Archive | April, 2017

ROSIE BAUR D.I. Chapter 18

24 Apr

18. THE STAIRCASE

Rosie Baur pulled up outside the McCarthy residence at No. 5 Binyard Close, and sighed.

“This should be a bit easier,” she said, “and then we’ll get back to Joey and what sounded suspiciously like a confession on its way to me. This case is getting to be more complicated by the minute!”

“Or the dead man’s sex life is,” said Martin. “What’s the chance of finding out more here?”

“From what I gathered Mr McCarthy doesn’t know much about the Butterys. He works in a pub and that probably means all hours, so he doesn’t get to know much about them.”

“It’ll be good to hear his version, from the sidelines, so to speak,” murmured Martin.

“Well, let’s see what he’s got to say for himself,” she said to her Constable, “though I’m getting used to surprises on this case. Who’d have thought there was a Joey living at the farm?”

“So you don’t expect him to have much for us?” asked Martin.

She shook her head. “From what I can gather he’s a quietly timid bloke, works as a waiter at some pub in Brumpton Parva, where he also does the odd bit of bar work. There’s nothing on record about him, but that doesn’t mean everything as you and I know well.”

“We sure do,” he agreed, and they walked to the front door of Number 5, past a small but well-manicured front garden.

The man who opened it was middle-aged, wore spectacles that might have been fashionable in the 1980s with their huge plastic frames and had very little hair remaining on his head after nature had taken its course, and that which remained was cut fashionably short. His attempt at a beard, though, did him no favours. It was uneven, mottled and with an unexpected dab of egg in it.

“Mr McCarthy?” said Rosie by way of personal introduction, holding her card for his inspection.

“I was expecting you,” he said, “what can I do, Inspector?”

“We’re looking into the sad events next door to you,” said Rosie easily, “may we come in? You might not realise it, but, unknown to you, it’s just about possible that hold the key to our puzzle, you know, with a snippet you don’t even look on as any sort of evidence.”

Winston McCarthy invited them in and offered them the inevitable cup of tea, which they refused politely.

“It was the man who got killed?” he asked, although by then he must surely have known. “I’ve got plenty to say about him!”

“It was. Mr Buttery, the librarian in town. What did you know about him?”

Winston McCarthy took a deep breath, and then started, and the intensity on his face surprised Rosie, who was expecting an anaemic, meaningless interview that would end up leading them nowhere.

“He might have seemed an alright sort of guy if you idn’t know him, but he wasn’t anything of the sort,” began McCarthy. “He was some kind of Casanova with no idea about the damage he did to other people’s lives when he went about his sordid affairs, chatting up women be they married or single, moving in on girls who didn’t want to know him, raping even!. He even forced himself onto his own daughter, if what I saw had any bearing on reality! And years ago he wrecked my wife, making overtures to her and encouraging her to move and live closer to him. Look! She got us to live next door to the swine! And he raped her, you know. When she was twenty-ish, half her life ago now, he forced himself onto her! That was after his own wife saw him for what he is and wouldn’t have anything to do with him any more! She told me, she did, how he makes demands of her and she doesn’t want to know. And now look at my good lady. She turned to drink when she was on the rebound from him and she’s never sober, not even in the mornings when she has eggnog for breakfast! The poor dear’s never without a hangover and I lay that at his door!”

“She explained to us how you might not have been aware of the history she has with Mr Buttery,” said Rosie.

“Bah! I’m married to her, for goodness’ sake! You don’t think you can keep affairs of the heart secret, do you? And with my job, a barman and waiter at the Rose Bower down in Parva, I get to see his sort all the time. Even him, sometimes, with a different woman draped over him like an extra fur coat, and him posing like the mild-mannered man he never was!”

“You paint a very different picture of him than do others, sir,” suggested Martin. “I know he’s got an eye for the ladies, but you seem to be suggesting that it’s more than an eye!”

“I wouldn’t be surprised if you told me he’s got kids everywhere, little waifs without a proper daddy because he spreads himself so thinly he’s got no time for any of them. I tell you, officers, it’s a much better world without him in it, that it is, and you can take my word for that!”

There was a sudden banging from the direction of the stairs followed to a strangled screech, and Winston groaned. “Oh, not again!” he muttered, and went to the door leading to the hallway and staircase.

Jodie McCarthy lay sprawled on the bottom two steps, in a dressing-gown that she hadn’t bothered to do up properly revealing a thin nylon white nightie that only partly covered her now motionless body.

“Jodie!” encouraged Winston, “Jodie, darling, don’t go to sleep there! Wake up, lovey, wake up!”

But his wife lay absolutely still. To all intents and purposes she was out cold. Rosie leapt to her side and searched for a pulse.

“Get an ambulance!” she barked at the Constable, “and Mr McCarthy, help me with her!”

The prone woman was carefully moved into a better position, and Rosie started checking for breathing, and then began pounding her chest with a desperation born of experience.

But there was no reaction from the motionless woman, no sudden gasp for breath, no trickle of vomit from cold lips.

It was clear to Rosie that the woman wouldn’t respond. She’d met sudden death before in her job, and this woman was suddenly dead.

Winston could see what she was doing and behind those huge spectacles his eyes filled with tears.

“That’s down to the b*****d!” he wept, “I told you he was evil! He’s killed my Jodie, that’s what he’s done! Even from beyond the grave he’s killed her!”

