At last we reach the grand finale, the denouement. It began with an imaginary escaped Jaguar… And then it got stranger. A body, half eaten… An irritating internet prankster sniffing around the crime scene… A churchyard full of animal waste… Just how does it all connect together? Now is the time to find out the truth- One more time, ladies and gentlemen, please…
HEAR ME ROAR
EXHIBIT E: SUUS IUSTUS A LUDO, BRAH
Almost everything fell into place, at least everything that involved the dumping of the body. The receipt led to a CCTV image of the person who had bought the milk. A picture shown to Gloucester’s neighbours revealed that person had been there two days before and that the car had been missing for an entire night and most of the day before. The same person was seen returning it early in the evening, parking it haphazardly, and then hurrying away.
We returned to the CCTV of Crook Street. The car appeared at quarter to eight the evening before the discovery. But then our suspect, who was clearly visible in the driving seat, just walked away, away down Watergate Street. From what we could tell, the body hadn’t been dumped. If it had, according to Pearson, the person would have been covered in bits of Gloucester, just like the boot of the car was. I immediately knew what had happened, and it was as I said, the person had tried to be clever. They had tried to move in such a way so as to avoid detection, but as always in such cases they had failed to outsmart the police.
There was no sign of the body dumping on CCTV, no sign of anybody entering Crook Street at the appropriate time, but an idea of Gershwin’s saw us discover the full solution to that one. We required yet more CCTV footage, this time of the crossing at Northgate Street, but we soon had them and as Pearson predicted, they looked to be a bit blood soaked. They had only managed to get away with that, I thought, because it was the middle of the night.
From Gloucester’s neighbours we had a rough idea of when the car was returned, which happened to be long after the body had been discovered. The cheeky little bastard had actually left Gloucester’s car at Crook Street and then collected it later. It had been there the whole time, and we missed it. This fact was confirmed by the footage Hobb had filmed whilst sneaking around the crime scene. Gloucester’s car was right there in the background, number plate perfectly visible, parked right next to the entrance to the alleyway.
There were still questions to be answered, lots of questions. Why? Why dump the body there and lure Hobb to the scene? What did Hobb have to do with any of this? How had the body been taken, and when? Where did our hyena fit into all this? The answers, I hoped, as well as with the numerous phone calls and enquiries that were going on around me, would lie with Isherwood Spicks.
He came into the station voluntarily. Hobb, the little git, had his father tweet that he’d been arrested (he was actually referring to a re-arrest following the breech in his bail conditions) and to say that he wouldn’t be allowed to upload anymore videos due to ‘corrupt and tyrannical policeman.’ It really did say policeman and not policemen. I took that as a personal affront, believing that it was directly referring to myself. Seeing this, Spicks decided he wanted to confess his involvement in Hobb’s rampage of inanity.
When I first clapped eyes on him, in the reception area filling out a form, I could see in his eyes that the guilt was eating away at him, and which must have been eating away at him for some time. He was older than Hobb, by at least three years, and was much more clean cut, much more sensible, very average all over. It made his part in all this lunacy that much more difficult to stomach.
“Why would somebody like you want to hang out with a would be Jeremy Beadle like Hobb?”
“Jeremy Beadle?” Spicks looked at me confused. I wondered how on earth he could not know who Jeremy Beadle was.
“He was a television prankster,” I informed. “Much like Hobb and all these other internet morons. Only there was one difference. Beadle had a conscience! He didn’t go around screaming at strangers or throwing muck at people. Alright, some of his pranks might have been a bit cruel, especially at the end of his career, but at least he stuck around to face the consequences of his actions. He didn’t run away screaming ‘it’s just a prank brah,’ at the top of his voice.” Spicks sniffed a guilty sniff. “So… Going to answer my question? Why would someone like you want to hang around with Hobb? You don’t look the kind of person who’d hurt someone for fun.”
“I’m not. I don’t like hurting people.”
“That’s what you did though, indirectly. You’re an accomplice in Hobb’s assault spree. You looked on as he made people miserable, you filmed it. Then he went and put the footage on the internet, as if reducing people to tears wasn’t enough. How many people do you think laughed at those videos? Laughed at other people’s misery? How many subscribers does he have? Four million! FOUR MILLION PEOPLE LAUGHING AT INNOCENT PEOPLE BEING REDUCED TO TEARS!”
