In September 2015, I wrote a short piece I called ‘Assimilated‘. A short while later, I wrote a sequel titled ‘You have nothing to fear, but …‘, which I produced in response to a challenge at esthernewtonblog.wordpress.com that asked for a story about fear.
Using those as a start-point, we now follow Victor’s adventures after his exposure to Martinus mendax.
Let’s run with this for a few weeks, to see where it takes us.
I will welcome storyline suggestions or even complete scenes, as long as they fit the overall scheme (which I hope will emerge before too long).
Catch up on earlier episodes of Martinus mendax at this link
Isn’t it funny, though, how easily, quickly and comprehensively plans can change? As Burns said, “The best laid schemes of Mice and Men often go awry.”
The plan was to sell my house in Essex and move to the Lot valley in France. I inherited the house from a maiden aunt, who’d paid for it with a pools win. There was no mortgage, and the house’s value was enough not only to buy a half-decent place in France, but also to cover all the other costs involved and still leave me with a healthy bank balance. I had looked on the internet and found a few suitable houses in the right area and in the right price band, and was keen to get moved.
I placed the house with four agents, at an asking price 20% below what they suggested, because I wanted a quick sale. Who would have guessed that there would be so much mistrust? A lot of viewings, but after three months, not a single offer. According to the agents, the feedback from viewers suggested that they thought there must have been something seriously wrong with the house. Why is it so cheap? was the most common response. I put the price up to what the agents suggested. Buyers in that price bracket weren’t interested in properties of this type in this area, was the response. It looked like I was to stay in England for a while.
With all these pressures, it’s no wonder one of the agents committed suicide [Heh-heh].
My old friend, Detective Constable Nagesh Veraswamy, called on me shortly after the ‘suicide’. Routine enquiry, he said. No foul play suspected, he said. Just tying up loose ends by talking to everyone whose property was still on the dead man’s books after some months.
“How long was your property on Mr Quicksell’s books, Mr Sullivan?” he asked. [that was really his name, John Quicksell of the Quicksell Estate Agency]
“Five months,” I said, “nearly six.”
“And, during that time, how would you describe your relationship with the deceased?”
How was I supposed to answer that?
“Well, Constable, for most of that time; in fact pretty much all of it; he wasn’t deceased at all, so we had no relationship. We’ve certainly not had one since he killed himself.”
“Are you sure he killed himself, Mr Sullivan?”
“Not entirely, no,” he replied.
“You have a theory?”
“Not yet, Mr Sullivan, not yet. That’s why I’m trying to put together a picture of the man. How well did you know him? Before he died, of course.”
“Not too well. His was only one of the four agencies I used, and I mostly dealt with his assistant, Patsy.”
“Tell me about Patsy.”
“What’s to tell? I spoke to her a few times over the phone and sent a few emails to confirm price changes, viewing appointments and so on. She was… is efficient, affable, and I dare say—”
“Quite, Mr Sullivan. What do you know about Patsy’s relationship with her employer?”
“Apart from the rumours, nothing.”
“You know exactly what rumours, Mr Veraswamy. If you don’t, your skills as a detective are seriously lacking.”
“Quite so. Just checking you know them too.”
“So, Mr Sullivan, you don’t know whether Patsy’s husband was aware of the rumours concerning her and her late employer?”
Oh, this was getting delicious. “Surely you’re not suspecting him of anything?”
“For now, Sir, we are ruling nothing out, and nothing is specifically ruled in.”
“That’s the official line, Nagesh — may I call you Nagesh?” He nodded. “You and I have known each other long enough, Nagesh. What are you thinking?”
“Thank you, Mr Sullivan—”
“Thank you, Vic. That’ll be all for now.” He got up to leave and I showed him to the front door. Before I closed the door behind him, he said quietly, “You know, Vic; crimes of passion aren’t unknown, even here in rural Essex.”
I was so glad I hadn’t killed the detective earlier. This is the most fun I’ve had in nearly a millennium.
You should have seen the headlines in the local paper the following week: ‘Estate agent murdered: local butcher held’. So; Patsy’s husband is the local butcher. He’s well respected locally. He and I serve together on a couple of committees. Didn’t know he was Patsy’s husband – never came up, I suppose. It would be a pity, though, if he were framed for this.
No it wouldn’t. If there’s anything more delicious than killing someone and making it look like suicide, it’s killing someone and having someone else take the punishment. Ha ha ha ha!
I couldn’t go through with this. I walked to the police station and asked to speak to DC Veraswamy. He was out on an investigation. I spoke with his boss, Detective Sergeant Smithers.
“How can I help you, Sir?” he asked.
“I have come here to right a wrong,” I said. I couldn’t believe what came out of my mouth next. “The Al-Nawazi case, the shop burglary; did you check the CCTV footage?”
“The burglars damaged the camera, so there was nothing of interest.”
“Check for the day before. Your man Veraswamy says that he left his wallet in the shop the day before the burglary. It might be interesting to see if he was actually there.”
“Are you suggesting what I think you are suggesting, Sir?”
“I’m suggesting only that you examine the evidence, Sergeant. Did the men you arrested own up to the crime?”
“That’s not something I can discuss, Sir.”
“Thank you, Sergeant,” I said and got up to leave.
“Oh by the way, Sir,” Sergeant Smithers called out as I was leaving. I turned to see what he wanted, dreading what it could be.
“Thank you for calling in, Sir. Goodbye.”
I left the station, hating Martin and hating myself for allowing Martin to use me so.