A Chapter by Peter Rogerson

A severe infants school headmistress wakes up on morning to find that she is not alone n bed...



1.A Messy Morning

It was a messy morning. To start with, I had to get out of bed without waking Ian, who had been awake half the night chasing villains through the town and failing to catch one of them.

I’m Daisy Bincott and I teach infants at Cotedove First School, and I was well aware that if I arrived late one more time I’d be in trouble with the gristly old headmistress Miss Penfold who had, according to rumour, started teaching in Noah’s ark when his kids needed help counting in twos.

Ian loved his job. I could tell that he did, even when failure at times frustrated him, and he was good at what he did. He hadn’t been promoted to be a detective inspector for nothing! But there had been a series of crimes involving breaking windows and villains entering old people’s bungalows that perplexed him because the villains never left any clues in their wake, just tearful old biddies with no pension left and an empty pantry. So Ian was putting in a lot of unpaid overtime out of sympathy for the victims.

Having got out of bed without waking him I had to sneak down stairs to the downstairs toilet because he was so sensitive to what he described as deafening noises that the sound of the loo being flushed in the room next to our boudoir was enough to rattle his brains to wakefulness.

Then I had to make myself some breakfast and dress in something modest enough not to draw the attention of Miss Penfold. This meant that if she could see either of my knees I’d be up before her and get a sharp lecture on morality, which was something I have never been able to understand because every time I look in the mirror I see my knees reflected back at me, and consider them the most attractive things in sight and by no means immoral, much more attractive than Miss Penfold’s scrawny and rather wrinkled nobbly affairs.

I always did have pretty knees!

I let myself quietly out of the front door and was relieved when I didn’t hear Ian complaining about being woken up at the crack of dawn. Then I went to my car, wonderfully silent because it’s electric, and set off for school.

Thankfully, I wasn’t late. The children were still being this or that person or creature from whatever it is they watch on the television, and doing it noisily in the playground, and I made my way to the staffroom.

I had barely stepped in when Miss Penfold, her haggard face worse than usual, which is saying quite a lot, glaring at me as if I had no right to be there. Then she shocked me by addressing me, using my Christian name rather that the brusque Miss Bincott, which I am considerably more used to.

Ah, Daisy,” she said, “a word, please,” and she made her way out of the staffroom into the corridor with me walking just behind her, and leaned against a radiator, not for heat I can assure you because it was mid May and the heating never went on after the end of April.

I stood in the corridor and looked at her. Her face was pale as if she’d suffered from some shock that had rattled her bones to their very core.

Daisy,” she repeated, “I need your husband. I need him to help me. Something’s gone wrong, and I have no idea what to do about it…”

Miss Penfold?” I queried.

Cynthia, please. You can call me Cynthia if we can get this mess cleared up.”

I had never known anyone refer to her as anything other than Miss Penfold or the Dragon, and here was me being invited to call her Cynthia. And she had mentioned a mess, as if the entire school building was on the point of collapsing, which I was pretty sure it wasn’t. These old Victorian buildings had something to teach their modern equivalents when it came to standing the test of time.

This mess, Cynthia?” I asked

She looked at me as if shocked that I dared use her fore-name and then slowly nodded her head.

He’s a detective, I believe, your husband,” she asked, as if she didn’t know, and I had a thousand good reasons for knowing that she did.

Yes,” I replied, careful not to say one syllable more than I needed to.

I need him.” she said, “I need him like I’ve never needed anyone before!”

What is it, Cynthia?” I asked, beginning to feel alarmed because to my certain knowledge the woman had never needed a man in any corner of her life, least of all a clever one like Ian, and had actually been heard to say I’ve no idea why she should marry him, the day before I married Ian a year or so ago.

I woke up this morning to the sound of my alarm clock playing Greensleeves,” she began. I could quite easily imagine her with a musical alarm clock playing a famously Tudor melody, and I waited for her to continue.

And?” I encouraged her.

When I looked round my room to see what kind of day it was, like was the sun shining or was it raining, I discovered something that nearly made my heart stop beating. You won’t tell anyone about this, will you, Daisy?”

Not if you don’t want me to, Cynthia, but might you have to tell Ian?”

Your husband? Yes, I’m afraid I might, though I don’t know how I’m going to do it. Maybe you could tell him for me?”

This was getting silly. First I mustn’t tell anyone then I must tell Ian, and I hadn’t a clue what I shouldn’t either tell or not tell except that she was woken up by a clock tinkling out Greensleeves.

Yes, Cynthia,” I said carefully.

Then I’ll tell you as long as you remember what you agreed about not mentioning it to anyone…”

Of course, Cynthia…” I said carefully.

Then I’ll tell you. When I woke up this morning and looked around the room I found that I wasn’t alone in my bed! There was a man there with me! In my bed!”

Goodness me,” I replied, hardly believing it myself.

I never, absolutely never, have men in my bed,” she said, stiffly. “I detest men! They smell all… manly, they are whiskery in an unnecessarily violent way and they have unmentionable bits on their bodies.”

Better not mention them then, I thought, and almost smiled at the idea that Miss Penfold had actually mentioned things that she herself found to be unmentionable.

Oh dear,” was all I could say.

And he wasn’t breathing, Cynthia! He was certainly not breathing! And he looked every bit like the man I almost married forty years ago! Don’t tell anyone that, will you? I know I’m a well known single lady and I don’t want it to be known that I almost got married in my younger years in a moment of madness.”

Crikey,” I coudn’t stop myself saying.

She didn’t seem to notice. “So, Daisy, I want your husband to deal with it. A dead man in my bed, and probably good looking in a sleazy sort of way. But dead! Lifeless! Who is he, how did he get there and for goodness sake, how did he get to be dead? In my bed?”

I’d best ring him,” I assured her, trying to forestall the burst of emotion that looked as if it might spill from her and by doing so destroy the reputation she’d spent so many years gathering to herself.

He will help me, won’t he?” she asked, “I mean, I need someone to help me.”

We’ll see what he’s got to say,” I told her, and looked at my watch.

The school bell hadn’t gone, but it was well past half past nine. Of course: Miss Penfold always rang it in the morning. I darted into the staff room and said in my loudest voice “Someone ring the bell, for goodness sake!” and dialled Ian’s number on my phone, ignoring my colleagues’ furrowed brows and hastily formed questions.

His voice was almost awake when he replied.

Ian, quick, please can you come to school?” I asked, “there’s a situation, and it’s right up your street!”


© Peter Rogerson, 18.05.23


© 2023 Peter Rogerson

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Added on May 18, 2023
Last Updated on May 20, 2023
Tags: first school, greensleeves, body, dead


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..