Friday, 2 December 2016

The Village Tales of Fekenham Swarberry - Book 4 and a bit - Hand In Glove (Chapter 9)


Sunlight fell across Superintendent Obadiah Pearight’s desk. As a piece of furniture, it was sturdy and immaculately tidy, much like the man who sat behind it. A reading lamp with a green glass shade hugged the left-hand corner of the desk.  Slightly to one side, near to the desk’s edge, was a brass pen stand filled with sharpened pencils. To Pearight’s right was a telephone. Directly in front of him was an opened, foolscap lined pad set within a leather-bound case book in which a sequence of neat notes was written in precise detail.
He was a smart man, dressed in a crisp, blue shirt worn beneath a navy-blue suit. His tie was spotted, his shoes polished. Even his thick, walrus-like, moustache was brushed. He was the man he appeared to be – neat, logical and sharp as a razor.
At sixty-one, Obadiah knew in his heart of hearts that he had risen as far as he could within the Wessex police force. There had been a time when he yearned to scale the heights, perhaps attain the rank of Chief Constable but now he was content with having achieved Superintendent. He had a nice life. It was comfortable, even if occasionally things set his teeth on edge.
Seated in front of him was his most senior officer, Chief Constable Lawrence O’Law. He was not Pearight’s favourite person. It was O’Law who had beaten him in the promotion race. It was O’Law who first made Superintendent whilst Pearight was an ambitious Chief Inspector. It was O’Law who had shot from Chief Superintendent to Assistant, then Deputy and now Chief Constable. There were now only two more ranks to ascend yet somehow Pearight thought they were two too many and way beyond even the ambitions of his old colleague. O’Law was a talented man whose skills at policing were secondary to his abilities at PR.
Larry, as old friends and colleagues called him, was an odd-looking man with an even stranger personality. He was a tall man, perhaps six feet three, thin and willowy giving the appearance of a flower in bloom. His long face being topped off with blonde spiky hair which, though gelled, stuck out at curious angles whilst his face appeared to be covered with foundation cream so that any signs of aging were smoothed away.  He had a very camp way of speaking, made even more obvious by his slight speech impediment. His gestures were histrionic, filled with many a limp wristed movement that waved in time to his constant use of the words Oh, I know. He looked at Pearight and smiled.
“Whatever are we to do with young Lazarus?” he asked, pouting like a fish sucking a fly.
“Lazarus?” queried Pearight, “why, what’s he done?”
“We don’t want another Simpering episode, do we?” suggested O’Law.
“Lazarus is nothing like Simpering, besides hasn’t he resigned, Simpering that is?”
“Oh, I know but he was a one, wasn’t he? I never did like him,” confirmed the Chief Constable fiddling with his platinum blonde spikes.
“I know you didn’t sir. That is why you had him transferred.”
“Oh, I know but don’t you go pretending you liked him ‘cos I know you didn’t.”
“No, I didn’t but he was, if a little odd, a fine detective. His methods were strange it’s true but that was where he excelled. Give him a case that makes no sense and he’ll crack it. Give him one that is run-of-the-mill and he’ll not cope.”
“Oh, I know but I still think we are better off without him. All that eating fish was, well, how can I put it, disgusting. I never did like eating fish.”
“Preferable to be eating them than being eaten by them,” thought the Superintendent.
“I was his boss for several years, sir and he solved innumerable cases by that surreal method he prefers. I still don’t see how he, Simpering that is, is anything like Lazarus.”
O’Law huffed upon the nails of his right hand. He then polished his nails along the edge of his uniform’s lapel. Then he extended his hand to gaze on the result.
“I take it there have been no further incidents?”
Pearight coughed. He knew where this conversation was headed long before O’Law vocalised his thoughts.
“If you mean the panic attacks then no sir, Adam Lazarus has not repeated that unfortunate episode.”
“And the migraines?” lisped the astute, if a little conniving, Chief Constable.
Obadiah Pearight never minded discussing his team, criticising them if need be, when the situation called for it but the one thing he did not like was what he considered to be malicious gossip.
“I promoted Lazarus knowing full well the man’s shortcomings as much as I do his virtues. The occasion you are referring to was some years ago when the pressure leveled at him was intense. He not only fulfilled his duties as a police officer, he also cracked the case.”
“Oh, I know, but in my experience, once a man shows weakness he is liable to do so again. We need to keep an eye on him, especially with this ‘Hand In Glove’ case. Both the Deputy Commissioner and I are monitoring that case with interest. How’s it progressing?”
Suddenly Pearight had a premonition. O’Law had, as he often did, one of his favoured few lined up for the job. He was putting pressure onto both Pearight himself but also Lazarus in the hopes that they would fail so that he could then justifiably remove Lazarus from the case before giving it to his own man. Obadiah Pearight was no one’s fool, no one’s lackey. His reputation for standing his ground, of defending his team to the hilt was much respected throughout the force.
“Adam Lazarus is the best man for the job, sir. I put him in charge with all due confidence in both his ability to catch the perpetrator but also deal with his own personal issues. He will solve this case.”
O’Law licked his little finger then rubbed it along his eyebrow.

“Oh, I know, I know, but let me be frank here, dear old Obadiah, if he doesn’t then it will be you for the high jump and we wouldn’t want that, now would we?” 
Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

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