A Dirty Death

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Authors: Rebecca Tope
ago when the village school and its playing field were sold off. Yes, he was acquainted with both the dead men, though much more so with Beardon than Grimsdale. No, he hadn’t the slightest reason to think the deaths might be linked. Hadn’t Beardon simply tripped and fallen into his unguarded pit? Short of entering into ludicrous flights of fancy – which he was sure the constablewould prefer him not to do – he could not provide the slightest connection. He had been asleep in bed until six-thirty the previous morning, and had been seen by the postman at seven-fifteen, when he had been sitting with his morning tea on this very patio. A slim alibi, admittedly, but perhaps better than nothing. Doreen would confirm it, for what that was worth.
    Lastly Den had put the question which Chief Inspector Smith had so often insisted was the most revealing: ‘Did you like the two men?’
    The Wing Commander’s face had filled with a colour close to that of port wine. He drew in a long breath. ‘Grimsdale was innocuous, as far as I know. Beardon was a crass, insensitive pig. He went out of his way to offend people – me in particular. He made fun of people to their faces. No, constable, I cannot pretend to have liked him.’
    Den made an appropriate note and closed his book. ‘Thank you, sir, you’ve been most helpful.’
    Next stop was Father Edmund Larkin. Den quailed slightly at the prospect of questioning the vicar; they had come into contact before in their respective dealings with calamity and crisis, but Den doubted whether Father Edmund would remember him. He did not seem like a man who took much notice of people. Scrupulously he went through his questions. The ReverendLarkin answered ramblingly, giving minute detail where none had been invited. He had been in the incumbency for nine years, serving this parish and two others, covering a wide geographical area, which kept him fully occupied. The vicarage was old and too big for one person, but the PCC had yet to find him something more suitable. It was very close to the church, however, and adjacent to the village street, so parishioners dropped in frequently, and he felt he was au fait with most of what went on, at least in the centre of the village. He had not known the Grimsdales or the Beardons very well. Neither household came to church, and as they were both positioned in a somewhat isolated corner of the parish, he seldom encountered them. They had experienced no deaths, weddings or christenings in his time here until now, and had therefore never availed themselves of his services. He had been in bed until seven-thirty the previous day, although there was no way at all that he could prove it except to assume that someone would probably have noticed him if he had made his way to the Grimsdale place and killed Isaac. People in this area rose early, after all.
    The last question gave him pause; like the Wing Commander before him, his colour heightened, the sallow cheeks turning a pinkish brown. ‘I had no particular feelings towards Isaac Grimsdale. Ican’t say I found any reason to be fond of Guy Beardon, but, as I say, I hardly knew the man. My eulogy at the funeral summed up virtually everything I did know about him. He seems to have been successful according to his own lights. His family seemed to hold him in some esteem.’ Den’s brow wrinkled at that: what an odd phrase to use about a husband and father! He jotted it down verbatim.
    Behind the vicarage was a smallholding of three or four acres, run by a Mrs Sylvia Westerby. This was Miranda Beardon’s best friend, only just returned from a fortnight in Corfu. Her name had already been mentioned more than once and he was curious to meet her. After a long delay she opened the front door of her oddly misshapen little house and to Den’s surprise he found he had to lower his glance only slightly to meet her eye. She must have been close to six feet tall. At eleven in the morning she was wearing a flowery

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