Category Archives: An FF Tale

An #FF Tale – Chapter 16

Lord Scholes-Fogg sat on a large leather sofa in the music room. This was his favourite day room. The high ceiling and bright airiness made the room feel fresh and alive. Facing him was his life long friend and legal advisor John Storer. “You have the documentation John” he asked. “Yes. It’s all here and ready. I’ve had a friend in the city study it thoroughly. It’s water tight, legal and within your powers to enact.” At that moment the door opened and Lisa walked in with a tray. She placed it on the low table between them. “Thank you Lisa” said Lord Scholes-Fogg. “Please sit with me a moment. I need your assistance.” After a short discussion Lord Scholes-Fogg signed the document which was duly witnessed by John and Lisa. “I know I can leave this in your hands now John. Thank you.”

A maid entered the room followed by Peter who closed the doors behind him. The maid carried a tray with tea, coffee, orange juice and pastries and approached where Monsieur Renier, Mark Payne and Pink were sat. “Papa. It’s a beautiful morning. Shall we not sit on the terrace?” asked Peter. “A splendid idea. Aurelie, please take the tray outside.” Aurelie continued to the large french windows and Peter stepped ahead and swung them open for her. The sound of birdsong flooded into the room. “Superintendent, please” said Monsieur Renier as he held out a hand inviting Mark onto the terrace. They sat around a large table and took in the wonderful view whilst Aurelie served drinks to everyone. Pink’s mind wandered onto how rich this family clearly were and how many pairs of boots and shoes she would buy if she were part of it. “You enjoyed the helicopter trip up the valley officer?” asked Monsieur Renier. Pink pulled herself up and chastised herself for day dreaming. “Very much Sir. Not something I experience everyday as a police officer.” Monsieur Renier smiled warmly. “Indeed. It is a very beautiful place no?” Pink agreed enthusiastically. “So Superintendent. Let us begin. This is my friend, confidante and advisor Mr Clive Chamberlain. Mark and Clive exchanged nods as Monsieur Renier continued. “I understand you are investigating the theft of the remains of Amylou Renners from a grave in the UK?” Mark Payne nodded and went on to explain the theft and the ongoing enquiry.

Jane Hamilton had driven back into the village and was now sat outside a small cafe with coffee. She was somewhat confused by the presence of the UK Police officers at Le Chateau Jeane. Her links were somewhat tenuous and her presence here was speculative. This was normal for her line of work but not for the police. At least not where international enquiries are conducted in person. She rang Evans but he had no new information and then called Rob Preece but drew another blank. The waiter came back to her table and offered more coffee. She accepted, flashed him her best smile and decided that in the absence of anything else she should do some digging with the locals and he had just become her first target.

Cairnsy sat at the kitchen table facing Katharine Winter and explained why he had called. He pushed the plastic bag across the table toward her. “Is this the key that used to hang by your front door?” he asked. Katharine lifted the bag and examined the key carefully. “Yes it is. Where did you find it?” Dave explained how the key had been found and more importantly where. “The investigation is still ongoing so it’s good not to speculate at the moment but does seem that it is all linked to the graveyard theft.” Katharine looked slightly puzzled. “Why if they stole the key would they then not use it?” she asked. Dave shrugged his shoulders. “Who knows. Maybe they didn’t know where the lock was?”

“You have the document with you Supt?” asked Monsieur Renier. Mark Payne handed over the original document. He briefly scanned it and then handed it to Clive. “Supt. This document could bring an end to a great deal of research over many years and be the final piece in the jigsaw. I have employed a researcher for quite some considerable time. He has been tracing my family ancestry and also that of the Scholes-Fogg/Scholes family.” Up until this point Mark Payne felt comfortable with the information provided but the fact that Monsieur Renier was also investigating the Scholes family set all sorts of bells ringing. He suddenly felt like a pawn in a much larger game. Monsieur Renier looked toward Clive. “Initial thoughts Clive?” he asked. Clive took off his glasses and held out the document like an exhibit. “Robert. If this document is genuine then the line is now complete. We can prove the link we needed that was previously missing. Monsieur Renier looked toward Mark Payne. “Superintendent. I think I need to fill some gaps for you. As you know the body of Amylou Renners was stolen from the grave. She was the housekeeper of Lord Scholes some 200+ years ago. There were very many rumours that she and Lord Scholes were lovers. However, due to the nature of her domestic status this was never allowed to be more than just a rumour. I’m sure Lord Scholes has told you this? Mark nodded as Monsieur Renier continued. My family have an interest in the Scholes family and this story because Miss Renners as she was known was French. She fled the country to the UK from this very Chateau. Her name was intentionally altered when she arrived in the UK. Her true family name, as you are probably now realising, was Renier. Pink was completely focussed on the conversation but very nearly blurted orange juice all over the table at this piece of news. Monsieur Renier continued. “My researcher has traced back the family line to Amylou and secured authentication from many sources that is accurate. He has done the same for the Scholes/Scholes-Fogg family. We have suspected for many years that the relationship between Lord Scholes and Amylou was much more than was publicly visible. We believe there were children and we believe they were married. However, we have systematically failed at every turn to prove this with documentation. You today have brought me the information that confirms my theories. I have my suspicions as to who is responsible for the desecration of her grave but they are speculative and I will not name people without evidence. It is well known that the Scholes family were very wealthy and that Lord Scholes could not bestow upon Amylou the treasures and jewels he so desperately wanted to. It was rumoured that such jewels were placed in a cache and devoted to her. The thief’s disturbing her grave were no doubt looking for that cache which will be of some considerable value. We will never know if the jewels were in the grave.”

