The Silent Three - A Murder Mystery
around seven thirty, a taxi pulled up outside the house and Annette
Thompson got out, paid the driver and sauntered up the drive. Mike had
been watching out of the front window,
and ran to meet her, taking her holdall and throwing his arms around
her. Two women walking past the Thompson house paused for a second and
watched in amazement.
‘Isn’t that his sister?’ one of the women said. Mike caught a brief
glimpse of long blond hair, and then whirled Annie around in his arms
so that he was facing the
front door, and planted a firm kiss on the side of her mouth. ‘Steady,
Mikey!’ she said, laughing, but she was thrilled with his greeting.
They went inside and he made her a cup of coffee because ‘that’s what
in France, coffee, lots of it, and wine, and champagne by the bucketful’. Then,
after recounting her adventures to her parents, who were naturally also
thrilled to have her home again safe and sound, she and Mike went up to
her room, which she shared with Pauline, and he helped her
to unpack her things. He saw nothing wrong with handling her underwear,
putting it away neatly in her chest of drawers. That done, they sat on
the bed and he put his arm around her.
‘Missed you, Sis,’ he said in a whisper.
‘A little bird tells me you didn’t miss
me that much. You appear to have a girlfriend!’ she said with a gay
smile, and rested her cheek against his. It was good
to be home, it really was.
‘Who told you? How did you find out so soon?’ he said, taken aback.
‘Mum said. You were in the kitchen
making my coffee. Lynda Bamber, eh? She’s very pretty. Have you?’
‘Have I what?’
‘You know. Done it?’
The colour rushed to his cheeks. ‘Not
yet. We’re planning to, though. Promise you won’t say, Annie! And it
won’t change anything between us, I promise!’
‘Of course it won’t, silly,’ she said,
standing up. He still had hold of her hand. ‘I need a bath. I stink
after all that travelling!’
‘I’ll run it for you,’ he said.
In bed, later, Michael found that he had two things on his mind. There
was the matter of Marco’s claim that he’d been targeted by a local man
because of his involvement
with Brenda McLaren. And there was the not inconsiderable matter of
Lynda and the possibility that he might lose his virginity before the
week was out. He masturbated, as usual, but it was nothing compared to
the feel of Lynda’s
hand around him, urging him to touch her at the same time. How would it
feel, he wondered, to actually put it inside her, and to actually do
it? It would feel wonderful, of course, that much was guaranteed. But
it would be
a betrayal of everything he believed in. He was aware of what was going
on in “Swinging London”, that young people everywhere were liberating
themselves from the sexual constraints of the previous decades, but
he had always promised himself that he would go to his wedding night a
pure man. Kissing and cuddling, and the occasional surreptitious feel
of the curve of the breast were fine, but actual, full sex? Could he
handle the guilt?
How would he explain himself to his future wife when it came to their
wedding night, and he had to confess that he’d already lain with a
girl? Infatuated as he was with Lynda right now, he wasn’t actually
that she was the one. She might well be, but the thought of settling
down with her was not the most pressing thing on his mind. His mind was
young and active, and right now it was crammed with other things to
like Brenda McLaren’s murder. If he was going to be a detective, it was
something he needed to concentrate all his efforts on. But sex was a
difficult thing to dislodge from his brain at the moment, for he was
getting a taste for it. His close encounter with Lynda and the return
of Annette pushed everything else from his mind for the time being.
It was in all the books he read, of course. Renny Whiteoak did it
before he was married. Simon Templar, his beloved Saint
had a relationship with the luscious Patricia – it was perfectly clear
they were lovers. Everyone in all of his Dennis Wheatleys’ did it,
especially Roger Brook.
Once, whilst staying at his Aunty Molly’s while his mum was at work as
a dinner lady at the primary school, he’d found a shelf-full of books
by people like Mickey Spillane and Irwin Shaw, all with fairly explicit
covers. Then there were TitBits and The Weekly News which serialised stories like Angelique
by Sergeanne Golon, whom he discovered later to be two people. The
Angelique story was fabulous, about a fascinating
community of thieves, beggars, courtesans and other terrific characters
living beneath the streets of Paris. There was plenty of history in it,
too, and loads of sex, and he devoured it. One day he would save up and
book; he’d seen it in Smiths, the cover showing a most beautiful young
lady in a low-cut dress. One of his aunt’s books, by Burton Wohl,
entitled A Cold Wind in August had a young man making love with an older woman. Not as explicit as Lady Chatterley’s Lover,
a copy of which he’d found in his Uncle Eric’s car when he was cleaning
it, but pretty strong stuff, stimulating and exciting. He’d
put the Burton Wohl book in his school bag and often read the saucy
bits, although he didn’t really need much to stimulate him. He had a
funny idea that the book was pretty well written, and the story was
about air conditioning going wrong and the young man fixing it for the
older woman and then ending up in bed with her. But he doubted his
father would approve of it, and so he kept it hidden under his bed.
Aunty Molly’s husband, Cyril, also had some books with really lurid
covers, women hardly dressed, and men toting guns, that sort of thing.
Gangland members and their molls –
commonplace in America, as he well knew from the American comics Uncle
John brought home. The covers of these books were great but the words
inside were just silly, and he didn’t progress past the first few
he wished he had, because they featured gangs and guns and knives, and
after listening to what Marco had told him, he needed to know about
that kind of thing. His collection of police books, such as Fabian of the Yard
contained lurid details about the famous detective’s dealings with
various gangs, and wondered briefly if Marco had been stabbed by such a
person, but then
dismissed it out of hand. There were no such gangs in Brockworth.
At the age of ten he had been in love with Brenda. And then Lynda
Bamber had turned up, out of the blue, her family having moved from
Leicester, and he had taken to her straight away.
He had taken to sitting next to her instead of Brenda, and she had
become his regular dance partner in country dance, which he adored,
because you got to hold your partner’s hand, and at ten, you either
loved it, or
you hated it. Brenda had quickly got over it, because she had a more
mature head on her slightly older shoulders, and realised fairly
swiftly that romantic liasons and feelings amongst ten-year-olds rarely
went anywhere and
would soon be forgotten once they began their secondary school
education. In any case, they remained firm friends.
Michael Thompson was a romantic. He loved romance. Now he thought he
might be in love with Lynda, and felt a stab of guilt as he realised
that he had dumped Brenda for her all those
years ago. If he had stayed with Brenda, would she be dead now, he
wondered, if he had been there to protect her?
He drifted off into an uneasy sleep, dreaming about gangsters, about
stabbings, and about poor Brenda McLaren. Lynda Bamber entered the
dream later, in the early hours of the morning,
and the terrifying thing was that she was being held by the gangsters.
They had murdered Brenda, and now they were going to murder Lynda.
Kimble strolled into the public bar of the Pinewood Public House and
took up his regular place, sitting on the stool where he could talk to
the owner and friend, fellow Welshman Owen
‘Johnny. Fancy giving me a hand this
evening? There’s a match on at the aircraft factory and they’ll all be
in here soon, baying for pints and God knows what else.
All you can drink and a fiver, how’s that sound?’
‘You’re on,’ Kimble said, and took off
his coat and hat, and went round behind the bar. ‘Better have Rego on
standby?’ Rego was an enormous cream and
black Alsatian, the pub dog. Kimble often took him for walks and
frequently took him back to Cissy’s Mum’s house in Boverton Avenue.
Michael had grown up playing with the dog, and adored him. He was the
spitting image of one of his childhood books about the exploits of a
dog during the second world war. Most people shied away from the huge
dog, but Michael had a way with animals, and although he was not
allowed to have a
dog of his own, he regularly played with his gran’s dog, Rex, a red
border collie, until it had died a couple of years ago. His best pal
also had a dog, which they called Feck, for some unexplained reason,
but as he
was away with his father, the opportunity to play with her in the half
term holiday was lost.
‘Expecting trouble, Johnny?’ Owen asked.
‘Dougal McLaren might show his face. If
he’s already tanked up, he may kick off about his daughter.’
‘He’d be right to. I hope you catch the bastard that did it, and soon!’
Kimble didn’t answer. He poured himself
a pint of brown ale and drank it down. Dougal McLaren did indeed show
up at the pub that evening, but he was quiet enough, and the only
trouble occurred when the losing team accused the winners, the Gloster
cricketers, of cheating, but it was half-hearted, and there was no need
for him to call the uniformed bobbies out from the Hucclecote police
down the road. He made his excuses and left Owen and his wife Glenda to
clear up, and started to walk home just after ten o’clock.
He heard the car pull up behind him just
as he turned into Boverton Avenue. He wasn’t surprised when Eddie Mason
got out of a black Morris Oxford and barred his way.
‘I need a word. Get in the car.’
‘I don’t think so, Eddie. I happen to like my legs. I’ll keep walking, I think.’
‘Not if you know what’s good for you.’
Eddie was an ex-boxer. Before he had discovered his penchant for men
and boys, he’d had a fairly normal childhood, excelling
at sports and particularly at boxing. During his spell in the army, he
had come into his own in the ring, whilst at the same time coming to
the attention of an attractive young man with whom he had had a brief
being demobbed. The army had changed his life forever, but he had
continued to work out every morning, and although he was not as tall as
Kimble, he was more powerfully built. His nose was broken, and there
was a piece of
his earlobe missing which he had lost in a fight in ’48 against Kid
Billy Brooks of West Ham.
‘I’m not getting in the car, Eddie. Say what you have to say.’
‘The McLaren girl?’
‘Yeah. I didn't kill her. You know
that.’ Kimble knew nothing of the sort. He knew that sooner or later he
and Maxwell would have to question everyone in the village.
He wasn't looking forward to that, and he also knew that it may well
come out that he was in Mason’s pocket. And
had taken what might turn out to be a vital piece of evidence from the
scene of the murder...which reminded him to look again when he got
home, in his jacket pocket lining to make sure he still had it…
‘Do what you have to. You’ll be well looked after.’
