1926 (27 years earlier)
It was a stormy night in the middle of May. Thunder rumbled and threw waves high up against the shores and the cliffs, while lightning zigzagged across the sky. It had been brewing all day and Father Brown had been keeping an eye on it, waiting for the heat to break and the sky to fall. Mrs McCarthy put the kettle on and looked, concerned, out of the kitchen blind.
“This isn’t going to do St Mary’s roof any good, Father.” She’d said in her thick Irish accent.
“Perhaps I should go and check.” The priest replied, standing from the little table and joining her at the window. He ought to hurry down and lay buckets under leaky spots, but the rain is lashing down and he doesn’t entirely fancy the trip to the nearby building. Lightning darted across the sky while he looked out the window and debated, and, quite suddenly, with the thunder, another sound. A wail. A child’s wail.
The priest and the parish secretary looked at each other, wide eyed. The baby continued to cry, above the thunder, above the abrupt whistle of the kettle.
“Holy Mother, a child out in this weather.” Mrs McCarthy pushed passed Father Brown and hurried to the door. She pulled it open and gasped at the basket on the doorstep.
Another flash of lightning illuminated the contents; a baby, writhing and wailing, swaddled beneath a white blanket. A raindrop slapped onto the baby’s cheek. At once Mrs McCarthy picked up the basket and pulled it into the house, shutting the door behind her.
“Father.” She said, bustling quickly back into the kitchen and placing the basket on the table, “A child! Abandoned and in the rain no less!”
The child was still crying, flapping their arms, kicking their legs out from under the blanket, bare, wrinkly feet bursting out. Father Brown inspected the basket and found, tucked at the side, an envelope. He took it, unflapped the seal and pulled out the paper inside. He read;
“ This child is Sidney Carter. His mother has passed. Please take care of him. ”
“Does it say who from?!” Mrs McCarthy asked, lifting the child, still wrapped in the blanket, out of the wicker basket. She held him close to her chest and he relaxed at the warmth, quieting as the woman rocked him.
“No.” Father Brown replied, “Do we know any Carters?”
“Not in Kembleford as far as I’m aware.” Mrs McCarthy answered, “Poor thing.” she looked down at the child, “Such a tiny little boy.”
Lightning flashed, thunder growled. Sidney Carter began to cry again.
i'm sure mrs m hasn't been parish secretary since the 20s but it's not like sid was abandoned at the presbytery at birth either lol
Mayor Warner was murdered overnight and Mallory isn't the only man to turn up to investigate
blood mention, death mention (but hey, it's a murder mystery!) also this is the first time i've ever written mallory and i find it great bc i write his moustache like it's it's own character
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
1953 (present day)
“Inspector.” Elizabeth Warner opens the large front door, and smiles weakly from half behind it. “Come in.” she looks white, tired. Her eyes are red and her cheeks are blotted. Inspector Mallory is at once unsettled and glances uneasily at Sergeant Goodfellow behind him.
She leads him through the large house, up one marble flight of stairs, and along a corridor. She pushes open a door and stands aside to allow him and the Sergeant in, but she, herself, remains outside. It’s a large study, shelves full of books lining the walls. At the far end of the room sits a long mahogany desk, forefronting a spacious paned window, overlooking the beach and a restless old sea.
Besides the desk, however, is a fluster of papers, scattered from the desk. A pen has rolled across the room and landed at the end of the rug. Mallory steps over this, and nears the scattering of paper. For amongst it lies a body, a large white skinned man in a ruffed suit. And someone else kneeling over him, murmuring. Inspector Mallory stops. Huffs. His moustache scrunching into his nostrils.
“Padre.” He greets through gritted teeth.
Father Brown looks up from the body on the floor and grins over at him, “Inspector!” he replies, only his response hasn’t the trace of bitter sarcasm that Mallory’s did. “Shot.” he says, gesturing to the bullet wound in the man’s forehead. There’s a pool of blood around his head. "but no sign of a weapon."
“Thank you, padre, I’m sure I can distinguish that for myself.” Mallory grumbles, strolling over to the body. “Are you done?”
“Uh, yes, thank you.” Father Brown says, standing, kissing both lengths of his purple stole before folding it back up.
“Great well, good day.” Mallory says, with a smirk that is supposed to read as a smile.
Father Brown hesitates, opens his mouth then closes it, nods, and walks from the room. He closes the door on his way out and finds Mrs Warner crying against the adjacent wall.
“Elizabeth.” he says, edging towards her, “Would you like to talk?”
“What am I to do, Father?” She cries into her hanky, “He was the Mayor .”
“Yes the town will not be the same without him.” Father Brown says, choosing the words carefully so that it is neither a lie, nor insensitive. There’s every possibility the town will be better without him, but he omits this sentiment.
“Neither will I!” Mrs Warner says before wailing and blowing her nose, “He was- he was not a perfect man but he was still my man. My husband . What am I to do now? Will I need to move? The house is too big for me alone.”
Father Brown tries to think of something consolable but falls short and instead rests a hand on the woman’s shoulder. The Mayor and Elizabeth never had children, despite the pressure from the town. After a 25 year reign over kembleford, people were itching for him to either produce an heir or stand down. This outcome is somewhat more rash than standing down, a slightly angrier call than simply resign , something a letter would likely suffice for.
No, this is something more, that much he knows.
“I am sure that the Inspector will find out what happened.”
“No he won’t.” Elizabeth says with a dry laugh, “He never does. That’s always you, everybody knows it.”
“Mallory does his best!” Father Brown reasons with surprising earnest, but when Elizabeth gives him a pointed look, he adds, “Would you like me to find out whatever I can?”
“Oh, no, I wouldn’t dream of troubling you so,” she says, and adds, before Father can argue, “I think I shall hire a private detective.”
“Right.” Father Brown says with a nod of approval, “A good idea. Although, I’m not so sure Mallory will like it.”
This makes Elizabeth chuckle, eyes brightening for a moment. Then the doorbell rings. When she opens it, a man with a long grey overcoat atop a brown suit smiles curtly. He has stubble and short dark hair. He holds out some form of ID that Elizabeth finds herself too dazed to read.
“Chief Inspector Valentine, Scotland Yard.” he greets.
“Oh.” Elizabeth says, pulls the door open a tad further as she straightens herself, “Scotland Yard…”
“The murder of a Mayor with a reputation as Mr Warner is to be handled by an outside party, you see. The town is far too close to it all.”
“Ah.” She nods and steps aside, allowing him in, “I’m afraid that Inspector Mallory, our local Inspector, is already here. News travels fast to Scotland Yard.”
Valentine nods, “Lots of ears, you see.” he explains, “And eyes.”
Elizabeth nods, “Tea?” she offers, remembering her manners.
“Not at the moment.” Valentine says with a grateful smile, “May you take me to the body?”
Elizabeth winces but nods and leads the man up the stairs. No matter how many times she is to do this, it will never get easier.
“If you don’t mind me asking, who are you in relation to-”
“Wife.” Elizabeth answers hurriedly, “I’m his wife. Was. I was his wife.” She corrects, tears springing to her eyes.
Valentine nods, “I’m so sorry for your loss.” he says, honest, if a little awkwardly.
Father Brown is still in the corridor, feigning admiration up at the large painting of a vase of flowers on the wall. Valentine looks the man questioningly up and down, but breezes into the study at Elizabeth’s gesturing hand.
“Inspector Mallory, I presume.” Valentine greets.
Mallory, who’d been squatting, staring at the body like the deceased will tell him what happened, stands at once at the stranger’s entrance.
“And you are?” he asks.
“Chief Inspector Valentine.” the man replies, holding out a hand, “Scotland Yard.”
Mallory’s face contorts, making his moustache wiggle rather distractedly. “Why exactly are you…”
“Well in the case of a person of importance dying, for instance, a town’s mayor, it is customary to have an outside party investigate.”
“Everyone in town is a suspect.” Valentine spells out, aware Mallory still blinks back blankly, “ Including the local police. Ie, you, Inspector.” he nods over at the sergeant across the room, “And you…”
“Goodfellow.” The Sergeant says, smiling warmly and holding out a hand. Valentine shakes it.
“Now, of course, I’m sure neither of you have done nothing wrong, however this is simply out of your jurisdiction, I’m afraid.”
Mallory’s face contorts once more. He opens his mouth but snaps it shut again. No words can convey the fury clouding his head.
“Makes no difference to me.” Sid says with a sniff, stubbing out his cigarette on the table.
“Right? Mayor wasn’t good man.” Susie agrees, sitting on the chair beside him.
“I’m not saying he was good .” Bunty defends, the other side of Sid, “But it’s still going to change the whole town.”
“And about time.” Sid says, looking up gleefully as Mrs McCarthy exits the back door of the presbytery, carrying a large china plate stacked with strawberry scones, “I’m bored of this place.”
The moment Mrs McCarthy sets the plate down onto the garden table, three hands dive into it.
“Will the Father be back soon?” Bunty inquires before taking a bite, then, after a mouthful says, “I say, Mrs M, these get more delightful every time I have one.”
Mrs McCarthy warms at the compliment and sits down in the chair beside her, “Thank you, Penelope, but I don’t see why you refuse to let me teach you the recipe.”
“I keep saying you could teach me.” Susie offers, “I’m fast learner!”
“Yes, well, you’re always busy. And Sidney near burnt the place down when I tried to show him, I can’t imagine you will do any better.” Mrs McCarthy says, “And as for the Father, I’ve no clue when he will return. When he is done snooping, no doubt.”
Sid chuckles amidst a mouthful of scone. “Probably.”
The gravel shuffles in the distance, and the group all turn to watch Father Brown round the corner, into the back garden of the presbytery.
“Speak of the devil.” Sid says with a grin, “How was it?” he asks when the Father reaches them.
“Mrs warner is heartbroken.”
“I’m sure she’s the only one.” Sid mutters, pursing his lips when the Father shoots him a look.
“Do you know who’s going to take Mr Warner’s place as Mayor?” Mrs McCarthy asks, eager for the gossip.
“No.” Father Brown replies as he sits down in the last spare seat around the table and reaches for a scone, “Mallory has been told to stand down from the case.”
