A Chapter by Peter Rogerson



The problems of the inhabitants of Witch Cottage are way over our pay scale when it comes to solving them, Bob,” murmured Rosie. “I’ll pass my report on and let those who might actually know what they’re doing sort it out, but I’m sure there’s no real crime involved.”

It was well into the afternoon of the Friday by then and she was on her way home, intending to call in briefly to check that her twins could cope without her for another couple of hours as she had something important to attend to. They weren’t unused to such things when there was something important on their mother’s agenda and knew they’d be rewarded sooner or later. The dynamics of the Baur household really worked.

Yes, ma’ … Rosie,” he muttered, feeling nervous at the idea that he was about to trespass into his boss’s private space. She’d mentioned her twins and elements in her private life on several occasions, but he’d never been anywhere near either.

One thing I can guarantee is that you’ll have to forgive Jack and Jill,” she said quietly, “they always assume that I’m about to go to bed with anyone wearing trousers, which made it embarrassing for Jill Cowper, who usually wears jeans, when she called the other week on police business,” she giggled.

Poor Sergeant Cowper, then,” he remarked.

They don’t really mean it, but kids will be kids even when they’re teenagers,” she said. “Here we are!”

Rosie lived in an ordinary semi-detached house on quite an ordinary street and the only thing to distinguish it from her neighbours on both sides was the immaculate caravan parked on what should have been a garden in front of the front room window.

Hold tight,” she grinned, and manoeuvred the Xtrail with huge skill into a gap Bob would have said was too small for it until she proved that it wasn’t.

Careful getting out,” she advised, and then led the way to the front door, which opened as she pushed it. “Security was never their strong point,” she added, and she breezed into a room that was filled with two busy teenagers actually spread out on the carpeted floor and doing what looked suspiciously like homework, complete with open books and glowing tablets.

You’re at it early,” she said, glancing at Jack’s history work, “have you any plans for the weekend that might have been upset by a trip to Tudor England on paper if you’d postponed what you’re doing?”

Just in case,” smiled Jill.

In case of what?” she asked.

In case you decide to tow the caravan somewhere interesting for a day or two,” the girl replied, “you know, a bit of living homework in the country, looking at various natural wonders, dead interesting trees, and insects in rotting wooden holes, sheep shagging, the whole country thing!”

Jack, face down on a furry rug, looked up at Bob and grinned. “Are you her latest conquest?” he asked, “because, if you are, I’ve got a bit of advice for you.”

Now careful what you say to the constable,” put in Rosie, “he might be older than you, but he’s had a sheltered life.”

She likes her men to be upright and honest and quite willing to cook a full English in the morning after a night in Heaven with her,” said Jack, adopting a mock-serious expression.

Now that’s enough of that kind of talk,” said Rosie, feigning anger, “Constable Short is here because he was interested in what you had to say about the woman from Witch Cottage.”

It wasn’t much,” replied Jill, “I was wandering down there with Judy, my best ever friend, only a few weeks ago and she was lying on her side, all daft and dangerous, and dousing her head with water from the stream. Judy, who’s brave as a lioness, asked her what she thought she was doing and the woman said she used the water to keep her skin young and beautiful. I reckon that she was spot on if she was sixty but not quite right if she was forty and dead wrong if she was twenty. But I never asked her. It seemed rude, somehow, to ask a strange woman how old she is.”

She’s about forty,” said Bob, involuntarily.

Then it seems an awfully uncomfortable thing to do if you’re not really going to make much difference, don’t you think?” replied Jill, and with an artful wink she went on, “are you sleeping with my mum?”

Really, Jill!” admonished Rosie, “take no notice of her, Bob,” she added, “I can take her anywhere twice, the second time to apologise.”

Are we going out in the van this weekend, mum?” asked Jack.

Only if I can solve the case we’re on, which doesn’t give me much time, and all I seem to do is eliminate people from our enquiries,” muttered Rosie.

Have you eliminated the other woman who likes wandering about down the bottoms, waiting for her husband to come home and making sure he isn’t spending time with the strange wet-haired beautifying woman who says she’s a foreigner, but isn’t?” asked Jill.

What other woman?” asked Jill.

You’re the detective, mum,” said Jill in the kind of voice that implied that she might be patiently reminding a recalcitrant child of her responsibilities.

So if I am?” replied Rosie, “I can only see what happens to be there when I’m looking, and my life is far too busy for me to be looking all the time.”

You should have asked me before, then,” grinned Jill, “but she’s quite well known in Bottoms circles. You can ask Judy if you like. This other woman meets her husband because when he finishes work, she said to us once, if she’s with him it keeps his eyes off other women, most especially when the foreign woman is nearby. The jealous wife is the one who works at the hospital pharmacy, so if you’re looking for someone who...”

But she was interrupted by Rosie. “How could I have been so blind!” she exclaimed, “Mr Butcher’s wife! She works at the pharmacy, I was told that ages ago, and it was Butcher who was doing you-know-what with the dead woman moments before her body was spotted!”

Doing you-know-what, mum?” asked Jill, knowing perfectly well what her mother meant but, being a teenager, needed to embarrass her at every opportunity.

Rosie grinned at her daughter without reacting. “Thank you so much, darling,” she said, “do you remember last Christmas when you were doing that very difficult jigsaw puzzle?”

Jill frowned, and nodded.

And you couldn’t finish it? Do you remember why you couldn’t finish it?

There was a piece missing, mum,” said Jill, thoughtfully.

That’s right. There was a piece still in the box, stuck, it was, if you remember, and it was quite an important piece. And you’ve just given me an important piece when it comes to solving this crime, and it was stuck somewhere inside my head but I couldn’t see it. I won’t be long, darlings, but Bob and I have someone to arrest, and while we’re doing that you can pack a change of clothing for a few days in the country!”

Now that’s what I call service,” smiled Jack. “a chance to see sheep in the raw.”

Are you bringing Bob with you?” asked Jill.

You’ll be the death of me, child,” responded Rosie as she led Bob back out of the house. “Come on Constable, we’ve got to call on Mrs Gloria Butcher and ask her some questions that can’t wait if my two rascals are going to do a nature ramble this weekend!”

© Peter Rogerson 09.04.20

© 2020 Peter Rogerson

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Added on April 9, 2020
Last Updated on April 9, 2020
Tags: home life, twins, homework, pharmacy


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..