‘Murder at the Mermaid’ a short story by local author, Allen Nicklin 21 May 2020
Murder at the Mermaid (2)
‘Would I Die For You’
A Nick Allen Mystery
“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times”
“was it f**k”
It was the third week of Boris’s lockdown due to the corona virus and Nick Allen a retired college lecturer was going stir crazy. There was only so much housework and gardening one can do in a day. He was missing all the things that he enjoyed, the socializing, his keep-fit classes, going to the theatre, the cinema and watching his beloved Spurs. But this evening would be different, the manager of his local pub Jacob, had organised an illegal lock-in. The landlords John and Mark have turned a blind eye but applauded his initiative. It would be great to see his mates again. So with a spring in his step he drove his Nissen Note from his Victorian cottage in Frogmore to his favourite pub, The Mermaid in St. Albans. The streets were empty as he drove down the A5183 towards Park Street roundabout.
’That must be a first’ he thought as he drove straight across without stopping. Turning right at the King Harry he continued up Holywell Hill towards St. Peters Street. It was quite spooky driving through the main shopping centre with no one around. He half expected to see Simon Pegg and Nick Frost being chased by a horde of zombies. Turning right at the Blacksmiths Arms he drove slowly past the Mermaid turned right and parked his car besides Loreto College. A short walk and Nick was outside the pub. Nonchalantly he glanced around, seeing no one he slipped into the car park and made his way to the back door. Two knocks followed by three more and the door was opened.
‘You made it’ said Jacob the young manager in his twenties with a degree in Marine Biology.
‘Wild horses wouldn’t have stopped me coming,’ replied Nick still smiling.
‘What are you drinking?
‘You know what I like, surprise me’
‘How about Melford Mild? Its dark and from your favourite brewery – Nethergate.’
Nick looked around; the only other customers were a retired train driver, affectionately known as Dave Train and someone of similar age to Dave who he vaguely recognised. He later found out his name was Clive.
‘Hi Dave,’ said Nick, ‘still drinking that Citra shit.’
‘Lot better than that rubbish you’re sipping,’ replied Dave.
‘You know, you’re the only Spurs fan that I actually like.’
‘Well thank you Dave, from you I take that as a compliment. Still, now we know that there won’t be a St. Totteringham day this year I’m happy. So you going to introduce me to you mate.’
‘’S’pose, this is my neighbour Clive. He’s not a big drinker, but he’s getting under his wife’s feet and she begged me to take him out for a few hours.’
The secret knock on the door was followed by retired Taxi driver Paul. A pleasant fellow with a fine crop of grey hair and matching beard, Nick liked him a lot.
‘Pint of Guinness Jacob,’ requested Paul.
As soon as Jacob started to pour, the secret knock was heard again. In walked Nick’s good friends Neil and Will. Will and Neil had met at teacher training college. Will was recently retired but Neil was still teaching. Both ordered pints of Citra.
‘Any more coming?’ asked Nick.
‘Just your mate, Don,’ replied Jacob.
Don Patrick was one of Nick’s oldest friends.
‘He’s always late; he’ll be late for his own funeral.’
As the last word left his mouth, he heard the now familiar knock on the door came and in walked Don Patrick, a retired financial director of a double glazing firm.
Don ordered a pint of bitter and a selection of crisps and nuts.
The Mermaid is a community pub, opened in the 1800s as a beer house. It has an ‘L’ shaped bar and is famous for serving an excellent range of real ales and cider. It has won many awards from CAMRA.
Jacob pushed two tables together and the men took their beer and made themselves comfortable, Don opened the nuts and crisps and spread them across the two tables. All but Clive helped themselves, eagerly stuffing the treats into their mouths.
‘Not hungry Clive’ asked Don.
‘Not really, and I never eat nuts,’ replied Clive.
Not wishing to pursue it Don asked, ‘what have you been up to then, Neil. How have you overcome the boredom of living alone?’
‘I’ve bought a bike and I go out once a day for my exercise. The problem is that I live on a hill and whichever way I go it’s downhill, so that means when I’ve finish I’ve got to cycle uphill to get home. Jacob can you put some music on, you know what we like.’
