Anyone with a modicum of sense would know that terrorists of any stripe might have more important venues to attack than a strip of dirt road in the West of England, now occupied by law enforcement, medical staff, and of course, a dead body and the ever present and overwhelming media. So when told to duck and cover, Lewin, formerly of London CID, and used to things occasionally exploding, and Jepson, formerly of Iraq, used to everything exploding, and Dickinson, used to being told what to do by superiors and his Aunt Rose, all hit the tarmac.
Since no one else at the scene had heard the warning, all and sundry merely glanced at the three people prone on the tarmac and had a group-thought of more bodies, more work, possible overtime, and of course, a larger ratings share. Alas, Lewin raised his head, looked around and rose, helping the other two to their respective feet. Sheepishly the three gathered themselves, and tried to act as if nothing happened, and it was a job requirement, in these terror filled times, to make sure you are prepared. That’s it, Lewin concluded, just a test.
“You failed miserably,” he announced to the group. “There will be repercussions.”
A mild bit of grumbling amongst the staff was then broken up by the completion of the actual investigation. Jepson had the body taken to the morgue, after a myriad of pictures were taken. The Bentley was towed to the police station. There were no witnesses as far as anyone knew, except for the cyclist who had found the body, and his basic information was taken, and was sent on his way.
With that, Lewin and Dickinson headed back to town in the single police car owned by the village. It was cramped, even for anorexics, which neither of the men were. Lewin in the passenger seat got it out of the way.
“Is it standard operating procedure in this venue for you to call relatives when you are on duty and ask them to speak to dead people?.”
“Pretty much, sir. We Dickinsons have had the ability to talk to the spirit world for many years, and you’ll find as you get used to us out here, that there are many folks out here who have the Blessing.”
They took a quick left and then right. The roads still looked all the same to Lewin, completely confusing and he might just as well be in a maze.
“Yes, sir,” Dickinson continued. “The Blessing. Second sight. Speaking with the dead. Some Wicca. “
“And what is your talent?”
“Driving you around, sir, I guess. Tends to stay with the ladies, you know, the Blessing. Me Mum, now there was a lady who had the Blessing, better’n most Nobody got away with nothing in the village and quite a lot of the area, you get my meaning. She used to say Mr. Churchill would call her and ask how the West was doing, never mind his Cabinet. What a lady. Ah, Mum.”
Dickinson appeared to wipe a tear from his eye as the car pulled in front of the station. Lewin was rather non-plussed about the Dickinson situation, but he’d made his bed, and now was just lying in it. Parnell-Locksey was his home now, whether he wanted it or not. Admittedly he didn’t want it, but there it was, and here he was. Make the best of it.
He made the stairs, and found the main room right where he and Dickinson had left it. The Parnell-Locksey Police Department had fourteen members which was just about right for a village of that size, that is, one that could help when needed, and be conspicuously absent when not. A part of the North Dorset Special Constabulary, Lewin was head of the Parnell-Locksey Division, answering to the Chief Constable of the Constabulary who was located in South Wells.
Which meant another long boring phone call to the same Chief Constable, who insisted on speaking with his unit supervisors, instead of this nonsense e-mail. Oh, faxes were fine for some things, but “It’s good old police by good men and women, Lewin, that made Scotland Yard famous.”
Scotland Yard, where neither of them had a dream of working. No tea at his desk, a desk that had been assigned to this building around when Britain actually had a King, instead of the woman who slightly smiled at him from her 20 year old picture on the wall.
“Good afternoon, sir.”
“Ah, Lewin,” came the voice from the other end. “Was that actually Cheltnam, as was reported.”
“Afraid so sir.”
“Bother. This won’t go well, and its going to stir up things. Car accident, I hope?”
“Three bullets to the heart. Jasper says AK-47. Rum damage to the car as well.”
“Bother again. Look, for right now, go through the motions. Talk to the family, very sorry, et cetera. Don’t mention murder, at least for a while. Jasper will do the autopsy.”
“She’s already on it, sir.”
Dickinson arrived at the door and Lewin waved him in. The wonderful man had two paper cups of tea.
“”Yes, she is very efficient, isn’t she?”, the Chief Constable mumbled.
Lewin was silent for a second.
“Go ahead, Lewin. I know you’re dying to ask.”
He steadied himself with a sip of tea, and then plunged in.
“I’m afraid I do have to ask why the hesitation, sir? This is a murder, after all.”
“Do you have any idea who - no, I suppose you don’t. Probably just running around in nappies at the time. Bertram Cheltnam ran for Parliament in 1964.”
“He lost. Zero votes, but he got in the papers a lot.”
He was building up, so Lewin let him. Give them drama when they need it, another rule for getting by.
“He ran for Churchill’s seat when the old boy stepped down. Like I said, no votes. But, he was National Front.”
Lewin got that part. He grabbed a piece of paper, scribbled, and showed it to Dickinson.
The paper had one word: