20. More Joy

20. More Joy

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson
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TALES FROM THE BOOKSHOP (20)

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Detective Inspector Joy Delerium was delighted to have a second murder enquiry at the same address as her last one, and hard on the heels of it in terms of time. She already had ideas that would soon be set into stone inside her head because she’d read enough detective fiction to have learned that most successful detectives didn’t believe in coincidences, and this was one huge coincidence.

An old man was dead, had clearly fallen prey to foul play, though how she wasn’t quite certain, but he lived in the same flat as the last elderly man whom she had been called to see because he, too, had been dead. But one or two things were beyond doubt.

There was a body on the carpeted floor of a flat she already knew like the back of her hand desPite its new windows because it wasn’t many weeks since she’d been called there to investigate that other death, and this time the body was laid out exactly like one of those in television dramas that get to have a white line drawn round them as if that was the entire purpose of the prone pose: to have a white line drawn around it. She would have liked to see a dagger or something sticking out of its back, or maybe a grim hole marking the entry point of a bullet, but until the pathologist finished his poking around the body couldn’t be moved.

Until the actual cause of death was established there was little she could do but think, so she wandered outside into the fresh air where a pretty young woman with a bleeding nose was almost in the arms of the silly (to her mind) uniformed police Constable Humphrey Truman, who was comforting her as if that’s all police officers did with pretty women and their bleeding noses.

Penny (for that was the young woman) wept into her glorious long mahogany tresses that were getting to be entangled with the constable’s left arm, and looked in the direction of the Detective Inspector.

What happened to him?” she asked, “my dad,” she added in order to make it clear that she had every right to be inquisitive.

You say you know the man?” asked the D.I, apparently not understanding what Penny had just said.

Of course I did! He’s my dad!” replied Penny in a shocked voice, “and,” she added deliberately cryptically, “we’re each half of the same person.”

There was one thing that actually got up the nose of the Detective Inspector and that’s when things were said to her in plain English but when she tried to understand them they failed to make the least bit of sense, and this last statement from Penny fit that particular bill perfectly. It annoyed her because it didn’t make any sense to her ta all and she knew she would have to ask for clarity but decided not to, at least for the time being.

Then the Penny creature still snuggling up to the silly constable and clad in a tiny summer dress that the D.I thought ought to be illegal because it permitted the display of legs that even she thought were marvellous, spotted two figures walking towards then from the direction of the book shop where she’d spent most of that morning. She disentangled herself from the constable and his comforting arms, gently pulled her hair free, and said in a loud voice, “excuse me, but my friends are coming, I’d better warn them that it’s off,” and without asking for any kind of permission she ran off in the direction of the two figures that were emerging from the early evening shadows.

That does it!” the Detective Inspector almost exploded, and set off after her, but grief had given the young woman wings and the slightly older police woman was encumbered by a severe grey skirt that clung to her knees in a most uncomfortable way and consequently made physical exercise difficult. By the time she caught up with her quarry she was in deep conversation with the two women, and the D.I recognised them at once.

Coincidence,” she gasped, a trifle breathless despite the short distance she had run, “I hate coincidence. It’s proof if any was needed that there’s something very wrong afoot!”

But Penny was explaining things to Jennifer and Mrs Bookworm and had no time to pay anything but scant attention to the police officer.

I found him on the living room floor,” she gasped, “I had a quick shower to wash the dust of the day off, and put on my prettiest dress on for our little soiree, and there he was… I phoned for an ambulance, of course, and a horrible police woman came as well...

It is a pretty dress,” agreed Mrs Bookworm, “exactly the sort of dress Doctor Flynn would like to be seen mingling with. It’s so right for any of his favourite nurses! On the floor, you say? And did you say murdered?”

That’s what this police officer said,” wept Penny, indicating the breathless D.I..

Ah! And who’s this doctor Flynn?” asked D.I Delerium. “I don’t know anything about him, so where does he fit in? And where’s he got to, may I ask? Are you trying to tell me he was at odds with your father? You did say the dead man was your father, didn’t you? And what made your nose bleed? Were you in a fight with this Doctor Flynn? And isn’t that an Irish name? Is this anything to do with politics? Everything Irish is to do with politics, it seems! Need I bring in the terrorist squad?”

Mrs Bookworm looked at the police detective in amazement.

Are you real?” she asked. “because Doctor Flynn isn’t!”

You just said he’d like the dress the woman is almost wearing!” snapped the other, “and by almost wearing I mean exactly that! I haven’t seen such a tiny scrap of cloth since I watched a Carry On film set in the sixties, and to my mind it ought to be subject to the law!”

It’s fashionable,” murmured Jennifer, “and rather pretty,” she added.

Ah! So you’re mixed in with all this, are you?” growled D.I. Delerium, “I’ve already seen enough of you this year, that I have! And it seems you get attracted to murders like a moth to a candle! Pity there’s nothing around to burn your precious wings!”

By this time the D.I was well on her way to exhausting her favourite clichés, but quite sure that something very suspicious was afoot. And the presence of Jennifer Dewberry was almost a confirmation so far as she was concerned. So she’d got away with the first one, but, thought the police woman irrationally, let’s see her wriggle out of this one.

Where’s this Doctor, what did you say he was called? Flynn?” she asked, looking directly at Jennifer.

He’s a medical man in books!” she replied, “which you’d know if you ever read any! Now where’s this poor girl’s father? And what made you tell her that he’d been murdered?”

He was dead on the floor and she was in the shower, no doubt washing off evidence!” snapped the D.I. “And that’s proof enough for me!” she added, “you might like to converse with medical men from literature, but that sort of talk covers up your guilt all right! How come you were coming this way at the very time the man is killed, then? You two ladies that, it seems, spend your entire lives being so involved with death?

We were invited round for drinks,” said Mrs Bookworm firmly, “and that’s something that happens to a lot of people all the time. There’s nothing suspicious about it at all. Just a pleasant g and t with friends.

Detective Inspector Delerium snorted and would have said a great deal more that maybe she would have regretted, but a voice from behind her called out.

Detective Inspector,” it called, “a word please.”

It was the pathologist in his white overall, and he was smiling like a cockerel who’d unexpectedly laid an egg.

© Peter Rogerson 12.07.20



© 2020 Peter Rogerson


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Added on July 12, 2020
Last Updated on July 12, 2020
Tags: murder, police detective, accusation


Author

Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom



About
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..

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