the room, and I was frantic to know if he was dead. I tried the newspaper, but drew a blank. When nothing had been in the news by early Monday morning, I tried the hotel.”

Lloyd Clancy coughed painfully.

Bourke said, “You’re not well, Mr. Clancy. Can I get you some water?”

He smiled faintly. “I think it’s the flu, but of course I keep thinking it’s something worse…”

“When did you realize that Collis Raeburn had infected Ms Brooks, and through her, you?”

Alanna answered. “Collis finally got up the courage to tell me six weeks ago. It took a while to sink in that I was probably going to die from AIDS. And when I found that I’d infected Lloyd… that’s when the rage began… that’s when I knew I wanted to exterminate Collis.”

Anne Newsome said faintly, “There’s treatment for AIDS…”

Alanna nodded wearily. “Yes, Sergeant, of course we’ve both had the latest medical advice, but my immune system is seriously compromised, and Lloyd’s T-cell count is falling.” She laughed bitterly. “You know, even though he’d been infected longer, Collis was doing better than either of us. He’d had pneumonia, but seemed to recover well. AIDS affects everyone differently, but that didn’t seem fair to me.”

Lloyd Clancy said, “Collis didn’t care, Inspector. He never said he was sorry because he couldn’t see he’d done anything wrong. Bad luck, he called it. And he was sure he’d be all right… Thought he had a charmed life.”

“Why did you kill him?”

Alanna answered. “I asked him if he’d told others he’d slept with-Corinne for example-and he said he wasn’t going to, that he’d only told me because of old times and because he knew I couldn’t tell anyone else without ruining my own life.”

“He was an egotistical monster,” said Lloyd. “Collis really believed that, for him, ordinary rules and standards didn’t apply, and other people were there for his use. And now he’d condemned us both. Alanna’s – my life is singing. Opera’s demanding, exhausting. We both realized it would be only a matter of time before one or both of us couldn’t continue. We decided to kill him for what he’d done to us… and would continue to do to others.”

He rubbed his face wearily and Carol suggested they stop for coffee or tea. The recorder was switched off and Lloyd Clancy, Anne and Bourke went to the kitchen. Alanna said to Carol, “Inspector, you understand, don’t you?”

“I think I do, yes.”

“What will happen to us?”

What a pair of amateurs these two are, Carol thought. She was sure Alanna would reject pity, so she said matter-of-factly, “Plead not guilty at the committal hearing and apply for bail. I’ll do everything I can to see that you get it. That way you can spend more time together.”

“With a bit of luck,” said Alanna with mordant humor, “we might die before we ever come to trial.”

When they resumed, Alanna seemed to have new energy. “We used a duplicate checklist. We knew we couldn’t make any mistakes. Lloyd and I went separately to the reception in the Museum of Modern Art and we each made sure we spoke to as many people as possible. I had a large shoulder bag with me-not the sort I usually carry, but I had to hide cotton gloves, a bottle of whiskey and the suicide handbook in it. I knew the sleeping tablets Collis used-we’d been lovers, after all-and I’d managed to get a doctor to prescribe the same brand for me. I crushed more than half of them, dissolving them as much as possible until they made a solution which I put in an old medicine bottle. The other half I kept in tablet form in case Collis hadn’t brought any with him, but he had, so in the end I didn’t need them.”

She grimaced. “It sounds bizarre describing it like this, but at the time it seemed like the script of a movie-not quite real, but logical and right. About eight o’clock I slipped out of the Museum and walked the few minutes to the hotel. I’d spoken to Collis in the afternoon and he’d told me he had his usual room, so I went up the fire stairs to his floor. He was surprised to see me, but he’d just finished a bottle of wine and he was quite relaxed. Actually, Collis was feeling proud of himself because he’d called Corinne and told her I was staying on as his singing partner. I remember he said, ‘See, I’m making it up to you’ and that made me so angry that I really wanted to kill him. He’d infected me with the HIV virus and he thought this would make it up to me! I smiled and showed him the bottle of Johnny Walker Black Label. It was always his favorite drink-and he was quite happy to have me serve him. While I was getting ice from the bar fridge I poured some of the solution into his glass. He said it didn’t taste quite right, but I pointed out he’d just eaten tuna and he was a bit tipsy, so he kept drinking. I just pretended to sip mine…”

Her voice trailed off. To encourage her, Bourke said, “And he didn’t suspect anything was wrong?”