‘No problem,’ replied Jacob. ‘I’ve made a playlist especially for you lot. It’s called Music for the Wrinkles’.
As Jacob disappeared to set up the music, Will asked ‘what have you been up to Nick?’
‘Well when it’s too cold to go in the garden I’ve been watching re-runs of ‘Would I Lie to You’, so funny. I love David Mitchell and Rob Brydon,’ replied Nick.
‘I think its rubbish,’ said Dave Train.
‘Were you born miserable, Dave,’ asked Paul ‘or did you take lessons.’
Before he could reply, Jacob who had finished setting up the music; ‘You’ve Really Got Me’ by the Kinks was now playing said ‘why don’t we play that. You all think of a story – true or false, and we have to guess whether it’s true or not.’
‘That’s a great idea,’ enthused Don ‘and you can start Nick. You have more stories than Hans Christian Anderson.’
There was silence for a minute whilst Nick thought of a suitable story. Jacob took orders for more beer. Nick noticed that Clive was only drinking halves. Once all the glasses were refreshed Nick started.
‘Okay, when I was at school I had ‘Cilla’ ironed on my Jock Strap.’
When the laughter stopped, Paul asked ‘explain how you got ‘Cilla’ ironed on your Jock Strap.’
‘Well, back in 1964 there was a music magazine called ‘Fab 208’ and one week it had a free gift of iron-on transfers. So I cut out ‘Cilla’ and ironed it on my Jock Strap.’
Paul asked, ‘did you iron it on or was it your mum?’
‘Was it on the elastic or the pouch?’
A smattering of laughter.
‘I think it was on the pouch.’
‘Oh, I can imagine your mum saying, ‘where would you like it, next to your willy or the left or right testicle?’
This was followed by a roar of laughter.
‘Let’s just say it was visible when I wore it.’
‘Well,’ said Jacob. ‘Is it true or is it a lie?’
‘Sounds like a load of old codswallop to me,’ replied Dave Train.
Don laughed and said, ‘let’s put it this way, Nick used to be in the Cilla Black fan club and he had a secret scrap book that he used to wank over.’
Nick blushed ‘for fuck’s sake, I never wanked over it. I had copies of Parade for that. But I was in her fan club.’
‘So,’ said Jacob. ‘Is it true or a lie?’
‘Well,’ replied Will. ‘After hearing all the evidence we think it’s true.’
Nick smiled and said ‘it’s true.’
Finishing his pint Paul shouted ‘fill them up Jacob; it’s time for another round’.
Nick said ‘think I need a pee’ and made his way to the Gents toilet. At the same time Clive decided he needed to go.
‘Enjoying yourself, Clive,’ asked Nick.
‘Not quite my thing, but yes it’s okay.’
They both approached the Gents; Nick opened the door and walked through, Clive followed then said, ‘I’m using the cubicle, I never use the urinals, I don’t like them.’
Nick returned to the table, Clive arrived just after.
‘Okay’ said Paul. ‘Now we are all gathered, who’s next? Don, how about you?’
Don scratched his head, took a sip of his beer and said, ‘okay, I once asked Lloyds bank if I could have their cardboard cut-out of Jan Francis and they said yes.’
‘Why would you want a cardboard cut-out of Jan Francis?’ asked Dave Train.
‘Because I fancied her at the time,’ replied Don
‘So did I.’ added Nick.
‘Me to,’ said Neil.
‘Why did they have a cardboard cup-out of her in the first place?’ asked Paul.
‘If you remember she did a series of adverts with Nigel Havers in 1990, and they had a cardboard cut-out in my local branch. They knew me in there and I asked if I could have it and they said yes,’ explained Don
‘So you just took it home, bet the wife was pleased,’ said Dave.
‘So what did you do with it?’ asked Will.
‘I put it in the spare room,’ replied Don.
‘Did you secretly have a wank over her,’ laughed Nick.
‘So what happened to it?’ asked Paul.
‘Can’t really remember, just one day she was gone,’ replied Don.
‘Well,’ said Jacob. ‘What do we think, is it true or is it a lie?’
‘If it’s true, then he’s a pervert,’ said Dave.
‘But she was gorgeous,’ added Will.
‘I’m not sure the bank would let him have it,’ said Neil.