“Whatever for?!” Mrs M demands, sitting up, “Surely he needs to solve it!”
“A Chief Inspector from Scotland Yard showed up.” Father Brown explains, “And yet, Mrs warner still appears set on hiring a P.I. as well.”
“What is P.I?” Suzie asks at once as everyone around the table exchanges surprised and curious glances.
“Private Investigator.” Bunty replies, “Like the police but they work for themselves.”
Sid huffs and sits back in his chair, “The place will be crawling with cops, then.”
“Well a P.I. is a little different surely?” Father Brown says.
“Works for the same laws, far as I’m concerned.” Sid says, sucking the jam from the scone off his fingers.
“I suppose.” Father Brown agrees.
“She should just hire you, Father.” Suzie suggests.
“I did offer to see what I could find but she ensured that she didn’t want to trouble me.” Father Brown explains.
“So that’s it then?” Bunty asks, “You’re going to leave the whole thing alone?”
Father Brown looks at her, a look in his eye that says absolutely not . Sid laughs.
ok we meet sullivan in the next chapter (and sullivan meets everyone else)
we meet sullivan! and sullivan meets many other people including Elizabeth Warner, Sidney Carter and Lady Felicia
Thomas Sullivan never did like the beach. It was always too hot and the sand got everywhere. There was little enjoyment in the sea, either, what with seaweed wrapping around his legs and salt thick and strong on his lips. Not to mention the way it would stiff his hair. It had always been his parents’ idea of a holiday. “ Like a normal family ” his father would say, and would look directly at him. But no amount of pebble ridden sand could bury the truth.
The trainline had been following the sea for some time and he’d watched the shimmering blue out the window. The moment he steps onto the Kembleford station platform he can smell salt and fish and heat that is by no means lessened by the harsh sea breeze. He crosses through the station briskly, keeping his head down. He shan’t be here long, he’s sure. No need to make any acquaintances. No cause to be any kind of friendly at all.
Except to Mrs Warner, she is the one paying him, after all. Mayor Warner died yesterday, she’d told him over a cup of tea on the porch outside the back of the manor, the whooshing sound of the sea running up against the shore line in the distance. He had been mayor for two and a half decades and, as she’d said, he’d served the town well, and when Sullivan pushed a little, he served the town sufficiently .
“He wasn’t… he didn’t actually do much, but few people noticed. He kept everything the same and that’s how everyone likes it.”
“I see…” Sullivan says, frowning into his notebook, unsure exactly what to write, “So you don’t think he had any enemies.”
“Well...” she shrugs, “Monty always wished dearly to be mayor.”
“Monty?” The P.I. echoes, jotting the name and looking up at the woman.
“Yes, Montgomery Montague. Monty, everyone calls him.” Mrs warner says, “But he wouldn’t… I mean he’s rarely even in Kembleford, leaves his wife alone for months on end sometimes.”
“And his wife’s name?” Sullivan asks, thinking this is a dry lead, but he may as well use it to get started.
“Lady Felicia Montague.” Mrs warner replies with a small smile, “She’d never do a thing like this either, sir, you must know that.”
Sullivan nods once and snaps shut his small notebook. He gulps the last few mouthfuls of tea and stands. “Well, thank you for your time, Mrs warner, I will be in touch.”
Elizabeth nods and stands also, “I’ll show you out.” she offers, and heads in before he can refuse.
“Is it only you in the house Mrs warner?” Sullivan asks, turning around in the front doorway.
“No there is usually a maid and a butler, and my cook.” she replies, “they gave interviews to the police but I gave them the afternoon off. If you wish to speak to them I can ask them here tomorrow.”
“Good, yes, that would be important, thank you.” Sullivan says and steps out the house. He turns back to her, “I will find out what happened, Mrs warner, I assure you.”
“Thank you, Detective.” She says with a small smile, “Goodbye for now.”
She closes the door and Sullivan strolls back up the large driveway. The Montagues, now where could they live?
It’s a fair walk, and a hot one, but the Montague house is not hard to spot, after all it is more of a mansion. It is quite the opposite end of Kembleford to the warner’s, like the two buildings are the bookends, holding the rest of the town in between.
He crunches his way up the gravel entrance, which brings him to the side of the house and a large driveway. There’s a figure hunched over, half in the bonnet of a grand Rolls Royce. Sullivan ignores him and continues to walk until the person beneath the bonnet speaks.
Sullivan’s shoes scrape to a halt and, quite against his will, he turns around.
“What do you think you’re doing?” the man demands. His hands are stained partly black from meddling with the car and he holds a spanner in his hands. He’s dressed in garish blue overalls and his hair is in need of a brush.
“I’m here to enquire about the murder.” Sullivan says, “Detective Sullivan.” he holds out the hand, the man doesn’t take it. He slowly lowers it again.
“The warners’ is the other end of the village.” the man says, gesturing a hand back over his shoulder.
“I know.” Sullivan replies, “I’ve just come from there. I’d just like to speak to uh… Monty? I’ve heard that’s what people call him.”
“Well good luck. Me and her ladyship haven’t seen him in three weeks and countin’.” The man replies, turning back to the bonnet and closing it back down with a slight slam.
“Well perhaps I could speak to her.” Sullivan says, and turns and continues towards the house.
“Hey!” the man runs after him. Sullivan doesn’t have time for this, “You can’t just turn up like this! She’s not even done nothin’! Why would she?!”
On the doorstep, a large stone porch with columns on either side of it, Sullivan turns and looks once more at the man, “What makes you so sure?”
“I- it’s- I mean… it’s Lady F.” he says.
“Know her well, do you?” Sullivan asks, sliding his notebook from his pocket and flicking to the next blank page.
“Long as I can remember. She’s practically an aunt.”
“And you’ve worked for her how long?”
“Since I was old enough to drive, why?”
“And your name?”
“Sidney.” the man tells him, and then, when Sullivan looks at him pointedly he adds, “Carter. Hang on, why are you writing this down? I've got nothing to do with none of this.”
“Well, we’ll find out won’t we?” Sullivan says and knocks on the door, “Besides, I’m not really here in suspicion, Mr Carter, I’m merely trying to gain some insight on the town.”
“And that’s why you took down my life story.”
“Your life story.” Sullivan echoes, slightly in disbelief. Before Sid can retort, the door opens.
A fairly old man in a black suit opens the door.
“Can I help you?” he asks.
“I was wondering if I could speak to Lady Felicia?” Sullivan asks.
“He reckons she’s a murderer.” Sid says, leaning against the wall beside the door.
“No I don’t.” Sullivan glowers, “I’d merely like to gather some intel.” he explains to the man at the door.
“Hornby who is it?!” A loud woman’s voice calls through the house.
“Detective Sullivan.” Sullivan tells Hornby.
“A detective, your Ladyship.” Hornby continues to look Sullivan up and down, like he’s still miffed by his presence.
“Send them to the drawing room, Hornby!” the voice calls.
“Right away, your Ladyship.”
Sullivan nods slightly at Sidney Carter and steps into the house.
Lady Felicia’s hair is curly and runs down behind her, onto a long red dress. She wears a jewelled necklace and has Hornby pour two teas from the pot.
“Sugar?” Hornby asks Sullivan, who shakes his head.
“Thank you, Hornby.” Lady Felicia says, smiling. Hornby nods and shuffles from the room.
It’s a large room with two floral sofas and a matching armchair. Against the wall is a large fireplace, photographs across the mantle, above which, on the chimney breast, is a large mirror.
“How can I help you, Detective?” Felica asks, crossing one leg over the other and straightening her dress across her lap. Sullivan, who sits in the arm chair, picks up his mug of tea and saucer and takes a sip. He rests it back on the china saucer and looks at her,
“I just thought you could enlighten me into the nature of the relationship between your husband and the late mayor.”
“Relationship?” Felicia echoes, picking up her tea, “You make it sound so romantic.”
“Well that’s not what I-” Sullivan starts, suddenly feeling tight and nervous and embarrassed.
“I know, I’m only joking.” Felicia assures, “Monty always dreamed of being Mayor but he and Mr Warner got on well enough, his jealousy was nothing personal.”
“And where was your husband yesterday night?”
Lady Felicia laughs slightly, “God knows.” she says, then, when Sullivan looks mildly concerned she adds, “He had a work thing, I believe he is up in London. He wasn’t here, anyway.”
“Okay. And the town? What did they think of Mr Warner? He was Mayor for a long time, did that not agitate people?”
“Well…” Felicia shrugs, “Some theorise he was fixing the vote in his favour. Others sort of… mocked him. Nothing outrageously serious though, as far as I’m aware. Not enough to kill him, I don’t imagine. This village fears change, Detective.”
The door opens, then, and a tall man with a long and sharp face, a brown suit and grey silk scarf, swans into the room.
“I didn’t realise you’d invited a third party over darling.” he says and, with a flourish, flops down into the empty sofa across the room. Sullivan near spits out his tea.
“No, no, dear this is a private detective all the way from London, about the mayor.” she adds the last bit in a whisper, as though the death is somehow a secret.
“I see!” The man says, sitting forward, “And how can we help you?”
Sullivan looks from the gentleman to Lady Felicia, and says, cautiously, “I thought your husband was out of town.”
Lady Felicia laughs slightly, “Oh, oh, no this is Hercule.”
“Flambeau.” the man corrects, “Her husband provides no love, whereas I…”
“Of course.” Sullivan says quickly. Not because he gets it, but because he doesn’t think he wants to. It’s clearly no secret, doesn’t appear to be any kind of motive, and therefore nothing he need know about.
“As for the Mayor. He was rash and traditional. Controlling. And had affair after affair, women all over the place, and no love for any of them.” Flambeau shakes his head in disapproval, “His poor wife.”
“I… See.” Sullivan says, noting down ‘adulterer’ under his little ‘victim’ heading on the first page, “So you’re saying anyone could have had motive. Terrific.” he stands, “Thank you very much for the tea, Lady Felicia. If I need anything else I’ll be in touch.”
“You’re most welcome detective, please do call again!”
Sullivan’s face is a little red when he exits out into the sunshine.
“It was the same man I saw leaving the station!” Sid finishes explaining to Father Brown when evening rolls around.
“I see.” The Father says.
