A Short Story by B. B. Wright
An Inspector Alexander Collier Mystery
Inspector Alexander Collier Mysteries will often provide a choice for the reader. If you want to obtain a greater understanding and/or a ‘feel’ for the period follow the embedded links (high-lighted and underlined) sometimes found in the text of the story. From time to time, I may return to a part of the story to add the link(s).
The Lady Vanishes
The phone book smacked against the wall beside him. “Bloody hell!” Closing the door, he picked up the phone book and hesitantly approached the inspector. “Bad day, Gov?” He placed it on his desk.
“You might say that, Sergeant,” replied Collier, feeling embarrassed by his outburst. “I’m sorry about my…little show of frustration. Don’t take it personal.”
“None taken.” Snowden bit down on his lower lip. “Perhaps Gov… we should wait for a better time to do this?”
“I wish there was a better time, Sergeant.” Collier stood up and walked to the electoral map of Bournemouth on the side wall. “Pressure’s mounting again to solve this little girl’s murder and Christmas holidays are fast approaching.” Massaging his chin, he perused the districts. “My thoughts are we begin the fingerprinting here…before Christmas.”
“Oy. I don’t think the men are going to like this.”
“If this doesn’t go well, Sergeant, I’m likely to find several pieces of coal in my stocking this Christmas and next,” Collier chortled. “So I depend upon you to smooth things out as best you can.”
Snowden sighed deeply. “I’ll do my best, gov.”
“I know you will, Sergeant.” He replied reassuringly before redirecting his attention to the map. “To help you in that endeavor I chose to begin, here, in the northern districts. Not highly populated, it’s composed of residents unlikely to be traveling this time of year. It should easily be completed before the holidays. More importantly, it would allow an opportunity to work out any kinks in the process without undue stress to staff.” He glanced over at Snowden. “Did you mark off the names from the electoral register of those fingerprinted at the hospital?” The Sergeant nodded. “Were there any from these districts?”
Snowden opened the register and thumbed through the pages. A few moments later he shook his head. “No, sir, none.”
“I see…Well, Sergeant, time’s a wasting, so we’d better get at it.”
They located a table and two chairs in front of the electoral map. Collier gathered pencils, pens, and both lined and unlined paper from his desk and placed them on the table. “Now, Sergeant, let’s see what we can come up with.”
The next four hours passed by quickly. The two of them assigned responsibilities within all of the electoral districts and completed the framework of the how, when, where, who and why of the full operation. They estimated it would take five months to complete. Since the pool of people they had to draw on was small, scheduling of personnel had become the main stumbling block. The thorn in their side would be that all staff would have to do double duty to ensure completion within the time frame. Collier knew that this would draw the ire of many of them. January to May, generally a lax period before the onslaught of tourists, was when most of his staff booked their vacation. Now, all leaves would have to be cancelled until this operation was completed. It was decided that the staff would be informed during this Friday’s meeting.
Collier glanced at the wall clock. “You up for a late niter Sergeant? We daren’t go into Friday’s meeting without that schedule completed.”
“I’ll have to let my old lady know. She’d box my ears if I didn’t show up for dinner without telling her.”
“Can’t have that now, can we?”
“Any idea how late, gov?”
“No later than when it’s finished and we’re both satisfied.”
There was an earnest knock at the door. Sergeant Snowden was about to answer it when Corporal Dubin barged into the office waving a sheet of sketch pad paper high in the air. Arriving in excited, overzealous mid-spiel, his talk charged ahead of him making it less than intelligible.
“Hold on Corporal! Stop and get your breath!” implored Snowden.
Dubin took in a deep breath and thrust the sketch in Collier’s direction.
Collier recognized the face of the man in the sketch immediately. “I’ll be damned. Are you a Margaret Lockwood fan or a Michael Redgrave fan, Corporal?” he asked ecstatically.
Nodding his understanding, the corporal smiled at him. “I’ll get the car, sir.”Heading out the door he yelled, “Redgrave fan, sir.”
“You’re going to a movie? What about this schedule?” Snowden asked unable to hide his feelings of indignation.
“Can’t be helped, Sergeant. I can only hope The Lady Vanishes doesn’t mean our suspect has vanished too. I’ll explain later.”
Gathering his hat and jacket from the coat-tree, he exited.
After phoning his wife, Sergeant Snowden settled in for what he expected would be a very long night.
We had to say goodbye, leave it behind, in time so far away,
It still stands not only where we left it but always in our minds.
Do you remember a place where friends were together,
A place where we all grew up just a little.
It seemed like we were somewhat older then,
No! we were not, only teenage kids.
We gossiped and fought over silly things,
Our own groups of whom we would let in.
Do you remember a field, a hangout back then,
A parking lot of dirt, later cement.
A quad only for seniors, now funny it seems,
A football team of boys, champions in the end.
