NaNoWriMo 2014 – Day 3

Nicholas Bradshaw killed women. There is no more refinement to it than that, though he would have tried to talk about saving them, cleaning their souls, ushering them into the presence of God. After he was caught he had a detailed and utterly psychotic rationale for the things that he did, but for anyone else it is important to see it as nothing more than he kidnapped, tortured, abused and then killed women.
The night that Fran Foster died, Nicholas Bradshaw had been following her, stalking her, for over six weeks, not that anyone had the slightest idea that he had. He knew that she would be stepping out onto the pavement in front of her mother’s Highgate home somewhere between eleven and eleven-thirty, and that she would be heading to Highgate Tube, a five minute walk, in order to catch the Northern Line back to Totteridge and Whetstone to get back to her home on Athaneum Road, that she shared with her novelist husband. He knew with an undeniable certainty that if he did not manage to abduct her before she reached the Tube he would not easily achieve her abduction, and so despite the fact that he was torn by doing so he broke of his surveillance of the mother’s home at 2245h in order to set up his abduction gag on the side of the street between the mother’s home and Highgate Tube Station.
Bradshaw took great pride in his skill as a hunter, and there was good reason to do so, as he actually did know exactly where Fran Foster would choose to cross the street on her way from her mother’s door to the Tube, in fact by following her day after day, week after week, he knew where she liked to buy her coffee and how she took it, what she generally had for breakfast, and what newspaper she bought when she bought one. As such he knew exactly where to park his van and wait for her to wander by.
The Police report and Bradshaw’s subsequent testimony both told a tale of an abduction that was precise and fast; one moment Fran was walking down the street, then she was stopping to look around because there was a van with its side door open and unattended and then she was unconscious in the back of the van. Fran Foster was the eighth woman that Bradshaw took, so he had put in a great deal of time and effort getting good at taking women by that point. Even if there had been anyone else on that quiet, affluent street that night there is a good chance that they would have had no idea that she was in trouble, or even that anything untoward was happening.
From Highgate Bradshaw took her to his lockup, under the arches in Bermondsey and there she spent an agonising thirty-six hours during which he raped her repeatedly, with implements and himself, he removed her left forearm and her right foot without any pain medication or anaesthetic and eventually he killed her by bleeding and beating her to death. He returned her body to the van, and as he had done seven times before he drove out into the Kent countryside and dropped the weighted bag containing her corpse into a small, private fishing lake.
 