They’re strolling along the seafront, as they so often do together. Father Brown remembers pushing Sidney up and down the esplanade in a pram, willing him to fall asleep in his early years. And there were the times Sid skipped along up ahead and fell with a slap onto the concrete pathway. He cried all the way home. It doesn’t feel that long ago, not really.
“So Suzie and Bunty each owe me a shilling!” Sid says. He and the two women had sat all morning at Father Brown’s bedroom window, for it’s view out over the station in front of the beach, waiting for the Private Investigator to arrive. It sounded posh and exciting, brand new and different. They’d made notes on potential men, but Sid knew he’d hit the jackpot with Sullivan. He looks like a rip of police Inspector, with his perfect blue suit, grey hat and stern, sharp face. He also hadn’t looked exactly pleased to have arrived in Kembleford, and Sid didn’t exactly invisage P.I.s to be in anyway cheery.
“And what is he like?” Father Brown asks.
“Rude.” Sid says, and looks out at the sea, “Cold. Suspicious. Took my name down! Me! Like I’d have anything to do with a murder. He’s from the city, you can tell, all polished boots and gold strapped watch. Not a speck of dirt on him. Clean shaven. Brown eyed. Thinks he could rule the place but probably hasn’t even set foot on a beach.”
Father Brown watches Sid in mild amusement. His cheeks are pink. “Is that all?”
Sid looks at him, thinking, then says, “Yeah.” and looks down at the path. He kicks a pebble across the concrete.
Father Brown smiles and gently shakes Sid by the shoulder. “Just be careful, yes?”
Sid nods over at the priest. He hates how easily the man can read him.
hope you enjoyed this chapter!! will post more soon (also as many of you can probably relate, it's so hot today, and the past few days, and i'm literally melting send help!)
basically inspectors and private investigators doing investigating. and them hating father brown lmao (it’s the tower of lost souls but they’re all angry)
“I was in my room all night.” Catherine says, “I don’t understand, I’ve already told Chief Inspector Valentine about all of this, I thought you weren’t supposed to be working the case.”
Inspector Mallory withers and forces a smile, “Well I just, thought I’d make some investigations of my own. Just make sure he’s uh… doing his job.”
“Right…” Catherine says, “Well as I told Valentine, I was in my room all night. When I heard the gunshot I hid for a little while before I thought it was safe. Then Martin knocked on my door to see if I was alright and tell me what had happened. That’s all.”
“And Martin is… the Butler, correct?”
“Yes, Inspector.” Catherine says, “Is that all?” She appears about the same age as Mrs Warner, somewhere in the late 40s or early 50s, wearing a black dress and white, flowery apron. Her hair is dark but braided on top and tied into a bun. Her eyes are green but tired looking, and possibly a little worried.
Mallory frowns, squinting, then smiles, “For now.” He says. “Do you know where I might find this uh, Martin?”
“Kitchen?” Catherine suggests with a shrug. Mallory goes to walk off, “Inspector… it was an intruder, to the house.” she says, “there was a window open downstairs, in the drawing room. I must’ve forgotten to close it. I’m really sorry.”
“I’m not sure it’s me, you need apologise too.” Mallory says, and with that he hurries off and leaves the maid in the living room.
Shakily she stands, brushes down her apron and hurries out the room. The doorbell rings.
“I’ll get it Mrs Warner!” Catherine calls down the hall.
She opens the door to a man dressed in blue, his overcoat trailing almost to his polished black shoes. He wears a grey fedora and in his hands holds a small notebook with small gold lettering at the top.
“If you’re press then Mrs Warner isn’t speaking to anyone right now.” Catherine goes to close the door.
“Wait.” Sullivan says, holding out a hand, “I’m the detective. Sullivan? Has she not mentioned me?”
“Oh, right, I’m so sorry, please come in.” Catherine says, flushing and stepping aside. Sullivan steps inside. “I’ll go and get Mrs Warner.”
“Actually… I believe it’s you, I’d like to speak to?”
“Me? I’m just the maid…”
“Exactly.” Sullivan says stepping into the house, “I’d like you to recount yesterday’s events, if that’s okay.”
“Of course.” Catherine says, if a little tightly.
Sullivan is on his way to speak to the butler, when a short moustached man walks past him down the hall in the other direction.
“And who the blazers are you?” Mallory asks, after stopping a few steps ahead and swivelling around.
“Detective Sullivan.” Sullivan says, holding out a hand.
“Inspector Mallory.” the other replies, looking at Sullivan’s hand but not shaking it.
“From Scotland Yard?” Sullivan asks.
“Uh. No, no of kembleford.” Mallory says, a little disgruntled at the question.
“Oh. But I thought that you weren’t supposed to be-”
“Well I’m not the only one snooping around the crime scene, am I?” Mallory points out, looking Sullivan up and down.
Sullivan frowns, “I’m being paid to be here.”
This doesn’t seem to make Mallory feel any better, “We have enough people snooping in this town, can’t believe I have to deal with yet another.” he grumbles, and, with that, turns and walks away, still muttering under his breath, “first a priest, now a blinkin’ detective.”
Martin is cleaning up in the kitchen besides a cook by the name of Benjamin.
“We’ve just been through this.” Benjamin complains in a French accent, putting ingredients away back into the cupboard.
“I know, I’m sorry, but Inspector Mallory isn’t even supposed to be here.”
“But you are?” Martin asks, then catches the Detective’s look, “Chief Inspector Valentine won’t be best pleased to know a P.I. is also working this.”
“Well I’m sure he can be civil.” Sullivan says, “But please, gentlemen, if you will, your whereabouts.”
“I was at home.” Benjamin says. “I do not sleep here, I have wife and children I live with.”
“I see, and you were there all night?”
“From 9 at night to 5 in the morning, oui.” he says, closing the cupboard door a little harshly, “I knew nothing of the night until I arrived then, surprised to see lights on and Martin here boiling the kettle.”
Martin nods solemnly, “I was the first to find him.” He says. He’s a skinny, tall man with a prim black suit and bowtie. His face is small and circular, and his head is bald, “I thought I heard noises but Mr Warner often worked late so I listened, but thought little of it. Until of course, the gunshot.”
“And what time was this?”
“About 2:15? I cannot be exact, it all happened so fast, the last thing I thought of doing was checking the time.”
“Okay…” Sullivan murmurs as he jots it all down, “And by then the intruder was gone?”
“Yes. I heard him leave, a crash downstairs.”
“And you didn’t go after him?”
“There was a gunshot!” Martin replies, “I went straight to check on the Master. I was far too late.”
“Did he treat you all nicely?” Sullivan asks, “Fair pay? No arguments?”
“Well, as fair a pay as such a job warrants these days.” Martin says, “It is no bother for me, however, I’ve been with the Warner family for many decades now. Long before he was mayor.”
“I see!” Sullivan says. “Catherine said something of the same, you both knew each other all this time, she told me she left London to work here.”
“Oh, yes, we are good friends. She is almost like my sister.” Martin replies.
“I’ve only worked for the Mayor five years.” Benjamin says, “I find the job tiring but he is no different to any other house master I’ve worked for.”
“In what way?”
“Selfish rich man, only ruling the people to benefit himself.”
Sullivan jots this down too and adds a large question mark beside it. Suspicious, possibly nothing in it, but suspicious. “Alright, well, thank you, gentlemen, for your time.”
Outside, a priest is walking up the drive. Sullivan attempts to simply keep his head down and walk right past, but the priest grins and stops in front of him.
“You must be the Private Investigator.” he says, holding out his hand, “Father Brown.”
Reluctantly, Sullivan shakes it, “Sullivan.” he says, “I assume you are here to offer counsel to Mrs Warner.”
The priest hesitates, then nods slightly, “Course.” he says with a grin. Sullivan eyes him.
“You won’t… pry, will you?” he asks. He remembers Mallory muttering about too many people in town snooping, the seething mention of a priest, and he wonders if this is who he means.
“Wouldn’t dream of it!” The priest says, grinning again. He goes to leave when Sullivan thinks of something,
“How did you know who I was?” he asks after him.
“Sidney Carter.” Father Brown says, “He’s my- well he’s not my son, but he’s…”
“I see.” Sullivan says. He doesn't, but he also isn’t really interested. It shuts Father Brown up with a nod, anyway.
“Yes, we bagged up the evidence, minus the weapon because it’s not been found.” Valentine assures carefully stacking all of Mallory’s paperwork to one side of the Inspector’s desk.
“And your men wore gloves?” Mallory asks.
“My men are your men, and yes, they all wore gloves.” Valentine assures, “Now could you please let me get on?” he asks, turning desperately to the shorter detective.
“But sir , I just think I should be of some assistance. You let Goodfellow check the scene.”
Valentine pinches the bridge of his nose. How do you tell a man that you don’t want to work with someone so annoying and hot headed without sounding, well, rude? “Fine.” he decides on, finally, and instantly regretting it. “But anything you do must be run past me and you mustn’t go out to do anything regarding this case alone, alright?”
“Whatever you say, Sir.” Mallory replies, a voice and smile so sweet it drips with bitterness.
Valentine doesn’t know why he was the unlucky one at Scotland Yard that got assigned to this case. Kembleford is a run down seaside town with a constant smell of salt and fish, and a seemingly unsolvable seagull problem. Not to mention the headache that is the town’s Inspector, and the overzealous curiosity of the priest he’d met yesterday at the manor.
He doesn’t trust a single person in this town will truly tell him the full truth, especially now Mrs Warner’s hired a P.I. as well. Everything feels against him, even the sun, with the way it clings under the suit and makes him uncomfortably warm.
He climbs the marble stairs of the Warner manor and treads down to the study, only to find the door open. He frowns and steps into the doorway.
“Father Brown.” Valentine says, causing the man behind the desk to jump and slam shut a drawer.
“Chief Inspector Valentine.” he grins innocently.
“Inspector Mallory has told me all about you, since our last meeting.”
Father Brown nods, “I’ll be going.” he decides, making for the door.
“Yes.” Valentine says, “And if I catch you sticking your nose in again, I’ll have you arrested.”
“Right. I understand. My nose shall stay uh… well out.” he says, grins, then walks out.
