19. Police lights

19. Police lights

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson



It was late afternoon by the time that Jennifer Dewberry called at the book shop for Mrs Bookworm as arranged. She was on the way home from her afternoon job at the dentist’s where she was a cleaner, and Mrs Bookworm had polished herself up to the nines, as she put it, making sure she was everything a two-person author would like to see in the woman who was selling their books.

This has been quite a day,” yawned Jennifer, “and tell the truth, I’m a little on the tired side.”

A g and t will wake you up,” assured Mrs Bookworm, feeling very much the same as her friend herself and hoping the prescription would work just as well on herself, “do you fancy one before we go? It’s maybe a bit early to arrive at the flats even if we walk.”

You couldn’t have a better idea if you tried!” exclaimed Jennifer, and the two women went into the back room behind the shop where Mrs Bookworm kept the few things she needed during the day, and amongst them was a small bar containing one bottle of gin and another of Indian tonic water. She mixed two generous drinks and handed one to Jennifer.

What did you make of the signing, then?” she asked.

I wasn’t expecting two people, but it seemed to go very well,” replied Jennifer, “and it’s still hard to understand how a father and daughter can come up with some of the situations in the books. I mean, the one about the starting handle, you remember? Like cars used to have because the battery was never good enough to start them? But not in a car at all!

I think that was a bit on the risqué side,” giggled Mrs Bookworm.

I’ll bet it was the girl who thought that one up,” laughed her friend, “it’s the kind of thing young lasses might dream up! I remember when I was with Gerald, before he was locked up. I was younger back then… I miss those days sometimes, the freedom, the fun we had, the games we played, and it never crossed my mind that he was anything but a decent young chap. I had no idea he was a crook. I was simply too naive.

You poor thing,” sighed Mrs Bookworm, sipping her drink and nodding approvingly as she swallowed it.

I suppose all the signs were there, but I was too naive to notice them,” sighed Jennifer, “but that last time … there was a horrendous knocking at the door as it was bashed in, we were at his place and in bed, would you believe it, both of us rather naughtily in the altogether, so to speak, and the bedroom door was pushed open and two huge policemen barged in. I was mortified, and so shocked I screamed. What if they pulled the duvet off me and saw everything! I swore there and then that I’d never go to bed with a man like that again out of wedlock, and I never have!”

It must have been enough to make you think,” sympathised Mrs Bookworm, “so it’s best not to think of it now.”

Jennifer shivered. “I don’t,” she said, “but when you mentioned starting handles it brought one particular game back to me! But you’re right. It’s best for me not to think of it. I’m glad you suggested the gin and tonic. Delicious, and it’s finding places I thought had gone to sleep for ever. And it’s opening up corners of my mind that have needed refreshment since I last used them yonks ago.”

Mr Bookworm, bless him, woke corners of my mind up when he was in the mood,” sighed Mrs Bookworm, “and the sad thing was he had to up and die when it seemed we were destined to be together forever. But there’s no knowing what the fates have in store for us and for how long we might be blessed to have them.”

Did you really want to have him preserved, like an Egyptian mummy but not on a fancy tomb?” asked Jennifer.

At the time I did and even made enquiries. You see, Jenny, I really loved him. Not in the shallow way that pop songs rave about, but so deeply it hurts me even now to think about it. But he died and that just had to be that. I’ve got his ashes and I suppose they’ve got to be enough to keep me going.”

This conversation is starting to get maudlin!” said Jennifer, “I tell you what: let’s drink up and go visiting the authors for a cheery mind-stimulating evening!”

Strange, thinking of Amy as part of a plural,” murmured Mrs Bookworm, “somehow I had an image in my head of what Amy Lovewise would look like.”

Don’t tell me and let me guess,” grinned Jennifer, “let me see, a lady in her, what shall we say, forties and a bit older than us, dark curling hair, large framed spectacles, fairly tall and, how shall I put it, let me see, generous of bosom?”

Almost right, but blonde,” laughed Mrs Bookworm, “and in need of the sort of things that only a man can offer! No stop it or you’ll have me pretending that I’m Penny’s age again and going to see if my best miniskirt from my teens still fits!”

Come on, then, drink up, leave washing the glasses till you get back, and let’s go and see what we shall see. I’ll pop into my place first, though, and spend a couple of minutes polishing myself up and changing.”

Not miniskirts I hope?”

Jennifer laughed. “What? At my age?” she asked, “who would have thought it likely? Certainly not me! My legs are most unsuitable for public display, and anyway I disposed of them years ago.”

Same as mine, then,” sighed Mrs Bookworm. “That’s the trouble with age and time. It destroys us.”

Now you’re getting maudlin again! Come on!” urged Jennifer standing up.

The two women, laughing left their glasses on the table and made their way to the shop and out through the shop door onto the street, Mrs Bookworm being most careful to make sure she locked it behind her.

There’s quite a lot of money in all those books,” she said, “which is why I like Mr Bookworm’s ashes to be keeping guard, watching over my fortune!”

By the time they left the shop the skies were darkening, hinting at the end of a day that had started with a storm and ended gloriously and warm. It was only a short walk of about a mile to Newholme flats, a block of four two-bedroom homes. After passing them the road curled round before straightening out and heading for the town of Brumpton several miles away. Normally the area was quiet, subdued even, but ahead of them as they walked along there appeared to be unusual activity, illuminated by the blue flashing of police lights.

What on Earth’s going on?” ventured Jennifer, “there’s not been this amount of excitement since old Walter did himself in weeks ago!”

But there must be something wrong,” muttered Mrs Bookworm, and the two women paused and stared into the distance ahead of them.

There are two police cars!” whispered Jennifer, pointing.

And an ambulance,” added Mrs Bookworm, “it looks serious. And is that someone running this way?”

A figure was clearly rushing their way, detaching itself from the gathering gloom of early evening, and they recognised who it was straight away.

Penny!” gasped Jennifer as the young woman came into focus, “what’s going on? What’s happening?”

The young woman’s face was pale and there were signs on her face that she had been crying.

It’s my dad!” she said, “he’s dead! At home! And they think I killed him because they say he’s been murdered!!”

© Peter Rogerson, 11.07.20

© 2020 Peter Rogerson

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Added on July 11, 2020
Last Updated on July 11, 2020
Tags: aftermath, gin and tonic, refreshment, blue flashing lights


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..