Authors: Roger Silverwood
he make-up lady dropped the brush in the powder pot, unfastened the bib, whisked it away and said, ‘That’s it, Mrs Santana. Thank you.’
Felicity Santana eased her sylph-like body elegantly out of the chair and stepped out of the harsh lights of the make-up trailer into the huge expanse of the dimly lit sound stage. She looked across the array of viewing screens, cameras,
, playback projectors, screens, lighting standards and gathering of engineers, tradesmen and artists standing around and looking down at the set a hundred yards away, with the sky, moon and Plough shining brightly through a huge glass window.
Some of the crew nearby sensed her arrival, turned slightly, noted her presence and shuffled uneasily.
Three people made their way towards her through the clutter.
A young man wearing headphones round his neck said, ‘Mrs Santana, Mr Isaacs sends his apologies and says about five minutes.’ He dashed off.
‘Can I get you anything, Mrs Santana?’ Marianne Cooper, the gofer to the great star, said.
Felicity Santana didn’t even acknowledge she was there.
‘You look fantastic, Felicity,’ a tall man with a shop-bought tan and a sugar-tongued voice said. ‘Why don’t we wait in your caravan? It’s not very warm out here. Ridiculous … shooting summer scenes in winter without extra heating.’
She smiled up at him, turned to Marianne Cooper and said, ‘A small gin with some fresh lime juice with ice. You’ll find it in the bar behind the bookcase in my husband’s office.’
Marianne Cooper smiled politely and ran off.
Felicity Santana and the man with the tan reached the caravan. As soon as the door was closed, he reached out to her, put his arms round her, whispered something indecent and kissed her gently on the lips.
She responded to the kiss and then they kissed again. He ran his hands down her back and her thighs. Her bosom heaved. She sighed and her fingers caressed the back of his neck. His face flushed and his heart beat soundly and rapidly like a tom-tom. After a few moments, she gently pushed him away with a smile. ‘Not here. No. There’s no time. I’ll be called anytime.’
‘When are you going to leave him?’ he said, holding her head gently and looking into her eyes.
‘When you have eighteen million pounds, darling,’ she said.
He smiled. ‘You can take his eighteen million and have a passion and love from me that that old man could never give you.’
She smiled and shook her head. ‘Don’t make assumptions, darling. Peter Santana is a very remarkable man.’
He put his hands under her arms, his thumbs under her
bosom, looked into her eyes, wrinkled his eyebrows and said, ‘You know that I can do a lot for you.’
She sighed. It was true, but she wasn’t prepared to admit it to him.
‘We talked about it once. I told you I could do it. All I would need would be … the means. I could get that. I have contacts. Might take a week or two.’
Her face glowed. She came very close to him. She ran her lips gently across his cheek. She ran her hands gently through his hair. Her mouth came up to his ear.
His heart began to pound again.
‘If you were caught it would be twenty years,’ she
‘I wouldn’t get caught. I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t.’
There was a knock at the door.
They separated quickly.
She reached down to the handle.
It was Marianne Cooper, the gofer, with a tumbler on a tray. ‘Sorry to interrupt you, Mrs Santana,’ she said with a smile.
Felicity Santana’s eyes flashed. She glared down at the girl. ‘You
didn’t interrupt us
,’ she snapped.
The gofer’s eyes opened wide. The smile vanished. She was hurt and confused; it was impossible trying to get used to being treated rudely by ‘stars’. She shrugged. ‘Your drink. Fresh lime juice and gin.’
Mrs Santana snatched the glass from the tray and slammed the caravan door shut.
The man looked across at her, eyebrows raised. ‘My,’ he said, rubbing his chin, ‘we
on edge tonight.’
‘That girl saw us.’
‘She couldn’t have. The door was closed.’
‘Can’t risk any talk.’
He put his hand round her waist. ‘Peter hasn’t got long. He’s seventy-two, heart disease. Then you’ll be open season.’
‘Huh,’ she said, playing with his tie. ‘How do you know? Doing what he’s doing, he could go on for ever.’
‘Sit down. Relax.’
She peeled his hand away from her tiny waist and walked the length of the caravan, carrying the glass, and then came back. She began to rub her chin, then remembered the
and looked at her fingers. She took a sip of the drink. ‘He takes his pills, eats mostly fruit, doesn’t smoke, doesn’t touch alcohol, walks on the hills religiously for two hours every day; the rest of the twenty-four he spends in bed either writing or sleeping.’
‘He comes here,’ the man insisted.
‘He comes here all right. For two hours. Comes in every month to view any new faces, count the money, and check that Isaacs isn’t ordering too many paperclips.’
‘Doesn’t he ever go anywhere else?’
‘Our mountain lodge at Tunistone, which I detest, and the hospital, for check-ups.’ She pulled a face like a bottle of vinegar. ‘Life is one big round of fun.’
There was a knock on the caravan door.
She leaned over and opened it.
It was the young man with the headphones. ‘Mr Isaacs sends his compliments, Mrs Santana, and says that we are ready for you now.’
‘Right,’ she said.
The young man dashed off.
Mrs Santana finished off the drink with one swig,
slammed the glass down, took a long look at herself in the fitted mirror and straightened her skirt.
The make-up lady with her bag was at one side of the door, and Marianne Cooper appeared at the other side.
Mrs Santana gave her the ringbinder holding her script, her keys and a spectacles case, then stepped out of the caravan, slammed the door, turned and led the procession down to the set.
