I started writing a short story in a murder mystery / Agatha Christie style a couple of days ago. This is part three. Part two is linked below.
Next Inspector Thorpe called in Mrs Jane Courtney. As she walked into the room, the overpowering smell of an oriental garden came wafting in with her. She was younger than Mrs Patterson, in her late thirties, judged Inspector Thorpe who was known for his accurate guesswork. Mrs Courtney had short styled blond hair and a Chiffon gown of coral pink. She had a wide-eyed vacant look in her eyes, that either betrayed a rather shallow minded brain, or a brain calculating enough to want to give that impression.
“Oh, Good Evening Inspector, I am so glad you called me in next, I really must get home or my husband will be frantic with worry. He does fuss so. I told him I’d be home by Eleven o’clock and it’s nearly that now.”
“I am sorry to have kept you waiting so long Mrs Courtney. Could you tell me how well you knew the deceased?”
“I didn’t know him at all really. Of course, I knew of him. He was quite the upcoming scientist and inventor. Something to do with radio waves I think it was, but I must say I understood very little of what he was saying.”
“Did anything strike you as odd about his manner?”
“Well he wasn’t dressed very well and he was younger than I thought he would be. I knew he was young, but somehow he appeared younger. He wasn’t a very polished speaker, I expected someone who had been received at court to have been better at conversation. I was a bit disappointed to tell you the truth, not at all what I expected.” Mrs Courtney leaned forward and opened her eyes wide.
“Can you tell me about this evening? Who arrived first?”
“I arrived last, I’m afraid. They were already having cocktails when I arrived. Dr Lancaster was talking to Mrs Atwood, I must say she looked totally bored. I had only just been handed my Martini when Dinner was served. I was seated next to Audrey Patterson and opposite Patricia, Mrs Atwood. The poor Doctor was diagonally opposite me so we didn’t talk at the table. Not that there was much time for table talk. The soup was served and then we set to eating it. Then Dr Lancaster started choking and his face was all flushed, and he died. Most distressing, it’s never happened to me before.”
“No, I can understand it must have been very unpleasant for you. Thank you Mrs Courtney. I think you can go home now. Please leave your address with my Sergeant in case we need to ask you some more questions later. Thank you for your full cooperation.”
Inspector thought to himself what a different character Jane Courtney had been to Audrey Patterson. She was outwardly prettier but seemed to have a far less interesting brain. Well let’s see what the next lady is like.
Mrs Patricia Atwood had a rather sour face. She had on a rather old-fashioned maroon velvet gown. Her dark eyes darted around the room in a quirky, nervous fashion. Inspector Thorpe tried to put her at her ease.
“Thank you so much for helping me with my enquiries. I am sorry to have kept you waiting.”
Mrs Atwood pursed her petulant red lips and then subjected the Inspector to a bit of a tantrum. “I have been waiting here for hours, I wanted to go home to my husband but your Sergeant wouldn’t let me. It seemed to take them ages to take the body away. It is very upsetting seeing someone die before your eyes. Can’t these questions have waited for another time?”
“These are only my preliminary enquiries; you can go home once I have asked you a few questions. Can I get you a drink to calm your nerves?”
“No thank you. Please get on with it.”
“How well did you know the deceased man?”
“I have never met him before tonight, although My Husband has spoken about him often of late. Dr Lancaster was a scientist and was working on some invention that the War Office was keen on. My Husband had met him a couple of times, in the course of his job. My Husband is Charles Atwood, I dare say you’ve heard of him, he’s quite high up in the Government.”
“No Mrs Atwood, I can’t say that I have heard of your husband. I understand that you were seated next to Dr Lancaster at dinner and had chatted to him earlier in the evening. Is there anything you can tell me about?”
“Well the young man was dreadfully dull. He could only talk shop about science and I rather switched off I’m afraid. I didn’t notice anything strange.”
“Nothing at All?” Asked the Inspector as he leant forwards and gave Mrs Atwood a direct stare. She failed to meet his eye. Her eyes darted up to the ceiling then down to the floor. It was clear she was agitated, but was it just because she was impatient to get home, or was there something more to it?
“No Inspector Nothing at all.” She replied. “Can I go home now?”
“Yes Mrs Atwood, please leave your address with my Sergeant and return to the comfort of your husband.”
End of Part Three…
Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 29/April/2018