Knowles parked his Land Rover in the car park of the Badger & Ferret Inn and looked at his watch.
“Right, Sergeant Barnes, I think you should go and see Carol Herald and find out what she knows and work out what she’s not telling you, if you know what I mean. Above all see if she’s the proud owner of a dirty shower curtain or a golf seat that might have been used by her fellow stalkers.”
“And you’ll be visiting Mr Greggs that Tai Chi artist then?”
“I will – he should be back by now from his job in the big city. I will see you in the tap room when you’re finished.”
Barnes headed to the left to No 1 Sharrock Lane, while Knowles headed straight over to No 3. A shiny white Mercedes with a warm bonnet was parked in the drive.
Knowles rang the doorbell, stood back slightly and waited. Mr Greggs was perhaps busy after returning from London. After a minute, the door was opened by a slim, brown-haired man wearing tracksuit bottoms who was drying
his hair with a blue towel.
“OK, where’s the other one, you people usually come in pairs.”
“Not a Jehovah’s Witness, not happy and smiley enough,” said Knowles, brandishing his ID. “The name’s Detective Inspector Knowles from Scoresby CID. Can I come in and ask you a few questions about the murder this morning?”
“The murder? What murder? Where? – I didn’t see a thing.”
Knowles indicated inside with his arm and the two men went indoors.
“Yes, there was a murder in Culpepper’s Woods this morning while you were doing your pirouetting and Thai Chee – were you aware that you were being watched?”
“Not at all – although those trees do make me feel like I am the centre of attention and I am aware that there are other people around bird-watching and walking in the woods, but I have never felt like I am being stalked – why would anyone do that?”
“What do you wear when you practice your art?”
“It’s a martial art – I wear as little as possible, enough to make me decent I suppose – it would be regarded as skintight by some people.”
“That’ll be why then – it will show off your curves to good effect.”
“That’s just creepy – who was murdered and were they watching me?”
“Well, Mr Greggs, you were being watched by at least one person; he…”
“…he was called Roger Davis and he was a Police Officer; PC Davis was hit on the head with a blunt instrument while watching you from a convenient location.”
“I didn’t see anyone carrying a blunt instrument this morning, although I do tend to look straight ahead for between 1 and 2 minutes at a time, so if this murder took place behind me then I wouldn’t have seen a thing.”
“That’s probably what happened in this case. Now you said that you’ve seen other people walking in the woods and bird-watching – do you know these people’s names?”
“I tend not to know too many people here as I work in London of course, but I’ve seen that Claude guy from the hall. I’ve seen Mrs Hills and her blessed dog, Barry with his lens, that weird Waferr woman looking for ‘things’ in the woods, and of course Carol from next door; she heads to work through the woods every morning. I occasionally see Tom Jargoy, but he always looks furtive as though I shouldn’t have seen him.”
“It would have been easier to ask you who you have not seen.”
“It would – I even saw Poppy Avon there once walking with a woman I’d not seen before – I remember Carol said ‘hello’ to her so she obviously knew her.”
“And who was bird-watching in your opinion?”
“I thought Claude was and Barry Janus was – because of their long lenses and tripods, but now I just worry that they were photographing me.”
“I have no evidence of that but you might be correct. It’s possible that other people were watching you and you never saw them.”
“That’s terrible – still I am not about to change my ways and I will be there tomorrow morning at 6am doing my pirouetting as you put it.”
“Where is it you work, Mr Greggs?”
“I work in the Square Mile for a Merchant Bank as a trader.”
“Busy at work are you?”
“Oh yes, but no two days are ever the same, Inspector. I have to relax completely before starting the day otherwise my nerves would be fried by lunchtime.”
“I can imagine – so why do you live here in Goat Parva when you work there in London; couldn’t you live closer?”
“I could do, Inspector Knowles, but it’s a complete break to come back here to the lovely countryside and be completely free of the City.”
“What’s the commute like on a good day?”
“One and a half hours, but with modern wireless technology you can still be working on the train before you get to work.”
“Right – it’s unfortunate that murder hasn’t moved on technologically – people still get bashed over the head and I have to investigate why – there’s no App for that.”
“Rather you than me, Inspector,” said Mr Greggs looking at his iPhone in a slightly bored manner.
“Did you ever see Antonia Avon in the woods or Danica Baker-Clements?”
“I don’t know either of them, I have never met them, but I’ve heard about Danica and her reputation, so if what I have heard is true she wouldn’t have time to go for a walk – too busy.” Mr Greggs then smiled at the in-joke.
“Indeed, but there was a murder on Tuesday night, the murder of Clem Shapiro who was watching Danica as she was watching TV.”
“Is there a serial killer on the loose, killing stalkers do you think?”
“Possibly but that doesn’t fit in with my theory, which isn’t completely formed yet in my mind.”
At this point Knowles’ phone rang.
