Murder At St Marmaduke’s #33e

Once again, the first 32 chapters can be found here.

And posts #33a, #33b, #33c & #33d contain the first four parts of the current chapter.

Chapter 33

Wednesday 13th November 1985: 12.00 – 13.00

Section (e)

Terrence Dawson was pacing the streets, lost in both body and thought.

He wasn’t worried about the lost-in-body part. (Though he was aware of a slight embarrassment that he could get lost in the town he helped to police, albeit from behind a counter acting as nothing more than a slightly-better-paid tea boy.) You were always somewhere, that stood to reason. And if you were somewhere, you couldn’t fail to be near somewhere else. And that somewhere else was near somewhere else else, and so on with lots of ‘elses’ back to where he’d started from at around nine that morning; his cosy (estate agent-speak for ‘telephone boxish’) flat in Whothe****plannedthis Road. (So called because: one, the borough official who’d turned up to decide on a name one afternoon had lunched rather liberally, and had taken against the layout of the properties in the street; and two, the other borough official who’d turned up a few days later to oversee the road-sign planting — official number one having been quietly transferred to a department where liquid lunches were no deterrent to the smooth running of corporation affairs — had sent the whole lot back to the manufacturing company to have the offending part asterisked out immediately.)

As for the lost-in-thought aspect…

At the moment, his thoughts were running along the lines of: how would Joan Hickson go about finding a dead person among the living?

Well — to be more accurate: how would Miss Marple go about it? But, since her debut in the part the previous December, Joan Hickson and Miss Marple were now as inextricably linked in his mind as, say, Gordon Jackson was with not being Mr ’udson from Upstairs Downstairs any more.

Miss Marple/Joan Hickson would no doubt listen to all the village gossip, and work out where Mabel Cartwright was simply because Dolly Bantry’s second underbutler’s cousin’s sister had bought two fruit scones from the local shop instead of a bunch of chrysanthemums and a new Rolls Royce. And then she’d gather the detective and all the suspects into the drawing room, and in a flash of brilliance (tempered with deference, of course), she’d explain the whole plot and unmask the killer; and all within a two-hour timeframe.

There were only several problems with this; and all were based on the fact that Joan Hickson was nowhere around when you needed her.

And besides — Miss Marple, though wonderfully cerebral and all that, wasn’t exactly the most exciting of detectives to use as a role model; he preferred someone significantly more action-orientated.

So — how, for example, would Gordon Jackson go about finding a dead person (in his no-longer-Mr-’udson persona, of course)?

Well — that was easy. He’d send Bodie and Doyle to kick a few doors in and let off a few rounds of ammunition. They’d soon find any number of dead people, even if it so happened that they were the ones who’d given them the status of dead in the first place.

That wasn’t much good. He might have kicked in Harriet Foster’s living-room door the previous week, but it wasn’t something he was keen to make a habit of, simply for the bollocking that had gone with it the next morning. And besides, again — when he’d joined up as a keen trainee constable, the very first lesson he’d learned had been that firearms would not, under any circumstances, be part of the standard uniform issue from stores.

So — that left only one question to be asked. How would Terrence Dawson go about finding a dead person?

What? That was a very strange question. As strange as his grandparents’ insistence that Gordon Jackson should never have taken the role of George Cowley at all, as it ruined his Mr ’udson-engendered wholesome image.

But there it was. The question had sprung into his mind unbidden; and now, like an annoying stepbrother (pick either of them, it didn’t matter), it refused to stop giving him Chinese burns.

How would Terrence Dawson go about finding a dead person?

Well — Terrence Dawson would start with the obvious question. Like — where would a dead person be likely to be?

And the answer?

He suddenly found himself sniggering; something most unbecoming to a police officer, but then, he was suspended, so he could snigger when he damn-well wanted to.

The answer — that was flippin’ obvious, wasn’t it?

He stared around. Now — if he could only find a way from this somewhere to the somewhere else he’d been at around eleven-ish, he’d make for the church immediately.

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