A Chapter by Peter Rogerson

Tragedy in a church


The young clergyman, being a stranger to Brumpton. gasped in amazement as the D.S ordered Father Ian to get to his feet and, to quote himself, be a man rather than a mouse and confess his sins instead of hiding himself away on the ground like he was. Then he guessed that the worst had happened and as the plain clothes policeman continued to blindly bellow at the prostrate form of Father Ian, he rushed to where the elderly priest lay and felt for his pulse.

But the old man had no pulse for him to find, so he started administering what he knew of the right things to do in order to resuscitate the nearly dead and give them a lively pulse, and got nowhere, though there was the troubling cracking sound as frail old ribs gave up the ghost under the pressure of his fingers. Thus the spark of life had departed from Father Ian, and would never return. Fathwr Ignatious crossed himself and murmured a bief prayer before turning to face the DS.

Wake that man will you?” demanded DS Gray, “he needs to answer some questions and I want to hear the answers.”

You foolish man,” replied Father Ignatious much more quietly, “can’t you see that the man is dead? That the things you said to him in that shockingly unpleasant voice of yours have contrived to still his heart? And yet like the buffoon you clearly are, you can’t see that?”

Now DS Gray was never as bright as a detective sergeant really ought to be and it had long been a matter of debate at the station how he became so elevated, but in this instance his infertile mind was searching around for someone else to replace the unfortunate Father Ian as he searched for the criminal who had buried a blade in the thigh of a child, and left her bleeding in a gutter. And that child had said quite clearly that the man who had assaulted her was a priest. So one priest in this church lay dead, and anyway he was clearly too old to have gone charging round Brumpton with a knife in his hand, but this new one, the one who had just insulted him? What about him?

Might he not be the one the girl had meant? Everything pointed to him. After all, there weren’t that many men with dog collars in Brumpton, were there? It wasn’t a godless town, but there were still enthusiastic congregations singing their hearts out on Sundays. Maybe there were just the three with their silly collars… Well. If the pervert with the pretty girl was out of the reckoning, and maybe he was, then what about this cheeky young upstart who, and if you examined his words carefully implied that by shouting at the old man he had somehow been responsible for his death? Surely he more than fit the bill? He had a callous and cruel look to him, didn’t he?

He was about to put into practice a series of questions that, if answered properly, would prove conclusively that the young Priest was indeed the criminal when one of the pallbearers broke into the patterns inside his head.

What about poor old Gwen Dolfry then?” he demanded of nobody and everyone.

What about her?” asked the DS.

She’s waiting for someone to pray her on her way,” replied the pallbearer, possibly being deliberately obtuse because, like everyone else in that church, he had taken a dislike to the Detective Sergeant who seemed determined to ruin everything for everyone. And didn’t the late Gwen Dolfry deserve more than just passing consideration?

That will be what the late Father Ian was going to do, right?” asked the much younger clergyman.

The pallbearer nodded. “He was looking forward to it,” he said without knowing whether the statement had any truth to it or not, “and so was Gwen,” he added, similarly unsure of the veracity of the statement because he wasn’t aware that the deceased had ever expressed a preference.

Then it must be down to me,” decided Father Ignatious, “if everyone will please be seated and show respect for the deceased.”

The pallbearers lifted the coffin up and proceeded to place it on the table that had been erected earlier for for it.

What’s going on?” demanded DS Gray as if nothing made any sense to him..

It’s a funeral!” hissed one of the mourners.

Whose funeral?” he asked, “not his, surely?” He pointed at the still rumpled form of the later Father Ian, “he’s not been dead five minutes and the coroner has to have his say!”

Father Ignatious decided that the plain clothes policeman needed to be put in his place before he displayed any more disrespect in this holy house. So he scowled at the officer and made his own way to the pulpit, which required him to step delicately over the crumpled remains of the senior father.

He spoke briefly in a special holy voice he’d spent ages practising, of the glories in the hereafter that the late lady in the coffin (he didn’t know her name) would be enjoying even now, and he muttered a few lines of faux-Latin, and the whole service didn’t last for more than a few minutes before he couldn’t think of anything else to say and suggested that the gathering finally sang a hymn before the coffin and its contebts were trundled off to the crematorium.

Detective Sergeant Gray did them the courtesy of remaining quiet, though he was silenced more by confusion than any desire to be courteous.. He knew deep in his inner soul that he had to arrest somebody before everything disappeared in the way that things often did.

Hey, you!” he snapped at the young clergyman, “I need an alibi!”

You what?” asked Father Ignatious.

Where were you yesterday evening? And make sure you tell the truth because I believe I know where you were and what you were up to.”

Are you actually certifiably insane?” asked Ignatious.

Which was enough for the soothing lullaby of the funeral service to lift itself from the officer’s mind and help him in his voyage from logic and sanity.

© Peter Rogerson 11.12.22


© 2022 Peter Rogerson

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Added on December 11, 2022
Last Updated on December 11, 2022
Tags: church, heart attack, death, DS Gray


Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

I am 79 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..