Without waiting for Kinble’s response,
Eddie got back in the Oxford and drove off towards Cheltenham, leaving
John Kimble feeling sick to his stomach. He stood over the kerb
and brought up most of the evening meal he’d eaten, together with a
couple of pints of brown ale. He could not believe that Eddie Mason
would stoop so low as to kill a young teenaged girl, but he knew that
taken the files home and that he would surely have read them by now and
started to make assumptions. Kimble continued unsteadily on his way
home, and let himself into the house he shared with his mother-in-law.
‘Ma? I’m home!’ he called softly, but
there was no reply. He switched on the front room light and saw her
lying on the floor, a deep gash in her forehead where she’d
caught it on the fender. He knelt beside her, and felt for a pulse.
‘Oh, Christ, no!’ he whispered, then
threw his coat back on and ran through the lane to the Drive. The
Thompsons’ house was in darkness, so he hammered on the kitchen
door, and seconds later, Cissy Thompson opened it, peering out into the
darkness. He pushed past her into the kitchen.
‘It’s your Mum, Cissy. I think she had a fall while I was at the pub. I think she might be dead.’
At one thirty in the morning, Tommy Hinkley was out in Cranham Woods
with his dog, a Cocker Spaniel called Charlie, hunting for rabbits by
torchlight, but his main reason for being
up so early was so that he could make his way down the hill towards
Green Lane Farm where the brook turned into a river teeming with trout,
and where he could do a little poaching. There was a full moon, and it
was very wet
underfoot following the previous day’s heavy rain. Tommy had on his
wellington boots and a heavy raincoat and hat, but had forgotten to put
on his waterproof trousers, and his jeans were soaked through at the
He had seen only one rabbit, and his shot had missed, although Charlie
had gone diving into the undergrowth anyway, and when he came back to
his master, grinning and wagging furiously, he did have something in
his mouth. It
was a hand. A human hand. Old and almost skeletal, it had probably been
there for a few months, but it was most definitely a human hand. On the
ring finger, there was a solid gold band. There was an inscription on
Tommy didn’t like to take it off and look. He knew he should wait for
the police. He made his way carefully down the near-vertical slope of
Cooper’s Hill, known locally as Cheeseroll Hill, until he reached the
little lane at the bottom where his parents’ cottage was, and
telephoned the police. His parents were away, visiting a sick relative
in Shropshire. Tommy waited patiently, the grisly discovery made by
on yesterday’s newspaper on the kitchen table.
going on?’ Michael called. He could hear his mother and father
downstairs, talking quietly, and his Uncle John was there, too.
‘It’s Gran, Michael. We’re going round
the Avenue to see if she’s all right. You go back to bed, you have to
get up early for your paper round,’ his
‘Is there anything I can do?’
‘No, go back to bed. I think Annie is
asleep, but if she wakes, just tell her not to worry and to go back to
sleep. She was travelling all day yesterday, she’s probably
Pauline Thompson sauntered down the
drive as her parents were leaving with Kimble to go round to the
Avenue. She turned to wave to her boyfriend as he started up his
roared off into the dark.
‘It’s your Gran,’ Cissy told her. ‘Go
inside and make some tea, Michael needs his sleep as he has to get up
early to go and mar the papers for Mr Lees and
then do his paper round. Wake Annie if you need someone to talk to.
We’ll be back as soon as we can. We think she’s dead, Johnny thinks
‘Oh, Mum! I should have been here.’
‘There was nothing you could have done,
luvvy,’ Kimble said. ‘I got home from the pub just now and she was
‘Did you call an ambulance?’
‘Yes, it should be on its way, we’d best get round there.’
Michael had heard every word of this,
and his heart sank. His grandmother, dead? How could that be? How many
times had he come home from school and gone there, because his mum was
out somewhere? She’d taught him to read, and to write. She’d taught him
to play cards – rummy, pontoon, snap, Beat your Neighbour, whist, poker
– they’d played for pennies and he’d amassed
a small fortune. She’d let him take the bottles back to the off licence
to collect the money on them, and he’d paid the money into his post
office savings account, buying those stamps showing a young Prince
week by week. He didn’t remember his grandfather, who had died when he
was just three years old, but the bond between him and his gran had
been strong, and unique. He was her favourite of all her grandchildren,
were a fair few of them, because she’d had seven children herself.
He watched Pauline from where he was
sitting on the stairs. She didn’t know he was there, and she busied
herself in the kitchen, making herself a cup of tea and keeping the
kettle on the low gas ready to hot it up when they came back from
‘I wouldn’t mind a cup,’ he said softly, coming into the kitchen.
‘You startled me!’ Pauline said, and
then they were holding each other, and she was crying against his
They sat in the lounge drinking their
tea, and the minutes grew into hours. It was almost two o’clock when
Albert and Cissy returned, looking gaunt and grim.
‘No easy way to say this, but she’s
gone, I’m afraid. Doctor Cookson thinks it was a stroke, she fell and
hit her head against the fender. She was probably dead
before she hit the floor, he thinks. She wouldn’t have suffered,’
Albert told his children. They stared at him, unwilling to believe that
the elderly grey-haired woman they had all adored would no longer be
to welcome them into her home.
‘Have a day off, Michael,’ his mother
said. ‘I’ll pop down and tell Mr Lees what’s happened, and…’
‘No, it’s all right,’ Michael said.
‘I’ll do the rounds. I don’t have to go to school, so it doesn’t
matter. I’ll do the papers, then
I’ll come home.’
Right now, what he wished for was Lynda,
so that he could hold her, and she could comfort him, but he wouldn't
be seeing her until the afternoon. He’d have to get a message
to the others to let them know he wouldn’t be able to make it for the
inaugural bath-pram meeting at David Hope’s farm tomorrow. And surely
his dad wouldn’t think of starting work on the garage on Saturday,
after what had just happened?
‘Where’s Uncle John?’
‘He stayed while they came and took her
away, to the chapel of rest,’ Cissy said. ‘Then he went back home. He
has to go to work. It's the Brenda McLaren case.
He can't stay home, not really. Anyway, it’s not as though it’s his
mum, though he was fond of her, I believe. I think I could do with a
cup of tea, then I’m going to bed. Albert?’
‘Yes, I’ll do it. You two get to bed,
there’ll be plenty to do in the morning. I’ll stay home, of course.’ He
was due back at work this morning. Not
today, though, work would have to wait until Monday. He had had
enormous respect and genuine love for Cissy’s mum.
Cissy nodded. Her eyes were red with
crying. ‘I’ll go up, you can bring my tea up, if you don’t mind, Bert.’
They went back to bed, all of them.
Michael spent an hour or so staring at his bedroom ceiling, and then
snatched a couple of hours before his alarm rang. He thought he would
dead, but to his amazement, he was wide awake. He made himself a cup of
coffee and a slice of toast, then slipped quietly out of the house and
unlocked the garage to get his bicycle out. He put on his bowler hat,
and a thick
windcheater, and set off down the road to the newsagents.
‘My grandmother died last night,’ he told Mr Lees.
‘Sorry to hear that, Michael. Why don’t
you go home? I can manage here for today. I’m sure Pedro won’t miss
‘I’d rather keep busy, besides, no one
will be up yet at home. I’ve got time to mark the papers and do my
rounds and get home before they all get up.’
‘If you’re sure.’ Mr Lees was a kindly
man, in his mid fifties. He had served in both the second world war and
the Korean war, and seen some horrific things, but
he was level-headed, and a good businessman. He was short, barely five
feet six inches, and had relished returning to the army when the Korean
conflict beckoned. He was unmarried, and, like Constable Hutchinson and
looked on Michael Thompson as the son he’d never had. He was a popular
trader with all his customers, always cheerful, although Michael knew
that he lived alone and was probably lonely.
‘I hear you’re going out with young
Lynda Bamber,’ Mr Lees said, taking a sip from his mug of coffee.
‘Word gets around quickly!’ Michael said.
He started marking his papers just as
the first influx of customers came into the shop to buy their
newspapers and cigarettes before trudging over the road to work in the
factory. There were rumours going round that the factory was going to
be demolished to make way for houses, some said that the Gloster Saro
company was about to start making vending machines there. Mr Lees
already had such
a machine standing outside the shop, from which you could buy a pint of
milk at any time of the day or night, in a sort of plastic carton. It
was unthinkable that the factory that had played such an important part
aircraft and armaments for the second world war was about to stop, but
there were signs of change all over the country.
Michael hoped that the factory would
continue to function as a factory, he would miss the silence-shattering
engine testing that took place with monotonous regularity every day
ten o’clock. He hoped they wouldn’t build houses on the site. He
recalled sitting on the top of Cooper’s Hill looking down on the
factory site and seeing the vast expanse of green that constituted the
fields and the runway. It was a part of the fabric of Brockworth, and
should be preserved. But it was out of his hands. Politicians would
make decisions about the factory. Michael had not yet given a lot of
thought to politics.
Once, when the ginger twins had asked him how he would vote in a
general election, he’d answered “conservative”, and when they’d invited
him to explain the reasons behind such a decision, he’d
told them “because that’s how my dad votes.” They had laughed. “Do you
have no opinions of your own?” they’d asked, and it had set him
thinking. His mum, he knew, was a socialist, so why
did he think his father’s voting preferences were more important than
his mother’s? It was a question he couldn’t answer yet, but when he
thought back, to when he was on the point of putting down a deposit
on his BSA bicycle, the night before Prime Minister Macmillan had
announced a tightening of credit controls for hire purchase, he
remembered thinking how much he hated the conservatives just then.
He’d got his bicycle, courtesy of a whip
round from his uncles and aunts to help him with the deposit, and he
and his father had gone to Currys in King’s Square, and purchased
the bicycle on hire purchase, and within six months he had paid for it
out of his paper round wages, but he always remembered the feeling of
desperation he’d experienced when Macmillan almost deprived him of his
bike. Maybe he would form an opinion of his own when he was a little
older, and old enough to vote. Maybe the conservatives weren’t the best
people to run the country after all. At least he was starting to think
it. They rarely talked about politics at school. There was a debating
society, and he had attended once, to hear a heated debate about why
the school should abolish school uniform, but he wasn’t convinced by
and in any case he felt extremely proud in his maroon and gold blazer
He finished marking his papers and
magazines, and loaded them into his delivery bag, relieved that it
wasn’t Sunday, when the bag would be overfilled and enormously heavy.
set off on his round, which today took in Westfield Avenue. As he
pushed Mrs Bamber’s Daily Sketch
through the letterbox, he heard an upstairs window open and looked up
to see Lynda leaning out of the window, looking absolutely adorable in
pink winceyette pyjamas, her auburn hair tousled, her eyes sleep-filled
‘Hello you!’ she whispered. ‘I wish you were up here with me.’
