Picture credit: Lois Elsden.
Tales from The Strangled Ferret
11 – What has happened to them?
Jack searched in his wallet for the card that Detective Sergeant Haskins had given him. He waited until the night shift was busy working on the ‘Ferret conversion and George had driven off on his John Deer. He then dialled the number on the card and asked to speak to DS Haskins. He had decided to call the police as he didn’t know what to do otherwise and it would be an opportunity to share his problem.
‘Hello, DS Haskins speaking. How can I help?’
Jack explained that he had some new information about his missing colleague and would like to talk to him. The DS suggested that he come down to the police station where they could talk without getting interrupted. Jack agreed and said that he could be there in about half an hour as the station was in the nearby town, Badgerset. There was no permanent police present in his village of Ferret on Trent.
‘OK see you here shortly,’ said DS Haskins and rang off.
Jack switched off the fire and locked up the container before letting the shift foreman, Dave, know that he was off for the night and would see him the next day.
DS Haskins showed Jack into an interrogation room. He hadn’t been into a police station before, let alone an interrogation room so he was a little fearful about going in. ‘Don’t worry,’ said the DS, ‘ we won’t keep you in or chain you to the floor like they do on TV. Would you like a cup of tea? I’m Roger by the way.’
‘No thanks,’ said Jack, ‘I just wanted to get this mess sorted out as soon as possible.’ He looked around the depressing room. It had been painted with many coats of gloss grey paint that almost managed to disguise the joints between the breeze blocks of which the walls were built. The steel table that was bolted to the concrete floor was stainless steel, as were the four chairs that were arranged symmetrically around the table. The room was dimly lit by a single incandescent bulb that was protected behind a steel grid bolted to the ceiling. “I wonder how many policemen it takes to change that light bulb” he thought. The room was not ventilated, it felt as if it was full of overused air. There was no window. A twin set of tape recorders sat on a high shelf above one end of the table. There was no other furniture. Even a small vase of fresh flowers on the table would have transformed the ambience, thought Jack. He wondered what depressing dramas had been played out in this room over the years.
‘Sorry it’s so grim in here, but it’s one of the few places in the station where you can talk in peace. OK then, take a seat and then tell me what is worrying you.’
Jack then told him how he felt about Lame being missing and how depressed he was the last time they had seen him. Where was he now, had he done something stupid, like suicide for instance? The there was that surreal phone call today. He had recognised Ben’s voice even though Ben had not told him who it was on the phone spouting all that new age galactic rubbish. Where was Ben anyway?
‘So you’re missing two of your friends, both of whom seem to have gone doolally tap during the same few days. They have also both gone missing and you are worried that something bad may have happened to either on or both of them. Does that summarise the situation as far as you are concerned?’
‘Yes, that about sums it up, Roger and I don’t know what to do.’
‘Right, we’ll put them both on the MISPER list and…’
…there was a knock on the door, a head peered in, ‘Need an urgent word Skip,’ said the head.
‘I’ll be back in a minute Jack, just sit tight OK?’
‘OK,’ said Jack.
Roger was back in a couple of minutes.
‘I’ve got some bad news for you Jack. A man’s body has been discovered. It was seen floating down the river by some anglers. It’s being recovered now and we’ll let you know as soon as it has been identified. The best thing you can do now is to go back home and I’ll let you know as soon as we know anything more.’
Jack drove home, slowly. He couldn’t stop thinking about the loss of his friend. He knew Lame had been unhappy recently, especially after he had lost the election for party leader, so perhaps it had been more than that, he may have been suffering from depression. Should he, could he, have done more to help him? What a loss he would be to the community. They would have to finish the project to convert the ‘Ferret to a community pub without him, the project that Lame had done so much to support and ensure that it would be realised.
Jack went to work in the ‘Ferret container early the next day, he wanted to keep busy to take his mind off the loss of his friend. At 9.53, the phone rang. He answered it, ‘hello, FPO, Jack speaking.’
‘Morning Jack. I’ve got some news for you. Are you sitting down? Is there someone there with you?’
He recognised the voice, it was Roger from the police station. ‘Yes, yes, I’m OK, what have you got to tell me?’
‘We’ve identified the body, it’s Ben Martin, the tenant of the Strangled Ferret. I’m very sorry Jack, I know he was a close friend of yours.’
‘Yes, but…but, I mean, are you sure? I was certain it would be Lame. Poor Ben, I know he could start an argument in an empty room but, yes, he was a good friend.What happened, he seemed so strange on the telephone yesterday…and where is Lame anyway?’
‘Yes, we are sure, he has been identified by his son. We don’t yet know what happened but we are investigating and as soon as we know more, I promise I will let you know. We should have the first results from the autopsy this afternoon.
‘Thank you, I must know as soon as possible what happened. Can you concentrate on finding Lame now?’
‘Yes. I am sure we will find him soon.’
‘Thanks for telling me about Ben, Roger. Try and find Lame soon.’
‘OK, ‘bye Jack.’
© Richard Kefford Eorðdraca
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