27. A Policeman Calls

27. A Policeman Calls

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson



Roger!” shouted May, “Roger! Help! He’s gone!”

Roger raced to May’s side to see what she meant whilst the pilot George Picket remained mute.

What do you mean? He’s gone?” demanded Roger, and he looked to where the boy Oliver had fallen. And he could see straight away that May was right. Instead of a Victorian boy there was only an untidy pile of clothes, and he could just about make out the burn mark of where a bullet had entered the tee-shirt he was wearing in lieu of pyjamas.

Good Heavens,” he gasped when he saw the pathetic pile of clothes. And he turned to face the pilot who had fired his gun at a boy whose only demand had been for a glass of water.

But instead of the scowling man holding his world war two pistol with a curl of smoke seeping out of its barrel there was just a pair of pilot’s goggles to show where he had been sitting. Not even a shred of his clothing remained. Nor an indentation in the chair to show where he had been sitting.

I don’t understand…” muttered May, shaking her head.

Me neither,” whispered Roger, “but they seem to have vanished. The two of them, the Victorian boy and the confused and scared pilot, into thin air, as if they’ve never been, and look at the clock: it’s still Christmas day!”

And what can that be at this time of the day?” asked May, because the front doorbell had rung.

I’ll see,” groaned Roger, “And if it’s Boudicca in her chariot or any one of the saints I’ll shut the door in their faces and pray they go away.”

But it was none of those. It was a helmeted policeman who was on duty when all he really wanted to be was at home with his wife and kids. But he’d been told by the sergeant that even on Christmas day order had to be maintained and scumbags apprehended, and who was he to argue against such logic?

Excuse me, sir,” he said politely, “but there have been reports of a gunshot…?”

Really, officer? I did hear something a few minutes ago, a car back-firing, I thought.”

The lady next door said she thought is came from here?”

What? Never, officer, I can assure you of that. The kids are in bed, and a noise like that actually inside the house would have waken them, surely.

Daddy,” called Apple from the top of the stairs, “what was that horrid noise?”

It was nothing, darling,” soothed May, tidying away the clothes left by Oliver Twist and pushing them out of sight.

It sounded loud,” complained Apple, making her way down the stairs, “and my teacher says that loud noises can be bad for your ears and even make you deaf when you’re old, like you. And what’s that policeman doing at the door?”

He heard a loud noise, darling,” replied May, “and wanted to know whether we heard it too”

Well I did! But maybe I was dreaming,” smiled Apple yawning then jumping down the last step of the stairs.

It was probably a car back-firing on the street, Apple,” Roger told her.

What’s back-firing, daddy?” asked Apple, “I’ve heard people talking about cars back-firing but I don’t know what it means.”

When a car’s engine isn’t quite right,” Roger told her, not quite sure of the actual cause himself, “now you go back to bed and mummy and I will be saying goodnight and going to bed ourselves. And goodnight to you too, Officer. There’s been no shoot-out here!”

Goodnight then, sir,” smiled the policeman, “and merry Christmas.”

And the policeman turned to walk off, not noticing the grey figure of a headless queen weeping behind the privet hedge. Roger did notice, and he groaned before shutting the door and making absolutely sure it was both locked and bolted at the top and bottom.

Did you see her?” he whispered to May.

See who?

Oh nothing. It doesn’t matter.”

Then there was nobody to see. But I wouldn’t have seen, would I, even if somebody was there was from where I was standing?”

And you locked the closet door?”

Of course.”

Next week, when Christmas is over and things are back to normal I’m going to get Ian in to brick it up,” decided Roger.

Won’t he have to open it and won’t that be … you know, dangerous?”

I’ll get it done,” replied Roger obstinately, “I’ve decided I never want to share a moment of my life with cavemen or Georgians or even scruffy Victorian boys. Never again, so that door’s going to be bricked up, and if that doesn’t do it then we’ll move.”

Really?” asked May, “I thought you were in love with this house.”

Was. I was. But things can change, don’t you think?”

It’s what life’s about: change. Growth. Maturing. Come on, May, to bed. I’m too tired for anything but sleep. It seems to have been a really long day.”

Is that a promise?”


About sleeping…”

What can you mean?”

Nothing, darling. Come on. We’ll sort our plans out tomorrow. Until then, well, it’s now Boxing Day and I’m dead beat.”


© Peter Rogerson 19.12.20

© 2020 Peter Rogerson

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Added on December 19, 2020
Last Updated on December 19, 2020
Tags: gunshot, vanishing, policeman


Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

I am 79 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..