13. Joy Delerium

13. Joy Delerium

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson



Detective Inspector Joy Delerium had the sort of face that could curdle milk at twenty paces or even more, a face not really enhanced by the savage slash of red lipstick that divided her chin from the rest of it. She had got where she was via the Chief Constable’s equivalent of a casting couch, and as he found her angular features less pleasing than a bowl of goldfish he promoted her out of the way and settled for the fish, two of them, which he named Chas and Dave after the popular musical duo who always managed to cast a ray of light onto his worried world.

And it was into Detective Inspector Joy Delerium’s investigative hands that fell the case of the morbid trouserless jumper of Newholme flats. And the very first thing she discovered, in fact and to her unspoken amusement, was that he had landed minus his trousers and the second thing was that there were two coffee cups on his kitchen table and the third that a woman in her fifties, pretty and his immediate neighbour, had been seen scuttling away minutes before he jumped or was pushed, which inclined her to assume his fall had been assisted by a healthy poke in the ribs.

And it was this same Detective Inspector Joy Delerium who sought out the lady who lived next door to the deceased with the view of making as quick as arrest as she could, which would earn her brownie points which might be exchanged, along the line, for further promotion.

Miss Jennifer Dewberry was still in the bookshop when, an hour after the constable had departed with information regarding the whereabouts of that good lady, Joy Delerium took her savagely painted lips through the door and demanded to know why neither the shop keeper nor her customer was wearing a nice white mask.

There was, she screeched, a pandemic raging.

It’s almost gone,” sad Mrs Bookworm, angry at the interruption into a private conversation in which the plot of the latest Doctor Flynn novel was being carefully dissected by herself and her customer.

What has?” demanded the Detective Inspector.

The pandemic,” Mrs Bookworm assured her, “it said on the news last night.”

I’m looking for Miss Jennifer Dewberry,” announced the D.I., “of Newholme flats,” she added.

Why?” asked Jennifer, “that’s me,” she added.

Friend to Mr Walter Archer? Maybe partner? In a close and intimate relationship with same gentleman?”

Neighbour, and that’s as far as I’ll go,” replied Jennifer, “we’ve lived next door on the same landing for the past ten years and it’s only been the last few weeks that we’ve even got round to speaking,” she added.

You will have heard that he … had an accident?” asked the D.I. using her best setting a trap voice.

Mrs Bookworm thought it best she intervene. “He was three sheets to the wind,” she said as nicely as she could, “I mean, as mad as a hatter! You should have known him. Ask anyone. If anyone was going to fall out of a window it’s him.”

He didn’t fall or jump,” decided the detective inspector on the spot, “he was pushed. That’s as plain as the nose on your face!”

Who are you saying has a plain nose?” demanded Mrs Bookworm, “it’s not a nice thing to suggest in a book shop!”

It’s a saying and not personal!” snapped D.I. Joy Delerium, “it means it’s obvious to anyone with half a brain cell working.”

So he was pushed?” asked Mrs Bookworm, “you’re sure of that?”

Of course I am!” snapped the detective, “I’ve seen enough dead bodies fallen from windows to know which ones were pushed and which ones jumped! It’s as plain as… you know what.”

So why are you here in my shop if there’s a pusher running free out there?” asked Mrs Bookworm, frowning. “Shouldn’t you be rounding him up? Taking him off to the pokey and throwing away the key? What if he chucks someone else out of their window while you’re passing the time of day exchanging pleasantries with us in here?”

Detective Inspector Joy Delerium was annoyed by this sudden bout of questioning when it was her opinion that if any questions were to be asked of anyone, they should be asked by herself.

That’s why I’m here,” she grated, “tell me, Miss Dewberry, have you seen Mr Archer recently?”

I suppose so,” replied Jennifer, “we shared a coffee not so long ago. Nice it was, too, not the usual muck that I drink but what I’d call proper coffee. He was talking about a book he’s got, and asking for my advice about personal matters.”

I’ve seen it! Snapped the police officer, “and if you want my opinion I’ve never seen such a depraved and disgusting piece of filth in all my life! Where did he get it from, that’s what I’d like to know!”

A book shop?” suggested Mrs Bookworm, “probably even this very book shop? The poor man was confused about personal issues and asked for my advice, so I sold him a book. Cheap, too, because it wasn’t new. But I thought that it might help him resolve certain uncertainties he had about himself. You see, Peggy had confused him.”

Who’s Peggy?” asked the D.I.

Was, you mean, who was Peggy. She was his wife, but she sadly passed away.”

Not by jumping out of windows, I hope?” Joy Delerium was trying to be sarcastic, but it came out wrongly and sounded like a serious question.

Certainly not!” snapped Mrs Bookworm, “she was very ill. Very ill indeed. The poor man hasn’t properly got over it.”

Oh. So when did she die?” asked the Inspector, “because I might have to look into that too. What if she was murdered? What if he did away with her and was about to be discovered as her killer? Maybe someone else knew and approached him with blackmail on her mind, and he ended up being thrown out of an upper window? There’s more to this than meets the eye, I’ll be bound!”

Are you serious?” asked Jennifer, “because if you are I’ve never heard so much nonsense in all my life! Mind you, from what I’ve heard of her she might well have been a candidate for murder!”

Ah, so we’re getting somewhere, are we?” smirked the D.I., “is there anything you’d like to get off your chest, Miss Dewberry? And you with those oh, so innocent eyes and pretty face? Who’d have thought it, eh? Both beauty and a killer rolled into one middle aged body!”

Hey! Who are you calling middle aged?” asked Jennifer, angrily, “you’ve no right to go round insulting people just because they accuse you of talking nonsense!”

Ha, so that’s going to be your tune, is it, little Miss Goody two-shoes?” spat the D.I., “well, I’ve got new for you, I have. You know the police caution, no doubt? About not needing to say anything, but anything you do say will be taken down and may be used in evidence against you? You, Miss goody goody, are under arrest, charged with the murder of … what was his name?”

Mickey Mouse?” suggested Mrs Bookworm, frowning, “and to think we pay our taxes to pay your wages! You haven’t a clue, have you?”

And I might consider you as an accomplice!” snapped the officer, angrily, “now where’s that constable when I want him? He can cart you off to the nick where I’ll have all the fun in the world asking you about your affair with the late Mr what’s his name, and what you did after coffee, and whether it’s because of you that he took his trousers off!”

And she went to the door where Constable Truman was standing guard.

She’s under arrest!” snapped Miss Delerium to him, “for murder! Cart her off to the nick! I’m going to enjoy this!”

© Peter Rogerson 05.07.20

© 2020 Peter Rogerson

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Added on July 5, 2020
Last Updated on July 5, 2020
Tags: inspector, misunderstanding, accusation, arrest


Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

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..