“It was fun, at first,” Spicks admitted.
“At first… When he wasn’t so cruel. He didn’t hurt people to start with, just acted like a bit of an idiot. The joke was on him, not other people.”
“He walked round a shopping centre crying and telling people he’d lost his mummy, or tried to perform a concert in the middle of a duck pond.”
“And people liked that? It sounds absolutely vacuous!” Spicks twiddled his thumbs and shuffled nervously.
“People did like it… And Hobb got more and more… His ideas got more and more wild and he started doing really cruel things like screaming at people and throwing things at them.”
“You weren’t such a fan of this?”
“But you still went with it?”
“Hobb is earning bucket loads and he’s been throwing stuff my way. I’ve been getting a cut… Five hundred pounds for a couple of hours filming sometimes.”
“Can anybody get in on this game? Five hundred pounds for a couple of hours work would make a nice addendum to my pension pot!”
“You could…” Spicks seemed unsure about that. Maybe he didn’t like the idea of a copper making internet videos, or someone of my age making internet videos. I had no intention of starting, however. It wasn’t my sort of thing.
“The money was more important to you than other people’s well-being? Their happiness?”
“I thought it was. But these last couple of months Hobb has got really, really bad. He thinks he’s untouchable. He thinks he’s some kind of prankster god.”
“Jeremy Beadle is the prankster god. Don’t you dare even put Hobb in the same league as him,” I warned.
“I filmed a video for him a few weeks ago. He’d rented a couple of quad bikes. I thought we might have a nice ride, do something a bit stupid… But then Hobb decided he wanted to use them to absolutely wreck a farmer’s field. I wouldn’t do it. I wouldn’t film him doing that. I dropped the camera and walked away.”
“Where was this? Did he actually wreck the field in the end?”
“I don’t think he did, no. But that night he called me up… Said if I didn’t film his pranks for him he’d get me.”
“Get you? Get you how?” Spicks reached into his pocket and pulled out a flash drive.
“I didn’t know he’d filmed it… Honest… But after the other day… The day before he threw poo at those people… I went round to his house whilst he was out and pretended I’d left something behind. I was going to destroy it but…”
“Do I want to know what the fuck is on this flash drive?” I gave Spicks a withering glare. He didn’t answer me. “Is it bad?”
“It’s bad,” Spicks gulped.
“Is it the only copy?”
“As far as I’m aware. After the poo thing Hobb found out it was gone and he rang me up and started ranting about how he was going to fit me up for stealing it. He threatened to break into my house and download kiddy porn onto my computer.”
“Let me give you some advice,” I told him. “I’ve never even heard you mention this flash drive. As far as I am aware it doesn’t exist. I don’t know what is on it, and believe me I don’t want to know. You’re in enough trouble as it is without adding this to the mix as well. Right?” Spicks nodded and removed the offending flash drive from sight.
“Now tell me about the day Hobb threw the poo at Dewdrop and his son.”
“I’d just had enough. It was disgusting. He’d just flipped….Throwing poo at someone… I couldn’t stand it anymore. I’d had enough of him. I wasn’t going to play his silly little games anymore.”
“What happened after you dropped the camera? What did you do?”
“Hobb tried to fight me. I just floored him… Knocked his knees out from under him and then threw the camera back at him. I told him to clear off and then he said he was going to get me.”
“Timothy Dewdrop says you helped him and his father. Is that correct?”
“Yes. I made sure they were ok, helped them clean the poo from the door of the church and from around the churchyard. I think there was a funeral that afternoon, somebody they were close to…”
“Sorry… Did you say afternoon?” Spicks nodded. I urged him to carry on. “How did they seem to you? The Dewdrops?
“That reverend… Tim’s father… I noticed he was a bit… He seemed really upset. For a while he just sat on a pew, still covered in poo.”
“Almost like he was in shock, you mean?”
“Yes. He went away to clean himself up but he seemed to have been gone an awfully long time. Then he asked me all sorts of questions about Hobb and he what he was doing.”
“And you told him? You told him about the internet videos and the jaguar obsession. You told him who Hobb is?” Spicks gave an affirmative bow.
“For a priest he didn’t seem very understanding. He said some very nasty things to me, about my filming it all.”
“Maybe he was right. You’re old enough to know better. I know it wasn’t you who threw the poo or assaulted those people, but you’re still complicit.”
