Monday, 13 February 2012


"Well," said Playfair, "you should be picking your unconscious sister-in-law up and taking her away so that we can get on with our investigation, shouldn't you?"
Ronald looked down at Melissa and rubbed the tears from his eyes.  "I suppose so, yes," he mumbled, his accent coming back a little.  Miss Flava flicked back through a couple of pages in her notebook, then forward again.  As Ronald bent down to grab one of Melissa's feet, she looked up.
"I still don't understand why you dislike your sister-in-law so much," she said.  "Bad cooking and fancying someone who sleeps around a lot aren't a bad thing–"
"Indicative of poor taste, though," interrupted Playfair.  Miss Flava scowled at him.
"Aren't a bad thing," she repeated.  "But they're not really enough to hate someone the way you seem to hate her."
"I don't hate her," said Ronald, giving her foot a tug.  Her shoe, a cream, strappy thing that made Playfair think of frozen cod fillets, came off in his hand.  "Hate would be a bit much."
"How is she your sister-in-law?" asked Miss Flava, her pen poised over her notebook again.
"She married my sister," said Ronald.  Miss Flava carefully wrote that down before looking up at him, and her face was as neutral as she could manage.
"In this country?" she asked.
"Oh no, they met in Europe and got married somewhere out there," said Ronald.  "It was a little bit of a surprise when they came back together, and Mother had a couple of strokes in quick succession but that was really kind of her own fault... then Father had his little accident and left my sister quite a lot of money in his will, and Melissa kept spending it.  And spending it.  And my sister never seemed to see any benefits from it, which didn't seem quite right really.  Then Mother died, and Anna the nurse died two weeks later, and then my sister drowned herself in the fish-pond.  It really wasn't a good year, to be honest."
"Did your mother have a stroke because your sister was a lesbian?" Miss Flava was looking over Ronald's statement, tapping her pen against her teeth.
"No!  No, like I said, it was really her own fault.  She'd decided to unpack for Felicity – my sister – and found... well, things in there that apparently you can... use... somehow... if you're... if one of doesn't have..."
"And the shock gave her a stroke?" said Miss Flava, seeing him struggle with his embarassment.
"No.  No, it was trying them out for herself that seems to have got her a bit... er... overexcited, you see...."
Playfair burst into laughter, and Ronald stared at him.  His eyes seemed to bulge a little from his face, and his hands, large and pale, twitched spasmodically, trying to clench into fists.  Playfair ignored him, and just laughed more.
"That sounds very tragic," said Miss Flava, making herself heard over Playfair's laughter.  "I'm sure it was a very trying time for you."
"What was your father's accident?" asked Playfair, grinning broadly but no longer laughing.
"Does it really matter?" asked Ronald, stiffly now.  He was holding himself tightly under control, and if looks could kill then Playfair would certainly have been maimed.
"No," said Miss Flava quickly.  "Thank-you, Mr. Verges, you've been very helpful.  We... have your address, and I'm sure we'll be able to find you if we need you further.  Does your sister-in-law live with you?"
Ronald sighed, and nodded, and dropped her shoe on the floor.  He pulled on her foot again, and she slipped a little towards him.
"Come on, Playfair," said Miss Flava, closing her notebook up.  "Let's go and look round the house."

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