This is the eighteenth part of a fiction serial, in 747 words.
That afternoon, Jon was raging. He began to compose a contact email to the Chief Constable, initiating a formal complaint about Detective Skinner. Halfway down, he stopped. It wouldn’t look too good that he hadn’t involved the police the day he received the first letter, he had to admit that. Weeks had gone by, and he hadn’t mentioned anything to a single police officer, whether in Yorkshire, Hertfordshire, or Kent.
He highlighted the text, and pressed Delete. Time for a rethink.
After an early dinner of Moussaka, and half a bottle of Othello to go with it, he decided that two could play at their game. Back in his study, he typed out a blank word document in upper case.
I KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING AND THE POLICE HAVE BEEN INFORMED. YOU ARE ALL BEING INVESTIGATED
He saved it, printed off three copies, and addressed plain white envelopes using block capitals with a pencil held in his left hand. Tomorrow, he would take a long train journey, and post them to Amelia, Roderick, and Eloise.
Then he would get back to writing his book and living his life, leaving the crazy family to stew in their own juice.
At York Station the next morning, he bought a ticket to Oxenholme Station. Just on the edge of the Lake District town of Kendal, it was a journey of less than three hours, but far enough west not to have any postmark connected to Yorkshire. The ticket was reasonably priced, and he added the cost of it to his running log of expenditure. It could count as research, for tax purposes. On the way, he wrote paper notes for the book.
Inspector Johnson’s investigation was in full swing. Surveillance of family members showed repeated visits to the Aldenham house by both Roderick and Eloise, and they all visited the church every time they were together. When an undercover officer went into the church pretending to be having a moment of silent prayer, he spotted all three accompanying the vicar into the Vestry, the same room where Jon had used the toilet that day.
Sergeant Chen had one of her moments of intuition, suggesting that the large garden at the Aldenham house should be dug up. By the time the Inspector was trying to convince his superiors to authorise that, the train was almost at Oxenholme.
In his opinion, Kendal was one of the least attractive towns in the Lake District. He had visited the area many times since moving north, and much preferred Keswick or Windermere. But Kendal would serve his purposes, offering many choices for lunch, and a couple of post offices to choose from too. As the letters were already stamped with first class stamps he had at home, he walked up to the first post office he saw, and posted them in the large box on the wall in the First Class and Abroad slot. The next collection was at four that afternoon, so the recipients would likely get the letters tomorrow morning.
Not far from there he noticed a smart Tapas Bar, and easily found a table in the almost empty establishment. He ordered a small Tortilla, accompanied by Gambas Pil-Pil, Calamares, and Bacalao. That would satsify him nicely until dinner, and a large glass of Rioja that was expensive but delicious.
He thought the waiter was also quite delicious. But he sadly failed to give Jon more than a glance.
Lingering over a coffee, he still had time for a leisurely stroll back to the station before catching the three fifty-two back to York. The train departed six minutes late, almost at the same time as the letters he had posted were being collected.
A taxi from York station was a treat, as even after sitting on the train for almost three hours, Jon felt tired. His plans to write up his notes were abandoned as a result, and he watched the ten o’clock news before considering an early night. But the second letter was playing on his mind. If all of this wasn’t a weird practical joke, then someone out there had asked him not to let them down. Who could that be?
In bed that night, he ran through the possibilities once again. His conclusion worried him, and left him unsettled. Although they had parted on bad terms, he began to be convinced that the sender was Lolly.
If it was Lolly, he was going to have to try to help him.