Of Innocence and Guilt (part 6 of 14)
Of Innocence and Guilt (part 6 of 14) postapocalyptic stories
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ferp2 Old, well, old-ish.
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A touching gesture... Or hiding evidence?

Of Innocence and Guilt (part 6 of 14)

Outside, Shadwell decided a show of authority was called for. Concentrating, he elevated all the picks away from the men and suspended them floating in the air beside him.

"You can have these back after you've gone to the mayor, explained why you're obstructing the investigation of the murder of a little girl,

and why you thought you'd get away with trying to threaten the very people who protect you. Maybe even tell her why you thought I'd be stupid enough to fall for your idiotic little show.

Now fuck off to the town hall. I'll come and check when we're done here."

The men stopped smiling. The one who had spoken got to his feet, slowly and with his hands in clear sight.

"Chief Constable. We have committed no crime here unless having a picnic is a crime?" He gestured to his compatriots. "We aren't 'obstructing' anything, as you can see.

We want the killer caught as much as anyone, after all, it's us the fingers are being pointed at." He nodded to the floating mattocks.

"The tools we have are for clearing a ditch and we are not threatening anyone." He folded his arms. "And you, Chief Constable, would have to prove otherwise.

So, if it's all the same to you, sir, we won't be going anywhere."

With that, he sat down again and he and the other men waited silently to see what would happen now.

Shadwell cut an increasingly displeased, but still authoritative figure as the men refused to budge.

"Fine. We'll just have the mayor come to us."

He grabbed his radio again.

"Hey, skat, it's me. I know you're busy, but I need you at the constabulary, there's a bit of an incident here."

He looked over at Theis again and was wondering why he hadn't gone home when Stella hobbled out of the constabulary and joined the men on the grass.

"Would one of you gentlemen be so kind as to get me a coffee? I understand that we are shortly to be joined by the mayor."

She turned to the youngest of the men as two others help her into a sitting position.

"Billy? Be a dear and go and let our people know that we are having a picnic, that Mayor Troy will be joining us and that everyone is welcome to come along with food and drink."

Alana took a nice long swig of the whiskey bottle, watching from upstairs as Billy was forcibly restrained from going anywhere by constable Benjamin.

Mayor Troy turned up shortly after. Tempers were calmed and Stella and her people were sent on her way with a promise that nobody was going to scapegoat anyone for Magrat's murder.

Then she took Shadwell inside to give him some hints on handling people in general, and refugees in particular.

Getting back into her car, Hyle's worries that she was sitting on the biggest powder keg in the world grew tenfold.

In all fairness, Hyle's diversion to the newly formed Constabulary was a welcome relief. It gave her a moment away from the deeply saddening task of making the arrangements for Magrat's funeral.

To be honest, a bunch of folk having a picnic, or a sit-in or whatever it was supposed to have been, was not the item on the top of her agenda.

The coffin containing Magrat's earthly remains had made the journey back from Haven to The Town Hall.

After Doctor Troy had finished the autopsy, the body had been professionally prepared and Hyle had reserved a space in the meeting room for the coffin to be placed until the following day.

Then anyone who wished to pay their respects would be welcome to do so.

Three members of her staff were on hand to guide any visitors, and of course, deal with any disrespectful individuals, should they display any discourtesy.

She had also let it be known, by means of notices placed and by word of mouth, that Magrat's funeral would be held in the school hall at noon the following day.

After that, she would be cremated. Farm hands were currently building the pyre just outside of the town.

But so much for the technicalities, that was the easiest part.

"Goodnight Mayor." Monika, Hyle's new PA, poked her head around Hyle's office door. "Everyone has left for the evening, and I have locked up."

Hyle looked up from the blank sheet of paper on her desk. "Mange tak." She placed her pen beside the writing pad. "Oh, Monika?"

Monika stepped fully into the office. "Yes, Mayor?"

"Thank you for watching over the coffin, it was not the happiest of tasks, I know." Hyle gave the briefest of smiles then indicated Monika to sit

Monika took her seat; she noticed the tired look in Hyle's face and the beginnings of crows-feet in the corner of her eyes.

"Did we get many visitors?" Hyle asked.

"Quite a few, in fact. More than I expected."

"Oh?" Hyle focussed on Monika, prompting her to go on.

"Well. Miss Barrow came in with a few of her 'Old dears.' I thought for a moment they were going to take over. But I said we had everything in hand. They asked about the funeral and umm... well.

I think we don't have to worry about the decorations tomorrow. I said she..." Monika looked at her lap for a moment. "I said perhaps they could help out at the school in the morning.

You were out so..."

Hyle noticed the discomfort. "No, not at all. You made a good decision."

"Thanks." Monica smiled and continued. "Hanna Barret and her brother were there. They paid their respects then left. Then that Evan... er, Stanton turned up."

Hyle could see Monika seemed as if she had something on her mind. She prompted her PA with a raised eyebrow.

"Well, he seemed uncomfortable. He stood well away from the coffin for ages. Like he didn't want to be there. Then, strangest thing.

When I was speaking to Astrid about something, he sort-of quickly went up to the coffin and reached inside. Then he left in a hurry."

"He touched her?"

"Maybe, but not affectionately, it was far too quick."

Hyle thought about this for a moment. It was no secret to most that Evan Stanton had a crush on Magrat. One could have forgiven Evan if he had softly touched her face perhaps.

But a quick dip into the coffin seemed incongruous. It made Hyle suspicious

Hyle stood. "Let's have a look."

The morticians at Haven had done an exemplary job. Magrat looked as if she were merely in a deep slumber, the peaceful look on her face almost proved as much.

Every blemish on her face had been covered, her hair was cleaned and wonderfully tidy, probably more than it had ever been in life. She lay serene in her white shroud. Perfect.

Except a closer inspection of the shroud showed a small disturbance near Magrat's hip.

Hyle gently slipped her hand between the shroud and the coffin lining then she tensed as her fingertips brushed cold steel.

"Som jeg bor og traekker vejret.." She sighed, and she withdrew her hand, clutching the object.

She had seen it before, and Hyle's heart pulled as she remembered the grateful smile on Magrat's face when she had been presented with the engraved stethoscope

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