P.S.O Jules Stewart
‘Peta and her team are preparing starter packs for new residents in the strata rolling up sleep sacks, next to hydration and filtering kits, bars of body sanitizer, the usual essentials for people arriving with nothing. Peta makes us wait while she explains what needs doing to her co-workers who are already performing the task. When she’s finally ready to talk she turns to us, wiping her hands together and says, ‘Right, now Officer how may I help you?’
‘This is Peter Wallinski, he’s helping with the investigation,’ I say and Peter stands taller, shakes Peta’s hand.
‘Can you identify this woman? This was taken a while ago so she’ll be twenty years older now.’ I hold out the picture of Ruth Johnson for her to see. She doesn’t take it from me and after just a glance she says, ‘Yes I’d recognise that coat anywhere. Stinky old thing it is now looked slightly more acceptable back then.’
‘So is this the woman Estelle spoke with at street level?’
‘Yes, several times.’
‘And the street? Do you know where these pictures were taken?’
Taking the photos from me she flicks through them lifting them closer to her face, turning them. ‘Of course this won’t look like this now, these houses were being demolished.’ She holds up the photo of the rubble, ‘This will have been cleared, it could be under the foundations of a tower by now,’ she says, holding the photographs back out to me.
‘Can’t you see any clues in the pictures?’ I ask.
She shakes her head. 'These areas have become completely overgrown Officer, completely unrecognisable, it's like a jungle.'
‘Ok we’ll need to track down Ruth Johnson then, maybe she’ll know where Estelle is. Do you know where we might find her?’
‘She sometimes uses a health facility by the ground entrance to Fort Sefton, lakeside. That’s the only place I can think of where I’ve seen her and that’s exactly what I told Loretta, that friend of Estelle’s.’
‘Loretta’s been here? Asking questions?’ I say.
‘Pretending to be all concerned about her best friend just to get in Jet Wong’s good books. She’s just a strata hopper.’
‘Maybe we should pay her a call.’ I say to Peter, gathering up the photographs. ‘Thanks you’ve been very helpful,’ I say to Peta whose already back at the table inspecting her coworkers efforts with loud exhalations and tut-tutting.