‘Me too,’ he said. He blew her a kiss and walked to the gate. ‘Will I see you before tea-time?’
She shook her head sadly. ‘We’re going shopping, and then we have visitors, and I have to be here. Sorry.’
‘My grandmother died during the night.’
‘Oh, Mike, I’m so sorry. Wait there, I’m coming down!’
He took off his bowler hat and placed it
on the saddle of his bike. A few moments later the front door opened
and she ran towards him in her bare feet, still clad only in her
and threw her arms around him, clasping him tightly. Her breath smelt
minty, and he supposed she had already washed and was getting ready to
go out with her mother. His own body thrilled to the feel of her young,
pressing against his chest, and he felt himself harden against her.
‘I’m sorry I can’t be with you this morning.’
‘Me too. Are you still on for this afternoon?’
‘I’ll be there. And Mum says you’re to come for dinner some time. We could go to the pictures!’
‘The flea pit?’
The flea pit was just across the road,
and showed pictures that were usually, on average, six months or more
out of date. If you wanted up-to-date films, you needed to get the bus
into the city, into town, and go to the Regal cinema in King’s Square. Where
the Beatles had been one of the support acts for Tommy Roe, whose song
“Sheila” sounded like a copy of the great Buddy Holly’s “Peggy Sue”,
and Chris Montez, whom he didn’t
really like all that much, and because they were only a support act
he’d not bothered to go and see them, something he would regret for the
rest of his life…
find out what’s on. I’ll see you tomorrow. I have to go, Mum will have
breakfast ready. I love you!’
‘I love you too,’ he said, and kissed
her briefly on the lips. It wasn’t seemly to be seen kissing in public,
especially at eight o’clock in the morning. Lynda
ran lightly back indoors and closed the door. Michael replaced his
bowler hat, climbed back on his bike and cycled off. He’d all but
forgotten about Lynda telling him she had seen Brenda McLaren getting
into the big
car, but it surfaced briefly in his mind as he cycled home up the
Drive, because it was at the bottom of the Drive that she had seen
them. He intended tackling Uncle John about it again, but not yet.
Today was for mourning,
and he was not surprised to see all the curtains still drawn even
though it was half past seven and broad daylight. All of the immediate
neighbours’ curtains were also drawn. It was the custom. They would
for the rest of the morning, or at least until the Thompson family
emerged from their house to set about the business of arranging
Florence’s funeral, and then, in a few days’ time, on the day of the
the curtains would again be drawn.
Michael found his parents, Annette and
Pauline, together with Uncle John and Uncle Eric drinking tea and
eating Peek Frean biscuits in the lounge. He put the newspapers he
brought home with him on the arm of one of the chairs and took off his
bowler hat and coat and hung them in the hall.
No one was speaking. Abruptly, Albert
Thompson, who had been surprisingly close to his mother-in-law, stood
up. ‘I need to get on with the car if I’m not going to work.
Call me when the vicar gets here. Mikey, d’you want to help? We’ll
start on the garage later, maybe.’
Michael shook his head. ‘I’m no good
with mechanical things, Dad,’ he said, which was not strictly true.
Once, he had found an old typewriter in the old garage,
and seen that one vital piece was missing. He had taken a piece of
sheet metal, of which there always seemed to be a plentiful supply, and
his father’s tin snips, and had cut a piece exactly the right shape and
and repaired the typewriter, and now he used it occasionally when he
was in the mood to write a story which he thought he might want to keep
for posterity. One day he would buy himself a modern typewriter, a
he had his eye on, a blue one, and he would fit a black and red ribbon
to it and start his creative writing career. But for now, he used the
ancient Olivetti that sat on the floor in a corner of his bedroom. He
no longer did
physics at school, and did not really understand the workings of the
combustion engine, carburettors, pistons and all that. When you turned
the key in the ignition, the car should start, that was the extent of
Besides, messing about with bits of car engine would inevitable mean
getting dirty, really dirty. It was bad enough when he had to oil his
bike. He hated getting dirty, and spent ages scrubbing his hands with
Vim when he got
dirty oil on them. Above all, he liked to be clean.
‘I’ll be in my room,’ he said. ‘I still have some work to do before school next week.’
‘I’d like you to be here when the vicar
comes, Michael,’ his mother said, and he nodded and left the room. When
his mother called him “Michael” he knew
he had to pay attention, he was either in trouble, which was rare, or
else it was something important. On this occasion he didn't have to
even think about which it was. He was halfway up the stairs when his
‘Mikey, a word,’ he said.
‘About your friend. The one who thought she saw the girl get into the car.’
‘What about her?’
‘Tell her she must have been mistaken,’
Kimble said. ‘I’ve checked all the other statements, and Brenda McLaren
was never near the car she saw.’
Michael frowned, because Lynda had been so sure. But he said nothing.
‘Best not to mention it in front of your
parents, especially with all this going on, your gran’s funeral
arrangements and so on. I’ll see you this evening. Chief
Inspector Maxwell and I will be carrying on with our investigations.’
Michael went to his room and tried to read a book, but he could not
concentrate. He heard the squeal of tyres outside and ran into his
parents’ bedroom to look out of the window,
and saw his uncle climb into DCI Maxwell’s Wolseley. The car turned in
the road and went screaming off down towards the Hucclecote Road at a
fearsome speed. Mike frowned. That didn’t look like “carrying on
with our investigations”, and he wondered if something else had
happened, another crime of some sort. He recalled Lynda telling him
about how she had seen Brenda getting into the Standard Vanguard, and
wondered why his
uncle was dismissing it so out of hand. He resolved to mention it in
private to Chief Inspector Maxwell at the earliest opportunity.
Later, when the vicar called to make
arrangements for the funeral, which would take place the following
Friday, Michael was asked if he would like to do a reading, but he
He was naturally shy, and not that good at public speaking. Besides, he
was genuinely upset at the passing of his grandmother and knew that he
would not be able to carry it off without breaking down. In the end it
that no one except the vicar would speak, and he left, having helped
the family to decide on three very nice hymns, all of which Michael
sang regularly with the school choir. Later that morning, he got out
his bike and cycled
to the crater where Brenda’s body had been found. If he was going to
have a career as a policeman, where better to start? He parked his bike
in the derelict barn and started to look around on the ground,
It was not long before he spotted the
tyre tracks. The ground was mostly soft because of the rain they’d had
in the past few days, and there was a set of fresh tyre marks in
the soft earth in front of the barn. He wondered if the police had
taken any notice of them, or if they were really fresh, and someone had
visited or revisited the scene of the murder in recent days. In his
saddle bag, he
had a camera which he took everywhere with him. Occasionally he spotted
a bird or a landscape that took his eye, and was always ready with his
box brownie. He knew he had at least two shots left, and snapped the
intending to develop the film later that day in the tiny, smelly
cupboard under the stairs where the gas meter was, and where he had
once hidden when he had accidentally stepped in the wet concrete his
father and uncles had
been laying. By the time the concrete had set, it was almost dark, and
he had felt safe enough to emerge from his hiding place. Amazingly, no
one had noticed that he was missing, and the footprint in the concrete
left, preserved for posterity. In the event, he was not punished for
spoiling the concrete, but for ruining his shoes. The punishment
involved being sent to his room, which suited him down to the ground,
as it was a kind of
sanctuary for him, a place where he could sit and read, which he loved
more than anything at that point in his life.
It was desolately quiet at Morgan’s
Farm. There was a soft, warm wind blowing, and it washed over him as he
stood in the yard, mulling over what his uncle had said about Lynda
being mistaken about seeing Brenda get into a car.
‘She was so sure,’ he said to himself.
‘So sure. Why would she get something as important as that wrong?’
What was it they talked about on the
radio and in his police books? House to house enquiries, that was it.
He knew pretty much everyone in Boverton Drive, because he delivered
newspapers, and because the Thompsons were a decent, popular, respected
family. No one had a bad word for them. He would ask them. He would
conduct his own house to house enquiries, and they would probably talk
to him, where
they might not talk to the police. Some people had things to hide. His
father had told him that a while back, though he hadn’t elaborated at
He heard the squeal of bicycle brakes
and looked up to see his nemesis, Robert Delaney, coming towards him.
He didn’t appear to have any of his friends with him. Normally, there
were three or four of them. Delaney was a bully. He delighted in
pushing the younger boys around at school, and on more than one
occasion Michael had stopped him, threatening to tell a teacher or a
prefect what was going on.
He wasn’t afraid of Delaney any more.
‘This where it happened, then?’ Delaney
asked as he leapt off his bike. Even from ten feet away, Michael could
tell the other boy had been smoking, and turned his head
away in disgust. It made him feel ill. He hated it when his parents and
his uncles lit up, almost as much as he hated it when they had too much
‘Why are you here? Playing detective?’ Delaney said.
‘More of your Famous Five stuff, I suppose.’
‘Nothing wrong with the Famous Five.’
‘It’s kids’ stuff.’
‘If you say so. What do you read, then?’
‘As little as I have to. As little as I can get away with. Reading is for losers.’
‘What’s that supposed to mean? I read books when I have to. For school…’
Delaney was pushing five feet ten, which
meant he was at least two inches shorter than Michael. He was good at
games, especially rugby, and was well built, but Michael’s rowing
had brought him on in leaps and bounds, and whereas a year ago, Delaney
had been taller and bigger than Michael, now he was shorter and less
‘Did you know her?’
‘Yes. She was a friend from primary school.’
Delaney nodded. ‘I heard your uncle was on the case. That right?’
