The Bloodstained Letter: Part Seventeen

This is the seventeenth part of a fiction serial, in 846 words.

In the reception of the police station, Jon had to wait behind a scruffy-looking youth who was signing in under his bail conditions. Then he went and asked the middle-aged woman if he could see a detective. In a monotone, she made a short speech that she must have made thousands of times before.

“If you want to see an officer, you have to give me some idea of what it’s about. I can issue you with a crime number for minor offences like the theft of a phone, so there’s no need to see an officer for anything like that”.

Using his best authoratitive tone, he explained that it was serious, a possible kidnap or forced imprisonment, and that it was definitely necessary to see a detective, preferably someone senior.

She remained totally unimpressed. “Take a seat, and I’ll see what I can do”.

He sat on the perforated metal bench which was divided by the plastic armrests running along it. The woman picked up the phone, and was soon talking to someone, glancing across at him as she spoke. He couldn’t hear her, but his instincts told him that she was describing his appearance to whoever was on the other end of the line.

Forty-five minutes later, a side door opened, and man called his name. Jon approached a chubby man who had a moustache like something out of the early seventies, and was wearing a faded brown suit that was too tight to be able to button the jacket. “Hello, I am detective constable Terry Skinner, please come through”. He was taken into a small room hardly big enough for the desk and four chairs that were the only things in it. The policeman sat opposite, and smiled. “So you mentioned an abduction, I believe? Please tell me everything you know about it”.

Jon began to tell the story from the arrival of the first letter, sliding his evidence across the desk as he did so. He also consulted his notes, mentioning Amelia Bowes and her son Roderick. By the time he got to the part where he was about to travel to see Eloise in Broadstairs, he suddenly noticed that the man had no voice recorder operating, and was taking no notes in the classic police pocketbook. When he mentioned this, the cop waved away the comment.

“Don’t worry, it is all going in here”. He tapped the side of his head. “If I decide that there is something worth investigating, I assure you I will take a full statement.” Continuing to recount the events, Jon produced the second letter, and sat back. If he expected the detective to be amazed, he was sadly disappointed by the man’s response.

“Let me make sure I have got this right. You are, by your own description, a famous writer of crime thrillers, including the Inspector Johnson mysteries, which I have to tell you I have not read. You get a strange letter asking for help, with what you say is blood on the sealed flap. Yet you don’t bring it straight in so we can begin an investigation, oh no. Instead, you decide to play detective by driving down to Hertfordshire, and mounting surveiilance on a family based purely on the fact that they also own stationery of the same style? Am I correct so far?”

Jon nodded, and the man continued.

Then you travel all the way to Kent to follow up on what you believe is a lead, and when you see that this woman has your books in her bookcase, that seems to confirm your suspicions. You say you are a famous novelist. How many copies of those books have you sold in hardback?” Jon told him it would be in the tens of thousands, and the detective rubbed his face with both hands. “Then you just came home and forgot about it, using the whole thing as a storyline for your next book. Incredible”.

He slid his chair back with a noisy scraping sound, and placed both hands on the desk.

“Well, here is what I think. If you had really believed someone was in danger, you would have been here on day one, showing us that letter. Seems to me that you have a book in progress that one day you would like to promote and market. So you reckon you can come to us after the event, get us running around like headless chickens, and then use the press coverage of a wild goose chase to get your name and your book in the newspapers. You are very lucky I am not going to bother to charge you with wasting police time. Now, what I would like you to do is to pick up all that stuff on the desk, place it back into your very nice shoulder bag, and go home”. He stood up, indicating the interview was over.

Almost unable to believe the insolent attitude of Skinner, Jon was back at home before he thought that he should have demanded to see someone more senior than a detective constable.

42 thoughts on “The Bloodstained Letter: Part Seventeen

  1. I have to stop reading and focus on my dinner! What will happen next? I think Jon’s editor is trying to provoke him writer into writing a new book in the series? Or the vicar knows more than he’s letting on? Hugs, C

    Liked by 1 person

  2. (1) “Take a seat, and I’ll see what I can do.” Once Jon had taken the perforated metal bench, the middle-aged woman was able to have him arrested for theft of police property. (To avoid flooding the prison, the police should bolt their furniture to the floor!)
    (2) Overheard:
    Detective Constable; “Hello, I’m Terry Skinner.”
    Author Ridley: “Is it fair to assume that you carry a knife instead of a gun?”
    Detective Constable: “Yet another stupid joker taking a shot at my name!”
    Author Ridley: “Hey, don’t get sharp with me!”
    (3) “Don’t worry, it is all going in here.” Skinner tapped the side of his head. “And it is all coming out here.” Skinner slapped the side of his buttocks.
    (4) Bad citation: “Skinner slid his chair back with a noisy scraping sound, and placed both hands on the desk. He had noticed that Jonathon Ridley was gay, so he asked Jon to come around back…”
    (5) The police ran around like headless chickens while the press covered a wild goose chase. Still, the bloodstained letters indicate that someone may have bought the farm.
    (6) The interview was over. And so was Jon’s love affair with the police.
    (7) The detective constable was 69 years old. The only person at the police station who was more senior than Skinner was lovely Rita (meter maid), who was not yet on the beat. She was 74 years old.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I was out in Yosemite National Park for a few days and had NO connectivity – 6,000 feet in the mountains with incredible waterfalls al around…will be posting but that’s why I went offline fr a few day…catching up however!

        Liked by 2 people

  3. That seems about right to me. A bored and bothered cop not wanting to look into it because he didn’t think it was anything. I mean as a writer Jon would have (as would I ) not have thought the first was all that big of a deal. When he got the second one he took it in. I like where it’s going.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Drew. Jon mainly took the second letter in hoping to get the family into some trouble, however minor. That was as a result of seeing his books in Eloise’s bookcase, and suspecting it was all a practical joke. Glad you like the progress.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I can just imagine that detective in the canteen minutes later ( forgetting political correctness ) ‘just had a right nutter in’ .But yes he could have made a brief report and sent the blood stains off, if they were chicken blood he would at least have a laugh! On the other hand this case might come back to haunt him!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Skinner was mostly correct, given Jon’s story. But he should have sent the letters off to forensics all the same. If it turned out to be a serious crime, he would be in trouble for not taking a statement.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I think the response of Constable Skinner was predictable and looking at it from his perspective not entirely unjustified. As he said, one would have expected anyone receiving such a letter to come to the police in the first instance rather than trying to investigate the incident themselves. Having said that, he should at least have sent the letters for forensic examination to check for any fingerprints on the police database, and to ascertain whether the blood was that of a human or an animal. Best wishes. Kevin

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Kevin. Skinner should have done that, but he was irritated by Jon, and also homophobic. Hence his reference to the shoulder bag. A rather old-school policeman, very out of place in the modern force, but not at all uncommon.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I didn’t pick up on Skinner being homophobic, so was interested to learn that, Pete. I suspect I wasn’t the only reader not to pick up on the reference. The irony is that many hetrosexual men now wear shoulder bags! Best wishes. Kevin

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes, it was intentionally very subtle. Jon’s shoulder bag was mentioned earlier, described as looking like an Italian designer bag. Jon may well also appear to be ‘very gay’ at times, although women don’t seem to pick up on that, at least as far as he tells it. 🙂
          Best wishes, Pete.

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