Mark Payne found himself in the same position as Monsieur Renier. His attention for the theft was slowly but surely turning back to either Lord Scholes or more likely his son Tom. Doug Beattie had been arrested and he still believed he was the thief but he suspected he was acting on instructions from much high up the family tree. Yet he had no direct evidence to prove it and this was the frustration.

Monsieur Renier continued with his story. “The direct link Superintendent is the boy. Amylou was believed to have had two children. The first born was a boy. The fact that Lord Scholes had fathered a child to the housekeeper was a scandal that had to be covered up. The boy was sent to France into the care of family friends. The second was a girl and she was believed to have died very young. Superintendent. The boy didn’t go to family friends. He came to family and he lived here. He was my great, great, great-grandfather and his name was Peter which as you know in France is Pierre. This is a family name that has carried across the generations.” He looked toward his son, Peter, sat to his left. “I myself am Robert Peter. Pierre lived here all his life and was raised in the Lemon Nursery and is buried in the grounds of our private chapel down by the river.” He vaguely pointed down the valley as he said this. Pink’s mind was racing. She knew exactly where she had seen “A Lemon Nursery” before. “Monsieur. You say Pierre was raised in the “Lemon Nursery?”. “That is correct officer. The Lemon Nursery is in the Chateau. I myself and Peter here both used that room as children.” Pink took a breath whilst she pushed letters around in her head. “Sir. Do you have a pen and a piece of paper please?” she asked. Peter stepped into the room and came back moments later with them. Pink began scribbling notes down on the paper whilst Mark and the others watched on somewhat bemused. Pink suddenly stopped and smiled. “Monsieur. That document was found hidden behind a chimney breast in an attic room where she lived that could well have been a nursery. On the front of the envelope were the words “A Lemon Nursery”. If you rearrange the letters you get this.” She held up the piece of paper for all to see that she had written “Amylou Renners”. Monsieur Renier stared at the writing for a moment. “How remarkable” he said. “She styled her fake name to match her room here in the Chateau.” At this Clive stood. “If you will excuse me Robert. I should make some calls with regard to this document.” Monsieur Renier nodded as Clive spoke brief farewells to Mark and Pink before going back into the house.

Pink asked to see the room and was duly shown up by Monsieur Renier and Peter. It was a fine room and as the name suggested, Lemon in colour. The room was delightful and really was a childs dream but one thing stood out for her. On the wall above the fireplace was a large painting. It depicted vines and grapes intertwined around the central image of a key, surrounded by a rectangle.

Mark Payne turned toward Monsieur Renier. “Sir. I believe we have come to a conclusion. Thank you for your time and your hospitality. We need to get back to the UK. The matter of the family line is not a police matter and I’m sure you will be pursuing that yourself.” Monsieur Renier smiled. “I will indeed Superintendent. You understand of course that I am the direct heir to the peerage Lord Scholes-Fogg currently holds but as a French national I cannot take it even if I wanted it. My son Peter on the other hand is a British and French national having been born there when I was taking a trip with his mother. Peter is rightfully entitled, should he wish, to take his place in the House of Lords.” Mark Payne stood and offered his hand. “I wish you well with your efforts Monsieur.”

Two weeks later…

The death of Lord Scholes-Fogg whilst expected at some point had come as a shock to many. Tom had made the correct noises and shown appropriate grief but he was, deep inside, utterly delighted to now have the freedom to follow his political desires. What happened at the reading of his fathers will though took the wind completely out of his sails. Amended, signed and witnessed only a few weeks ago his will wrote Tom out of the estate. He surrendered his peerage to the Government and outlined a link to the french Renier family that undermined his own entitlement and that the family line was flawed. By doing so it could not be passed on to Tom or any other. Calder Hall was to be left to Lisa and on her death it would pass to the National Trust. Tom had been released to the dogs and left high and dry. His fathers words were that he should “Carve his own path now in the great traditions of his family as his ancestors had done before him.” He also requested the removal of the body of Amylou’s daughter from the tomb, the exhumation of Edward Scholes and on the return of the remains of Amylou, they were to be buried in their own plot so they could finally be together.

A month later Mark Payne was no closer to pinning the graveyard theft on anyone. He suspected Tom Scholes-Fogg was behind it but if he was he covered his tracks very well. The alibi on Doug Beattie could not be disproved and the trail had dried up. He signed a piece of paper on his desk that authorised the release of the remains of Amylou Renners to the undertakers.

On a damp drizzly afternoon a very small clutch of people dressed in black stood in the churchyard of St Stephens. Husband, wife and child were laid to rest. Rev’d Kneewax conducted the short ceremony. The headstone simply had their names and across the bottom was just one word. “Reunited” and below was the image of a key within a rectangle. The attendees gradually filtered away and the vicar returned to the church. The grave was still open and a dark figure in heavy coat with the hood up came out from under the nearby trees and stood by the opening. His job was to fill in the grave. He stood silently for a few minutes to be sure nobody was lingering. Then he walked back under the trees and returned with a large metal box that was wrapped in a heavy cloth. He carefully placed this into the open grave and then grabbing his spade began to fill the hole. Keeping hold of this box for the last month or so had been the most stressful thing he had done. He was glad to see the back of it. “Nothing but trouble this bloody family” he muttered to himself.

