…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 policewoman turned her attention to Mike and Leo.
‘Look. You don’t have to let the girls stay here. We can take them to the station. We just weren’t about to let them go with that lot.’ Leo looked down into Mike’s face. She shrugged and grinned.
‘You all can stay here if you want. Do you got stuff in the minibus?’
‘We have.’ The younger, and less chunky, WPC sprinted, returning with a grinning Constable and a dozen rucksacks.
‘That woman don’t half swear for a vicar.’ The oldest girl spoke up quite sadly. ‘She isn’t a proper vicar. They just give themselves titles so they seem legit.’
‘Bastards’ the Constable effaced himself.
Mike looked at the dozen wan faces. ‘It is’ she said brightly ‘a good job we have plenty of rooms. How would a proper hot shower and a rest in a decent bed grab you lot? But you’ll have to do three to bed.’
The girls nodded eagerly and Ro took them upstairs. She returned to the kitchen some twenty minutes later.
‘All showered and tucked up. I’m off to see Mum now. You want I should come back in later?’
‘If you can.’
She nodded and gave a half salute before ambling out of the back door.
‘She’s a big girl’ the chunky WPC grinned. ‘At first I thought she was a fatty like me. But she ain’t. She’s just solid muscle.’
‘She is’ Mike grinned. ‘My dad used to call her the bull terrier.’ Then she got up and left the room.
‘Oops. Something I said?’
‘No. It’s talking about her Dad. He has dementia. For the last twelve months he hasn’t really known who he is, or who she is, or much of anything much. But physically he’s as strong as a horse. Could go on years.’
‘Shit’ the younger policewoman said with some feeling. ‘My Gran’s got Alzheimers, but we were never close. I’m guessing Mrs Johnson and her father were.’
‘Oh yeah. To the extent that I sometimes felt excluded. But don’t you be telling Mike that little gem.’
He followed his wife, but wasn’t long. He came back with a rueful grin. ‘I’ve been told off for abandoning you. Rude it was. So. Having disposed the kids to rest, what do you two want to do?’
‘I suspect Chrissie has her kindle in the car. And I’d just like to sit in your garden in the shade.’
It was getting on for four hours later when the first set of flustered parents arrived. Leo showed them to his study, where a large, calm policeman waited to talk to them, and rooted out their daughter. They were behind closed doors for almost an hour, and before they left both parents sought out Leo and Mike to thank them for their kindness. Mike smiled her weary smile and Leo spread bonhomie. After that, parents arrived in very quick succession, and there was even a bit of a queue to see the police.
When the last parental car had pulled out of the drive and the police had also gone, Mike leaned on Leo.
‘So. What the fuck do we make of that?’
‘Honestly? There’s a lot not to like. On a lot of levels.’
‘Isn’t there just. Only upside is the teenagers gave me a whole Bogg and Scrat column. One we can use whenever.’
He hugged her briefly. ‘You OK now?’
‘Yeah. I think all the sound and fury helped.’
He peered down into her face. ‘You look better. Was yesterday particularly bad?’
‘Was. He was on a crying jag.’
‘And I didn’t even ask. I am a selfish bastard.
‘You are. But I knew that when I married you.’ Then she grinned. ‘Maybe you wanna cook me a steak in reparation? There’s a couple pieces of fillet in the fridge.’