ROSIE BAUR, D.I. Chapter 23

23 May

“But,” said Joey Boneham defiantly during a pause during which the officers and his brief absorbed his confession, “he would never have lasted the hour, not him, not considering the sate he was in.”

“But it wasn’t you who tied him up, stuck plaster over his mouth and gouged his eyes out?” queried Rosie Baur.

Joey Boneham shook his head, as close to violently as he dared when being faced by the intense gaze of two police officers and a solicitor.

“I did the Christian thing,” mumbled Joey. “The bloke was blind and probably brain-damaged what with all that blood oozing from a hole in his head. And anyway it was him as walked all over my lovely marriage with my Alice, wasn’t it, and him as wrecked everything!”

“What are you saying? That you killed him out of mercy or you killed him because he’d wooed your wife?” asked D.I Rosie Baur.

“I need time to consult with my client,” put in the solicitor. “This has been an unexpected turn of events,” he added, “and we need time to prepare our explanations.”

“You mean…” began Peter, and he clammed up. He had been going to say that the solicitor needed time to work out the most convincing set of lies with Joey Boneham, but decided that it wasn’t a wise thing to suggest at this stage.

“We’ll leave you for half an hour,” said Rosie, “that should give you plenty of time to massage any explanation you feel like making!” She was braver than Peter Jenson, but then she was his senior officer and knew she would get away with it.

“This is a turn up for the books,” she said to Peter. “We need that ex of his, and we need her soon, to find out what on earth was going on in their marriage and what input Mr Buttery had to its breakdown.”

“I’ll send Martin to fetch her,” nodded Rosie. “It shouldn’t take long it she’s at work in the hospice shop. Then you take her and I’ll carry on with dearest Joey”

“You think it might have been she who blinded him?” asked Peter, doubtfully. “Revenge by the injured wife?”

“Goodness me no,” replied his Inspector, “I think we all know who did that!”

“You might know, but I can’t say it’s all that clear to me,” mumbled Peter as he made his way to find Constable Martin Thrives and give him fresh orders.

“Don’t let on that we’ve got Mr Boneham iun custody,” he said to the younger officer, “just say that there are a few ends to tidy up and we need her here to help do it.”

The constable took the police car allotted to him and drove it to the charity shop run by Mrs Buttery, where Alice Boneham should be working. He felt he was at the sharp end of something or other, but had no clear idea what that might be.

The three women were in the charity shop, the two assistants in evidence and gossiping behind the one and only counter whilst the third, Miriam Buttery, was clearly and audibly somewhere in an inner room running through a vocal warm-up routine by squawking loud enough to waken the dead in seven counties. He knew she was in a choir somewhere in Brumpton and guessed from the row that she must have a choir practice some time soon.

“Someone auditioning for the “X” Factor?” he asked, wincing at a particularly painful and barely reached higher note.

“It’s Miriam,” said Alice, pulling a face, “she does that when there’s singing to be done after work, and she’s got singing today.”

“Mrs Boneham?” asked Martin, showing his badge.

“You were here last time, constable! That’s me,” declared Alice, “and what can I be doing for you, or is it Miriam as you want? I’ll get her if you like. It was her husband as got done in and we both reckon it’s brave of her to have come to work so soon after, when she could have had a bit of compassionate.”

“It’s brave, it is,” echoed Jackie Mansford, clipping a price-tag onto a pair of boxer shorts that looked as if they might well be brand new. Martin winced as he noticed them.

“You’re to come with me, Mrs Boneham. Odds and ends to clear up, that sort of thing,” he said as forcefully as he dared.

“You’ll want Miriam, surely!” protested Alice. “I’ve not done anything as might need questions at any police station!”

“Just odds and ends,” repeated Martin. “You’d best go and tell your boss.”

Alice slithered round the back of the shop into an untidy store-room where untidy piles of unsellable underwear and dirty outerwear and broken toys littered the floor.

“It’s the p’lice, Mrs Buttery,” said Alice, calling through from the doorway, “they want me to clear up a few ends. I’ve got to go,.”

“What’s it to do with you?” asked Miriam, “it’s not that ex of yours, is it, up to trouble again? That’s what it’ll be. He’s been up to no good.”

“I don’t know what it is and the copper ain’t telling me,” replied Alice, looking at Martin Thrives pointedly.

“You shouldn’t be long,” he said, “if you’re ready,”

It was only a matter of minutes before they arrived back at the police station, and Martin showed her into an interview room.

Rosie was back interviewing Joey Boneham and it fell to her sergeant together with Elena Davies, the new detective constable, to ask a few questions of Alice Boneham.

“I don’t know what you’re doing talking to me, ‘cause I don’t know anything about what happened to that horrible Buttery man,” she said before either of them could get a word in.

“You say he was horrible?” asked Elena, feeling it was about time she contributed something to the case.

“Well, he used to sneak up on folks,” sniffed Alice. “He used to say things that could be taken all wrong if you had a mind to take them wrong, and a woman isn’t always in the right mood to be chatted up.”

“So he liked chatting you up? What sort of things did he say?” asked Peter.

“You know. Things. What some might call pervy things, though I’m sure he meant no harm. Not that I ever took any notice, and he never did anything about them, just said them, like in fun but you knew they weren’t all that funny. Like only last week he sneaked up on me and said as my slip was showing, all nice and white and lacy, but I knew it wasn’t because I knew I haven’t worn a slip in more years than I care to think of!”

“Is that why you and Mr Boneham are living separately?” asked Peter, “because of something he said?”

Alice Boneham laughed out loud. “Lord bless you, sonny,” she said irreverently, “it had nothing to do with the charmer Buttery! I left my husband because of his temper! He hit people, he did, and he hit me once too often when he’d been drinkin’! That’s why I left him for good and all, and I’m going to stay left! But it had nothing to do with Miriam’s old man, nothing at all!”


© Peter Rogerson 16.03.17


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