An #FF Tale – Chapter 15

Kate Harney stood at the charge desk and explained to Doug what would happen whilst the alibi was verified. Doug was then escorted down the wing back to his cell. Kate turned to Sgt Harris. “Darren. I’m not staying here all night. I need to know if you get a charge decision so I can be in court in the morning. If he’s bailed I would oppose any conditions. He is of previous good character, has a suitable address, will answer bail, nobody is at risk from him and there are no grounds to suspect he will commit further offences. Can you note my rep’s on the custody record and I’ll go home.” Darren agreed so Kate made her goodbyes and was released through the air lock into reception. A lady sat waiting. She had a clipboard folder, a legal aid form and a copy of a custody record in her lap and was busy writing. “Hello Kim” said Kate. “What are you being punished with?” Kim Evans felt like she had spent her life in custody. She looked up and smiled. “A domestic assault. The officers were coming down 25 minutes ago!” The situation was one Kate knew only too well. She put her hand on Kim’s shoulder. “Why do we put ourselves through this?”

DS Bruce was short on staff. The nearest detective on night cover was DC Spain. He was tied up on the far side of the division dealing with an aggravated burglary. With no other options he had given in to sending a response bobby who was currently enroute.

Supt Payne thanked Lisa for her candid information and climbed into the drivers seat of his car. He fired the engine and drove out of the courtyard and onto the driveway. A pair of headlights were approaching at speed and he pulled to the side putting his nearside wheels into the grass. A silver Range Rover streaked past him without easing up and continued in the direction of the hall. He shook his head at the poor driving display then using voice control he called the Deputy Chief Constable. He needed to be briefed on the document Pink had found, Lord Scholes-Fogg’s reaction and now the information provided by Lisa. He could then head home and snatch some sleep. The DCC listened to Marks update carefully. “Very good Mark. I agree. Get everything in place immediately and take Pink with you. Bruce can keep a lid on things here.” Mark made several further calls on his way home and the last was to Pink as he pulled on his driveway. “Pack a bag for two days and find your passport” he told her. “I’ll pick you up at 7 in the morning.”

Peter always went to bed early and was fast asleep under a Hungarian duck down duvet when the phone rang. He reached out blindly for the phone and pulled it back under the duvet. “Hello” he said groggily. “Peter. It’s time. Come home now. The plane is already on its way.” He was awake instantly and a well rehearsed plan kicked into gear. He didn’t need to pack, just grab his phone, MacBook and passport and get a car to the airport.

Response Bobby had sat with Anthony for about 45 minutes taking a statement. He then rang DS Bruce. “Yes Sarge. He’s signing the statement now. He was with Doug Beattie all afternoon and evening and slept over at the caravan as they were both drunk. He’s a merchant navy type and they always meet up when he’s in the UK.” DS Bruce thanked him and then rang custody. Doug was to be bailed pending further enquiries.

On arriving at London City airport Peter was informed that the family jet had landed and needed 30 mins to turnaround and meet a departure slot. He was at the private aviation centre reception. Through the windows he had a view onto the apron and could see the Learjet 45 parked on the ramp. The captain and co-pilot were in the cockpit making preparations. After a short wait he was escorted out to the aircraft and settled into the soft leather upholstery for the relatively short flight home.

At 5.30am Pink dragged herself out of bed, threw a bag of clothes together, showered and managed a quick bowl of cereal and some juice before there was a knock at the door. Mark Payne stood there in a civilian suit. “Ready?” Pink handed her bag to him, locked the door and followed him to the car. Mark put the bag in the boot then joined her in the car. “Would you now like to tell me what on earth is going on?” asked Pink. “We are following up an enquiry that is taking us to France. We have a flight from Bristol at 10am. I have spoken to a chap called Matthew at “Le Château Jeane” which is our destination. They are expecting us and will send the helicopter to meet us at the airport.” Pink was speechless. Things were moving too fast and not everything made sense. There were too many holes. “Care to fill in a few blanks Sir?”

Jane Hamilton sat on the terrace at the hotel. the sun was beaming down and the warmth felt good after all the recent rain back home. She had fresh orange juice, croissants, butter and a thick strawberry preserve. She had called Evan’s but he had nothing to say except that he believed Tom Scholes-Fogg had returned to Calder Hall overnight. Her intention was to visit Le Château Jeane today. She mulled over some of the links Rob Preece had hinted at and some of the coincidences with the papers and the will she had seen but after a while concluded that her first priority was to enjoy her breakfast and the glorious sunshine.

