'm not that into theatre", replied Tammy, "but I'm sure they're great. Do you write your own?"
"Of course we do!"
"Then you both must be very creative then".
"Well, it's quite stressful at times", replied Eva, looking at her son, "but it's all worth it". Harry then came outside and hugged his mother.
"It's nice to meet you", said Harry.
"That's my boy", said John, "always polite to the people who he meets".
Tammy smiled, and said, "well, I'd best be off and meet the other neighbours".
"Watch out for the Strattons next door", replied Eva, quickly.
"What's the matter with them?"
Tammy walked to the house next door. Before she got chance to approach the house, she saw a woman coming out, crying into the house, "and I told you, I saw a wolf down in the woods yesterday!"
"Hello", said a shocked Tammy, looking over to Eva.
"I told you", Eva laughed.
"Who are you?" asked the woman.
"My name is Tammy Williams. I'm new to the area. I've just moved into number two".
"Oh, hello dear, my name is Imelda Stratton. I'm sorry about what you just saw there. My husband and I have been a little shaky lately. Perhaps now is not the time to explain why".
Imelda Stratton was ageing. She wore strange clothes that did not go together, and her hairstyle was even stranger-at the top of her head, her hair was blonde and curly, but nearer to the bottom of her hair, it was brown and scruffy looking.
"So, how long have you been living here?" asked Tammy.
"I can't even remember, it's been so long", replied Imelda, offering Tammy a cigarette, "do you smoke?"
"Oh, no. So, is it quiet here?"
Imelda remained quiet for a few moments. "Yes, it is", she said, looking away.
"That doesn't sound very convincing", said Tammy.
"You're very nosy, aren't you?" laughed Imelda.
"I'm sorry. It's my job to be nosy".
"What are you? A private investigator?"
"No! I'm a detective".
"Well, I suppose what happened here twenty-six years ago won't surprise you".
"Was there a murder here?"
"You're very clever. Twenty-six years ago, a man named Rupert Christen shot his wife dead, in the house next door to me".
"In number 4?"
"Yes. I've never really got over it since. Dawn...the murder victim...was one of my closest friends, and it shocked me to hear that she died in that way. I've never been the same since. Other than that, Hinbrid Valley is such a beautiful and peaceful place".
"So, you have been a little shaky since then because this murderer is to be released from prison soon?"
"How did you know that?"
"Well, it was twenty-six years ago when the murder took place, so I'm guessing that he would be released by now, taking away the trial time and everything".
"Well, you're spot on. Two days ago, it was the 25th anniversary of Rupert Christen's sentence, and I knew that he has been released. I also know that it's probably him who's moving back into number 4. I don't know if I can cope. I feel sorry for Vera".
"Dawn's sister. How on Earth will she manage to have a normal life with the murderer of her sister waltzing around the place?"
"Which house does she live in?"
"Between you...and number 4".
Just then, Imelda's husband joined her for a cigarette.
"Have you calmed down yet?" he asked her.
"I'm sorry, Ollie", replied Imelda, kissing him.
"It's understandable", Oliver replied, "and who are you?"
"I'm Tammy Williams, and I've just moved in to number 2".
"Have you now? Well, unfortunately, it's a bad time to move here. I think that there's going to be a lot of action round here, now that he's coming back".
"Imelda's already explained to me. I'm very sorry".
"It doesn't seem like five minutes ago since...never mind. Anyway, Imelda, why don't I take you out for a meal?"
"Would you? It would take our mind off things".
"Anything for my sweet Imelda", he said, stroking her cheek.
Tammy decided to leave them be. As she walked over to number 1 to meet the other neighbour, she was stopped when she noticed the woman in number 3 looking through the kitchen blinds at her.
"That must be Vera", Tammy said to herself.
Vera looked through her blinds for a couple of seconds, before closing them. Tammy decided not to bother the woman as she felt sorry for her.
Anna Barclay, who lived next door to Tammy, walked out of her house.
"Hello", said Tammy, "I'm living next door to you".
"Hello", said Anna, "I'm not really living there. I'm looking after it for a few weeks while my uncle is away".
"Oh, right. So, where are you off to?"
"I'm off to number 4. I work there now".
Tammy paused. "Do you?" she asked.
"I'm the new servant for this man and his wife who's moving in".
"I've heard a couple of things about the people who might be moving in there. Do you know anything about them?"
"I've never met them before".
"Do you know their names?"
"Well, here they are now. Why don't you talk to them yourself?"
Before she knew it, Tammy heard a limousine pull up outside number 4. The limo itself looked like it cost as much as the house. It was amazing. Then, a door opened, and Tammy saw a woman's shoe step out of the bottom. The shoe was blue with decorations all around it. Then at the top of the door, she saw a fancy hat. "Who are these people?" she thought.
Then the woman stepped out of the car. Tammy instantly noticed her face. The woman looked no older than twenty, and she had bright, blonde hair, and her face was covered in pink make-up. Her eyebrows were blue, and a little bit of glitter was seen on her lips, which were smothered in gloss. She also had a fur coat, and a fancy skirt. After she got out of the car, the driver held out his hand for a tip. The woman simply slapped his hand, and the driver put his arm back into the car, as if he knew he was not in the position to do anything back.
"Oh, my God, John", said Eva Gardiner, in the background. Tammy looked at her.
"What...oh...my...God", repeated John, staring at the woman.
"So, this is it", said the woman.
"It certainly is, darling", said the man, getting out of the car.
Tammy realised one thing about the man that stood out straight away: he looked like he was in his forties, while the woman looked like she was in her twenties. The man himself looked as wealthy as the woman. His clothes were completely over the top - he looked like a gangsta from New York.
"Then what are we waiting for?" said the woman.
The man looked around, and he noticed Imelda and Oliver Stratton, still apparently smoking their cigarettes. Imelda stood there, putting on a brave face.
"I'm home", said the man.
© Copyright 2016 declan mckimm. All rights reserved.
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