Murder At St Marmaduke’s #41

Another short chapter today. Not many more to go…

As ever, please go to my St Marmaduke’s page to read the other 40 chapters if you need to.

And please enjoy the 41st.

Chapter 41

Wednesday 13th November 1985: 15.50 – 16.00

‘Well — that was all very exciting,’ Andrew said.

‘Was it?’

Oh, dear. There was, once again, a great deal of hump in James’s voice; it was getting to be so wearing.

‘Look, don’t be like that!’ he snapped. ‘It really isn’t my fault you’re stuck staring at nothing more interesting than pew-ends and the occasional congregant hiding from the collection plate on a Sunday. I didn’t chisel you onto this pulpit, any more than I chiselled myself.’

There was no reply. Sod you, then, Andrew thought.

Who cared if his friend was going to sulk for the rest of however long it was before St Marmaduke’s crumbled to nothing, and their pulpit was broken up to maybe become something more useful? He certainly didn’t.

(He’d grown rather fond of the idea of becoming the foundation of something called a motorway, actually. He’d overheard a couple of the less decrepit members of the congregation discuss them one Sunday morning. He spent hours imagining the number of donkeys and their passengers that would pass their journeys safely thanks to his support.)

And who said James was his friend anyway? He certainly didn’t.

And who cared —

‘Oo, James, you were so clever,’ a voice gushed from the middle of the left aisle.

Huh?

He actually felt the atmosphere around the pulpit change as James brightened beside him. It was like going from four o’clock in the morning to August in one fell swoop. ‘Do you really think so?’ his definitely-not-a-friend said.

‘I do, darling!’ (Darling?!) ‘Such a wonderful idea, getting the eagle to intervene like that. However did you think of it?’

‘Oh, well…’ James began.

‘Hey!’ Andrew yelped. ‘That was —’

‘Shut up!’

Andrew was so astonished, he did indeed shut up.

‘You know — I wasn’t really flirting with the griffin,’ James’s gargoyle continued, her voice oozing contriteness. ‘He was only trying to sell me insurance.’

‘Insurance?’

‘Yes. Against woodworm — you know?’

‘Oh, that’s okay,’ James said. ‘I didn’t really think anything else, you know?’

‘Oh, good.’

The two lapsed into silence; a silence which, Andrew thought, shuddering inside as he did so, was probably full of significant looks and puckering air-kisses across the yards between them. He, for his part, was bloody annoyed, though. ‘Hey!’ he hissed. ‘How come she thinks you were the one who got the eagle to act? Surely she could see it was me?’

There was silence for a moment, and then James whispered back, in a tone filled with embarrassment and apology, ‘I’ve never told you, but she’s cross-eyed. Whenever she looks over at us, we merge into one. She thinks there’s only me here!’

End of Chapter 41

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