The Reaper

The Reaper by Peter Lovesey Read Free Book Online

Book: The Reaper by Peter Lovesey Read Free Book Online
Authors: Peter Lovesey
Tags: Mystery
the wrist, a common injury known as a Colles' fracture, the doctor explained. The lower end of the radius had broken off and displaced backwards. There was damage to a ligament, but this was normal. It would require some manipulation.
    Forty minutes later, she came back with her forearm encased in gleaming white plaster. "What do you think?"
    "I think you should get straight on the phone to your lawyers," he said. "Sue the Church of England. Take them to the cleaners. They're not short of a few bob."
    "You'll get the sack, talking like that," she told him, speaking with a freedom she wouldn't have dared to employ an hour ago.
    "I'm a disgrace."
    On the drive back to Foxford, she said, "You've been so kind. I don't deserve such treatment."
    "Why not?"
    "Well, I'm surprised you talk to me at all after that time I knocked at your door and you were only half-dressed."
    "Less than half," he said, and she thought, Oh my God, why did I bring this up?
    But he was amazingly untroubled. "It reminds me of the vicar who called on one of his parishioners and got no answer, so he took out his visiting card and wrote on the back, Revelation, 3, 20. When the lady checked the verse she found: 'Behold I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come into him, and will sup with him, and he with me.' On the following Sunday the lady in question dropped a card of her own into the collection plate. It read: Genesis, 3, 10. And when the vicar checked, he found: 'I heard thy voice in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.' "
    Relaxed again, Rachel said, "Well, after that, I'd better make it clear I can't offer you supper, but I hope you'll come in for coffee when we reach my house."
    He wouldn't this time, he said, and she understood why, considering it was his busiest day.
    "One day in the week?" she said, and boldly added, "After all, we do have some unfinished business."
    "What's that?"
    "Whatever it was you asked me to wait and see you about after church."
    "Oh," he said. "Slipped my mind. Just an idea. In view of the accident, it may have to wait."

    NEXT MORNING she received a spray of pink, yellow and white carnations. The message inside read, "Sorry about the break. Get well soon. Love Waldo."
    "Who the hell is Waldo?" demanded Gary.
    She was tempted to say he was someone she'd fallen for, but Gary wouldn't see the humour in it. Already he was suffering hardships because she couldn't use the arm properly to make breakfast. Any sympathy had been short-lived. So she explained whose grave she had fallen over and said the flowers were obviously a joke.
    "Bloody expensive joke," said Gary. "Some people have more money than sense."

four
    THE TREASURER OF THE Parish Church Council was Stanley Burrows, a retired headmaster. He had taken early retirement at fifty-six, when Warminster reorganised its education system and created a Sixth Form College (a disaster, in Stanley's eyes). He was now approaching his seventy-fifth birthday. Overweight and inclined to wheeze after getting off his knees in church, Stanley was a sober, honest and God-fearing man, treasurer to the last three rectors. Each year he reminded the PCC of his age and suggested a younger person might be willing to take over, but no one else did anything about it. The feeling in the parish was that while Stanley Was up to the job he should continue. Why not, when the accounts were always up to date and never questioned by the auditor? The diocesan quota was paid by standing order. The verger, the cleaner and the organist received their cheques. The rector was given his expenses. Stanley had an excellent relationship with Joy, who urged him not even to dream of giving up.
    "But it doesn't give me the satisfaction it used to," Stanley confided this year. "It's more and more difficult to achieve a balance, I find."
    "That will be the quota," said Joy. "Between ourselves, Stanley, I think the diocese will undermine everything

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