5. Baked Beans on Toast

5. Baked Beans on Toast

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson

Over tea, Daisy and Ian exacmine what is k nown so far.



5. Baked Beans on Toast

I was back at home with Ian at the end of what had perhaps been the oddest day of my life, and Ian put it into words that didn’t really help events make sense but which drew a sort of picture.

You know, darling,” he said to me as we sat at the dining table trying to enjoy beans on toast, “all my working life I’ve never come upon a case of anyone waking up to find themselves in bed next to a murdered corpse, and today it’s happened twice!”

And they didn’t seem to have anything in common,” I added, not at all helpfully.

Except they were shot,” he reminded me, “and according to forensics it looks as if they might have been shot by the same gun.”

There is that,” I agreed.

And we have a list of zero suspects,” he sighed. “Let me recapitulate. Murder one: known bully with a history of physically abusing a child and murder two, complete stranger with no obvious connection to the town or even the county,” he sighed.

Do you think there might be a connection between the dead bodies?” I suggested.

We’re looking into that at all levels,” he agreed, “and we have the Shrimpton man’s finger prints as well as his DNA on record since he was imprisoned for breaking his boy’s arm so violently. We’ll have to compare the DNA with the large gentleman occupying the mayoral bed and see if there’s any connection. It’s a faint possibility, but we’ll have to work with what we’ve got.”

What about the boy whose arm he broke with that iron bar?” I asked, a thought striking me. “He’ll be quite a lot older than he was by now, won’t he?

Ian nodded. “He’s possibly twentyish,” he said, “and our records show that he joined the army as an apprentice as soon as he could after leaving school. The bad news is he was dismissed a year or two after becoming a soldier for behaviour that brought the army into disrepute. David Shrimpton turned out to be unsuitable for army-type discipline and actually struck a senior officer, not once but on two different occasions! What he did after that I don’t know. I asked an officer to trace him, but there was nothing. No bank account, no benefits as far as we could tell, nothing. He left the army and disappeared from sight as if he was a ghost.”

Poor lad,” I sighed, guessing that his troubles were massaged into being by a violent and often cruel father.

Whatever he is, he’s off our radar,” Ian told me, rather too firmly for my liking. “What about Miss Penfold’s story that the man she found in her bed looked a bit like her boyfriend of, what, forty years ago”

Which would make him coming up for sixty now, and the fellow in our morgue isn’t anywhere near that old. According to Grimm, he’s possibly thirty years old, or in that general region. Anyway, we have no way of knowing who he was except that he was a Shrimpton lookalike and most people have near-lookalikes bearing in mind the limited number of features on a human face!”

He must have been an odd sort to have said he’d marry the dragon, though,” I smirked.

Watch it! She’s your boss!” he said, semi-seriously.

And she called me Daisy! In front of the rest of the staff! She was troubled! She’d never normally do that.”

Wouldn’t you be if you found a dead person cuddling to you in bed when you woke up?” he said.

Touché,” I replied, “a bit like you when you’ve done a double shift, including nights.”

The problem for me is the two stiffs must have something in common,” he went on, frowning. “I mean, it’s such a rare event as to be virtually unknown, and twice in the same day? And both shot with what is probably the same gun? And both stripped stark naked so that it’s hard to identify them? And one of them delivered to the mayoral boudoir without him getting a sniff that something was going on?”

What about the mayoral wife?” I asked, not knowing anything about the couple who were ostensibly in charge of the town, though like everyone in Brumpton I knew that the mayor had discarded his first wife in exchange for a younger model a year or so back.

She was playing away,” he told me briefly, “she’s famous for it, but he doesn’t seem to mind. Probably too much for him, being so young.”

Wouldn’t that be a motive for him to do away with one of his lady mayoress’s playmates?” I suggested, “and just to make a point dump him in the bed where she was supposed to be according to her wedding vows?”

If you’d seen the way he was shaking you’d know that’s not the case,” Ian said, “and it wasn’t all the DT’s, though he had been doing a considerable amount of drinking the night before. No, his reaction was genuine, I’d swear to it. I’ll bet it’ll take him a month of Sundays to get over it, too.”

And his good lady? Has she been questioned?”

Of course she has! I saw to it myself, and I can assure you she was genuinely upset. She’s not what rumour makes her, you know. She’s rather sweet. Yes, she was upset all right.”

That she’ll have to wash the bedding?”

Now that isn’t you talking, Daisy! You’re not that catty! No, I reckon my experience has made me a pretty good judge of characters and their reactions, and she was upset for him even though she’d been playing the unfaithful game. I got the feeling that she really loves him but has a strange way of showing it. And what’s more she told me in all seriousness that she’d never sleep away from home again.”

I felt cynical when he said that though I only knew Elaine Shrimpton by reputation. The talk in the town was she had only got him on her hook because he had quite a small fortune in the bank, and she’d already started to help him spend it. Her marriage to him wasn’t a move to get a feeling of the political power his position gave her but an eye on the future when he might sadly yield to nature’s joke, and die, leaving her an inheriting widow. She would still be wealthy and young enough to enjoy it.

Well,” murmured Ian, “if you don’t mind I’ll check back at the station and see if there’s anything new afoot. It’ll only be a brief phone call. And then we can watch a bit of telly together. How about catching an old Death in Paradise on the i-player?”

And watching you perving at Florence in her short shorts?” I teased him.

He grinned back at me. “As if I would,” he murmured, “it’s you and that Irish DI that worries me!”

© Peter Rogerson 22.05.23


© 2023 Peter Rogerson

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Added on May 22, 2023
Last Updated on May 22, 2023
Tags: murder, teatime, analysis


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..