TO BE CONTINUED

© Peter Rogerson 11.03.17

Advertisements

ROSIE BAUR D.I, Chapter 16

21 Apr

16. A FARM WORKER

“He’ll be in,” said Rosie to Martin, who was driving her car towards Binyard Close. She meant Winston McCarthy, wife to Jodie at No. 5., not that they thought it likely that he’d know anything. But he was a waiter in a gastro-pub in the nearby Brumpton Parva and that probably led to late hours during which he would be miles away from where murders were being committed on Binyard Close.

“What does he do, ma’am?” asked Martin Thrives. “He’s not been around when I’ve called, and that wife of his always seems to have a headache.”

“Ironically, he works in a pub whilst she likes her g without the t, at home” sighed Rosie. “I’d say she’s an alcoholic who’s past redemption, but I’m no expert even though I do like the odd glass of red myself.

“So the sarge told me,” grinned Martin.

“The trouble with Peter Jenson is he can’t keep anything to himself!” she joked. “Look here!”

They had just turned onto the close when Rosie spotted something ahead.

“What’s happening ?” she asked. “Ah, I know! It’s old Bernard taking his caravan for a break in the sun! And don’t I envy him his freedom! Just a minute, a farmer with time off at this time of year? Now that does seem a little odd… stop here, Martin, and I’ll have a word with him.”

Farmer Croft stopped at the end of his drive, just as he started pulling onto Binyard Close. The D.I. jumped out of her car and waved towards him.

“What can I do for you, Rosie?” he asked, and followed it up cheekily with “Sorry, Superintendent!”

“I should be so lucky!” replied Rosie. “Where are you off to, Eggy?”

“So you remember that old nickname of mine! And so you should! I’m proud of the half dozen eggs that earned it for me! But I told you last time, I’m going to that nice little site where clothes are optional. You know, the one you like…”

“I didn’t know farmers had so much spare time,” she said.

“Oh, I’ve left Joey in charge. He’s my right hand man most of the time these days, though to telll the truth he’s mostly left hands.”

“I never knew you had a farm worker! He doesn’t, by any chance, live in, does he?”

“He wouldn’t be much use to me if he didn’t! But he’s without the comforts of a good woman at home, and it cuts down on wages, having to offer board and lodging as part of the deal,” said Farmer Croft.

“We should really know about him,” murmured Rosie, “We ought to interview anyone who might be a witness, however unlikely. I think I’ll go and have a word with him. I trust he’s in right now/”

“Feet up in the kitchen with a pot of tea and toast,” replied the farmer. “But he’ll have his hands full soon enough, and then I’ll have to get back, ‘cause it’ll be time to bring in the goodies. It’s a hard time, is harvest, and I try to get a break for a few says before it starts most years.”

“I’ll pop and see him, then, Eggy,” said Rosie. “What’s he called?”

“Joey. Joey Boneham,” replied the farmer. “He’s a good worker, though I reckon one straw short of being a haystack!”

“Thanks, Eggy,” said Rosie, dismissively, “I’ll let you go then, and have a good time. If I get this mess cleaned up soon enough I might be out to join you, with the kids begging everyone with legs for ice-creams if the van comes round.”

“They’re nice kids,” sighed the farmer, “well, I’ll be seeing you, Rosie.”

He drove slowly from his drive onto Binyard Close, towing his elderly caravan behind his Landrover.

“Boneham?” queried Martin Thrives, “That’s what I’d call an unusual name..?”

“It’s not common,” agreed Rosie, “though there are probably a few around if you start digging.”

“It’s just that I’ve come on it before to do with this case,” said Martin slowly, “when I went to that wretched charity shop to interview the women who work there. One of them was a Boneham. Let me, see…” he consulted his notebook, “that’s it … Alice Boneham. A bit of a coincidence, don’t you think?”

“It is a bit odd,” agreed Rosie, “Let’s ask him if he knows her.”

“If she’s anything to do with him she’s a bit free with her references to male underwear,” Martin told her, “and if I was a lesser man she might have embarrassed me.”

“You mean, she did embarrass you?” grinned Rosie as Martin pulled into the pot-holed drive leading to the farm.

“It’s a miracle he gets that caravan of his down here without smashing something,” he muttered, changing the subject.

The farmhouse looked deserted from the outside, but when they knocked the door it was opened by a man who was probably in his fifties, roughly shaven and may well have been in need of a shower or bath.

“He’s out, gone holidaying, you just missed him,” he said.

“And you’re in charge?” asked Rosie, flashing her warrant card as ID.

He looked at her suspiciously. “Mebbe,” he said, suddenly nervously.

“Can we come in, then?” asked Rosie, frowning. She was used to introducing herself to strangers, and believed she could judge quite a lot from the way they responded to her. This man had secrets, that much was sure, but they most probably had absolutely nothing to do with the case she was working on. A lot of people had secrets they wanted to keep from the police, often irrationally because their secrets were private and of no concern to any authority.

Once inside the farm kitchen, they sat down.

“Mr Boneham?” she asked, pleasantly.

“That’s my name,” he said after a pause during which she thought he might be trying to think of an alias, and failing. His thought processes were far from lightning, she decided.

“Do you have a relative working in the charity shop where Mrs Buttery from across the road manages?” asked Martin, liking to get to the point.

“My ex does,” he muttered, suddenly morose. “She works for the cow for her sins,” he added.

