Missing: Presumed Dead

Missing: Presumed Dead by James Hawkins Read Free Book Online

Book: Missing: Presumed Dead by James Hawkins Read Free Book Online
Authors: James Hawkins
Tags: book, FIC022000
weather, Chief Inspector. It’s getting worse and I didn’t think to bring a brolly today.”
    Was she angling for a lift? “I’m going back to St. Paul’s churchyard, if that’s any help. I could give you a ride.”
    â€œIf you’re sure you don’t mind ...”
    â€œNot at all, Daphne. Actually I wanted a word with you,” he said, scooping her in an outstretched arm and shepherding her out under his umbrella.
    â€œHow is Jonathon?” she asked as soon as they drove off.
    â€œHe seems O.K. Remarkably calm, though not what would call happy.”
    â€œNever has been, that one. Always sour. I remember him as a kid. Always sour – always walking around with a face like a smacked bum.”
    The wrought iron lych-gates were under heavy guard. Two bulky uniformed policeman, grateful to be out of the drizzle, were determined no-one would get through without authority while ignoring the fact that almost anyone could simply step over the two foot high stone wall forming the remainder of the cemetery’s perimeter. A few disgruntled mourners were clustered under a couple of black umbrellas close-by, discussing tactics, looking, thought Bliss, as if they were deciding whether or not to rush the gates and bury their dead anyway.
    â€œD.I. Bliss,” he said, heading for the gap between the two uniformed men. They stood their ground and an arm closed the gap.
    â€œSorry, Sir. You can’t ... this cemetery’s closed today. Who did you say?”
    â€œDetective Inspector Bliss.”
    â€œI’m sorry ...”
    â€œOh, get out of the way you idiot,” snarled Daphne pulling off her plastic rain hood, pushing her way between them and opening the gate. “This is your new chief inspector.”
    â€œIs that you, Daphne?” said one.
    â€œWell, I ain’t one of the Spice Girls, if that’s what you were hoping?”
    He turned to Bliss, “Sorry, Sir.”
    â€œIt’s alright; you were only doing your job – and I’m the D.I., irrespective of any promotion Daphne may bestow on me.”
    â€œYes, Sir.”
    With the gate swinging shut behind him, Bliss paused to look along the ancient ranks of lichen covered gravestones lolling about like disorganised soldiers waiting for a drill sergeant to shout, “Ten ... tion!” An aura of sadness hung about him as he spent a moment imagining all the suffering that had preceded the erection of each stone, and the pain in his expression caught Daphne’s eye.
    â€œWhat is it, Chief Inspector? Are you alright?”
    â€œGhosts, Daphne. Well, one particular ghost anyway.”
    â€œI thought you hadn’t been here before.”
    â€œI haven’t.”
    â€œHow d’ye know about the ghost then?”
    â€œWhose ghost – what ghost?”
    â€œThe Colonel – Colonel Dauntsey.”
    â€œI thought he was a major.”
    â€œNo. I’m not talking about him. Not Rupert Dauntsey – the Major. He’s the one you’re looking for now. I mean his father – the old Colonel. His grave’s over there, look – that posh job with the fancy statue on the roof.”
    A white marble blockhouse stood out against the back wall and appeared almost floodlit in the murk. “The mausoleum?” he enquired.
    â€œYes, that one, Chief Inspector – anyway his ghost is supposed ...”
    Bliss wasn’t listening as she steered him toward the mausoleum; he was reading the names off gravestones, half expecting to see “Mandy Richards” – knowing he wouldn’t. Knowing Mandy inhabited a cemetery a world away. Not for her the tranquillity of a country churchyard with overhanging beeches and chatter of birdsong. Even the vicar’s words at her funeral, “In the midst of life we are in death,” had been lost to the roar of a 747 struggling to escape the gravitational pull of Heathrow Airport.
    They had

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