‘Yes. He’s a top detective.’
‘Not what I heard.’
‘What’s that supposed to mean?’
‘No thanks. Not into it. It’s not good for you. Stunts your growth.’
Delaney flexed his muscles. ‘Hasn’t done me any harm.’
‘It will. Eventually. What did you mean about my uncle?’
Delaney climbed back onto his
bike, lit his cigarette, and turned in the saddle. ‘I saw you with the
Bamber girl. She’s cute.’
Michael nodded. At least Delaney would spread the word that he had a decent girlfriend.
‘Any good, is she?’
‘Bye Delaney,’ Michael said, turning his back on him.
‘You haven’t done it yet, have you?’ Delaney said with a sneer.
‘None of your business.’
Delaney laughed and rode off towards
Churchdown. Michael wondered why he had come to the five trees, and
supposed it must have been curiosity and a desire to see where the
had been murdered. Such things were not commonplace in the
Gloucestershire countryside, after all.
He continued to search the area, but
there was nothing else, no clues. To Michael, it looked for all the
world as though someone had deliberately obliterated most of the tyre
and it had been sheer chance that had blown away some of the leaves
that had been covering the remaining ones. He made a mental note to
tell his uncle or DCI Maxwell about the tyre tracks in case they could
make a cast and
identify them and the car. He’d read about something similar leading to
the arrest of a criminal in his Fabian of the Yard
book a couple of years ago. Real police work, that was what it was.
What was it they did at crime scenes? Fingertip searches, that was it.
And why had they not
secured the area? Shouldn’t there be a bobby standing guard where the
body was found? Never mind. He would conduct his own fingertip search
of the area. Methodically. Starting in the barn.
opened the door to June Bamber. She’d had a good sleep and felt
slightly refreshed, but the events of the previous night tumbled in on
her and she had spent a good half
hour in the bathroom, just weeping.
‘Mrs Thompson. Came to pay my respects.’
June Bamber was the same age as Cissy, but in marked contrast, was done
up like a dog’s dinner, wearing a smart two-piece
cream suit and a little red hat with a bow. ‘I know how you must be
feeling. They still haven’t found my husband.’
‘He’s missing, is he? Not dead, though?’
‘Who knows. I’m just saying, it’s sad when you lose someone. I doubt we’ll ever see him again.’
‘Not the same as someone dying, though, wouldn’t you say? Come in, I’ll put the kettle on.’
‘Thanks. While I’m here, I thought we
could talk about my Linnie and your Michael. Make some plans, like.’
‘Plans? What plans? Sit down. How do you like your tea?’
‘Well, an engagement party, for
starters.’ Cissy’s eyes opened wide but she held her nerve and said
nothing. Mrs Bamber, who was openly, almost blatantly beautiful,
and certainly turned heads wherever she went, was in full flight.
‘They make such a lovely couple, don’t
they? And I think it is so romantic that they are childhood
sweethearts, don’t you agree?’
‘Please, call me June. Your name is Cicely, I believe?’
‘That’s right… I’ll get that kettle on.’
Over tea, they talked about young people
in general, and how things were going to be so much better now that
everything was settling into a pattern of plenty after years of
and privation. It was as June Bamber was eating her third chocolate
digestive that Cissy brought up the subject of the engagement again.
‘I think they should have a fairly long
engagement myself. Give them time to get to know each other.’ In those
days in rural Gloucestershire, folk married young, and tended
to stay in the same place their parents lived. It was the same in most
countryside villages, though the swinging sixties was starting to
change the way people felt about marrying and settling down.
‘I agree. Young people these days… Shall we say six months?’
Cissy had been thinking more along the
lines of a couple of years, but again held her tongue. In fact, until
June Bamber had mentioned an engagement, it hadn’t occurred to her
at all that her Mikey might be thinking about getting married and
settling down. She needed to talk to Michael rather urgently, to see
what, if anything, had given June Bamber the idea that he was ready to
settle down with
her daughter, yet she was already certain that this was all in Mrs
Bamber’s head. But she was nothing if not polite, and even offered her
another cup of tea.
‘There are so many things to be
arranged. Dress, flowers, photographs, invitations. You will let me
have a list of people you would want to invite to the wedding, won’t
you, Cicely?’ All Cissy could think of at the moment was how to get rid
of this most annoying woman. She could have simply said that her mother
had died in the night and asked her to leave, but she didn't think that
would be sufficient for this brass-necked woman. She obviously already
knew that, anyway, because she had “come to pay her respects”, although
that now seemed to be simply an excuse for her to get her foot in the
door to talk about Michael and her Lynda. She decided to go along with
what she was suggesting, in the hope that she would be satisfied and
leave of her own accord.
‘Of course. And Albert and I will be
pleased to help in any way we can. We’re not well off, but we have a
little money put aside, and it’s not as if Annette is showing
any interest in boys just yet…’
‘Ah, yes,’ June Bamber said, sniffing.
‘That’s your youngest daughter, I believe? She is very close to your
son, isn’t he?’
‘They’re twins. But you wouldn’t know it
to look at them. He’s shot up in the last few months, and she’s stayed
petite and adorable, just like your Lynda.’
‘Yes. Hmm. Well, I must go. Thank you for the tea. Don’t forget to let me have that list.’
‘Of course. I’m sorry there isn’t any news of Mr Bamber.’
Mrs Bamber’s nose rose into the air. She
was now positively frosty. ‘No, it’s as though he has disappeared off
the face of the earth. I should cancel his newspaper
order with Mr Lees.’ As though that was the most important aspect of Mr Bamber’s disappearance… ‘Good day to you, Mrs Thompson. I’ll see you again shortly. Once again, thank you for the tea and the biscuits.’
‘You’re most welcome, I’m sure,’ Cissy
said to Mrs Bamber’s rapidly disappearing back. ‘Curious,’ she said to
herself, and wondered where
Mike could be, and if he had any idea what June Bamber had planned for
him and her daughter.
Maxwell and Kimble sat in Tommy Hinkley’s kitchen staring impassively
at the hand that sat on a pile of old newspapers on the battered old
formica-covered table. Charlie sat
in the corner by the gas stove, his tail wagging furiously. He had
obviously done very well to find the object, and was thoroughly
enjoying all the attention he was getting, for both of the detectives
had made an inordinate
fuss of him when they entered the little cottage.
‘Would you like a cup of tea?’ Tommy asked them, and put the kettle on anyway.
‘That would be most welcome, Tommy,’ Kimble said.
‘Where did your dog find the hand, Tommy?’ Maxwell said.
‘In the woods at the top of Cheeseroll Hill.’
‘You’d better radio in for assistance,’
Maxwell said to Kimble, scratching his chin. ‘We’ll wait here till they
get here and then we’ll all go
up together. He had climbed Cheeseroll Hill once before, the year
before last, with his wife, so that they could get a good view of the
start of the races from the top. There was no easy way to the summit,
and although he
was as fit as Kimble, he was not relishing the climb. An hour later, a
team of forensics officers and a dog handler with an enormous Alsatian
named Jake arrived, and they started off for the top of the hill.
the time Michael had come home one evening, well after tea had been
served, covered in lacerations, all over his back and his legs, and his
shirt had been torn to shreds. Cissy knew full well where he had been.
He was eleven
years old and forbidden to go up the hill without an adult. In fact he
had been with the ginger twins. He had been reluctant at first, but
they had teased him, and he hated that, and so he had agreed to go.
foot had slipped on a pile of loose stones barely twenty feet from the
safety of the summit, and he had fallen, rolling over and over until he
had come to rest near the bottom of the slope. The twins had charged
down the face
of the hill at breakneck speed – both of them always entered the races
– and found Michael, not moving, bleeding copiously from a dozen
wounds, and feared the worst. He was shaken badly, but he was not badly
and certainly not dead. They had done their best to wash his wounds in
a nearby stream, and at six thirty had finally made their way into the
Drive, and waited on the front lawn while Michael explained to his
mother what had
‘It wasn’t their fault,’ he said. ‘I made my own mind up to go. I’m sorry, Mum.’
She had clasped him to her ample bosom
and soothed his tears, then waved the twins away. ‘They’re not in
trouble, and neither are you. Now you know how dangerous it is,
you know why I said you shouldn’t go on your own. The fact you were
with the twins means nothing. They’re good lads, and they did their
best. But next time, you’ll be much more careful, I’d guess. Now
come inside and let’s clean you up and find you some tea. Then it’s
straight to bed for you and you can rest up for a day.’
The incident had been forgotten quickly,
except by Kimble, who remembered clearly the logic as he struggled to
keep up with Tommy Hinkley and Maxwell, who was almost sprinting up
the face. At last they all reached the summit and Tommy led them
through the bramble and hawthorn bushes until they stood at the precise
spot where Charlie had found the hand. The dog handler showed the
severed hand to Jake,
and he and Charlie started to sniff around.
‘Missing persons? Anyone on the books, Sergeant?’ Maxwell said.
‘No one springs to mind, unless it’s
June Bamber’s husband. He wasn’t reported missing, but he hasn’t been
around for a good few months, Cissy was telling
‘My sister-in-law. Michael’s mum. Lives in the Drive, opposite Constable Hutchinson.’
Maxwell nodded. ‘And you think the hand might belong to him?’
‘No one saw him go. Just upped and left,
according to Mrs Bamber. She might recognise the ring.’ He held up a
small plastic bag containing the ring. ‘Forensics took
it off for safe keeping.’
‘Good. You can call in and ask her later. If we find the rest of the body, that is.’
It was Jake who found the remainder of
Trevor Bamber, and there was no mistaking it was him, because in the
rotting pocket of his tweed jacket, they found a wallet containing his
ID card from the wartime years, and on his other hand was a wristwatch
engraved with his name. It was unthinkable that anyone should try to
pretend that this was anyone other than Trevor Bamber, and they would
to visit Mrs Bamber and break the unpleasant news to her. The area
where the body was found was sealed off, and forensics went to work as
the pathologist started his examination of the remains. A while later,
the doctor found
Maxwell and Kimble sitting in Tommy Hinkley’s kitchen eating biscuits
and drinking coffee.