“Oh dear me, So you don’t like her?” asked Martin.

“What? The Buttery cow or my ex?” asked Joey.

“Mrs Buttery. People don’t usually have too many kind words to say about exes,” put in Rosie.

“She’s a self-righteous priggy cow!” almost exploded Joey, “and if she’d been a bit kinder to that sex-crazed husband of hers then I might not be here now!”

“Why’s that, Mr Boneham?” asked the D.I.

“You work it out!” groaned the aggrieved farm worker, and he slammed one fist into the palm of his other hand so hard that it must have hurt.

“You mean, Mr Buttery did something to your marriage?” asked Rosie, “he didn’t seem the sort to do anything … rash.”

“He was a sex-crazed pervert!” shouted Joey, “he shagged my misses, that’s what he did, and he got what was coming to him!”

TO BE CONTINUED….

© Peter Rogerson 09.03.17

ROSIE BAUR, D.I. Chapter 15

17 Apr

 THE TEAR -DROP

Detective Sergeant Jenson with Detective Constable Elena Davies by his side sat opposite Amelia Buttery in an interview room. He switched the recorder on, and smiled at her.

“This shouldn’t take long,” he assured her, “then you can get off to college.”

“I’ll be late, probably,” she replied, morosely.

“Well, look at it like this. It’s your father who has been murdered and we need to get to the bottom of it, partly for your sake, so if you’re cooperative we can get it over in not very long at all, and you can carry on with your life.”

“Am I under arrest?” she asked, “because if I am I know my rights and I want a solicitor.”

“No, you’re just here voluntarily, to help us with our enquiries.”

“It didn’t feel very voluntary when you brought me!”

Elena looked at her sympathetically. “Don’t you want to find the person who stole the life from your father?” she asked.

“Of course I do!” she snapped back, “He was my dad, for goodness’ sake! But this seems … heavy handed … to me.”

“Look, we’ll get it over with and I’ll pop off to see your brother when we’ve taken you either to college or back home,” said Peter. “And the more open and honest you are the quicker that can be. And remember, we only want to know things that have to do with the actual murder of your father. Details of your … relationship … with him probably won’t enter into it because, at the end of the day, they’re probably not important, but we need to know in order to rule things in or out. Now do you understand?”

Amelia nodded her head. “Of course I do,” she said, “I’m not thick, you know!”

Peter smiled at her. “Right, then, when I asked whether your father had a woman other than your mother in his his life you went beetroot red but said nothing. That’s a gap we’ve got to fill in. It might be important, or it might not be, and probably only time will show which it is. But if we don’t know it’s a piece of the puzzle we can’t slot in place to make the complete picture.”

“All right,” almost snarled the young woman, “ask away, then, and destroy me if you want!”

“Was it you he turned to when your mother constantly rejected his advances?”

Peter’s eyes were on her, keenly, and once again that blush returned to her pretty cheeks. If what I suspect is right, he thought, then I feel sorry for you and won’t embarrass you more than I have to. But I must know….

She nodded her head slightly. Then, with a sudden blaze of determination in her eyes she started talking slowly, evenly, and he guessed truthfully.

“When I was about sixteen he started,” she said, “he came to my room at night and sometimes climbed in bed with me. He hadn’t got his own room yet because it was only a three-bedroom house and me and my twin had our own each, so he shared with mummy. But she never knew, or if she did know she ignored it. She didn’t want anything to do with that side of her marriage, though I really think she almost loved him. He was a loveable person. I loved him.”

“Most daughters love their fathers,” said Elena quietly, “I know that I love mine.”

“Well, to start with that’s all it was, him and me close together in bed, but I could tell that sometimes he was … aroused … and then, as time passed, he started touching me.”

“I suppose that wasn’t so nice,” suggested Peter.

“Why not?” she almost flared up, “I was almost a woman and there were some things that I liked quite a lot. You won’t understand because you’re a man and men look on everything like that as dirty, but it wasn’t.”

“And that was all?” encouraged Peter.

“Of course not! You must be able to work it out! But he got scared of himself. He told me so, and when I was eighteen he suggested that he put the deposit on a rental house for me and Denis, for my own good, he said, and that we became independent. It would help Denis’s business plans too, if he had his own address. You see, Denis might be big and strong, but he’s … fragile.”

“So this carried on for a couple of years, until you were eighteen?” asked Peter, “how often did he call on your room at night?”

“Once, twice a week,” she said, “and when he didn’t come sometimes I … I … I went to him even though that might have risked waking mum up. You see, I was used to the company, the … oh, let’s call it by it’s real name, the sex!”

“You had sex in the same bed as your sleeping mother?” asked Peter, disbelieving.

“No, silly! Just being together was as good as sex, and quietly touching … you must know.”

“But you moved to Swanspottle when you were eighteen?” asked Elena.

“Yes. Dad said we were going too far. He said he was really, really sorry the way he was, that he couldn’t help himself because, as he said, I was the spitting image of my mother, his first and only true love, when she was my age. He said he found it hard to control himself. By then I was taking the pill regularly … I’d arranged it myself … and said it didn’t matter. But he was an honourable man. He insisted.”

“That would have been to about five years ago,” said Peter, “so it was all done and dusted ages ago?”

