Commandment – A Detective Short Story Part 1

     “Been dead a while.”

     “You don’t say.” Looking down at the rank corpse, Grimes stared; another dead body, another day.

     The voice of the first man was Peterson, a young Constable who’d been assigned to the more experienced CID for the case. Unusually, Grimes had taken an instant liking to the man. He just wasn’t good at showing it.

     Empty sockets stared upwards, sightless in their endless glare. It didn’t take a genius to guess the man’s profession – or more correctly what his profession had been – as the long black cassock and white fronted dog collar hid most of the discoloured flesh. So much for God, thought Grimes.

     Looking round the place, it seemed a nice, cosy room – the abience pretty much wrecked by the smell that forced both officers to cover their faces. Small pictures of landscapes and family photos decorated the walls and Grimes lifted one down with his rough hands, covered in the white gloves of their protective suits.

     “Big family.”

    “Or lots of friend.” Added Peterson. Grimes couldn’t stop himself glaring at the young officer. He didn’t like being corrected.

     “Look at the similarities, heights, hair colours, that darkened skin; loads of them have it.” He placed the photo back on the wall. No sign of burglary anyway; no broken glass, no windows unlocked – the front door had been opened when they’d entered due to complaints from the neighbours of a ‘weird smell’ coming from next door, but inside nothing seemed to be missing. Peterson immediately caught on to what Grimes was thinking.

     “Perhaps they took some money from the tin?” The youngster shrugged his shoulders. It looked all the more weird in the forensic white overall, Peterson’s smart leather jacket left in the car. Just like Grimes, his blue eyes observed the room but he didn’t have the experience of his fellow officer.

     “Perhaps.” Murmured Grimes, but he’d seen murder scenes and burglaries before and this felt like the former. He wasn’t going to tell the newcomer his ‘sixth sense told him otherwise’ though, “Weird though.” Stepping through the room, his eyes observed, darting around the room to take in the armchairs, TV, coffee table next to which the body lay.

     “Mmmm?” Peterson was staring at the corpse for some reason, lost in a world of thought.

     “You see any religious stuff here?” Grimes turned to his partner when the youngster didn’t reply. Seeing younger man staring at the dead vicar rattled his cage, “Oi! You listening?”

    A flash of awareness sprung across Peterson’s face and he snapped back into the world, “Sorry?” Grime’s scowl was enough to freak any newbie out, and a cough of nervousness spilled from Peterson’s lips, “Sorry Sir, just noticed something.”  The man was obviously at uneased by the silence that insued.

    The thick wall was finally broken down by the Inspector “Well?”

    Realising Grimes wanted to know his observation, Peterson filled with relief, “Look at his cassock, sir. Seems a bit…ruffled, as tucked in where it shouldn’t be, like. He’s probably been putting that robe on for years – you’d think he’d know how to do it properly by now. And look at those stains too, doesn’t really look up to church standards.”

    The eyes of his senior scanned the body, “Perhaps he was in a rush.” But inside, the inspector knew the kid had come up with a good thought, even if it wasn’t relevant. He turned back to the room, “Do you see much religious stuff?”

     Behind him, the constable took a viewing of the room. Not one cross, not one bible; nothing, “Doesn’t seem to be dedicated to the church here. Perhaps this is his escape?”

      “Vicar’s don’t tend to want an escape,” Grimes corrected him, “this is his life.” Satisfied he turned back, “Forensics’ll do their job, we interview the witnesses.” Rubbing his cheek, decorated in stubble, he made for the door. Sleep hadn’t been easy last night.

*

     They were posh houses in this area; small but built to create a picturesque village that escaped the rush of modern life. Grimes hated it. Then again he hated most things. Pushing open the small wooden gate, the two of them traipsed up the garden path that crunched underfoot made their way through a flower filled garden that would kill someone with hayfever.