Valentine waits for the sound of the priest on the staircase to fade into the distance before crossing the room. He opens the top drawer that Father Brown had so hastily slammed. It appears somewhat empty, in a disarray aside from a few pages of documents. He closes the drawer shut again and bends down to inspect it. A small key hole is carved below the handle, and no matter where Valentine looks, he finds no key to fit it.
“Well what did I tell you?” Mallory says when Valentine’s back at the station with his notes on the room and the desk drawer, and the prieston the scene. “Man’s a nuisance.”
“What’s worse, he acted like he wasn’t doing anything!” Valentine continues, glad to have someone to vent with.
“Oh believe me, I know.”
“I told him, another stunt like that and he’ll be in the cells.”
There’s a knock at the door.
“Come in.” Mallory and Valentine chime at once, only to send a glare at the other for stealing their line.
The door opens.
“Ah. The want to be detective.” Mallory greets, eyes widening when said detective steps further into the room, pulling a rather solemn and guilty priest in with him, “ And the padre, fantastic.”
“Apologies, Inspectors but I made uh, a citizen's arrest. Breaking and entering.”
Father Brown purses his lips.
“Fair enough, I’m sure an hour or two in the cells can’t do any harm.” Valentine says with a nod.
Mallory looks at him aghast, “That’s my area of- but yes, a few hours in the cells should do the trick. Sergeant!”
“Yes sirs?” Goodfellow asks, poking his head around the door into the considerably crowded office.
“Please escort Father Brown into the cells.” Mallory says before Valentine can.
Goodfellow looks a little confused, and then somewhat apprehensive, but obliges and takes the priest out the room and down the corridor.
“Well, good day to you both.” Sullivan says, heading, too, for the door.
“Hang on.” Mallory says, holding up a hand, “How would you like to work with us?”
“I don’t do that.” Sullivan says at once, but he stops and turns back nonetheless.
“Neither do I.” Valentine says, “Good day, sir.”
Sullivan nods and attempts to leave once more.
“No, no, no listen.” Mallory says, “It appears that we all share one common enemy.” Mallory gestures vaguely in the direction of the cells and the other two inspectors can’t help but glance that way. “So I propose that we unite against him.”
“I mean, he’s a priest, Inspector, enemy is a bit rash…” Valentine says.
“Although he has a point.” Sullivan says, “Suppose he finds the killer and instead of handing them in, helps them flee.”
“Yes! Exactly! Thank you! Someone with a head.” Mallory says. Sullivan and Valentine share a glance.
Valentine sighs, “Alright, I suppose, a cease fire, just for this case.” he holds a hand over the desk to Sullivan, who shakes it, “But I don’t trust P.I.s,” he adds as he drops Sullivan’s hand, “I’ll be keeping an eye on you.”
“So, first on our list, besides, you know, our own work…” Mallory says, “is to find out and keep up to date, with what padre already knows. Now, I propose a couple weak spots we can exploit. There’s Mrs McCarthy, parish secretary, parish gossiper. Let her feed you a few strawberry scones and I can assure you, gentlemen, she will reveal all. Lady Felicia, if you’re up for it, P.I., now she seems pretty happy with that art thief but I assure you, one or two pressed buttons and I’m sure you can unwind-”
“Why can’t you take Lady Felicia?” Sullivan interrupts.
“You just seem to know exactly how to-”
“I am married .” Mallory retorts, “How could you insinuate such-”
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” Sullivan rushes, “I just, I wouldn’t exactly be comfortable uh… Seducing a uh… a woman for,” he clears his throat, feeling hot, “personal gain.”
“How about her Chauffeur?” Valentine offers.
Come the chorused responses of Mallory and then Sullivan.
“Sorry was that not- the problem wasn’t that Lady Felicia was a woman?”
Red, flushed hot, Sullivan looks between the two Inspectors. Valentine looks fairly calm, if not embarrassed at the possibility his assumption was wrong. Mallory’s eyes are bulging, and his moustache looks like it’s somehow grown, from the shock.
“Um.” Sullivan slips his hands into his pocket, “Uh, yes, Chauffeur is… fine.” he inspects his shoes, they already feel ridden with sand. He glances at Mallory.
“Well… I suppose… Father Brown treats that boy like his own flesh and blood so if he tells anyone anything, Sidney Carter is… useful?” Mallory attempts, trying to keep his growing bewilderment and judgement at bay, “You can… do what… ever you er… just find out information, okay?”
Sullivan rolls on his tippy toes awkwardly, but nods. “Right.” Sidney Carter. Fine. What’s the worst that can happen?
swear i were gonna add something to the last scene but i forgot so i hope it still works lol.
In which eddie can read sid like a book, amonst other things (there are some long paragraphs later on but they are sort of flashbacks so yeah)
In the same way Thomas Sullivan never did like the beach, he additionally never did like parties. He isn’t good with conversation and, more broadly, isn’t good with people at all. And he’s not all that fussed over drink or fancy party food or long stretches of grass and hot, streaming sunshine across an endless blue sky. Yet he’s found himself roped in to attending the Montague soiree- an in memorial for the mayor- with the rest of the town. The garden, despite its enormity and the short notice of invites, is flooded with guests and Sullivan isn’t sure where to begin.
Mallory is at the food table, smiling along to a woman beside him (it is unclear if this is or isn’t his wife, Sullivan is veering towards isn’t). Valentine is drinking champagne in a small group of people who laugh at something that probably isn’t funny.
Father Brown is here too, of course, armed with who he assumes is the parish secretary and two other women Sullivan has had yet to meet. He’d spotted Sidney Carter out the front when he arrived but he’s not entered the party and Sullivan’s not sure how to approach him.
“Hard to integrate into it all, isn’t it?” A tall man with a low voice says, appearing at his side. Sullivan turns to him and nods once. Flambeau.
“It’s quite the community.” Sullivan agrees, pressing his lips to his full champagne glass and taking the tiniest sip.
“Yes.” Flambeau agrees, “But I… I will admit it is nice to be a part of it.”
Sullivan looks questioningly at him. He’s the kind of man that knows he’s handsome and will use that fact against anyone. His eyes glint in the sun and the ring on his finger clinks as he taps it against his glass.
“I heard that you are uh… a renowned art thief?”
Flambeau hums in amusement, “Innocent till proven guilty.” he says, sipping his drinking, then adding, “I am guilty though.”
“And yet you remain a free man?”
“A little deal struck with the Inspector.” Flambeau says, and catching Sullivan’s intrigue, he adds, “Helped him with a huge case in exchange for my freedom from past crimes. The further catch, of course, is that I can’t be caught again but the day Mallory catches anyone by himself I’ll turn back to Christianity and reinstate my belief in their God.”
Sullivan hums in agreement, “So he doesn’t usually ask for help?”
“Ha, no he’d rather send the wrong person to the scaffold than accept help, from Father Brown at least.”
Sullivan hums again and Flambeau glances at him, “What about you? You work alone?”
“Completely.” Sullivan says. And up until yesterday, sharing out information in Mallory’s office, it would have been true, too.
Across the grass, a glass smashes into a table and the nearby crowds gasp.
“Oh come onnn, it was an accident!” A voice shouts, a young man with blonde hair pushing away an embarrassed looking woman, “I don’t care , if I’m ruining the party, mum, in fact I’m glad !”
Mallory is at once trying to intervene and Lady Felicia hurries up the garden from the crowd, passing Sullivan and Flambeau.
“Sid! Sidney, we need your help!”
She rushes passed and round the side of the house, still calling for her Chauffeur.
The young man struggles and pushes Mallory’s hands from him, “Get your hands off me! I don’t care that he’s dead and neither should any of you!”
“Eddie! Eddie.” Sid dashes down the grass to the scene and pulls the blonde man from the crowd gathered around him. There’s somewhat a struggle as Eddie attempts to wriggle away from Sid, but Sidney’s grip is firm. He walks him up the garden, gives his shoulders a rough shake, “When will you learn to hold your tongue, huh?” Sid asks as he leads them towards the back doors.
On the way past the Detective, Sid nods at him. Sullivan decides the only reason it makes him feel immediately dizzy is because of his agreement with the Inspectors. And because of the champagne going to his head.
Inside Felicia’s, Sid gives Eddie a light scolding slap round the head.
“What are ya playin’ at? Are you trying to get yourself banged up?”
Eddie rolls his eyes and pulls at the edges of Sid’s jacket, tugging him up against him as he backs into the wall. “Don’t act like you’re all perfect.”
“Yeah well at least I don’t go making a scene .” Sid retorts, green eyes frozen, deep as they stare down at his friend, who, after a beat of quiet, breaks into a small smile.
“Are you busy, right now?”
Sid smiles, “Not in the slightest.” Eddie smiles back and pulls him into a kiss.
They’re not in love. Never have been, never will be, but kissing Eddie will always feel safe and free and warm and he pulls the lad closer, breathless, breaking from every gentle kiss Eddie gives him.
“Do you,” Sid pauses to kiss him deeper, to run his thumb across his jaw, “want to go upstairs?” he finishes, feeling the absence of the touch when Eddie pulls away to answer.
“Thought you’d never ask.”
The Montague mansion is full of empty bedrooms, and the one Sid frequents, if his caravan is too cold or he’s drunk and the sky outside is dark, beckons him and Eddie inside. Sid pulls Eddie in by his belt loops, throws the door shut behind them as they stumble into the room.
“Hey Sid?” Eddie starts as he hits the wall beside the window with a thump.
“What?” Sid says, snapping slightly because he’s not here to talk .
“Is it… really me that you wish you were kissing right now?”
Sid pulls back, confused, surprised, “Wha’d’ya mean?”
“Just…” Eddie raises an eyebrow and Sid can’t help but smile,
“That detective… out there.” Eddie nods vaguely to the window on Sid’s left and Sid can’t resist letting his eyes flicker over to it.
Through the voile that flutters in the breeze brushing through the open window, crowds of people still talk and laugh and drink and eat. It’s a strange way to celebrate a man’s death but that’s besides the point. The point is Sullivan, standing near the house (besides whom appears to be Flambeau) his grey fedora, his shoulders, free of his overcoat for the sun, but still dressed in his blue waistcoat.
