Chapter SixMature

I was helping Gail to make my bed when the doorbell rang.

'I'm popular today,' Gail grumbled, plodding down the stairs to the front door and leaving me to finish tucking in the sheets.

I couldn't hear what was said, but a moment later Gail called up that it was for me.

For me? No one knew I was here. Apart from... I recognised the policemen the moment I reached the foot of the stairs. It was Herman again, with the other one who couldn't cope with female emotions. Hmm. Impressive.

'Can I get you something to drink?' fussed Gail, sitting us down at the rickety kitchen table.

Having politely declined all Gail's offers of refreshments, the other one - not Herman - turned to me.

'My name is Marc Angel, and I am the chief inspector on the Himmelstein case.' He paused, as if gauging my reaction.

'I'm not going to cry again, if that's what you're waiting for,' I said sharply.

Herman smirked slightly.

'Er, right.' Angel cleared his throat. 'Okay, Miss Himmelstein. You've lived with Mr Himmelstein for... How long now? Twelve years?'

I inclined my head.

'Right. So you know him very well, you'd say?'

'What is that supposed to mean? Of course I do. He's my uncle.'

'We know, Miss Himmelstein. I understand that this must be extremely difficult for you at the moment, but can I ask you just to answer these questions as best as you can?'

'I am, aren't I?'

Herman looked slightly sheepish. 'Of course you are. Just get to the point, Marc.'

Irritated, Angel continued: 'Thank you for your contribution, Herman. Now, Miss Himmelstein - can you think of any strange circumstances around your uncle's death? Did he mention anything to you before you left? Were you in contact with him during your stay in New York? Did you-'

'Do you want me to answer these questions or not? Give me space to breathe, please.' I was being rude, but I didn't really care. I just wanted them to leave, to stop prying, to stop acting like my uncle had been up to something. 'There were no strange circumstances. Before I left, he gave me some advice.'

'What kind of advice?'

'To remember the Torah. He is a very devout Jew. I am... not so much. Not after the Nazis, I'm afraid. But you don't want to know about my religious views. Yes, I was in contact with him after I left. He made one telephone call, two days ago.'

Angel pounced on this bit of knowledge. 'Isn't that strange? Isn't it expensive to call New York?'

'Yes, it is, but my uncle was no miser, Mr Angel. He hadn't said that he intended to call me, but he is- was a very caring uncle. He hadn't been keen on the idea of me going to New York. I'm afraid his trust in others had been rather shaken.'

'But this telephone call... ?'

'I didn't pick it up. We were late back to the flat. Esther's parents told me that my uncle had called, but left no message other than to call back when I got back in. We were so late I didn't want to disturb him. It never occured to me it could have been urgent. I called back in the morning, but couldn't get through. Does that mean anything?'

Angel rubbed his chin. 'It might.'

The End

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