DISCLAIMER: Murder in Suburbia and its characters are the property of ITV. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Detective Inspector Ashurst regarded the suspect, James Thompson, with a degree of curiosity. He was your typical middle-aged suburban man. He was wearing a suit that was neither cheap nor expensive, with a tie that was just on the wrong side of fashionable. His sandy hair was receding and glasses were small and round, sitting slightly too far down the bridge of his nose. He looked like an accountant. Even though Ash knew he was a sales rep, she was positive he must've planned to be an accountant at some point in his life. He definitely didn't look like the type to plunge a knife into his wife's chest seventeen times and then dump her body in the canal under cover of darkness. But then, you never can tell.
He fidgeted under Ash's silent scrutiny. His lawyer yawned openly. Ash glanced at the clock and suppressed a sigh. She crossed her arms and continued to stare at Mr Thompson. Just then, the door to the interrogation room burst open. Ash looked up and raised an eyebrow. She broke the awful silence in the room, speaking for the benefit of the recording device.
"DS Scribbins has entered the room," she said, adding in a quieter tone "Late."
Scribbs dropped into the seat next to Ash.
"Well, if someone hadn't buggered off with DS Scribbins' car last night, DS Scribbins might not have had to get three bloody different buses to get here this morning!"
"Let's just get started, shall we?" Ash said, curtly.
Scribbs didn't answer but slouched down in her seat and crossed her arms over her chest.
"So, Mr Thompson, what do you have to tell us about your wife's murder?" Ash asked.
James Thompson looked quickly at his lawyer who nodded slightly. He turned back to face Ash.
"Come on, Mr Thompson, it would be in your best interests to co-operate at this stage. The evidence against you is really rather damning," Ash continued.
"Yeah, your bloody fingerprints all over the interior and exterior of your car, fibres matching your wife's hair and clothing in the boot, the murder weapon stashed in the biscuit tin in your kitchen " Scribbs offered.
"Not to mention the three witnesses who saw you deposit a large and unwieldy object in the boot of your car and a further two who saw you dump an object of the same description into the canal," Ash added.
Again, Thompson looked to his lawyer, nervously. The lawyer raised an eyebrow.
"It's all circumstantial."
Scribbs couldn't hold in a shocked laugh.
"Circumstantial my ar-"
Ash interrupted her.
"What my colleague means to say is that we have more than enough evidence to charge you and to ensure that you're sent down for a very long time. So we really don't need a confession from you. However, we're interested in your motive. To the world at large it seemed as if you had the ideal marriage: beautiful home, good income, exotic holidays so where did it all go wrong?"
Thompson shifted in his seat, his eyes on the table.
"I'm not saying anything."
Scribbs leaned forward, placing her elbows on the table, tilting her head to the side.
"C'mon Jim, you might as well tell us. It'll look better for you in court if you give your side of things."
He continued to look down. The lawyer smiled slimily at Scribbs. Ash sighed and tried a different approach.
"Did your wife have any problems, Mr Thompson? Alcohol perhaps, or drugs?"
He laughed unexpectedly, startling the other three occupants of the room.
"Drugs? Ha! She wouldn't even take an aspirin," he spat, his lip twisting.
"She get a lot of headaches, did she Jim? Refuse you your husbandly rights?" Scribbs asked, leaning her chin in her hand.
He looked up abruptly.
"None of your bloody business," he said, looking appalled that Scribbs had dared to mention his sex-life.
"Did your wife have mental problems, Mr Thompson?" Ash asked, returning to her earlier line of questioning.
"No, she " Thompson started, stopping when the lawyer cleared his throat.
Scribbs shot the lawyer a look before turning back to Thompson, who had started to sweat.
"Maybe she was just a bit of a nag, eh Jim? Always on at you to pick your socks up or wipe down the shower door so it didn't get mildew? Perhaps you were just fed up with the lot of it and you just couldn't take another lecture about not using the same knife for the jam as you do for the butter?"
The suspect looked slightly confused. Ash narrowed her eyes.
"Or perhaps it was just the opposite, Mr Thompson. It might be that your wife was the slovenly type who lived in hope that a little housework fairy would come in the middle of the night and deal with the mountain of wet towels that had materialised in the bathroom. Was it that she didn't want to sully her hands with menial chores like cooking and cleaning? Did she think that haute cuisine was something to be found in the pages of Vogue magazine?"
