Mavis Featherby was just coming out of the park behind her house with Fifi when she saw her neighbour’s electric blue Fiesta draw up and park a little further up across the street. She was even more astonished to see her neighbour, Jane, and a handsome, bearded young man jump out and walk quickly up to the white van in front, Jane glancing around a little furtively it seemed. The man got in the driver’s seat, leant through the window and whispered something closely in Jane’s ear, making her giggle. Mavis was sure she must have been mistaken but it looked like he blew her a kiss as he pulled away. “How odd!” she thought. Come to think of it though, that van did look familiar, she mused as she stopped by the tree, waiting for Fifi to do her business.
Jane and Mike Patterson were the latest additions to her ‘family’ but they had remained an enigma to Mavis ever since their arrival. Pretty young Jane was always so fashionable and sporty; a bit flighty in her opinion, always dashing around here and there; such a contrast to her slightly overweight, balding, middle-aged husband, Mike, who was so business-like, yet mild tempered. He seemed such a very nice dependable man.
Mavis mulled over the strange behaviour she had witnessed as she walked Fifi back to their grand Georgian detached property, which, majestically placed right at the centre of the pleasant cul-de-sac, overlooked the whole enclave of prestigious properties, giving the Featherbys a sense of superiority (or at least that was how Mavis saw it…..)
Mavis and Gareth Featherby had been the first ones to move into their beautiful home on the new development seven years ago; since then, the five other properties had all been purchased and now that Mike and Jane had moved into N° 4, the Crescent was complete. Mavis had taken it upon herself to welcome every new arrival and somehow seemed to feel it was her duty to watch over her flock, helping out whenever anyone had any worries.
Mavis had been waiting for the opportunity to have another nice little neighbourly chat with Jane and so thought she’d pop by today. Not wanting to appear too formal, she went around to the back door, giving a little tap on the kitchen window as she passed by. Jane had her back to the window and jumped nervously, almost dropping the bottle she had just taken out of the grey rucksack on the kitchen table.
‘Cooeee my dear, nice to see you home. I’ve been meaning to pop round to see you for some time. May I co….’
“Oh Mrs er Mrs Featherby, erm, you’ve caught me at rather a busy moment actually.” Jane gushed, interrupting Mavis in mid-sentence. “Erm I’m just on my way out to my Pilate, er I mean to the shops in a sec….”
Mavis was just able to catch a glimpse of two bottles on the table behind Jane. One of them was uncorked, it was whisky, she could tell by the label. Next to it there was what looked like a pile of empty broken capsules very much like her own painkillers she kept in the bathroom for when her arthritis was bothering her.
“I’m erm I’m sorry to rush you Mrs Featherby, but, erm I really can’t speak now…” Jane stammered, pulling the door closed to a tiny gap and blocking off Mavis’s view of the kitchen.
“Why don’t you and I have a nice cup of coffee tomorrow, yes, come back around tomorrow afternoon Mrs Featherby” and with that, Jane closed the door without any more ado, leaving Mavis wide-eyed and speechless on the doorstep.
The realization of where she’d seen the white van suddenly hit Mavis at around ten o’clock that evening, as she sat polishing her silverware and ruminating over the peculiar events of the afternoon. Of course! It was “Bob’s General Maintenance Services”, and come to think of it, she had noticed it parked outside the Patterson’s quite a lot recently.
But why had both of them been in Jane’s car today?
Where had they been?
And why had she parked around the corner there, instead of in their driveway?
Were they up to some funny business? She had certainly seemed very odd at the door.
And what about those whisky bottles?
Was she a secret drinker?
Or did she have a drug problem? wondered Mavis.
The intense blue flashing lights abruptly illuminated the tranquility of the little cul-de-sac as the ambulance screeched to a sudden halt at N° 4. Mavis rushed over to their huge Georgian bay window. She could quite clearly see the silhouette of the ambulance through her pristine white lace curtains,
“Ooohh goodness me, whatever’s happened at the Pattersons? Oh Gareth do come and see! There’s an ambulance pulled up in their driveway!” Gareth puffed at his pipe, and huffed at his wife,
“Come away woman, I’m sure we’ll know soon enough,” he turned his attention back to his newspaper. He only had three clues left to find in his crossword puzzle.
Mavis was still watching the events unfold from the comfort of her lace curtained sitting room bay window as the ambulance men came out of N°4 with Mike Patterson lying lifelessly on the stretcher.
Well well well! This would certainly make interesting news at the Women’s Institute meeting tomorrow…..
Author Notes: This is to be read after the story: "Murderous Plans" for it to have any sense....