I was trying to be understanding but every so often a surge of anger was coming into my voice. Spicks should have known better. He should have reined Hobb in a long time ago, walked away a long time ago. He should not have stood by and let it all happen. For that there would be consequences. For all our actions, be they good or bad, there should be consequences. When we are involved in something foul, as Spicks was involved in this foul thing, no matter by how much, we must take responsibility for our portion of the blame and we must hold our hands up and face the music. Fair play to Spicks, he did admit he was in the wrong and he was willingly facing the music, but how long had it taken him to do so? Too long in my opinion.
Even Hobb’s regular viewers, his so called fans, held some of the responsibility. They continued to watch him, to support him as he did those awful things. Though, reading through the video comments, there were some who rightly made their protestations known, they were always shot down with a torrent of abuse from Hobb’s most die-hard groupies. The words ‘it’s just a prank brah,’ came up with disturbing regularity. They refused to see that the thing they were watching was cruel, was senseless, was immoral. They went with it, fuelled Hobb as he grew ever more out of control. What consequences there would be for those die-hards I didn’t know, I didn’t know what consequences there could be, but I hope there were some, somewhere.
I left the interview room for a break, left Spicks to think about what else he wanted to say. There didn’t seem to be much I could get out of him, only what I already knew. I must have been very deep in thought for I didn’t even notice that my phone had rung. Only when I checked my missed call register half an hour later did I notice that it was Corwen.
I was still thinking when Gershwin whapped me on the nut with a tablet. It hurt. I looked at her, disgruntled.
“Team have just done with the exhumation at St Blaise’s,” she informed.
“And? Anything good?”
“Oh yes! Three baby hyenas. All of them dead and lying on top of a thin layer of building rubble and a bit more of Gordon Gloucester.”
“Dead?” I said, baffled. “Why would the hyenas be…” I realised before I finished speaking. I started to laugh. Of course they were dead! It made perfect sense that they were dead, all things considered. It didn’t take a genius to work out why. Now I knew everything and the whole parade of lunacy made perfect sense. I saw everything, every strand, from the viral photograph of the jaguar through to why Hobb was lured to the crime scene.
“D.S Gershwin,” I stated boldly. “I want Hobb, Parsons, Spicks and both Dewdrops outside the jaguar enclosure of Chester Zoo!”
“Not Caroline Faulkner, sir?”
“No. I was right about her. Too much time in the conference centre to get a tan!” Gershwin started to walk away but then turned back.
“If I may be so bold. Why do you want them all outside the jaguar enclosure?”
“Because I’m in just the right mood for showing off,” I told her.
Jessie Hobb. Andrew Parsons. Isherwood Spicks. Timothy Dewdrop. Greensborough Dewdrop. All five of them sat in a semi-circle, glaring at me as I paced up and down in front of the jaguar enclosure.
“Gentlemen,” I began. “To begin at the beginning, with the jaguar. He is the only innocent in all this nonsense. The only reason he is innocent is because he does not exist. He never existed. He was just a smudge in the background of a photograph taken outside St Blaise’s church. Yet if it were not for that jaguar, if not for that photograph and for the idiots on the internet proclaiming there was a big cat on the loose, then all of the crimes I am here to reveal would either remain unknown or not have passed at all. You, Isherwood Spicks, may not have left the side of Jessie Hobb. You might still be his loyal cameraman, wondering whether to walk away, but still filming his antics. You, Jessie Hobb, the would be Jeremy Beadle…”
“Who’s Jeremy Beadle?” Hobb looked at everyone else, confused.
“You, Jessie Hobb, the would be Jeremy Beadle, would still be stood on high, continuing your reign of terror until someone actually grew the balls to bring you down. You would not, if it weren’t for the jaguar, have gone to St Blaise’s and you would not have flung muck at the Dewdrops. And Gordon Gloucester? He’d be in his grave right now. Nobody would have ever known that one of you five had fed his remains to three baby hyenas.”
I observed them all, looking at me, worriedly.
“There was not one crime here. It would take a perverted mind to conceive of all this as one crime… No. What we are looking at are a series of crimes, each as a consequence of another. In this chain of crime you all played your part. You are all guilty.”
“Guilty?” Parsons spluttered. “What have I done? I’ve done nothing!”