They all looked at Nick.
‘I happen to know that it’s true.’
Dave Train stood and said ‘I think you’re all a bit weird,’ then made his way to the Gents.
Jacob made his way behind the bar thinking, this is going well.
When Dave returned and everyone had adequate liquid in their glasses, Paul said ‘come on Dave you must have an interesting story to tell.’
‘Nothing interesting to tell, I’ll let you lot rabbit on,’ replied Dave.
‘God, you are a miserable old sod.’
‘I’m happy the way I am; just get on with your stories.’
‘I’ve got one,’ said Jacob.
‘Excellent, enthused Paul. ‘Let’s hear it.’
Clearing his throat Jacob commenced, ‘When I was at uni we had a field trip to Cornwall and I saw a Mermaid.’
There was a moments silence before Nick said ‘well he is a marine biologist so he knows what his looking for.’
‘Bullshit,’ said Dave. ‘It’s a lie, next one please.’
‘Let him explain,’ said Clive, who so far had not shown much interest in the stories.
Jacob commenced, ‘as I said, we were on a field trip in Cornwall, staying at a hostel in Mawgan Porth. We heard that a rather nervous young man who had arranged to meet a mate one evening on the wide flat beach. The boys had intended to do some night fishing. They were looking for that great favourite of the Cornish dinner table; the Pilchard. On arriving at the beach the boy was unable to see his friend. But he heard some rather strange noises coming from a large cave which at low tide is filled with large pools. Thinking that perhaps his friend was playing tricks he went to investigate. What he saw sent him running back up the beach. He was screaming blue murder and telling anyone that would listen that the devil had arrived in the south west. He described what he saw as “part human” and had “long hair hanging about its body”. So the next day I went to investigate. I was standing on the cliffs at Bre Pen above the same beach. It was there that I saw something odd on the rocks below. There were three of them, sitting together on the rock, just off shore. Mermaids. They all had the upper body of a human, with pale skin. Their lower half was finished with a fin like a fish and was bluish in colour.’
‘What did you do?’ asked Clive.
‘Well, I went back to the pub and told the locals. One said that he and his mates saw five the other day, it’s a common occurrence.’
‘Wow,’ said Don. ‘It sounds realistic to me, I think it’s true.’
‘I’m having second thoughts,’ added Paul. ‘I thought it was obviously a lie but I’m not so sure. Be great if it was true.’
‘Come on then Jacob, tell us,’ said Will.
Jacob replied, ‘it’s true.’
‘Just one question, Jacob,’ asked Nick. ‘Were you pissed at the time?’
Jacob smiled, ‘I might have been.’
They all burst out laughing.
‘Okay,’ said Jacob. ‘Let’s have one more, I’ve put some pies in the oven. They should be ready soon. So who’s next, it must be Neil.’
‘When I was young I tried to make some homemade beer and it was so lively that it poured out of the bucket and flooded my bedroom.’
‘That’s the sort of daft thing he would do’, laughed Dave.
‘I’m intrigued,’ said Don. ‘Please tell more.’
‘When I was about 19 and had left school, I was living with my parents before I went to college. I was keen on beer and thought it a good idea to brew my own with a simple kit bought from Boots the Chemist. After a few weeks it should have been more or less finished, but I was disappointed with the weak and thin taste. I wanted a stronger, more robust beer. One night I went out to a local pub for a drink with a few friends. One of them heard my story and advised me to add sugar to strengthen the brew. He explained the science behind it and probably suggested an amount to put in. I walked home excitedly that night looking forward to making a big improvement to my beer. Checking the cupboard in our kitchen I saw that we had plenty of sugar, so I took a two pound bag upstairs to my bedroom, which was where my “brewery” was. I had a large brewing bucket, about two foot six tall, sitting on the carpet with a good few gallons of disappointing weak brown liquid in it. At first I poured the sugar in gently watching the reaction. Then I became braver when I saw there wasn’t one. I needed to pee and brush my teeth, so I tipped the rest in and left the room. Three minutes later I returned to witness something like the laboratory scenes from Carry on Screaming. My beer bin was overflowing onto the carpet; thick brown froth already covering an area about three feet square, but there was no let up. I screamed, as if I had a part in the movie and my mum rushed into the room. Somehow we got the bin into the bathroom and left it in the bath. I was in the doghouse for a few days and the carpet had to be renewed. Saddest part was that I never got to taste the beer.’