Peter climbed out of bed for the second time of the night. He had flown home in the dark and was then collected by the helicopter and transferred to the estate. The château was floodlit on arrival but he could see nothing else. He pulled on a cord by the window and the curtains opened to a vista of green fields, wooded hillside on the valley opposite, the river flowing south twinkling and flashing in the sunlight and before him row upon row of neatly tended vines. He smiled. This was going to be a difficult day but he was always glad to be home. He opened the large floor to ceiling windows and just listened to the peace, the birds singing and the gentle hum of a tractor on the estate somewhere. He took a deep breath and enjoyed the pleasure of clean, fresh air. He hated living in the London apartment. The peace was suddenly shattered as the Augusta 109, whose sound had been masked by the château, lifted and passed overhead and down the valley. Peter watched as it disappeared out of sight and the tranquility of the valley returned. His reverie was then disturbed by a delicate knock on the door which then opened and Matthew came in with a breakfast tray. “Good morning Sir. Welcome home. After your disturbed night I thought you may prefer breakfast up here this morning.” Peter sat in a chair by the window as Matthew placed the tray on a side table. “Matthew. You know me too well” said Peter with the grin of someone delighted to be home.

“What is this rubbish father and where did it come from?” demanded Tom. “You told me this cache was likely to be jewels Edward bestowed on this Renners woman. I’ve done everything I can on the information you’ve provided but I’ve found nothing. Then as if by chance some nosey police officer uncovers this manufactured document making all sorts of claims of secret marriages and children shipped off to France.” Tom was pacing up and down the room as he ranted. “This is intolerable. Somebody is trying to undermine my inheritance and I will not allow it.” Lord Scholes-Fogg hadn’t moved from his chair. “Tom. Sit down you are making me dizzy. I have my legal people looking at this. You’re overreacting. I’m sure this document has no legal standing. We don’t know if it’s true and we don’t know of this family line even exists. You need to focus your energy on the cache.” Tom had stopped by the window overlooking the garden. “I’ve called off Royston’s men. They were making no progress. This fishing expedition has no legs. Seems it will be easier to sit back and wait for my inheritance doesn’t it?” Lord Scholes-Fogg was becoming angry but on the outside remained calm and impassive. “Tom. So you have abandoned the option of the cache and decided to sit back and wait for me to die so your inheritance is handed to you on a silver platter along with Calder Hall and the peerage. When will you do something for yourself?” Tom stormed out of the room slamming the door behind him. Lord Scholes-Fogg picked up the phone and placed a call. “Yes. He fell back to his default position of being bone idle and holding his hand out. Please proceed as planned.”

Supt Payne and Pink cleared customs and entered the arrivals hall. “What next?” asked Pink. Mark looked around thinking then pointed saying “Maybe he can help.” Pink looked in the direction he was pointing to see a slight male in a dark suit holding a card with “Supt Mark Payne” emblazoned upon it. They walked over and introduced themselves. “Bonjour Monsieur Payne. Bienvenue en France. Monsieur Renier extends his hospitality to you. I have a car outside to take you to the business aviation hangar and the helicopter. Please follow me.”

Pink almost floated to the car and then through the private aviation centre. The experience was somewhat surreal. They eventually crossed a section of asphalt toward a sleek navy blue helicopter. The rotors were turning and she ducked down as she was shown into a plush beige leather seat and shown how to strap in. Mark sat next to her and the door was closed. The pilot turned to them and indicated they should put the headsets on. They did as instructed and heard his voice “Good morning. Welcome onboard. Flying time to Le Château Jeane is 25 minutes. It’s a beautiful day. Sit back and enjoy the view.” The helicopter then powered up and gracefully lifted from the floor to about 100ft then turned to the west, dipped its nose and headed into a vast panorama of rolling hills and verdant countryside. Pink had experienced some odd situations whilst in the police but this was unprecedented. She decided to do exactly what the pilot said.

Jane Hamilton drove slowly through the rural French countryside. The scenery was breathtaking and she made a mental note to come back when not on business. Vineyards stretched off in every direction and the workers could be seen working with the vines. The grand entrance to Le Château Jeane came up on her left and she turned through the gates and along the driveway. The château appeared as she rounded a wooded area and the drive opened into a wide gravelled forecourt where she could park. A smartly dressed man was waiting at the door and as she approached he came down the few steps to meet her. “My name is Matthew. Can I help you?” Jane was cold calling and bluff was her best tactic. “My name is Jane Hamilton. I’m an investigative journalist from England. In looking into reports that the Renier family have links to an Amylou Renners who died 200 years ago in England. Her remains were recently stolen from… ” She realised that Matthew appeared totally disinterested. “Bluff” she said to herself. “Stolen from the grave and I believe the Scholes-Fogg family may be involved.” There she’d done it. A little white lie to try and elicit a reaction. Matthew raised his eyebrows. “Really Madam? I’m afraid Monsieur Renier is otherwise engaged and cannot see you.” At that moment Peter walked out of the main entrance. “Can I help Matthew?” he asked. Matthew explained the claims by Jane and that she would have to leave. Jane looked up at a very attractive blond man dressed in fine clothes. He flashed a bright smile at her. “Gay” she thought to herself instantly. “No bloke is ever that good looking and straight.” Peter reached out and shook her hand. “Nice to meet you. I think I’ve seen some of your work in…” His conversation was cut off as a baby blue helicopter descended over the roof of the house toward the rear garden area. “…the UK” he finished. Please come in. My father is busy but I can spare you 10 minutes.” They walked into the house and Matthew seemed to just vapourise. Peter showed her into a room and asked her to wait for a moment.

The Augusta touched down on an expansive and impressively manicured lawn at the rear of the château. The rotors were cut immediately and a male approached the helicopter and opened the door. “Officers. Welcome to Le Château Jeane. I hope you had a good journey. Monsieur Renier is expecting you. Please follow me.” At that he turned and escorted them across the lawn to the rear entrance of the house.