“’Allo – Barnesy – you’re finished? Oh right, well I’ll see you over there.”
When Knowles headed over to Number 3 Sharrock Lane,Barnes walked along to Number 1, where Carol Herald lived.
He knocked on the front door but there was no reply. Barnes peered through the front windows but it appeared that there was no-one at home. He walked around the side of the house and saw someone digging in the garden. Barnes fought the impulse to see whether it was Carol Herald and just watched for a few moments. He soon saw that it was Reverend Strong from St Timothy’s church who seemed to be planting vegetables. After watching for two minutes
Barnes finally thought of a suitable question to ask the reverend and so he approached him with some trepidation.
“Reverend Strong, I am Detective Sergeant Barnes from Scoresby CID, I was wondering whether you’d seen Carol Herald recently?”
Reverend Strong finished digging his latest hole and glanced up at Barnes.
“I haven’t seen Carol today, but I would expect she’ll be back soon unless she’s bird-watching in the woods in which case she could be a while yet.”
“Thank you – why are you planting vegetables in her garden by the way?”
“Carol’s a good friend of the church and we rely on some of our parishioners’ gardens to provide food for the events at St Timothy’s.”
“And what are you planting exactly?”
“I think I should consult my lawyer before answering that question.”
“No, Detective Barnes, I was joking, I am planting some carrots and some tomatoes as they are the most popular vegetables with my flock.”
“And who are the other parishioners who help with the food provisions?”
“Brenda Jargoy always gives a good head of lettuce, Carly Waferr provides no end of mushrooms, Antonia Avon provides beans and peas and Wendy Jargoy loves growing onions for some reason – she always seems to be crying and I
think that might be the reason.”
“Wendy Jargoy? Does she still live at home? I thought someone had told me that she’d moved away from Goat Parva?”
“Wendy has issues with her parentage as I am sure you appreciate Detective Barnes. She’s not sure who her father really is – Brenda shrugs her shoulders when she’s asked that question, which hurts Wendy because it seems as though her mother doesn’t care. This isn’t the case because
Brenda genuinely doesn’t know. It could be her husband, Tom, or Lord Avon, or the milkman/postman/plumber – she was apparently involved with them all at the time of conception.”
“What, that frumpy middle-aged woman in the village shop who wears those cardies like a prison uniform?”
“That’s on the outside, Detective; on the inside is a woman who has been led astray by the forces of the devil incarnate, whose weakness for love has been preyed upon by the angels of Lucifer himself, whose desires for
companionship have been taken advantage of by the henchman of hell.”
“What is it about women in this village? They’re at it all the time with every man who comes their way. I will have to move here I think; all stalkers and loose women.”
“Now, Detective, don’t be flippant.”
“I wasn’t being – my village is far too sane for my own good.”
“There are some excellent examples of upright, moral women in this village – why think of Antonia Avon.”
“She’s a drunk who has the attention span of a kitten.”
“Carly Waferr then.”
“Magic mushrooms from the woods and drinks various potent wines to excess.”
“Demented, Reverend Strong – she thinks her dog has stolen her mobile phone when it was recharging and buried it under the azaleas.”
“Carol Herald – what have you got against her?”
“Nothing – yet – we haven’t met her, but she was in the vicinity when one and possibly two of the murders took place.”
“Attention span half as long as her mother’s – pays for gum using a 50 pound note and then walks off without getting the change because she’s talking on the phone to her boyfriend.”
“Danica Baker-Clements? Oh no, not a good example to support my theory.”
“No, not a good example of a faithful wife.”
“I wonder where Carol is – perhaps she had to stay and work late at the animal shelter in Madeley Waterless.”
“Does she work on her own over there?”
“No, there are a couple of other volunteers and I think Wendy Jargoy helps out sometimes.”
“Who are the other volunteers – do you know their names? We may go over there tomorrow to ask a few questions.”
“Oh now this is a memory test – there’s the lovely girl called Yasmin, I think and then there’s Andrea who is slightly more plain, but they’re both beautiful in the eyes of the Lord of course.”
“Of course, Reverend – Yasmin and Andrea – I’ll make sure I remember those names.”
“They look after all sorts of animals – cats, dogs, sheep, pigs, a real menagerie – they’re all against animal cruelty especially Yasmin who has a real passion for the subject; she’s been on those protests to the labs where the monkeys and beagles are forced to smoke or wear make-up.”
While Reverend Strong was talking Barnes heard some footsteps behind him but when he looked around there was no-one there.
“Was there anyone behind me when you were talking?”
“I didn’t see anyone,” said Reverend Strong and immediately apologised to his god for telling a little white lie.
“Thank you, Reverend Strong,” said Barnes and jogged back to the road. He looked both ways, but saw no sign of anyone. Unbeknownst to him, Barnes was being watched through binoculars, which were trained on him until he
disappeared into the Badger & Ferret.