7. Two Questions Need Answers

7. Two Questions Need Answers

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson

Discuszions in the police station



7. Two Questions Need Answers

Has anyone thought of asking Benjamin Shrimpton’s wife if she’s got any take on why he’s dead?” asked Ian of the small group of officers standing around the white board and listening to his briefing. There weren’t many there, but then his team was small and lean and could have done with more men, only Superintendent Feazey didn’t think so.

His ex-wife, you mean, sir,” said Sergeant Puller, “they got divorced while he was in custody over bullying his son, David Shrimpton, who was, I think, ten at the time. So she’s had nothing to do with her ex for around a decade, and I thought it was a bit cruel to drag it all back up for her when she’s most likely had a load of trouble forgetting it. Seems she’s made a go of her life, remarried or cohabiting with a reverend gentleman who is abroad doing the Lord’s work in Africa.”

Ian frowned at the sergeant and wondered if he’d been promoted too high, too soon. “This is a murder enquiry, you know, Sergeant Puller” he said, “and things like sloppy consideration for the unknown go out of the window until we know everything about everyone. For starters, are they marrying or cohabiting, and do members of the clergy, if that’s what he is, usually omit the marrying bit and stay with living in sin? So what facts made you discount a possible suspect, Sergeant? After all, her first husband did seriously injure her son, and sometimes a woman goes for a type of male and she may have done that herself and got another bad lot. What do we know about her second husband or boyfriend?”

Well, he’s a reverend,” replied Sergeant Puller, a little peevishly, “and he’s somewhere in Africa telling the kids there about Jesusl”

And you’ve checked that’s where he is?” growled Ian, “because I’ve come upon cases in the past where one small piece of sloppy work has led to a killer going free, to possibly kill again, and we don’t want that to happen here do we, Sergeant?”

No, sir.” Sergeant Puller did his best to sound contrite, but didn’t quite pull it off.

So, Roger, you go and check that Mr or Reverend what’s his name is spreading his kind of crap on the dark continent and maybe then I’ll be satisfied.”

He turned away. He had a problem with churches and religion, not because he distrusted those who worked in them but because the powers that be got tetchy if the police seemed to be taking too much notice of them. There was, in his opinion, a bit too much undue influence from way above him, which sometimes hampered him doing his job as he’d like to. Clergymen and politicians. They were two gigantic no-go areas in his world, and he knew he had to tread carefully.

Sorry, sir,” said Sergeant Puller contritely, “I wasn’t thinking, sir,” he added.

Ian suddenly felt a wave of sympathy for the sergeant and he murmured, “I doubt that it matters, son, so cheer up.”

Then Ian changed the subject. “Now folks,” he said, “what do we know about the Johndoe who cosied up to the Mayor in bed” he asked, “anyone heard anything new?”

There was a stubborn silence as the few officers realised they knew nothing whatsoever about the rather plump man who had so alarmed the borough mayor by turning up in his bed, cold and very, very dead.

He’s a big man,” said Ian, “or was,” he added with a grin intended to lighten the mood in the room. He knew men didn’t think too clearly if they were constantly being aware that their thoughts were being subjected to criticism rather than praise.

It’s a good thing the Mayor’s bedroom’s on the ground floor,” contributed a relatively new constable, Megan Braintree, young, keen to do well in what she perceived as a testosterone-fuelled mostly-male environment.

He nodded. “There was no sign that the place was broken into, so the access point was that open bedroom window,” he said, “and even so, if the body was unconscious it would have taken at least two strong men to heave it into the room, and then, without waking the Mayor, into his bed next to him.”

And then shooting him,” muttered DS Puller.

Ian nodded. “With a silenced pistol. And even those aren’t always exactly silent. So what do we have from forensics? Not much, if the truth be told. The only fingerprints in the room belong to his Worship the Mayor and his pretty young wife. There aren’t any left by the Johndoe, but he may have worn gloves before he was stripped off.”

It can’t be easy to completely undress a large dead body,” murmured DC Braintree thoughtfully, “what if he was naked when he was taken there? Maybe semi-conscious? And then the gloves taken off him when they finally manoeuvred him into bed and shot him. Result: a dead fat man in bed and no prints anywhere, not even his!”

Good thinking, Megan,” smiled Ian who couldn’t help thinking that if Daisy wasn’t so perfect a wife he might make a play for this young constable. Then he shook the thought away as being unworthy of him.

Right-oh, everyone,” he concluded the briefing, “we’ve go two jobs to do and also, checking the alibi, if that’s what it is, of the unknown reverend. Then look for witnesses. Did anyone see a naked man near Oakland street, where the Mayor lives? Was there anything suspicious seen in that neighbourhood that night? It must have made quite a fuss and surely someone noticed two or maybe even three men in the company of one large naked sleep-walking individual? Maybe someone thought he’d had a drop too many and coudn’t believe his eyes, so chose to ignore it. And we must continue to question anyone who was in the neighbourhood of Cotedove First School when the same happened there, at the adjoining bungalow.”

The meeting, small as it was, broke up.

Well done Megan,” smiled Ian to the constable, though neither he nor she know why he’d said it. But it made her feel good, so it served any purpose it may or may not have had.

© Peter Rogerson 24.05.23


© 2023 Peter Rogerson

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Added on May 24, 2023
Last Updated on May 24, 2023
Tags: bodies, johndoes, discussio, plans


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..