She shook her head. “I suppose I wish it had been,” she whispered, “but it was my fault that it wasn’t. You see, I missed him. I told him that Wednesday afternoons, I knew Wednesday was his half-day from the library, were usually free. I didn’t have college and Denis had his best day on the market on Wednesdays and never missed one of those. And Daddy phoned up some Wednesdays and I gave him the all-clear if I was alone, and he came to Swanspottle for an hour. Look, I know he was my dad, but what harm was there in it? I was on the pill, my mum rejected him as thoroughly as a woman can ever reject a man’s advances and he needed someone. I was happy with him.”

“And he came to you for sex?” asked Elena.

She shook her head. “No!” she exclaimed, “we didn’t have sex very often, though it did happen sometimes. No: he came to me because he was the loneliest man on Earth with a wife who wouldn’t let him go and two pretty girls at work who smiled at him a lot! He told me how he was sometimes tempted … then there was a neighbour, Jodie McCarthy, they had history years and years ago, before he met mum, even she made him wonder if he should, though she’s become a bit of a soak these days. But he didn’t want to turn to any of them, not when he had his lovely wife’s clone in me! You see, rejection after rejection, but in his heart he still loved the woman she’d been.”

“Is there anything else?” asked Elena, “surely your brother noticed, sharing that little house with you as he does?”

“No!” flared Amelia, “don’t bring him into it! He doesn’t know anything! Nothing at all about daddy and me!”

Peter watched her and saw, for the first time, a tear-drop oozing from one eye, and then the other.

“I’ll take you to college,” he said, terminating the interview. “I shouldn’t think you’ll be too late.”

“I don’t care,” sniffled Amelia, “I don’t really care about anything now that daddy’s dead…”

TO BE CONTINUED…

© Peter Rogerson 08.03.17

ROSIE BAUR, D.I. Chapter 14

13 Apr

14. THE GIRLIE ROOM
Back at the station and in the main office the team were exchanging information. The Detective Inspector and the Detective Sergeant together with their respective partners for the day were both looking thoughtful.

“You really think the Swanspottle lass was her own father’s lover, and rather than find it dreadful being involved with an older close relative, she approved of it?” asked Rosie. “It’s quite a conclusion to be drawn from a blush. Why, I blush for nothing sometimes, and I don’t expect to be arrested for it.”

“She’s not been arrested and anyway but you’re a dusky maiden, so nobody notices, even though you’re quite … what shall I call it … commando about your dress code sometimes!” said Peter, winking at her.

“That’s enough Sergeant!” she replied, “and back to the job in hand before the trail goes completely cold. “Now, about the girl?”

“You should have seen her when I asked her if she knew whether her dad had a lover,” sighed Peter, “I thought she might name someone, or say she thought he might have somebody in the wings, but you’ve never seen anyone blush quite so scarlet! And she was speechless, completely off her guard. He had a lover all right, and if I read the signs right it was her. I’ve got her in an interview room and I’m going to drag out of her everything he knows about her father and his sex life.”

“You think it may be she who battered her dad to death?” asked Rosie, frowning. “And bear in mind there would be no point in pursuing the incest angle unless there’s a chance she did.”

“No. I’m sure it wasn’t her. But her love for him was more than a daughter’s love for her father, don’t you think? Remember, most girls suffering from abuse of that sort don’t like it and are relieved when it’s found out. But she gave every sign that, above all things, she was daddy’s girl. So my question is, can there be anyone we’ve not thought of yet who has such an attachment to for that he’s prepared to murder what he sees as unfair and downright immoral opposition? And might she know who that is?”

Rosie groaned. “That makes sense, but how do we find this particular needle in a massive haystack?”

D.C. Elena Davies coughed quietly. “There’s one possibility,” she said.

Rosie raised one eyebrow. “This has been quite a welcome to our little gang for you,” she said with a smile. “Tell us, this possibility?”

“Well ma’am, while the Sergeant was questioning Amelia, I pretended I needed to use the loo, and took a peep in their bedroom like Sergeant Jenson suggested. And I’ve never seen anything like it! It’s quite a big room, big enough for two single beds, I’m sure of that, but it’s just got a double divan in it, with black sheets and duvet cover…”

“Is there any significance in the colour of the bedding?” asked Jenson.

“Well, I’m no psychiatrist or anything like that, but black sheets have always appealed to, what shall I call it, the more randy side of my nature…” And as she said that Elena had the grace to blush. “I’m sorry…” she added. “… but if I see things that way, so must others. Anyway, it’s a cliché, and they’re often quite well founded.”

“No, don’t be sorry, I think you’re right,” said Rosie, frowning. “It mightn’t mean anything, but I reckon you’ve got a point.”

“And the rest of the room,” continued Elena, “talk about a man-trap! It’s got everything that’s feminine and seductive. Plush carpets, red curtains and even pink nets. And the furniture, modern and feminine with hardly a trace of anything masculine about it, yet two people share it, one of them a man. Her brother. I looked at his bedside table and besides a reading lamp and an electric shaver it’s got a book open half-way through. It’s a trashy book called The Eyes can See, and it’s all about killing and blinding the eyes of those who have seen too much. I read it once, I’m sorry to say, but I was younger and thought it might guide me into minds corrupted by life, and maybe make me into a better copper when I graduated!”

“Blinded, you say?” asked Rosie.

Elena nodded. “I remember it quite well because I thought it was truly sick. And not very well written either, but I doubt that matters to a diseased mind greedy for that kind of muck.”

