Archive | August, 2016


25 Aug

Chief Superintended Daniel (Rev, on account of he being an occasional lay preacher) Preest sat at his desk, scowling, and his door knocked
“Come!” he barked in his best authoritative voice.
“You wanted to see me, Re… sir?” asked Inspector Faux (pronounced Fo)
“This trouble at St Augustine’s…” began Rev, till scowling. He hated his nickname and was aware of the Inspector’s near-usage of it.”
“You mean the bloodiest murder this decade?” suggested Faux.
“It was in a sacred building, so you can’t call it “bloodiest”! Barked his superior, his face creased with more than a mere scowl.2There’s no call for such language when we’re talking about a church!”
“Well, there was a lot of blood, sir…” murmured Faux.
“That’s besides the point. Tell me, have you anyone in the frame? And I don’t mean the lunatic suggestion I’ve heard doing the rounds, that it was the curate!”
“Lunatic, sir?” asked Faux mildy.
“He’s a man of God, for goodness’ sake, and men of God don’t kill people,” growled Superintendent Preest.
“Never, sir?” enquired Faux in little more than a whisper edged with sarcasm.
“I preach at St Augustine’s and the staff there, clergy and lay, are angelic, to a fault!”
“A fault, sir?”
“Don’t be impertinent! You know what I mean!”
“Then who did it, sir? Who’s in your frame?” asked the inspector, knowing that true to form nobody would be.
“Who had access to the church? That’s how you’ll find your answer!”
“The curate, sir.”
“Besides him, man!”
“The vicar, sir, about an hour before the pathologist said the girl died,” murmured Faux. “Nobody else that we can discover, and it’s most unlikely that anyone did because the main entrance is on a main road in full view of everyone going to Tesco’s and the back door has been locked since they lost the key a year or so back. We’ve asked everyone until we’re blue in the face and although the two clergy were noted going in by a dozen witnesses, nobody else was.”
“There must have been someone,” growled the Chief superintendent. “A street cleaner or junkie, someone like that, someone who had it in for the girl.”
“It seems that the only person to take any notice of her was the…”
“The curate,” sighed Faux. “And he’s got form.”
“I’ve told you, Inspector, that he’s a man of God and that makes him above suspicion!” snapped the Chief Superintendent.
“He was suspected of forming an improper friendship with an underage girl at his last parish,” pointed out Faux.
“That’s a slur! Nothing whatsoever was proved!” The superintendent looked more threatening and his scowl more deeply etched than ever.
“The girl named him,” sighed the Inspector, “and rumours had been doing the rounds for ages, just like they had at St Augustine’s. But this time he scotched the rumours all right. This time the girl was silenced … for good!”
“You’re treading on dangerous ground, Inspector…” hissed his superior officer. “I won’t have the good and holy name of the church dragged through the gutters just because you can’t find the junkie who committed a truly foul murder!”
“I think you’re right. It was a junkie,” said Faux with a sudden fading grin. “And if you’ll excuse me, sir, “I’ve got a dealer in the Interview room.”
“Ah, so he did it?” The superintendent visibly perked up and the scowl-lines almost disappeared.
“No, sir, he was in the nick when the girl was murdered. But the day before he claims to have sold heroin to the killer!”
“Now we’re getting somewhere, Inspector! You should have mentioned this before! Who is it?”
“The curate, sir, the Reverend Digory Smith, the bastard who plunged the sharp end of his crucifix a good dozen times into the flesh of an innocent fifteen year old girl who he’d taken a fancy to, and by his God I can prove it!”
The Superintendent bristled again and his scowl became deeper etched than any his Inspector had seen.
“That’s it, Faux! I’m not having the good name of the church tarnished! I’ll put Jones in charge of the case and find a reason to suspend you from all duties henceforth! Goodness me, man, there’s enough evil in the world without seeking it in gardens where only purity can flourish! I’m appalled that you can even think like you do!”
The Inspector shook his head not believing the outburst he’d just been subjected to and might have protested loud and long, but the door burst open and the Chief Constable, spruced and smart and ever-so-gently fragrant, stomped in.
“The St Augustine’s thing!” he barked at Superintendent Preest. “I want an arrest and I want it today. What’s got into you, Rev? Everyone knows who did it, and the swine’s out there, free as a bird!”
The Superintended swallowed. “It’s lack of evidence, sir…” he muttered, “it’s simply lack of evidence…”
“But…” stammered Inspector Faux.
“And I’ve heard as much nonsense from you, more than I can stand!” grated the Superintendent, dismissing his Inspector with a wave of his holy hand.
© Peter Rogerson 24.08.16



