Hambourne Noirish

Today’s tale carries on from Saturday’s story. As a newcomer to Hambourne, Charlotte could never have imagined that attending a few meetings of Happy Hambourne Creatives would have led to her being a possible murder suspect.

Charlotte felt three pairs of eyes piercing into her soul, surely she wouldn’t be one of the suspects, just because Robert Falstaff had been scathing about her novel languishing on Amazon Kindle and her blog.

There was an awkward pause then Erica suddenly started laughing.

‘Even poor Danny could not have thought of a murder or plot this bizarre.’

Charlotte was a little taken aback that there could be laughter so soon after Robert’s death, but at least the tension was broken and the attention taken off her.

‘Er… you mean Danny from the Happy Creatives group?’

‘Yes, he’s been rather quiet lately, but for years he’s been sending off scripts to the BBC, hoping to be the next Sunday night detective drama. He was always hoping Robert would put a word in for him, with all his supposed connections.’

‘Come on Erica, Mini’ said the third friend ‘time we all went, I don’t want to get a parking ticket.’

Charlotte found herself alone again, she should be going, but with all the morning’s drama she could not recall what she had planned to do after coffee, or was she planning to decide what to do while relaxing at the lovely Hambourne Refectory? She thought about poor Danny, rather a lost little soul she had felt, the couple of times she had seen him at the meetings. She could sympathize and now any hopes they both had of Robert introducing them to ‘someone’ at the BBC or on the literary scene were gone. Life was stranger than fiction, not just a cliché, but supposing it wasn’t. She imagined Danny thinking up a murder plot, wondering if it could realistically be played out and who better to try it out on than a man he resented, envied, even hated?

She stood up abruptly, checked her bag and made swiftly for the door, as if staff and customers might read her dangerous thoughts

Charlotte couldn’t leave those thoughts behind, but she could transfer them to her new heroine. As she walked through Hambourne Abbey’s graveyard the first chapter was already taking shape in her mind.

Recently widowed Lotte Lincoln had moved to the quaint town of Puddleminster looking for peace and quiet, but soon found herself investigating a murder. As a newcomer she had at first enjoyed wandering around exploring, enjoying the fresh frosty air as she strolled through the historic graveyard, popping into the local shops and admiring arts and crafts in the little gallery. But she was also lonely, peace and quiet wasn’t as soothing as she had anticipated, so she had begun to make more of an effort to chat to locals, little thinking this would soon lead to her being embroiled in a murder enquiry.

Charlotte mused upon the drama she could get Lotte involved in as she walked. The victim could be an artist, perhaps a woman so no one would think she had stolen a real life murder, in the unlikely event the novel would be published and actually read by residents of Hambourne. She suddenly found herself near Robert Falstaff’s little road, or she assumed the barricaded lane and heavy police presence indicated this was where he had lived. Now she was there it was impossible to see what was going on and she felt uncomfortable. As she turned to work out which way led to her little flat in the high street she almost bumped into a familiar figure.

‘Oh, em Daniel isn’t it, you probably don’t remember me, new in Hambourne, Charlotte, I went to a few meetings of the Happy Creatives…’

She felt herself rambling on in an effort to be friendly, to assuage her guilt for ever suspecting him of murder. The man looked awkward, then visibly pulled himself together.

‘Yes of course Charlotte, I remember you, that dreadful man making you feel so small, no way to treat newcomers… oh I shouldn’t be speaking ill of the dead.’

‘You heard the news then, of course I hardly knew him. I gather this must be the mu… where Robert lived?’

‘Yes, not exactly the first murder we’ve had, or at least there have been strange events in Hambourne… ‘ he looked up as a police officer approached ‘…anyway, I must be going.’

Danny made a hasty exit and Charlotte wondered why had he come to the crime scene. Her thoughts were interrupted by the policewoman.

‘Good morning, do you live nearby, are you trying to get to your home?’

Charlotte felt herself flushing.

‘No, yes, I mean I’m new in the town, just strolling around and got lost, I’ve got a flat in Hambourne Mews.’

She hadn’t intended to give away where she lived. The policewoman gave her a patronising look.

‘You were heading in the wrong direction, but Hambourne often has visitors flummoxed. So if you are new you probably didn’t know the victim.’

‘No, well only a little.’

Charlotte immediately regretted her words as the officer’s face lit up.

‘Ah, I hope you don’t mind giving me your name and address, we do need to interview everybody who knew him.’

Charlotte felt a mixture of fear and excitement. She might end up a suspect, but it would be interesting research for her novel, to discover what it was like to be interviewed about a crime. Everyone meant they were bound to talk to Daniel as well, she was sure he had been uncomfortable hanging around near police officers…

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