Peter returned to Jane. “I am so very sorry. It seems some important guests arrived on the helicopter and I must be with them. Would it be possible to meet you tomorrow around 11am?” Jane knew she had bluffed her way into this and couldn’t push it any further. “Of course” she replied with a smile. “I look forward to it.” Peter escorted her out toward the front entrance. As they walked Jane’s attention was drawn to the sound of footsteps and voices behind her. She glanced over her shoulder to see Supt Payne and the constable she had met at Lock Cottage being shown into a room by Matthew. Pink was also aware of the other people in the entrance lobby and as she looked toward them she made direct eye contact with Jane. Both of them immediately recognised each other as they were ushered in and out of the château.

Mark and Pink were led into a large room with high ceilings and huge windows opening onto the vineyard with views to the opposite side of the valley and the river. Monsieur Renier was sat in a chair by the window. He invited them both to take a seat and introduced them to Clive Chamberlain. “I trust you had a pleasant journey” he said. “It is a beautiful morning to fly up the valley. Please make yourselves comfortable. We have a lot to discuss.

An #FF Tale – Chapter 14

DS Bruce put the final touches to the interview plan with DC Darling. They were now ready to proceed. Kate Harney had been called and was on her way to custody. Bruce leant back in his chair, stretched out, put his hands behind his head and his feet on his desk. “You know what Phil. I think if you do it now we’ve time for a brew before we go down to custody.” Phil glanced up from the notes he was studying, raised his eyebrows and rolled his eyes before pushing his chair back from the desk. “Tea or coffee?”

Jane Hamilton sped across the border into France after about 50 minutes driving and then the route began to veer north toward Chardonnay. The satnav estimated another 1hr 45mins driving to reach the destination. She had called the hotel earlier to advise she would be late but realised she was hungry now and decided to stop at the first opportunity and pick something up.

Supt Payne pulled his car up at the gates of Calder Hall. They were closed and the faint glow of a light to his right indicated an intercom system. He sat for a moment and gathered his thoughts. Over the course of his career he had sat with bereaved parents, rape victims and wives with children who’d just lost their husband. Despite all this experience he was not looking forward to this meeting at all. He had a lot of information to impart to Lord Scholes-Fogg and it would not be easy. “No time like the present Mark” he said to himself before lowering his window and reaching out to press the “call” button. After a few rings a female voice answered. “Can I help you” she asked. “It’s Supt Payne. I need to speak to Lord Scholes-Fogg.” There was a short pause. “Lord Scholes-Fogg is entertaining guests for dinner at present and will not be able to see you” came the reply. “I do apologise for any inconvenience but I need to speak to him most urgently.” There was another pause and Mark became aware of the gates gradually gliding open. “Very good Supt. I do hope it is as urgent as you say. His Lordship does not take kindly to being disturbed. Please come up to the main entrance. I’ll have Teresa meet you.” A slight click from the speaker told Mark the call was terminated. He took a deep breath before driving the car through the gates and down the long driveway to the hall.

Kate Harney arrived at the custody suite and as a regular and well known solicitor she was buzzed right through to the charge desk. Sgt Harris was on duty. “Hello Kate. The officers are upstairs. I’ll give them a call. Do you want a coffee?” Kate accepted the offer and was shown to a consultation room to await the arrival of the interview team. A short time later DC Darling appeared with coffee in a paper cup and some sheets of A4 paper. Kate glanced at them before turning her attention to Phil. “Don’t tell me. Written disclosure?” she said. “I’m afraid so” said Phil handing the sheets to her and placing the cup on the desk in front of her. Kate groaned inwardly. “Thanks for the coffee… and this” she said waving the piece of paper idly. “I’ll give you a shout when I’m ready for Mr Beattie. She read through the disclosure notes and was astonished to find that the remains of a body had been found in the forest near to the saw mill where Doug lived. The disclosure gave a lot of detail and so she automatically suspected some cards were still being played very close to their chest. She did wonder if they had the body what the “other” developments were. Satisfied she wandered back out to the charge desk. “Sarge. I’m ready for my client if you can get him out for me please.”

Inspector Guilfoyle arrived back at the nick around he same time as Cairnsy and Pink and bumped into them in the response Sgts office as they hung up their car keys. “I believe you two have been involved in some developments today. Come down to my office and tell me all about it.” At that he turned on his heel and strode off down a corridor. Cairnsy looked at Pink. “Seems everybody thinks we don’t have homes to go to.” Pink nodded agreement before heading off down the corridor in the direction the Inspector had gone closely followed by Dave.

DS Bruce stood leaning over the charge desk chatting with Darren Harris. “The Supt gave us 12hrs which gets us to 9am tomorrow morning” he said. “I’d like to charge tonight. I’d want to remand. If he throws a spanner in the works though I’m not confident we have enough to convince the magistrates for another 36hrs.” As he finished his sentence a door opened down the interview wing and Kate stuck her head out. “Ok. Were ready.”

