Unprovoked

Unprovoked

It was six o’clock Monday evening, and Kian Walters drifted off to sleep for the third time that day. Since returning home from Royal Derby Hospital on Saturday morning, Kian shut himself away in his bedroom. The curtains stayed closed all weekend and he only ventured downstairs to eat, sitting in silence at the kitchen table with his mother Anna. His self-care went completely. He hadn’t changed his clothes for three days and his bedroom smelt of stale sweat, anxiety and fear. He was avoiding looking in mirrors as he didn’t want to see the face that was now his staring back at him.

The world of the happy-go-lucky A-Level student from Derby College had been turned on an axis in an instant, and Kian wasn’t certain that he would be able to get this world back. Maddie Shipley, his girlfriend, was asked by Anna to give him some space. Kian didn’t want to see anyone or leave the house. High on tramadol since the attack, he vaguely remembered the police saying that they were going to come and interview him at his home address, although he wasn’t too sure when. All he knew was that his mother cried constantly at night.

 

PC Ed Jenkins and PCSO Penny O’Hare were assigned to take statements from eyewitnesses to the assault and report back to DI John Silvers at St Mary’s Wharf Police Station. Jenkins parked the patrol car on the drive outside 25 Stewart Close, Spondon, and rang the bell. Anna Walters turned the TV off and walked to the front door and opened it. Jenkins and O’Hare showed Anna their police badges and introduced themselves and stated the purpose for their visit. Anna invited them into the living room and went to check on Kian.

“Kian, are you awake?” His mother shouted. Anna heard no reply and went upstairs and knocked loudly on his bedroom door.

“Leave me alone, I just want to stay in bed.” Kian didn’t want to be disturbed from his cocoon.

“I need you to get up and get yourself dressed. The police are waiting for you in the living room. They’re here to take your statement. Any clothes will do, as long as they’re clean. You have five minutes.”

 

Anna made her way back downstairs and apologised to the police officers who were waiting patiently.

“Would either of you like a drink? Tea or coffee, or something cold?”

“Thank you, Mrs Walters, but we’re both fine,” replied Jenkins.

“Call me Anna, please.” She looked at her watch.

 

Kian entered the living room, having changed into a clean grey t-shirt and black tracksuit bottoms and matching top. He sat next to his mother on the sofa and looked nervously at those who were sitting in the chairs opposite him.

 

Jenkins cleared his throat and started to speak, whilst O’Hare was poised with her pen and notepad.

“My name’s PC Ed Jenkins and this is PCSO Penny O’Hare. We are here today to take your statement about the assault which took place on Abbey Street, in Derby City Centre on Friday 22 March 2019 at three-thirty p.m. We already have on record, the interview from your girlfriend, Maddie Shipley, and now we would like to ask you some questions about what happened.”

“Okay, although I’m not sure whether I can tell you anything more than what Maddie has already told you.” Kian looked towards his Mum, not knowing how to go on with the interview.

“Firstly, can I just confirm your date of birth?” O’Hare asked.

“15 October 2002.” He started to clench and unclench his fists. Kian felt uncomfortable in his own skin.

“Thank you. Now we know that you were assaulted from behind, can you, in your own words, describe anything about the attacker?” Jenkins asked.

“I only heard her voice. It was shrill – high-pitched. She tapped me on the shoulder, spun me round, and with the broken bottle, slashed my face – my left cheek and above my eyebrow.” Beads of sweat were forming on Kian’s forehead.

“Did she say anything to you?” Jenkins and O’Hare shuffled forward in their seats.

“Yes. She said That was for Jamie.”

“And did you recognise the attacker at all? Or who she referred to, Jamie?” Jenkins wanted to wrap the interview up quickly and get on with catching the culprit behind the vicious assault.

“She wore a green hoodie, but her face was half-covered with a black scarf. Brown eyes maybe. It happened so quickly, and she sprinted off after she glassed me. I don’t remember much more than that. And I don’t know anyone called Jamie, and neither do any of my friends. I’m sorry.”

“You haven’t anything to be sorry for. We want to reassure you that we are doing everything possible in order to bring this person to justice. PCSO Penny O’Hare and I will keep you updated as to how our investigation progresses. Thank you for taking the time to speak to us this evening.” Jenkins gave his card to both Anna and Kian, and the officers made their way to leave.

 

PC Ed Jenkins dropped PCSO Penny O’Hare off at home and drove onwards to the apartment he shared with his husband Dane Pollitt. As he closed the door behind him, Ed’s heart grew heavy. He didn’t know how to tell his partner that one of his students had been involved in a mindless violent attack. What he did know, was that there was now a conflict of interest if he was to stay on this case. He battled internally with the thought of telling DI John Silvers. Ed headed straight for the shower. The smell of homemade lasagne made his mouth water. Ed hadn’t eaten since earlier that morning, and now he was starving. He hung his uniform up carefully on the bathroom door and let the hot water cascade over his body.

