A Pillar Of The Community: Part Twenty-Nine

This is the final part of a fiction serial, in 975 words.

Don slowed his bike as he passed the cemetery on his way home from work. The following day was the first anniversary of Allan’s murder, and Jean was planning for them to spend some time at the grave in the afternoon. He didn’t like to cry in front of Jean anymore, so allowed the tears to flow as he glanced at the gates of the entrance. Things hadn’t been great since they had left Waterloo Close. Don’s Mum hadn’t taken the news of Allan’s death too well, and a few weeks later she had suffered a stroke that left her with seriously impaired mobility. Don had arranged for a local company to go in and clear up the house, sending the keys down by courier. They had employed a removal firm to bring up their clothes and the stuff they wanted to keep, and all the rest had been given to charity.

There hadn’t been much interest in the sale of the house at first. Nobody seemed inclined to want to buy a place that was the scene of a murder. But when they dropped the price by twenty percent, someone had snapped it up. They knew they would have to stay and look after Mum now, and would eventually inherit her house when she had gone. Jean had applied for the allowance to be her full-time carer, and not bothered to look for a job. As for Don, he didn’t want to work with a lot of people who asked him questions, so took a job as a night security guard, working on his own route, checking premises in a van. The old bus had to go, as they needed something suitable for Mum in her wheelchair. Now Jean drove the converted car, and he used a small motorbike to get to and from work.
As he turned off the road that led to the cemetery, he spoke aloud inside his crash helmet. “See you tomorrow, son”.

Alex Conroy was relishing life on his own. He had packed up all of Lucy’s things, and sent them off into storage, as arranged by Julian. Even after using some of his compensation money and savings to pay her off, he was still a wealthy man, at least by local standards. He had changed the house completely too. The carpets had been replaced by smart wooden flooring, and the bulky furniture changed for sleek designer items, with minimalism as his style choice. His job was going well, and there had been hint of a promotion to control of the larger City Council, once Edgar Pomeroy retired. And despite it only being two years old, he had got rid of the Jaguar, part-exchanging it for a nice new Range Rover. That had turned a few heads at the Golf Club.

Best of all, he had found a gem of a housekeeper. Esther Fitzgerald was from a respectable Irish family in the town, and he had employed her straight after the interview, not bothering to see any of the other applicants. She came to the house every afternoon at two, except for weekends. She did all the cleaning and the washing and ironing, then waited until he got home from work, to serve him an evening meal before she went home. She didn’t gossip, and had never asked any questions about the murder, Lucy, or his personal life. At weekends he would eat out, or just hot up a pasta meal from the freezer. He had all he had ever desired, and despite everything that had gone on during the last year, he enjoyed both the respect and sympathy of colleagues, friends, and neighbours alike.

He still enjoyed doing his own gardening, and had spent a long time laying out an ornamental Japanese arrangement, with lots of slabs and gravel, as well as a pleasant water feature crossed by a small bridge. He had kept the fuchsias by the shed though, for nostalgic reasons. As he worked outside, he liked to look up at the window of the back bedroom next door, and replay those events in his mind.

When he got home that night, there was a large rental van on the driveway of the Sinclair’s house. He had seen the ‘SOLD’ sign a while back, and been surprised how long it had taken the new owners to move in. He smiled as he closed the door. Inside, the house was immaculate as always, and he could smell something nice coming from the kitchen. Mrs Fitzgerald called to him as he put down his briefcase. “Table’s laid, Mr Conroy. It will be ready in five minutes”. Alex went up to the bedroom, to hang up his jacket and put on a cardigan. He washed his hands in the en-suite, and returned to take his place at the table.

She came into the dining room carrying a plate of steak and vegetables. Good, tasty, basic food, something she did so well. As always, she looked immaculate in her pristine apron. “There is apple crumble in the oven. It will still be warm when you have finished this. Is there anything else I can do for you, before I get off home?” Alex was already cutting the meat, and turned with a smile. “Nothing at all, thank you”. After putting on her coat, Esther came back into the room, fiddling with the zip. “I met your new neighbours this afternoon, Mr Conroy. They seem very nice, but I didn’t catch the name. They have a daughter, looked about ten, and an older boy around seventeen. I saw him carrying a big drum kit up the stairs, it looked very professional”.

Alex paused before placing the fork into his mouth. “A drum kit you say?” He smiled at her.

“Oh dear. I hope he is not going to be too noisy”.

The End.