‘Typical,’ said Dave. ‘Never could get anything right.’
‘Excellent story though,’ added Jacob; ‘I’d say it was true, what do you lot reckon?’
It was agreed all round that the story was true and this was confirmed by Neil.
Jacob shouted out ‘food’s ready’, as the pies were dished up. Nick, Don and Neil went for the Moo (British Steak and Real Ale). Dave, Will and Paul chose the Moo and Blue (British Steak and Stilton), whilst Clive enjoyed the Kevin Vegan (Mushroom, tomato, Red Wine, with Baby Onions and Thyme). It was clear that everyone was having a good time, even Dave Train cracked a joke or two. It didn’t take long to clear the empty plates and the boys waited in anticipation to hear the next story.
‘Wait just a second,’ said Dave, ‘I need a quick slash.’
‘He always does that, just when you want to do something he has to have a slash,’ gasped Neil.
‘I might as well go as well,’ added Will, ‘I haven’t been yet, which is some sort of miracle.’
When Will returned, Neil said ‘where’s Dave?’
‘I didn’t see him, must be having a dump,’ replied Will.
It wasn’t long for Dave reappeared, ‘that’s better, whose next.’
A short pause before Will said, ‘okay, it must be my turn. Many years ago I took a beautiful girl to Bosham. I parked the car on the beach and when I returned the tide had come in and my car was nowhere to be seen.’
‘This sounds fun, tell us the whole story,’ enthused Don.
Before Will could start, Clive stood up and said, ‘sorry, carry on, I’ll catch up,’ and he disappeared to the Gents.
‘Her name was Angie and she was gorgeous, I drove down to Bosham, near Chichester in my newly acquired Hillman Hunter. I picked her up from her parent’s house, drove to the coast and parked on the beach just off Shore Lane. It’s a truly beautiful and picturesque spot and has an iconic church where, it is said, King Canute’s daughter is buried. We had a lovely romantic stroll and time seemed to stand still. We went for a late lunch in the Bosham Inn with beautiful views over the harbour. Even though the inn was festooned in old photos of stranded and sunken cars it hadn’t occurred to me that I was in any kind of trouble. Nor indeed did I make any connection until we had left the pub and began to walk back. I looked around at the changed scene with a growing sense of panic. There was sea everywhere!! No sign of the car and where I had parked nothing but gentle waves. How could I have been so stupid? Just to rub it in I now saw clearly the many signs warning motorists of the dangers of parking near Shore Lane clearly stating the road floods at high tide.’
Will paused for a moment before continuing, ‘I will always be grateful
To the kind folk of Bosham who must have pushed my car off the beach and onto the relative safety of Shore Lane. We were so lucky that the tide was up around the wheels but had not risen above the bottom of the doors. We had to wait a few hours until I could access the car and drive us back, but all was well and it started first time.’
Everyone was laughing and making funny and rude comments to Will when Nick said, ‘where’s Clive, he’s been a long time.’
‘I’ll have a look, I need the loo anyway,’ said Jacob.
Everyone waited in anticipation for Jacob to return; suddenly he rushed out of the Gents and shouted ‘I think he’s collapsed in the cubicle. I shouted but he didn’t answer.’
The lads all rose quickly and rushed to the toilet.
‘Clive, Clive are you alright can you hear me,’ someone shouted.
‘We’ll need to break the door down,’ said Dave, ‘Stand back I’ve always wanted to do this.’
There wasn’t a lot of room, so the boys stood back in the bar. Dave lent back on the wall and kicked at the door, the lock gave way on the second kick. The door only opened a small way as Clive was slumped on the floor.
‘Shit,’ said Dave, ‘he’s on the floor and blocking the door. I’ll try and squeeze in.’
‘I’ll do it,’ said Jacob, ‘I’m the smallest here.’
‘No, leave it to me,’ insisted Dave, ‘I brought him here, I’ll get him out.’
‘Somehow, after a lot of struggling Dave managed to squeeze into the cubicle. Once in the door shut and the lads listened as Dave tried successfully to lift Clive off the floor and drag him back out into the bar. Clive was totally unconscious and had his trousers and pants hanging round his ankles.
‘Is he breathing?’ asked Nick.
‘For fucks sake pull his trousers up, I don’t want to see his shrivelled dick,’ added Neil.
Quickly Nick helped to make Clive look decent.
‘He’s not breathing,’ said Nick, ‘lie him down and I’ll start CPR. Someone can give him the kiss of life while I start pumping.’
Everyone stood back, Nick looked up when he heard someone ‘I’m not kissing him.’
‘For God’s sake I’ll do it, just phone for an ambulance.’
Nick started CPR and remembering his training started singing
‘Nellie the Elephant packed her trunk
And said goodbye to the circus
Off she went with a trumpety-trump
Trump, Trump, Trump.’
By the time the ambulance arrived Nick was in a sweat, and it was clear that his efforts had been in vain. Clive was dead.
The paramedics tried to resuscitate Clive using their defibrillator, but it was too late. They reckoned he must have had a heart attack whilst sitting on the pan. The mood was solemn once the medics had gone; most thinking it was time to go home. Jacob, sensing the mood said ‘It’s been a shock, sit down and I’ll get you something stronger, whisky anyone?’
‘Jamesons for me,’ said Don.
‘Bells for me and Will.’ added Neil.
‘Laphroaig,’ said Nick.
‘Anything for me,’ said Paul, ‘I’m not much of a whisky drinker.’
‘Or me,’ added Dave.
While Jacob was pouring the drinks Nick decided to pay a visit. As he entered curiosity took hold of him and he entered the cubicle. The door was still intact although the lock was broken. What made him go in there, what was he looking for? He made a thorough examination before leaving and then returned to his friends.
The mood was subdued but the conversation still flowed.
‘I can’t believe he had a heart attack in there, he looked so healthy,’ said Neil. ‘What do you think Nick? You’re not normally this quiet, something on your mind.’
‘Well if you want to know what I think. I think he was murdered and one of us killed him.’
‘Oh no, not again’ sighed Don, putting his head in his hands.
‘What do you mean?’ asked Will.
Don gave out another great sigh, ‘ever since we were kids, he’s had this thing. He thinks he’s a consulting detective.’
Nick looked offended and replied, ‘I was a consulting detective, remember how many cases we solved. At one time we were quite famous.’
‘Okay, we solved a few cases, but we were more infamous than famous. But unfortunately Nick’s instincts, however unbelievable, were usually right. So I think we should hear him out.’
‘Thank you,’ said Nick perking up a bit. ‘We all agree that Clive didn’t look the type to have a heart attack whilst having a dump.’
‘I don’t think he had a dump, there wasn’t any evidence of that when I managed to get in there,’ said Dave.
‘Not sure his bowel movements have any relevance to this case,’ said Paul.
‘Anyway,’ added Neil, ‘why would anyone of us kill him, no one knew him except Dave.’
Dave looked shocked, ‘don’t look at me. I didn’t make him have a heart attack. It wasn’t my idea that he came anyway.’
‘Well Nick, are you going to reveal the killer and explain how he did it. I can’t wait for this. Am I, your best friend, and a suspect?’ asked Don.
Nick gave a little cough to clear his throat; he was going to enjoy this. Memories started flooding back to his teenage years – his involvement with MI5, the mad geography teacher, Charlie Davies and Father John; even later when he found Lord Lucan’s killer.
‘In your own time,’ said Neil, ‘we’re all in suspenders here.’
‘Sorry,’ said Nick, ‘let us begin. Even at my age I haven’t lost my powers of observation. My mind is always active, looking around, looking for things that just don’t seem right. What intrigued me was how uncomfortable some of you looked when you saw Clive sitting at the bar. Neil, if looks could kill, he would have been dead hours ago. Will, you gave a shudder when you clocked him and Paul couldn’t bear to look at him. Even Don seemed to recognise him. You all looked like you wanted to do him harm. So I ask you – Neil, how do you know Clive?’
‘I think you already know, Nick. I told you a few years back.’
‘Yes, it took me a while to put two and two together. You should tell the others, they’ll understand.’
