16. Behind the Super’s Back

16. Behind the Super’s Back

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson



Rosie was expecting an explosive outburst from the Superintendent but was pleasantly surprised that he had calmed down from when she had seen him raging at the farm where she enjoyed the summer sun. Maybe , she thought, he was irked by the way she sought comfort even though she was working.

“I see you’re still dressed comfortably,” he said, almost warmly, “and I must say I like that dress. Very nice for the summer. Very nice indeed. Now tell me, have you given any thought as to who our murderer might be?”

“I believe there have got to be two killers,” she said after the briefest pause during which she went some way to collecting her thoughts. “The shooting of the Reverend Roper has a very different M.O. to the knifings of the elderly ladies.”

“Isn’t that complicating matters somewhat?” he asked. “We have very few murderers in Brumpton and to have two turning up in the same week is unusual, to say the least. In fact, I’d say almost certainly improbable. No, you’ve got to concentrate on the present and forget the distant past.”

“I believe that the crimes are connected, though,” explained Rosie, “Constable Robinson has been working on links with the dead women and their pasts.”

“As long as you and your team don’t start fantasising about young children and primary schools,” growled the Superintendent, “That was daft, that was, Inspector Baur. Things like retribution for something above half a century old doesn’t sound like a useful way of utilizing scarce resources to me!”

“Of course, sir,” murmured Rosie, but her mind was becoming ever more locked onto the notion that the present spate of murders almost certainly had its origins in sixty years ago and a playground full of children.

“Well, carry on,” he grunted, and she left before he could think of something else he didn’t think was a useful use of her team’s time.

Detective Sheila Robinson was still at her desk, frowning at the monitor in front of her.

“Is there more, Shelia?” she asked gently. The young D.C looked up. “Could be, ma’am,” she said slowly, “there can’t have been many occasions when the playground only had children from one class in it. You see, the rest had gone on a field trip to the theatre. There was a puppet show on, apparently an educational puppet show if there ever was such a thing, and all the rage for a brief time back then, but the top class had been doing the eleven plus examination and couldn’t go. When the exam was over they were all in the playground, and that’s when Rebecca Rowbotham was knifed.”

“And the late Reverend Roper was one of those children,” sighed Rosie.

“As were the first two victims, Amelia Armstrong and Betsy Bullard,” nodded Sheila, “now, when he was a schoolboy that same day, the Reverend swore that he saw a stranger hovering in the area where the girl was found dead in a pool of blood, and I’ve got a plan of the school here. It’s a modern map, but the place has hardly changed in all the years since it was built in the middle of the twentieth century, and as far as I can see it’s most unlikely that any man with evil intent, or even with ordinary friendly intent, could have got there without being seen. The secretary’s office, and the Headmistress’s, both have windows facing the route he would have had to go.”

“So anyone wishing to harm a child would have been in plain sight, let me see, down this path from the main road…” Rosie pointed on the plan to a path that led from the main road, following the route of a small grassed sports and play area and on to the main school building. “...and would be open to inspection for as long as it took. Yet the alleged killer wasn’t seen by anyone.”

“Exactly,” nodded Sheila, “and certainly not around the time the poor girl was killed. Look, ma’am, I’ve unearthed a photo of her…

Rosie looked at the small black and white monochrome school photograph. Rebecca Rowbotham had certainly been prettier than the average girl, with really long hair that was neatly plaited into pigtails.

“A lovely girl,” she sighed.

“Yes ma’am,” agreed Sheila, “and I’ve unearthed some of the notes the police officers of the day made. They’re very sparse. I don’t think the all-male team understood schoolgirls very much! But one of them did note that she had a best friend, a girl she was hardly ever separated from at school or at home. They lived on the same street, so I suppose it was inevitable they’d socialise after school. Her name was Candice Kristen and she still lives in the same area.”

“Now that’s interesting,” mused Rosie.

Sheila’s eyes glowed when she glanced up at her Inspector. “She actually still lives in the same house as she did when she was at school and, ma’am, I reckon we might learn quite a lot if we went to talk to her.”

“You do?”

“They were best friends, closer than many kids are when they’re that young, and they probably shared secrets, and it might be one of those secrets that led to Rebecca’s death back then and has had repercussions this very week.”

“Now that’s positive thinking,” agreed Rosie, “I tell you what, Sheila, you and I ought to go and see if this, what was her name, Candice, can remember about those far off days and her very best friend.”

“I was thinking the same thing, ma’am.”

“It’s a very modern name for a child to have had back then,” suggested Rosie, “which probably means nothing at all.”

“Names do the rounds, ma’am,” said Sheila, “old names come back and stop being old, if your see what I mean. The lass next door to me has a baby called Ada, and that’s always been in my head as the name attached to old ladies!”

“I suppose you’re right,” murmured Rosie, “look, Sheila, I don’t want to get in the way of any promotion you may be planning on enjoying in the future, but for the time being it might be helpful to our investigation if you don’t emphasise this sixty year old angle if the Super asks what we’re up to. I don’t think he believes there can be any connection, but I, and it seems you, think there might be.”

“You’re right there, ma’am. And I’d already worked out that he frowns on the idea of a connection between schoolkids of an age ago, and now.”

“So come on, Sheila, we’ll sneak out now while his back’s turned and go and see if Candice can enlighten us.”

© Peter Rogerson, 21.01.21

© 2021 Peter Rogerson

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Added on January 21, 2021
Last Updated on January 21, 2021
Tags: past, playground, eleven plus, friendship


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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