“And you think Denis Buttery might have one of those?”

“Well it’s on his side of the bed. The other side is sickeningly girlie with loads of make-up, fragrances and three hairbrushes. I mean, three! And just to one side is a big plastic head, the sort hairdressers practice on. No, that sick book is on his side, all right. It’s his reading, bless him. No woman would want to read it anyway.”

“So what do you conclude from that look around, constable?” asked Rosie.

Elena frowned. “It struck me as odd that the room is predominantly female. I know that blokes aren’t so fussy about where they sleep, but they usually like some mark of their gender about them, if you see what I mean. And isn’t Denis supposed to be a bit butch?”

“I think you’ll find the word’s thick,” said Jenson heavily. “I’m off to the market to see him and I’ll see what he’s got to say. But if what Elena says is on the mark it might be that he’s so obsessed by his twin sister that he lets her have total freedom, both in and out of the bedroom.”

“None of this will have anything to do with the murder unless there’s something we’ve missed,” frowned Rosie. “There’s no accounting for human behaviour, and it’s not unknown for siblings to be attracted to each other, and I would expect that to be particularly true of twins. No, I reckon we ought to widen our search before the trail goes totally cold. And what we really want is the murder weapon, and if it’s been dumped in a hedgerow or field nearby, get our hands on it before there’s a storm that washes it too clean. I’ll get a wider search going. There’s a farm across the road from the Buttery place…”

“And a farmer with a wonderful imagination,” grinned Peter, “when it comes to couture and fashion!”

“He camps on the same sites as me,” said Rosie, mildly. “They’re for people who may or may not want to get undressed in the sun. He never does, but he could if he wanted.”

“But I’ll bet he’s got an eye for those that do!” said Peter, “I know that I would.”

“But then you’re a perv, Sergeant,” Rosie told him, but she winked at him as she turned and walked away. “I’m off to round up some uniforms to do that search,” she said, “if the super can afford any, that is. Then I’ll go and see the McCarthy’s at number five. I’ve not seen what’s his name … Winston … yet, and he might know something we don’t.”

TO BE CONTINUED…

© Peter Rogerson 07.03.17

ROSIE BAUR D.I, Chapter 13

10 Apr

13. THE BLUSH

Elena Davies was proud of her new Uniform and this was her first day to show the world just how good she was and how much she would be worthy of it. And her first task was to go with Sergeant Jenson (good-looking to her mind, and open, friendly, the sort of man she liked) to re-interview the twin offspring of the murdered man.

She’d read up on the case so far, and it seemed to her that the killer was probably going to turn out to be one of the neighbours, most probably the farmer because why else would he have a record of assault against politicians? But it wasn’t down to her to make decisions just yet. This was her first day and the last thing she wanted to be looked on was the sort of recruit who jumped to conclusions even if those conclusions were leaping out at her like red rags to a bull.

Peter Jenson approved of the new constable. She was in uniform, a brand new uniform with none of the wear and slight tear of even a nearly new uniform, and she was everything a Sergeant might dream of. He’d watched television murder mysteries, loads of them, and the young police-woman was often a bright blue-eyed blond, and here he was in the company of a real blue-eyed blond, the real McCoy, one who breathed the same air as him and who bestowed her own fragrance (from an expensive bottle, no doubt) onto him.

“They’re an odd couple,” he told her, more for the need to say something that wasn’t remotely a chat-up line than because his opinion at this moment was important. “Twins, in their twenties and too close to each other by half.”

“Twins can be like that,” Elena told him, “I had some school friends when I was still at school and they were twins. They weren’t identical, you know, you could easily tell them apart. One was tall and thing and the other was … squat. But they were so alike in other ways it was awesome.”

“Well, these aren’t identical either,” Peter told her, “you’ll see. One of each, and the bloke runs a market stall, which we’ll have to take a look at sooner or later. The other says she’s training to be a hairdresser at Brumpton college. They live in Swanspottle. Do you know the place?”

She shook her head. “I’m new round here,” she said, almost sadly.

“Well, it’s a quirky little village with a reputation for breeding odd-balls, and these two moved in as soon as they left home together. They rent a terraced cottage on the one and only main street, and it’s really poky. One of the two bedrooms was converted, years ago I suppose, into a bathroom, so there’s only one bedroom, which they share, and I think it might be a pretty good idea to take a look at it. You can often judge more about people by how they sleep rather than how they sit and have coffee!”

“That’s good,” she approved, “though I hate to think what you’d make of me if you looked at my bedroom…”

“Unlikely as that might be,” he said, his mouth suddenly dry when he thought of it. Possibly, he told himself, it was the fragrance she emitted in floral waves.

“Of course,” she smiled, “but I’m not the tidiest of mares! Though I do pick my dirty clothes off the floor before they put down roots and grow there!”

Peter Jenson was tidy at home. He had a place for most things, and most things were in their place, but it was sometimes possible that the odd sock got forgotten or a pair of brightly-coloured boxers kicked under the bed. “We can’t all be perfect,” he said mildly.

They arrived at Swanspottle and the twins’ home soon after that, and Peter pulled the police car to a standstill three doors away.

“Come on,” he urged the constable, “just back here.”