61 thoughts on “A Pillar Of The Community: Part Twenty-Nine

  1. I thought I would hate the ending if Alex wasn’t found out, yet I was wrong – I thoroughly enjoyed the ending, Pete. Well done, indeed. Now, a sequel is a ‘must’! Best to you, and looking forward to ‘The Boat House’.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post 🙂 This should be a setup for a sequel 🙂 In that one, you should focus on Alex’s downfall similar to that of Sherman McCoy in Tom Wolfe’s 1987 novel The Bonfire of the Vanities. Seriously, He is now a wealthy man and doing a downfall story would make it pretty interesting. Anyway, keep up the great work as always 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nicely done Pete!

    “A drum kit you say?”



    PS – you should write a post regarding how you wrote it – I would think your stream of consciousness” approach would be found somewhat unique by most of us here.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. If I remember correctly Pete, you’re not a huge fan of Hitchcock (?), but I have to agree with Pam and say this was quite Hitchcockian. You know I was hoping that Alex would get his just desserts, so I’m glad to hear you’re contemplating a sequel. Now that it appears that Alex has literally gotten away with murder there’s no way he’d be able to resist doing it again, although I agree, the new neighbors would be much too obvious.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Kim. I like some of his stuff, including ‘Shadow of A Doubt’, ‘Strangers On A Train’, ‘Frenzy’, and ‘Blackmail’. So the compliment is appreciated. From the start, there might always have been a sequel; but I also wanted to highlight the real fact that so many murders are unsolved, and some are committed in ‘plain sight’, but with no evidence to arrest the suspect.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Well done Pete. You are an excellent story teller and I am very impressed at the way you kept all those characters going. Easy to mix them up. I can’t see Alex killing yet another neighbour, that would be a step too far to get away with a second time, but I do hope those drums cause him to have to move away from his cosy existence. He will get his downfall. I am certain of that.
    Thanks for a great mystery murder story Pete, I looked forward to the next chapter every day.
    Jude xx

    Liked by 1 person

  6. So there were 39 installments. That reminded me of Hitchcock’s “The 39 Steps” (yes, I know you aren’t a fan of Hitch, so it’s strictly coincidental). The ending reminded me of a scene from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” the 1966 animated film based on a story by Dr. Seuss.

    And then! Oh, the noise! Oh, the Noise! Noise! Noise! Noise!
    That’s one thing he hated! The NOISE! NOISE! NOISE! NOISE!

    And let’s not forgot that the Grinch’s heart was two sizes too small. Maybe that’s Alex’s problem, too! The Grinch, of course, eventually overcomes his hatred, and becomes a warm and loving creature. I doubt that this will ever happen to Alex.

    If there is a sequel down the road, I think Alex would be foolish to murder the 17-year-old boy with the drum kit. I can’t possibly see how he could get away with that. I can’t even imagine Alex could think he might. It’s an interesting ending, though. It definitely makes you think, “What if…?”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I actually really like the Robert Donat version of ‘The 39 Steps’, David. 🙂
      But I have never seen, nor read, ‘The Grinch’.
      Killing your neighbour’s son on two occasions might be a stretch, even for Alex.
      Thanks again for all your help behind the scenes!
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Great read Pete. I really enjoyed reading it with my coffee every morning. Now, I mean this as a compliment so keep that in mind…The ending reminds me of Alfred Hitchcock’s television show, which I love and watch to this day. Bravo Pete! Fingers crossed that there will be a sequel.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Pam. I am pleased to accept your complimentary comparison.
      There will be a sequel eventually, but in the meantime there is more (shorter) fiction to come, as well as a new (perhaps shorter) serial, with a different theme.
      Thanks also for being on board for the long ride, and for all your great comments.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. There will be some shorter fiction this week, then another serial to follow. The sequel to this might be around at some stage. 🙂
      Thanks for following the serial, and for all your very nice comments, Gael.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Kerin. I had actually thought of making her a distant relative of Allan, out to get Alex. So, you were very close! In fact, she was originally going to be Scottish, and called Mary Crosby. But it would have gone on too long, been a bit of a stretch, and left no room for a possible sequel. Besides, Alex would have been quick to suspect someone from Scotland, and would likely not have employed her.
      Thanks for staying with the story, and for all your great comments too. 🙂
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Ha, so I wasn’t far off with a piano ending 🙂 Well ok, I was a mile off.
    I have to say the balance of giving most of the other players a relatively happy ending against the ultimate misery that we hope will befall Alex makes the ending kind of acceptable as we, the reader, are left weighing up the good against the bad.
    As you replied to one of my comments before, “thats life” 🙂
    The best book I’ve read in quite a while 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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