Sid flicks his eyes back to Eddie, “Dunno what you’re talkin’ about.”
“Oh come on.” Eddie says, tilting his head back against the wall for a moment, “He is so your type!”
“I don’t have a type .”
Eddie raises his eyebrows, “Really? Arrogant stuck up city boy detective that thinks he’s better than everyone else? You wouldn’t want to rile him up until he pushes you into a wall?”
Sid chuckles and steps away from Eddie with a shake of his head, “You are ruining this.” he tells him, “Besides you’ve not even met the bloke and you already think he’s a stuck up city boy?”
“I don’t need to meet him to see that.” Eddie says, “Look it’s not like I’m jealous, this is just for fun. I think it’s sweet that you’re getting real feelings for someone.”
“Woah you never said feelings for him, Eddie, come on, I’ve barely spoken to him.”
“Still not denying he’s your type, though?”
Sid steps back over to Eddie and runs his eyes around his friends face, “Just because he’s my type it doesn’t mean I have to have anything to do with him.”
Eddie smiles and gently curves his hand round the back of Sid’s neck, pulling him in, “I’ll remind you of that in about a month.”
“I doubt he’ll be here that long.” Sid says.
“Perhaps he’ll stay for you.” Eddie says with a teasing raise of his eyebrows.
Sid shakes his head, “I really want you to stop talking now.”
“Okay okay.” Eddie shuts up when Sid kisses him.
Sid buys fish and chips later that evening and eats it while strolling up the esplanade. Seagulls squawk above him, circling, and he hopes he’s walking fast enough to avoid their beady eyes (though probably not, he just hopes he’s lucky). Felicia had scorned the very idea of his takeaway. Something about didn’t you eat enough at the party ? And Sid pointing out that he didn’t really spend the majority of his time that day outside gorging on fancy party food.
Eddie. Certainly Sid’s longest friend, the first boy he’d ever kissed, and a boy somewhat in trouble, always angry at the world. Neither of them have a dad. It wasn’t in anyway how they met and although it was a common ground it was the most precarious factor in their friendship. The one that blew up, between them sometime around 15 like a storm ripping through the ocean.
It was always At least you know what happened to your dad (Sid, insensitive but honest) and well at least my dad loved me (Eddie, angry, hurt but also unfairly honest). Father Brown had a hard time mending the feud between the two of them, trying to unite them in no matter the circumstance, you are both without a father . Only Eddie had looked at him aghast, Sid has you .
The only way they moved passed it was simply to never bring it up again. To mess around and share secrets- and make a few, too. It was never going to be love but it was a messy and childish friendship that Sid can’t bear to let go.
He’d had other friends, still does even, but they’re not real. They know nothing about him except that he’s an orphan with bad handwriting and good game with girls. They have no clue about his game with boys. Alfie nearly knew. Hell, Alfie was the entire origin story, so to speak.
He doesn't really remember liking him, somewhere around 14, but he remembers telling Father Brown about it. In confession. His hands were shaking. I’m going to hell . He said quietly, bouncing his foot and barely being able to look up through the barred window at the Father’s face. What exactly did you do this time? Because Sid was already pickpocketing and shop lifting and, when led by the others, vandalising, despite the priest’s best attempts at prevention. It’s not what I done, Father . Sid had said. His tummy felt all tight, like he’d had too many strawberry scones, It’s what I feel . Father Brown didn’t really follow but he turned through the crisscrossed window and looked at the boy. What do you feel ? Sid couldn’t say it. His throat had welled up too much and his chest was all tight. I can’t say. Can’t you just absolve me now? He was half begging. But how do I know if what you’re feeling is even a sin ?
Sid had started crying by that point and sniffed and wiped a tear. It was in the bible, wasn’t it? He explained this to the Father. Sometimes , the priest had replied gently, the great book, isn’t one hundred percent fact. I want to help you, Sid. Please tell me . It’s just me and God in here. No one else. He’d seen Father Brown angry once, only once, when Sid was being particularly frustrating, purposely pushing and pushing at the priest until he snapped. It shut him up and he never wanted the Father to shout at him again. I don’t want you to hate me . Sid had said in the confessional, trembling. God, it makes him cringe now, but it was so real. The fear in the confessional knew exactly how to choke him, coax out tears and shaky, quivering fright that made him all hot and sticky. I don’t believe I could ever be capable of that . Father Brown assured. No you will, Father, you will, it’s…
He got it out eventually and Father Brown went silent. And then Sid who couldn’t, even if he tried, look up from his feet, heard the priest open the door of the confessional. For a moment, Sid thought he’d completely left. But then the door to his side of the box opened and Father Brown dropped down to him, pulled him into a hug. Never again, Sid vowed moments after the entire ordeal, was he ever going to cry that much, not ever.
The voice pulls Sid at once from his memories and back into the late evening sunshine spilling itself out across the sea. He turns and tries not to obviously frown as the Private Detective catches up to him and falls in step beside him.
“Alright?” Sid greets and holds the newspaper full of chips and battered fish across to him. Sullivan shakes his head,
“No thank you.” he mutters.
Sid shrugs and takes a bite of a chip himself, “You’ll have to eat it eventually, no city delicacies here.” he says through a mouthful.
“I am sure I can keep away from it.” Sullivan says. Sid gives him two weeks tops. “Anyway, you seemed to disappear, at Lady Montague’s, earlier.”
“Something came up.” Sid says as vaguely as possible, wolfing another chip, “And please never call Lady F, Lady Montague ever again. To me or her, she hates it.”
Sullivan nods and frowns down at his feet as he steps over a light dusting of sand on the ground, “Duly noted.” he says.
Having noticed Sullivan’s meticulous avoidance of the sand, Sid smiles to himself. “Not used to getting yourself dirty, are you?” Sid says, making Sullivan frown over at him.
“Yes because it’s ridiculous of me, Carter, to want to keep my clothes sand free.”
“Working, is it?” Sid asks, continuing to devour his chips.
“So far.” Sullivan replies.
They walk a little further in a warm silence, broken only by waves running up the distant shoreline, and the odd seagull squawking it’s way across the beach, one end to the other.
“Is there a reason you chased me up the seafront?” Sid asks eventually, breaking the quiet and changing the subject.
“I wanted to ask you about Edward Gerard. Lad caused a scene at the soiree earlier, heard you know him quite well.”
“Maybe I do.” Sid answers. He’s no snitch, though, especially when it comes to Eddie.
“He said he was with you, the night of the break in at Mayor Warner’s.” Sullivan explains.
Sid stops abruptly, and Sullivan stops a step in front of him and turns round. “Are you seriously considering him a suspect? Eddie? ” he knows Eddie’s angry, he knows Eddie is dying for change but he is sure he wouldn’t kill for it.
“Carter I have… I have to consider every possibili-”
“Except you don’t.” Sid snaps, “Why would Eddie kill the mayor?” but even as he asks, he knows its a stupid question.
“Simple. Barely spoke to your friend for five minutes and even I can tell his political beliefs uh… conflict with the Mayor’s.”
“That don’t mean Eddie shot ‘im.” Sid points out. Another seagull distantly squawks and Sullivan watches it cautiously as it swoops past.
“Perhaps not, but it is suspicious.” Sullivan says, “Just tell me whether or not you saw him that night.”
Sid looks up at the orange streaked sky as he thinks back over the last few nights, “Thursday, wonnit?” he says, mostly to himself before looking back down at the detective, “yeah I was with him. All night.”
“Doing what?” Sullivan asks before he can stop himself. He watches Sid grin and throw the chip he’d picked up onto the paper. His eyes glint, like it's somehow amusing.
“Wouldn’t you like to know.” Sid says.
A little pink, Sullivan rocks on the balls of his feet and says, “What I mean is, are you sure he couldn’t have slipped out without you noticing?”
Sid rolls his eyes and debates pushing it a little further, “Trust me, I’d have known .” Sid assures, “So you can find a new suspect, alright?”
Sullivan holds his gaze and Sid watches in amusement as Sullivan tries not to back down. But the man swallows and Sid casts his eyes over Sullivan’s lips, just to push it. Sullivan recovers, he looks away back down the esplanade just so he need only feel Sid’s presence, and not see him there, all up close. “Right.” he manages eventually, “Thank you, Carter, for your help.”
“Not a problem… Detective.” Sid says, slowly, “If you need my help again, I’m usually in the Red Lion, or the presbytery.”
Sullivan nods although he's no clue where either of those places are, and Sid can tell too easily that he’s nervous at their closeness. Like it’s getting at him. Sid moves a little away,
“See you around.” he says, picking up another chip, stuffing it in his mouth before walking away.
He resumes his walk up the seafront, nearing the station and feeling Sullivan’s eyes following him down the path. He hopes that they can’t see through him, hopes he couldn’t read the lies in his eyes. Because he wasn’t with Eddie Thursday night, didn’t see him at all, not even during the day, nor the few nights before or after it. Eddie lied. And Sid backed it. He only hopes that the cops don’t start to pry. Mallory knows the both of them too well to let his guard down, he’d put them both on charges of murder if he feels like it. Especially if the lie is uncovered.
It unsettles him, almost to the point of putting him off his fish and chips. Almost.
Sullivan watches him go for a few moments, feeling frustratingly flustered. He doesn’t like him, too cocky, thinks he has the whole town falling at his feet. It shouldn’t be terribly hard to tease information out of him, a bit of alcohol and a few hot kisses. It should be fine. Easy.
He strolls briskly back down the seafront to the Golden Sands Hotel (everything in this town brings Sullivan back to the issue: sand. He hates it). Mrs Warner is paying for it, and although she offered him stay at the manor he turned it down merely out of awkwardness. He wouldn’t know how to deal with her grief. He’s not known for being particularly comforting and he would only make the house awkward and strange. Plus, it wouldn’t allow him to be particularly objective, and he doesn't approve of that. It’s important to him, to keep any emotions separate from a case, easier to see the truth, harder to be manipulated.
The hotel is quiet, although he finds this unsurprising- Kembleford isn’t terribly appealing, at least not to him, so he can’t imagine the town gets frequented with visitors. The receptionist behind the front desk looks up from where she doodles in the front of what looks like a kind of diary, and smiles sweetly at him.
