Very much just jotting down a scene from an idea for a story featuring my character Arthur Fransure. The idea originated from two separate stories which I both felt lacked…. something. So after leaving them both in the bottom of my metaphorical sock draw I dug them out and decided to combine elements of both of them. As usual comments and feed back are much appreciated.
The story set up: Louisa Hornby is a 21 year old student studying Ecological Biology at University of Northampton and is on course for writing her dissertation which she is looking into the effects of pesticides. Louisa while from a wealthy family has chosen not to use family money to put her through Uni and has chosen to aide her finances by modelling for various pin up and glamour agencies. Three days after her 22 birthday Louisa is found murdered in her dressing room at a studio and her estranged father doesn’t want her to be the spectacle of the press and calls in a favour from a friend of his from the police force.
Lawson checked the clock, it was two minutes to eleven, his appointment was due at eleven and he was beginning to wonder if it had been a wise decision- or if his appointment would even decide to show. There was a familiar knock rapped on the office order and he crossed to the door to let his appointment in, Arthur was as punctual as ever.
“You know Arthur sometimes I think you deliberately wait at the door ten minutes early just to make sure you are on the dot,” laughed Lawson nervously.
“Punctuality is something which is important in my profession,” replied Arthur. “Imagine what would happen if Wellington was late for Waterloo.”
“He was wasn’t he?” Answered Lawson, Arthur smiled in response.
“What is it you want to see me about?” inquired Arthur.
“Oh come now Arthur, cannot a JP merely invite an old friend of the family around for an informal chat on a wet morning?” mused Lawson crossing to drinks cabinet, “would you care to sample from my cabinet?”
“Lawson, why is it every time you address someone you have to mention you became a justice of the peace?” he asked rhetorically. “Thanks, it is a bit early but I’ll have a small Sherry if you don’t mind.”
Lawson smiled while pouring himself a large scotch, “Sweet or Dry?”
“I’ll have an Amontillado if you have one,” answered Arthur who had taken to studying a collection of family photos on the mantle piece, the centre piece of which was a photo of Lawson with his wife and daughter stood on the rim of the Grand Canyon. Judging by the age of his daughter and the dress she was wearing Arthur deduced it must have been taken a short while before Stacy, Lawson’s wife, was diagnosed with the tumour.
“Louisa loved that dress you know,” said Lawson handing Arthur his drink. “She always loved the gifts Uncle Arthur bought her.”
“I’m guessing I’m not here to look at the family album, so I guess you want some help in regards to Louisa.”
“Well in a way, it is a bit delicate I need you in your professional capacity.”
“Oh dear has she been found in possession of ‘funny cigarettes’ or do you want me to become her landlord in order to be maintain her virtue?”
“No on both counts Arthur,” said Lawson quietly.
“Ok,” said Arthur picking up two photos from the mantle piece. One was of Stacy and Louisa toasting a meal in some sea front bar in the Caribbean and the other was a photo of Louisa from her A Level leavers party. “I see she wore the necklace I bought her when she celebrated her results.”
“Yes, she wore it at every special occasion.” Whisper Lawson handing Arthur a large scotch.
“So what has she been arrested for?” Arthur asked looking at the drink.
“Louisa’s not been arrested Arthur, ” Lawson said softly, “she’s dead.”
Arthur froze for a second and found himself a seat, “dead? Wh-how?”
“She was found murdered in a dressing room two days ago. I thought the Scotch might dull the shock a bit.”
Arthur looked at the brown liquid in the tumbler, swirled it a little and threw the liquid into his face. He waited a minute for the whiskey to drip off his face, “no it hasn’t helped.” He muttered. Quickly he recomposed himself and looked up at Lawson. “I appreciate you telling me this in person but I have a feeling there is more to this then being the bearer of bad news.”
Lawson took a seat on his desk, “I’d like you to conduct the investigation. I would rather it be kept out of the newspapers as far as possible.”
“Why would the newspapers be interested in such a story? This is a police job, I long since hung up my whistle and truncheon.” Said Arthur.
Lawson smiled, almost Machiavellian Arthur thought, as he opened up a desk draw and produced a small envelope and handed it over to Arthur. “You know Louisa didn’t any monetary support while studying and was determined to finance her way by working like a pleb.”
“I think the term she used was ‘like a regular student’, but yes I remember.”
“Pleb regular student… same thing. I don’t think Stacy would want the press to hound the investigation and I know you were very close to Stacy.”
“That is true.”
“Very close in fact if memory serves,” Lawson handed Arthur the envelope. “Louisa was a very good looking girl and she was very aware of it. I advise discretion Arthur.”
“Your advice is heeded,” said Arthur coldly opening up the envelop and emptying the contents onto his lap, they were a series of small photos and what appeared to be a small number of business cards. Arthur picked up a business card it read: RETROACTION: VINATGE GLAMOUR AND PIN UP SPECIALITY. Following that he looked at a few of the photos. Lawson was right discretion was required, they were photos of Louisa striking poses in a 1950s style glamour style and a few of her in lingerie. After a moment he felt Lawson eyeballing him, he looked up. “Well they aren’t quite what I would like but its hardly a scandal on her behalf, I sense you don’t want an public investigation because you are a district JP.”
“There is that,” said Lawson. “But I’m sure if Stacy had asked you’d do it. You were awfully close and if she were here now…”
“Yes ok she probably would, but I can’t just indulge…”
“Stacy often said how supportive you were to her when she and I had that spat,” smiled Lawson. “You sorted her a flat to stay in and helped her get a job.”
“Yes that is true.. and I encouraged her to get back with you.”
“Which she did. You were always very supportive of Louisa too.. gifts, support and school, free driving lessons. Don’t you owe it to her?”
“These are professional photos you know, they are probably in Pin Up Magazines.”
“I always though it a good omen for Stacy and I’s marriage that she announced she was expecting Louisa just a month after we got back together.” Lawson smiled and sat back on the desk arms folded in satisfaction.
“Ok I’ll look into it,” growled Arthur. “But this is for Stacy and Louisa… not to keep your image clean.”