“But you have, Mr Parsons. You may not have committed a crime in any legal sense, but when it comes to crime of the moral sense, the social sense, you’re as guilty as everybody else here. I refer, of course, to your son and your responsibility for your son. As his father it was your duty to see him brought up good and proper, to make sure he behaved like a responsible citizen.
“There are, I think, two strands to crime. There are those crimes that hurt people, that cause injury and grief, crimes such as stealing, murder, speeding down the motorway, drunk, at three in the morning… But then there are crimes that disrupt the order and running of civilisation, crimes that are sometimes against the very nature of humanity itself, crimes like fraud, like improper disposal of a body, letting your dog foul on the pavement or in some cases in the middle of a churchyard and not cleaning it up. Most crimes are against the law, especially in the first instance. But some of the latter aren’t. They are only crimes against morality and what you have committed, Mr Parsons, is a crime against morality.
“YOU allowed your son free reign to cause anarchy. YOU didn’t reel him in from his spree of blatant abuses and assaults and lord only knows whatever else. YOU let it happen. You excused his behaviour. Your job was to stop him from doing stupid stuff like that, if not for his sake then for the sake of the rest of society. You failed, Mr Parsons. You failed so hard they’ll still be feeling your failure at the end of the next millennium.”
“And I suppose you brought your son up all good and proper didn’t you?” Dewdrop the Elder sneered. “You couldn’t even give him a proper name!”
“Corwen is a better name than Greensborough, Mr Dewdrop… Besides which, it was his mother’s choice.”
“Is he still a bandit? Still a rogue and a wastrel? How many children does he have now? By how many women? Three? Four? I bet he doesn’t care for any of them…”
“No children at present, Mr Dewdrop,” I smiled. “But I spoke to him not ten minutes ago and he is going to care about his child because he’s decided to stick it through. We can expect Felinheli Naismith-Proctor to arrive in about seven months.”
“A pin in a map, Mr Hobb… A pin in a map! But back to the matter at hand… The crimes! And your crimes, Mr Hobb, we all know of. You’re famous, a young internet superstar. But you got there through ungodly means. You got there through being the most evil little squit to disgrace the Welsh borders since Jack Falstaff…”
“Is he like Jeremy Beadle?”
“Go brush up on your Shakespeare, Mr Hobb. Jack Falstaff was a rogue, a villain and a coward. Besides a pot belly and tendency towards alcoholism the two of you are very similar. It takes a special brand of cowardice to assault people… No… Not just to assault people… To assault people for fun! You did it for shits and giggles, because you got a kick out of it.
“Reports were made, by the way. A lady in Connah’s Quay whom you shot with a water pistol. She has a fear of open spaces, agoraphobia. She was starting to get better and then you jumped out on her and set her back months, maybe even years. You, Hobb, hurt people. You assaulted people, innocent people, and then ran away screaming ‘It’s just a prank brah!’ That is not an excuse for anything. There is even less of an excuse to film that assault and put it on the internet… Which is where you come in, Mr Spicks.” I rounded on him.
“Jessie Hobb’s loyal cameraman, there by his side as his rampage progressed, complicit in everything he did… Oh, you started to feel guilty, but far too late to do any good. You only did the right thing after it was too late. You only broke ranks when he did something so abhorrent that it would take a very ill mind to stand by him after that…
“But I’m getting ahead of myself. What were the two of you even doing in St Blaise’s churchyard in the first place? The answer is obvious. The jaguar! The innocent jaguar without which we would know nothing and none of this would have happened. For you, Hobb, had become obsessed with that jaguar. Lord only knows why, but you couldn’t get enough. Anything to do with that jaguar, you were there. So of course, you had to go to where the photo was taken, you had to see for yourself.
“But that, Mr Hobb, was your undoing. You did something so despicable that not only did your previously loyal cameraman finally turn on you, but your assault spree collided head on with another crime and created the shockwaves which bring us all here today. The churchyard was covered in poo, lots of it, and you were in your element, Mr Hobb. You smeared the church door with it, threw it at the two Dewdrops. You thought it was jaguar poo, but you couldn’t have been more wrong. That was no jaguar poo. That was hyena poo!
“But how in the name of all that is holy does hyena poo end up all over a churchyard and inside the crypt? The answer, lies with Gordon Gloucester.