It was a little over twelve hours from Fran Foster’s disappearance before the Metropolitan Police started to take notice. Her husband had already gone right over the edge, having spent the night calling and calling every hospital and walk-in clinic in the Greater London area, trying to find out what had happened to his wife. Four years of abstinence from smoking and drinking had already become a distant memory and Caine Foster was half-drunk and hoarse of voice when a CID detective sergeant from Barnet Police Station knocked on his door to respond in person to Mr. Foster’s six phone calls to the station in the previous twenty-four hours.
“Mr. Foster? Mr. Caine Foster?”
Detective Grayling was staring, trying to disguise his disgust at the appearance and smell of this distraught member of the public that he had been sent to follow up with.
“Yeah, yeah… Who are you?”
Grayling held up his warrant card and announced himself;
“Detective Sergeant Grayling, Barnet CID, Sir.”
Caine Foster straightened up and took his cigarette out of his mouth and tried to look a little more respectable.
“Oh, great, yeah please come in. Would you like a cuppa? Sorry about the mess, but I’ve been going out of my mind and I got to the point where I started drinking and, look I’m not proud of that, but my wife is definitely missing.”
“Tea would be great, Sir, thank you and don’t worry about the rest, I am sure that I would be in a worse state.”
Caine disappeared into the kitchen and Grayling heard the kettle being flicked on and the sounds of someone moving around the kitchen organising the bits and pieces needed to make tea. He let his eyes flick around the living room and noted the pile of papers and the laptop on the dining table and the legal pad with a list of hospitals and there respective numbers, each one scored with multiple crossings out. The Guv had briefed Grayling that Caine Foster had called the station six times throughout the night, increasingly frantic and inebriated between the hours of roughly one a.m. and nine a.m. It was now nearly noon of the following day and it seemed that Foster had maybe slept a little, after he had been assured, during his final call, that a detective would come out to take his statement that day. The ashtray was not overflowing by any stretch of the imagination, but there was clear evidence of some pretty heavy smoking and the overall impression that he was able to divine was that Foster at least believed that something bad had indeed happened.
Moments later the slightly less dishevelled Caine Foster reappeared carrying a tray with two steaming mugs of tea, a small jug of milk and a bowl of sugar which he placed on the coffee table and motioned for Grayling to sit.
“Thanks for coming, Sergeant. I’ve called around, my wife is not in any of the hospitals, but she should have been home last night before midnight, but I have had no word from her, I can’t reach her mobile and her mother has no idea what happened to Fran after she left there at around eleven last evening.”
Grayling reached into an inside pocket and pulled out his notebook and a pencil.
“Sergeant, do you mind if I smoke? I mean it’s my house and everything, but I don’t want to…”
“Please, Mr. Foster, go right ahead. Frankly it’s a relief because I expect you are not going to care one way or the other if I have one?”
Caine laughed and a brief smile stole across his face, then he nodded and set about lighting his smoke.
Grayling paused and retrieved a Marlboro from his other jacket pocket, lit it and then picked up his notebook and thumbed through it until he found the notes that he had made when speaking with his DI before he had left the station.
“So, Mr. Foster…”
“Please call me Caine, Mr. Foster was my Dad, I just can’t get used to it.”
“Sure, Caine, my notes tell me that you first called the station at around one a.m. and that you reported to the duty sergeant that you had already called a large number of hospitals but that you could find no trace of your wife, one Francesca Foster, who had never returned from her mother’s home in Highgate, having left there at around eleven p.m. Is that correct?”
Caine nodded, and then took a long deep drag on his cigarette without looking up.
“From that point on you called a further five times, despite the duty Sergeant informing you that your wife would need to be unaccounted for for a period of no longer than twenty-four hours before a formal missing person’s report could be made?”
Caine nodded again.
“I gather from the content of those calls that you were also in regular contact with your mother-in-law, a one Mrs. Geraldine Hunstead of Highgate, and that she and yourself were making repeated calls to local and Greater London hospitals to attempt to trace your wife, on the assumption that her failure to arrive home was most likely explained by some unfortunate accident befalling her en route?”
Caine nodded, looking up to make eye contact with Grayling at that point. He dimped out his cigarette and immediately fished another out of the pack not he table, lit it and went back to looking at his tea.
“So, Caine, your wife was in the habit of visiting her mother on Tuesday evenings and traveling home alone on foot and on the Tube?”
“Yes, she had done it since I knew her, since before we moved in here together before we were married. She had never had any problems with the journey. I knew that even if things were really bad on the Tube, she would be home by midnight. When she didn’t come home by midnight I texted, then texted again, then phoned. I could not reach her, so I called Gerry. She was not immediately worried, but while we were on the line she checked tfl.gov.uk and when she realised that there were no reported issues on the Tube her voice started to falter. She kept repeating that Fran had left just after eleven, that she ought to be home by now. It was shortly after that, that I called the first few hospitals. I was on my mobile so I wandered out to the high road and then down to our Tube station, but I could not find any sign of her. I popped into the 24 hour place and bought some cigarettes; you know something deep down knew that something was very wrong because I bought two packs straight away. My unconscious mind knew that I was going to need them…”
Caine broke off coughing like a TB sufferer, and as he recovered and looked up at Grayling once more the detective could see tears in the corners of his eyes.
“Mr. Foster, sorry, Caine. There is every chance that your wife is completely fine, she has not been gone for a full twenty-four hours, Hell I am only here because you are a persistent caller and someone recognised your name. I mean I probably should not be saying this, but you are a writer, you have a Twitter following, you know? If you were not a known person, with something of your own voice that people pay attention to we would be waiting for more time to pass. I have to ask you some tougher questions, are you ok with that?”
Caine nodded, a look of resignation starting to settle on his brow.
“OK, so Caine, there is no way to ask this delicately, but would you describe your marriage as happy?”
Caine sighed, lit yet another cigarette and this time took a belt of whisky that had been sitting there in a glass on tiger coffee table since Grayling had come in before he answered.
“What is a happy marriage, Sergeant? Do you mean were we content with one another, were we faithful, were we still fucking each other?”
Grayling shifted in his seat, suddenly aware of how badly he had ripped open this can of worms.
“I’m sorry, Sergeant, none of this is your fault, but honestly, look at me. Do I strike you as a man who is anything other than lost without his wife for a paltry twelve hours? Were we happy? Well honestly that has to do with far more than our feelings for one another and the fundamentals of marriage. I mean I have been struggling with writer’s block since Transom didn’t win the Booker, the book I published after was actually written before and frankly my publisher was pushing me for something and I lied and said it was new, so I’ve been unhappy on some level for a while, and that leads to stresses and strains in any marriage. Are you asking me if I did something to my wife, the answer is no. If you are asking me if there is a chance that my wife hurt herself I would have to say no. Were we happy? The jury is out on that one Sergeant.”

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