…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.
The girls thanked the WPC, then the oldest girl spoke up again.
‘You really want to know about the thing floating in the river don’t you?’
‘They do’ Leo said steadily ‘but they aren’t allowed to ask you any questions without a responsible adult present.’
‘Ain’t you lot responsible?’ a petite brunette grinned.
‘In this case responsible has a quite specific meaning. It’s either a parent or a social worker. Somebody who will be looking out for your welfare.’
‘Oh. Right. But we could tell you anyway. Without questions.’ ‘You could.’
The girls looked at each other speculatively; the one who seemed to be the de facto leader of the group nodded sharply. ‘You need to understand that we haven’t been having a very nice time, not the least of which has been no proper washing. Anyway, we decided to take some shampoo into the river and see if we could wash our hair. Environmentally unsound, but we really were stinky. So we’d all washed and were swimming around naked, feeling much better. Of course, Molloy appeared at the side of the pool and started berating us as sinners etcetera, etcetera. I wanted to smack her one, but the others persuaded me to just swim away. We all swam to the dam, where we knew the silly bitch wouldn’t come, being unable to swim. She started crying and carrying on, and we did some diving to really piss her off. Then Mags got her foot caught in something. It could’ve been serious but we noticed she wasn’t coming up fast enough and two of us grabbed her. We were towing her back to the beach because she was coughing and spluttering a bit. That was when Molloy started screaming hysterically. To start with we didn’t take a lot of notice, being more concerned with Mags. When we all got onto the beach, the silly bitch was still pointing and screaming, so we looked. And there was something floating. Something bloated and dead. Mags was very sick. And after that there was just a lot of screaming happening. Until Mr Leo turned up and smacked Molloy’s face. Which was very satisfying.’
The WPC who had been busily scribbling grinned.
‘I don’t think I need to write the last bit down.’
One of the girls who hadn’t yet spoken piped up. ‘Was that dead thing a person?’
‘Probably. Unless the local sheep have taken to wearing denim.’
‘Just don’t think about it’ Mike was bracing. ‘It’s none of your never mind. You consider what you are going to say to your father so he takes you away from that bloody school.’
She had just finished speaking when a perfunctory tap on the door heralded the entrance of a bulky mannish-looking woman with an incipient moustache. Mike raised an eyebrow.
‘Yes?’ she kept her voice neutral with an effort.
‘Come along girls. Time to leave.’
The oldest WPC looked up. ‘No. You can go, but the children stay until their parents come for them. That’s the rules.’
The woman tried to stare the WPC down, but had no success.
‘Very well’ she said’ on your head be it. I will leave them in the hands of the ungodly.’
Mike opened her mouth, but Ro reappeared and forestalled her. She grasped the interloper by her collar.
She forcibly ejected the woman from the kitchen and frogmarched her to the back gate. A grinning policeman opened that gate and Ro all but threw her out. She returned to the house smiling somewhat grimly. ‘Bitch’ she said before striding off waving a duster.