“There was a number, beside his phone, for Bathsheeba Badoing of the Cheshire Wildlife Trust. All it took was a phone call to find the reason why. Gordon Gloucester, animal lover, was, of course, a volunteer for the Cheshire Wildlife Trust. Mrs Badoing helpfuly informed us that a few weeks ago an old lady by the name of Gladys Godfrey was walking in Delamere Forest when she found a hessian bag, dumped in the undergrowth by the side of the path. It was wriggling so she opened it up and what did she find? Three baby hyenas! Some twisted fool, lord knows who, had illegally imported these creatures, or maybe their mother, perhaps to sell on as exotic pets, and then callously left them in the forest. Mrs Godfrey reported the find, of course she did, and the wildlife trust collected the hyenas. BUT they did not have the resources to look after them. They deal with badgers and ferrets and drop squirrels. They aren’t capable of looking after things like hyenas. So until they could find someone to take the hyenas off their hands, they passed them to one of their volunteers, Gordon Gloucester. Gloucester gave them the run of his garage, bought them cat cages to transport them to wherever they would be taken next, fed them on the beef which we found in his freezer.
“But then Gordon Gloucester died. Nobody could have foreseen it. His ancient boiler was pumping out Carbon Monoxide and he fell, sadly, into a deep sleep and died. No dependencies, not many friends, only a few people in the whole world who would miss him. Only two who really would- The Dewdrops.
“You were the one whom Gloucester charged with wrapping up his estate, were you not, Mr Dewdrop?” Dewdrop the Elder made no movement. “There’s no point denying it because I checked with the coroner’s office. It was up to you to carry out Gloucester’s final wishes, to see that his affairs were set in order. You didn’t do a very good job, in all fairness, as it seems you neglected to inform the Cheshire Wildlife Trust that he had passed away. They found someone to take the hyenas, a specialist who works at Knowsley, but when they tried to contact Gloucester they couldn’t reach him. Nobody was answering the phone and when they went round to his house there was nobody there. There wasn’t even any sign of the hyenas… Or not that they could find anyway. They had begun making enquiries, trying to find them, but they had no luck until one of my colleagues rang them a few hours ago.
“So where were they? Would you care to answer that question… Timothy?” Timothy Dewdrop looked shocked, horrified even. He looked caught out. “You said it yourself. You love dogs. Like Gordon Gloucester you’re an animal lover. When he died you were heartbroken, devastated… But then you found the hyenas in his garage. It wasn’t only your father who was there when Gloucester’s body was discovered, it was you as well. Before the police or the paramedics or the fire crew arrived, you both entered that property. You, Timothy Dewdrop, entered that garage. You found the hyenas and you knew you couldn’t leave them there. You had to take care of them, look after them, for the sake of Gordon Gloucester, if nothing else. Your fingerprints were all over the cat cages for you used them to spirit away those near harmless baby animals before anybody else even knew they were there.
“How did you do this? Nothing more complicated the back seat of your father’s car, covered by a mouldy old blanket so nobody would see them. The best place to keep them, you thought, was in the crypt of St Blaise’s church. You suspected that nobody would find them down there. Who would go down there, into a dank, smelly, disused crypt?
“But you had a problem. How were you going to feed them? You knew they ate meat. You must surely have looked up their diet on the internet. You would have known that hyenas eat almost anything- Flesh, bone, muscle…” I closed my eyes. I prayed, for a second, that for some reason I wouldn’t have to do this.
“Oh, Timothy Dewdrop… What went through your head? Why did you think it was a good idea to take Gordon Gloucester from his coffin, which despite the numerous lies peddaled by your father was not in the crypt the night before his funeral, but in the church instead? Why did you think it was a good idea to take his body from his coffin, replace it with building rubble from a nearby building site, and then use it to feed the hyenas?”
“I thought it was what he would have wanted,” Dewdrop the Younger confessed. “I thought… I thought he would want to see the animals happy. He wouldn’t have wanted them to starve.”
“But would he have wanted to be fed to them? No. I doubt it. I sincerely doubt it, especially not if he knew that by being fed to those hyenas he would kill them. Gordon Gloucester had been prepared for burial. His body had been pumped full of embalming fluids and chemicals and whatever else it is funeral directors use. His body, the very thing you fed to those hyenas, was full of harmful substances. The hyenas started to eat, sure… But it wasn’t long before they became ill. The poo, the poo that was in the crypt and over the churchyard, that was the result of the hyena’s terrible diet. That was their bodies, shutting down, giving in, reacting to the chemicals. That was them dying thanks to what you fed them.
