to the brief the police had given Maggie, Ellen Ford had shared an apartment in
Stanley Street, North Adelaide, with Sally Gretchen, who also worked in the
drove to North Adelaide and knocked on Sally’s front door. I was about to leave
empty-handed when the door opened.
gorgeous. What are you selling?’
was all legs, and her parts that weren’t, were barely covered by a large white
T-shirt. It was just as well Miranda wasn’t there to witness my reaction. I had
to remind myself she was a potential source of information to get my mind to
you Sally Gretchen?’ I managed to ask.
wants to know?’ she said, with a smile designed to melt hearts.
handed her one of my cards. ‘My name’s Ryan Parish, I’m a private investigator
working for the lawyer defending the man charged with killing Ellen.’
face lost its welcoming smile. ’What are you doing here?’
like to ask you a few questions about Ellen,’ I said.
there any possibility she was in trouble before she was murdered?’
not a policeman, are you?’
‘No, I’m a private
investigator.’ I showed her my licence.
sorry, you already told me that, didn’t you?’
okay.’ I slipped my licence back into my pocket. ‘Will you answer some
questions for me?’
don’t you come in?’ She stepped back and held the door open for me.
brushed past her and stepped into a dimly lit corridor. She opened a door and
flicked on a light, and ushered me into a sitting room with heavy drapes drawn
across the windows.
is the tidiest room in the house,’ said Sally. ‘I haven’t had time to clean up
since the police were here last week.’
they ask you questions about Ellen?’ I said.
really. They just wanted to look through her stuff so they could contact her
Ellen from Adelaide?’
shook her head. ’She was from Hamilton, in Victoria.’ She sat on the arm of one
of the chairs. ‘Why do you want to know about Ellen?’
did my best to keep my eyes from straying to the two brown circles pushing
through the fabric of her T-shirt.
client claims he’s been framed for her murder,’ I said.
you believe him?’ said Sally.
‘To be honest, I have no idea whether he’s telling the truth or not. But, if he is, someone else must have killed Ellen. My job is to find out if that’s a possibility or a pipe dream.’
enough. What do you want to know?’
she in any sort of trouble?’
Sally crossed her arms in front of her breasts. ‘She came here to get away from the abusive bastard she’d lived with in Victoria.’
you know his name?’
Daley. He’s lives in Hamilton.’
he ever come here and threaten her?’
don’t think he knew where she was,’ said Sally, ‘but he called her a few times.
She was always in tears after he called.’
she ever say why?’
it bought back memories of what he’d done to her.’
wondered why Ellen hadn’t changed her number but it was too late to ask her
she have any problems at work?’
slipped into the seat of the armchair and crossed her legs. ‘You mean with the
we all look out for each other. We have more than enough problems with the
punters to be fighting between ourselves.’
I couldn’t really imagine what it must be like to be a sex worker but it obviously had its dark side. After all, her friend had been murdered on the job, if the police had it right.
you there the night Ellen was killed?’
We worked in adjoining rooms.’
rooms are soundproofed, Mr Parish. Nobody who’s paying for a good time with
somebody like me wants to hear what’s going on in the room next door.’ She
you wouldn’t hear someone walking past your door, for example?’
have to make a hell of a lot of noise.’
you ever opened one of those doors that leads out onto the balcony, Sally?’
stopped doing fire drills when I left school, Mr Parish, but a couple of the
girls that smoke go out onto the balcony. They’re not allowed to smoke in the
building. You know, occupational health and safety and all that shit.’
anyone check those doors are locked?’
shrugged. ‘I don’t know. They always look locked to me.’
On my way back to the office, I offered a silent prayer of gratitude for Miranda. Having her in my life had stopped me from giving in to temptation and doing something I knew I would live to regret.
To be continued…
Peter Mulraney is the author of the Inspector West and Stella Bruno Investigates crime series.