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

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