21. An unexpected mess

21. An unexpected mess

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson



What did you make of her face when the pathologist said that it was obviously a heart attack and couldn’t conceivably be murder?” asked Mrs Bookworm and she and Jennifer Dewberry started walking home after Penny apologetically said she couldn’t face a social drink after what had happened, but might just end up getting plastered on her own if they didn’t mind.

If you’ll feel better without two relative strangers with little to say that would help,” murmured Mrs Bookworm, knowing how painful silences can become.

So Jennifer and Mrs Bookworm made sure that the Detective Inspector went well on her way, that the late Bomber Stanton was carted off to the mortuary and that Penny was as comfortable as a recently bereaved young woman with a still bleeding nose could be, and said they’d go back to the book shop for a few gins on their own and probably call on her tomorrow to make sure she was coping.

You can stay the night, so there’s no need for you to think of staggering back,” Mrs Bookworm had told Jennifer, “I’ve got a spare room and the bed’s always made up, though it’s ages since anyone slept in it.”

It’s good of you,” murmured Jennifer, “I somehow feel queasy sleeping in a room that’s so close to where a man died. I did after Walter passed away like he did, and he was splat on the pavement, haunting my dreams the whole night long!”

I wonder what’s going to happen with Amy Lovewise?” thought Mrs Bookworm, “because I’ll bet there won’t be any more Doctor Flynn romances, and that’s a crying shame.”

I’ve been wondering that,” sighed Jennifer, “and it crossed my mind that there were two pens behind the stories, and one pen might carry on.”

I always thought that it seemed that the author was a woman,” agreed Mrs Bookworm, “the way the storylines teased the woman in me when I read them! The way that Doctor Flynn knew exactly the right thing to say and do to make his heroines react as they did and turn my heart into jelly!”

That might have been Penny’s input,” nodded Jennifer, “and her dad did the rest.”

Ah, but what rest?” asked Mrs Bookworm, “if you start thinking of the stories the rest is just a series of locations, like in the summer holiday one when he took her to a campsite in a caravan. All the interesting stuff happened in and around that caravan, the romance, the kissing and cuddling, and more… The main story could have been absolutely anywhere and it’s the caravan site that made it different from other stories. The romance was just about the same!”

That’s a good point,” said Jennifer, pausing, “hey, just a mo, what’s that ahead?” she asked.

They were possibly half way back to the shop and ahead, maybe ten minutes’ walk from where they were, was the sudden and by then familiar flashing of blue lights from the roof of a car.

If it’s that darned detective Inspector she’s going to get a piece of my mind!” decided Mrs Bookworm, “assuming the worst of people when we’re all as innocent as the day is long!”

And it has seemed long today,” agreed her friend, “come on, let’s see what’s going on!”

They accelerated, weary as they were after what had, after all, been a busy day, and as they forced weary legs in front of weary legs the blue flashing lights were joined by a second set and the strobe effect became almost hypnotic. It began to look as if the world was lit up in flickering blue flames, the eerie lights shining on walls and shops alike.

There was a small group of onlookers by the time they’d reached the row of shops that was set back from the road on a small service road of its own.

Mrs Brussels was there, her face greedy for news.

What’s happening?” she asked, “I heard it, and my goodness it made such a row, but what was it?”

I don’t know,” replied Mrs Bookworm, annoyed that it was the truth and she didn’t know, “we’ve only just got back.”

The noise! It was like thunder, only louder and closer,” put in Selwyn Jones, “as if it was something from outer space! I’ve heard the same kind of thing before, on films when the volume’s turned up high! At first I thought of you, Mrs Bookworm, and that you’d left the gas on and blown yourself to smithereens!”

We’re all electric,” replied the puzzled bookshop owner, staring at the front of her shop, because it had undergone a monumental change since she’d been there not much more than an hour earlier. The Doctor Flynn display was gone and the window where it had been was cracked. And the door she had so carefully locked was swinging on its hinges, moving back and forth as if pushed by invisible fingers.

Now then, now then, there’s nothing to be seen, nothing at all,” shouted a female voice that had become terribly familiar recently because it belonged to the Detective Inspector they had last seen at Newholme flats dealing, or rather misdealing, with the sudden death of Bomber Stanton, and barely an hour ago

Not her,” groaned Jennifer.

But it was. With a mouth like a scarlet slash across a caricature face, she loomed towards them.

And you two!” she hissed, “I don’t want to see you two ever again, so you can get home and stay out of the way!”

I’m at home and not going nowhere else!” snapped Mrs Bookworm, “and you’re not going to make me!”

This was the sort of challenge that the D.I. liked because it gave her superiority over the person issuing it. She represented the law and the challenge came from lawlessness.

Where’s the constable?” she snapped, “I want the constable to arrest these two women!”

He’s checking the backs, ma’am,” said a delicate looking young policewoman who Mrs Bookworm took to be around twelve years old.

Then you take them and arrest them both!” snapped D.I. Delerium.

What for?” demanded Mrs Bookworm.

Interfering with police business at the scene of a major incident and failing to go home when ordered!” snapped the officer.

Oh. Is that all? Then if you don’t mind I’ll go home as you suggest,” replied the other, “come on, Jennifer!” And she pulled the shop keys from her handbag and marched boldly up to the door, which was swinging open anyway and had no need of keys.

I know I locked this when we went out,” she said.

You did, dear, I saw you. You made quite sure it was locked,” assured Jennifer.

I know I did. I always do,” said Mrs Bookworm directly into the face of the Detective Inspector.

And where do you think you’re going?” demanded the red-lipped detective.

Home, of course!” she snapped back at her, “You ordered me to go home, so home I’ve come! I live here and I’ve had enough of today so I’m off to bed. I’ll tidy this mess up tomorrow! Come on, Jenny!”

And before the angry D.I. could stop them the two women marched into the shop.

Just a moment!” snapped the detective, “you might be in danger! There might be another bomb!”

© Peter Rogerson

© 2020 Peter Rogerson

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Added on July 13, 2020
Last Updated on July 13, 2020
Tags: death, heart attack


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..