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


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