ROSIE BAUR D.I. Chapter 8

27 Mar

8. A GLASS OF RED

Rosie Baur poured herself a glass of J.P. Chenet Red and sipped at it before sitting down. The twins were in bed and there was no way they would wake up, they never did, and she just wanted to feel comfortable, so she was dressed solely in her birthday suit and to remind herself that she wasn’t so bad to look at she glanced at herself in the mirror on the wall opposite her television set.

“Not bad for a bird of my age,” she thought. She was only in her thirties but along with quite a lot of people in her age range she saw middle age looming like a dread beast in her future. Not that she’d have gone to many lengths to stave off the ravages of time. She wasn’t that vain.

And she didn’t look bad, anyway. There’s hardly a mortal on the planet who could say she had anything but an attractive body, dusky as it was, with long natural hair for once allowed to fall round her shoulders. For work she always had it piled up on her head but once at home comfort was more important than considerations of health and safety, so down it came.

She sipped the wine and sat down, and sighed. And the doorbell rang.

“Sod it!” she muttered, and pulled the dressing gown that she always kept handy over her body and reached the front door before the bell had a chance to ring a second time. Doorbells can wake children, and she didn’t want them woken.

It was Peter Jenson.

“I hope I’m not disturbing anything,” he mumbled as he walked in. “But I felt I ought to see you before the meeting first thing tomorrow.”

“Do come in,” she said pointedly, and he grinned at her.

“Ready for bed already?” he asked.

“You know me better than that!” she said, and she slipped her dressing gown back off in the certain knowledge that he wouldn’t see anything he hadn’t seen a dozen times before. He knew her fondness for being au naturel and knew it wasn’t a come-on when she stripped off in front of him, though there had been a time… “You’re going to have to put up with me like this,” she added with a smile. “I’m going to relax my own way no matter what I put on display for Detective Sergeants to ogle at!”

“And if the Superintendent calls?” asked Peter with a cheeky grin.

“Then he’ll have to put up with my bronzed acres too,” she said, “a glass of red?”

He shook his head regretfully. “I’ve got the car,” he explained.

“Then what’s so important you had to barge into my paradise?” she asked, pouring herself a second glass and ignoring his excuse by pouring him one too. “One won’t hurt,” she added.

“It is paradise, isn’t it?” he murmured thoughtfully. Rosie was a hard working woman and put in long hours when necessary, but she still had time to turn a bog standard modern semi-detached little house into what he acknowledged as a paradise. “It must be in your genes,” he added.

“Just because I’m a dusky maiden,” she grinned, “I’ve told you before that my heritage in the UK goes way back to the seventeenth century. Most of the white part of my ancestry arrived last century, though, chased by fascists from Germany.”

“It’s a lovely mixture,” he said, meaning it.

“Right. So what won’t wait until tomorrow, and be quick because there’s a programme on the box I want to catch in ten minutes.”

“I’d have thought real life gives you enough crimes to solve,” he said, guessing what programme she meant.

“Ah, but Barnaby has it a lot tougher. I’ve only got the one murder, but he gets them in droves!”

“OK, I get the drift. Well, it’s the post mortem. The doc reckons the man was still alive when his eyes were dug out. He reckons he was unconscious or just about so, his mouth taped up so if he wanted to he couldn’t cry out, and he was left there for a good hour before his head was bashed in for the last time.”

“That’s horrible!” Rosie shuddered. “The depths some people will sink to! Why his eyes, I wonder?”

“That’s just guess work at the moment, though I reckon it must be someone thinks he enjoyed looking at something or someone a little bit too much and wanted him to know what he thought.”

“But what? His kids … the Swanspottle duo … were there until he put the bin out at night, and that was around the time of his death.”

“He died between eleven and one next morning, give or take, according to the doc., and it seems he usually had his bin out by ten. Neighbours said you could almost set your clock by him putting his bin out.”

“So his kids were gone by ten…?” she said thoughtfully.

“If you can believe the neighbours, yes.”

“How do they know that’s when the kids left, just because it’s when the bloke usually put his bin out? And there’s something about that pair that worries me. I don’t like the clingy way they have, as if they can’t bear being apart.

“They’re twins, Rosie, and you know a thing or three about twins.”

“Blast it! I’ve missed the start of the programme! Hold on. Let me switch the set on before I miss any more.” She steed up, glorious and bronzed and beautiful, and turned the television on. “I always switch it off properly because I read telly sets use up electricity even when they’re on standby, and it’s me paying the bills,” she said.

“Makes sense,” said Peter.

“There have been two Barnabies in this programme,” said Rosie thoughtfully as she watched the opening credits fade away on her screen. “The first one had a cousin, I believe, and he was scripted to take over when the first one was clearly too old to be believable. They’re not like twins, though … very different from each other. Twins often are different from each other, don’t you think? I mean, they may look pretty similar, some even so similar even friends and family can be hard pressed to tell them apart, but their personalities, they can vary, don’t you think?”

Peter shrugged. “You’re the twin expert,” he said.

“It makes me wonder, though…” murmured Rosie. “Are you staying?”

“I’ve not much else to do. As long as I don’t have to strip off to my skin to match the hostess!”

“You know I’m not like that! Go on, you’ve got a glass of red, so have another. I won’t tell anyone if you don’t. You can even doss down on the settee if you get too hammered to drive!”

“I might just do that. I’ve nothing cooking at home.”

“Then stay if you like. Did Dingle say anything else of interest?”

“One thing. There were signs that Mr Buttery might have had sex not long before he died.”

“Were there, now! Who with, I wonder?”

“It might have been with himself, Rosie. You know, he might have taken himself in hand … who can tell? Cardew’s going to see if he can find evidence of a partner, but he’s not holding his breath, so I’m not holding mine.”

“Who would he have sex with, though? His wife is of the there’s no point at our time of life school, and the neighbour’s ex is selling fish and chips miles away.”

“Someone we don’t know about?”

“Obviously, but who?”

“We’ll have to look a bit deeper, Rosie.”

“Well, at the moment it’s all food for thought. Now be quiet and let’s see what’s happening on the telly. Ah, they’re having a garden party. They have a lot of those. And there are probably going to be fireworks and a corpse, followed by more corpses. I find this quite relaxing, don’t you?”

“If you say so, ma’am…”

TO BE CONTINUED…

© Peter Rogerson 01.03.17

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