     This was the third house they’d visited and so far they’d had no luck; retired, organic grow-your-own’s had come to the door with no recollection of last week as they’d been ‘chopping wood’ or ‘digging the garden’. Grimes bet they all really had a combi-boiler and power shower.

     Rapping on the door, they waited a while before the door slowly opened up to reveal a small elderly woman, white-haired and creased.

    “Yes?” The voice was rickety but the smile with it was genuine. A perfect victim of fraud or robbery – she’d probably let them in when they claimed to be from the new ‘collect the council tax’ government scheme. He flashed his badge.

    “Detective Inspector Grimes and Contable Peterson ma’am, we’re investigating a death that’s taken place a couple of doors down.”

     Eyes opened in surprise, “Oh my gosh, Ms. Walters!”

     The wallet they’d found, just before they’d left certainly hadn’t said stated Mr. Walters on the driving licence but Grimes new the answer straight away, “Other way ma’am.”

     “Ohhhh, Reverend John.” She shook her head, “Poor Harry, haven’t seen him for a few months.” A little sigh passed her lips, “Would you like a cup of tea?”

     If they wanted to be waiting several years for her to make it to the kitchen and back, thought Grimes, “No thanks ma’am. Just wondering if you saw anyone going into the house last week or if he was having any problems?”

    Pondering the question, the old lady became a bit vacant before shaking her head, “I’m sorry I don’t get out much any more,” She gave a short laugh, “legs aren’t what they used to be.” A note of recollection filled her expression for a second, “But you might want to check the Grey’s, they lived opposite Harry and caused him endless trouble”

     Grime’s felt like rolling his eyes, ‘Any problems?, ‘No but he was having constant arguments with one of then neighbours.’. Bloody old people. Instead he gave a quick look at Peterson who gave a short nod and then smiled at the lady, “Thanks ma’am. 

     They were posh houses in this area; small but built to create a picturesque village that escaped the rush of modern life. Grimes hated it. Then again he hated most things. Pushing open the small wooden gate, the two of them traipsed up the garden path that crunched underfoot made their way through a flower filled garden that would kill someone with hayfever.

     This was the third house they’d visited and so far they’d had no luck; retired, organic grow-your-own’s had come to the door with no recollection of last week as they’d been ‘chopping wood’ or ‘digging the garden’. Grimes bet they all really had a combi-boiler and power shower.

     Rapping on the door, they waited a while before the door slowly opened up to reveal a small elderly woman, white-haired and creased.

    “Yes?” The voice was rickety but the smile with it was genuine. A perfect victim of fraud or robbery – she’d probably let them in when they claimed to be from the new ‘collect the council tax’ government scheme. He flashed his badge.

    “Detective Inspector Grimes and Contable Peterson ma’am, we’re investigating a death that’s taken place a couple of doors down.”

     Eyes opened in surprise, “Oh my gosh, Ms. Walters!”

     The wallet they’d found, just before they’d left certainly hadn’t said stated Mr. Walters on the driving licence but Grimes new the answer straight away, “Other way ma’am.”

     “Ohhhh, Reverend John.” She shook her head, “Poor Harry, haven’t seen him for a few months.” A little sigh passed her lips, “Would you like a cup of tea?”

     If they wanted to be waiting several years for her to make it to the kitchen and back, thought Grimes, “No thanks ma’am. Just wondering if you saw anyone going into the house last week or if he was having any problems?”

    Pondering the question, the old lady became a bit vacant before shaking her head, “I’m sorry I don’t get out much any more,” She gave a short laugh, “legs aren’t what they used to be.” A note of recollection filled her expression for a second, “But you might want to check the Grey’s, they lived opposite Harry and caused him endless trouble.”

     Grime’s felt like rolling his eyes, ‘Any problems?, ‘No but he was having constant arguments with one of then neighbours.’. Bloody old people. Instead he gave a quick look at Peterson who gave a short nod and then smiled at the lady, “Thanks ma’am.

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