A Chapter by Peter Rogerson

Christie’s Detective Agency Part 3


  The look of gratitude on Beryl Stubbs’ face was one that Horace would treasure for the rest of his days. It contained within it relief that at last someone was going to try to do something about a death that shouldn’t have happened even though she was fully aware that her husband had always had a great deal too much of an eye for the ladies.

He’d often been heard to snigger at what he’d seen through bedroom windows and more than once suggested he might have been on the wrong side of those windows himself, in the company of the lady of the house. Beryl knew all about these adventures and forgave him for the simple reason that she had loved him and was fully aware that he lied through his teeth about such things. And love him she still did, even in death.

And this slip of a lad, this schoolboy, was going to put everything right.

Well, you said all the right things there,” Jennifer told him approvingly once Mrs Stubbs could be heard well down the stairs.

A woman knows her husband, and she knew hers,” murmured Horace, “and I really believe she should be listened to.”

Well, I hope you find it all as easy as you seem to think it might be. But don’t forget that the police investigated and concluded it was an accident waiting to happen, him up to the second floor of an old Victorian vicarage perched on a ladder. It’s obviously not safe being that high off the ground.” his new boss told him.

I’d like to get an eyeful of that police report,” suggested Horace, “can we do that?”

Jennifer shook her head. “They don’t like sharing their investigation conclusions with Joe Public,” she said, “and as far as they’re concerned we and others like us are an evil they’d prefer to see go away.”

But didn’t Mrs Stubbs say there was a policeman actually at the vicarage when her poor husband fell?” asked Horace.

Yes. Bob Grungeworthy. Knocking on the door of retirement, I should think. Doesn’t enjoy rocking too many boats, though he can be quite helpful. My dad knew him. They got on like a house on fire. I’ll see what I can do.”

Also, I’d like to visit the vicarage and see exactly what we’ve been talking about,” murmured Horace.

Then I’ll come along with you,” decided Jennifer, “seeing as it’s your first day. My, you are a breath of fresh air, Horace. H.P. Sorsse is an unusual name. What does the P stand for?

You won’t believe me if I tell you,” said Horace uncomfortably.

Why? Is it rude?” asked Jennifer with the hint of a giggle.

Not rude, of course not. It was a joke, I guess. My dad had one hell of a sense of humour when he registered my birth.”

And? That middle name?”

Horace blushed and replied “Poirot. He called me Horace Poirot Sorsse.”

Like in the books?”

He sighed “Exactly like in the books, though I’m not Belgian.”

Well, Poirot, we’d best get along to that vicarage and see what might be seen.”

I’d be pleased if you used my first name, Miss Marple.”

But don’t you see the fun of it, Horace? Poirot and Marple working the same case!”

You mean Horace and Jennifer?”

All right. But it is fun! Arm yourself with some of this junk on your way down. There’s a bin on the street.” She waved one arm, indicating the detritus on her desk.”

It is a bit…” he muttered.

Untidy? In a mess? Disgraceful?” she suggested.

I was going to say unhygienic,” he replied, and gathered as many empty and even only partly empty plastic cups as he could fit under one arm. He followed her down the stairs and onto the street after she had locked the door, and gratefully dropped the rubbish into a waiting bin.

That could be dangerous,” he muttered, pointing at the bin’s rather ancient support, a steel plate with a sharp top fixed firmly into the concrete path.

It’s been like that as long as I can remember,” she told him, “come on, my car’s round here.”

She led him through an archway to a small private car park, and her red Nissan Leaf.

With her comfortably behind the wheel she drove out, onto the street.

This is quiet,” he said, impressed.

All electric,” was her reply, “it’s not far. What exactly do you hope to find out?”

Anything,” he said, “what do you know about the window cleaner?”

Not a deal. We only got the case today!” smiled Jennifer, “but what I have heard suggests he might have been a bit of a ladies man, you know, smarmy and itching to get into their pants.”

And the vicar didn’t mind having a sex maniac cleaning his windows?” frowned Horace.

He wasn’t exactly a sex maniac!” retorted Jennifer, “He cleaned my windows, but I had no bother from him, though he did seem to think that he had a beguiling smile.”

I see,” murmured Horace.

He became thoughtful. It seemed to him that his new boss was sufficiently attractive that a man, normally driven by his hormones, would set his eyes and possibly even try his hands on her. Her hair, the longest he’d ever seen, even attracted him, seeming to invite him to run his hands through it, an invitation he resisted with difficulty, but then, he knew that she was driving.

How old was he?” he asked.

I dunno. Thirties, maybe forties,” replied Jennifer, lacking any precision, which he thought unusual for a private detective.

The vicarage, when they arrived there, was clearly Victorian in design and right next to a church, with only a footpath separating the two buildings. There was a short footpath leading through a gate to the front door, and that footpath branched off to the right and led round the back.

It was the vicar who opened the door to them and Horace, who believed that first impressions count more than any other, decided that there was something terribly wrong with his attitude.

You’ve come to make a donation to our cause?” he asked.

Pardon?” asked Jennifer.

The appeal? You know, the church roof? Our need for work on it, and the costs are astronomic! I had in a vision that two angels would come with purses filled with coin towards the roof.”

Then you’ve got the wrong twosome,” replied Jennifer, “we’re private investigators who have been employed by a Mrs Stubbs to look into the circumstances surrounding the death of her husband, your window cleaner.”

At that the Reverend Rolf Pyke seemed to morph into a totally different person as his expression darkened and his voice lost what had been an almost appealing timbre.

Then I must ask you to get off church property,” he snapped, “the police are satisfied, and so am I! Clear off, and don’t come back unless you have a substantial donation towards the church roof!”

© Peter Rogerson 10.09.21


© 2021 Peter Rogerson

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Added on September 10, 2021
Last Updated on September 10, 2021
Tags: vicar, church roof


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..