‘ T hat’s impossible,’ said Jenny, pressing the ‘stop’ button. ‘There’s been a mistake. Some sort of horrible mistake.’ She picked up her glass of white wine and drained it. They were sitting around the table in her kitchen. ‘Marcus couldn’t…’ She reached for the bottle of Pinot Grigio and refilled her glass.
‘Steady,’ said Nightingale.
‘Steady?’ hissed Jenny. ‘This from the man who reaches for a bottle whenever he’s under any pressure?’ She gulped down more wine as Nightingale raised his hands in surrender.
‘Jenny, as I said to Jack, there is a possibility that this is some sort of false memory.’
‘Bloody right it is,’ said Jenny.
‘But I have to say, based on my clinical experience, she’s relating events that she believes actually happened.’
‘Barbara, what are you saying? You know Marcus. Do you really believe…’ She closed her eyes and grunted in frustration.
Barbara reached over and put her hand on Jenny’s. ‘It’s Robyn describing what she believes happened to her. Don’t get angry at me.’
‘I’m not,’ said Jenny. ‘I’m not angry. I’m just frustrated because Marcus Fairchild couldn’t possibly have done something like that. I’ve known him since I was a kid. He’s known Daddy for donkey’s years. Now you’re saying that he killed a boy in some sort of ritual ceremony and then framed Jack’s sister.’
‘You don’t always know a person as much as you think,’ said Nightingale. ‘Most serial killers have parents, or siblings, spouses or children. And usually the family has absolutely no idea what they’ve been up to.’
‘He’s not a killer,’ said Jenny. ‘He wouldn’t kill anyone, let alone a child.’
‘I’m not saying he is. I’m just saying that if he was, he’d hardly be likely to let you know his true nature.’
‘That’s the same thing,’ said Jenny. ‘You think that he murdered that boy and framed your sister. And what about the other children she murdered? Are you saying he killed them, too?’
Nightingale pointed at the recorder. ‘It’s not me saying anything,’ he said. ‘It’s Robyn who was there. She saw it.’
‘She thinks she saw it,’ corrected Barbara. ‘She’s telling us what she remembers, but she might be misremembering. We’ve a lot of work to do before we know for sure one way or another.’
‘How do you know that your sister’s not making this up?’ asked Jenny. ‘Maybe she sees this as a way of getting out.’
‘That’s not going to happen anytime soon,’ said Barbara. ‘Memories released by hypnotic regression aren’t evidence.’
‘But the evidence that there is could all have been planted on her,’ said Nightingale. ‘And if what she’s now remembering is true then clearly Fairchild framed her.’
‘You can’t take this seriously,’ said Jenny, exasperated. ‘She’s in an insane asylum, for God’s sake.’
‘Secure mental hospital,’ said Barbara.
‘Yeah, a rose by any other name,’ said Jenny. ‘Rampton’s a nut-house and she’s a nut. Courts don’t convict serial killers by mistake.’
‘They didn’t convict her, Jenny,’ said Nightingale. ‘She pleaded guilty. And the thing is, I think she believes she did it. She’s not in there shouting that she’s innocent, is she?’
Jenny didn’t answer and folded her arms defensively.
Nightingale looked across at Barbara. ‘What she said while she was under, does she remember it now? Now that she’s awake?’
‘She was never asleep,’ said Barbara. ‘She wasn’t in a trance; she was just in a very relaxed state. It was being so relaxed that allowed the memory to come to the surface. But after the session, the memory will go back to where it was. After several sessions she might start to remember properly, but at the moment it’s more like a dream than a memory.’
‘So she still thinks she killed those children?’
‘I didn’t ask her,’ said Barbara.
‘This is ridiculous,’ said Jenny. ‘Why would anyone admit to murders they didn’t commit?’
‘Maybe she was hypnotised into believing she did it,’ said Nightingale.
‘By Marcus, is that what you’re saying? First he’s a killer and now he’s a magician.’
‘Jenny, I know you don’t want to believe this, but you can’t ignore it just because Fairchild is a family friend.’
‘I’ve known Marcus for years; you met your sister for the first time two weeks ago. Why should I believe her over him?’
‘You heard her. Do you think she’s making it up?’
Jenny put her hands around her wine glass. ‘I think she’s in a mental hospital for a reason,’ she said. ‘I don’t see how you can believe anything that she says.’
Nightingale stood up. ‘I need some fresh air,’ he said.
‘Whenever you say that the first thing you do is light a cigarette,’ said Jenny.
‘I meant that maybe you need some fresh air,’ he said. ‘I’ll get out of your hair.’ He patted her on the shoulder. ‘You sleep on it. We’ll talk it through tomorrow.’ He smiled at Barbara. ‘Take care of her, yeah?’