by David Gower
sloe gin on a slow day
Marjory’s excitement when telling all to her sister in law, Vera, was evidenced by her hurried words. They tumbled from her lips with hardly a pause for breath.
“It was all such a shock. Coming in to the office to find the back door smashed and things rifled. Papers thrown everywhere, cabinets forced, drawers upended and the petty cash tin on the floor. Not that there was much in it apart from some stamps and receipts. I was never able to balance it properly, I hated doing it and...”
Vera interrupted “But what happened? Was there anyone there? Did you disturb the thief? It must have been awful for you.”
Marjory attempted to answer as best she could. “Well, I ran next door and called in Mr James. He rang the police and so we felt brave enough to go back to looked for any burglars. Of course, not a sign of anyone except a muddy footprint and some blood on the broken glass. We never touched anything though.”
Vera almost squealed with excitement “Clues! Just like on the telly!! I’m glad you are safe but you must admit it is exciting. What did the police do?”
“Oh Vera. They made more mess than the burglar. That fingerprint powder is everywhere though the policeman said he expected the burglar had socks on his hands.
I said “Socks? I thought they always wore gloves”. He explained that was what thriller writers wrote. He reckons they often find young people who cannot explain why they have spare socks in their pocket!”
“What about the blood Marge? Was there much? Did you have to clean it up? Who cleans it all up when this sort of thing happens?”
“Funny you asked about that. They noticed I had cut my hand and it had a plaster on it. I told them I did it in the kitchen but they wanted me to give a DNA sample. Me! I made it quite clear that I am a respectable member of this community but they said, as politely as they could, that I was a suspect until the blood was tested. The nerve of these people. Anyway, after I calmed down they did one of those cotton bud things inside my mouth as a swab to ‘eliminate me’ from inquiries. Eliminate indeed. That’s why I was hoping to talk to Roger. As the current Mayor he needs to know how innocent people are treated when things like this happen! I told the officer that my brother is the Mayor but it cut no ice. I’d like to see his face when his Chief Constable gets a letter from the desk of the Mayor.”
Vera sympathises “You only just missed him dear. He went to the allotment but left his phone in the kitchen. He is so careless with these things but sometimes I think he does it deliberately to avoid calls from residents. He spends so much time doing his Council duties but never seems to get any thanks.”
Marjory continued being outraged - unwilling to play second fiddle to her sister in law “The policeman told me they have all this forensic equipment and laboratories. I said to him “in that case I would expect you to solve more crime”. He didn’t like that one bit. You would think when they go on about it so much they would catch more of these people and lock them up.”
“I think you have watched too many thrillers, dear,” came Vera’s reassuring voice. She continued “I am sure they have lots to do and not enough time like the rest of us.”
“You may be right, Vera, but it was an insult to be viewed as a suspect on top of being a victim of an office burglary.” Herr tone changed to a more thoughtful one. “I wonder if there was a political reason behind it with the local elections coming up? You know how much my brother has been campaigning for law and order.”
The Mayor was a self-made man. He had worked his way up from poverty and made good money. Now he did his best to represent the electorate, even those who disagreed with his political views. Digging the allotment was relaxing. It allowed him to be outdoors, talk to his neighbouring plot holders, donate some of his harvest to the community and be seen as an upstanding member of the community. An example to others. He felt strongly that his voters should see him stand up for law and order.
Back home to Vera from his afternoon of digging, a broad smile on his face and a bag filled with the fruits of his labours, he listened with growing interest to Vera as she recounted his sister’s phone call. His office burgled. Probably only for petty cash by tearaways who should be locked up. There could be some useful press coverage.
At the very least it would be a good photo opportunity. He could release a statement to the media backing law and order. It was almost as if he had prayed for such an opportunity. Turn a setback into an opportunity was his motto. A chance not to be missed. His mind raced to come up good phrases to strengthen his campaign.
His manner changed when Vera told him about the blood sample taken for testing. Vera’s voice faded into a dull noise and fear gripped him.
Her DNA would tie to his. His DNA – unidentified so far – waited patiently on the police cold crime database to be recognised. That unwitnessed spur of the moment action that he had long ago put to the back of his mind came back with cold clarity. Witnessed by no one except him and the victim. His hand carried the scar from where he had cut himself on the blade. All his work to climb away from who he had been long ago would be for nothing.
Justice would be done…just as he had always argued for since entering politics.