“And all that, Timothy Dewdrop, would never have been known of had it not been for the jaguar, the escaped jaguar which brought Jessie Hobb to St Blaise’s church on the day that Gordon Gloucester was supposed to be buried. Unfortunately for you Mr Hobb has a particularly twisted mind and assumed it would be funny to throw the faecal matter about the place. Had he not, had the poo not been there, then Gordon Gloucester’s half eaten remains would never have ended up in Crook Street. For that was all for a matter of revenge, revenge for the throwing of the aforementioned faecal matter. It was because of Hobb being a twisted little mugwort that our next crime happened.”
“He deserved it,” Dewdrop the Elder leered. “As you say, he is twisted little mugwort. He deserves all of God’s wrath and more. I wanted to see him suffer, see him squeal, see him cry and be reduced to…”
“Reduced to a psychotic wreck?”
“He would have been if that dustman hadn’t found the body first.”
“No. He really wouldn’t have been,” I corrected. “Our would be Jeremy Beadle would have filmed it, put it on the internet and turned all his millions of adoring acolytes into psychotic wrecks instead. He did see the body, Mr Dewdrop, for I showed it to him myself. He is the only one who did not almost vomit upon seeing the remains.”
“You’re all wussies,” Hobb smirked.
“No sir, we are not wussies. We are rational minded human beings. We have a thing that is known in the business as empathy. We are not desensitised to horrible, disgusting things as you are. But rest assured, you are not alone in lacking empathy, for Mr Dewdrop here lacks it also. A man with empathy would not have used the remains of his friend to reduce someone to a psychotic wreck, for the sole purposes of revenge.”
“If he hadn’t thrown the poo I wouldn’t have had to get revenge,” Dewdrop the Elder accused.
“If, if, if… Even an empathetic person would not have gone so far as you did. Perhaps an empathetic person would have restored Gloucester to his coffin, buried the evidence to hide his son’s foolish actions. I assume that was the original plan? The coffin was, at that time, still in the church for Gloucester was still to be buried at the time Hobb showed up. You claimed he had been buried that morning, but that was an outright lie. All you had to do was take out the building rubble which Timothy had placed in the coffin, return what was left of Gordon Gloucester, and all would have been swept under the carpet. You did do that, I think.
“But then along comes Hobb. Already, after finding out what Timothy has done you are aggrieved and distraught. How could he? How could he do something so silly? Your own darling son? Then we all know what Hobb did so I won’t repeat it. It turns an already bad day into a terrible one. You can’t stand it… You snap… You learn who Hobb is thanks to Mr Spicks here and you decide to bring him down. You decide to bring him down and the foolish actions of your own son provide the perfect opportunity.”
“He deserved it,” Dewdrop again claimed.
“Oh? Doesn’t your son deserve the same?” Parsons ripped. “Isn’t feeding someone to a hyena worse than anything Jess has done? Shouldn’t someone take revenge on him for it? Should I throw him into the jaguar pen back there?”
“That’s quite enough Mr Parsons! Debates over the hypocrisy of Mr Dewdrop can wait for another day.
“Your revenge, Mr Dewdrop… Convoluted? Perhaps, but only because you tried to cover your tracks. You tried to disguise yourself, make it look like Gordon Gloucester had led Hobb to his own body.”
“I thought it would be… Ironic,” Dewdrop confessed wickedly. “Imagine, the would be Jeremy Beadle brought to heel from beyond the grave. It was so poetic that I couldn’t resist!”
“So you wrapped the remains in the same blanket that had been used to cover the cat cages… We found hyena hair on it, just so you know… You, as executor of Gloucester’s estate, went into his house, accessed his twitter account and later tweeted Hobb a hint that he should go to Crook Street. You then put Gloucester in the boot of his own car, drove out to Crook Street, and left the car and body there. You knew we would check CCTV to see when the body was dumped and so you thought you would disguise your actions by leaving the car nearby, so you could dump the body without being seen. You almost did… You left the car on Crook Street, returned in the middle of the night, using the darkened rows as cover from CCTV, and dumped the body. Unseen, unnoticed, unobserved! You would return the following day for Gloucester’s car and hoped that nobody would notice. If you were lucky, another car would come down Crook Street in the dead of night and that driver would get the blame. That didn’t happen.
