Coffee Break Read – Then The Screaming Started

…for a moment the silence was blissful. Then the screaming started…
Writing team Leo and Mike Johnson have their day disturbed when a body turns up near their house.

Newspaper columnist and successful travel writer, Mike Johnson, lingered at the breakfast table, feeling pale and fragile. Over the roar of the vacuum cleaner from upstairs, she could vaguely hear her husband, and illustrator and business manager, Leo, on the phone in his office. He didn’t sound pleased. She sighed inwardly. Leo in a snit was more than she felt able to cope with right now, and she debated just getting in the car and buggering off for a couple of hours. Too late. He poked his hard-edged and handsome face around the door, and she waited for the explosion; but it was okay – he was grinning and his golden, eagle eyes were sparkling.
‘Job done. They are putting back the correct picture to head chapter four of Bogg and Scrat do Dorset.’
Mike processed that.
‘Good. Sorry. I’m not with it this morning. I have a mother of a headache and my guts feel bad too.’
Leo’s mood changed instantly, to genuine concern, and he came over to put a cool hand on her forehead. ‘You taken a painkiller?’
She shook her head and he disappeared into the kitchen, returning with a glass of cold water and a couple of pills. He put them down beside her and moved to the bottom of the stairs.
‘Ro. Can you do some quiet cleaning please? Mike’s got a head.’
The roar of the vacuum cleaner stopped, and for a moment the silence was blissful. Then the screaming started. Leo rushed to the window.
‘What the fuck is that?’
Ro galloped down the stairs.
‘It’s them kids. In the tents on the other side of the river. They’re all over by the swimming hole. Screaming.’
‘Yeah. I get the screaming’ Mike’s voice was rueful. ‘How about somebody goes and tries to find out what’s going on?’
Even as she spoke Leo went. His long-legged lope took him out through the French door to the gate in the garden wall in no time at all. He motioned the dogs to stay and was gone. Ro turned her attention to Mike.
‘You OK?’
‘I think I might be in a minute. Leo got me the industrial strength painkillers.’
‘Did you go to see your Dad yesterday?’
Mike nodded.
‘I dunno why you put yourself through it. He don’t know you’re there.’
‘If I was sure of that I wouldn’t go. But I ain’t. So.’
through the garden door and ran across the grass. He looked far from his usual urbane self, and his face was the colour of porridge.
‘There’s about fifteen hysterical females out there, and a body floating in the swimming hole. Can I bring the young ones in here? I think they need to get where they can’t see the floater.’
Mike nodded. ‘Yeah. Bring them inside. We’ll feed them ice cream. A few calories should help with the calming down process. Has anybody called the police?’
‘No. They haven’t got a mobile.’
‘Teenage girls without mobile phones?’
‘Weird ain’t it. But this is some sort of religious retreat. Supposed to be good for their souls.’
Ro snorted and dragged a battered iPhone out of her pocket. ‘Yeah. Finding a floater will really have done them the power of good.’
From Shall we gather at the river? a hard hitting murder mystery thriller by Jane Jago which is available for 0.99.

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