In York the police were now dealing with a suspected murder, they were absolutely clueless in the case of the missing University librarian, which implied they were failing substantially, but it was simply that there were no clues whatsoever. The strain on her family had become unbearable, there seemed to be no hope of any closure in the matter, and even closest relatives feared the worst. I couldn’t understand why the police had to use old-fashioned expressions like ‘come to harm’, why couldn’t they just use plain English and say she’d most likely been harmed by a man ?
In some ways it would have been a relief to find her body floating in the Ouse or Foss, yet there was always that glimmer of hope while no physical evidence was found. Despite TV appeals and some calls from the public hardly anything other than vague reports of suspicious-looking characters around the University emerged.
The students came back from yet another long holiday, and in all those thousands of young people there was nothing significant to help the official investigation. They were mostly concerned with getting on with academic life, which consisted of drinking, plenty of sex, sleeping into the afternoon, and the minimum amount of work.
Jess continued to take the whole thing very personally, as if she was somehow directly involved in the woman’s disappearance just because she worked on the campus. I had learned to limit any questions about her day to the most banal details only, struggling at times to maintain a cheerful and optimistic atmosphere.
‘I was attacked a few years ago’ she blurted out eventually.
‘Near the Central Hall.’
‘What do you mean ? Were you hurt ?’
‘I screamed and kicked so much he ran off.’
‘But isn’t it a busy area round there anyway ?’
‘Not at two in the morning.’
‘You were OK then ?’
‘Of course I bloody wasn’t’ she screamed.
‘I’m sorry, I don’t...’
‘I only had a few scratches, he probably came off worse, but you can’t just forget about something like that.’
‘Did you report it ?’
‘I did, but I’d had quite a bit to drink, and they didn’t take my story too seriously; I couldn’t give much of a description.’
She started crying, and I tried to comfort her, but she pulled away.