“You may have gotten away with it, were it not for the fact that you were unbelievably bad at covering your tracks. You were caught on CCTV, just not where you thought you would be. You were caught, covered in blood, at the end of Watergate Street. You were seen in a shop, buying milk which we found in Gloucester’s fridge. The receipt for that milk was in the bin. It also showed that whoever bought the milk had also bought cigarettes. As Hobb’s video in the churchyard betrays, you are a smoker. Your fingerprints were all over Gloucester’s car, under which the ground was damp, a sure sign that it had recently been AWOL from its drive. There was a glass of brandy by the sink of Gloucester’s kitchen. Again your fingerprints were all over it. Your fingerprints were all over Gloucester’s keyboard. Gloucester’s sat-nav had been programmed for Crook Street. There were bits of Gloucester still in the boot. Best of all was the evidence given to us by Mr Hobb, given to us in the midst yet another moronic crime. He breached his bail conditions and uploaded the video of him throwing the poo, the very act which spawned your revenge.”
I looked at them all. What a sorry bunch they were. Dewdrop the Younger, on the verge of tears, sorry for himself and for the foolish, horrible thing he had done. Andrew Parsons, glum faced, perhaps mulling over the idea that he should have been a better parent and that he should have exerted more control over his son. Isherwood Spicks, ashamed, broken, perhaps never again to pick up a camera. He’d certainly think twice about filming any more prank videos. Jessie Hobb, stone faced, pouty, not sorry about what he had done but sorry that he had been caught. He was eyeing daggers at Dewdrop the Elder, who sat, eyes blazing, furious, angry, righteous. There was no guilt there. There was pride, there was glee. Like Hobb he wasn’t sorry for what he had done. He’d do it all over again if he had the chance.
“I suppose now we’ll all go to prison?” Dewdrop the Elder mocked.
“You will… But this lot? I shouldn’t think so. Mr Parsons won’t receive any punishment from the law, but he’ll have to live the rest of his life with the guilt of not reining his son in when he had the chance. Mr Spicks? As Hobb’s accomplice he’ll only get a suspended sentence. It may even be reduced because he came in voluntarily.”
“Squealer,” Hobb spat at him.
“You, would be Jeremy Beadle, are destined to spend the next few years in a young offender’s institute. You can forget about ever uploading another video to the internet because the judicial service will be watching you to make sure you don’t.”
“And me?” Dewdrop the Younger asked quietly.
“Again, a young offender’s institute. At least for the time being. I don’t know how long you’ll get or what charge they’ll give you. Animal neglect as a minimum.”
“Improper disposal of a body, certainly,” Parsons scoffed.
“Maybe. The fact is that, unlike the US, we don’t have many laws regarding corpses. Gordon Gloucester had yet to be buried, so you, Timothy Dewdrop are not going to be charged with body snatching. Conspiring to prevent a lawful burial? Yes, actually. Now that I think on it that will be the likely charge.
“The same will go for Mr Dewdrop there. You’ll be charged with conspiring to prevent a lawful burial as well as improper disposal of a body, conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, exposing a body in a public place and aggravated conspiracy against a minor…”
“How long will they give me? Two years?”
“Given the seriousness and number of your crimes? I’d say twelve years minimum. You may even get a life sentence if the judge is in a particularly bad mood.”
He stood up and rolled his sleeves, then he came and stood toe to toe with me.
“You are a sick and twisted man, Mr Dewdrop. You always have been, foisting your own righteous snobbery onto others. But you’re no better than the people you look down on. You’re no better than Hobb. In fact, you’re worse in some ways. You think that what you do is absolutely right on and yet you do things just as terrible. Your righteous sneering is an excuse, a way to pardon your behaviour. It is exactly the same kind of excuse as Hobb uses. It’s exactly the same sort of thing as saying ‘it’s just a prank, brah!”
Before I knew what was happening Dewdrop had tried to swing for me. He missed and as I came back to where I was he had started to run for the jaguar enclosure. He was actually going to try and kill himself by getting eaten. Idiot! Everybody sat, gobsmacked, whilst I gave chase and grabbed his leg as he started to climb over. He kicked me away and his leg came free. Straight over he went, but there was still one obstacle between him and a death by jaguar. An electric fence. Dewdrop grabbed it with both hands and was sent flying backwards with a piggy little squeal. He was knocked out cold and came round just in time to be charged. I added assaulting a police officer to the list of his crimes.
