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The Allotment Murderer

by Jenny

Ex-Detective Inspector Frank Schooner tugged at his greying beard and eyed the mess on the beach thoughtfully. One of the younger uniformed police officers was vomiting noisily into the sea.

“Who found her?”

“Silas Rogers from the chip shop,” said newly-appointed Detective Inspector Cuthbert McGuire, looking greenish about the gills himself. “He was walking Sal early this morning. Said she ran off and started barking like crazy. That’s when he saw her.”

“Well she had more than enough enemies in the village, that’s for sure,” said Frank. “But nobody deserves to die like this. Has anyone told her sister?”

McGuire nodded. “We sent some family liaison around first thing. The problem we’ll have is narrowing it down - since people realised it was Miss Wilson who’d been sending the poison pen letters, the whole village has been livid. She had to leave her job at the post office.”

Frank bent down to peer at the gaping wound in Miss Wilson’s neck.

“I know what you’re thinking, sir - we thought that too, when we saw the secateurs. We picked up Mr Arnold from the allotment already. He’s down at the station for questioning.”

“None of this ‘sir’ business now, Detective Inspector,” said Frank, straightening up. “You’re the only sir here now - you’re in charge. But if I were you I’d take a closer look at those injuries. There’s no bruising around the wound - where the weapon went in - what does that tell you?”

McGuire’s eyes widened in surprise. “That she was already dead when they stabbed her?”

Frank nodded grimly “and underneath all the hacking and the mess you can make out ligature marks if you look closely.”

“You think somebody strangled her?”

“Yes, and went to an awful lot of trouble to hide that and make it look like she was stabbed in a fit of passion with the nearest instrument to hand.”

Frank lifted one stockinged leg and examined it. “I’ll bet my pension that you’ll find that the soil on her legs was rubbed on by someone wearing gloves. It’s too neat - too regular.”

McGuire bent down to look more closely.

“So someone wanted to make it look like Mr Arnold was involved?”

“Unless there is another keen gardener in the village who Miss Wilson accused of being a kiddy fiddler in a poison pen letter sent to everyone in the village?”

“Mr Arnold certainly had motive, that’s for sure. And he’s already told us that he was home alone last night, so no alibi…”

“Ah but those tell-tale ligature marks, Detective Inspector. If you look more closely at them I think you’ll understand why Mr Arnold couldn’t possibly have murdered Miss Wilson last night.”


“I told you Detective Inspector - you’re the sir now. You’ll do a great job - you just have to look at the evidence. It’s all there, plain as the nose on my face. Have a think about it and you’ll get there. I’ll be back at the pub if you need me.”

And ex-Detective Inspector Frank Schooner strolled away from the grisly crime scene with a grim smile on his lips.

Time heals no wounds

by Super Fun Hannah


Derek’s bearded chin bounced against the sticky bar as he slid from the stool to the floor. Nigel, the rotund landlord, lumbered around the bar to attempt to help him up for what was probably the fifth time this week. This time, however, Derek looked beyond assistance; deep snores resonated from his slumbering form. Nigel thanked god it was a quiet night. They’d all been quiet nights lately, to be fair, ever since Angels, that bloody trendy wine-bar, had opened up two doors down.

Sliding the bolts across the heavy oak door, Nigel admitted to himself maybe retirement wouldn’t be that bad. He could join poor old Derek on the better side of the bar, any bar, even Angels, and reminisce. Policemen and landlords crossed paths frequently, but few had such entangled pasts as Derek and Nigel.

They’d met on the Golden Oak’s opening night, 36 years ago. It was 1985. Derek had been a sergeant then, dispatched to deal with a noise complaint from the neighbours. He’d been sympathetic, it’s not every night you open a new pub after all. He had helped pacify the old buggers with his truly unique blend of charm and efficiency; sending the most inebriated revellers home and extracting promises for quieter celebrations from those who remained. Two hours later he’d been back with his partner, their shift over and in need of a drink themselves. And it seemed like he’d been there every night since.

As it turned out, there was nothing as effective as a regular copper propping up the bar to keep the place quiet and orderly. And that’s how it had remained for the next 12 years, as Derek had made his way, efficiently as ever, through the ranks; from sergeant, to inspector, chief inspector, up to superintendent, and all the while stopping for a quiet pint at the ‘Oak at shifts’ end. They had been best men at one another’s’ weddings (Derek and Denise had even held their reception at the ‘Oak), and godfathers for one another’s boys.

