…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.
She punched in a number and was quickly deep in conversation with the dispatcher at the nearest manned police station. Leo went off to fetch their guests, and Mike hied her to the kitchen where she unearthed a couple of cases of Ben and Jerry’s. By the time the back door opened, to admit a dozen scared-looking teenagers and two greyish mouselike women, she had the kettle singing and was assembling mugs. As each teenager passed her she handed out a tub of ice-cream and a spoon.
‘Sit. Eat. Try to relax.’
The kids obeyed her, squeezing onto the benches either side of the big oak table. The two women were less at their ease. One finally found her voice.
‘Is this a Godly home?’
Ro breezed in and looked at her through narrowed eyes. ‘And if it isn’t?’
The woman looked at her muscular torso and collection of tattoos with something akin to loathing. She opened and shut her mouth a few times but discretion won, so she said nothing.
Ro grinned nastily. ‘Leo and the chief wardress are waiting for the cops. I said we’d mind the babies if that’s OK.’
Mike grinned. ‘Stop winding people up Ro. Now. Tea? Coffee?’
Misery Mouse found her voice again.
‘We don’t take stimulants and neither do the children.’
‘Decaf then. Now sit down and shut up or I’ll let Ro off the leash.’
Once everyone had a mug of coffee, Mike sat down at the head of the table and engaged the girls on either side of her in conversation. The two mouselike women sucked up coffee and nibbled on digestive biscuits in disapproving silence. The youngsters started to relax under the influence of ice-cream, coffee and inconsequential chatter. Mike had the impression that their keepers would have dearly loved to intervene somehow, but lacked the courage to brave Ro’s basilisk stare.
By the time the door finally opened to admit a grim-looking Leo and two WPCs, the Misery Mice were looking as disapproving as it is possible for a pair of human beings to look, and Mike was having to hold down the desire to box their ears for them.
‘Mike’ Leo said. ‘Is it okay if the girls and these two policewomen stay here until the kids’ parents come for them? Miss Molloy and Miss Carpenter are needed to strike camp.’
Mike lifted a shoulder, and Ro hustled the depressing duo to the door.
‘Out through the gate’ she said brightly. ‘And don’t worry about thanking Mrs Johnson for the coffee and biscuits. We understand that godliness exempts you from the need to be polite.’