The door was opened by Amelia, still in a thin and no-doubt sexy dressing-gown. But then, thought Peter, she’d probably look sexy in anything. There was something about her, the light in her eyes, the way they lingered over him, that made him want to emit a series of phrases that would be more at home in a public bar when he’d spotted a potential conquest and set about doing the conquering. He bit them back and introduced the police-woman.

“I’m sorry to disturb you again, but we’ve a few more questions,” he said, “is your brother here as well?”

She shook her head, sadly, he thought. “No; he’s on the market,” she said quietly. “Come in.”

“We’ll catch him there later, then,” he assured her, and when they were sitting down without the usual but on this occasion not-offered cup of tea, he smiled brightly.

“What was it you wanted to know?” asked Amelia, “I’ve got college in about an hour.”

“Then I’d better be brief,” he told her. “There are a few gaps in our information. For instance, you and your brother visited your parents on the evening when he was murdered?”

She nodded. “Yes. We do every so often,” she said, “they never come to visit us, though. It’s mother…”

He nodded. “I’ve met her,” he said, as if that was explanation enough, and it was.

“And you left around ten o’clock?”

She nodded. “I went to the car and climbed in – I was doing the driving because Denis’d had a couple of drinks with daddy, and while I waited I thought what a lovely night it was.”

“You waited long?”

“As usual. A few minutes. Denis is a fine one for last words…”

“That seems to fit the bill,” Peter assured her, “it’s always good when everyone agrees with the timing. Now tell us something about your dad, please.”

Elena Davies coughed at that point, interrupting the conversation.

“I hate to be a nuisance, but can I use your loo?” she asked. “It’s been a long time since I had my breakfast cup of tea…”

“Up the stairs and across the tiny landing,” said Amelia.

“About your dad,” said Peter, returning to his questions, “we don’t really know much about him, just that his marriage was a bit rocky.”

“You can’t say that!” she flared up, “mummy and daddy were good together.”

“Good, but from what other have said, not so much together,” replied Peter.

“It’s true that mummy had some … old fashioned … ideas,” sighed Amelia, “to put it bluntly, she didn’t like sex. It wasn’t daddy she didn’t want but his you-know-what. But he didn’t mind.”

“He didn’t? That’s good, then. Does that mean he had a girl-friend, a woman to help him when it came to his more basic instincts?” asked Peter.

She knew what he meant, but her only reply was to blush a deep red and hang her head.

So he did have a girlfriend, and I know who it was, thought Peter Jenson, and he was suddenly very uncomfortable with the thought.

“I think it would be best if we continued this conversation down the station,” he said quietly, “get dressed, please. I think what you’ve got to tell us is too important to be said without witnesses. After all, it might lead us to know why your father was killed, and we all want to know the answer to that, don’t we?”

Amelia was still blushing, head held low, when Elena returned.

“Constable, will you help Miss Buttery find something to wear? She’s going to finish the interview at the station in the presence of recording equipment.”

Amelia’s eyes flashed up, and the blush grew deeper.

TO BE CONTINUED…

© Peter Rogerson 06.03.17

ROSIE BAUR D.I. Chapter 12

7 Apr

12 FARMER CROFT

What in the name of goodness is he doing here, thought Detective Inspector Rosie Baur as the farmer, smiling broadly, half-ran towards her and her constable. Then it struck her with a lightning-type bolt. So this is why the farmer’s name rang a bell! She could remember, quite clearly now that she put her mind to it, how he had lingered talking to her while she was sun-bathing on the same dress-optional site that she’d had to leave only two days earlier, in order to solve a murder that was proving to be obstinate.

He never went around in public in the altogether so far as she could remember, though, which was probably a blessing, she thought, when she considered his large paunch and remembered the spindly legs that supported it.

“Farmer Croft! Bernard!” she greeted him with the falsest smile she’d worn that day so far, if not that week. “I’m here in my official capacity,” she added. Did he know that I was in the force? Have I told him that I’m a detective inspector?

He answered her unspoken question with, “Well, I’m blowed, so you’re a copper are you?” as she held her warrant card for his inspection.

“Detective Inspector, and this is Constable Thrives,” she said, smiling faintly.

“Well dust me down with a feather!” he exclaimed, “who would have thought that the loveliest woman on the circuit was anything more than a bathing belle?”

“Now then, Bernard, that’s enough of your cheek! I’m on a murder case, if you hadn’t guessed, and popped in to see if you’d noticed anything.”

“You mean old Buttery across the road? A bad do, that, a really bad do, but maybe in a roundabout way it was a something waiting to happen.”

“Really?” She perked up when he said that. So far she’d heard nothing about Philip Buttery that was anything but positive. Now he was a murder waiting to be committed, was he?

“It more that wife of his,” said Bernard Croft. “Are you coming in for a cuppa and I’ll explain.”

“That’d be nice,” grinned Rosie. “Earl Grey, I seem to remember?”

“That’s still my poison, lass,” he replied as he led them into the kitchen of what had once been a family farmhouse, but since his wife had left him for a butcher he’d been on his own and seemed happy enough that way.

“There’s two ways for a marriage to end,” he said when he’d poured teas and seen to a yapping scruffy mongrel dog that also seemed to enjoy Earl Grey tea.

“Now don’t slurp it all at once, Rusty,” he advised the dog.

“Two ways? There are?” asked Martin, interested. It was from such conversations that this might turn out to be that he had amassed a great deal of wisdom when it came to people and the lives they lived.