Teachers, some we would never forget,
Friends once lost, now friends again.
Vending machines, and lockers, classes to learn in,
Taken a little for granted so many sunrises ago.
Here’s to Esperanza high school, i’m glad it was…
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Wonderful gifts shared from the past.
If I could give all I knew one present for Christmas it would be an itty-bitty piece of my father. I suppose many daughters think this about their own. The lucky ones. Mine is like no other man I’ve ever met or known before.
My grandmother waited 36 years before delivering her, “only begotten son” on a snowy Christmas dusk in the year of 1932. Five older sisters awaited his arrival, while an older angelic brother looked down from Heaven above. A younger sister of blonde and a baby brother lost were born during the years that came shortly afterward. My father was always the only brother…his parent’s only son.
A humble man who has the kindest soul, my father is always loyal and true. He’s taught me subtle, wise lessons in life. As a girl, I watched his gentle mannerisms while listening to his quiet words, soaking up hushed teachings like a dry…
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That anyone who has been hurt by the actions or words of another forgives and goes in peace;
That our politicians no longer opt for partisan point-scoring and begin to point-score on sound policymaking;
That if chaos threatens the present World Order, our expectations of what governments can achieve is balanced with what is feasible;
That we remember to work together collaboratively on the global economic and political fronts to combat pestilence, war, climate change and neglect, so that no country suffers;
That it is better for the public and politicians to over-react than under-react when it comes to delineating whether or not the nature of a threat (like Ebola) is clear;
That nationalism—the most enduring of the “isms” that begat so many wars from the previous centuries—be dampened and re-directed to more benign activities like ping-pong;
That the unshaven slacker that dwells in my basement will finally move out;
That Kim Jong-Un, North Korea’s Supreme leader, smiles more but not at our expense;
That Alice in Alice in Wonderland has a big birthday party in 2015;
That magic enjoys a golden period despite the illusion-destroying spoilers who Google;
That all cartoonists have a hay-day during all upcoming political elections;
That we rethink the long-hours culture and the tyranny of technology so that we can escape without being tracked down;
That people put down their cellphones and video games and actually interact with people face to face;
That the marketplace never trumps our stewardship of the earth;
That all children can attend schools worldwide without fears of any kind;
That as I age I can stay awake past eight o’clock in the evening;
That I continue to hate the frequency and number of TV commercials that ruin a good program and put me to sleep;
That The Big Bang Theory continues to bring lots of laughter;
That my personal video recorder (PVR) continues to function so that I do not need to watch commercials;
That Jimmy Fallon continues to do his zany skits;
That the internet shall be free and open and shall have its rights undiminished and its liberties unimpaired in perpetuity;
That all my children leave home before their retirement;
That we never set precedents that validate terrorists’ actions;
That I successfully foil my cat’s plot to kill me;
That I will begin to record all the funny things my grandchildren say and do;
That my grandchildren stop recording on YouTube all the funny things I say and do as I age;
That my grandchildren stop hiding my glasses and false teeth when I’m asleep;
That someone will design a sock that toes will never poke through;
That someone will design nail clippers that catch the clippings;
That I remember to…I forgot;
That I always have enough Viagara so I don’t pee on my slippers;
That the year 2015 be the best ever for everyone;
The sky opened early this morn, sprinkling miniature shrubbery of forest green with flakes of dry white. Peeking outside from the inside of kitchen warmth, I was reminded of a silver-colored tin, bigger than a soup can, yet smaller than a breadbox. It had a red-painted handle to the side, making it easy for hands of little ones to grab and hold and shake. When turned upside down, magicdust sprinkled from the top of it.
My grandmother was a true gift in my life. For most of her years on this earth, she loved to bake. It is without hesitation to say that she was the best I ever knew. Everything escaping from her oven door was stirred and whipped from scratch. Years and years of recipes had been handed down to her from my Swedish Great-Grandmother.
My grandma was the very best at baking cookies, pies and cakes. …
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Shadows of darkness surround me everywhere, yet they soothe my soul.
Not to worry. I see everything, everywhere. Up above, my mother’s heart so near. Pink and dear. It beats with love, do you hear? Thump…thump, thump…thump. It’s comforting to me.
Take a breath. Deep. Deeper still. Hold it now. Close your eyes to imagine picture postcards of the unimaginable. Trust me enough to view this kaleidoscope of miracles.
Tip-toe through sparkles of ocean sand. Feel liquid warmth of foaming white trickling over toes…1 to 10. That’s me! Brush wispy flying hair away from sweet soft face. Lift a coral conch shell aloft to your tender ear. Quiet now. Listen closely. Slight waves are washing back and forth. Shhhh… that’s what I hear.
Swooosh! My tiny torso just flipped like a fish in the sea. Swimming… such a small space inside for me. My mother felt it. My father could see! A…
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