For the next few days after her tea with Alice, Dulcie was kept busy with contacting village members to discuss stalls, entertainment, and food for the summer fete up at the hall.
She did not see Alice much. Alice had travelled to London with Mark. He to work and her to go shopping at Oxford Street. They had said they would spend a few nights in their flat there. In a way Dulcie found it easier with Alice not there as she could just get on with things without feeling the need to double check everything as she went.
Ken was also away, travelling for work to Scotland. They texted each other often though so, with that and the arrangements to make, she didn’t get a chance to miss him much.
After a very busy and fruitful three days, the only people she had not managed to contact were Bob, who ran the antique book shop, and Anne from the gift shop, both of whom seemed to be out every time she telephoned.
Bob was a mine of information about the village and sometimes did tours of the hall and village cemetery for visitors. She was going to ask if he was willing to do one again on the day of the fete as an added attraction. Anne normally ran a gift stall and tombola, and had been in a hurry when Dulcie had seen her last so had not managed to say yay or nay to a stall this year.
After finalising a few details by telephone, Dulcie decided this afternoon to actually visit them, to try them one more time before giving up and getting on with the placement plan for the field and the loo arrangements. She laughed out loud as she recalled last year. The toilet facilities had not been thought of at all and people were having to either pop behind bushes (okay for the men) or trudge down to the cafe, and then back up to the field (for the ladies). This year Dulcie was determined to get porta loos installed so that did not happen again. She shuddered remembering walking into one of the primary school teachers trying to have a sly wee behind the hoopla stall. He had not been able to look at at her without blushing since. She laughed again and Harry sat up inquisitively. She hushed him and went back to her fete notes.
The caterers from the next town over had issued her with an invitation for the next morning to visit and taste some of their food choices so she would be busy then. She had decided against the burger van the previous tenants of the hall had chosen the year before, as everyone in the village who had partaken seemed to have mysterious bug for the next 48 hours. There was no proof of course, but Dulcie was pretty sure it had been the burgers at fault. Besides, money was no object for this year as Alice had said many times when she had remembered to phone Dulcie for updates, so Dulcie was spending some of it determined to make up to everyone for the previous years fiasco.
She walked down the path towards the shops, passing the village green and the few lads kicking a half blown up ball about, laughing as a small terrier kept grabbing it and running off. She could still hear them shouting and calling it as she turned into the main street and stopped dead.
In front of her, outside Bob’s shop, were a lot of people, mostly in uniform, looking busy writing notes, talking to each other or passersbys. Her legs went a bit weak as it took her back to Gerald’s after they had called in the Police, but then she saw that nice Inspector who had visited with her after Gerald’s murder, and she trotted towards him quickly, wincing slightly at her affected knee. Rob saw her just as he turned to go back into the shop, which seemed tiny from where she stood, full as it was with people in white clothes examining everything.
‘Inspector!’ Dulcie gasped. ‘What is happening? Is Bob….. I mean…. Bob…’ she broke off, not wanting to say what was on her mind.
‘Mrs Williams. Hello.’ He stopped and then carried on softly, ‘Yes, I am afraid Mr Catcher seems to have been murdered.’
Breaking off to answer an enquiry from one of his men, he then went on, ‘Did you know him?’
‘Why, yes’ stammered Dulcie. ‘I mean’ she went on hurriedly, ‘Not very well but….well…you know, village life and all’ She stopped, hand going to her mouth in shock. ‘You don’t think Gerald…. I mean, was Gerald and Bob….’ again she broke off. Would it be worse to have one killer or two?
She told the Inspector about the summer fete. The reason she was there and how Bob would have probably said yes as he loved to talk about things with the visitors.
As she was talking to him, she kept thinking for some reason about the hall. About it staring down on her after talking to Alice that day. She shook it off and, after being released by the police Inspector, she hurried home to have a pot of tea and a think. Something was niggling at her but she couldn’t put her finger on what it was. Perhaps with a cuppa she could pin the thought down.
When she got in however, Ken was waiting for her. He hugged her and then proceeded to tell her all about his trip, so the niggle she had earlier went away. At least for the evening.
I’m an oil painter and photographer, who also makes time to paint with words through my short stories and published poetry. Seascapes and animals are the primary focus of my oil paintings
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