Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Interview room A

"Bugger what?" said Playfair, still emptying pockets.  He'd found one that appeared to contain just a large amount of lint, which he happily strewed over the counter.
"What?" said the officer behind the counter.
"It sounded like an instruction," said Playfair.  "And given that we're out in the blasted wastelands here, I wondered if you were expecting it to be followed."
"Playfair, I think he believes that you're you," said Miss Flava, marvelling at the junk in her boss's pockets, and also noting that he'd not produced any other card than an Oyster card, despite producing about five different ones when interviewing the priest earlier.  "Can you stop emptying pockets and let's get on?"
"Dead bodies don't get any deader," said Playfair, but it was relatively gentle.  He stirred the large pile of junk on the counter  and fished the string and sealing wax out of it.  "I don't want the rest," he said.  "You have a bin, I suppose?  Or does it all get fed to the pigs?"
The officer behind the counter went pink, but picked up a plastic waste-bin lined with a translucent white plastic bag and swept everything Playfair had dropped on the counter into it.  He put it back down on the floor, then leaned on the counter, his fingers interlinked in front of him.
"This is about that man what they found in the church, isn't it?" he said.  "You'd probably better come into the interview room then.  Door over there, it's not locked."  He pointed, and Miss Flava looked, and nodded.  "I'll just have to get Henry out from the back-room to man the counter.  We don't like not having an officer visibly on duty."  If Playfair noticed the jibe he paid it no attention.
The interview room was rectangular and cold.  There was a table with two plastic chairs on one side and a third on the other.  A couple of sheets of white A4 copier paper lay scattered on the desk, and a cheap plastic pen was on the floor under the table.  Small windows, high-up, let in a begrudging amount of rather grey light and the room smelled of disinfectant.
"Now the murder happened in the church," said Playfair, sitting on the single chair and leaving Miss Flava to choose which of the other two chairs she disliked least.  She opted for the blue one, leaving the orange one free.  "That will cause them problems, spilled blood can deconsecrate churches if I remember right."
"I think it takes a fair amount of spilled blood," said Miss Flava.  "But I don't think he meant that the murder took place inside the church building, just on the church grounds."
"Then he should say so!"  Playfair leaned back, balancing the chair on two legs.  He wobbled.
"Who should say so?" The officer from behind the desk came in, closing the door behind him.  He pressed a switch on the wall next to the door.  "Just letting people know that the room's in use," he said.  "Probably don't need to lock you in, heh?"
"You should say so," said Playfair.  "You said that the murder happened inside the church, while the report I've read says that the body was found in some woods.  That would be what I like to call a discrepancy."
"The body was found in the woods," said the officer sitting on the free chair.  He seemed uncomfortable sitting on the same side as Miss Flava, and shuffled and scooted his chair round until he was at the end of the table, facing both of them.   "But it looked like he'd been murdered several times over, and then dumped in the woods.  For him to bleed out like that, we think he must have been murdered quite close by, and the only building nearby is the church."
"You see–" started Miss Flava, but Playfair leapt in and spoke right over her.
"I've not seen the coroner's report yet.  What do you mean, he was murdered several times over?"
"Well, strangled, stabbed, beaten and hanged," said the officer, looking apologetically at Miss Flava as he tried to acknowledge that she'd been speaking first.  "It seemed a bit excessive if you ask me."
"Perhaps he was well-hated?"  Playfair was being a little flippant, but the meaning was clear.
"Not that we've been able to find out.  His name was Iain MacLeod, and up until three days ago he was drawing a capacity crowd to the Mountgarden theatre every weeknight.  Seems like he was a pretty popular guy."
"He was an actor, then?"
"No.  He was a magician."

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