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

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