“That there are, laddie,” grinned the farmer. “There’s those that end amicably and those that don’t. Take my little excursion into matrimony for instance. I got wed and after ten, twelve years it was clear we were both fed up with each other, barely had the time to say good morning or good night to reach other. Then the Butcher from Goosesomer came along and spoke all nice and proper to my Julie and before I could say thanks ever so she was off with him. That’s a sensible way to end something that was a mistake in the first place. She’s even got nippers now. I see her ever so often and give her the odd tenner for her kids, for old times’ sake. Not that she needs it. They’re doing well enough.”

“You said two ways?” coaxed Martin.

“Then there’s the Buttery way. Him across the road, librarian and a nicer bloke you wouldn’t hope to find. Knows his stuff, he does, and is happy to spend the time of day with a customer like me when he’s at work. Oer I should say was now that he’s dead. But his marriage ended around the time mine did, in fact if not in appearances. There were kids, of course, two of them and right little devils they were. I’ve never seen a lass look more like her mother than that girl did, and still does. You might look at them together and wonder if the twin was the mother or the other way round, if you see what I mean. The lad’s a bit thick, beg your pardon but it’s God’s truth. He’s Denis by name, Denis Buttery, and he runs a market stall selling crap and out of date rubbish. And he dotes on that sister of his! She can do no wrong in his eyes. She’s Amelia and training to do hairdressing, or so her dad, bless him, told me. They’ve even moved into a nice little place together down Swanspottle way, and best of luck to them, I say. But that leaves old Buttery alone with a fiendish dragon who can’t bear the sight of him and won’t let him anywhere near her, not even on Valentine’s day!”

“I see,” murmured Martin, deciding to mull the man’s theory over when he had time, at home later.

“Did you see them around the day Mr Buttery was killed?” asked Rosie.

“I’ve got a bit of a drive with a bend in it, so I don’t see the road from the house,” pointed out Bernard, “but I let the young scallywag park up at the end of the drive, where it’s wide enough to let an army of tanks through, and he were there that evening because I could see his lights when he pulled up and again when he left. He’s got those lights that are always on while the key’s turned on and they’re bright white and draw attention to themselves. He came, what, about eightish and left soon after ten. That’s it: ten. I could swear to it!”

“That agrees with what we’ve been told by them,” said Rosie.

“They do come visiting every so often, like good kids should,” added Bernard. “The thing is, and don’t quote me on this ‘cause I could be totally mistaken, I was in bed at the time and my eyes were shut, but I could swear I heard his car again, after dark had fallen. But this time I heard rather than saw his car. It makes a funny little squeaky popping sound when it’s ticking over, and it did then. Or I dreamed it. There’s always that possibility, me dreaming stuff. Times many I can’t tell what real and what’s a dream. Rusty didn’t bark, but then he wouldn’t if he knew who it was, would he?”

“That’s really interesting,” said Rosie.

“If it was him I don’t know how long he stayed,” added the farmer, “because I didn’t stir until next morning, and if he was ever there he was gone by then.”

“We’ll bear all you’ve said in mind,” smiled Rosie, standing up, “if you’ve got nothing else to tell us, that is.”

“I could give you a potted history of the agrarian revolution of the eighteenth century and what it meant for the ordinary Joe and his ankle-biters, but nothing to do with poor old Buttery.”

“You said it was a murder waiting to happen, sir,” said Martin.

“I did, didn’t I? And it was,” sighed the farmer.

“Well? How?” asked Martin.

“It’s like this. Old Buttery was a man. He had a man’s dreams and a man’s desires and he was prone to looking at the sort of things he dreamed of, like the fair sex. I used to reckon he might have dallied, chatting and grinning and, who knows, maybe even touching, once too often for his own good, and maybe that’s what he did. I remember how he was when he was younger, the way he was with Miriam, his misses, before his kids came along. Touchy-feely, he was, very touchy feely.”

“I see,” murmured Rosie, “I will certainly bear everything you’ve told us in mind, and thanks again. I see you’ve got your van hitched up. Where are you off to?”

Bernard laughed. “Remember that site we first met?” he asked, “the one where clothes aren’t essential and you were… you know? Well, I’ll be going there. In a day or two.”

“I was there when this Buttery thing blew up,” sighed Rosie, “and the sun was hot. But I had to come back. The twins were upset.”

She grinned her goodbyes, and they left the farmer in his doorway.

“What was that about seeing you in clothes, ma’am?” asked Martin, with assumed innocence.

The D.I’s little eccentricities were well know at the station, and she knew she didn’t have to answer.

“Just mull over marriages,” she advised her Constable. “And when you do bear this in mind. There’s a third way for marriages to end, the way mine did, and it’s heartbreakingly short of being funny.”

TO BE CONTINUED…

© Peter Rogerson 05.03.17

ROSIE BAUR, D.I. Chapter 11

3 Apr

11. A CARAVAN

“Right, gather all,” called Rosie Baur as she stood by the white board on which the few things that were known about the murder of Philip Buttery were pinned or drawn, with not so many lines of various colours connecting them.

“We should have more than this by now,” she said, “so let’s see where we are.”

“It’s such a limited dramatis personae,” pointed out Peter Jenson. “Are we right ruling out strangers?”

“There doesn’t seem to be any evidence for even a stray cat,” sighed Rosie. “But you’re right. We must keep our minds open.”