Then, in 1997, Ralph, a regular at the ‘Oak and a regular pain in the ass, had been smacked around the head with an empty Jack Daniel’s bottle and died from his wounds in the alley behind the pub. The attending officer (Derek of course) surmised the victim had been taking a piss, based on the fact that his trousers were undone and his shoes soaked in urine.

Derek had taken it personally. He’d interviewed everyone who had been in the pub that night, and all the usual suspects besides. Forensics found nothing. No DNA, no fingerprints, nothing. They’d never found the culprit. And Derek had never got over it, nor had he ever progressed beyond superintendent, eventually leaving the force on early retirement, divorced and reclusive following years of obsession.

Nigel covered Derek with a blanket, placed a few folded bar towels under his head as a pillow and a pint of water just within reach for when he awoke, and headed towards to the stairs, shaking his tired head. Fucking Ralph. Derek had been a much better drinking buddy before that twat had thought he could piss on Nigel’s pub. Lucky Nigel had learnt so much about concealing crime from his endless discussions with Derek over the years.

In The Cold

by Russ

‘And would Miss Ruby Halesworth like to tell us all where she was on the evening of Friday the eleventh?’ said Captain Reginald Shaw with a slight slur, topping up his tumbler as he spoke.

‘We’ve been over this Pau… Captain,’ replied Miss Halesworth through gritted teeth. ‘I was having drinks with the girls that night.’

There was a shuffling of paper and exchanged glances as the other guests tried to find where this information fit into the script. At the bar, Dennis the landlord smiled behind his beard with anticipation.

‘Girl’s who smoke cigars?’ Captain Shaw asked, his eyebrows raised in scepticism.

‘And why not? It’s two-thousand and twenty-fucking-one, Paul!’

There was a cough.

‘Sorry. Captain Shaw,’ Miss Halesworth corrected herself.

‘It’s 1948, Sue,’ a small voice whispered towards Ruby Halesworth.

Susan placed her cigarette holder in her mouth as she tried to get back into character.

‘If you don’t have any more relevant questions to ask, Captain,’ she said. ‘I think it’s time for a smoke break. Everyone?’ she began to rise from her seat.

Dennis had tolerated his wife’s insistence they hold these murder mystery nights at their pub on the proviso the only character he’d ever be asked to play was ‘bartender’. As a retired policeman, he had no intention of spending his leisure years pretending to be back at work. This was the first time anything interesting had ever happened.

‘Actually, I do have more questions, Miss Halesworth!’ the Captain announced. Ruby took a sharp breath and sat back down. Captain Shaw noticed his glass was empty and added more whisky to it.

‘What is his name?’ the Captain spat.

Miss Halesworth looked around for help.

‘Can we just get back to the script?’ a voice jumped in. ‘Whatever is going on with you guys, I don’t think…’

‘We’re here to solve a crime! Aren’t we?’ the Captain was spilling from his glass as he spoke now.

‘Yes, a murder…’

‘Yes! The murder of a marriage! This woman has murdered a marriage!’

‘Paul…’ there was no hint of Ruby Halesworth left now, this was all Susan.

‘Yes, Susan?!’

‘Paul,’ Susan hissed through gritted teeth, her face was crimson. ‘I think it’s time to go home.’

‘What home, Susan?!’ Paul’s features were moving closer to green. ‘There is no home! Not anymore. Maybe you should go to HIS home!’

‘I’m really sorry about this everyone,’ Susan addressed the room, getting to her feet. ‘Paul, come with me, let’s talk about this outside.’

‘In the cold, Susan? Out in the fucking cold?!’

‘Yes, I think some fresh air might…’

Susan was cut off by the sudden change in Paul’s expression. In an instant, everybody knew what was about to happen but nobody had the power to stop it. The realisation hit Paul with only a fraction of a second’s warning and the gathered players looked on helplessly as hisO gazpacho re-emerged and coated the beef Wellington in the centre of the table.

‘For fuck’s sake, Paul,’ Susan said. ‘Is it any wonder I…’ she cut herself off.

Behind the bar, Dennis shook with unrepressed mirth and sat on his hands to prevent himself from applauding.