The Fall of the Phoenix

Chapter Five

by TT (a.m.tilmouth.s99 at cranfield.ac.uk)

It had been hard enough to get Jut to accompany the into the interview room; actually getting any sense out of the snivelling wreck he had become was near-impossible. Watson had taken Tennyson and the others home before he came to meet them at the police station. Lestrade eventually took Holmes outside for a few minutes to get some coffee. It had been a long day and she had been up most of the night; exhaustion was setting in.

'Heís a tough one all right, Holmes, and I think youíre right -- he is hiding something about the fall.' She pulled two cups of coffee out of the machine and handed one to Holmes.

Holmes took a sip and grimaced. 'In over two centuries some things remain constant; police stations still make terrible cups of coffee.' Lestrade nodded, trying to absorb the heat of the cup through her hands.

'And yes Iím sure heís hiding something. Have you any thoughts on what he was doing when he grabbed hold of Miss Moriarty?'

Lestrade shook her head. 'Iíve thought it through from every angle I can imagine. I donít see what he would want to do to her just before they hit the water.'

Holmes took another sip of coffee. 'Let me explain. Imagine you are this Jut fellow; youíre dishonest, cowardly and are about to get rid of a racing colleague. Now itís compulsory that all drivers at least do breaststroke, and even in her panic she would have been able to at least pull herself to the surface. Also, within a few minutes you will be surrounded by divers, who will pull you both to the surface and foil your plan. So what do you do?' Lestrade frowned. 'I attach something to make it harder for her to reach the surface, even to get rid of her into deeper water. I attach a weight.'

Holmes smiled broadly. 'Excellent, Lestrade; for a Yardie you really are making excellent progress.'

She ignored the jibe. 'But what about the weight restrictions and the board power? The amount of weight it would take to sink her wouldnít go unnoticed and would surely slow him down.'

'There, my dear Lestrade, I have an advantage over you. When we were all walking down we took a wrong turn into one of the pits. Imagine my amazement when I saw Jutís board with the covering off...and the eight turbo jets attached to it.'

'If thatís true then the team must be involved, and it explains the power -- but what about the weight restrictions?'

'Jut strike you as a particularly fat man?'

'No, just the opposite in fact.'

'Then how is it that he only just came under the weight restriction?'

Lestrade choked on her coffee. 'What?'

'A board that weighed the difference between that manís normal weight, which I checked on the previous year's score, and the amount he weighed at the scales today, would have to be built of steel rather than aluminium.'

Lestrade stood mouth open for a minute. 'So when they were falling...'

'He was attaching the weight to her back, after which she went straight to the bottom, while he let go and waited for the divers to find him.'

Lestrade nodded, her expression blank. 'Is that what we tell Tennyson?'

Holmes shook his head. 'Not yet; there are still a few details I want to sort out.'

'Such as?'

He made the coffee cup into a ball and threw it at a recycling bin; there was a whurr as the paper cup was caught and shredded. 'Such as, Lestrade, the reason why the droids and divers have searched the lake bottom in every direction for three miles and found neither body or either of the missing boards.'

As he strode back to the interview room Lestrade made the cup into a ball and aimed it at the bin. It bounced off the rim and skidded across the floor. Glaring, she picked it up and slam-dunked it into the bin before striding off after Holmes.

'I donít know anything about any weights.'

It had been half an hour. Watson had been admitted to the room as he returned from dropping off the Irregulars. 'Under standard interview conditions, Holmes, he is lying rather severely.' Watson was scanning Jutís body temperature and nervous response in his lie detector mode; so far not one true word had passed his lips.

Holmes slammed both hands down flat on the table; Jut jumped. 'Listen to me. For the past hour and a half I have sat here and listened to you plot and scheme and try to twist your way around the facts. Such manipulation will not work. If the facts do not fit, you are lying; if Watson senses your temperature rise or your pulse quicken, you are lying; if you try to pin the blame for Miss Moriartyís disappearance on faulty equipment and ill luck, you are lying.'

Holmes backed off and Lestrade who had been leaning on the wall behind Jut stepped forward. 'Weíll make it a little easier for you, Mr Jut. At some point the engines were sabotaged on Tessaís machine -- maybe the protection over the electrical linkage was taken out -- something that would cause a malfunction as you progressed over the lake. You then made sure you crashed and grabbed her as you both fell towards the lake. A weight was then attached to her back. When you hit the water you let go of her and she fell towards the bottom of the lake at high speed. Does any of this ring a bell?'

For a minute Jut was pale, wide-eyed and staring in utter terror at Lestrade who walked round him as she spoke. Then the colour returned to his face and he snarled at her. 'Youíll never prove it.'

Holmes shrugged. 'Why not? We have your weight before the race; and once we find the Phoenix -- and we will find her -- weíll have the weights to back it up. Oh, and whoever is backing you and your team in this venture will let you take all the blame and vanish without a trace. You will be up in front of the judge on your own, for coldblooded, premeditated murder.'

Jut had begun to sweat and was rubbing his hands together nervously. 'Not murder, whatever I may have done -- not murder.'

Holmes leaned over the shrinking man. 'Then what did you do to her?'

Jut looked up at him and swallowed. 'They said...he said she would be collected as she dropped; they even gave me a weight with a homing device in so they could find her underwater... It was agreed that they would just keep her for the season; they had something they wanted her to do. Then sheíd be returned, and...retire.'

Holmes growled at Jut. 'You actually believed them enough to put a womanís life at risk?'

Jut swallowed and looked down. 'The alternatives were not pleasant ones. Least this way weíd both stay in one piece.'

On to Part 6!

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