ROSIE BAUR, D.I. Chapter 22

17 May

22. THE KILLING

“So we’re getting somewhere now, are we?” said D.S. Peter Jenson leaning forwards and looking Joey Boneham straight into his eyes.

“What ya mean?” demanded Joey, suddenly assuming arrogance now that he wasn’t being spoken to by a dusky female police inspector but someone he felt more equal to, the sergeant being both white and male.

“You said something about his eyes?” suggested Peter, “about them being, as you put it, put out?

“Well, they were, weren’t they?” It was as if Joey had seen a chink of light in a darkened room and was reaching for it yet uncertain what it might be.

“Maybe they were and maybe they weren’t. I’ve not said anything about those eyes, and neither has the Inspector. The big question is, how would you know anything about them?”

Joey looked furtively around him, at the Inspector and then back at the sergeant.

“I read it in the local rag, of course,” he said, “like any bloke would.”

“Really? On the astrologer’s page, perhaps? Because the last issue of the Brumpton Gazette was on sale the day before Mr Buttery was murdered….”

“Must have been the radio, then. Yes, that’s it, on the radio.”

“But no information regarding Mr Buttery and his eyes was released to any branch of the press, and that includes Radio Brumpton,” said Peter Jenson evenly, “in fact, the only two people who knew anything about the state or otherwise of Mr Buttery’s eyes were his wife and the man who killed him!”

“You won’t get evidence!” snapped Joey, not aware of his own singular lack of intelligence. “There’s nothing to say as I killed him, nothing at all, and you’re fishing, like they say! And I want a solicitor and I want one now! I watch murders on the telly, and I know my rights and all about cops who go fishing for evidence against the innocent!”

“Oh dear,” sighed Rosie, breaking in. “That’s about proved it then.”

“What do you mean?” demanded Joey.

“When a suspect asks for his solicitor it means he’s as guilty as guilty can be,” explained Rosie, “or why should he think he needed a solicitor to help him twist the truth into lies? But you can have one.” She looked at her watch, “interview suspended at thirteen-fifty-five.” she added, and switched the recorder off.

“Do you think we’ve got enough, sergeant?” she asked as they left the room and deliberately paused in the open doorway on her way out.

“More than enough,” agreed Peter, and they closed the door behind them.

“Well, he’s our man or knows who is,” said Peter when they were out of earshot of the farm labourer behind the interview room’s closed door.

“There’s not actual evidence bar his own determination to prove himself guilty,” sighed Rosie, “let’s get him that duty solicitor … he’s probably still on the premises … and get back to him while he’s trying to work out what he did or didn’t do or see.”

“I reckon he’s the killer,” said Peter. “It’s a classic, trying to seem clever but using information that only the killer would have.”

“Or a passer-by,” sighed Rosie, “don’t forget what Eggy said, about lying in bed and hearing the distinctive engine of the Buttery twins’ car.”

He paid for two coffees from the automatic machine (it needed a good kick as usual), and they retired to Rosie’s desk.

“You still think that they…?” asked Peter. “I’d ruled them out. Mr Croft said he might have imagined that car engine, you know, dreamed it.”

“He’s a canny old bird, is Farmer Croft, and I’ve a lot of respect for him,” murmured Rosie. “He likes his caravan holidays, you know, and that says something, surely?”

“Says what?” asked Peter, amused because he knew that Rosie looked on everyone who shared her main hobby of a life on the road with her twins as members of a sacred club, and not one member was capable of anything but goodness and shining with irreproachable light.

“That I’ve seen him out and about with that caravan of his, and I’m capable of making pretty accurate judgements when it comes to people,” she replied. “He’s not perfect, but he’s no killer.”

“You caravanners,” sighed the sergeant.

“The thing about Boneham, I reckon he knows a lot more than he’s said, but he didn’t tie Buttery up. He didn’t stick elastoplast on his mouth and he didn’t do his eyes in. Yet he saw the scene, and it strikes me that he might know more than he knows that he knows, if you get my drift.

Peter nodded.

The duty solicitor was still on the premises, and he was introduced to Joey and given a few minutes to be consulted by him, and then the police interview was continued with Rosie holding Joey Boneham’s eyes with her own.

“So how did you find out about Mr Buttery’s mutilated eyes?” she asked, pleasantly. “We’ve established that the only person to know about them was yourself because you mentioned them and the actual killer, if that wasn’t you.”

Joey looked towards the solicitor, who nodded at him.

“I did see,” he mumbled, “I saw because I heard. There was this car that drove towards the farm while I was out watering the hedgerows…”

“Pissing, you mean?” asked Peter.

“It was late, nobody was about and I needed one, and if that’s against the law you can forget that I said it,” mumbled Joey.

“I’d have done it myself under those circumstances,” agreed Peter using his best hail fellow well met voice.

“Anyway, it was their kids’ car, you know, the twins car. It was the lad driving, and when he saw me he scarpered.”

“Did he get out? Was his sister with him?” asked Rosie.

“No and no,” muttered Joey. “As I said, he scarpered. An’ he was on his own.”

“And what then?” asked Rosie.

“I heard this noise, sort of strangled, from across the road. It was quiet and muffled, but I heard it all right. So I went to take a peek at what might be making it. It were dark, but the Buttery bloke fixed one of them lights as come on when there’s someone about, and it detected me and blazed out bright as summer. He was there, all right, was Buttery with his mangled eyes and plaster on his gob. He was struggling like mad, he was, so I took the tape off and untied him, like a fellow would, out of kindness. You’ve never seen such a mess as he was in, though! I felt sick as a … sick as a dog at the sight.”

“But he was alive?” asked Rosie.

“Alive and hollering sort of painfully an’ quietly at the same time,” mumbled Joey. “Right next to him was the rusty old hammer as had done all the damage to his head. It was covered in blood and hair. His head was bleeding, like, from a horrible wound.”

“And you left him there?” asked Peter.

“Course I did!”

“And that was it?”

Joey shook his head. “If he was a dog I’d have put him out of his misery, all that pain and with bleeding eyes like he had. I’d certainly do the right thing, if he was a dog.

“So I told myself the right thing was to do the same.

“I picked up that hammer, and I put the swine out of his misery. Right out, dead out, like any Christian soul would. It was the kindest thing for me to do.”

© Peter Rogerson 15.03.17

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