‘A severe blow to the back of the head
with a blunt instrument,’ he said. ‘It's possible he fell and struck
his head on a rock, but it looks to me as though
he's been carried up here and hidden. During the winter, I'd say.
Probably froze to death during the winter, it was particularly bad up
here, you know. A wild animal must have gnawed at the hand for a while
came off. In other words, it wasn’t cut off, but wrenched off. There’s
blood on the ground so I’d say he died up here, on the hill, but I
really think someone brought him up here to hide him, if you take
my meaning. It's not a recent death, and there's not much to go on, but
if you want my professional opinion, he was either hit from behind or
he fell and hit his head somewhere else, then someone brought his body
here, up to the woods to hide it. It may or may not be murder, I can't
be sure now there's not that much left of the body. Your call.’
Maxwell nodded. ‘Thank you, doctor. Let
me have your full report as soon as possible, please. Come along,
Sergeant, let’s pay Mrs Bamber a visit, shall we?’
When they arrived at the Bamber house, they found June Bamber in the
kitchen reading her husband’s Daily Sketch. He put the evidence bag containing the ring on the table and asked her to look at it.
‘Yes, it’s his. Where was he found? He is dead, isn’t he?’
‘At the top of Cooper’s Hill. I’m sorry, Mrs Bamber…’
‘I’m not!’ she snapped. She looked for
all the world like Diana Dors, except she was brunette rather than
blonde, and Kimble could not help but find his eyes drawn
to her magnificent breasts, barely concealed by a leopard-print blouse
with a plunging neckline.
‘He was hit on the head with a blunt
object. I’m sorry, Mrs Bamber, it's possible he was murdered. I shall
need you to tell me everything that happened the day he
disappeared. What you said to each other, if he gave you any clue as to
where he might be going, if he was acting normally, that sort of thing.’
‘Yes, of course, Sergeant. I need to get
my thoughts together, just give me a moment. I need a cigarette…’
‘Sorry, I don’t smoke,’ Kimble said,
lying. The last thing he wanted right now was to interview a grieving
widow as she puffed clouds of acrid smoke into the room.
He wondered if there was anyone else in the house, and realised, with a
start, that this was the mother of Michael’s girlfriend, Lynda.
‘How long has your husband been missing, Mrs Bamber?’
‘A few months.’
‘And you didn’t report it?’
June Bamber shook her head, her
magnificent hair cascading about her face. Her breasts shook a little
as she settled herself, and Kimble felt himself getting hot under the
What a woman! He glanced at Maxwell, who seemed singularly unimpressed.
‘No. There didn’t seem much point. I
assumed he had gone off with another woman. One evening, he simply
didn't come home from work. He'd been threatening to leave
for weeks, so it didn't come as much of a surprise.’
‘You don't know the name of the woman he was seeing? You didn’t make any enquiries?’
‘No. Why would I? We were better off without him.’
‘What makes you say that?’
June Bamber lowered her eyes, and then
looked pointedly at her upper left arm. ‘It’s faded now, of course, and
you wouldn’t know he’d ever done it,’
she said. ‘But he used to beat me. And Lynnie. Lynda, my daughter.’
‘I see. And you didn’t report this to anyone either?’
‘His word against ours. I’m glad he’s dead! We’re well rid of him!’
‘Is there anyone else in the house, Mrs Bamber? Is your daughter here, for instance?’
‘She’s upstairs getting ready, we're
going shopping this morning.’ She was unaware that her daughter had
been up for several hours, and only a couple of hours
earlier she had been talking to Michael Thompson on the doorstep, and
in her pyjamas. But at that moment, Lynda appeared in the doorway,
still wearing her pyjamas, and nothing on her feet.
‘What is it, Mum? I heard talking. Is it Dad?’
‘Yes, love, I’m afraid they’ve found
him. He’s dead. It seems he was murdered.’ Lynda’s eyes were
unexpressive. She sat on the arm of the chair
in which her mother was seated, and put her arms around her neck. ‘I’m
sorry, he’s finally gone.’
‘I’ll leave you to it for the moment,
Mrs Bamber. We’ll call back later to get a statement from you both.’
‘If you see Michael,’ Lynda said quietly, ‘could you ask him to call round?’
Kimble nodded and returned to where Maxwell sat, in the car, reading his notes.
‘Well, she certainly kept that quiet.
Didn’t even report him missing. Claims he used to hit her and the
Maxwell nodded. ‘It doesn’t surprise me.
Some men do that. Me, I’d hang them if I had my way. Let’s go, shall
‘Back to the station, get some breakfast. We have a lot of sorting out to do.’
‘Do you think the two murders are linked, Sir?’
Maxwell’s steely grey eyes seemed to
bore into the sergeant’s. ‘It’s a small village, John,’ he said. It was
the first time he had ever addressed his
sergeant by his first name. ‘Everyone knows everyone else. It wouldn’t
surprise me, but at the moment I can’t see a link. Can you? What made
‘I don’t really know why I said it. It just came into my head.’
‘Well, it won’t hurt to bear it in mind.
You never know. There is a link, of course, a tenuous one, but one
worth thinking about nevertheless.’
‘What would that be, Sir?’
‘Tommy Hinkley. Let’s bring him in for questioning, shall we?’
‘He found both bodies, didn’t he?’
Kimble nodded. That had not occurred to
him, and he realised now why Maxwell was the chief inspector while he
was still a lowly sergeant. That and the fact that Maxwell was totally,
brutally honest and incorruptible.
Lynda and her mother sat quietly side by side in separate armchairs,
each remembering the last time they had seen him, the brutal husband
who had terrorised his wife, the terrifying
father who would not have been able to stop himself from abusing his
daughter. Late January or early February it had been, neither
recollected the exact date, only that June Bamber had come home to find
her daughter sprawled
on the floor in the kitchen while Trevor Bamber stood over her, a fire
iron in his hand. His eyes were those of a psychotic maniac who has
reached the end of his tenuous reasoning.
more!’ she cries, picking up a tin of Tate & Lyle’s Golden Syrup.
It is a big tin, one that has been in the larder for many years. She
lobs it at him,
but it misses by a mile, and he turns to face her, murder in his eyes.
‘Shouldn’a done that!’ he grunts, and
lurches forwards. The stale smell of tobacco and alcohol reaches her
nose, and he raises the iron, intending to hit her,
but it never lands, because her daughter has picked up the syrup tin
and smashed it against the side of his head. A spray of blood and brain
matter flows from the wound. His eyes widen in anger, but the damage is
anyway, she is bringing it down on his head again, this time behind the
ear, and he falls heavily, hitting the side of the kitchen table with a
‘That should finish him!’ the mother says, and the daughter nods.
‘I’ll get someone to help clear up. We have to move the body.’
mother has gone out into the back garden, and as luck would have it,
the young man walking past, in the lane by the brook, raises his cap.
He knows her from the shop where
he works. He knows her, and he knows her daughter, and he likes and
respects them both. What he doesn’t like is the brute of a husband that
makes both their lives a living hell. It is no coincidence, him being
in the lane.
‘I’ll bring my dad’s car down, after
dark,’ he says. ‘We’ll move him then. Just act normally now, as though
nuthin’s happened. Just go
about yer business. Shut up the house, go into town, if you like, long
as you’re clean. Leave the rest to me.’
‘Thank you!’ the mother says. The girl
says nothing, but her eyes tell him what he needs to know. She is
grateful for his help, but there could never be anything between
them, nothing like that. He nods, replaces his cap, and saunters off.
He isn’t helping them because he wants to get inside the daughter’s
knickers. That isn’t it at all. No, it is actually the mother he is
interested in. As he promises, he arrives after dark driving his
father’s shooting brake van, and he and the mother carry Trevor
Bamber's body through the back door, through the back garden and out
into the lane
that runs along beside the stream, the brook that probably gave the
village of Brockworth its name. They lift the body of her dead husband
into the back.
‘Shall I come with you?’ she says, and he nods.
‘Might need some help getting him out
the other end. I’ll drive you back.’ At the top of Cooper’s Hill is
Cranham Woods. They don’t bury him,
but rather cover him in the profusion of bramble and undergrowth.
‘He’ll get eaten, by and by. T’won’t be nuthin’ left of him after an ‘ard winter.’
‘Thank you,’ she says, and reaches for
his hand, knowing what he wants. It is a small price to pay.
‘My parents are in Bristol,’ he says. They are visiting a relative, and
Tommy has been fending for himself for two weeks now. He and Charlie
are self-sufficient. Tommy
knows everyone in the village, and most people in the village know him
by sight, a few know him well enough to talk to. He is harmless, and
very well read, and can hold a conversation, but nevertheless there are
who shun him, some who even cross the street to avoid him. Mike
Thompson knows him and always talks to him. June Bamber has seen him
walking in the fields the other side of the brook, and always waves to
him. She quite likes
the look of him, but if you were to ask her, she wouldn't have been
able to say what it was about him that attracted her. She doesn’t
question his being there to help dispose of her husband's body, and
of them actually know if he is dead or not, nor do they care. What
Tommy has in mind for Trevor Bamber will surely finish him off. The
snow is still lying in six-feet drifts at where the hedgerows separated
fields from the common land at the foot of Cooper's Hill. Trevor
Bamber's body would rot away after he died of hypothermia. Few words
had passed between June Bamber and Tommy Hinkley. Now, at last, he
could come to the house.’
‘Yes, I will,’ she says. He is an
awkward, inexperienced lover, but she makes him lay naked on the bed
with just an oil lamp for illumination, and then she undressed
before him, pulling her blouse off over her head, revealing a white
bra. This she undoes, freeing her magnificent, firm breasts, and then
she straddles him, guiding him inside her, and rides him like a wild
‘I’ll drive you back home,’ he says, pulling on his trousers and boots, but she shakes her head.
‘No, I’ll walk. There may be people
about. I wouldn’t want to get you into trouble.’ That means that she
doesn’t want to be seen in his company,
something she later, vigorously denies, but they keep apart for several
days, and it is not until after a couple of months has been and gone
without the discovery of the body, that he ventures back down the lane
brook ran, and she lets him in by the back door, knowing her daughter
is at school.
