A Chapter by Peter Rogerson



Rosie looked firmly at Beverley Denton once they were back in the police station and sitting in an interview room. Bob Short was sitting with her, facing the stony faced woman. Rosie and Bob announced their identity to the recorder, and then Rosie sat back comfortably, prepared for a long interview if necessary.

Now then, Miss Denton, you’re in quite a lot of trouble,” she began.

Trouble? Me? I’ve done nothing!” snapped her interviewee, and not for the first time Rosie noticed that she had a trace of an accent when she spoke, one that she couldn’t quite place. Other than that her voice was well modulated and sounded educated.

There’s the question of two children,” began Rosie, “they were seen going through the woods towards your cottage this morning, wearing a school uniform that is no longer in use by any school I know of and hasn’t for decades, and by some unexplained coincidence a collection of identical clothes was found in your cottage, in the upstairs room that seems to contain everything a person could want in the way of clothing, from birth to death.”

They’re all right,” snapped Beverley Denton, “they can take care of themselves. They have to, being foreigners in this benighted land.”

Foreigners, you say?” responded Rosie, “how come your child is a foreigner? I believe the child’s father is Mr Baker? At least, he claims that’s the case, and that the two children, because there are two of them, Miss Denton, one being currently mourning the passing of her own mother this morning, are British like he is. And then there’s the question of the human remains found being destroyed, at your orders, by fire. Who did they belong to and how come they weren’t dealt with properly soon after death, which is the law of this land?”

We’re not of this land! We are foreigners, I tell you, refugees from oppression! We may have been here for seventy years, but that doesn’t mean we belong here. We have plans to go back home, and soon too, when things get back to normal...”

Meanwhile, you and your children were born here,” sighed Rosie, “you can have as much love for the land of your fore-fathers as you like, you can worship their gods and bend your knee to their memory, but while you insist on being born here and breeding new generations here, you are subject to our laws.”

Pah!” snapped Miss Denton, “I will say no more. I have said all I need to say. And as for the bones you refer to, they were my grandmother! Prove that if you can, or disprove it, but it is the truth, I swear it. Now when am I going home to the cottage that your men trashed?”

Oh, Miss Denton, you’re not going home for a long time,” said Rosie quietly, “and if I were you I’d get the support of a legal representative. Do you have a solicitor?”

Beverley Denton shook her head but remained mute.

I have enough evidence to charge you with a wonderful assortment of crimes, even, if you insist it is the case, that you are an illegal immigrant to this country. I assume you don’t have any immigration papers? No documents that assert your right to stay here? Nothing like that?”

Beverley Denton was as good as her word and said nothing in response. She didn’t even shake her head but sat there looking mutely at Inspector Baur.

In addition, you told me moments ago that the skull and assortment of other bones that were found being slowly incinerated under a very old mattress was your grandmother. We can of course, check that. A comparison of your DNA with that of the skeletal remains will tell us if that’s true, and our pathologist puts the time of death of your grandmother, assuming that’s who it is, at around thirty years ago. We know that you and your sister are secretive people, or rather were because she is no longer with us, so the assumption is the elderly woman was not buried or cremated in the normal way because there may have been a question as to how she died and even who she was, and questions you didn’t feel like answering may have been asked. Assuming that, then you may well find yourself looking at a charge of murder and be spending the rest of your life in prison.”

Rosie thought that Beverley Denton would be sure to respond to that battery of accusations, but she remained mute, the expression in her face not changing at all.

Just like the two kids this morning, she thought.

This silent routine won’t help your case much,” she told the mute woman, “it’s our job in the police force to do whatever we can to help members of the public. Quite often we can offer early assistance when there are problems, assistance that will prevent situations from escalating until they become more serious” she said.

But the woman stayed resolutely silent.

Well nobody can say I haven’t tried,” said Rosie resignedly, and she turned to the uniformed police officer who was standing near the door.

Take her to a nice warm cell so that she’ll have time to think things out before she gets into the sort of fix she won’t so easily get out of,” she said, and stood to leave the interview room.

That’s you Gestapo all over!” snapped Beverley Denton, “when a woman’s feeling low you just love to knock her even further!”

What did you make of that last outburst?” Rosie asked Bob Short once they were out of earshot.

Gestapo? I don’t think much of that being a description of you and me and the way we work,” he said.

But inside her mind. All I can see, from what I’ve gleaned today, that some refugees in the 1930s or 40s might have found their way, secretly, from mainland Europe, most likely Germany, and set up home here in that cottage in the woods unnoticed and unknown,” she murmured thoughtfully. “Is it possible, do you think, that some people can have done that? Sneaked onto our shores and slowly, painfully, moved through the country until they found a derelict cottage miles from anywhere? And having established a home there, not mingled with the locals but stayed an almost separate group ever since their ancestors arrived here?”

Yet somehow learned our language?” said Bob. “They’d have to have done that, and done it as quickly as they could, because if their native tongue was German, they would have had all sorts of problems in the forties if the locals found out. They must have put some effort into that over the years, learning English and with barely a trace of an accent to betray their origins? It seems improbable to me, but what do I know?”

But seventy or eighty years? Three generations? The original group, if it was a group, then two more generations, then the two kids? And all the time keeping an ambience of distrust going? Never intermingling with we natives, always keeping enough degrees of separation to ensure their culture remains untainted by ours?” she mused.

And how did they dispose of their dead? I’d have thought burying them might be the best option, with all that woodland in which to dig nice deep graves,” said Bob.

Think of alternatives,” sighed Rosie, “maybe a cold, frosty winter, the ground too hard to dig, and the easy option: put granny into a sack until the warm weather comes, and then, what? Forgetting her? Preserving her for some ritual? Not sure what to do once she was stinking and decaying so leaving her in the sack and shutting the cupboard door?

Inspector!” called a voice as the pathologist rushed towards them from the direction of his lab, “just in time! I was about to go home for my supper and a good night’s sleep! Those bones under the bonfire. It was murder, you know. Unless the kind of accident occurred that can put a nice big hole in an elderly skull.”

Oh no,” groaned Rosie, “and that on top of this morning’s corpse. Anything new on that, Jake?”

He shook his head.

As neat a murder as I’ve seen,” he said, “and at least the dear departed had her pleasure before a really deep sleep overtook her...”

© Peter Rogerson 02.04.20

© 2020 Peter Rogerson

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Added on April 2, 2020
Last Updated on April 2, 2020
Tags: police interview, refugees, persecution, generations


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..