Thompson and the lawyer were now both looking somewhat unnerved. Scribbs ploughed on with her theory, ignoring Ash's interruption.
"Let's face it Jim, it'd look better for you if the jury heard that your wife was an anal-retentive, nagging, control freak who got the vapours at the slightest suggestion of anything other than vanilla sex in bed, under the covers, with the light off."
She had barely finished speaking when Ash jumped in.
"Or was she making unreasonable demands of you?" she enquired, nodding sympathetically "Sexually, I mean? Suggesting depraved, lewd acts that she wanted you to perform for her carnal pleasure?"
Scribbs made an indignant noise. The lawyer glanced at her before attempting to break into the conversation.
"Now, there has been no suggestion of "
Scribbs was having none of it, she ignored the lawyer completely, focussing completely on Thompson, speaking in almost a conspiratorial tone.
"You could probably get off with it Jim, if you just told the truth about how hard it is living with constant rules and regulations. And someone who turns into a raving bunny-boiler the second you even look at another woman."
A squeaking sound, resembling a mouse or a hamster, came from somewhere in the vicinity of Ash.
"Equally, Mr Thompson, the judge is likely to exercise leniency if you wife was indeed a nymphomaniac with a roving eye and a tendency to dress like a slap-"
"Alright! I did it! I killed her!" Thompson exclaimed, standing up and clamping his hands over his ears.
The lawyer stood quickly, reaching for Thompson's arm.
"Erm, Jim you "
Thompson jerked his arm free and continued, his palms now pressed flat against the table, leaning over Ash and Scribbs who were sitting in stunned silence.
"I killed her, alright? I killed her because she was just like the two of you! Always yacking on and on and trying to confuse me and mess with my mind with her bloody female psychology. And do you know what? I'm bloody not sorry. Because if they lock me up and throw away the key it'll be a damn sight better than listening to her! If I never see or hear another woman as long as I live it'll be too soon!"
He came to the end of his rant, breathing heavily, spittle visible on his pale lips. Ash gathered herself more quickly than Scribbs.
"Right, well, we'll get that typed up and get you to sign it. Thank you, Mr Thompson."
She stood up, scraping her chair against the tiled floor. She whacked Scribbs on the shoulder and headed for the door, Scribbs scrambling to follow her.
Outside the interrogation room, Sullivan approached immediately. He looked from Ash to Scribbs and raised his eyebrows in question.
"Full confession, boss, he did it."
"Excellent!" Sullivan exclaimed. "Have to be honest with you, I didn't think this one would cough up, seemed like the lawyer was going to have him play dumb until the court case. So, how'd you get him to confess?"
Ash and Scribbs looked at each other. Scribbs bit her lip, nervously.
"Erm, we used our feminine wiles, boss?" she half-asked him.
"Ah, these mysterious wiles, eh? Well, maybe we'll use the tape for some training for your colleagues, they could learn a thing or two from your technique I suspect."
Ash's eyes widened and Scribbs' mouth dropped open but Sullivan was already heading off in the other direction. He called back over his shoulder.
"Well done, you two, as always!"
They watched him go, standing side by side. Ash spoke without looking at Scribbs.
"How much do you reckon it would damage the court case if that tape were to disappear?"
Scribbs replied, still staring straight ahead.
"As long as we get the signed confession, we can blame it on the technology."
Ash nodded and Scribbs risked a sideways glance.
"So, you talking to me now?" Scribbs asked.
"Depends, am I really as repressed and prudish as you made out in there?"
"No." Scribbs admitted. She turned to Ash, her head dipped, looking up through her lashes. "Do you really think I'm a perverted slob?"
Ash raised an eyebrow.
"Well, that thing with the cucumber certainly sounded-"
Ash smiled and nudged Scribbs' side.
"Sorry. No, I don't think that at all."
"Good. So, can I have my car back?"
"Are you going to give me a lift home?"
"I was going to suggest that you come home with me for dinner."
"Yep, I'll even make it. I was thinking salad lots of cucumber."
Ash smiled and leaned in close to Scribbs' ear.
"Sounds delicious. And afterwards, maybe I'll let you keep the lights on."
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