“Good evening, Thomas.” she says. Sullivan isn’t sure if her learning his first name is something she does for all of the guests or something only for him. He doesn’t wish to find out though, and merely gives her a nod before strolling down the corridor on the right.
His room is the second on the left, room 3. Lamps light the hallway, one between every doorway, making the place feel warm and delicate. There’s the occasional picture above the odd lamp, of rolling waves and beaches in the dark of night.
Just as he’s turning the key in the lock, a door someway down the corridor opens. Chief Inspector Valentine’s head pops out.
“Detective!” Valentine greets, closing his own door and strolling up the corridor.
Sullivan’s already exhausted with today’s events, so many people to converse with, new people, and all he wants to do is sit in bed and read in peace and quiet until his eyes droop. He unlocks the door and leaves it a crack open while he looks up at Valentine.
“Chief Inspector.” he says with a nod.
“Any luck with the lad?” Valentine asks immediately.
Sullivan spares a glance back down the corridor, certain the receptionist must be listening in. He pushes his door open wider, gestures Valentine in. The man obliges and steps inside. It’s a decent room with a small double bed and a long dresser running down the opposite wall, a small wooden tv perched on it in the far corner. Next to the door are two chairs before another door leading off to a small bathroom that Sullivan isn’t all that keen on but is fine enough considering he isn’t the one paying for it.
“Could I get you a drink?” Sullivan asks, although he’s not got much with him and would rather not share it out.
“Uh, no you’re alright, sure this won’t take long.” Valentine says, taking a seat in one of the chairs by the door without the detective’s permission.
Sullivan nods, relieved, doesn’t bother pouring a drink for himself, save for the Inspector changing his mind. He perches on the end of his bed awkwardly, “I spoke to Edward. He was with Sidney Carter the night of the break in.” He buttons back the cuffs of his sleeves for something to do.
“And he was telling the truth?”
“Sidney Carter confirmed it.” Sullivan replies, “I don’t think he lied. Besides, why would he?”
Valentine shrugs, “Something Mallory said, though. Thick as thieves, the two of them. Both charged multiple times with theft, in fact.”
“You think they’d be in it together?” Sullivan asks with a frown. Perhap Carter had been lying to protect a friend, or boyfriend or whatever the two of them were, but he doesn’t think the man is capable of murder. It doesn’t seem to fit him, somehow.
Valentine shrugs, “I think they’re to be kept an eye on.” he decides, “Which is where you come in, correct?”
Sullivan flushes, “Well I… if he and Mr Gerard are a couple I’m not going to-”
“You needn’t have him fall in love with you.” Valentine points out, rather bluntly, making something in Sullivan’s chest knot, “Just… treat him like a really nice friend until he lets a thing or two slip, maybe flirt with him a little. It’s just like… going undercover.” the chief stands up and tugs his blazer bag into place around his body.
“How about you and that uh… parish secretary.”
“Mrs McCarthy.” Valentine reminds him of her name, “And I’ve buttered her up in the form of complimenting the food she cooked for Lady Felicia’s gathering earlier.”
Sullivan nods, “Right.” he says, then stands to see Valentine out, “I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting her personally yet.”
Valentine hums in mild amusement, “I doubt you’ll have to wait long.” he assures and opens the door, turning back to the Detective, “If you break our agreement, Detective, hide any information to help yourself, I won’t be best pleased.”
Sullivan feels guilty despite his innocence, “Well I never even…”
Valentine smiles, “Good.” he says, “have a pleasant evening.” he closes the door himself when he leaves.
Sullivan could be unnerved by the slight threat but instead he relishes in the silence and emptiness of the room, crosses to his bedside cabinet where he has both, his book, and his whiskey, and takes both out.
sometimes i wonder if valentine feels completely in character in this but honestly he just really doesn’t like P.I.s lmao
father brown investigates, Sullivan finds out some things and Sid sees Eddie again
tbh i don't really like the start of this chapter but it's been ages since updating so I hope its ok
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
It’s the motive that puzzles Father Brown. He strolls through the Warner Manor, from the study to the window in the dining room where the intruder had, well, intruded, as if retracing the steps will provide any kind of clue.
Beneath the window and around the manor walls is a half metre wide strip filled with small gravelly stones and pebbles, not enough to create a visible footprint, but he can tell he must have been a somewhat big man, perhaps tall, perhaps heavy, because his landing had thrown the stones out of the strip, scattering them across the grass beyond.
Besides this he has little to go off. Martin claims the man wore gloves, so he knew what he was doing, and left little trace. A robbery gone wrong, Father Brown is certain, but a planned one. The lack of mess anywhere else in the house besides the study, the lack of disorientated paper everywhere except for the desk where a draw had been left open, from what he had overheard from Sullivan speaking to Mrs Warner the other day, and where pages and stationary cluttered the floor and half buried the Mayor’s body.
A robbery gone wrong, and a robbery for something in particular. Father Brown is sure the moment he learns what the thief was looking for, all would become clear.
He stands in the place that the mayor had died (the wooden floor boards are still darkened where he had bled out) and frowns.
If the mayor had come in and stumbled across the robber then surely, surely, he’d have been shot nearer the door. Something must have had the Mayor come closer. Had the thief hid, maybe, behind the desk, then fled, shot the Mayor on the way out? It’s possible, Father Brown supposes, possible, but improbable.
Something must have made the Mayor near the desk. Someone he trusted, perhaps? Or he wanted to see the man’s face (assuming they were a man, there is only Martin’s statements to go on). But the robber still needed to be in the doorway to shoot the man, the bullet was fired from a distance, right through his head. A skilled shot, but not planned.
Father Brown is missing something, possibly a lot of things.
He leaves the study and steps out into the hallway. The same large painting of flowers resides on the wall opposite the banister that looks down below onto the large staircase that turns once on the way down. Above the staircase, too high to see out of when climbing up them, is a large window. Father Brown can see through it from the landing as he leans against the bannisters. He sees Sid leaning against the Rolls Royce, speaking to someone. Speaking to the P.I.
Father Brown feels that he and this Detective Sullivan got into quite the misunderstanding, upon their first meeting. He wasn’t really breaking and entering. He had been trying to pick the lock of the shed of the manor, yes, but it turned out the door was not even locked and he could have just walked right in. And he was permitted in the manor, Elizabeth had welcomed him in, only perhaps he had wandered a little far…
Father Brown thought that really, the arrest was fair enough, a bit rash and immediate, but he can accept he was in the wrong. Sid didn’t like it, paced back and forth in the kitchen once Father Brown was released.
“He hasn’t any right to do that.” Sid had rambled, ignoring the priests attempts at intervening. “Thinks he runs the place. Acts like he knows us all.”
It was always best to let Sid ramble, to leave him to it because he’ll calm down eventually. And he had done, that evening, gratefully nursing the mug of hot chocolate Mrs McCarhty handed to him and relaxing in front of the television beside the priest.
But there’s still some kind of tension between the two of them out the window at the moment. Father Brown hasn’t a clue of the words exchanged but Sid looks wound up and the detective looks annoyed. They’re close. The priest isn’t sure entirely what to make of it, except that Sid’s easy to read and he’s sure the lad has taken some kind of interest in the new detective.
He goes on about him a lot, in a scathing way, but it’s merely disguising an intrigue, Father Brown thinks. He doesn’t know about the detective. He’s not sure he trusts Sullivan not to hurt him, but then when had he ever been willing to trust anyone with Sidney Carter’s heart? Sid runs headlong into things sometimes, doesn’t think until he’s burying himself in blankets and tears and Mrs McCarthy’s hot drinks.
He watches Sullivan walk away towards the house. They both nod but neither appear entirely earnest in it, almost mocking. Father Brown hurries down the stairs and reaches the bottom when the Inspector rings the bell.
Catherine, the maid, hurries to answer it.
“Catherine.” Father Brown starts quickly, just before she makes it to the door, “If the detective asks, I’m offering Elizabeth my counsel.” he says.
Catherine smiles knowingly, “Right you are Father.” she watches the priest smile gratefully and disappear from sight before opening the door.
“I thought you said you’d be at the Red Lion or the Presbytery.” Detective Sullivan says after strolling up the great driveway to find Sid leaning against a shiny and new Rolls Royce, “This is neither of those.”
Sid’s smoking, and he moves the cigarette from his mouth to speak, “Believe it or not I can go just about anywhere I want.”
Sullivan grits his teeth. The more he speaks to this man the more he dislikes him, “Why are you here? Lady Felicia is paying Mrs Warner a visit?”
“Wouldn’t you like to know.” Sid snaps back, straightening his body against the car door. It’s a wonderful looking car, the grandest Sullvian’s ever seen. If only Sid wasn’t blocking his view.
“It would be useful information, yes.” Sullivan answers, “So long as it’s nothing to do with your priest.” Sid tries to look un-bothered but he tenses briefly, his eyes, holding Sullivan’s, widening a little. A give away, “The priest is here.” Sullivan says, looking up at the house, “Fantastic.”
He turns from Sid and makes his way to the front door. “Mrs Warner asked for him!” Sid shouts after him, “No need to arrest him, he’s doing his job, as are you.”
“I suppose we’ll see, won’t we?” Sullivan half shouts back as he heads towards the door.
He can’t prove that Father Brown isn’t here to pry or interfere, as much as he wishes to, but that isn’t what he’s here for. He’s here to speak to Mrs Warner, or break news to her, even.
“Father Brown is with her at the moment.” Sullivan is told by the maid, Catherine, if he remembers rightly, “But I’m sure they won’t be long, care for some tea?”
Sullivan hesitates, then nods, “Yes please, milk, no sugar. Oh and, a rich tea biscuit, if I may?”
Catherine smiles, “I’ll see what I can do.” She leaves him in the front room and disappears down the hall.
He’s in a sort of living room with yellow walls and floral sofas. He crosses to the fireplace and observes the photos. A wedding one, old and faded from the light, both Mr and Mrs Warner looking young. And one with the mayor, a great chain around his neck, spreading along his broad shoulders, gold and intricate, medals dangling. He’s younger still, but not quite as much as the wedding photo, shaking someone’s hand. The day he became mayor.
