Murder At St Marmaduke’s #28a

Once again, to read the story so far, please go to my St Marmaduke’s Page.

Chapter 28

Tuesday 12th November 1985: 12.30 – 13.45

Section (a)

DCI Meredith stood in the living room of Hettie Foster’s bungalow, and stared around at a neatness that clearly indicated someone whose life had never been contaminated by children. The only jarring note was the dried spatters of blood near the door. From the rest of the room, it was certain that if Harriet Foster had been alive to see them, she’d have had the 1001 out before breakfast.

But this was just prevarication thinking. Meredith was looking for something. Quite what the hell he was looking for, he hadn’t a clue. But he knew that he’d know it when he saw it.

At least — he thought that he knew that he’d know it when he saw it; but frankly, he could have been staring at it right this minute and not knowing that he was, and the knowing that he didn’t know was giving him the pip.

Hell and damnation, this was getting him as nowhere as anything else that had been tried up to now! Giving a suspicious-looking pouffe a sharp kick, he stomped out and into the front garden.

Out here, the wind was chill, and the skies were what someone with an education above comprehensive school level might describe as ‘lowering’. Meredith stared up at the grey blanket, searching for inspiration.

Rather than providing it, the sky laughed straight in his face by starting to piss down.

He ran the few yards to his car and jumped in. A bedraggled Ernie Bulstrode joined him about a minute later.

‘Bugger!’ the sergeant gave vent as soon as he’d crashed into the passenger seat.

‘Likewise.’ Meredith watched as Ernie mopped his thinning hair and completely-opposite-to-thinning face with a surprisingly pristine handkerchief. ‘Anything?’ he asked after the operation had finished.

‘Bugger all.’ Ernie had been traipsing up the paths of the nearby properties, ringing doorbells and questioning whoever had appeared to answer them. The whole rigmarole had already been carried out by uniformed constables a week earlier, of course, but Meredith had decided he’d have the whole force checking, double-checking, and even triple-checking if necessary.

‘Nothing at all?’

‘Nope. All as deaf as bloody posts round these parts, if you ask me. Or don’t want to give a damn. Only info I’ve got on anything was the last bugger giving me a five-hour lecture on how to grow rhubarb. Three hundred if he was a day, and still growing his own bloody rhubarb! Haven’t these buggers heard of Tesco’s?’

Meredith smiled in spite of the weather, the lack of progress and the fact that his sergeant’s overcoat was soaking his car’s upholstery. ‘Is “bugger” your favourite word, Ernie?’

Ernie Bulstrode did not return the smile. ‘At the bloody moment it is, yes.’

‘And in a couple of hours?’

‘That’ll be —’ Ernie let off a stream of invective which, had Meredith’s wife (whom he loved dearly, but did feel was rather straight-laced to be married to a copper) been present, would have had the sergeant ejected from the car without a moment’s thought as to the monsoon outside.

Meredith started the car’s engine. ‘Remind me to look some of those up when we get back,’ he said as he eased into first. ‘I could do with expanding my vocabulary.’

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