I can’t believe I am sitting here in a police station again. There are two of them this time. One does psychological profiling and the other wants to run through ‘the latest set of facts’.
She’s still all over the newspapers.
Number one asks, ‘What’s she like?’
Odd I think -because she is meant to be doing the psychological profiling, not me and secondly odd -because she sounds like a gushing school girl. They all admire my mother-all of them, some more, some less but still she is popular, like a rock star.
I can’t think how to answer.
‘She’s your average 83 year old who’s killed a few people.’ I can’t hide the sarcasm in my voice. I don’t know what to say to ‘what’s she like’, she’s my Mum, sweet, kind-outrageous.
She tries again, ‘She never showed any ‘tendencies’ when you were a child?’
‘No’ I say. Thinking tendencies to what?
‘Most killers start much earlier you know? Earlier than 83’
She says it as if that’s a fact that should startle me.
I can’t hide the sarcasm in my voice again. ‘No, no ‘tendencies’ when I was a child. She didn’t read murder mysteries, she wasn’t a loner, no deep ingrained childhood trauma for her or me, no parent to blame, she hated raw meat, couldn’t skin a fish, I can’t explain it, the homicidal tendency that seems to have occurred in old age.’
It sounds ridiculous.
‘ We don’t have much data on octogenarian killers, we think it’s more common than people think, people finishing off partners with medication either compassionately or vengefully. Your mothers really the first multiple.’
She says it like I should be proud and I think the other one is realising this is getting out of control. The whole gushing school girl thing is a little obvious. Number one sounds like she is talking about a supermodel not some 80 year old who hacked a machine and killed a few people in a nursing home.
Its then that number two starts- sombre, serious.
‘We caught one of them.’
My mother travels in a group of 4, her and 3 friends who escaped from a nursing home. It is generally accepted, actually universally accepted that my mother is the ringleader.
She is waiting for me to be shocked but it’s been in the news for weeks.
‘She needed a hip replacement, the one we caught, lots of pain, needed medication and we tracked her via that.’
She is making that sound like a major IT achievement, when frankly most school children could do that in their lunch hour-although admittedly not using aging police IT.
‘Perhaps she’ll help you find my mother.’
Their faces both redden and then I know what is coming next. The bit that hasn’t been in the papers.
My face reddens now.
‘A remote hack of the jail security system, carefully planned and timed. The usual thing, old lady-hobbled out, took a taxi this time-not ordered via an app, she used a pay phone. Didn’t think there were any or that anyone knew how to use them. She found one.’
At this point I am thinking there is no jail cell that will hold my mum or her friends and this will be my life forever. Stuck in a police station talking with her ‘fandom’.
‘Took her to the town centre, then another bus, then a taxi. We nearly lost track of her but she went to a fairground, a village fair-show whatever you want to call it. Not much CCTV at an event like that? We have footage of her going into the baking tent and coming out with two accomplices, then all 3 go into the crochet tent. Your mother is not with them at this point, it’s just the other three and then they just disappear. We lose them. They never leave that crochet tent.’
‘Crochet tent?’ They are using arts and craft jargon now.
‘The tent where they have all the best crochet in the village and someone judges it.’
I have a faint childhood memory of a fair like that once, of the whiff of over-perfumed, overpriced pieces of lace that your grandma would like as a present. It was not the kind of thing my mother was into.
There is silence. They are both looking at me. I am looking at them. I wait for the killer question.
Number two delivers it, ‘Does your mother have any contacts in crochet?’
It is not what I expected
‘No’ I answer emphatically. They keep on it.
‘Can she knit? Sew?’ They are looking closely to see my reaction now. The tension is ratchetting up.
‘No she couldn’t even make a pom pom.’ I want to crawl under the table.
‘Could she sew on a button?’ The sentence is delivered with a hint of accusation.
I shake my head and try to sound confident, ‘No, no buttons.’
They look carefully to see if I’m lying. They note that comment carefully with an asterix in the notebook as if its crucial.
‘Maybe macramé?’ says number two
Number one interjects, ‘Is that the paper one?’
‘No’ I say and immediately wished I hadn’t. I tell myself to shut up now but I still go on, trying not to sound like I am the guilty one, ‘it’s the one with the knotted wool and beads.’
‘So you’ve done macramé?’ immediately I can hear the suspicion in her voice, have I lied about the pom-pom? The buttons? How would I know what the word macramé means if my mother never did any.
‘At school, I learned at school.’ I say-‘without the help of my Mum.’
I feel trapped, like I have lied, these people, they can’t hope to catch my Mum this way.
‘Some sort of arts and crafts school was it?.’
I shake my head slowly. I take a breath. I ask for more water. This makes them even more suspicious. I ask for a break.
This feels like it will never end.