The Strange Case Of The Buckled Swash – Episode 05

“Oh, I think blazing row is putting things rather melodramatically, Detective Inspector. I merely had a bit of a spat with Timothy over this year’s production.” DI Barclay flicked through his notebook. “You cited irreconcilable artistic differences in your resignation letter to the committee. That sounds like more than a mere spat.” Deirdre Wells stood up and walked to the window. “You may think me a foolish old woman, DI Barclay, but the theatre is my passion. The Palmerston Players were my life. Timothy likes to liked to think he could just steamroller people, but I felt too strongly to bow to his will. I’m prepared to do anything to defend my artistic principles.” “Anything?” “Detective Inspector, of course I felt bitter about the way I was manoeuvred out after a lifetime’s service to the Players! Of course I resented Timothy’s role in usurping me. But to wish him dead?” She shuddered. “What was your relationship with Major General Tompkins prior to the recent spat?” The postmistress stiffened. “Why do you ask? What have you been told? People in this village like nothing better than to tittle-tattle.” “I was trying to establish if the relationship had previously been equitable. I wasn’t trying to insinuate anything.” Deirdre dabbed her eyes with a hankie. “No, of course you weren’t. You’re just doing your job. My apologies. It’s all been such a shock.” DI Barclay nodded. “By the way, do you still have your key to the village hall?” “No, I handed it in to Jean shortly after I resigned and she took over as director. Why?” “Just doing my job, Miss Wells.” ****DI Barclay glared at the forensic pathologist over the metal dissecting table. “Let me get this straight, Professor. You’re saying that the major genera did not die of natural causes, but his death didn’t result from the stab wound from the sword, either?” The scientist fixed him with her striking jade-green eyes. Briony Powers was not a woman who was easily intimidated, especially not by someone she remembered as an eager rookie sergeant not so very long ago. John hadn’t changed much still the same rangy build, the boyish, handsome face, clouded by that too-serious expression. Briony liked him. Quite a lot, actually, but this was work. “The so-called stab wound was superficial. It punctured the flesh but didn’t penetrate any vital organs or major blood vessels. Have a look for yourself.” She pulled back the covering sheet. “I’ll take your word for it,” DI Barclay said, raising his hands in horror. “Please yourself.” The pathologist suppressed a grin. She had forgotten that John Barclay was squeamish. It amused her that a murder detective should have such an aversion to gore. Barclay ran a hand over his hair. “The sword was deliberately tampered with. We’ve established that. So if the wound from the sword didn’t kill him, what did?” “I don’t know yet. I’m running a series of tests. It’ll be a couple of days before I get the results back.” “Care to speculate in the meantime, Prof?” “Come on, John, you know me better than that.” Barclay grinned. “A chap can always chance his arm. Speaking of which, are you ever going to take me up on that offer of supper at my place?” “That depends.” “On what?” “On whether your cooking has improved.” “I’ll have you know I’ve perfected a new signature dish.” “Really? What is it?” “Alphabetti spaghetti on toast!” “Go away, I’ve got important work to do.” Briony turned back to the dissecting table. “Prof, I worry about you sometimes. It’s not natural to be so cold and dispassionate.” She smiled sweetly at him. “I might be cold on the surface, but I can assure you that in fact I’m very warm indeed.” Unlike Tompkins. Barclay left the pathologist to her work. He was determined to get to the bottom of this case. No-one, no matter how unpleasant, deserved to end up on a mortuary slab.


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