Her mouth twisted. “He’d never think I’d be a threat to him. Do you know what we talked about? The treatment he was having for the virus. The new drugs he’d had sent from overseas. He told me how great it was to be able to discuss it with someone who understood. I was glad he was saying these things because it made it so much easier for me. He started to get sleepy and I persuaded him to lie on the bed. He was still talking, slurring his words, when Lloyd knocked in a code we’d agreed on. I put on the cotton gloves and let him in. Collis was very vague, but he still wanted to know what Lloyd was doing there, though he didn’t seem to mind when we didn’t answer. Lloyd put on his gloves and I gave him the sleeping tablet solution and the copy of The Euthanasia Handbook in its plastic wrap. Then I washed the glass I’d used and checked my list to make sure I’d done everything.”

Carol said, “Did you take his journal?”

Alanna flushed with anger. “It was open on the table because he’d been writing in it. When I left I took it, because I thought it might mention me and Lloyd.”

“Did it?”

“I’ve burnt the journal, Inspector, but I’m glad I read it. It made me sure that we were doing the right thing.”

“You put the Do Not Disturb on the door?”

“Yes. Then I went back to the Museum. I’d been away for a bit over an hour, but there were so many people there I was fairly sure I hadn’t been missed, and I made sure I was seen from then on.”

“Now it’s my narrative,” said Lloyd with a sketchy attempt at a smile. “It was just after nine when I ordered coffee and had all calls to the room stopped. Naturally it was assumed I was Collis. I waited until the coffee was left outside, poured him a cup, added some of Alanna’s solution and held it while he had some. As soon as he was completely unconscious I took out my checklist and put it on the bedside table so I wouldn’t forget anything. I remember thinking how awful it would be if I killed him, shut the door behind me, then remembered the list was still there… Anyway, I wiped the whiskey bottle and his glass, in case Alanna had touched either of them, and put his fingerprints on each of them. I took the handbook out of its plastic and did the same with it. By now he was breathing in great, slow, snoring gasps… it was horrible and I wanted him to stop. I took the plastic bag I had folded in my pocket, found one of his neckties, and put the bag over his head and tied it.”

“You got all these details from the handbook?” He sighed at Bourke’s question. “In the book it sounded so clinical. I hadn’t realized how awful it would be, Collis lying there with his head wrapped in plastic and the heat of his breath steaming it up inside. He coughed and made a choking noise. He was lying completely still and I waited for him to start breathing again, but he didn’t. I made sure I hadn’t left anything, picked up the list and checked the room about three times. And then I looked at him and it was horrible, him with his head in a bag. I saw he’d vomited, and though I hated him, I couldn’t leave him like that. I took off the tie and stuffed it in my pocket, then eased off the plastic bag-the air in it was hot, so damp and smelly and I thought I’d vomit too. Collis was dead, but I found I just had to wash his face. Dampened one of his handkerchiefs and cleaned him up, put the handkerchief with the plastic bag and the book wrapping in my pocket, tipped over the glass of whiskey and scattered the pills across the carpet. I left his bottle of painkillers in the bathroom cabinet and I took any other medication he had.”

His smile was completely without humor. “Alanna and I thought, you see, that there was no reason for anyone to discover he was HIV-positive, unless they found Collis had drugs to treat it.”

Carol said gently, “It’s standard in a post mortem to do a blood test for it.”

“We didn’t know that. There were a lot of things we didn’t take into account.”

“You dropped the tie,” said Carol, almost regretfully.

“Yes, I was in such a hurry to get out of there-I was panicking because I couldn’t stand to be in the room with

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