ROSIE BAUR D.I. Chapter 2.

19 Mar

2. THE VICTIM.

“There I was, constable, the sun replacing all the vitamin D that hard work’s dragged out of me as I luxuriate in my lounger, and I get that phone call!” said Detective Inspector Rosie Baur rather crossly. DC Martin Thrives fought a blush down when he recalled rumours of the DI’s naturist preferences when she was on holiday and secretly hoped that one day, somewhere, he might bump into her. He shook the thought from his head. It wasn’t a healthy one.
As for the DI, it had all been a rush and went against everything the twins had dreamed of enjoying, but the awning had been dragged down and packed away as neatly as rushing allowed, the caravan hitched up after anything breakable had been put safely away and her Xtrail coaxed into action, and all within an hour of the telephone call from Peter Jenson.
The journey back had taken a bit longer, but here she was, the hitched-up caravan still attached to her car in the station car-park and her ten year-old twins still moaning on the back seat. Their holiday had been ruined and they couldn’t see why. After all, mum might be in the police, but she wasn’t the only one. Cars full of them raced around the town all the time, didn’t they?
“Why does mum have to be a copper?” moaned Jack.
“So that she can afford to take us on holiday,” replied Jill, who saw the economic side.
“Funny!” almost snapped Jack.
In the station DC Martin Thrives had been put into the firing line as he was the junior member of the team and consequently unlikely to receive both barrels from the Inspector. She was famously generous to those who couldn’t so easily blast back at her on the rare occasions when her impatience got the best of her.
“It was most inconsiderate of the bloke…” said Martin calmly, knowing how to defuse most situations. “Getting himself murdered like that, and both of his eyes gouged out the way they were. If he were still alive I’d tell him so, and no messing.”
Rosie sighed. “Where’s Peter?” she asked.
“In hiding,” replied Martin. “In the office,” he added.
“I need to get the details and then take my load home before I get down to serious work,” she said, scowling, her attractive dusky face not at its best when she thought of having to face the twins again. A homicidal maniac would be easier, she thought. Or even two.
“The sergeant’s waiting for you, ma’am,” said Martin. “And I’m sorry,” he added.
“For what, constable?”
“For your holiday, ma’am. I know what it’s like, being promised and then having to miss out. The poor kids,” sniffed the constable.
He’d done enough. Sophie sighed and then smiled at him. Her face lit up with the first hint of that smile like it always did. I know she’s a brilliant copper, but with a smile like that she’s just got to be able to melt any heart, thought Martin Thrives, who could quite see himself sharing her doubtlessly perfumed sheets with her despite the fifteen year age gap between them. But it was all in his head, solely and unrealistically in his head, and he knew it.
“It’s a bloody nuisance,” greeted D S Jenson as she entered the main office. “And you building sandcastles with your angels on the beach!”
“We weren’t on the beach and I was sunning myself,” Sophie told him.
“And you in your best sunbathing costume, I’ll bet,” he grinned.
“If you want to know if I was totally commando then I guess you’ve worked out the answer to that,” murmured Sophie. “When I choose to soak up some sun then that’s what I do, no messing. Now what’s the story?”
“You know that little cul-de-sac on the way out of town, going towards Swanspottle?” asked Peter, “you know, all on its own and a good mile from any other living soul,” and assuming she knew where he meant, continued, “well, a gent by the name of Buttery, Philip Buttery to give him his full moniker, was found there around eight this morning by his wife, Mrs Miriam Buttery. Like him, she’s in her fifties and in shock. It wasn’t a pretty sight. Someone had seen fit to take his eyes out with a table spoon and it was a bloody mess.”
Sophie shuddered “Sounds nasty,” she said. “What does Cardew say?” Cardew Dingle was their pathologist, forty-odd, overweight and filled with all the charm of mortuary humour.
“He’s yet to do a full PM, but he reckons the bloke was killed around midnight, give or take. It seems he was putting the bin out, seeing as today’s collection day round there, and his wife was already in bed. She says he snores a lot, so they have separate rooms so she can get some sleep, so she never suspected he wasn’t curled up and in the land of nod himself. Anyway, he suffered from the proverbial blunt trauma to his head … and those eyes.”
“Separate rooms, eh? That sometimes tells a story…”
“The dead man looks to have been a bit of a scholar. He runs ” or ran ” the local library as librarian. Seems he was pretty diligent and the two girls who work there with him haven’t a bad word to say about him.”
“Might he have been having an affair with either or both of them?”
“It didn’t look like it to me. They were shocked, as you’d expect, and upset, but no great flood of tears and gnashing of teeth.”
“I’d best see them anyway. They might give us a better insight into the man than a wife who doesn’t sleep with him.”
“She, the missus, seems a bit mousey, on first meeting her. Works in a charity shop … I’ve got to check her out there … and Uniform are talking to the neighbours, to see if any of them noticed anything.”
She looked at him firmly, and then relaxed into a smile. “Well, I’ll climb into the harness when I’ve got my ankle-biters home and set up with a minder. This would have to happen during the school holidays! But it won’t take me long, I hope. Until then, keep an open mind. It’s not always the wife who murders the husband, you know!”
“Don’t I know it! Right, I’ll carry on, and I’m truly sorry that your holiday’s been wrecked like this, but there was nobody else with enough seniority to run this particular investigation, and murder is your speciality.”
“I know,” She smiled at him. “And I had to get dressed in double-quick time, and just for a dead man! It’s not the same, coming to work and having to wear clothes!”
“There’ll be another time….”
“You can bet your arse on that much, Peter!”
She returned to the car and caravan outfit and apologised to her twins.
“It’s a murder,” she said, making her voice sound morbidly hollow, more to amuse them than because that’s the way she felt. “The librarian,” she added.
“What? Mr Buttery?” asked Jack.
“You know him?” asked Sophie, surprised.
“I do go the library, mum, and he does try to help me when I’m there. I reckon he knows every book in the children’s section and he’s … he was … an expert on Biggles!”
She looked at her son, and ruffled his hair. “I see,” she said, “then I’d better sort out who killed him, and do it in double-quick time!

TO BE CONTINUED…
© Peter Rogerson 23.02.17

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