‘Do you think they’ll come after us?’ Lynda says, when she arrives home that afternoon.
‘Nothing to link him
to us,’ June Bamber says. ‘I buried the syrup tin, we wiped away
everything in the kitchen. As far as we were concerned, he walked out
us all those months ago and we never saw him again. He was no loss.
What he did to you…’
‘Hush, Mum. He’s gone now. He can’t hurt us now.’
Aware that Kimble’s wife’s mother had died in the night, Maxwell
dropped him in the Drive and drove out to Tommy Hinkley’s place,
knowing that Kimble would want
to spend some time with his family as they made the funeral
Tommy was just making himself a
mid-morning snack of bread and cheese when Maxwell pulled up. The
kitchen was tiny, cramped. Just a sink, a table and two chairs. Maxwell
what they did in the mornings when there were three of them. On the
single shelf above the sink, he noticed bottles of washing up liquid
and soap flakes, a box of Omo washing powder, a tin of Brasso and a
pair of binoculars.
‘Have they found anything, Inspector? Do you know who did it?’
‘Let’s sit down and have a chat, Tommy. Did you say that your parents were away?’
‘Yeah, visiting my Granddad. He’s had a stroke. Bristol, they’ve been gone two weeks now.’
‘Sorry to hear that. You're all right,
living up here on your own, just Charlie to take care of?' And take care of you? Tommy nodded.
'I wanted to hear, in your own words, how you came to find the body this morning.’
‘Do you know who it is?’
‘Yes, Tommy, it’s Trevor Bamber, husband of June and father to Lynda.’
Tommy nodded. ‘He were a wrong ‘un, yer know.’
‘Was he, Tommy? How did you know that?’
‘I saw him.’
‘Saw him where? Do what? Perhaps you should start at the beginning?’
And so, at the police station in the
city of Gloucester, Tommy Hinkley told Maxwell how one day he had been
walking past the back of the Bamber house towards the small stream, or
brook where he was intending to fish. He saw Bamber and his wife
arguing in the bedroom at the back, and recognised the house as theirs
because of the swing in the back garden, where he had once gone to play
with the children
of previous occupants. When the Bambers had arrived in the village, he
had still been at school and on one occasion Lynda had spoken about the
swing in the back garden. Also, he thought he recognised June Bamber
from her long
blond hair. As he made his way through the copse to the stream, the
voices went silent, and then he heard sobbing, and guessed that Bamber
had managed to subdue his wife by hitting her. He saw Bamber leave the
house by the
back door, then let himself out of the side gate and walked towards the
main road. Deciding it was none of his business as long as June and
Lynda were unharmed, Tommy spent the morning fishing in the brook and
then went home
after catching nothing. All that day he had worried about them, and
eventually he had decided to go and see that they were all right, but
before he could reach the road, he had run into Lynda Bamber at the
bottom of Green
Lane. She seemed happy enough, and he was satisfied that Bamber had not
touched her. Rumours abounded in the village that the man was a brute
and regularly beat or abused his wife.
‘Any idea when that would have been, Tommy?’ Maxwell said.
‘Around February time, late-ish, I would say. He been gone that long, has he?’
‘It would seem so, Tommy, it would seem so.’
‘Reckon he walked out on her?’
‘I’m not sure. All we know is that he was not murdered in situ.’
‘In situ. It means in the place where he
was found. There was no blood in the surrounding area. He was murdered
somewhere else, and then brought here, to the woods, although
I won’t know for certain until the pathologist gets in touch, which
should be some time on Monday.’
‘Have you been to the house?’
‘The Bambers’ house? Yes, but I’m going
back later to get a statement. Then we should know exactly what day he
‘I expect you’re thinking it’s a
coincidence,’ Tommy said. ‘Me finding both of the bodies and that?’
Maxwell nodded. ‘I will have to look into that, Tommy, yes. Anything you want to say?’
Tommy shook his head. ‘I got nothing to hide,’ he said.
‘Come back to the station on Monday and make a statement, will you?’
‘Right you are, Inspector. I hope you find who killed them. Do you think it was the same person?’
‘Nothing to link the two murders at the moment, Tommy. I’ll see you on Monday.’ Except you, Tommy, except you. Maxwell
took himself off somewhere quiet to think and Tommy went home to feed
Charlie. Ideally, he would have liked to be at home, with his dying
wife, but she was in good hands and he had never let his private life
interfere with his work. It was just that the time had come for him to
collect his thoughts, to piece together the evidence they had, and to
some searching questions.
Maxwell parked at the foot of Cooper’s Hill and walked slowly to the
top. He looked out across the vast panorama of countryside. On a clear
day you could see the Malvern Hills.
Robinswood Hill was clearly visible, out near Tuffley. Immediately
below him was the huge green space that constituted the grounds which
belonged to the aircraft company. Clearly marked was the cricket pitch
County Cricket Club played a fair proportion of their home matches. He
could easily pick out Boverton Avenue, the Drive, Green Lane and
Vicarage Lane, and the council estate at the northern end of the
village, together with
the primary school. With a powerful pair of binoculars, it would be
possible to see some of what was going on in the village, and wondered
if Tommy Hinkley, who was not quite the full ticket, ever did that. He
did seem to
have a knack of knowing what some of the villagers were up to, despite
not living there himself.
From this vantage point, someone might
have seen Brenda McLaren being abducted, bundled into a car or
something. He started back down the hill. Tommy Hinkley had known where
was going to be found, he knew that now. Tommy wasn’t simple, he had a
full working brain, but he wasn’t normal, not quite. There were things going on in his brain that would not occur to other people. He was savvy. Maxwell rapped sharply on Tommy’s door.
‘Tommy, I have some more questions for
you, I’m sorry. You’re not in any trouble, it’s just I think you might
know more than you’ve told me. Possibly
without knowing you know it, if you take my meaning?’
Tommy nodded. ‘You’re going to ask me about the car, ent you?’
Maxwell sat down heavily. ‘Yes, Tommy,
tell me about the car. Where were you the day Brenda disappeared?’
‘At the fair.’
‘Down in the village?’ As though there was another fair somewhere, same time, same village… Tommy didn’t seem to notice the ridiculousness of the question.
‘Did you have your binoculars with you, Tommy?’
‘Yeah, I always has them with me. I like
to watch the birds, and sometimes I like to just sit and watch what’s
going on down there. Sometimes I see her.’
Tommy nodded. ‘She were always nice to me. Not nice, nice, just nice, if you know what I mean?’
‘I think I do, Tommy. Others made fun of you, Brenda was nice to you? That what you mean?’
‘Aye. Her and Mikey. Always nice to me,
they were. I’m not stupid!’ He nearly said that Lynda and June Bamber
were nice to him as well, but caught himself in time.
‘No, you’re not stupid, Tommy. Anything but.’ And harmless, I’d guess, until you got caught up with this murder, thought Maxwell, then dismissed that thought from his mind. ‘Go on. What did you see Monday afternoon?’
‘I see her coming from the fair, and the
car stopped by her, just outside Eddie Mason’s house. I told you about
Eddie Mason, you need to talk to him! The driver spoke
to her for a minute or two, and she got in the car and they drove off,
towards the farm.’
‘That’s how you knew where she would be?’
Tommy nodded. ‘She never came back. I saw the car come back, but she weren’t in it.’
‘Did you see what car it was? What type
of car? What colour?’ Tommy nodded, and produced an accurate
description of the vehicle in which Brenda had been driven to the
five trees by Morgan's Farm. Maxwell noted everything down in his
notebook. Something at the back of his mind was nagging. At least now
he knew the colour and make of the car which had taken Brenda McLaren
to the farm.
‘Powerful binoculars. Sometimes I use ‘em for looking at the stars.’
‘And Trevor Bamber? Did you see him up here?’
‘No. I never saw him. God’s honest
truth.’ That was also a lie, but the policeman couldn’t prove it. Not
at this stage, at any rate.
Maxwell nodded. ‘I believe you, Tommy, I
believe you. We’ll talk again, soon. Mind how you go. Give the dog a
bone from me, eh?’ He tossed a half crown across the
table and patted the dog on the head. ‘One more thing, Tommy.’
‘You didn’t see Trevor Bamber? From the
top of Cooper’s Hill? Like you saw Brenda? You didn’t see him leave the
house, see where he went? Not the same day,
when he went missing, I mean?’
Tommy Hinkley considered this question
carefully before making his answer. ‘No, Inspector. I didn’t see him
from up here. Not at all.’ I saw him as I was walking past the back of their house…
At a little after four o'clock, Lynda had come through the gates.
Knowing that Michael’s grandmother had died, she was not sure she
should come, but his mum welcomed her
straight away and made her feel completely at home. She had changed
into a pretty pink top with a Rose motif, and a full polka-dot skirt.
She had a small box of chocolates with her, which she gave to Michael’s
‘I think she’s going to be black and
yellow,’ Michael said. ‘Like the house Dad’s obsessed with black and
yellow. She’s called Jasmine.’
He didn’t mention his joke with his Dad about it looking a little like
Noddy’s car. He wasn’t sure if Lynda knew about Little Noddy. He didn’t
want to make a fool of himself.
‘She has a name? How sweet!’
‘Shall we go inside?’
‘It’s a really nice afternoon, shouldn’t
we stay outside?’ Lynda said. ‘What excuse could we give for being
indoors on a day like this?’
‘We’re going to play some records.’ She
had brought her Dansette record player with her, as promised, and
Michael had run up the long drive to take it off her.
‘Is that what you want to do?’ she said,
gazing into his eyes. ‘You know, you have the most amazing eyes.
They’re bright green!’
‘I know. My mum is the seventh child of
a seventh child,’ he said. ‘It’s something to do with magic.’ Since
discovering the dark worlds of Dennis Wheatley,
Michael had been studying magic whenever possible. He was fascinated by
astral planes, and Satanism, and had a couple of books on the subject.