Cairnsy had never been in Inspector Guilfoyles office. He and Pink were invited to sit down and then he began to ask questions. They were both evasive at first but Pink eventually spoke up. “Sir. The Super has put us on strict silence about today’s developments. He said we cannot discuss it with anyone.” Simon looked frustrated. “Oh you’re kidding me. Where’s the Super now?” Pink hesitated again. “He’s… er… gone to discuss some sensitive matters with Lord Scholes-Fogg.” Cairnsy was looking for any opportunity to change the subject. He scanned the office and his eyes fell on a small framed photo on top of a filing cabinet. He stood and took it down. The photograph showed an officer stood by a marked Range Rover with a firearm in his hand. “Is this you Sir?” he asked. “Those were happier days. That Glock and I were inseparable. Like husband and wife. Then promotion came along and I had to change dept. All those skills were just cast aside by the force. Despite all my experience and the cost to train me they allowed my ticket ti just expire.” Cairnsy grinned. “Never mind boss. Firearms is a young officers game.” Simon scowled at him whilst placing the photo back where it belonged. By the look on his face Cairnsy knew that the Inspector had been pushed as far as he would go.

Kate Harney paused and took the time to assess Doug’s face and how well he was taking all this information in. “The weight of evidence against you is strong. Your van in the lane, the CCTV, the ANPR hit, the saw mill and now human remains in a freshly dug hole. The only evidence they don’t have is physically putting you in the churchyard, taking the body and burying it in the forest but nevertheless this is pretty tight. It is still essentially a theft matter. There are no other allegations like those animal activists a few years ago. They got 12 years. I don’t see this happening in your case but I need to know your account so I can advise you properly.” Doug was silent. In his head he was torn between telling the truth and following the script yet his military training meant his face remained impassive and gave nothing away. “What happens if I go no comment like I did last time” he asked.

Kate explained how the court could draw an inference from his silence. “I think that may be my best option then” said Doug. Kate was tired and becoming angry. “How can I advise you if you won’t talk to me? What’s the point of me being here? Listen to me. What you tell me is subject to client confidentiality but I cannot help you if you don’t help me.” Doug again sat silently processing options. It had not been his idea to take the body. He felt it could have been left behind. It would look like some sick persons actions or vandalism. His employer had insisted on removal and so it was clearly theft. He slowly turned his expressionless face to Kate. “I was in the caravan all night with a friend. We had been shooting during the afternoon. In the evening we played cards and got drunk. The saw mill is isolated and I always leave the keys in the van. I didn’t stir until lunchtime the next day. The van was right where I left it. I have nothing to do with any grave robbing.” His face still gave away nothing but the relief inside on making a decision felt good. Kate smiled back. She was delighted he had decided to talk. “Good. Tell me more and I can advise on your best course of action.”

Mark Payne was met by Teresa at the main entrance. She welcomed him and then escorted into a small room off the main entrance lobby and offered him tea which Mark declined. “I will ask the butler to inform His Lordship you are here. Mark sat waiting for some time studying the paintings on the walls before the door opened and another lady came in. “Superintendent. I am Lisa the housekeeper. Lord Scholes-Fogg will see you in the drawing room. Please follow me.” Mark recognised the voice as that of the lady on the intercom as he followed her into the drawing room where he had met Lord Scholes-Fogg last time. The room was lit only by a few lamps and the flickering orange flames in the open fireplace. Lisa led him to the fireplace and two leather wing backed armchairs. Mark could see a pair of legs crossed at the knee in one of the chairs. An arm rested on the arm wearing a suit jacket. The white cuff protruding from the sleeve was pinned with a gold cuff link and the hand held onto a crystal tumbler. The glass coruscated with firelight and reflections from the dark amber liquid within. “Supt Payne Sir” said Lisa. Lord Scholes-Fogg turned toward them. “Hello Mark. Take a seat” he said as he gestured toward the other armchair. “Can I get you anything else Sir?” asked Lisa. “No thank you Lisa. That will be all.” replied Lord Scholes-Fogg. At that Lisa turned and padded silently out of the room. Lord Scholes-Fogg took the stopper out of an exquisite decanter and poured a generous glass of whisky and handed it across to Mark. “Lisa and Teresa have been with me for over 15 years. You can choose your friends but not your family they say. They are my staff but are also my friends. They are sometimes more like my family than my actual family.” Mark swirled his glass and a rich peaty aroma rose from the glass and coupled with the darker colour indicated an Islay malt. “Laphroaig Sir?” he asked. Lord Scholes-Fogg inclined his head toward him. “Very good Superintendent. You know your single malts. Cask strength this one. I’m not a fan of wishy washy whisky. It needs depth and this one is perfect. I hope this is important. My guests were beginning to bore me but leaving them is rude. What do you have to tell me that is so important?”

After 45 minutes of consultation Kate Harney came back to the charge desk. She handed a sheet of paper to PS Harris. “Would it be possible to have some photocopies please?” DS Bruce was leaning against the desk next to her. “Prepared statement?” he asked. Kate nodded. “We are ready as soon as you have read through it.” PS Harris came back to the desk, kept a copy, gave one to Kate and the original and a spare copy to Bruce. Bruce scanned the page then looked at Kate. “Give me 5 minutes. Do you want to wait with your client?”

Jane pulled onto the car park of the Château De Fleurville. This was the best hotel she could find at short notice that had a vacancy. It was about 5 miles from Chardonnay itself and approximately 10 miles from the vineyard at Le Château Jeane. It was dark as she grabbed her flight case from the back seat and crunched step by step over the gravelled driveway to the main entrance. She checked in easily and was shown to her room. There was nothing she could do tonight so decided her only option was a long soak in a deep bath, some wine and bed.

