2. THE SCHOOL UNIFORM

2. THE SCHOOL UNIFORM

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson
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THE BODY IN THE STREAM -2

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Rosie stood for a few moments and looked curiously at the children who, she was told, had found the body. It must, she thought, be a traumatic thing for what looked like twelve year olds to experience death like this. She knew her own stomach still jarred at the sight of sudden death, and she was used to it, or more used to it than kids on their way to school could possibly be. Because that’s what she assumed they were: kids on their way to school in what looked like new blazers, maroon with silver braiding, and smart grey trousers for the boy and a grey pleated skirt for the girl, and breast pocket badges that shone like silver.

Decent enough looking kids,” she remarked to the uniformed sergeant.

Funny, though,” replied the sergeant who, from his demeanour she thought must be edging towards retirement.

Funny?” she queried, “how?”.

Aye. Not a deal to say for themselves,” he replied, “and don’t seem to want to say owt even though tripping over a dead body can’t be an every day experience for them and the sort they might want to talk about to someone.”

Maybe it’s the shock?” she suggested.

Mayhap,” he nodded.

I’ll see if I can get them to open up at all,” she said determinedly, “come on, Constable!”

The twins, and that looked to be what they most likely were, though being one of each sex meant they weren’t strictly speaking identical, looked stolidly mute where they stood. And there was clearly a close physical resemblance that must have been familial. The boy was possibly an inch taller than the girl, and they were holding hands as if they still wanted to be seen as one.

It’s not the start of a school term or anything, but I’d say those uniforms were brand spanking new,” she whispered to Bob Short. “I’ve got twins at home and they only get kitted out once a year. It’s a bloody expensive business, I can tell you!”

My folks always used to complain every summer before the new school year, and there was only the one of me,” grunted Bob.

Come on, let’s see what they’ve got to say,” murmured Rosie, and she plastered her best and most child-friendly smile onto her face.

Can’t have been easy for you,” she began when she reached them, “walking down here and tripping over that poor woman over there.”

The twins stood mutely, looking at her as if wondering whether they should reply or not and choosing most decidedly not to.

I’ve not been told your names,” continued Rosie, “you’d have thought the sergeant back there would have told us that much!”

The two children remained silent, looking at her. She began to get the uncomfortable feeling that there was something wrong with the two pairs of eyes that seemed to be trying to bore through her face and into her skull.

So what are you called?” she asked, slipping a touch of authority into her still friendly tones, hoping it might be enough.

The boy looked at the girl, and she looked back at him. Their expressions were devoid of anything that Rosie could read and interpret. There wasn’t the least suggestion of a smile or even trace of emotion, either happy or sad. They were two virtually identical children gazing at each other with identical expressions on near-identical faces, and holding hands.

I’ve got twins at home,” she continued, needing to establish a link that might cause this pair of mute youngsters to accept her as someone they might talk to. “I called them Jack and Jill so as to be able to remember which was the girl and which was the boy, because twin babies sort of look the same until they start toddling.”

The two children turned their heads back so that they seemed to be trying to out-stare her, but remained silent.

I need to know your names,” she said, “I know it’s a bit of a bore, but they’ve got to go into my report.” She shook her head as if sadly, “it’s bad enough being confronted with that dead lady, and she looked as if she might have been quite pretty, but then there comes the paper work, and I’m not so fond of that. Some of it seems so unnecessary, but it’s got to be done by law, and two of the things I’ll have to put in it are the names of the unfortunate youngsters who found the body. And anyway, if I’m going to have to talk to you, and I’m sorry but I am, it would be nice if I could use your names. I’m Rosie. Detective Inspector Rosie Baur, but you can forget the Detective Inspector part if it unnerves you and just call me plain Rosie.”

It had been a long speech and deserved some kind of reply and it frustrated her when she got nothing back.

I know,” she said after an awkward silence, “maybe you’re not English and don’t understand the language. Let me see,” and she pointed at herself, at where she assumed her heart might be if her skin and bones were peeled back. “Rosie,” she said, “I’m Rosie.”

The two sets of eyes gazed back at her and she found herself thinking they’ve got nice eyes, these kids, not troubled, not frightened, just pleasant and clear young eyes..

Let me try, ma’am,” put in Constable Short, “see here, you two, the sooner we get this out of the way the sooner you can get to your mates and have a game of footie in the playground. So what shall we call you and when did you find that body, and do you know who it is?”

But he was faced with the same silent response. Rosie had never met this kind of thing before. She knew that frightened kids can sometimes withdraw into themselves, but these two children hadn’t exactly shown any signs of the kind of fear that might shut them up like this. There was no anxiety in their eyes, no sense of rebellion, just two silent children not responding to either her or her constable.

I don’t get this,” she muttered, “I’ve never met a pair like this before.”

She turned back to the silent children. “Wait there,” she said to them curtly, and turned towards the uniformed sergeant.

I’ll have a word with him,” she said to Bob Short, “wait here with the silent ones.”

The sergeant looked at her as if he’d expected her to return to consult him when she returned to him. “Well, ma’am?” he asked.

They’re schtum,” she confessed, “I’ve never met any kids like it before. Nice clean kids, smart uniform, must be on their way to school good and early, but not a word from either of them. It’s as if they were from another world.”

Aye,” he said, thoughtfully, “it’s got me, it has. Kids are noisy brats usually but that pair...”

We’ve assumed they’re twins, but does anyone actually know if they are?” she asked.

He shook his head. “They’ve got to be if looks are anything to go by,” he said slowly, “I’ve seen actual twins that don’t look that similar.”

I’ve got a pair of those at home,” she said, “I must admit I’m stumped.”

Take ‘em to the station and let them look at the inside of a cell for an hour or two,” he suggested, “that might focus their minds.”

You know we can’t do that, sergeant,” she said, “though I would if I could,” she added, smiling at him.

There’s summat else, ma’am,” he said, “summat as you might consider worth thinking about.”

Yes?” she asked.

When I was a lad at school all them years ago and for my first year at secondary school I wore that uniform,” he said, “that exact uniform with the same silvery breast pocket badge and all. I was proud to wear it, though my folks cursed when they had to buy it! Everyone knew as Swanspottle Secondary Modern kids were decent and well educated even if they had failed the eleven plus.”

And?” she encouraged him.

You see, ma’am I only had that uniform for one year ‘cause in 1987 Swanspottle Secondary Modern school closed down for good, was amalgamated into Brumpton Comp, and even the buildings pulled down so that the council estate on the Brumpton Road could be built. And what’s more, the uniform I wore for school after that was very different. An ugly green blazer and green trousers. I ask you: green trousers! What kid would want to wear green trousers?”

So you’re saying,” said Rosie slowly, “that the two kids over there who found our body can’t be on their way to school like we suppose? Because there’s no school where the children are kitted out like that?”

That’s about the case, ma’am.”

Well, well, well. That gives me something to think about. That, and you in blue trousers, sergeant!”

© Peter Rogerson, 24.03.20



© 2020 Peter Rogerson


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Okay, you have me intrigued. I look forward to chapter 3.


Posted 2 Months Ago


Peter Rogerson

2 Months Ago

Thanks a lot. I hope that I don't disappoint.

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Added on March 24, 2020
Last Updated on March 24, 2020
Tags: sergeant, school uniform, silent, dumb


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