8. A Clergyman in Custody

8. A Clergyman in Custody

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson



Detective Constable Sheila Robinson was in the passenger seat as Detective Sergeant Bob Short drove carefully along Brumpton road, looking out for the entrance to the vicarage where the Reverend Roper lived and not quite sure where it was.

It’s a couple of miles further,” Sheila told him, “and there’s a short cut down that road to the right, look, over there. It cuts out the town centre and the new road works that are holding everything up. They’re even mentioned on the traffic report on Radio Two! I heard it this morning and thought fame at last for Brumpton!.”

Okay,” agreed the sergeant amiably, “anything to get the guy picked up as quickly as possible.”

Woah!” exclaimed Sheila suddenly after he’d turned onto a minor road, “stop, Bob! Isn’t that him over there?”

She pointed to where the Reverend Richard Roper was standing furtively on the road, trying to look inconspicuous as he pretended to be tying a shoe lace on shoes that didn’t have laces.

What’s he up to?” asked Bob, “talk of peculiar!”

I know that house,” said Sheila slowly, “it’s where Paul Pritchard lives, you know, the councillor who rose to the dizzy heights of being borough Mayor before he retired a few years back. My folks knew him quite well. A decent man, for a politician.”

Don’t you like politicians then, Sheila?” he asked with a grin.

They’ve mostly got their heads in the trough looking after number one,” replied Sheila, “but Mr Pritchard was all right.”

So what’s the Reverend doing there? Look: he’s peering through the gap in the hedge. What’s he up to, I wonder?”

At least, he’s behaving in a suspicious way,” murmured Sheila, “look, Bob, he’s the bloke we’ve come to take to Rosie for questioning, and so let’s grab him while he’s in our sights!”

Gently gently catchee monkee,” advised Bob, “I’ll go and see what’s what and if he seems to be putting up a fight or whatever it is reverend vicars do then you come and put in your penn’orth. Meanwhile, get on your phone and check on whether your ex-mayor chum has any connection with him.”

Will do,” agreed Sheila, and she pulled her mobile phone from her pocket. Bob climbed out of the car and walked slowly and casually towards the Reverend Roper. When he was quite close and the vicar hadn’t yet noticed him he called out in tones he assumed were almost matey.

Ah, the very man,” he said, “my partner and I wanted to pick your brains, if you don’t mind.”

The parson looked suddenly alarmed, flustered almost. “What can you want with me?” he asked, “I’m a peace-loving man of God and not a common burglar to be apprehended on the streets!”

Oh, this isn’t apprehending,” replied Bob Short, as close to sounding jovial as he could manage bearing in mind his dislike of all religious officials, seeing them as purveyors of untruths and worse in an attempt to scrounge a living from the poorer members of society.

What is it then?” asked the Reverend Roper.

Just a friendly chat seeing as you’re a witness to at least one savage murder this week.”

At least one? What do you mean by at least one?” demanded the vicar in tones that were edging ever closer to what he liked to call his pulpit voice.

It’s a turn of phrase,” replied Bob meaninglessly, “come along, sir, if you don’t mind, my boss just wants a few words with you. She’s all right, is our D.I. You’ll like her. She gets to the kernel of most nuts, she does.”

Kernel of nuts? What are you, indeed, jabbering about?” demanded the clergyman in what was finally the rotund tones of his favoured pulpit voice.

We’ve got the car right here,” continued Bob, “we’ll have you back on this spot in a tick, or when Rosie, that’s our D.I., says we can. Look: there’s our young D.C on her phone. Probably got a boyfriend or something, you know what young girls are like these days, forever taunting this or that young fellow on their mobile phones…”

As he said that he had edged the vicar across the road and to the unmarked police car. He opened the rear door and in one automatic move manoeuvred the vicar onto the seat behind Sheila, who used an automatic lock to make sure he stayed put.

I was saying to the vicar, Sheila, that you were probably passing pleasantries to a young man in your life, lucky sod that he is.” Bob short was carrying on in light and meaningless conversation in order to distract the man behind them from seeing what might be going on. And what was going on was the simple fact that he was on his way to Brumpton Police Station for a meeting with Detective Inspector Rosie Baur.

You’re mates with Mr Pritchard, then?” asked Sheila, “or maybe Mrs Pritchard … but, no, he’s a widower, poor man, we were all quite broken when we heard of the sad passing of his lady wife a year or so back. A great supporter of our work, she was, law and order and all that. Made donations to our benevolent fund, she did, every year while she lived. He was mayor, you know, way back when I was a schoolgirl…”

I know who he is!” snapped the Reverend Roper, “I was wondering if I should call on him when you intercepted me.”

Yes, we noticed you tying laces you haven’t got in shoes that don’t have them,” Bob Short told him. “Fair drew our attention to you, it did, seeing you going through that routine, first with one laceless shoe then the other. We were asking ourselves what you might be going to pretend to tie next, so Sheila here suggested I got out and asked you, and seeing as our D.I. wants a few little words with you I decided to do just that.”

I demand to be let out of this car!” said that vicar, suddenly purposefully, “I’m a man of our Lord, I am, and as such entitled to consideration, especially as men in my position never do anything wrong or break any laws!”

We’re not accusing you of anything, sir, not thievery, why, you wouldn’t do that would you, nor house-breaking or burglary, or … let me see, murder!”

There was a silence behind them that lasted for two beats of Bob’s heart, then the vicar, instead of denying everything under the sun, instead of remarking that the suggestion that he might have actually murdered someone was totally ridiculous, asked in a strangled voice,

Why, what evidence do you think you’ve got?”

© Peter Rogerson, 13.02.21

© 2021 Peter Rogerson

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Added on January 13, 2021
Last Updated on January 13, 2021
Tags: police car, unmarked, vicar, spying


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..