DS Bruce and DC Darling walked along the corridor to the charge desk with Kate and Doug following behind. The interview had been one long no comment affair after the reading out of the prepared statement. In this Doug had provided details of an alibi that would need chasing down immediately. Leaving Phil to result the interview with PS Harris, Bruce went straight upstairs to coordinate staff to verify the alibi. “That’s the top and bottom of it Sarge” explained Phil. “If the alibi checks out then we will probably have to bail. If not I think Bruce will want it with CPS tonight.”

“You have this document with you?” asked Lord Scholes-Fogg. Mark Payne handed over a copy of the document found by Pink. Lord Scholes-Fogg took some spectacles from his jacket pocket and began to read. The room descended into silence with the exception of a clock ticking gently on the mantle above the crackling fire. After some time Lord Scholes-Fogg broke the silence. “This is interesting but I doubt it’s authenticity. Edward would not have married his housekeeper. That’s absurd and why would he send his first son abroad? I suspect somebody, probably whoever stole Miss Renners body, is planning to blackmail me or embarrass my family.” Mark Payne placed his glass on a small table by his chair. “I understand all your concerns Sir. There are obvious signatories on the document that on the face of it make it legal and binding. How you go about proving or disproving that will remain to be seen and is not a police matter. However, it does generate some further questions about why Miss Renners body was stolen.” Lord Scholes-Fogg lowered the document into his lap and took off his glasses. “You’re right Superintendent and this could have serious implications for my family and my home. I will need to take some legal advice. Thank you for coming and telling me about this promptly. Lisa will show you out?” Right on cue and apparently without being called Lisa came back through the double doors and waited. Mark suddenly felt like he was a schoolboy being dismissed by his house master. “Goodnight Sir. You know how to contact me should you need to” he said before withdrawing from the room.

Lisa showed Mark to the door and then walked with him to his car in the courtyard. “He’s old and very tired you know and his son Tom is a great disappointment to him.” Mark stopped by his car door and turned to her. “Yes. It must be very hard for him.” Lisa nodded. “Harder than you know. He is very kind to me and the staff. He treats us like family, me especially and I am totally loyal to him which is why I’m going to tell you something….

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.

An #FF Tale – Chapter 13

The rear wheels of the Airbus A321 touched the asphalt and Chris Brenchley eased the nose forward. The spoilers deployed automatically and the co-pilot engaged reverse thrust at his command. He smiled as the aircraft bled speed along the runway. Flying was his life and he never tired of it. On instruction from the tower he vacated the runway on the rapid exit and began the taxi to the terminal.

Whilst the majority of passengers were now stood jockeying for position whilst reaching for bags in the overhead lockers Jane Hamilton remained seated. She could never understand the rush to get off an aircraft only to stand waiting at the baggage carousel. Geneva wasn’t the nearest airport to her destination but it was the best flight she could get at short notice. She had made a booking for a hire car at the Hertz desk at Gatwick before leaving and she checked that the confirmation slip was still in her pocket. The aircraft was now at the gate and the line of standing passengers in the aisle began to disembark. Jane waited until her section was empty then stood, took her flight case from the overhead bin and unimpeded walked to the exit past the smiling hostesses and a rather dapper looking Captain onto the air bridge. She was travelling light and smiled to herself at the sight of her fellow passengers leaning over baggage carts waiting for bags that weren’t even off the aircraft yet. She walked past them through customs and followed signs to the Hertz desk.

The sound of the hatch being lowered and a key in the door lock stirred Doug from a light doze. The jailer looked at him impassively. “Come on mate. The Chief Super is here to see you.” Doug threw back his blanket and stood up. He felt dirty and smelly but worst was the bottom of a birdcage feeling his mouth had. He straightened his clothing and stepped out of the cell into the bright corridor and the jailer passed him his shoes. He then ambled after him to the main charge desk. Sat before him was a smart officer who contrary to most officers in black t-shirts was wearing a white shirt, tie and epaulettes emblazoned with a crown and a pip.

Chief Superintendent Gavin Stephens introduced himself and explained his presence at the suite, the purpose of the extension to his detention and that Kate Harney, who had been briefed by him was on the phone to speak to him. Doug nodded and accepted the handset as it was passed to him.

Kate went on to explain the review and extension process and what was likely to occur in the additional 12 hours the Chief Superintendent was authorising. “Your 24 hour period expires at 9pm tonight” she explained. “The extension will take you to 9am tomorrow whereby you must be charged or released.” Doug was slightly confused why things were taking so long. “What are these developments?” he asked. “The police are giving very little away but they say that a discovery has been made and that forensic issues are being fast tracked. The enquiry is apparently opening up in another direction which is being pursued but they expect to be interviewing you again around 10pm tonight.” Doug sighed, “So it seems I’m stuck and there’s nothing I can do. I’ve not had a phone call yet. Can I at least do that?” Kate confirmed she would speak to the Chief Super and ensure it was granted. Doug handed the phone back to the officer who spoke briefly with his solicitor before hanging up. “The custody sergeant will sort your phone call for you. If you have no other questions that’s you and me done.”

