Sunday 13 May 2012
Could I help it if ‘Midsomer Murders’ was on TV when I started writing this? No . . . well, I probably could have changed the TV channels but I happen to enjoy a lil bit of British crime telly.
‘He stood at the bottom gate and shouted abuse at me, Detective Chief Inspector James. Abuse, I tell you. In a most threatening manner.’
Detective Chief Inspector James squinted, his eyes just as exhausted as the rest of him after an unusually long shift. He sighed, rubbed his eyes, and sighed again. Lady Carlisle had a complaint for everything, and everyone, in the village.
‘Lady Carlisle, pray tell me, exactly what did Mr. Mitchell shout at you?’
Her eyes widened, shocked that the DCI had the gall to ask her to repeat Mitchell’s profanities.
‘Well, Lady Carlisle? I can’t investigate or lay charges if you won’t tell me what he said.’
‘Not said, Detective Chief Inspector, shouted. He shouted at me,’ she replied, skirting the DCI’s request to repeat Mitchell’s abuse.
‘Shouted, then Lady Carlisle. What did he shout?’ He rubbed his eyes again, his patience wearing thinner with each rub.
‘A fat, old, tarty trollop,’ she blurted out, ‘that’s what he called me. The nerve of him . . . ’
DCI James stifled a giggle. John Mitchell, he thought, was entirely correct. Lady Carlisle did have a reputation as a woman about town, and there was no denying either her age or girth.
‘Well, Detective Chief Inspector, aren’t you going to write it down?’
‘Oh, oh, yes, writing it down now,’ DCI James patted his jacket pockets in an attempt to locate his police issue notebook. ‘Noting it down for further investigation.’
Retrieving the notebook from the inner breast pocket of his jacket, the Detective Chief Inspector flicked through to find a blank page.
‘Fat, old, tarty trollop, you said?’ he repeated Mitchell’s insults as he wrote them on the page.
‘Yes,’ Lady Carlisle’s reply was short. ‘Then he shouted some expletives about my . . . intimate relations with Lord Carlisle, implying that I was of loose morals, and finally he said he wished I was dead and if needs be, he’d be happy to be the one to put me out of everyone’s misery. His words, Detective Chief Inspector.’
‘Right, um, thank you Lady Carlisle. I’ll, aaaah, I’ll get on to this as soon as I can.’
‘As soon as you can? You, of course, mean you’ll look into it straight away. Before Mitchell makes good on his threat.’ She eyeballed James, refusing to break her stare. His eyes never moved from the page of his notebook. He knew if he raised them to meet hers, the giggles he’d been working hard to suppress would shoot out, unrestrained, from his mouth.
‘Yes, Lady Carlisle, exactly. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have work to do,’ he spoke as calmly as he could and signalled for a junior officer. ‘WPC Atkins? Would you mind showing Lady Carlisle out?’
‘Not at all, Guv,’ WPC Atkins replied as she walked towards her DCI and Lady Carlisle.
‘This lovely young police constable will show you to your car, Lady Carlisle.’
Detective Chief Inspector James turned his back on her before Lady Carlisle had an opportunity to object. Striding towards his office, elated to be away from the clutches of the village’s aristocracy, James closed his notebook and replaced it back in his inner breast pocket. He threw a glance back in the direction he had come from, and saw Atkins ushering Lady Carlisle stealthily from the building.
‘Atkins, I think I owe you one,’ he said to himself as he took his usual end of shift place in his ergonomically designed office chair. He enjoyed the sound of the leather as he lowered himself into the chair, he enjoyed the smell of leather, and he enjoyed how relaxed the chair made him feel.
Putting his feet up on his desk, James leaned back into the chair, reclining ever so slightly. He sighed and clasped his hands behind his head, thankful that his day was over.
* * * * *
The barn at Westwind Farm was ablaze, and the glow could be seen for miles. Fire trucks sped up the corrugated lane that led from the tiny Foster’s Road to the residence at Westwind Farm. John Mitchell had driven that lane thousands of times in his life, but only one more time would he make the short journey from the farm to Foster’s Road. After the flames had been extinguished, his charred remains, forced into the pugilist pose by the extreme heat of the fire, would be ferried from farm to Foster’s Road to the County Morgue.
. . . To be continued . . .