13. The Disappearing Vicar

13. The Disappearing Vicar

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson
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REMEMBERING REBECCA - Part 13

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The Reverend Richard Roper had seen the officer following him even though he was on foot and that officer was in a car, and he shook his head.

Think they’re more clever than me, do they?” he grinned to himself, “think they can watch me every moment our Lord gives? Well, I’ll show them and that dusky creature they call an Inspector? Well, we’ll see.

He stood outside the church, not his church but any church would do, and he turned and very purposefully walked in, through the door into a dusty and sombre porch.

If this was my place I’d sack the cleaner and employ someone who could hold a duster, he thought to himself. Then he disappeared into the shadows of the inside of the old church, a building that had stood there since the fourteenth century and had accumulated layers of dust probably since the last stone had been put into place and its first clergyman had raised his head and thanked Rome for its benefice.

D.C. Sheila Robinson watched him from her Citroen as he disappeared from sight and sighed. The last thing she wanted to do was go into a church after a clergyman who may or may not know a way out that she was ignorant of, and she was pretty sure that he knew she was tailing him by the furtive glances he cast her way every so often.

He’s gone into Saint Hilda’s, sarge,” she reported, “it’s not his church, I’ve not heard that he’s got anything to do with it, him being a protestant and Saint Hilda’s being a catholic church. I don’t want to follow him in case he gives me the slip between rows of pews and sneaks out behind me while I’m up close to the pulpit.”

Understood, Sheila,” replied Bob Short, “stay where you are and I’ll be along in, say, half an hour. Then we can divide and conquer so to speak. If he puts in an appearance before you see me let me know. Best of luck!”

By the time that brief conversation was over the Reverend Richard Roper was on a side street, having wormed his way through a vestry and a short passage, through a small inconspicuous door and out onto the street.

That’ll show you, my girl,” he grinned to himself, thinking you can outwit a man of God going about his sacred duties...

What those sacred duties might have been were unclear even to him, but he had one thought on his mind. The clumsy and inefficient police force that was the security of the small town of Brumpton wasn’t going to make him look a fool. He knew what he had to do in the name of the Lord, and by golly he was going to do it.

Maybe if he knew the Detective Inspector in charge of the case of the murdered women better, he may have been less sure that he could defeat her forces when it came to a game of cat and mouse. But he’d seen her, listened to her questions, and foolishly judged that from the bronzed colour of her skin that she was a great deal inferior to himself. Which, if it was important, was a mistake.

Meanwhile Detective Constable Sheila Robinson was sitting in her car and watching the door of the church. Nobody went in and nobody came out and watching a door can become very boring indeed, so it was just as well that Sergeant Bob Short was as good as his word and arrived on foot about the time he’d said he would.

Nothing doing, Constable?” he asked as he climbed into her car parked on the main road opposite Saint Hilda’s Church and sat heavily next to her next to her.

I’ve not moved my eyes from that door and he’s not left the place,” she said.

I wonder what he’s doing in there?” he grumbled. “Rosie was quite specific. Keep our eyes on him. I tell you what: you take a look around inside and I’ll stay here and watch. I’ll give you a call if I see anything, and you do likewise.”

Happy to be on two feet rather than on her bottom in the car seat Sheila made her way to the church, and went through its dusty and time-laden porch and into the main building where rows of pews dominated everything. She stood still while her eyes adjusted to the dim unlit interior, then carefully swept them over the entirety of the nave.

Unless the wretched Roper was hiding in one of the seats he was nowhere to be seen. Slowly, she moved towards the front of the church and carefully examined every row of pews as she went, her eyes scanning the length of them. The faint crunching sound of her feet on the dusty floor was the only thing she could hear as she concentrated her senses in order to detect even the least indication that anyone was there.

Which made the sudden “Can I help you?” in a rusty male voice cause her to jump.

It was a man in clerical garb, wearing a white surplice and a pair of thick lensed spectacles that somehow managed to cling to the tip of his nose, seemingly defying gravity.

I’m Detective Constable Robinson,” she said in reply, and held her warrant card for him to see. “I’m looking for a man I saw enter this church about half an hour ago. He is a person of interest in an on-going enquiry, and he seems to have vanished.

If he has come here for sanctuary, then that is his right and he must consider himself safe in here,” replied the priest.

Is is a man of the cloth like yourself, though not a Roman Catholic,” she said, “and he is a witness in the savage murder of two elderly ladies.”

Oh, I heard there have been vicious deeds recently,” he said, “a protestant clergyman, you say? Well, no matter what faith he is, if he can help bring the villains to justice then it is his duty so to do.”

It would help us if we could talk to him,” replied Sheila cautiously.

Then he may have made his way out the back way. Come on, I’ll show you the way,” the priest said, obviously aware that although he had a duty to his religion he also had a duty to the society in which he lived.

He showed Sheila the route through the vestry and short passage, and opened the small back door.

Thanks, sir,” she said, and he nodded his acknowledgement.

The side street created a corner with the main road on which Saint Hilda’s church had been built, and Shelia hastened along it, back to her car.

She clambered in. “No joy,” she said to the sergeant who had just been on his phone and whose face was a mask of concern.

That’s a crying shame,” replied Detective Sergeant Short, “because I’ve just heard. There’s been another knifing, and it’s not more than a five minute walk away from here. Come on, Sheila, let’s go! Take the next left!”

© Peter Rogerson 18.01.21



© 2021 Peter Rogerson


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Added on January 18, 2021
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Tags: church, hiding, priest, back door


Author

Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom



About
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..

Writing
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