Doug now stood at the desk facing Rural Sgt. He had been handed his mobile and relayed to him a number from his contacts. “Thats the number and the name is Frankie.” The Sgt made the call using the landline, confirmed the call would be accepted then handed the phone across the desk. Doug followed the pre-arranged protocol and gave basic information about his arrest, showed a little frustration and asked about the welfare of some fictitious family members. “Yes Frank. Other than that I’m fine. I don’t know how long I’ll be. The police seem to be moving slowly. Listen I was due to visit my mum tomorrow morning. I’m unlikely to get there. Will you ring Gloria and explain why? Thanks mate. Cheers. Bye.” He hung up and passed the cordless phone back to the Sgt.

The key phrase to ring Gloria was all Frankie needed to hear. He knew exactly what to do. He reached into his desk drawer and removed a small cash box. He unlocked it and took out a mobile phone from within. It had a pay as you go sim card with £10 credit and had never been used before. He dialled a number from memory and waited for it to connect. A male voice answered. Frankie passed his message. “I have some information for you. Gloria’s son will not make his appointment.” Frankie then disconnected the call, removed the sim card and cut it into 4 pieces. Then taking the pieces and the phone he lit a fire in his log burner and allowed it to get to temperature before destroying both within it.

Jane walked along an endless row of cars continually pressing a button on the keyfob. Nothing happened at first but eventually the indicators flashed up ahead on a Peugeot 307. She dumped her bag on the back seat and then climbed into the driving seat and fired up the engine. She had booked herself into a small hotel close to Chardonnay but had a long drive to get there. The rental receptionist had said the satnav was already set to English. She was pleased to find this was correct and quickly entered her destination. With a route calculated she pulled out of the car park and turned the car to the west and France.

Cairnsy had worked around at the edges of something hard on the floor. It was roughly 40cm square and seemed quite thick. His fingers could not gain purchase despite scratching away at all four sides. He was lay on his side right by the access portal with one hand taking support from the side of the opening and the other scrabbling at the edges of the object. He looked up at the crowd of officers stood peering at him. “It’s not budging. I don’t know what it is.”

DS Bruce crouched down next to him. “If you can’t move it then leave it for now. Before you give up though stick your head in with the torch and see if you can tell me what it is.” Dave was not overly chuffed at the idea of sticking his head into a tomb but soon realised that he was almost doing that anyway. He raised his eyebrows at the DS just to indicate his minor objection then rolled flat into his front. Placing his right hand and arm into the hole he gradually hitched himself forward so that his head and arm and right shoulder were within the chamber. The ceiling in the void was slightly higher than the access point and he could angle his head up a little. He reached out and ran his hand across the flat surface. It felt like stone and then he realised there were small indentations in the surface that felt like they were filled with soil and dirt. He carefully brushed off the surface and then illuminated it with his torch. His angle of vision was poor but he could now make out the chiselled letters; “Francine Scholes-Renners – Our Greatest Treasure.”

Inspector Winter had stood and watched the developments at the churchyard. He now knew he was chasing a false lead. “I think we can leave this with you Sir. We have a reservation in a local hotel for tonight and we’ll head back to London tomorrow.” Mark Payne turned toward him and shook his hand warmly. “Thank you for your time and input. This still could go anywhere. I’ll be in touch if I think you can assist with anything.” Winter released his hand. “It’s been a pleasure” then turning to his team, “Come on chaps. I think it’s time for some refreshment.”

Mark Payne stood thinking for a while but concluded this was not a crime scene and did not need Cairnsy to guard it. “Listen people. This is fast becoming a very sensitive case. You must maintain complete confidentiality. Do not even speak to other staff about it. You’re all aware of the content of the document Pink found and somebody is going to have to go and explain this to Lord Scholes-Fogg.” He paused whilst looking at Bruce. “With all due respect Sir, after today’s encounter I am not doing that!” Mark Payne smiled. “Don’t worry Bruce. This is my responsibility but I need to think a bit more before I go and knock on his door. You can give me a lift back as you need to interview Beattie. These two can tidy up here” he said as he looked toward Pink and Dave. Mark and Bruce then headed back to the car park.

“You understand the implications of this Dave?” said Pink. Dave was on his knees pushing the door of the tomb closed. “I hadn’t thought much about it to be honest. At least not whilst my head was stuck in here.” “I guess that’s fair enough” she conceded. “The document indicates that Lord Edward Scholes married Amylou Renners. There was always a suggestion they were lovers but it was never proved. She was buried, as you know, miles away on the other side of the graveyard. Probably to distance himself from her but it seems from this document that it was probably breaking his heart.” Dave stood up and brushed the dirt and muck from his trousers. “It’s a shame but it’s only a sad tale of love. I’ve got the key. Let’s go.” Pink grabbed his arm. “Dave just stop and think a minute. Lord Scholes married her secretly and they had children. That document details a son who was sent to France as a baby. The daughter, Francine, dies very soon after birth and is buried here. If the marriage can be proved to be lawful it undermines the peerage and it’s hereditary succession. If the son, Edward Scholes’s first born, can be traced to today then the current rightful heir to the peerage may well be wandering around blissfully unaware of his rights to it and quite possibly the Calder estate.” She paused for a moment. Dave was silent and had a far away look in his eyes but she could almost hear the wheels turning inside his head. “I never thought of it like that. No wonder the Super wants this keeping quiet.”

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.

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.