11 Ladysmile Lane – Episode 28

Harrison was having Italian food tonight, too. But not a home-made pasta dish, like Georgia had with Amy and Alex. On his desk, being eaten very carefully because of his lost filling, sat a take-away pizza.

Ewan had turned up promptly to see him and had provided intelligent and thoughtful answers to his questions. There remained no doubt in Harrison’s mind that the boy was innocent. But it was a puzzling case. After Ewan had left, he sat a long time just thinking.

At last, looking at the clock on his desk, he was surprised at how late it was, and how hungry he felt. On a whim, he nearly phoned Ruth to see if she was free and to invite her out for a bite to eat with him somewhere. At least, he called it a whim.

But he knew it wasn’t, not really. He was for ever nearly doing it, but not quite. On this occasion he did actually get as far as dialling her number, but then he chickened out with some entirely made-up query about the surveillance job he was doing for her client.

He talked about the weather, his lost filling… anything other than whether she would like to meet him.

Putting down the phone, he reflected that it was probably as well. A woman like her would surely already be doing something on a Saturday night. Anyway, he’d want to take her somewhere special, which at the moment he couldn’t afford.

Instead, he’d phoned the place down the road that did home deliveries and ordered a pizza. He sighed. Bearing in mind his precarious pecuniary state, why was he offering to deal with Ewan’s case for free?

Sure, he’d been affected by Mel’s story. And he could see that had it not been someone like Mel employing him, the incident could have had a bad outcome for Ewan’s future, innocent or not.

“But I’ve got a business to run,” he muttered to himself as he finished the last crumbs of the pizza and picked up his mug to take to the shared kitchen for coffee.

While he’d been showing Ewan out, Benjamin, the website designer from upstairs, had been coming in. So Harrison wasn’t especially surprised to find someone else in the kitchen, even though it was by now getting late.

He liked Benjamin, whose long, grey, curling beard made his own look distinctly puny! At their first meeting, he’d done his customary assessment of the man.

Eats a lot of lentils; wears sandals even in the winter; hair to his shoulders which is not very usual with those over retirement age – and he must be into his seventies; seems to understand Eloise’s crankier alternative stuff more than the rest of us.

Harrison had him down as a bit of a throwback to the flower-power days of the 1960s. Still, Ben had kept up with technology! His skills, Harrison knew, were well regarded. There seemed no doubt he could have built up his little business considerably.

As they waited for the kettle to boil, he mentioned this.

“Ah, but that would mean me employing people and becoming more like a manager,” Benjamin replied. “That’s not for me. I do the job because I like doing it. I quote a fixed fee, but I don’t care how long it actually takes me to get whatever it is I’m working on absolutely right. You get involved and lose track of time.” He grinned. “I do, anyway.”

Harrison nodded in reply, but back in his office he reflected on how he’d lost a couple of hours that afternoon, thinking about Ewan’s case.

He’d got involved…

He was startled at the realisation. When he’d stopped being a “proper” police officer and had set up as a private investigator, it had been for the simple reason that that was all he knew how to do. He had no particular enthusiasm for it any more.

That was what he’d thought, but maybe he was wrong. Maybe he still did believe.

Believe what? That he could really help? Make a difference?

He shuddered, though it wasn’t cold. To turn his mind back to the matter in hand, he looked again at the notes he’d taken while talking to Ewan.


He’d written the word down several times in the margin of his pad. He was pretty sure that was it. Ewan was being used as a scapegoat. And the reason the firm weren’t taking it any further was not just because of what the guy had told Mel about not wanting to spoil her reputation. No way.

So, what was the next step? Swivelling round in his office-style chair, he watched the colours in the multi-coloured window brighten in the light from the sinking sun. It was as though they’d been polished.

“Hah!” He laughed out loud.

That next step – he’d had an idea!

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.