As ever, to read the first 30 chapters, please click here.
And to read the first two sections of Chapter 31, see posts #31a and #31b somewhere below this one.
Now read on…
Wednesday 13th November 1985: 08.30 – 10.00
Terrence Dawson was staring at his bedroom ceiling, deep in thought.
Not having much by way of a social life, he had had a lot of time to think; and not having anything by way of a working life at the moment, he had had so much time to think as to have got to the point where thinking was a futile exercise, since no thoughts he was having now had not been thought before.
The reason he was staring at his bedroom ceiling was that, having had so many thoughts, he’d transcribed everything he’d been thinking onto the ceiling, and was now wondering what on earth he could do with it all.
And at the moment, he was mainly thinking that if he didn’t get out and do something constructive soon, he’d go so far round the bend that he’d probably bump into himself coming back.
The results of all this thinking winked back at him like celestial orbs from a night-time sky; albeit a white rather than a black one, since a black bedroom ceiling would probably be a sign of something very disturbing in his psyche.
The points that he’d made were numbered thus:
One — Joseph Makumbo, as the sarge had said, was as likely to have committed either the murders or the robbery as he, T Dawson, was to bump into Kim Basinger on a visit to the local chippy, nice as such an encounter would have been;
Two — the vicar’s insistence that his missing candles were a damned sight more important than murdered woman Number Three, Mabel Whatever-her-name-was, was so highly suspicious as to instantly rule him out of any consideration for either crime. What was that phrase the sarge had used — ‘Nutty as a monkey’s breakfast’? Surely anybody that mixed up in their priorities couldn’t be anything but a harmless loony?
(A note appended to this point on his ceiling hadn’t ceased to bother him since he’d written it: ‘Why “Number Three”, in capitals? Surely it should be “murdered woman number one”, all lower case?’);
Three — the vicar’s remark that old-age pensioners were regularly done to death in these meetings they held, plus the fact that so many bodies had been hauled out of the crypt in (admittedly circumstantial) evidence of that, must have some sort of bearing? And had, so far as he, Terrence, could tell, been criminally overlooked during the investigation so far;
Four — the Chaffords, again like the sarge said, were probably the ones responsible for the robbery. Though — again, as the sarge said — probably not the murders;
Five — he seemed to be, rather disturbingly, getting into the same mindset as Ernie Bulstrode these days, which was a major cause for concern, if not commitment to the nearest psychiatric unit straight away or sooner;
Six — regarding the Harriet Foster murder, there were a damned sight too many suspects for that one, including the ninja unknown who’d done such a number on the front door it could have been used for kindling, assuming anyone in the universe still had the sort of fireplace that required such an ancient method of keeping warm;
And Seven — the only person around the case who seemed to have the slightest shred of sanity about them was the vicar’s wife; which brought him all the way back in a neat circle to Point Number One and his imagined encounter at the local chippy.
Additionally, of course, the subject of Point Number Seven had been first on the scene at the Foster residence. That was Point Number Eight, which, having filled up the ceiling immediately above his single bed, he’d been forced to scribe onto the wall instead, with a neatly-drawn arrow pointing down to it; together with two appended sentences, one wondering if Mrs Vicar could possibly have been the ninja unknown, and the other telling himself not to be so flipping daft, how could somebody like that do something like that to a front door unless she was the Incredible Hulk’s second cousin once removed, who’d just happened to have a fit of paddy at precisely the right moment?
So that was that. Eight points, and not an idea of how to do anything about any of them.
If only he hadn’t been suspended. If only he was still a working copper, allowed to investigate things, albeit in the minuscule gaps between supplying Ernie Bulstrode with tea and caramel wafers.
If only those if onlys were true, he’d get along to the vicarage and ask Mrs Vicar — Rawlings, wasn’t it? — what she knew about the night of the Foster woman’s death.
‘If only you could do that as a private citizen, nothing to do with the police, that might well be a useful thing to do,’ a voice beside him said.
‘That’s right,’ he replied. ‘If only I could —’