ONE WEEK LATER
Bright sunshine, not a cloud in the sky. I was happily sat on the steps of the town hall, eating lunch and watching the world go by. I was thinking of something I had seen that morning. For breaching his bail conditions Jessie Hobb had already been placed in a young offender’s institute. Since then, however, one final video had been uploaded to his channel. I’m guessing it was a hack job because Hobb wouldn’t have wanted his last video to be of him being beaten to a bloody pulp, on the floor screaming for mercy whilst some buzz-cutted young tearaway repeatedly smashed his face in whilst repeating ‘it’s just a prank brah, it’s just a prank.’ That, I am not ashamed to admit, had made me smile. We reap what we sow. Our actions have consequences and at the end of the day the bailiff has to collect his dues.
“Mr Proctor?” I looked up see Caroline Faulkner standing nearby. She was smiling, looking ravishing in the sunshine, or as ravishing as one can look given she was wearing a big puffy jacket and carrying a raft of bags. “I asked at the desk, they told me you’d be out here.”
“Doctor Faulkner! What can I do for you today?”
“I remembered you saying something about your Gladstone mug being broke so I…” She began rooting through her bags, nearly dropped some of them. I got up to help. “I was in Stoke over the weekend, you see, and… Yes, here it is!” She pulled a cardboard box out of a black bag. Intrigued, I opened it up to find a brand new, grumpy Gladstone face leering out at me through bubble wrap. I was near flabbergasted.
“Thank you. This is wonderful! How much I do I owe you?”
“No charge. I bought a batch of new ones and thought you might like that one.”
“Yes! It’s lovely… Thank you… But I have to repay you somehow…”
“It’s no bother, really.”
“Perhaps dinner?” I suggested on the fly. “There’s a place the other side of the border if you fancy it. In Trevalyn… My treat?” Faulkner blushed, surprised.
“Oh yes… That would be splendid. I’d love to. When would you like… Oh, I think your sergeant wants you.” Gershwin was indeed waving at me from the corner of the building.
“I tell you what… I have your number, I’ll call you to arrange a date, yes? Thank you again for the mug.”
I hurried off before she could say another word, not because I didn’t want her to but because Gershwin had her business face on.
“We’ve got a weird one sir… Old man holding up a petrol station with a banana.”
“Oh happy day!” I rolled my eyes. At least this one wouldn’t involve hyena poo or imaginary jaguars.
“What did Faulkner want?” I showed her the mug, a grin on my face, and she pulled a face that was similar to that on the mug. Then, as we climbed into my car, she became mocking.
“I guess love is in the air then? I told you that you fancied her.”
“I never denied it. I’m taking her for a meal the other side of the border.”
“The other side of the border? It must be serious! Speaking of love, how are things with Corwen and Carla?”
“I’m worried,” I admitted. “Corwen has agreed to stick around for the sake of Felinheli but I’m beginning to think that he or she was no accident.”
“How do you mean?”
“I think Carla planned to get pregnant. She was round for lunch on Sunday… There was something about the way she was acting, the way she spoke… I don’t think Corwen can see it but if it’s true, and it comes out, there might be sparks. Carla is exactly the type to plan an accidental pregnancy.”
“Are they really going to call it Felinheli?”
“Aye. Felinheli Naismith-Proctor. I’d have gone for Gwydion myself, but it isn’t my choice.”
“Both of them sound ridiculous if you ask me,” Gershwin slipped as she began flicking through my CD slipcase.
“I’ve got a loverly bunch of coconuts,” I said out loud.
“I’ve got a loverly bunch of coconuts… Imogen Virginia Elaine Gershwin Ophelia Tiffany Abigail Louisa Olive Victoria Eileen Rebecca Laura Yasmin Blossom Ursula Nadine Colette Hephzibah Oriana Francine Catherine Orchid Clara Offenbach Nelly Una Tabitha Smith!”
“My father was a clown,” Gershwin grimaced. “He wanted to give me a long name with ridiculous initials. “Now please promise me you’ll never mention it again?”
“Excellent. Now how about we deal with this old man and his banana?” She pulled a CD from the slip case and flashed it in the air, grinning. “Whitney?”
“Whitney,” I grinned back.
‘The Solitary Prisoner’ by Harry Furniss (1910) courtesy of Victorian Web- http://www.victorianweb.org/art/illustration/furniss/123.html