“That’s what I meant,” agreed Peter.

“Let’s look at what we have got,” insisted Rosie. “First, the body. Philip Buttery went, as was his wont on this day every week, to put the wheelie bin out for collection on the following day and wasn’t seen again until his body was found next morning. His wife sleeps on her own, and was, she says, already in bed by the time her twins left. She went out to the bins for some reason or other and found him there around eight in the morning. His eyes had been mutilated by what the doc. thinks was a spoon-like object and he’d been bashed on his head, one single blow that sent him into the next world. Do we have any more on that auspicious opening?”

“Doctor Dingle reckons the eyes were damaged before he died, possibly as long as an hour,” said Peter, “and he can’t be sure but he reckons there were two blows on almost exactly the same spot, the first rendering him insensible but not dead and the second taking him off. There are traces of what he thinks might be a strip of medical plaster, so it’s possible his mouth was taped up, and then untaped when he was finally sent to the hereafter. It’s a conundrum, and no mistake.”

“Nobody mentioned the possibility of the killer returning,” said Rosie. “Why wasn’t I kept in the loop seeing as I’m in charge?”

“It’s only guesswork, ma’am, and you were out when he mentioned it,” replied Peter. “He says there are anomalies that might be understood if there was a subsequent blow about an hour after the first.”

“Still with a metal bar?” asked Rosie.

“Yes, and possibly the same one,” nodded Peter, “there’s only one kind of rust from one kind of iron in the traces on the wound.”

“So that suggests that the killer might be local,” mused Rosie, “and there are only three or four suspects, the neighbours. What do we know about the farmer?”

“His place is on the maps as 2 Binyard Close, though it’s approached by a drive rather than the property being built against the road. Bernard Croft of Croft’s Farm, he’s got a bit of a record. He was up before the magistrates after an incident involving an egg and a politician, and bound over, but that was all of twenty years ago and he’s kept himself to himself since then. Apparently he does a lot of reading … and uses the library on a regular basis.”

“I doubt there’s any significance in egg-throwing at politicians. Most of them earn the odd double-yolker if you ask me!” smiled Rosie. “Well, I’ll go and pay him a visit this morning and see if he knows more than he’s already said to the uniforms who first saw him. You come along with me, Constable, and Peter, you pop back and see those twins again. They trouble me. There’s something not quite right there, and I want to know what it is.”

“Yes, ma’am,” said Peter Jenson. “They’re a spooky pair, and mistake.”

“There’s not much else,” sighed Rosie. “The few neighbours seem as innocent as the day is long, Martin says the women at the charity shop look on the wife as a bit of a prim and proper tartar with a dislike of normal inter-gender relations. The McCarthy woman reckons he raped her when she was still in her teens, but spoilt the story by saying that she went back for more of the same, even moving house to be near him, but got turned down, and anyway she’s hardly ever sober at bed-time and her husband, Winston wouldn’t say boo to a goose. Their teenage lad’s not in the frame, and neither, I suspect, is Andrew Witton, who usually has his head in a book and calls the deceased his friend with what seems like genuine affection. But amongst them, in the frame or not, is our killer.”

“What about patricide, Ma’am?” asked Peter.

“The twins? They need looking at but … no, I can’t see any kind of motive there. They even called to see their parents the day of the murder and left when he put the bin out, before he was killed. And there doesn’t seem to be any friction there.”

“We’ve only got their word for it, that he was alive when they left him,” murmured Martin darkly.

“Constable! I’ll bet you even suspect your dear old granny when the cat catches a mouse!” grinned Rosie. “Now about it, folks, and let’s get a handle on this murder before there’s another!”

She and the constable made their way to her car whilst the rest of the team went about their business.

“Have you met farmer Croft?” asked Rosie when they were under way.

Martin shook his head. “It was one of the Uniform plods who interviewed him,” he replied, “and there didn’t seem anything interesting to report. From what I hear he’s an okay sort of guy, especially if he thinks politicians need the odd egg to spur them on!”

“Slinging eggs is still an assault,” Rosie told him.

“There are some politicians who deserve more than eggs,” said Martin, “but yes, I know you’re right.”

“His name rings a bell,” mused Rosie, “I wonder where I’ve heard it before?”

“There’s only that old egg business on record, ma’am. I’ve checked the records, and double checked with County. He’s been cleaner than your average whistle since then. He writes articles on farming and the intrusions of politics into farming, for an on-line magazine that’s mostly read in France and elsewhere on the continent. I’ve looked at it. His pages are in English, but it’s mostly in French and there’s very little you’d call controversial about it.”

“Well, we’ll see.”

Binyard Close wasn’t far, and they were soon there. As ever, the area had about it a calm and homely feel to it, as if murder was the last thing on anyone’s mind.

Rosie steered her car onto the drive leading up to Croft Farm. It was a fairly wide track that presented her with a bump every time she met one of the pot-holes that had been over-filled with rubble, but eventually she reached the house, and parked in front of the door, next to an elderly caravan that was hitched to a Landrover as if it was about to sally forth into the wilds.

She climbed out, and saw the farmer and remembered how it came that his name was familiar to her. Her heart dropped a foot or two as he approached her, smiling.

“Why, hi there, Rosie! And it makes a change to see you with your clothes on!” he said, smiling broadly.

TO BE CONTINUED…

© Peter Rogerson 04.03.17