The Body On The Beach: 45

Simmonds and Piccolo headed into Welby that Saturday morning. It was cold, but not too cold, and it was bright and dry so they walked the quarter mile into town. They reached the clock tower, kissed, and went their separate ways. They had arranged to meet at The Pavilion at eleven. Piccolo would shop in peace – groceries could be delivered that afternoon – whilst Simmonds caught up with the locals – all part of the eyes and ears of maintaining a visible police presence. His first port of call was at Welby’s one and only newsagents, where Mr Craske happily discussed the state of the world. This was pretty much a daily ritual for Simmonds, who had missed the current affairs conversation whilst he had been away in Bessingham. The present interest in this small town was inevitably Henry Dalling. Although he wasn’t that well known (excepting by those elders who recalled the poisoning), a missing person was big news, the local weekly paper giving it front page coverage, making a play of the connection to the body on the beach. Of course they knew nothing of the link to the terrible events at the Hall, otherwise it would have made the nationals. In fact that whole affair was being kept very much under wraps. Simmonds merely explained that Dalling was an active case and they were pursuing various leads. The only other topic of discussion was the lifting of coal restrictions after the end of the General Strike. Such it was in Welby.

*

The Seaview Pavilion was the height of modernity. Large bowed glass windows offered a panorama that was pleasing even in winter – looking out to layers of brilliant gold, grey, white, and blue, being in turn the sand, sea, clouds, and sky. The vista calmed the mind and lifted the spirits like a great framed work of art. Simmonds and Piccolo sat and drank tea. For a couple whose professional existence was filled with the unusual, this was a moment of normality to savour.

‘I see Miss Christie turned up’ said Simmonds, folding away his broadsheet.

‘She did indeed’ said Piccolo. ‘That has to be the ultimate story — the strange disappearance of a mystery writer. I wish I’d thought of it!’. She sliced through a scone.

Had the couple considered matters they may well have reflected on how lucky they were. Along with the rest of their generation they had lost their innocence in the cruelist of ways, but they endured so that wretched experience did not define them. What presently preoccupied these two people was not the horrors of the past, but finding solutions to the wicked crimes that lay before them.

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