1. THE SHALLOW WATERS

1. THE SHALLOW WATERS

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson
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THE BODY IN THE STREAM -1

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To Detective Inspector Rosie Baur it looked like an ordinary suicide by a lost soul initially, one who couldn’t face much more that life had to offer and, as a consequence, chose death, and that would have been her conclusion had it not been for the shallowness of the water and the pale-faced twins. And that didn’t mean her own twins, Jack and Jill who were quite capable of causing problems enough without the accompaniment of an unnamed corpse, but a different pair.

But to begin at the beginning.

The phone call came in soon after Rosie sat at her desk at Brumpton police station and started wrestling with overtime figures, and it was put through to her as the senior detective already at her desk. She hated the paper work and any diversion was more than welcome.

There’s a body at Swanspottle Bottoms,” she was told. “Looks like suicide.”

I’ll check it out,” she said, only too pleased for an excuse to get away from her desk and the paperwork. So she beckoned Detective Constable Short from his desk in the main office and they made their way out of Brumpton Police Station. Constable Bob Short was newly promoted from Uniform, and she liked him. He was easy going and never too serious about anything. In her experience those with too much of a serious outlook on life can see problems where problems don’t exist and are far too likely to brew up conspiracy theories when such things could easily become a distraction too far.

A woman,” she told him as they set out from Brumpton towards the outlying village of Swanspottle in her car, “probable suicide, but we’d better take a look. What they call Swanspottle Bottoms, an uncultivated bit of land in the loop of a stream near Swanspottle village.”

I know it,” he nodded, “they take their lasses down there, do the lads, when they’re courting.”

Have you done that, Constable?” asked Rosie with a glint in her eyes as she joined the main steam of traffic out of Brumpton, “taken a lass with long luscious hair and a willing smile to the loop in the steam of a dark summer’s evening?”

He shook his head, and grinned. He hadn’t. At least, not a lass. But he did have a good friend and they did like the charms of nature when the sun sloped onto the sparkling stream down Swanspottle way and they sauntered together across the Bottoms.

I used to go there a lot,” she sighed, “when my Thomas was still alive, before that bloody accident that stole him from me. In our younger days we went down there and into the woods, and, my lad, you’d be shocked at some of the things your Inspector got up to when there was nobody else around to see!”

He grinned at her. He’d heard the rumours, that she was still fond of naturism even though her husband had been killed on the road out of Brumpton when he was in his twenties. But she had a touring caravan and she knew quite a lot of quiet spots where naturism was encouraged or sometimes even mandatory. And whispers went round that the D.I. was in possession of one of the more beautiful bodies on open display anywhere on planet Earth. It was, he supposed, the rich mixture of blood that flowed through her veins. Her mother, he had learned via the ever-informative grapevine, had been a nurse from the Caribbean whilst her father had been a Yorkshire (born and bred, he always said) miner. They both still lived, but had moved together to the Caribbean when he retired, early due to pit closures. Anyway, her nudism was a frequent subject for whispered conversations in the “Copper’s Nark”, the police local pub not a spit away from the station, after work.

Do we know anything, ma’am?” he asked, shaking his mind away from the subject of pretty naked Inspectors, especially as he was sitting next to the one in question.

Suicide, it was said in the kind of voice that suggested we might like to take a look,” she replied, “and to be honest I’m in the mood for something a bit more juicy than paperwork.”

There’s hardly enough water in the Swanspottle stream to drown a ferret let alone a grown woman,” he observed.

That crossed my mind as well,” she said, “and it will be a useful addition to my mental miscellany of suicide destinations if that’s what it turns out to be!”

I used to catch tiddlers down there,” he sighed, “and take them to our garden pond in a jam jar and set ‘em free in it, where I reckon they all died soon enough.”

You’d be surprised what I caught down there, Constable,” she said, a wicked gleam in her eyes. “I take the twins down there now and then when I’ve got time. These days it’s a nature lesson because they no longer seem to get enough nature at school. But it’s my opinion that if you show kids how life and the natural world works they’ll be more likely to want to look after it properly.”

You could be right there, ma’am.”

It was two or three miles to the turn off to the area where the body had been discovered, and as she drove Rosie found herself casting her mind back to the years before Thomas had died, before the twins had come along, before they’d even got married. The small area of pasture land known as Swanspottle Bottoms had been one of their haunts and had given birth to very special memories. They’d even made love down there, in the isolation of a place where they had been the only visitors and the evening was balmy, and nature had rapidly taken over from the more rational caution that can be the normal human way.

She was lost in her memories and driving on auto-pilot when the constable found his way into her reverie.

That must be the spot,” he pointed, “what with blue lights and all.”

She nodded and slowly drove down a lane that branched off the main road before it reached the village of Swanspottle. She parked and looked about her. It was a pleasant spring morning and the air was already warm.

Well, how are things?” she asked the uniformed sergeant who was in charge of the proceedings. She could see the pathologist in his white coverall bending over what looked suspiciously like a human form in the shallow edges of the water.

Woman, probably in her forties or fifties, attractive, white, dead,” he replied. “Drowned, I reckon.”

Suicide?” she asked.

Nah,” he said sagely, “there’s no way a lass in her senses could swallow enough from that titchy stream to drown! Nah, I reckon she was done in, all right.”

Things are beginning to look up, she thought as the pile of paperwork on her desk took a back seat in her mind. After all, she was an active woman with a busy personality and sitting still just wasn’t her thing.

Come along, constable,” she said to her assistant, “let’s see what can be seen before everyone and his dog has walked all over the scene.”

Ma’am,” re replied, and they walked carefully towards the pathologist. It was Dr. Greaves, a grisly man with a grisly personality and a grisly outlook on life.

Well doctor?” she asked respectfully because being respectful to Doctor Greaves was the only sure way of getting a meaningful reply.

Ah, Rosie,” he grunted. He almost always used her Christian name unless he was being critical of her, when he called her Inspector in a grisly voice. “We have a white woman, no identification that I’m aware of and deader than any dodo I ever saw. And despite appearances to the contrary she wasn’t drowned unless nature has devised a new way of drowning people. There’s not enough water around to drown a sparrow and I doubt that her face has even been wet! No physical injuries that I can see from a superficial once over, but let’s wait for my post mortem, shall we?”

Any idea of the time of her death?” asked Rosie, knowing that this was all about she’d get Doctor Greaves to commit himself to without a fuller examination.

About an hour, maybe two,” replied the Doctor.

Who found her?” asked Rosie.

The doctor nodded to two children, maybe twelve years of age or thereabouts, standing by a police van and being protected by a uniformed police woman. “It seems they did,” he said, “though they haven’t got a deal to say about the matter. Not a deal at all.”

Then I’d best see what they’ve got to say to me,” replied Rosie. “Twins, I was told. I’m used to twins. I’ve got a couple of my own.”

Best of luck then,” he grunted.

Come on, constable, let’s see if the youngsters can enlighten us,” she murmured, and the two detective officers slowly and without looking at all threatening, moved towards where the two young people were standing, pale and shivering in the morning sunlight.

© Peter Rogerson, 23.03.20




© 2020 Peter Rogerson


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Added on March 23, 2020
Last Updated on March 23, 2020
Tags: Rosie Baum, SWanspottle Bottoms, corpse, woman


Author

Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom



About
I am 76 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..

Writing