‘Clive was the parent of a student I used to teach. She was fifteen and an absolute beauty. Could easily pass for eighteen and she had a massive crush on me. Well she was only human. You’ll never understand the willpower I had to resist her. It was on a plate, there for the taking. It would have been so easy. Did I fancy her, absolutely, anyone would; but I was professional, kept my distance. At first it was just little remarks that could be taken two ways. Then little notes tucked in with her homework. You know, the sort of things you would find in a packet of Love Hearts. All Yours, Dear One, You’re Fab and the like. But they gradually got worse; the last one said “When Are You Going To Fuck Me”. She tried to get me to give her a lift home, making such excuses as she’d missed the bus or she had lost her purse. Once she had a genuine excuse, she was playing for the school hockey team after school and she missed her bus. I knew she had a doctor’s appointment which she would have missed if she had waited for the next bus. So I gave her a lift home. She told me not to park outside the house, she didn’t want her dad to see her get out of a stranger’s car, so I parked round the corner. Soon as I parked the car, put the hand brake on, she leapt on me and started kissing me. I was taken aback for a second, but I succumbed. It was wonderful, lasted about two minutes, then she stopped, said ‘thanks for the lift,’ and got out of the car. I just sat there, flabbergasted, with an enormous hard on. After that I started to bike in. Took me about 45 minutes each way, but it was safer. It was a couple of weeks later that I was called in to see the headmaster. He told me that Kylie’s father; sorry that was the girl’s name, had been to see him. He said that he had taken Kylie out of school because she was pregnant and that I was the father. Also he’d been to the police accusing me of having sex with a minor and the rest. I was staggered and protested my innocence. I was suspended and told not to contact anyone from the school (except my union rep), especially Kylie and any other student. I was suspended for four weeks before the truth came out. It was only because Kylie’s best friend went to see the headmaster. It appears that Kylie never told her dad that I was the father, he just assumed it was. She explained that Kylie’s dad had it in for me, apparently I badly injured him in a Staff v Parents football match, a few years back. But what really annoyed me was that the real father was some spotty fifth-former who was really ugly. There you are that’s my story, a reason to kill him – yes. But I didn’t.’
Nick patted him on the shoulder, and said ‘that was very brave of you and I don’t think you are the killer.’
Neil downed his Bells in one go and said ‘another one please Jacob and make it a large one.’
Nick looked around and said, ‘Will, how do you know Clive?’
Will took a deep breath, looked at the faces of the other drinkers, not the happy smiling faces of an hour ago. ‘My story might not be as dramatic as Neil’s but the impact on my family was just as devastating. When I saw him sitting there I really wanted to smash his face in. And yes I’m glad he’s dead and maybe I wish I had done it, but I didn’t. Clive was my financial advisor and twenty years ago an old aunt of mine who I was particularly fond of passed away. In her will she left me the princely sum of £10,000. Clive advised me invest it all in Northern Rock. ’This bank is going places, you’ll make a fortune,’ he said. ‘Investing in banks is the safest investment ever. Had you ever known a bank to collapse, trust me it’s a no brainer.’ Shares were trading at about 200p so I purchased 5000. At first they climbed steadily then they seemed to rocket. In 2007 they had risen to about 1200p. My investment had grown six fold. At this stage I wanted to cash out but Clive persuaded me not to, saying they could only increase more. I thought with £60,000 I could top up my pension, put some in a trust fund for the kids and other things. But you know the rest, the bank collapsed and I lost the lot. I fucking hated that bloke.’
‘Well,’ said Nick, ‘that was interesting, I can understand why you would want to kill him, but you are not the killer.’ Looking round, before taking a sip of his Laphroaig, he then turned to Paul. ‘So Paul how do you know Clive?’
