The Body On The Beach: 5

‘Clearly no one explained our similarity’ said Edith after a few moments, realising the cause of the consternation.

‘Clearly not’ said Piccolo.

‘We could easily be taken for twins’ said Edith. ‘Or rather could have’ she added taking a deep breath.

‘Are you ok?’ said her companion. ‘Still up for this?’

‘Yes, I’m fine’ she replied.

‘George Whittle’ said the companion, offering a hand to Simmonds. So here was the victim’s chauffeur for that fateful evening.

*

They sat down to dinner, though eating was the last thing on any of their minds. Simmonds quizzed George on his taking Margaret to the party and what relationship he had with her. It transpired they were simply good friends. But it was also obvious from his demeanour with Miss Edith, and the mere fact that it was he who accompanied her at such a troubled time, that the relationship between them was much more significant.

‘I have to admit’ said Edith half way through the first course ‘that although Midge and I were extremely alike physically, we had begun to style ourselves to make the difference even less noticeable’. It struck Simmonds that her voice was devoid of any Australian intonation.

‘As with the hair’ said Piccolo.

‘Why yes’ said Edith ‘I only just had it cut the same as Margaret’s while I was in town. How did you know?’

‘We ladies notice these things’ said Piccolo, giving a superior glance towards Simmonds.

‘The whole thing became a bit of a game’ said Edith. There was a long reflective pause. ‘But none of that seems funny now’ she said, gripping George’s hand.

They merely picked at their food rather than dined which was hardly surprising given the circumstance. Simmonds asked various questions but it was obvious Edith knew nothing of the tragic event, she being away. He did however learn something more as to the victim’s personality.

‘Midge was the life and soul of any party. One thing we didn’t have in common, more’s the pity’ said Edith. (A touch of envy? thought Piccolo).

The dinner ended with an awkward toast, at Edith’s behest, to Margaret.

‘Well, well, well’ said Piccolo as she and Simmonds made their way upstairs to their suite. ‘That was quite extraordinary’. Simmonds couldn’t disagree – it had been that sort of day. ‘Beggars one question, of course’ said Piccolo. (Here we go, thought Simmonds. She’s going to out think me once again). ‘Edith said the table had been booked before the trip to London for her and George and Margaret’.

Simmonds considered this before asking: ‘And?’

‘Well she said it was a booking for four. So who was to be the fourth guest?’

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