He was not entirely convinced by astrology, but he did occasionally
read his stars
in the Mirror. Henry
Welch, at school, had a Ouija Board, and was planning on using it when
they went back to school after the holidays. Michael could hardly wait.
He wanted to ask who he was going to marry, and having spent the last
few hours fantasising about Lynda, he knew the board was going to spell
out her name for him.
He was convinced that his mother had some kind of mystical powers, but
when he’d tackled her on the subject, she just laughed, although she
always seemed to know what he was
thinking. There was absolutely no point in trying to lie to her,
because she knew when he was lying. She did have mystical powers, of
that he was certain. His father knew something about the occult, he
felt sure, but he refused
to discuss it, and said that he didn’t approve of Dennis Wheatley, but
as his wife also read Wheatley’s books, there was little he could do
‘Superstitious nonsense,’ his
mother said, and refused to discuss it any further. The fact was, she
did know about such matters, but confined her knowledge to being able
to get what she wanted from Albert, whenever she wanted it, and knowing
exactly what was going on in her children’s heads, especially
Michael’s. She could read him like a book, she knew when he was lying
looking at him. She knew that he masturbated, and that worried her, not
because she thought he might go blind, or anything like that, but
because she thought it might sap his strength and drain his energy. But
so far that
hadn’t happened, in fact quite the opposite, and she tended to worry a
lot less about it now.
‘Yes, I’d like to take you up to my room
and listen to some music,’ he said, pulling Lynda towards him and
kissing her lightly on the mouth.
‘Do you have any, you know?’
Michael was sexually inexperienced. He
knew what to do, and Lynda’s beautiful curvaceous body was already
starting to turn him on. But he was totally naive about protection.
Sex education lessons at school were non-existent. You got your sex
education from your school friends, and although some of it was
absolute nonsense, Michael knew enough to know what he had to do with
Lynda, and that they
should somehow avoid making babies. Unmarried mothers were few and far
between in Brockworth, and when it did happen, fingers pointed, tongues
wagged, and reputations were earned.
‘No,’ he said, wondering what on Earth
she was talking about. And then he remembered how, one day, he’d been
in his parents’ bedroom, sitting on the bed in
front of the dressing table mirror, practising the guitar, and his mum
had come in and told him that if he was staying in there, he shouldn’t
go prying about in the drawers or anything. Why would I?
he thought, but as soon as she’d gone, he did just that, and found a
drawer full of condoms. He’d seen his father buy them at the
hairdressers. After they
had both had their hair cut, they had stood at the counter and the man
had asked his father if he wanted “anything for the weekend, Sir?” and
his father had said “yes, please”, and had come away with
these packets. There were about twenty packs in the drawer. Either his
father and his mother made love every single night, or else his father
bought them every time he got his hair cut, just to shut the man up. He
to think it was the latter.
‘Oh! Yes, my dad has some, in his drawer. I can get some.’
‘Come on, then.’
He desperately wanted to talk about
Brenda McLaren, but he knew he couldn’t tell Lynda, and besides, she
wouldn’t want to talk about another girl, she was here to see
him, she was now officially his girlfriend, even if only since this
morning, and there was nothing else on her mind. They took the Dansette
up to his room, and Michael tried the door of his parents’ bedroom,
find it locked.
‘It’s locked,’ he told her, closing his
own door quietly behind him. His mother must have known what they were
intending to do, he thought. But then, that was illogical,
wasn’t it? If she wanted to stop them from having sex in her house, she
would have said something, but that didn’t make sense either, because
Michael could have taken Lynda back to her house, or anywhere, really.
Cissy Thompson couldn’t stop them from having sex, so she’d locked the
bedroom door to stop him taking his dad’s condoms? And risk having him
get Lynda pregnant and ending up with an unwanted baby? None of
it made sense. Perhaps it was his dad who had locked the door? That
made more sense, but as far as he knew, there was nothing in their
bedroom they weren’t allowed to see, except when it came to birthdays
and then it clicked. It was Pauline’s birthday in a week’s time. They
didn’t want her walking in there and finding what they had got her for
‘Never mind,’ she said. ‘We can go so far, can’t we?’
‘What do you mean?’
‘Put a record on and sit down, on the
bed,’ she said, tugging at his hand. They kissed. It was long, tender,
sweet and innocent. He thought that Lynda was
a nice girl, it was simply the fact that the swinging sixties had
visited her early, and had engaged her earlier than it had Michael. He
was not totally naïve, he was fully
aware of the possibility that she had already had full sex with a
previous boyfriend, and he was prepared to forget this fact if it
turned out that she was his lifetime partner. With Connie Francis
belting out “Who’s
Sorry Now?” she took his hand and placed it on her naked stomach,
having pulled up her top a little to reveal the lower part of her bra.
‘Down,’ she whispered, and manoeuvered herself so that his hand slid down inside her knickers.
‘Oh, Christ!’ he said, breathing
heavily. His forefinger found the first curl of her pubic hair, and
then she had her hand inside his trousers, and she was undoing the
buttons. ‘Oh, Christ!’
Lynda stroked him slowly, expertly,
confirming his belief that she was sexually experienced. Bringing
himself off was delicious fun, but it was nothing compared to this. She
to stroke him slowly, and he thought he would die from the sheer
ecstasy of it.
‘Put your finger inside me,’ she said,
and he did, and she was moist, and warm, and beautiful, and when she
moved against his finger she made a low sighing noise in her
throat that frightened him at first, but then he realised that she was
enjoying it, the same as he was.
‘You’d better have a hanky ready,’ she
said, and kissed him long and hard as they brought each other to their
first mutual climax. He’d pulled his hanky from
his pocket and spread it over them, and when he shuddered into it, he
thought he had never felt anything so joyous, so fantastic, in his life.
They sat together, just holding each
other, savouring their climaxes, for a minute or two, and then he
turned away from her and tidied himself, putting the wet handkerchief
‘That was unbelievable,’ he said. His
eye caught the spine of his King Arthur book on the shelf above their
heads, and he realised that in spite of what had just happened,
if things stayed as they were, he would still be walking down the aisle
on his wedding day a virgin. Lynda Bamber might not be a virgin, but he
was. He wasn’t sure if he loved her yet, although he certainly loved
she had introduced him to. It was entirely possible that he would grow
to love her, fall in love with her, and that she would be the one. It
occurred to him once more that she was more experienced than he was in
and it wasn’t important. He knew that she had probably done it, gone
all the way. They say love is blind, and for the time being, all he
could think of was the next time Lynda Bamber and he would be able to
other sexually. He smiled inwardly, and helped her to arrange her
‘Next time come to my place. My Dad’s never there, he works nights, and
my Mum won’t mind as long as we’re careful,’
she said, kissing him and squeezing his hand. My Dad’s never coming home, actually…
a smell in the room, one that Michael was familiar with, and he hoped
his mother would not notice it. He casually opened the window.
‘You have a lot of books,’ Lynda said,
standing up as though nothing had just happened between them. One
entire wall was covered with shelves, the end wall, behind the
door, and there were more shelves on the wall opposite the window where
he sat and watched the girls undressing in the house behind.
‘I love books,’ he said. He had almost a complete set of Four Square’s Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan books, although he was missing Tarzan at the Earth’s Core. There were loads of Dennis Wheatleys, ten or so Leslie Charteris Saint books, some Whiteoaks by Mazo de la Roche, his treasured Robin Hood and King Arthur Regency editions, some Charles Dickens which his Aunt Molly, Dad’s sister, had given
him, and a huge pile of annuals. All four Commander Books for Boys were there, Lion annuals, Tiger annuals, even a couple of his sister’s Coronet and School Friend
annuals had made their way into his collection. One shelf held all his
comics, magazines and
weeklies, the ones that had pictures of pop stars and jazz band leaders
in, the ones he bought on a Saturday morning after he received his
wages from Mr Lees down at the newsagent’s. Somewhere in that pile was
copy of Health and Efficiency
given to him by Jimmy Hunter. It was a real turn-on, except none of the
naked girls in it appeared to have any pubic hair, and he knew
full well that most girls did. Well, his two sisters did, that was for
sure. He hoped Lynda would not start looking through that pile.
On the bottom shelf were his Enid Blyton
books. If he was stuck for something to read, he could always pick up The Rockingdown Mystery,
it was his favourite book in the whole world, and had introduced him to
the world of mystery and adventure. Sometimes he thought that Diana was
brilliant heroine of any book he’d ever read. Actually, in the later
books, she turned out to be a bit wet, always trying to duck out of
anything that might put her in danger, but his opinion of her was
formed with the
first book, and it was unshakeable. She was terrific. A bit like Annie.
He shook himself to wake himself up. His girlfriend was here, in his
room, the least he could do was concentrate on her and not on his books.
‘I can see that. Where do you keep your school books, then? I can’t see any here.’
‘Downstairs. I’m working on stuff
through the break.’ He often worked at the dining table downstairs, but
equally he would quite often spread all his books out on
the bed and work in his room.
Back to school next Monday. Michael
loved school, particularly now that he was far taller than most of the
boys in his class, and much more heavily built, even than the rugby
He hated rugby. On the first day he’d played, he had come home and
drawn a diagram comprising lots of little stick men, and pointed to the
one on the ground beneath about twenty others.
‘That’s me,’ he told his parents. ‘It’s
called a scrum. It’s really stupid. There’s no kicking of the ball,
like in football, there’s
no skill, no goals. It’s really stupid. Licensed thuggery.’ His mother
and father had reminded him that the Crypt was a grammar school, and
grammar schools all played rugby because they were posher than
‘I don’t care,’ he said. ‘I’m not doing
it any more. It’s stupid. If you can’t get me out of it with a note,
I’ll skive off, or write
my own notes.’
