An #FF Tale – Chapter 12

“How long have you had this document?” Lord Scholes-Fogg was incensed. “Where did you get it from?” DS Bruce shifted in his seat feeling slightly uncomfortable. This task had been lumped on him by Supt Payne and he was not enjoying it. He went on to explain how the document had come into the possession of the police and outlined the plan to take a very close look at the family graves. Considering his age and frail looks Lord Scholes-Fogg had a fiery temper and vented this directly at Bruce. “Why do you plan to desecrate my family grave? The body of Miss Renners is gone and was nothing to do with the family plot. This is insufferable. Where is Supt Payne and why did he not come personally?” DS Bruce explained why Mark Payne had not come and passed his apologies again. Lord Scholes-Fogg had been ranting now for about 15 minutes whilst pacing up and down in front of a huge open fireplace. His dogs lay slumbering close to the heat completely oblivious to their masters anger. Suddenly he stopped pacing and sat in an armchair. He sat back, sighed deeply and appeared to deflate like a balloon. “Detective Sgt. Please go ahead and do what you must do. I am too old for all this stress” he said and then waved him off with a casual flick of his hand. DS Bruce stood and left the room. Lord Scholes-Fogg waited until the drawing room door was closed. He then sat up and reached for the phone.

CSI now had the hole excavated to his wishes and was crouched down in the hole and ready to fold back the tarpaulin. A colleague had joined him to take photographs as he opened the folded sheeting in situ. He took hold of a loose edge and turned it back to the sound of the camera firing off shots. Simon Guilfoyle stood with Avers looking on as the tarpaulin was opened out to reveal the skeletal remains of a human body within. Leaving Avers he stepped out from under the forensic tent and took a few steps away from the path and made a call. “Sir. We have a skeleton. We’ll need to do the usual tests but with all the other evidence this looks positive.”

DS Bruce sat in his car in the grand courtyard of Calder Hall. “Yes Sir. It was a most pleasant experience. Thank you. We do have a green light though. Can you send the Met team over with DC Darling.

“What do you mean you haven’t checked the graveyard further?” demanded Lord Scholes-Fogg. “Father. I’ve taken advice on this and my understanding of our family. This is a red herring. It’s far too obvious and not worth pursuing. Burying the merchandise in the ground is far too simplistic and crude” explained Tom. “I don’t know how the police got hold of a copy of the will but one of the investigators crashed his car in the village last night. I have no proof but it must have been taken from his car. Don’t worry. I’m confident the cache will be found.” At that he hung up and then placed another call immediately. It was time Roaming Royston put his money where his mouth was.

Lord Scholes-Fogg pondered his current dilemma. The cache wasn’t found and Tom was ignoring leads he thought were too obvious and now the police wanted to crawl all over the family burial plot. The Detective Sgt would clearly go straight to the church. There was no time for Tom to get to it first. If the police did find the cache then his plans would be undermined.

Kate Harney was on the phone to custody getting an update on Doug from Sgt Doll. No further interviews were planned immediately as there had been “developments”. Even when pushed the Sgt wouldn’t elaborate but was told that under the circumstances a Superintendent’s extension was pretty much inevitable. Kate hung up. This case had ruined last night and was now on the verge of wrecking tonight too. She rang Mark and updated him then sat pondering what the developments may be.

Paul McKeever felt like his head were about to burst. Names, dates and family lines were crowding his every thought but he had closed in on his objective. Clive Chamberlain had appointed him to this task for his “tenacious approach and terrier like qualities.” “If someone will doggedly pursue this until the info’ is secure it’s you” he had been told. It had been a testing and wearying process but through local councils, marriage and death certificates and church records he had finally pinned down the family line to 1732. The jigsaw was complete bar one piece and it was proving elusive. He rang Clive. “I have nailed it down Clive but the most important link is missing. I suspect records were destroyed, concealed or never recorded and this may ultimately frustrate your clients wishes.” Clive was in agreement. “Thank you Paul. Your dedication and determination is not unrecognised and my client will reward you handsomely. Please have the authenticated documents sent to me.” Paul looked at the package on the cafe table in front of him. He placed his hand upon it. “It’s already done Clive. The courier collects it in 30 minutes.” at that the call was finished. Paul slid the phone into his jacket pocket and took in the view along the Boulevard Saint-Germain from his outside table at the Cafe de Flore. His work was almost complete. He called the waiter and ordered a large glass of wine. It was time to go home.

Jane Hamilton read an email from Rob Preece. He had researched the key logo and Les Trois Cles. The logo in isolation was proving difficult. There were several similar logos but nothing identical. There was however a vineyard in France. They were a small producer of exceptionally fine wines and their premier wine, a Chardonnay was Le Trois Cles. The logo was three individual keys and the bottom one was surrounded by a rectangle. The vineyard was in the private ownership of the Renier Family. Jane read on and her eyes grew wider as she did.

