The Body On The Beach: 25

Piccolo returned to the Library later as requested. In a short while the patrons and staff had departed and Veronica locked the entrance. She then led her visitor down a cast-iron staircase to the management area below. There were books on tables waiting to be catalogued; books on trolleys waiting to be shelved; books in other piles waiting for who knew what. This was the engine room upon which the services above relied. Veronica escorted Piccolo through to her office. It was small, well ordered and functional — her work was her life. There were no photographs of friends or family to be seen. No distractions from the tasks to hand. Piccolo removed her gloves, hat and coat. Veronica proceeded to produce a file from a cabinet. One by one she took out yellowing copies of newspaper clippings and arranged them in a particular order on top of the desk. Piccolo put on her glasses and began to scan the articles. Veronica was still arranging and Piccolo was still standing so she wasn’t close enough to read the body of the texts, but she could make out the headlines – they variously included the words ‘Stolen’, ‘Missing’, ‘Scandal’; and one of them included an artist’s sketch which was clearly of Mr Mortimer Catchpole.


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