‘Clive is a little shit,’ said Paul. ‘Many years ago when the kids were small, like most couples money was tight. So I used to work extra shifts at night to bring in a few extra quid. One night I got a fare to pick up some bloke, which happened to be Clive, from Ronnie Scott’s in London. It was about midnight when Clive staggered out of the club. He was pissed as a newt. Luckily he was fast asleep by the time I got to Old Compton St. The drive back to St. Albans was uneventful. I parked outside his house, had to get out of the cab to open his door and to give him a shove to wake him up. He looked at me then turned round and threw up all over the back seat. Then he collapsed, half in and half out of the cab. I left him there while I knocked on his front door to get his wife. She eventually opened the door, not looking her best I remember. She was fuming to see the state he was in. Together we managed to drag him indoors. She then ushered me out, I asked for the fare, but she just that it was not her problem and slammed the door. I never got the money and then I lost a day’s pay trying to clean up the cab and get rid of the smell. So yeah, I could have killed him but I didn’t.’
The pub was silent as the punters sipped at their drinks. Jacob asked if anyone would like a refill, no one answered,
Nick broke the silence, ‘Don, how do you know Clive?’
‘A few years back I was driving down Beech Road towards the Ancient Briton. I pulled up behind Clive’s’ car at the lights and when they changed we both drove off. He had just got to Batchwood Drive when he suddenly for no obvious reason braked. This came as a complete surprised and although I did an emergency stop I still managed to give him a small prang. I got out too inspect the damage which I expected to be minimal. To my surprise it was a lot worse than I expected. We exchanged details and I asked him why he had stopped so suddenly. He said that a cat ran out in front of him and he didn’t want to hit it. Utter bullshit I saw no cat. Not only did I lose my no-claims bonus he also claimed for whiplash and I had to pay for his medical expenses. I also found out later that the damage to his car was done previously when his wife reversed into a wall whilst trying to park. I hate the bloke and I’ll buy a beer for whoever did kill him.’
‘So,’ said Nick, we are down to just two suspects, Jacob and Dave Train.’ I think we can rule Jacob out, so that just leaves you Dave, I think you killed Clive.’
‘What, phew, me, I don’t think so, how could I have done it and what reason did I have?’ said the flustered Dave.
‘I think he was screwing your wife and somehow you found out.’
Dave reddened, ‘what makes you think that?’
‘Let’s be honest Dave, you’re retired and you spend nearly every day at one pub or another. You totally ignore your wife and I’ve walked past your house many times and I’ve seen Clive go into your house on a few occasions. Haven’t you noticed the flowers that keep appearing? Am I right?’
‘Okay, I might be a bit selfish but I’m not dim. I had started to noticed a few things. How she looked flushed on the odd occasion I came home early. Then I saw a text on her phone that confirmed it. Yes, I hated the bloke but I didn’t kill him.’
‘’Oh yes you did.’
‘Before I do I must say how brilliant your plan was, If I wasn’t here you could have easily gotten away with it.’
‘I’m intrigued,’ gasped Neil, ‘tell us how he it did it.’
‘Okay, but I must say I’m well impressed. To start with you know Clive’s strange toilet habits; he never uses the urinal and always pisses in the cubical. Even more strange he never sits on the seat, always on the pan. He is also allergic to peanuts. It was only when we dragged him out of the cubicle and he was naked from the waist down that I noticed a series of red blotches on his arse. After he had been taken away, something compelled me to have a look in the cubicle. What I found was a small spec of bluetack on the pan and after further searching I found a drawing pin.’
Nick took it out of pocket and placed it on the table.
‘’While you were in the cubicle and before you dragged Clive out; you had to clear all the evidence, but you missed this one. If you look closely you can see that it has some peanut butter on it. Your plan was to stick a series of drawing pins, with bluetack and loaded with peanut butter on the toilet rim. So when Clive went for a piss he would automatically lift the toilet lid and sit down. The drawing pins would puncture Clive’s bottom and inject him with peanut butter. This would cause an anaphylactic shock and give him a heart attack; which is exactly what happened – the perfect murder.’
Dave Train went as white as a sheet. ‘I didn’t mean to kill him.’
‘Fucking hell, Dave, I didn’t know you had it in you,’ gasped Neil.
‘What you gonna do now, call the police?’ asked Dave.
‘We all know it was you, but we can’t actually prove it and unless the police suspect foul play, there’s not much we can do.’
‘I appreciate that; if there’s anything I can do, just ask.’
‘Well there is one thing that you’ve never done before,’ said Neil.
‘Buy a round of drinks.’
Allen Nicklin ©2020
Follow Allen on Twitter: @AllenNicklin