WPC Pink sat in Supt Paynes office and explained her discovery today. She handed the document consisting of several pages to him and he began to read. After a few minutes silence he looked up at Pink. “Have you read all of this?” he asked. “Yes Sir” she replied. “Would you like a summary?”

Jane Hamilton sought out a local journalist she knew she could trust. Evans “the crime” as he was known worked for the local paper but he also did freelance work. She discussed the case so far with him and was surprised to find how well informed he was. “I have a lead to follow up and I need you to keep a lid on things here.” Evans nodded. “That’s fine Jane. You can trust me to be discreet and keep this confidential.” Jane provided her contact details. “I need to know if anything changes. Keep me informed.” At that she left and headed back to The Bull. She had a bag to pack and a flight to catch.

DS Bruce pulled into the church car park and put the nose of the car up against a sign “Church Parking Only”. Inspector Winter and his team were coming across with DC Darling but he had some time to walk the graveyard. Locking the car he walked through the lychgate and toward the grave of Amylou Renners. The grave was nothing special. Quite plain in fact and in the opposite side of the churchyard to the Scholes-Fogg family plot. The headstone was simply engraved on the front and was plain on the rear apart from a small logo or emblem at the base. He assumed some sort of tradedsman’s mark and decided to test this theory. If this was a local monumental mason then other stones of the same era would carry the emblem. Bruce wandered between many graves looking for the mark but he found none. He gradually made his way across through the headstones, across the back of the church and came to a stop in front of the Scholes-Fogg graves. The plot was quite large and there were quite a few headstones surrounding the mausoleum. Bruce wasn’t sure of this term. It looked more like a glorified tomb to him. The whole plot was surrounded on three sides by a low chain fence and a dry stone wall at the rear under the conifers.

He stepped over the chain and walked carefully between the headstones. Most carried the Scholes name and only one was Scholes-Fogg and this was the wife of the current Lord who had died 4 years ago. Compared to all the others this one was clean, tidy, cared for and adorned with a small posy of wild flowers. Bruce checked several headstones but none bore the logo he had seen on the Renners grave.

Supt Payne listened intently to the summary given by WPC Pink and a number of things started to click into place. The document was a contractual agreement of sorts between Lord Scholes and Miss Renners and detailed a number of matters including their marriage. However eye opening this was it was what came next that really got his attention. “Have you still got a car?” he asked. “Yes Sir” she replied. “Good. I’ll meet you in the car park in 5 minutes.” At this Pink left the office and headed downstairs. Mark Payne rang DS Bruce and explained the situation. “Wait for me and don’t touch a thing until I get there.”

Cairnsy had been relieved in the forest by PC Nicholas. He was waiting to go off duty when Pink walked past. “Fancy a quick drink tonight with Sallie?” he asked. “I do but the Super wants me to drive him over to the churchyard next to the Calder Estate.” As they were talking the Supt approached them. “Come on Pink we need to go.” He looked at Dave. “You’d better come too. I need Pink’s knowledge on this one but we may need a scene guard.” Dave gave a smile that was probably more of a grimace as memories of standing in the graveyard in the rain a few days ago flooded back to him.

“Tom. Your anger is misdirected. You asked for my assistance in a matter you knew not how to deal with. I’ve provided some expertise free of charge and you have brought precious little information to the party yet you seek to blame me for your own families inadequacies and mendacity. I gain no benefit from this fishing trip and I’m beginning to doubt my decision to assist. You need to be careful though. A man in your position needs allies much more than enemies. At that Roaming Royston hung up. Tom ignored the veiled threat but he was angry and noted his speed had increased to 100mph whilst on the phone. A sign indicated the approach of a service area and he decided it was time for a coffee. He slid his Range Rover into the near side lane and slowed as the first spots of rain activated his automatic windscreen wipers. “Great” he said to himself. He hated getting wet just slightly less than he did getting dirty.

Inspector Winter stood looking at the family plot. Response Plod and Sparty were having a nosey around the graveyard. His 6th sense was tingling but something was wrong. It felt like this was important but it wasn’t going to lead to Royston. It just didn’t fit. The sound of voices approaching behind caused him to turn around to see Supt Payne and two uniform officers walking toward him. DS Bruce stepped over the low fence and stood next to him. “This will be important if he’s come himself” he said. Winter nodded and tucked his hands deeper into his coat pockets. Mark Payne stood in front of them. “Let’s walk a little. Indeed to tell you a few things.” He glanced at Pink and Cairnsy, “You two stay here with the Met lads”. Winter and Bruce then walked away down a gravel path with both their heads bent in toward the Super as he spoke.