“Hey, how was your day?” Dane popped his head from the kitchen doorway.

“Oh, you know. Same shit, different day.” Ed gave Dane a massive bear hug.

 

The music teacher’s long black hair was scraped back into a fashionable man bun, which matched his designer stubble. Musically gifted, Dane was extremely useful in the kitchen as well. He found cooking at home therapeutic and always a willing food-taster in Ed. Dane already heard about the assault on Kian Walters. He didn’t want to press Ed any further and was happy enough for his husband to tell him in his own good time.

“Bloody hell, this lasagne is better than the last one. Which recipe did you use this time?” Ed swiped his finger around his plate and finished the last bits of the ragu sauce.

“Oh, yes, this one belongs to Gino D’Acampo. Thought I would finally get around to using the book your Mum gave me for Christmas.” Dane drank the dregs of his glass of Malbec, whilst Ed picked up the dirty plates and cutlery and put them in the dishwasher.

“So, what box-set shall we binge-watch tonight? We still haven’t watched Killing Eve. Do you want to go for that?” Dane poured another two glasses of Malbec and carried them to the coffee table, relaxed into the sofa and turned on Sky Q.

 

***

Maddie Shipley tried to contact Kian all week on his mobile phone, and he ignored her phone calls and texts. When Anna asked her to give Kian space, Maddie had done her very best to do that. She was concerned for Kian’s state of mind. Not just that, how he was going to cope returning to college. Maddie blamed herself for what had happened to her boyfriend. If they hadn’t have gone to visit her brother Andrew who shared a student house on Abbey Street, none of this would have happened. Her doctor had prescribed sleeping tablets, as she was having nightmares that wouldn’t go away. It was now a week after the attack, and Maddie thought it was about time she went to see Kian. She asked her Mum whether she could borrow the car and made the fifteen-minute journey to Stewart Close.

“Oh, hi Maddie. Come on in. Kian’s in the garden, playing with George. Please tread carefully. He’s in a really good mood today, and I don’t want him upset.” Anna let Maddie through to the garden via the patio doors in the dining room.

 

Kian was throwing a stick to George, his Shih Tzu, to fetch. Lately, Kian wanted to give up college altogether to spend every day with his dog. As he turned towards the kitchen window, he saw Maddie walking towards him.

“Before you say anything, I’m just here to give you a hug. I’ve missed you and I care about you and want what’s best for you. So, how have things been?”

“Crap. Mum is trying to arrange a home tutor for me so that I can continue with my studies at home for a while. I’m not ready to go back to college just yet. I’m sorry I haven’t answered your messages. I don’t like myself very much right now.” Kian sighed and dropped his guard a little.

“Have you thought about spending time with your Dad? I think some time away from home and your Mum might do you some good. You know that you can always take George with you. None of this is your fault. Have the police been back in touch?” Maddie stretched her hand out towards Kian.

“Mum hasn’t heard anything, and they haven’t been back to the house. I just hope that they manage to find them before she does this to anyone else.” Kian took Maddie’s hand and held it for a while.

“Hopefully they are still working on CCTV from Abbey Street – they’ll get her eventually, I’m sure of it.” Maddie started to feel some of the stress melt away.

 

***

Dane Pollitt was cycling home from Derby College. As he went through an underpass, he was pelted with something hard and was knocked off his bike. As he got himself up from the ground, he was confronted by two teenagers. He didn’t recognise either of them.

“You tell your queer bloke to stay away and keep his nose out, if he knows what’s good for him. If you don’t, you’re next. We know where you live, and where you work.” The girl wearing the green hoodie leered at him whilst the boy she was with wielded a small, sharp, paring knife. They ran away as quickly as they appeared.

 

Dane felt shocked to the core and wanted to get home. His nerves were stopping him from cycling any further, so he walked alongside his bike. How was he to break this to Ed?

 

***

PC Ed Jenkins was sitting at his desk at St Mary’s Wharf Police Station when he received a phone call through to his direct extension. The caller sounded nervous and out of breath. Jenkins couldn’t make out who they were. He listened to what the caller was saying, and then hung up the phone. His face turned an angry red. He left the police station in a hurry and got into his own car. He was now on a mission to find the one responsible for the attack on Kian Walters as well as threatening his partner. Ed Jenkins was taking no shit today.

 

Jenkins could see in his rear-view mirror two teenagers that matched Dane’s description. He parked his car onto the kerb of a cul-de-sac. He wound down the driver’s window and hollered over to the girl and boy. As soon as they were close enough, he pulled from his glovebox a gun he’d kept hidden and aimed it at the pair. Two shots were fired, and the teenagers screamed as they went down. Only Jenkins knew that the bullets were blank, but they did enough damage for him to arrest them without him being wounded. As he sat in his car, he phoned Anna Walters.

“Good news, we’ve got her.”