Sunday, 1 January 2012

Knowing what to ask

"Did you see all those tortoise shells?" said Miss Flava as they drove away.  Calamity, sat on the back seat, barked now and then, mud still sticking to her nose.
"Yes," said Playfair.  "But Bartle barely noticed them.  What did you say he was?"
"A Reverend," said Miss Flava.  "You've got the case notes already, you only just read them!  You're... in fact, you're sitting on them now!"
"Oh really?"  Playfair didn't sound interested, but he did pull the notes out from underneath himself, tearing them only a little in the process.  He made a show of going through the pages once again while Miss Flava peered at the road names and traffic signs and tried to work out where she was.  For a small village, Little Haversham seemed to have a lot of very short streets.
"Can you believe where that idiot has parked!" she snarled as she braked hard coming round a corner to find a midnight blue, sleek, sporty-looking car several inches out from the kerb and dangerously close to the corner.  "See, Playfair, this is what traffic wardens are for!  Stopping people doing idiotic things like this!"
"That's not enough to justify their existence," said Playfair flatly.  "The Nazis did good deeds now and then as well, you know."
"You're never comparing traffic wardens to the Nazis!"  Miss Flava braked again just so she could stare at her boss in wonderment.  "What the hell have traffic wardens ever done to you?"
"It says here that Bartle is a Reverend," said Playfair innocently, "but it doesn't tell me what church he's part of.  Did no-one think that was important?"
Miss Flava gently eased her foot back on to the accelerator and the car moved forward again.  At the cross-junction at the top of the street she finally spotted the road she was looking for: Potsdam Drive, about fifty yards the wrong way down a one-way street.  Looking for traffic, and finding that they were the only car on the road, she indicated and drove down the one-way street regardless.
"He's attached to St. Samuels," she said.  "That's the church we saw, in whose grounds the body was found.  I think it's a C of E church."
"Hmph." Playfair shuffled the papers again.  "Just because he's using a C of E church doesn't mean he's Anglican.  A lot of those happy-clappy places use churches that have been sold off, and you sometimes have to look pretty closely to find out just what you're walking into.  I want him checked out properly, get me some background on him."
"We could just ask him, of course," said Miss Flava.  "We're in Little Haversham, I've no idea if they've heard of the internet this far outside of London."
"Fine, write it down as a question for later, then," said Playfair.  "By the way, you're going the wrong way on a one-way street."
"Not any more," said Miss Flava, making her turning onto Potsdam Drive.  Astonishingly, given how short all the other streets had been, this stretched into the distance.  She kept her speed low so that she could see hidden entrances; there were lots of trees and high hedges on the sides of the road.
"Also," said Playfair, and Miss Flava mentally sighed a little.  Her boss had clearly found things wrong in the investigation of the case so far, and not only would she hear about it now, she'd have to step in when he started on the luckless souls who'd not met his standards.  "Also, it says here that the body was found in the woods next to the church, not on the church grounds."
"The woods actually belong to the church," said Miss Flava.  "Though woods is perhaps a bit generous, it's more of a large copse."
"The corpse was found in the copse," said Playfair, gazing off into the distance again.  "I wonder if that's just coincidence.  You should have turned there, by the way."
Miss Flava restrained a snarl, having just spotted the sign announcing Little Haversham Police Station half-hidden behind a hedge, and too late to turn in.  She braked, and started a three-point turn.  This was not how she'd hoped to arrive.

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