Simon Guilfoyle was deep in conversation with the pathologist who had come to the scene to see the skeleton before it was removed. He had confirmed nothing other than the bones were that of a female and the state of decomposition indicated burial was between 150 & 350 years ago. Only tests conducted in the lab would narrow this down. CSI had now recovered the remains and closed down the scene. PC Nicholas and Cynical Bobby were filling in the hole and Avers kept them going with the promise of a decent coffee and a doughnut when finished.

“Well this is an unexpected turn” said DS Bruce. Mark Payne nodded. “We have to be very careful here. I need strict confidentiality. This isn’t a crime scene but could be pivotal in understanding what’s going on.” They were stood in the lee of the south window of the church when they heard a voice. “Hello. Can I help you?” Revd Kneewax was walking towards them. “I saw all the cars and came over to see if I could help.” Bruce suddenly had a thought. “Do you have burial registers here?” he asked. “Yes of course. We have quite a few actually and they go back many years. We also have a list of all the graves, names and dates. They come in very useful. Lots of people are into genealogy these days and we get lots of requests. What do you need to know?” DS Bruce walked toward the main church entrance with Kneewax explaining what he was looking for.

The west door was the main entrance to the church and Kneewax led Bruce in and down to a very low door in the sanctuary that led to his vestry. His robes hung on the wall to the left. On the opposite wall were three safes with a plinth on top that acted like a desk. Kneewax pulled a huge bunch of keys from his pocket and opened the right hand safe. It was crammed with books and had a musty smell about it. Kneewax scanned the spines then pulled out two volumes and placed them on the desk. “There’s an anomaly in these records. The books are supposed to be completed in full and then a new one started but one of these finishes with several blank pages and then continues in the new one. Nobody knows if anything is missing.” He opened the relevant page of the book. “Here. See? This is the last entry but all these pages are blank. The entries for Miss Renners and Edward Scholes are in the next volume.” He opened the following book and showed the entries to Bruce. They spent some time looking at the books. The gap couldn’t be explained but the dates were close together and appeared to be consistent with the regular passing of folk within the village.

Bruce walked back out to the plot and explained his findings to the Supt. In his absence the Met officers, Pink and Dave had scoured the graves for anything unusual. Nothing obvious had been discovered until Pink called out. It was difficult to see where she was until her face appeared around the base of the tomb under the trees. “I’m here. Is there supposed to be a big key in the back of this?”

DS Bruce, Pink, Cairnsy, Supt Payne and the Met officers all stood under the trees staring at the back of the tomb and a large black key protruding from it. Cairnsy crouched down and had a close look at the key. “You don’t think this could be the key from Lock Cottage do you? he asked nobody in particular. Mark Payne was beginning to think he didn’t know what to think anymore. “While you’re down there Dave you may as well give it a try.”

Dave took hold of the key. It was cold and rough with rust and flaking paint. He gave the key a twist. It budged a little but not much. “It’s quite tight. I need more leverage.” he crouched down onto his knees and putting one hand over the top of the other applied some force to the key. It gave very little and appeared seized. He was about to give up when something snapped and the key turned through 360°. He gave an uncertain glance to the Supt who gave a nod of encouragement to continue. The door needed a bit of force to get moving. It also opened outward and some pine needles and twigs needed to be brushed out of the way. Dave took his torch from his body armour and shone it into the opening. His heart was in his mouth as he lowered his head and peered inside.

Dave’s torch lit an area about 3ft square and about 2.5ft high. Spiders had been busy building webs but otherwise it was quite tidy. “Well?” asked DS Bruce impatiently. “Hang on” said Dave. “There’s some sort of package in here.” Dave could see a rectangular shaped package that seemed to be wrapped in heavy material. He took hold and gingerly pulled it into the light and folded the cloth back. Bruce looked on and new what it was immediately. He kneeled down next to Dave and turned to the first page. There was only one entry. He read it out to the others. “Francine Scholes-Renners – died 17th Sept 1768 ” He looked at the dates and it was clear she was 4 weeks old when she died.

Pink immediately realised what this meant. “Sir, they had two children!” Mark Payne was still processing this information in his head when he heard Dave saying something. He tuned back in to him, “Sorry Dave say again.” Dave was still on his knees with his hands stretched into the void under the tomb. He turned his head back toward the Supt. “There’s something else in here. I’m just trying to get the dirt off it.”

To be continued…

This post is fiction but the characters are people I follow on Twitter and by referencing to them I recommend (#FF) them to you. The story is just a different way of #FF’ing that gives me some pleasure. The personalities of my Twitter characters portrayed in this tale are hypothetical and in no way reflect their true professionalism and personal qualities.. it’s meant to be fun.

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