3. The Man of the Cloth

3. The Man of the Cloth

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson



Doctor Greaves, the pathologist, was already at Amelia Armstrong’s house when Detective Inspector Rosie Baur arrived to take charge of what looked suspiciously like a case of brutal murder. An elderly woman had been found slashed, and dead, and who would want to harm such a person?

The body’s still almost warm,” he said, “she can’t have been dead for long, An hour at the most, I’d say.”

Who found her?” she asked.

The vicar. The Reverend Roper, an elderly chap who said he called on parish business and when he found the door was open poked his head in to find … this. He says he tried to save her, but it was too late. He’s recovering from his shock in the front room.”

Rosie nodded. “Let’s have a look then,” she said.

The elderly woman’s body looked peaceful enough until you noticed the red stain on her white blouse and the small blood-stained kitchen knife lying on the floor next to her.

It’s quite straight forward,” Doctor Greaves told her, “a single wound and goodnight Vienna. Anything else and I’ll know after the post mortem.”

I’d better have a word with the man who found her,” murmured D.I Baur, “do you know anything about him?”

The pathologist nodded. “The Reverend Roper,” he said, “elderly, but still casting his ecclesiastic spells on a rather small flock, and I’ve never heard a bad word spoken against him. He reckons he tried to resuscitate her, which will explain the presence of a few spots of blood on him.”

Thanks, Doctor,” replied Rosie, and she went up to the uniformed officer standing by the door.

Anything else?” she asked.

He nodded. “The bloke over the road there, the one you can see pretending to weed his garden, he reckons he saw the reverend arrive, and is sure nobody else came all morning except for what he took to be the paper boy delivering a note or small package or something.”

I’ll need to speak to that paper boy,” murmured Rosie almost to herself, “is there anything else?”

Well, I checked the back door, the one leading to a path that branches off to the park, and it was open. Not just on its latch, but swinging open. I reckon that’s where he came in, ma’am.”

Him? Might it not have been a her, constable?” she asked, raising her eyebrows.

I just thought … it’s young blokes who use knives. That’s what I was told, anyway.”

It’s better to keep an open mind, lad,” she said with a smile. “Now I think I’ll have a word with the reverend gentleman who found her.”

Yes, ma’am,” muttered the constable, who wasn’t that keen on being corrected by a woman even if that woman was a detective inspector with a shining reputation. Mind you, he thought to himself, if she was a bloke her reputation would probably shine all the brighter.

The Reverend Richard Roper was sitting in the front room, out of sight of the macabre remains of the elderly corpse and twiddling his thumbs. She noted that he was wearing gloves, fine leather ones, cream coloured, which was odd bearing in mind the warm weather.

I’m Detective Inspector Baur,” she said, flashing her warrant card at him, “and I gather you found the body?”

He nodded. “It was quite a shock,” he said, “I tried to save her in case there was a chance, you do hear of people saving the wounded, but it was no good.”

You got blood on one of your gloves, I see,” she said pointedly, noticing a discolouring stain on one of them.

He looked, and nodded. “I seem to have,” he replied. “I believe you’re supposed to press on a wound to staunch the bleeding. I watch Morse, you know, in repeats on the television. I tried to help the poor creature, but I was too late I’m afraid.”

Did you notice anyone?” asked Rosie, “after all, she’s not been dead for long.”

He shook his head in a vague way. “I thought I heard a noise in the kitchen,” he replied, “at least, I should imagine it was the kitchen, maybe the back door opening? I couldn’t be sure, if course, and my hearing isn’t what it was. Too much loud organ music on Sundays, I suppose.” He smiled as if that was meant to be a joke, but Rosie wasn’t amused. She had an instinct when it came to clergymen that suggested if they’re prepared to believe that water can be changed into wine they can believe anything.

And that’s all?” she asked, and added, “did you know the lady?”

She’s one of my parishioners. Not a regular, I don’t think, there aren’t so many regulars these days and I know most of them to talk to. By name, you see, I know them by name. But not this lady.”

So what did you want to see her about?” asked Rosie, for ever suspicious when it came to the meandering minds of elderly clergymen.

Oh, it was a general matter,” he replied, “I thought she might be interested in leading our drama group. She has quite a reputation as an amateur Thespian locally, and we need a few bright sparks to lead in a planned little scheme of mine, re-enacting scenes from the life of our Lord on a tableau illustrating some of his life.”

So you called to ask her? On spec?”


Without an appointment? You came on spec?”

I suppose you might say that. Yes, you might,” he mumbled, “can I go now?”

Of course. Thanks for waiting, and I may need to see you again.”

What for? You can’t think that I killed her, can you?”

I like to keep an open mind, so in my book you might have. You had the opportunity, after all.

But I’m a man of the cloth!”

She smiled at him. “You wouldn’t be the first to hide behind his collar,” she said, “you must see things from my point of view. I’ve got a murder to solve and everyone’s a suspect until I prove they’re not. But you can go for now.”

She watched him stand up awkwardly, and make for the door.

By the way,” she said, “you mentioned your gloves. Why do you wear them? It’s a beautiful day.”

Oh, eczema. I have eczema,” he said, and walked purposefully out of the room. “Would it be all right if I went out the back way?” he added, “I’m not so fond of the sight of blood.”

She smiled at him. “Of course you can,” she said softly.

© Peter Rogerson 08.01.21

© 2021 Peter Rogerson

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Adding suspense and wonder now Peter. I liked the Detective Inspector Rosie Baur. Politely informing the man of the collar. No innocence in our world. I enjoyed the chapter and thank you for sharing the outstanding chapter.

Posted 1 Month Ago

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Added on January 8, 2021
Last Updated on January 8, 2021
Tags: clergyman, goves, back door


Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

I am 77 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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