A man came out of his dining room and into the hall on the ground floor of the modernized and extended farmhouse high in the Pennines. He was carrying a silver candelabra, which he put on the hall table. He struck a match and lit the three new pink candles. The flames flickered for a moment or two then settled. He then reached over the hall table up to a small box, which was screwed into the oak panelling on the wall. He took out several fuses, one at a time, until the crystal chandelier illuminating this end of the hall and
almost above his head went out; he turned to see if the light in the room behind him, a downstairs bedroom, had also been extinguished. It had, so he closed the fuse box, then he took out his handkerchief and wiped clean each of the fuses he had withdrawn.
Then he picked up the candelabra and crossed the hall to the bedroom, causing huge shadows to balloon and swirl eerily on the bedroom wallpaper as he made his way to the nearest bed. He looked at the motionless mound down the middle of it and rubbed his chin. He held the candelabra
over the pillow to show the collar of a pink nightdress and a hairy ear.
He shuddered as he looked down at the lifeless figure.
Then he heard a noise. The front door opened. Then closed.
He gasped. His blood froze. He wasn’t expecting anyone. He shakily placed the candelabra on the bedside table, his pulse banging in his ears. He looked across at the bedroom door.
He swallowed with difficulty and called, ‘Who’s there?’
There was no reply.
His heart thumped as hard and as loud as a machine gun. He took a tentative step towards the bedroom door, then stopped when a man appeared in the doorway.
They recognized each other.
The intruder frowned when he saw the candelabra. ‘What you up to, eh?’
‘It’s none of your business. You’ve no right to be here. Get out!’ he said, advancing towards the intruder.
The other man screwed up his face like a paid bill, his eyes shining. ‘That’s the last time you talk to me like that, Santana,’ he said. Then he reached into his pocket, took out a handgun and pointed it at him.
‘Get out,’ Santana said. Then he saw the gun and remained motionless.
‘Don’t come any closer.’
‘Don’t point that at me unless you intend using it,’ Santana said.
The man sneered at him and didn’t hesitate. He fired once.
It hit Santana in the chest.
Santana put both hands up to the point of entry, his head dropped and he collapsed on the floor by the door.
The man stood over him, still holding out the gun. He saw blood ooze between Santana’s fingers and grinned.
‘At last, you bastard. I’ve got you at last,’ he shouted as he kicked Santana’s body violently in the side several times. Then the gunman bounced out of the room, closed the door, wiped the knob with his handkerchief and disappeared into the night.
Detective Inspector Michael Angel was blowing the tune of ‘We Three Kings Of Orient Are’ through his teeth as he checked off and packed up paper files into a ‘Heinz Tomato Soup’ cardboard box. The papers all related to a case he had just solved, written up and was passing to the Crown Prosecution Service. It concerned a rich woman who had been abducted, robbed and murdered. The crime had been a totally callous affair and showed humanity at its meanest.
He was pleased to see the case closed for two reasons: the obvious one of taking another murderer off the streets and away from decent society, but also to reduce the bumf that tended to sit on his desk for much longer periods of time than he liked.
He pulled open his desk drawer and found a piece of string that was rolled up in a tidy figure of eight. He unfurled it, threaded it round the box, made a boy scouts’ loop, tightened up the fastening, knotted it twice then held the box by the string and shook it. It seemed strong enough. He nodded favourably and put the box back on the desk.
There was a knock at the door. It was PC Ahmed Ahaz, aged twenty-one, who, as a probationer, came third at Aykley
Heads Police College in Durham in 2006. Angel was very proud of him and considered him to be a first-rate copper. He was keen, personable and above average intelligence. He was carrying a handful of letters.
‘Good morning, sir. Brought the post.’ He put the letters on the desk.
‘Right, Ahmed. Ta. Here, take this box of tricks round to Mr Twelvetrees at the CPS. He’s expecting it.’
‘Right, sir,’ he said brightly.
Ahmed went out and closed the door.
Angel returned to the swivel chair, sat down at the desk, took a penknife out of the desk drawer and began to slit open the envelopes.
The phone rang. He reached out for it. ‘Angel.’
It was Detective Superintendent Harker. He was talking as Angel put the phone to his ear, which annoyed Angel; he invariably missed the beginning of the sentence.
‘A triple nine call, just in,’ Harker said. ‘A woman cleaner found the bodies of her employers in the bedroom of a converted farmhouse on the Pennines. She said that he was on the floor covered in blood and that his wife was in the bed, not moving. Sounds like a murder followed by a suicide. It is the country home of Peter Santana the TV producer and his actress wife Felicity. The address is The Farmhouse, Pennine Way, off Manchester Road, Tunistone. The cleaner said she’d wait there for you.’
The phone went dead.
The hairs on the back of Angel’s neck turned to gooseflesh and his heart began to beat like a drum in the 1812.
He cleared the line then tapped a number into the handset. It was soon answered.
‘Listen, Ahmed,’ he said. ‘In this order advise the following
that there is a suspected murder and tell them I want them at the scene ASAP, all right?’
He then rattled off a list, gave him the Santanas’ address and replaced the phone. He reached into the bottom drawer of his desk and took out a slim white packet containing a pair of rubber gloves, stuffed it in his pocket, picked up his coat and left the office.
The Santanas were a high-profile couple internationally famous in the film and TV world. They lived in Bromersley, but took no interest in local activities. They had used the relatively insignificant South Yorkshire town as a
place to make films for the big and small screen. Although almost all Santana’s films and TV dramas were shot inside the studio grounds, the old town buildings of Bromersley occasionally made an interesting backcloth, while the Pennine range of mountains, hills and woodlands nearby made for stunning scenery. In addition, labour was comparatively cheap and building land a tenth of the cost as the home counties.