The rain, the worm and the kitchen.
If it hadn’t rained that Sunday morning none of this would have happened, thought Detective Chief Inspector O’Hagan to himself.
He was a bit of a fan of the theory of unintended consequences so he had been determined to find the root cause of it all. After all, isn’t that what detectives are supposed to do? He had been appointed to investigate the crime, if it was a crime, but what else could it be? He had investigated for three long weeks and was sure he was right but when he was hauled before his Chief Super and invited to account for the delay in winding up the case and the somewhat excessive overtime bill, he found it difficult to justify his theory.
‘So tell me O’Hagan, if you have a theory, explain to me the Means, Motive and Opportunity of the perp.’ The Chief Super had been watching too many late night American cop thrillers, thought O’Hagan. He wisely kept this theory to himself.
‘Well it’s like this, Sir,’ he waffled, trying to find a way out of the trap he could see looming.
‘No, son,’ interrupted his boss, rather rudely. I’ll ask the questions and you give me the answers, OK?’
‘OK then, Means?’
‘Well, err, I suppose you could say that the worm was in the wrong place at the wrong time.’
‘Again, I think it was in the wrong…’
‘Shall I summarise for you sunshine?’ Joe O’Hagan assumed this was one of those rhetorical questions so he said nothing.
‘Detective Chief Inspector O’Hagan has solved the crime. The perp was a worm who had no motive, no means and just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time? Have you thought how that will sound when you tell the story in court and what will the jury make of it? I can see the headlines now, ‘Police charge the worm that turned up’ – I don’t think so sunshine. You get out there and find the real culprit and I’ll give you just one more week to do it.’
‘Yes sir.’ He said miserably as he left with his boss’s final words ringing in his ears.
‘Don’t come back here with any insects in hand cuffs either, son.’
It started to rain and as is the way of worms, one came up to the surface to avoid being drowned in his tunnel. He – well I think it was a ‘he’ but I read somewhere that worms are hermaphrodites but, well they can be vegetarians for all I care. I digress, sorry – lay on the mud enjoying the cool rain as it washed his long body. This was a worm that liked rain.
Unfortunately, so did the blackbird that swooped down, grabbed the worm and swallowed it in a couple of gulps – do birds gulp? Now that could be a Nobel prize going there if someone could solve that conundrum – never mind.
The cat next door had been watching the blackbird for some time and now saw an opportunity. While the blackbird was gulping the worm down – did you note the verb there – the cat crept nearer and manage to catch the blackbird unawares in her sharp teeth.
The dog was outraged, this was his territory so he scampered after the cat, forgetting he was a very small dog, smaller than the cat in fact. This turned into a real fracas as they were evenly matched. They ended up fighting like cat and dog – unsurprisingly.
Henry had just put the kettle on in the kitchen to make a cup of tea when he heard the fracas outside – I like that word, so I’ve used it twice, I wonder if I can squeeze it in again – he rushed out and tried to separate the fighting animals, completely forgetting the kettle which used the opportunity to boil dry, overheat and go into melt-down so burning a neat round hole in the ‘granite’ work surface.
Mrs Henry came rushing down the stairs into the smoke filled kitchen to see her ‘granite’ work top with a new round hole, a burnt out kettle and three assorted mammals fighting it out in the garden. A bucket of water soon sorted out all the problems except the hole in the ‘granite’ work top. With unassailable logic, Mrs Henry decided that this disaster required a complete new kitchen.
‘And while we are about it I’ll have the sink moved to under the window so I can keep an eye out for any more interspecial fisticuffs in the garden.’
’ Yes dear,’ said Mr Henry who knew a lost cause when he saw one.
The work started two Wickes later when the new kitchen arrived from weeks. The first job was to measure up for the new sink drain pipe. It was complicated because the house dated from 1873 and had been built with a full size cellar. Henry measured the length of the house, repeated the measurement in the cellar and so marked the centre of the drain pipe. He drilled down through the kitchen floor, put a piece of wire down through the hole and went to check its position down in the cellar – no wire in sight!
He then checked the front to back measurements of the house and the cellar – this time they were different – the cellar was shorter than the kitchen by nine feet. He suddenly realised what he had done. He had measured the house length in metres, because the kitchen units came in mm but had reverted to his comfort zone of yards when measuring the cellar. They both came to 32 but in different units, making the difference of 9 feet.
Henry tapped the back wall of the cellar gently with his hammer. It sounded hollow, unusual for a hammer. He had to get access in there to install the drain pipe for the sink and he was also curious what was in the space so he carefully knocked out one brick. He shone his torch through into a space that smelt musty, old and…what was that other smell? He knocked out another brick and when he shone the torch through this time he could see the skeleton laying on the floor with a knife resting between the fourth and fifth rib.
He quickly left and called the police. Joe O’Hagan was soon on the scene and confirmed that it looked like murder, suicide was unlikely and he hadn’t come across many accidental walling-ups recently.
So, there we have it, a murder had been discovered, all caused by the worm that turned (up) because it rained.
The case was never solved. There was no way of even identifying the body and the perp had probably died years ago. The police were very short of manpower, in fact Joe was working with a skeleton staff so the case was put on the back burner, in Mrs Henry’s new kitchen where it caught fire and…well the good thing was that the worm was innocent this time. He had a secure alibi as he had been eaten by the blackbird.
I wondered about that cat though and I think the dog felt the same because I saw him with a tin of antifreeze soon after the fire.
Oh, and Joe O’Hagan? He’s on school crossing patrol duty in Grosvenor Street – looks very smart in his Hi Vis gear.
© Richard Kefford Eorðdraca
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