The Primrose Line – Episode 44

Illustration by Ged Fay

“Some may be right,” Jim replied. “It’s not an auspicious homecoming.”

“I was trying to do the right thing, but I should have known about what was going on sooner, so it’s partly my fault.”

“Good of you to admit to some fault.”

“I didn’t take the stuff and I knew nothing about it! I was trying to make things right as much as I could.”

“And the merchandise that’s gone for ever?”

“If the railway makes an inventory of what’s missing I’ll pay it back over time. I see it as my responsibility.”

“So it’s just a question of ‘I’ll do this and that in my own time’, and all’s well that ends well?”

“I can only apologise and offer to make things as right as I can.”

“We’d better let the police deal with this.” Jim reached for his phone again.

Nicola stopped him.

“Jim, can we just think about this before we make any knee-jerk decision?”

“You mean you want to let him get away with this – and the rest of them, who may already be lining up a few more burglaries around here?”

Phil shook his head.

“They’re not around any more. When I discovered what was going on and started talking about informing the police, there was a big bust-up. The camp’s disbanded.”

“Well, that is convenient.”

“Not for me – I guess I’m left holding the can. You can call it a bitter-sweet end to a dream. I’ve been thinking about calling it a day for a while now.”

“Why didn’t you?”

“Usual thing. Pride. Not wanting to admit to yourself you got it wrong. Now it could be too late.”

“Could be.”

“Jim, I don’t think this is very helpful. If we go to the police about this, all that will happen is that they’ll have the wrong man.”

“If you believe what he’s saying.”

“You forget that I know this family, their history. Phil may have made some dubious choices in his life, but I’ve never known him to be a liar.”

“There you have the advantage on me, Nicola. You must forgive me for finding it difficult to lay my old professional cynicism to rest.”

“My friend used to be a detective,” Nicola explained to Phil. “Listen. We know that the thefts from the railway will cease, which is good news, but perhaps there are more important things to do here, like making peace with your father.”

“That’s a big ‘perhaps’ after the row we had earlier. I don’t blame him. I’ve messed up for quite a while.”

“I think you may find Sam more forgiving than you think, if you don’t leave it too long.

“Sometimes it can be too late. Don’t let this be one of those times.”

“I meant what I said about paying it all back.”

“I believe you.”

She turned to Jim.

“I’m sorry if this is getting under your police skin, Jim.”

“Ex-police. I just have to remember it a bit more. This is your call, Nicola. I’m a bystander.”

“Maybe I could do some volunteer work for the railway if I can’t find a job?”

“We’re always looking for volunteers, but let’s take one step at a time. I think you know what that is.”

He nodded.

“Thanks, Mrs Renson . . . you, too, Mister.”

Jim nodded and watched him walk through the door.

“You don’t agree with what just happened.” Nicola looked at Jim.

“On the contrary, it’s probably what I would have done if I’d known the facts. Might have kept him on the hook a little longer, though.”

“First Laura, now this! I’m impressed. You’re getting used to civilian life.”

“I think it’s called seeing the bigger picture.”

“Bigger pictures can sometimes be wrong.”

“I know. I’m not that good a civilian yet. And it wasn’t quite true that I came over on a hunch. I wanted to talk to you.”

“Anything in particular?”

“Yes. The future.”

“That’s a big subject. Coffee?”

“Sounds good!”

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.