The Four Musketeers: Part Seventeen

This is the seventeenth part of a fiction serial, in 742 words.

A patrol car finally showed up after two hours. There was the classic cop combination, a weary old-timer who had seen it all, and an excited female copper who was probably brand new. The old-timer handed it over to her, as he wandered around the caravan looking completely disinterested.

Keith did most of the talking, even managing to get in a reference to his job with the influential member of parliament. The girl was impressed, the old-timer just grinned. Halfway through taking her notes, the girl’s radio went off, calling her number. She went outside to speak. When she came back in she was white-faced, and spoke directly to her partner.

“A dog walker has found a body on the beach at the bottom of the cliffs. They want us to go to Beachy Head to secure the scene for the helicopter”. Old timer looked at us. “You lads stay right here, we will be back”. I suspected that Johnny was going to be that young woman’s first dead body.

We heard the helicopter fifteen minutes later, but we couldn’t see it. Probably air-sea rescue coming in from the other side.

Feeling really tired, I suggested some breakfast. Terry shook his head, and so did Keith. So I made do with a family packet of crisps that we hadn’t eaten the night before, and Keith made us all a strong cup of tea. It was another two hours before the cops returned, and by then I was almost asleep on my feet. This time, the man did the talking.

“The young man seems to fit your description. They are taking the body to the mortary in Eastbourne. You three will have to come with us and make statements at the police station, and the police in London will contact his parents to come down and make a formal identification. I reckon it is going to be a long day, lads”.

He was right about that. Most of the day went by in a blur, and I was having trouble staying awake. Unlike Keith, who apparently gave a word-perfect version of the depression and possible suicide story, and Terry who said he had drunk too much and only realised Johnny wasn’t there when he woke up. I mumbled something about Johnny being very depressed in London, but I was adamant I had not expected him to commit suicide.

It wouldn’t have done for us all to say the same thing.

Johnny’s dad drove Jeannie down from London. Even though they had split up, the possible death of their son reinstated their bond, albeit temporarily. We didn’t see either of them that day. We heard later that they identified the body as Johnny, both agreed that he had been depressed, then told the cops what great friends we all were. There was going to be a Coroner’s Inquest at some stage, following a mandatory post-mortem.

Old-timer drove us back to the caravan site, had a word with the manager to confirm that we had asked about Johnny, then said we could go home if we wanted to. They might need us back for the Coroner’s Court at some stage, and if so, we would get letters in the post.

Driving home in the car that evening, Keith was talking non-stop. He was saying how we would never be suspected of anything, and we should all go and see Johnny’s mum and dad next week, to offer our condolences. Terry didn’t speak for the whole journey, not even after I dropped Keith off in Central London. Back at my house, Terry wouldn’t even come in and see Susan. He just got in his van and drove off without looking back.

Susan didn’t cry when I told her. She just shook her head. “So sad, love. Johnny has never been the same since he went into prison. I reckon Keith is right. He set up the boy’s weekend like some final farewell. He knew he was going to kill himself, and he must have walked to that cliff intending to jump. He had been to his auntie’s caravan a lot over the years, and knew Beachy Head really well. No wonder he chose that spot for your weekend break.”

She made me something to eat, and sat with me at the table while I was eating. “What do you think, love? I reckon he knew exactly what he was doing, don’t you?”

I told her I thought she was right.

27 thoughts on “The Four Musketeers: Part Seventeen

    1. No DNA back then, Stevie. And no real suspicious circumstances. He was at one of the most populat suicide spots in England, so it’s unlikely they will be looking for clues, just an official cause of death.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Hmm, what direction will you go?
    1. One of them cracks and tells the truth.
    2. They go on about their daily lives as if nothing has happened until some unexpected evidence arises. They turn on each other and try to blame one another.
    3. The other three get together years later, and another “accident” happens.
    4. Some other version that is completely off base from what I predicted. 🤣

    Liked by 1 person

  2. (1) At the beach: The policeman and the suspect engaged in a friendly conversation. But once it became clear that the sunburned man was indeed the culprit, the policeman’s voice adopted a more serious copper tone.
    (2) Bad citation: “They are taking the body to the mortary in Eastbourne, where it will be put in a mortar and pounded into pulp with a pestle.”
    (3) A few centuries back, a dead pirate washed ashore. The body decomposed, and a stray dog buried its bones in the sand. The dog died a few years later. Recently, the ghost dog, summoned by spiritualist Johnny D. Sparrow, led investigators to the bones, which by now had sunk to a considerable depth in the sand.
    (4) Bad citation: “Most of the day went by in a blur. Normally, the earth completes a spin every 23 hours, 56 minutes, and 4.09053 seconds. But on the afternoon of this day, the planet’s rotation temporarily accelerated. There were reports of some people being flung out into space! But Keith, Terry, and I hung on tight…”
    (5) Another version of this story is that Johnny survived the fall and hooked up with a sexy mermaid.
    ♬ He got friendly, holding my hand
    🎵Well, she got friendly down in the sand
    ♬ He was sweet, just turned eighteen
    🎵Well, she was good, you know what I mean
    ♬🎵Summer heat, boy and girl meet
    ♬🎵But ah! Oh, the summer nights!
    (6) Bad citation: “So sad, love. Johnny has never been the same since he went into prison: that skull and crossbones tattoo on his chest, that crazy talk about a sexy prison guard named Elton…”
    (7) If Johnny was a jumper, then Terry was a turtleneck, Keith was a kilt, and Dany was a dress.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. In murder stories, the postmortem always turns up a CLUE. Like…the head injury not being consistent with a fall from a cliff (?) but that’s when the dead person is a somebody. When it’s a depressed ex convict, who’s going to bother even looking? But something’s going to go wrong. Maybe Danny will grow a conscience? Have nightmares, talk in his sleep…

    Liked by 1 person

All comments welcome

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.