FREE short story – Colin Devonshire
And Your Name Is?
“It looks like suicide.”
“She can’t be older than ten. Why on earth?” Detective Lou Reynolds said to a uniformed officer.
“Sir, I know her, she lives in the village. I play cricket with her dad.”
“Any problems in the family?”
“No, they are all great. Mum, dad and younger brother, all live above the pub.”
“Here is the Doc. I hope he can finish his work quickly. I want to get her down from that damn tree.”
A month earlier, Lou Reynolds had lost his young son to cancer. He felt the pain like lightning cracking into his heart. Two people he loved he lost that day. Young Jimmy and Jill. His wife lost her mind and remained under the care of psychiatrists and nurses.
He started hunting around the young girl’s feet to see if any clues were scattered.
“How did she get high enough to put her head through the rope?”
“She must have climbed the tree, then jumped?” said the policeman.
“Yes, let’s have a look higher in the branches.”
The doctor opened his bag and began working.
“Thank God nobody from the village saw her,” said the uniform.
“Who notified the station?”
The young officer called the station’s receptionist.
“Sir, she tells me she took the call herself, she thought it was a prank.”
“Why did she think that?”
“Because of the voice used by the caller.”
“It sounded odd.”
“For Christ’s sake, what does that mean? Get her on the line, I want to talk to her.”
“Sir, she is calling me.” He held the handset away from his ear. “Oh God, there is another one.”
Back at the station, the deaths of Edith Verage and Inger Lovel were recorded as suicides. Detective Reynolds didn’t believe it. How did such young victims clamber so high, and who was the caller?
That was five years ago.
“Sir, we have a murder. A ten-year-old has been found dead outside her school. The victim was strangled. A teenager, named Edith Verage, was spotted dumping the body on the footpath.”
“Edith Verage? Can’t be.”
“Yes, sir, she was a pupil at the school, too.”
“Come with me, we are going to the school.”
The school had sent all the pupils home, teachers were milling about in tears.
“Please, tell us about Edith,” asked the detective.
“She has been a student here since she passed the eleven-plus exam and has been no trouble. Until today.” The head burst into tears.
“Do you know anything about her home life?”
“Not much, her parents run the pub. One or other turns up to parent’s evenings’ etcetera.”
“Thank you. We’ll be back with further questions,” said Detective Reynolds.
“Why in such a rush, sir? Did you finish your questions?”
“No, we are going to the pub.”
“Yes, gentlemen, what can I offer you?” asked the barmaid.
“I’m not allowed to drink in uniform. We are here to speak with Mr or Mrs Verage.”
“That’s me, how can I help you?”
“Do you have a daughter called Edith?”
“We would like to speak to her, please.”
“She’s at school.”
The police officer’s radio burst into life.
“Sir, another child has been murdered,” he whispered.
“We will be posting a constable here. He will take Edith to the station as soon as she gets home. You or your husband can go with her.”
Reynolds took a second to glance at the pub’s photos.
They rushed to the scene.
Police were busy shielding off the little child’s body, it lay broken on the railway line under the bridge. On the bridge, a female officer was consoling an elderly lady. She was panting out her words as Detective Reynolds arrived.
“That is Pene, she is from the sweet shop. Do you know her?”
“No, madam, sorry, I didn’t. What happened?”
“She always walks her dog up here, often we cross paths.” The lady cried again, “Where is her dog?”
“We will find the dog. Please carry on.”
“Inger did it.” The lady’s eyes clouded, before carrying on. “She smiled at me, smiled at Pene, stroked her dog then grabbed her and threw her over.” Another torrent of tears, the tissue fell apart. The uniformed officer hunted her own pockets.
“You know the perpetrator?”
“Yes, Inger, her dad is a groundsman at the golf course.”
“What does Inger look like, I mean, big, small, what colour hair?”
“Oh, she is tiny, with reddish, not ginger, what do they call it?”
“Strawberry blonde?” asked the police lady.
“Not Edith then?” asked the detective.
“Oh, no, I know Edith too, from the pub?” asked the lady.
Edith and Inger were still at large when Detective Reynolds returned to the station.
“Sir, you had a call from the… er, hospital. Your wife wants to talk with you.”
“You mean a doctor?”
“No, it was your wife.”
“It couldn’t be, she hasn’t spoken a word of sense since… well, you know.”
“It was her sir, she was determined to speak with you.”
“How can I drop everything and go now. Please call her Doctor for me.”
“Your wife has made a miraculous recovery. She needs to see you now. Something about a person called Edith. Do you know an Edith?”
“I’m on my way.”
“Doctor, should I go straight in. Or is there something you need to tell me?”
“What happened to Jill is unusual. I have never seen it. But your wife is talking normally. She seems somewhat muddled, but that is to be expected. She has even dressed in her clothes from the wardrobe. She expects to go home. Come through.” The doctor led a well-trodden path for the detective. Unsure what to expect, he was stunned.
“Hello, darling, you took your time.”
“Hello, Jill, how are you feeling?”
“I’m fine, waiting for you to take me home. How is Jimmy? Who is with him?”
Lou looked at the doctor.
“Take your time to explain,” warned the doctor.
“Jill, baby, Jimmy is no longer with us. I’m sorry,” said her husband.
“No, no, he is playing with his friends, Inger and Edith.”
The doctor suddenly lit up. “Those were the girls who committed suicide about the same time as Jill came to us?”
“Yes, and two girls with the same names murdered children today!”
“Don’t you two know anything?” asked Jill.
“What do you mean?”
“You thought our son died of cancer?”
“Yes, darling, I know he did.”
“Did you see his body?”
“No, he was already in the coffin.”
“Because you were too busy working?”
“You know I was. There was nothing anyone could do.”
“Wrong. The coffin was empty.” She snorted, “I did something. His friends, Edith Verage and Inger Lovel are special, look at their initials, E.V.I.L. That was a clue you missed.” She laughed, her voice changed to an odd cackle. “He is alive and waiting for me with his little friends.”
The sharpened steel flashed from under the mattress. It stroked Lou’s throat like a python tamer’s caress. Her husband froze, the blade then cut deep. In a smooth movement, she thrust the blade into the doctor’s heart, she left the spike pointing at the ceiling.
Brushing her hands on her dress, she waved bye-bye to the men and joined her son and his little friends by the front door.