A Chapter by Peter Rogerson



Well, what did you make of that?” asked Rosie as she and her Constable made their way back to her car.

If I’d even been told that the biggest toe-rag of a brother of mine had been found dead I’d be mortified and show it,” replied Constable Short thoughtfully, “let alone someone as close as a twin’s supposed to be his other half. Yet she just slammed the door in our faces and returned to, what did she say, writing?”

Precisely. And I’ve got twins of my own and they do sort of seem to live in each other’s minds some of the time,” she replied, “and yes, she was odd, very odd. I want someone to look in detail into the occupants of Witch Cottage and find out all that’s on record. Schools, for instance. In this day and age kids don’t normally go to a school wearing the uniform of a very different school that was pulled down thirty-odd years ago! Then there’s the limping man, Baker she called him. Mr Baker, and correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t she suggest there might be something in his past? If there is we really ought to look into it. It might prove to be relevant.”

I noticed that, ma’am,” Bob Short said, frowning, “it struck me at the time that she was either trying to suggest she was confident that he was okay or maybe, by mentioning it, make us think the opposite. Or why mention it at all? We didn’t ask her about his past.”

Interesting, and you’re quite right. We’ll take a look at him soon as maybe. But tell me, Constable, why did you mention the likelihood of our drowned woman being her sister when we don’t actually know whether she is?”

Ma’am, they’re two peas in a pod, she at the door with her frowns and don’t ask me, my sister does it all and the attractive but very dead drowned woman who wasn’t frowning at all!”

You thought her attractive?”

Well, yes, pushing aside the fact that she’s dead, I reckon I could see that she was pretty enough.”

Yes. I see that.” Rosie frowned, “I guess it’s time we nipped to see the grim Doctor Greaves in case he’s come to any conclusions about the body. I mean, the water was shallow, but she could just about have drowned in it. It’s not an impossibility, which means we could be looking at a straight forward suicide.”

Or a freak of fate in the form of an accident, ma’am.”

Yes. That too. So we’ll call on the good doctor. He hasn’t had long, but it should have been long enough for him to form some opinions. What are we looking at? An accident, a suicide or a murder?”

I don’t like to think of people getting murdered, but it does give us something to think about,” he murmured.

That’s one way of looking at it, I suppose,” she replied dryly.

They continued to journey back into Brumpton in silence while they both took refuge in their own thoughts. As far as the constable was concerned, this was his first murder enquiry, if that’s what it was, and he couldn’t help hoping that was the case. There were nice juicy murders in the past that he’d only been peripheral to, being in uniform. That this enquiry would have more meat on its bones than the theft of a valuable but to his mind ugly painting, which was his only real case since he had slipped out of his uniform not so long ago, was appealing to say the least even though he didn’t enjoy the idea that someone had to be murdered for him to find satisfaction at work.

Rosie, though, had other things on her mind. Her two children were twins and she knew there was something special about them because of that. She had never been able to put her finger on what it was that gave them a cut of an advantage above normal brother and sister duos, and she assumed that it was the simple fact that since their birth they’d gone through near identical experiences at the same moments of time. That, she thought with the rational part of her mind, could be it and not anything mysterious or magical.

Then her mind slipped to the two children in outdated school uniforms. The clothing was smart, clean, and looked fairly new, yet the school it was associated with closed years before they were born. What was that all about? There might even be an interesting story there. And were they on their way to school? It was, after all, a school day and the sort of hour you’d expect to see children on their way to school. But which school? Wearing the wrong uniform would make them stand out from the crowd and she knew that teenagers, if this pair had actually reached their teens, hated that.

On the outskirts of Brumpton she pulled in at a cafe she knew well and ordered them both a coffee and doughnut for elevenses.

We’ll not hear the end of it if we arrive before him,” she grinned at Bob Short, “he likes to get most of his cutting and poking done before he gives an opinion. Now tell me, Bob, the Swanspottle Bottoms where I did a bit of my courting in the long ago of the world. You were what I would call guarded about it when I mentioned it to you and asked you if you’d taken a lass down there.”

It’s private, ma’am,” he said, blushing. “I don’t, you know, like to make my private life into a public issue.”

Mine’s public because that’s what happens when there’s a gathering in the Copper’s Nark,” she said, “I’ve heard some of the topics debated in that den of police iniquity and quite a few of them are on the subject of what I choose to do in my private life. They find it amusing that when there’s nobody else around I’m a bit of a naturist.”

I heard, ma’am,” he muttered.

And I heard a few snippets about you, Bob,” she said quietly, “and if they’re true it’s all praise to you for being the man that you are.

Talk about me, ma’am? Rumours?” he asked, paling.

Yes, Bob, rumours, and it’s a very foolish person indeed who takes much notice of rumours. I take people as I find them, and I find you to be a very efficient young copper, and his private self doesn’t matter one jot. My late husband, you know, had what you might call a bisexual side to him, which I didn’t find out about until he’d passed away. But it wouldn’t have mattered to me when he was alive if I’d known that he once had a serious relationship with another fella. I loved him then and I love his memory to this day.”

Bob Short was still pale and had the look of one who could see his own world crumbling around him if the conversation took him much closer to home. “I see, ma’am,” he muttered.

So drink up and let’s get to that pathologist and learn some wisdom from him!” smiled Rosie, and when they’d drained their cups she led the way out of the cafe.

They arrived at the pathology lab where Doctor Greaves reigned supreme. It had about it a clean smell tainted by a suggestion of death not so far away, and the doctor looked up when they walked in.

What’s this?” he barked, “you think I’m a genius working at double quick time, for goodness’ sake. I’ve not been back for an hour!”

Then you’ll have sussed everything of importance out, Jake,” smiled the Inspector, “because your efficiency is the talk of the Nark.”

Maybe it is and maybe it isn't, Inspector, and who gave you leave to use Christian names?” he growled.

Just my way of taking it easy with such a sublime and efficient expert as yourself, Doctor,” she replied, “now skip the incidentals and shoot!”

Well, if I must. The lady, and she was a lady bearing in mind the quality of her underwear, was most certainly murdered!”

Rosie sighed. “Poor girl, but I was afraid that would be the case,” she said, “how might it have been done, Doctor?”

Look here,” he said, and pointed to a tiny mark on her neck. “Many might take this for a pimple, but it ain’t,” he said, “it’s the mark of a hypodermic syringe where no hypodermic should ever go, and it was pushed in just here, expertly I’d say, and filled her to overflowing with morphine. Yes, I’ve had time to roughly test it. Morphine or I’m a Dutchman.”

My, you are on top of it,” murmured Rosie, “anything else of note?”

She’d had sex recently too,” he replied, “very recently I’d say, not long before she was done in for. At least, I hope it was before. The alternative doesn’t bear thinking about.”

Excuse me,” gasped the rapidly paling constable, “for a moment,” he spluttered as he ran out.

If I had a copper for every copper I’d see rush out like that I’d have a whole jar of coppers,” grinned Doctor Greaves, “poor fellow,” he added.

© Peter Rogerson, 27.03.20

© 2020 Peter Rogerson

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Added on March 27, 2020
Last Updated on March 27, 2020


Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

I am 77 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..