He’s still studying them when Catherine returns with a tray filled with a teapot and a plate of various biscuits, “Chef said you can help yourself.” she says, meaning the biscuits. There’s no bowl of sugar, Catherine remembered it wasn’t needed.
“Thank you.” Sullivan says, turning from the mantelpiece, “Tell me,” he says before she reaches the door, “the Warners… they never had children?”
Catherine smiles sadly and shakes her head, “It broke Elizabeth’s heart, but I’ll let her tell you.”
Sullivan tries not to be annoyed, tries to be patient, and nods, “Of course.” He sits at the sofa and the freshly poured tea. He takes a biscuit from the plate as the door clicks shut.
“Why is he here?” Benjamin demands in a low whisper when Catherine leaves the Detective alone.
“Wants to speak to the mistress.” Catherine says. She rests a hand on Benjamin’s arm, “Nothing to do with you.” she assures. Benjamin nods, but looks withered.
“He liked the biscuits?”
Elizabeth enters the room Sullivan is in eventually. “Apologies for the wait.” She says, closing the door quietly behind her, pressing her both hands against it, “What are you here for?”
Slowly, she crosses the room, like she doesn't really want to. She sits in the chair beside the sofa, folding her legs over and neatening her pale dress. Sullivan looks uncomfortable.
“I had a visitor this morning. Wanted to ‘clear his name’ before it gets out.”
Elizabeth looks at him, head slightly tilted, curious, “Oh?”
“Mrs Warner… were you aware your husband was having affairs?”
Elizabeth winces, and for a while she says nothing. Sullivan waits, not wanting to push. He picks up his tea cup but it’s empty, and he places it back down again and pours the remains from the pot, it reaches halfway up the cup. He tops it up a little with milk from a small china jug.
“I wasn’t aware.” Elizabeth says eventually. She’s still and tense, her fingers tremble on her lap.
“I’m so sorry.” Sullivan manages, awkwardly. He regrets deciding to speak to Elizabeth before the Inspectors. He’s sure Valentine would cope better with this, if begrudgingly. And Mallory might have handled it a bit… insensitively, but at least it would have saved Sullivan the task.
“I always… I suppose I… should have known.” she says, “I was aware he didn’t… didn’t want me anymore but I couldn’t let myself believe…” she briskly wipes a tear from her eye, only for another to fall at once. She wipes that one too.
For want of anything else useful to do, Sullivan tentatively holds out his mug of tea to her. She eyes him, but then takes it gratefully.
“Thank you.” She says in a small voice, moving the cup around on it’s saucer so she can take the handle in her right hand. She takes a sip then puts it down, “You don’t have sugar in it?” she says.
“No.” Sullivan says, then realises that Mrs Warner does, “Sorry… I can go and see if I can fetch some-”
“No, no don’t be silly.” Elizabeth says, “You are the guest, you needn’t go to such trouble, I can drink it.” to prove the point she takes another sip.
They sit in silence for a while and Sullivan becomes aware of the grandfather clock in the corner, ticking away. When Elizabeth speaks again, she admits something that Sullivan can tell she’s told no stranger before.
“I can’t have children.” she says, staring into the tea cup that she clutches with both hands.
“Oh. I’m so sorry.” Sullivan tells her.
Mrs Warner shakes her head, as if to refuse apology, “It’s okay.” she says. Sullivan’s not sure that it is, “Michael always wanted a child. Well, a son, long before even becoming mayor. He wanted a son to teach the ways of business, to teach to hunt and fight. He wanted to parade him around town, take him proudly to all of his social events like all the other men. But he never could, because of me.”
Sullivan isn’t going to put his two pennies’ worth in regarding all the Mayor wanted a son for, and instead keeps the irritability grinding in his mind. “And you think… that’s the reason he had affairs?” he asks, but thinks it’s a bit of a reach, or unfair, at least, a cruel excuse.
“I think it was why he couldn’t love me in the way I… wanted.” she says, frowning into the tea cup, “I always liked to believe that because I mean what is the other option? That I married a selfish unkind greedy bastard?”
The sudden fury rising in her almost makes Sullivan flinch. He straightens up. Mrs Warner withers, solemn once more.
“I suppose this makes me a suspect.” she says.
Sullivan can’t pretend he isn’t taken aback by this, “whatever makes you think that?!”
Elizabeth shrugs, “Wife’s always the prime suspect, especially when motive is presented, no?”
Sullivan can’t exactly deny this. Often his cases that on the outside appear interesting and worth the money, boil down to marital affairs and jealous wives. Or husbands. But it is clear that it is not the case here, clear that Elizabeth did not know the truth until he told her it, clear that, despite the mayor’s resentment, she was still broken by his death.
And besides the method of death is hardly fitting for Elizabeth to have done, “We- I’ve no reason to suspect you, Mrs Warner, for one Martin claims to have seen a man fleeing the place, for another I am certain this was an outside job, that someone broke in here.”
“Suppose I set it up.” Elizabeth suggests, keen for the detective’s reaction.
Sullivan frowns, “It is as if you want me to suspect you.” he says with a small joking smile. She forces one back and laughs a little,
“No, no, I just...feared suspicion.” Elizabeth replies. Sullivan eyes her carefully. He hadn’t been suspicious before, he still doesn’t think he should, but it’s gotten the thought into his head. Say it had been a set up all along? Say Martin lied and did not see a man fleeing down the stairs. “Father Brown thinks it’s a robbery.” Elizabeth tells him then.
Sullivan presses his lips into a thin line, “Does he indeed? Well I am still treating it as a planned murder.”
“Well how do you explain the mess of the study?”
Sullivan shrugs, “Perhaps there was a struggle. Or your husband’s hand fell onto the desk as he was falling. Or maybe it was staged.” he catches Elizabeth’s slight grimace, “Sorry.” he adds. She probably didn’t need that image of her husband’s death.
They sit in the quiet for a little while longer before Sullivan decides he ought to be going. He should update the Inspectors before they begin to think he’s keeping everything from them, and he still needs to work out how to reconcile with Sidney Carter enough to prize information from him.
The Rolls Royce isn’t in the driveway when he finally leaves, and there’s subsequently no sign of Sidney Carter nor the priest. He decides that is probably a good thing and heads down to the station.
He doesn’t work with police. Not usually, not ever. If he wanted to work for the force, he’d simply be a Detective Inspector like Mallory, or a chief like Valentine. But he actively chose not to do that, to go it alone. Not solely because of his liking for men and the fear of such a force finding out, although it’s a big part of it (speaking of, he’s still not sure how Valentine worked that out so quickly, had his reaction to being asked to bed Lady Felicia been that embarrassingly obvious?), but mainly because he feels that he is simply better off working alone.
He can hear Mallory and Valentine bickering the moment he enters the building. Goodfellow smiles at him from behind the front desk. Sullivan likes him, he’s easy to talk to and doesn’t look down on him like all of the other cops.
“But chief -”
“No, I’ve already told you, you can’t work this case behind my back.”
Sullivan doesn’t have to be in the room to determine that Mallory is scowling.
“Not behind your back, I just want to check an alibi, I don’t need a- a babysitter .”
Sullivan knocks on the door.
“Yes?” both Inspectors call out at once.
Sullivan pushes his way into the room, “Good morning Inspectors.” he says, closing the door behind him.
Mallory’s moustache contorts as he tries to smile and ends up scowling from where he stands in the far end of the room. Valentine straightens from where he sits at the desk, on the left and not the centre. There’s a line of yellow tape running through the centre of the desk, either side two similar piles of files, books, paperwork.
“Thomas.” Valentine greets, “any news?”
“Someone came forward to admit that their wife was having an affair with the deceased.” Sullivan starts.
“So we have our man?” Mallory concludes.
“No.” Sullivan replies, “He didn’t do it, provided a watertight alibi, which, yes , does check out, Inspector Mallory. He told me his wife was certainly not the man’s only affair, which means-”
Two voices cut him off.
“We have potentially dozens of new suspects.”
“Mrs Warner found out and offed her husband.”
“Yes,” Sullivan says, having taken in Valentine’s words first. Then he turns to Mallory, “ No .” he says, “I’ve already spoken to Mrs Warner and she truly had no idea of the affairs.”
“A good liar, perhaps.” Mallory suggests, then turns to Valentine, “How come he gets to work the case alone and I don’t?”
Valentine rolls his eyes, “Because, Sullivan isn’t a Kembleford citizen.” he replies, “although I do find it a little irritating how you didn’t brief us before charging up to the Warners’.”
Sullivan shrugs, “I wanted to get my facts straight.” he says, “Speaking of, I found out something else…”
The two inspectors wait impatiently as Sullivan holds suspense.
“Elizabeth Warner can’t have children.”
A beat. Mallory blinks.
“ So, I thought it may be useful.” Sullivan says. Both men still look blank, “You wanted information. Oh, and Father Brown reckons it was a robbery gone wrong.”
Mallory tuts, “He was the mayor!” he points out, “Of course he was a murder target. Robbery , Father Brown’s losing his touch.”
“I thought you said the man was a threat.” Valentine tells Mallory, purposely snide.
Sullivan looks between the two, uncertain. He thinks, perhaps, they should entertain every possible theory after all. Thinks it deeply, but says nothing at all.
“So you think the Mayor was a target of robbery, not murder?” Bunty asks. She’s sitting across the presbytery table from Father Brown and Sid, each with hot cups of tea in front of them. Sid’s already drunk half of his, like he’s in a hurry.
“I believe so, yes.” Father Brown replies.
“Why steal from the Mayor?” Sid asks after downing the rest of his tea, “It’s risky, you’d have to be showin’ off.”
Father Brown takes this in, “I think they were looking for something specific.” he presses his lips together, “I’m just unsure what.”
Sid shrugs and stands from the table, “Well, must be off, thanks, Mrs M, for the tea.”
“You’re leaving so soon?” Mrs McCarthy asks him, looking a little forlorn as she turns from the stove.
Sid pauses, “Places to be.” he explains vaguely, “I’ll be back later.” he promises, tucking in his chair out of a forced habit (the force of Mrs M, that is.)
“Where exactly are you going?” Father Brown asks curiously.
