Tag Archives: investigation

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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ROSIE BAUR, D.I. Chapter 6

23 Mar

6. A TINY HOUSE
Swanspottle was a small village about ten miles from Brumpton unless you took the winding road, which made it a great deal further. An ancient place, little more than a hamlet even though there was a mention in the Domesday Book, it had been built around a church that had been rebuilt more than once since then and was still in a state of considerable disrepair. And there was a pub run by Thomas the Greek (who wasn’t Greek) and a single row of cottages with an odd seemingly purposeless scattering of old, some even long disused, houses that had apparently been built and dropped randomly in the neighbourhood so long ago that memory has no knowledge of their builders or why they were where they were.

“I wouldn’t recommend that place unless you like your beer diluted with tap water,” said Detective Sergeant Jenson to his Inspector, pointing at the Crown and Anchor as they drove past.

“I’ll bear that in mind,” smiled Inspector Baur. “Look … we’re here!”

They pulled up just past a tiny house, one of a terrace of similar tiny houses.

“Built in Victorian times when it was widely thought that the ordinary Joe didn’t need much in the way of privacy,” said D.S. Jenson. “There used to be a quarry, now a wildlife sanctuary, and these were built to house the workers and their families, poor sods.” he added.

“Let’s go and knock the door, then,” said Rosie Baur, “I’m anxious to see what twins are like when they’ve grown up!”

The door was opened by an attractive young woman in her twenties, and Rosie was struck immediately by the similarity between her and the racist wife of the corpse whose demise she was investigating. The daughter had certainly inherited her mother’s best features and, hoped Rosie, not her worst. She introduced them and their warrant cards, and was invited in.

“I can tell who you are,” she said, “you’re the spitting image of your mother.”

“Everyone says that. It’s about my dad, isn’t it?” said Amelia Buttery, the daughter. “My brother’s about somewhere, I’ll call him.”

“Just a minute,” interrupted Sergeant Peter Jenson, “let’s start with you. When did you last see your parents?”

She looked down at her feet, nervously. “I think it was the evening he was killed,” she said, “a couple of evenings ago, we called in to see them like we do about once a week or so, and he was perfectly okay. In fact, he was too much his usual self.”

“What do you mean, too much?” asked Rosie. “How can a father be too much his usual self?”

“You know, all hearty and quoting books as if book quotes solve every problem.”

“I don’t think I do know,” coaxed the D.I. “Can you elaborate a bit for me?”

“I don’t think I can. It was just a chance thing for me to say, like he wasn’t changed or moody, just himself. It wasn’t as if he was expecting to bump into a homicidal maniac any day soon!”

“You think it was a homicidal maniac rather than someone with a grudge?” asked Jenson.

“Is there a difference?” There was something defiant about the way Amelia addressed the question. “I mean, to kill someone you’ve got to be some kind of maniac, haven’t you?”

The door opened before either officer could continue with their line of questioning and a young man walked in. He, unlike his twin, bore little resemblance to either of his parents. He was tall, probably worked out at a gym as often as he could, and smiled as if he was forcing himself to smile.

“I was expecting Mr Plod before long,” he said, “but I’m glad to see it’s Mrs Plod instead!”

It seems that this family is determined to get under my skin one way or another, thought Rosie, but instead of reflecting her true feelings she smiled, warmly she hoped.

“Detective Inspector Baur,” she said by means of self-introduction, “and you’re right. I am married,” to a wonderful man in the graveyard, she added to herself.

“Well then, Mrs Plod, what do you know about my father’s sad demise?” asked Denis, Amelia’s twin, and nothing like her in any physical way, was giving the impression that he had nothing like her brazen attitude either. Physically, he was larger than his twin in just about every dimension, being taller and generally a great deal heavier, most of the weight looking as if it might be muscle rather than fat.

“The name’s not Plod but Baur, and I’d appreciate being called Detective Inspector rather than Mrs,” she said, sharply. “I don’t need to remind you, but your father’s been murdered, rather savagely, and his body mutilated, and you’ve got to depend on me to sort the wheat from the chaff and put the killer behind bars before he can kill again.”

“You said he,” put in Amelia. “How do you know it’s not a woman?”

“We don’t, not for sure, but killers who think that they’re clever always give too much away,” replied Rosie, her voice laced with ice. “This one mutilated the eyes of your father, tried to make sure that his dead body could see no more, not that that makes much sense to more normal humans like us. And it would be a man that did that. A man who puts so much emphasis on vision when it’s not an issue anyway, the dead being blind as well as dead. At least that’s how it is normally.”

“Where were you when he was killed?” asked the sergeant, not liking the way the interview was going.

“Not far away from him, I suppose,” replied the son. “We’d called on him, and when we left he was just about to put his wheelie bin out for the next day’s collection.”

“He’d been talking to me like he did sometimes,” put in Amelia, “he liked to talk to me. It was his way.”

“His way?” asked Rosie, frowning, “his way of what?”

“Passing the time of day,” said Denis Buttery, his voice turning acidic.

“His way of saying he loved me,” whispered Amelia. “A father should love his kids, don’t you think? A father should always be there for them…?”

“And didn’t he like to pass the time of day with you?” asked Jenson, directly addressing Denis.

“With me? Don’t be daft! I’m a lad, a man, and men don’t do that kind of thing,” protested Denis. “Men wrestle and joke. Men aren’t soft.”

“Dad was,” whispered Amelia.

“This is quite a small house for two adults, isn’t it?” asked Rosie, changing the subject and sounding as conversational as she could.

“It does us,” murmured the woman, a smile flickering across her face. “It does us fine.”

“What is it? Two beds?” asked Rosie. “I noticed a similar property for sale a couple of doors away, and I know a couple…”

“Just the one, so Denis and I share…” said Amelia hesitantly. “We’re twins, you see, so it isn’t so odd…”

“Oh. My friends would need two beds,” frowned Rosie.

“It depends how it was modernised. With ours, one of the two original bedrooms was turned into a bathroom. They may have had the bath put into a ground floor extension, and have kept two bedrooms,” said Amelia. “It might be worth checking.”

“I’ll tell them. So back to your father. You left as he put the wheelie bin out? Can anyone confirm that?”

“Are you accusing us?” almost shouted Denis, his face suddenly masked with something Rosie didn’t like.

“Of course not,” D.S Jenson said, smoothly. “It’s just questions that have to be asked. So can anyone?”

“What? On that quiet little road at the dead of night? I very much doubt it,” snapped Denis.

“Then we’ll be leaving you, for the time being. I’ll keep in touch, just so that you’re kept in the loop,” said Rosie quietly. “Just the one bedroom, you say?”

Back in their car and with the D.S. behind the wheel driving to Brumpton, Rosie glanced at Peter.

“What do you think?” asked Rosie.

“There’s something right dodgy there,” he said. “I don’t think it can have anything to do with the murder, but it’s still dodgy.”

“That’s what I’m thinking too,” nodded the D.I.

TO BE CONTINUED…

© Peter Rogerson 27.02.17