And he had done just that. Most games
days, he’d written a short note from his mother, and signed it himself,
saying things like “Michael cannot do games today, he has
a chest infection.” Michael’s handwriting was very good, similar to his
mother’s, and he had become an expert in writing like she did so that
no one suspected. The games teacher, Horace Walker, never twigged
it, and he was allowed to go to the school library until games were
over. That was when the bullying started. It was half-hearted bullying
really, just pushing and shoving and name-calling, really, nothing
serious like getting
your head shoved down the toilet while someone else pulled the chain,
but for Michael it was utter misery. He was not cowardly by nature, but
the bullies always went round in twos and threes, and during the first
of grammar school he was a weedy, underdeveloped child, and lacked the
confidence to retaliate.
In year five he had finally persuaded
his mother to let him cycle the seven miles to school in the company of
his best friend, Jimmy Hunter. That coincided with the chemistry
Mr Strubshaw announcing that he was starting a rowing club, and asking
for volunteers, provided they could swim.
Swimming was another bugbear of Michael’s. Try as he might, he couldn’t
quite get the hang of it, and so, when he took the note home for his
mum to sign, he persuaded her that he could
swim, and in the event of the boat capsizing, he would be fine, just
fine. Seeing how much he needed this, she signed, and nothing ever
happened. Rowing was the making of
him physically. On the one occasion when the boat did capsize, they had
been able to stand up in three feet of water and the necessity to swim
had not materialised. During last summer, whilst on the family holiday
Michael had spent an awful lot of time in the sea teaching himself to
swim, and by the time they had travelled back home on a series of Black
and White coaches, he had mastered the stroke and could proudly boast
to his parents
that he could finally swim. After what seemed like just a few weeks, he
filled out and grew, his muscles developed, his shoulders broadened,
and his legs thickened like tree trunks.
Before long he was promoted to stroke,
and never looked back. He’d already rowed twice for the school, once at
the Henley Royal Regatta, where they had come third, and once
at Stratford-on-Avon. Now nobody even thought of bullying him on
account of his size and muscles. That was the thing about bullies. They
picked on smaller, weaker people. Mike rarely got involved in the
stopping of bullying,
it was part of growing up, and in those days amounted to nothing more
than physical violence. He occasionally saw someone being bullied at
school, and if it was a really small, weedy boy, he would stop it, but
at the same
time he would think that he had had to go through it himself, and he
had come through it all right. If he was made up to prefect next year,
he would have to pull his weight and stop bullying when and wherever he
saw it. He
wasn’t sure he wanted to be a prefect, but everyone thought it was a
good thing, it went on your school record, and helped when it came to
job interviews. But that was years away. First there was the prospect
or the police force, and he sincerely hoped it would be the latter. For
some reason, his parents preferred the university option. He was going
to have his work cut out if he was going to persuade them otherwise. He
if Lynda was planning on going to university.
‘I was thinking of becoming a nurse,’ she replied.
‘You’d make a wonderful nurse,’ he said,
and folded her in his arms and kissed her again. She responded eagerly
to his touch, and they found themselves exploring
each other’s bodies again.
‘Tea will be ready.’
‘I’ll help lay the table,’ she said as
they entered the dining room. Cissy Thompson flashed them a look which
turned into a smile. They made a really attractive
couple. Even if they had been doing something they shouldn’t, upstairs,
there was little she could do about it. The world was changing, she
realised. Best to let them make their own mistakes, she thought,
how she and Albert had hidden away in attic rooms, making love out of
sight in cold, cramped conditions because her parents disapproved of
him. She would ask Michael later, when they were alone, if they were
and she hoped she knew what the answer would be. The girl appeared to
be more savvy than he was, and probably carried a pack of contraceptive
rubbers in her handbag, if the truth were known. If she knew her son
and backwards, she also had the measure of young Lynda Bamber. A decent
girl, but one that knew the ins and outs of sex, had probably done it
properly before now. And there was something about her, her eyes
deep, something sinister that Cissy wasn't quite comfortable with. On
the surface, Lynda was a pretty, charming young girl with nothing on
her mind other than the Hit Parade, boys, and occasionally school work.
put her finger on anything specific, but there was definitely something
about her, not least the fact that she was sexually experienced.
no prude, not like her husband, but she knew how Mike felt about
virginity and purity, he’d spoken about it enough times. Would he be
disappointed to know his future
wife would come to him not as a virgin, and would it matter that much
if he truly loved her? She thought not. Love is blind, indeed, and that
was the thrill of it. It wouldn’t matter if he did know, and would
never know in any case. But she was getting ahead of herself. The boy
was sixteen. Too young to be thinking about marriage.
Tomorrow she would go and have another
talk with June Bamber, see what she thought. Cissy didn’t really want
her son to go to university, not because she wanted to control his
life in any way, but because she didn’t think he would be able to cope
on his own, living away from home. That was something he’d never done.
His sisters were always away. Annie was always staying over with some
girlfriend or other, and had been to France twice to visit her pen
friend, Amelie, who had come to Brockworth once, for a long weekend.
Mike had fallen in love with her instantly, and had followed the two
girls around like
a little puppy, but he had been only fourteen at the time. Pauline had
joined the guides and had gone away for long camping trips and
expeditions, but Mike had tried scouts, had found it uninteresting in
spite of the fact
some of his cousins belonged, and one of them even helped to run it.
He’d attended one meeting and then gone back to his books and his
records. He’d never been away from home on his own, even for one night,
as far as Cissy was concerned, it was going to be a giant leap into the
dark for him. She preferred to think that he would complete his
A-Levels and take up the offer of a university place, then get a job
locally, maybe at
the aircraft factory at the bottom of the road, where she could
continue to keep her eye on him until he settled down with a local
girl, perhaps even Lynda Bamber, and they got married. She would not
have chosen a career in
the police force for her son, but she would not stand in his way if
that was really what he wanted to do. She occasionally found him
reading one of her library books, an Inspector West mystery, or a
Carter Dickson, or an Agatha
Christie, so she knew what was going on in that head of his.
She was fiercely proud of Michael, his
good looks, his physique, his unfailing good manners and his common
sense, and thought that they would see him in good stead in the coming
But she knew, even then, that he was not destined for university, which
was why it was essential that he found the right girl, and quite soon.
Marriage might still be a couple of years away, but first loves were
and she wanted to make sure little Lynda Bamber was right for him early
on, because if she wasn’t, there were things she could do to influence
the way it all panned out. She smiled down at them, love’s young dream,
sitting at the table holding hands beneath the tablecloth, and began to
Dinner was a grand affair, where, for a
change, there was no mention of Brenda McLaren’s murder. John Kimble
was in a hurry to get to the sitting room with his Daily Mirror, and afterwards Mike and Lynda washed up, which amused Albert, Cissy, Annie and Pauline no end. Mike never
washed up without being press-ganged into it. When they’d finished, he
walked her home, as it was nearly dark. They held hands, they kissed a
lot, and he ran his hand
inside her top, underneath her bra, felt the wonderful soft creamy
silky smoothness of her young but full breasts. Life was excellent
right now. What could possibly spoil it?
‘I’ll see you tomorrow,’ he said.
‘I can’t. We’re going into town to get my new stuff for school. New blazer, skirts…’
‘Oh, that’s a shame.’ Then he thought, Brenda won’t be going back to school this Monday,
and the thought saddened and chastened him. He kissed her on the lips
and held her against him, where he was hard again. ‘Another time?
Sunday, maybe?’ Now he really was up against it – he
had promised to help his father with the building of the garage, but he
had also promised his mates he’d be there to help with the charity bath
thing, and now here he was making arrangements to meet up with Lynda.
‘In the morning I have to help with my
Dad’s garage, but in the afternoon we could go out to Dave’s place and
hang about while they start on this bath thing, then
we could go to the pictures?’
‘I’d like that.’ To be honest, Lynda
would like being anywhere that Mike Thompson was right now. She’d seen
him walking down the street, she’d seen him
in the shops, she’d watched him delivering his newspapers from her
bedroom window. She’d been keeping her eye on him for several weeks,
now, since the breakup of her last relationship, and when he’d come
knocking at her door and asked her to join the charity bath push, she
couldn’t believe her luck. For several weeks she had been consulting
every horoscope she could lay her hands on, seeking every bit of advice
glean that might offer some crumb of advice on what she should do to
secure him as her boyfriend.
Everyone in Brockworth knew and
respected the Thompson family, and Mike Thompson was a real catch.
Lynda did want to be a nurse, but she wanted something else even more.
to have a beautiful white wedding, she wanted to settle down and to
have babies with a man she loved. Right now, she thought she had found
the boy that would be transformed into that man. By today’s standards,
maybe not much of an ambition for a very clever young girl, but in the
early 1960s, this was the dream of most young girls, clever or not.
Nursing might well be a waste of her considerable talents, but for now,
all she could
think of was Mike and how he had chosen her over all the girls in the
village. Michael Thompson had sort of fallen into her lap. Had it not
happened the way it had, she might have had to do something about it.
Have words with
Brenda McLaren, put her in her place, make her see sense. At least
Brenda McLaren couldn’t take him away from her. Not now. Not ever. It
was a sobering thought.
He watched her go into the house, where
she ran upstairs to her bedroom and threw open the sash window. ‘I love
you, Michael Thompson!’ she said, and blew him a kiss.
‘I love you too,’ he said, not realising
he had used the “love” word, and walked away, his hands thrust deep
into his pockets. On his way home, he realised
that he had forgotten to tell his Uncle John about Brenda McLaren
getting into the big car, and Lynda hadn’t asked him about it either.
But then, they’d had other things on their mind that afternoon, hadn’t
To be continued in the December 2021 issue...
small print: Books
Monthly, now well into its 24th
year on the web,
is published on or slightly before the first day of each month by Paul
Norman. You can contact me here.
If you wish to submit something for publication in the magazine, let me
remind you there is no payment as I don't make any money from this
publication. If you want to send me something to review, contact me via
email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll let you know where to send it.
o n t e n t s:
The Front Page
& Science Fiction
The Silent Three
Growing up in the 1950s
Living with Skipper
Acker Bilk Sleeve Notes
Sundays with Tarzan
The Back Page
selection of the kind of books Mike Thompson would have had in his
collection in 1963. The portraits of Dirk Bogarde and Yoko Tani on THE
WIND CANNOT READ above are of photographic quality, and quite