4 Aug

It was like a hint of death in Cold Barrow Fen.
Pretty had been there before, on the wing, fluttering in time with the scudding clouds, but it had never been as macabre as this. The fragrance had been different, rotting stuff maybe, but rotting vegetation and not the oozing juices of rotting flesh from this or that creature that had given up the ghost too soon.. But now it was flesh all right, decomposing rapidly as the breath of Cold Barrow Fen touched it. Pretty didn’t like it, and fluttered off.
But he couldn’t flutter for too far. Something drew him back.
Maybe it was the hope that his love might come, a bright and orange Monarch from his clan, that she might flutter up to him, eyes beseeching, needing him. He was old, he knew that, and age makes all things whither.
Age crumbles gossamer, breaks the substance of fragile wings, stills vital juices as they course through a gentle thorax, brings the spark of life close to a sombre ending.
Pretty paused mid-flutter. A sudden scented wind took him, and as like as not he knew no more.
And down below him, not so far for a butterfly to fall as the spark of life is being squeezed out of him, staggered Father Ragan Priestly. Or what was left of his spirit.
Father Ragan Priestly was broken hearted.
Bishop “Dimwit” O’Toole had sent him to the fenland cottage where he’d been brought up as a child, proving that his nickname had been well earned because cottages like that, never much to talk about compared to palaces, soon surrendered to the moist airs that washed from the not-so-distant North Sea and began to return whence they came, to the wild Earth and wilder spheres. It might have been a cosy home way back, but now it was giving up its ghost.
Timbers had moved. Windows had cracked and then fallen out, the deep well had become clogged, and mischievous winds had whistled everywhere through its empty rooms. Even ancient roof slates had shifted, leaving gaps for all manner of weathers to creep in. It was no place to send a sickly Father, but “Dimwit” had done it.
“You’ll find succour and strength there, my son,” he had said, his assumed Irish brogue a mischief lie along with his absurd faith. Norfolk born and bred, he’d never even paddled in the Irish sea let alone crossed it to the land he claimed to be his own. His life had been a lie, an easy one to tell in all truth because the big one, his faith, had slipped easily enough from his lips far too many times.
So Father Raglan Priestly found himself miles from his parish and in a wild and wet place where everything stank and corruption and decay was the lay of the land.
“It’s uninhabitable,” he’d told “Dimwit” on his mobile telephone. “No man could live here and survive! There’s damp everywhere, goodness knows what creatures have eaten through the timbers and as I talk are snuggling under the very floors and up in the rafters, and when I sit on any chair in any room the seat of my pants get wet with mould and corruption and any disease that flesh is heir to!”
“I spent my boyhood there and it never harmed me!” snapped his Bishop. “The air will cleanse your lungs, my boy! You’ll live to thank me, take my word for it! Just you pile some logs in the hearth and set a flame to them! I know it for what it is … our own piece of Heaven on Earth…” And he hung up. He didn’t want to know. His boyhood home, where he’d yearned over many young years for a friend but found none, was a paradise in his mind and therefore beyond criticism. And to him things don’t change. There’s no such thing as decay.
“The man’s turned loony,” he muttered to himself, and attacked his whisky decanter with a new determination.
Meanwhile Father Raglan Priestly coughed long and loud and wrapped himself in his own thin coat and struggled with dripping mildewed logs and matches that wouldn’t strike before going out into the mists and bitter winds for relief from the damp and cold.
And it was while he was out in that desolate place that things went wrong.
He saw the butterfly out of the corner of one eye and reached out to grab it, but missed. But as the fluttering creature escaped his outreached hand he caught a glimpse of its compound eyes. And in them, in both of them, he saw enough real truth to still his heart and send him, like a crumpled old sack, to lie terminally in the mire to add with almost indecent haste to the fragrant flesh decomposing all around.
And somehow Pretty sucked a little strength from his departed soul and fluttered aimlessly on.
© Peter Rogerson 03.08.16