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ROSIE BAUR, D.I. Chapter 9

29 Mar

9. THE HANGOVER

“Peter, you and I will go and take a look at the other neighbours, those at number five,” said D.I. Rosie Baur when the morning’s assessment meeting was over.

“I saw them the morning the body was discovered,” volunteered D.C. Martin Thrives. “There are three of them there. They didn’t see anything or hear anything or suspect anything. And they maintain they certainly didn’t do anything!”

“We’ll go anyway,” replied Rosie, “three brains might be lucky and catch something that one brain misses.”

“Yes ma’am,” murmured Martin. “What do you want me to do?”

“Take a look at that Charity shop she manages,” Rosie told him, “pay particular attention to the staff and the way they talk about Mrs Buttery. I’ve got a few reservations in my head about that good lady!”

The Superintendent put his head through the doorway. “You mustn’t get blind racism mixed up with the will to murder husbands,” he said. “The woman’s got some unpleasant views and it got to be a shock to her system when she discovered that the officer she was complaining to was even blacker than the woman she wanted to complain about!”

“I’d like to have been a fly on your wall that day, sir,” grinned Rosie. “And of course I won’t mix the two things up. I can take blind racism for what it is, the shallow workings of a feeble mind. She even takes the Daily Mail, I noticed!”

“Carry on, then,” rumbled Superintendent Flibbert. “Don’t let me keep you.”

“What was that about the Daily Mail?” asked Peter Jenson when they were in her car and on the way to Binyard Close. “That’s the paper I take when I take one, which is about once in a blue moon.”

“As long as you don’t believe half of what it says,” said Rosie, “Now for number five Binyard. “Winston and Jodie McCarthy with their son Brendon or Brandon, something like that…”

“Brandon,” confirmed the Sergeant, consulting his list.

“He’s a teenager, seventeenish, and as harmless as a flea on an elephant,” murmured his Inspector.

“How harmless is that?” asked Peter.

“A mild irritant and no more, like most teenagers, and like most teenagers he’s never been in any kind of trouble though he probably gets up the noses of his parents from time to time. But Martin found out something about Jodie, that’s Mrs McCarthy to me and you when we get there. It seems that unlike the objectionable Buttery woman she did have a fling with the deceased some years ago, when she was her son’s age. The good constable Thrives seems good at digging out this kind of information and as long as he gets it right he should go far!”

“Is there any significance in a teenage fling, ma’am” asked the sergeant.

She shook her head. “I very much doubt it, but it might be best to keep it in mind … just in case. He’s quite a bit older than her, around fifteen years or so, so it says more about him than her.”

“Many an older man has an eye for pretty young totty,” suggested Peter.

“Well, here we are, let’s go and take a peek at her and see what’s what,” she said, pulling up outside the McCarthy house.

Number five was an exact replica of numbers one and three. The small front garden was neatly tended and the front door smelt as if it had been recently painted. That door was opened almost immediately by a teenage boy with hair dyed with a green streak in it and wearing jeans that had less denim in the knee region than seemed either tidy, sensible or even practical.

“I saw you coming,” he said quietly, his voice cultured, his attitude polite despite his streetwise appearance.

“Mr McCarthy?” asked Rosie, flashing her warrant card as ID.

“We were expecting you,” said Brandon McCarthy. “You can’t have a murder next door without the cops wanting alibis from one and all!!”

“Do you need an alibi?” asked Peter.

The boy shook his head. “Nah,” he said, “at least I hope not. I was in bed watching my telly.”

“What was on?” asked Rosie.

The boy hesitated, then: “it was a porn channel,” he said, “but don’t tell my parents, will you? I’m old enough to join the armed forces and die for my country but not old enough to enjoy watching the antics of angels in the altogether!”

“We’ll keep schtum,” assured Rosie, “what you choose to watch on the television is no concern of ours. Now are your parents both in?”

He shook his head. “Mum is, in the kitchen nursing a hangover, but dad’s at work.”

Mum was a red-headed woman in her forties and she was sitting at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee in front of her and a troubled look on her face, which would have been pretty had she chosen to smile. That fiery red hair could do with a brush through it, thought Rosie.

“Cops, mum,” said her son. “They’ve come to quiz you about murders!”

“Er … yes,” she stuttered, “you’d better sit down,” she added, “I’m sorry, but I had quite a night yesterday and I’m suffering for it this morning.”

“Like you do most mornings,” said her son, dislike suddenly etched on his face. “She drinks,” he added. “Too much,” he concluded.

“We wondered if you noticed anything amiss two nights ago when the man next door was murdered,” asked Rosie, “around eleven, we think, though it may have been a bit later.”

“I was out of it by then,” muttered Jodie McCarthy, “like I am quite often these days. There’s not much else to live for round here. There’s just got to be something that makes life worth while.”

“Handsome sons aren’t enough,” muttered Brandon, “I’m off to watch the box in my room,” he added. “Some antiques programme,” he added when he saw the expression on Sergeant Jenson’s face. “I like antiques.”

“Any particular period?” asked Peter.

“Georgian furniture. They were classy back then,” replied the boy, his eyes showing more enthusiasm for old tables and chairs than they had for porn.

“I’m with you there, lad,” said Peter.

“What do you mean, you were out of it by then?” asked Rosie of the hung-over Jodie McCarthy.

“Look, I like a drink and it’s not illegal,” almost snarled the red-head. “And as for killing the silly old fool next door, I’d have done it years ago, when he raped me, and not left it until now!”

“He raped you?”

“I was only, what, nineteen or so. It was more than twenty years ago and a time I’d prefer to forget. I never reported it because I knew what you cops would have said, that I asked for it bearing in mind what I was wearing when I met him. I liked short dresses and looked good in them, and sometimes forgot to put on underwear. I still do like short things, though Winston doesn’t approve so I don’t wear them any more.”

“Were you neighbours back when..?” asked Rosie.

“No. I worked at the library after I left school, and then I met Winston. I felt safe with him because he’s almost ten years older than me, but it didn’t take long for me to discover he’s a boring old sod with a minuscule sex drive. Then I found out where … my rapist … lived and got Winston to want to live here, next door to him. He’s easy to manipulate, is Winston.”

“Are you trying to say you wanted to be raped again?” asked an incredulous Rosie.

“I dunno. I just wanted something, I suppose. I was pregnant with Brandon so he couldn’t have made me pregnant again … but it never happened … don’t ever shit on your doorstep, he said when I made my hopes obvious, and he never did.”

“Did Mr McCarthy find out?” asked Sergeant Jenson.

She shook her head. “He couldn’t have,” she said, “neither of us would have dropped the teeniest hint. And anyway, he stuck to his word and never did anything dirty on his own doorstep, not once.”

“If he had found out it would have been a motive for murder,” murmured Rosie.

“Winston murdering people? Now you have proved you’ve not met him. Winston won’t even swat a fly!” laughed the red-head. “Now if you’ve got no more questions I need to lie down for an hour.”

“It’s only mid-morning,” whispered Peter to Rosie as they made their way back to her car.

“She’s in a bad way if she gets wasted like this,” said Rosie, “and detective sergeants who visit superior officers and their bottles of red at the dead of night might take note of the downward trail and where it can lead.”

“Especially if those superior officers have a penchant for personal nudity whilst having a body most men would die for,” sighed Peter. “And, ma’am, that’s exactly what you’ve got!”

TO BE CONTINUED…

© Peter Rogerson 02.03.17

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