Sid looks a little reluctant, glances at Bunty’s raised eyebrows then looks back at the Father, “visitin’ a friend.” he settles on. It isn’t a lie.
The Gerard residence is a tall, large white bricked building out on the cliffs. It’s swamped in green garden, trees and grass and maze like bushes lined around a fountain. He never really thought Eddie suited it, such a big place, such a rich place, but then his own second home was Lady Felicia’s, and it makes the Gerard’s seem small.
George, the Butler, who’d watch Sid and Eddie grow up, answers the grand front door. It’s Sid’s third visit in twenty four hours and he’s still yet to see Eddie. This time, however, George nods.
“I’ll go and fetch the young master.” he says and leaves Sid on the doorstep.
He’s not sure whether to be more relieved or nervous that he can finally speak to him. He still doesn’t think Eddie had anything to do with the Mayor, but whatever he was doing must have been bad if he wanted Sid to lie for him.
“Sid!” Eddie greets, appearing at the door. Sid doesn’t reply, just nods and leads Eddie from the house.
They settle under the tree someway down the garden. It’s a large tree and provides the only shade in the garden. The grass rolls before them down the cliff, into bushes and shrubs that gather at the edge. The two stare ahead, out at the sea that doesn’t seem to have end. Waves are rolling around, stretching and reaching; Sid can never get enough of the way waves tumble.
“Is everything okay?” Eddie asks. He’s sitting cross legged, picks at his fingers. Sid turns his head against the tree and Eddie glances at him. He smiles weakly, “Is this about what I told the cops?”
“And the P.I.” Sid says, voice something of a grumble.
“Did they question you? I’m sorry, Sid, I meant to warn you, didn’t think they’d be so quick about it.” Eddie answers.
“Well Mallory’s not asked but the P.I. has.” Sid replies, “What ‘ave you done, Eddie? I think I deserve to know what I’m covering for.”
Eddie sighs, stares out at sea, hands resting on his crossed legs. “It’s nothing bad.” he says, “I swear.”
“So what, then? You never lie, especially not to me.”
Eddie closes his eyes, “There was a meeting.” he says finally.
Sid narrows his eyes as he looks at him, “What sort of meeting?”
“For revolution.” Eddie turns to Sid at once, as though snapped back into life, “We were- we were planning to overthrow Warner. Planning to- to make the place better. Fight for change.”
Sid eyes him, “But a meeting… all the alibis you have, Eddie-”
“It’s covert, all of it, isn’t it? I can’t- I’m not gonna grass them up.”
“So you drag me into it instead, thanks a lot.” Sid says.
Sid shakes his head, “Whatever just… you owe me one, yeah?”
Eddie smiles gratefully and nods, “Anything specific in mind, for repayment?” he looks purposely down to Sid’s lips. Sid shrugs,
“I’m being serious, Eddie.” Sid tells him, “If I need you to cover for me, ever, then…”
“Right, sure.” Eddie nudges him, “I’ve got your back, Sid, you know I have.”
Sid pouts and nods slowly, “Good.”
we get some good sid/sullivan in the next chap wooo
we got some plot and more sid/sullivan here wooo
“At least someone appreciates my cooking.” Mrs McCarthy says, placing a large plate of delicately made strawberry scones on the kitchen table, in front of Inspector Valentine.
Valentine flashes her a grin, “Couldn’t keep away if I tried Mrs McCarthy.” he replies, tucking into the largest scone he can find, “Surely Father Brown appreciates such delightful food.”
“Oh he does I suppose.” Mrs McCarthy reasons, filling up the kettle at the sink, “But I don’t think any of them appreciate exactly how much time I spend slaving away cooking for them.” she explains.
Valentine chuckles, “You spoil them too much.” he says, “Gosh if I had this type of food everyday, well, I’d never leave.”
Mrs McCarthy smiles proudly at him as she sets the kettle on the stove, “Yes I suppose I do spoil them.”
“Where is the Father?” Valentine asks, “in the church I suppose.” it is Sunday, after all.
“Yes as far as I’m aware.” Mrs McCarthy replies, now setting up two cups, “He’s always out doing something or other, along with Sid and the girls.”
Inspector Valentine nods through a mouthful. “He seems to get everywhere.” he says over the harsh whistle of the kettle.
“Oh, he loves helping the village wherever he can.” Mrs McCarthy tells him as she fills the mugs with water. She puts the kettle back onto the stove as she continues, “has to, when the village Inspector is Mallory.”
Valentine hums in agreement, “I can imagine. Barely been here a few days and I’m exhausted with him.”
“Oh he’s needed Father Brown’s help many times.” she sets the tea in front of him and sits down opposite, “I expect Mallory still insists this is a planned murder, and not a robbery.”
The Chief Inspector forces a laugh, “Yes…” he says, “Yes, I expect he does.”
“It was a what ?!” Mallory asks, loudly slamming the office door.
“It was a robbery.” Valentine repeats, “Well, supposed to be.”
“But I thought…”
There’s a knock at the door. Violently, Mallory yanks it open, “Yes?” he demands gruffly, but shrinks a little when he’s face to face with Detective Sullivan, “C-come in.” he steps aside rather feebly, and closes the door behind very softly behind him.
“What have I missed?” Sullivan asks, “Apologies for the delay,” he adds, “run in with Carter.” as in he quite literally ran into him.
“Any information out of it?” Mallory demands at once.
Sullivan shakes his head begrudgingly, “he was just… well being himself, I suppose.”
“Well I have news.” Valentine says, “Warner was never meant to die . It was a robbery gone wrong.”
Sullivan looks at him bemused, “Is that new information? I thought we knew the priest’s theory.”
“Yes well now I… realise he perhaps had a point.” Valentine explains, “We’re getting information from him for a reason, aren’t we?”
Mallory looks annoyed but doesn’t argue, and Sullivan nods once.
“Then we shall treat it as a robbery.” Sullivan says, “Thank you, both, see you soon.” he makes to leave.
“And you? You have nothing to share?” Valentine asks.
Sullivan hesitates at the door and turns back. He shrugs. “Not yet. I gave plenty yesterday.”
“Plenty.” Valentine echoes, strolling back round behind the desk, “I don’t trust you.” he says, turning back around, “if I find out you’ve been keeping information to yourself…”
“You’ll arrest me?” Sullivan finishes for him, cringing slightly when Valentine’s silence suggests yes , “I will find something, as soon as I can.”
Valentine nods. Mallory gives him a sarcastic smile.
Sid’s sitting on the wall above the beach, swinging his legs and licking an ice cream.
“Why is it every time I see you, you’re either eating or smoking?” Sullivan says from behind him. Sid turns round, looks up at him and grins,
“Life’s greatest pleasures. Well besides… y’know...” Sid trails off, gazing out at the sea but being aware of the Detective brushing the wall of sand before cautiously sitting beside him,”What do you want?” he asks, fighting the urge to glance at him.
Sullivan shrugs, “Wanted to apologise.” he says, trying to sound earnest, “I feel as if we got off on the wrong foot.”
Sid finally looks at him, taken aback, “Accusing my best friend of murder isnt a good first impression, no.”
“Also for earlier, running into you. I was late and I… wasn’t looking where I was going.” Sullivan explains. Sid hadn’t been looking either, whistling to himself, looking everywhere but in front of him. Sullivan isn’t the only one at fault but for the sake of doing as the Inspectors want…
Sid nods slowly and licks at his ice cream, catching the cream as it slips over the edges of the cone, melting in the afternoon heat. It’s… distracting. Sullivan wonders if he’s doing it on purpose.
“Also for arresting Father Brown.” Sid adds eventually, between mouthfuls of ice cream.
Sullivan frowns, “He was breaking the law.” he points out.
“He was invited into the house.” Sid retorts at once.
“Not to investigate a crime!” Sullivan says, then stands up and hurriedly brushes himself off, “This was a mistake.”
Sid rolls his eyes and stands up to go after him. “Wait!” he says at once.
“No, Carter, I don’t know why I bothered.” Sullivan makes his way back down the seafront, back towards the hotel.
“No I’m serious!” Sid says, watching him go, “I found a gun.” he calls. Sullivan stops at once, and a passer by looks at them concerned before hurrying on. Sullivan turns around,
“What?” he says.
“A gun, washed up on Felicia’s private beach.” Sid explains, “And you never recovered a weapon, right?”
“Not as far as I’m aware.” Sullivan agrees, stepping back over to him, “Where is it now?”
Sid licks a drip of ice cream from his thumb before answering, “Hid it at the Presbytery.”
“You didn’t think to tell me or an Inspector straight away?”
Sid shrugs, “Telling you now, aren’t I?”
Sullivan grits his teeth before finally saying, “Show it to me.”
“Alright but you owe me.” Sid says, beginning to walk. Sullivan hurries after him,
“Owe you what?” he asks.
Sid looks him up and down with a smile. Sullivan doesn’t like the way it makes his breath catch; hates it, actually. “A drink.”
Sullivan frowns but continues walking beside him, away from the sea and the sand towards the hilly town centre of the village, “We’ll see.” he settles on.
Mallory marches proudly up the dusty footpath, Goodfellow desperately trying to keep up. Benjamin Laurent lives in a modest cottage amongst the fields. When he reaches the building, two children are playing in the front garden, a long stretch of grass fenced off by wire that looks like it couldn’t even hold in an animal, let alone children.
The young boy sees the police coming and drops the football on the ground, “Papa!!” he says as he begins running into the house, “The police!”
Benjamin steps out of the open front door and smiles weakly at the Inspector and Sergeant on the other side of his garden fence, “Something wrong?” he asks. His hands are shaking as he folds his arms.
Mallory gives him a fake smile, “You could say that.”
It’s the first time Sullivan’s seen the church up close. Before he’d only caught sight of the spire, poking out between trees, glaring at him every time he happens to see it. The presbytery is settled beside the church, a long building at the end of a street.
Sid leads him inside and down the hallway, into the lounge. There’s a small television against one wall and shelves on the wall opposite, flooded with books and tatty records. There’s a record player beside the sofa and Sid bends down near it and reaches his arm under the white sofa.
“Not the best hiding place.” Sullivan comments as Sid pulls out something bundled in a towel.
“Well I was in a hurry.” Sid retorts, crossing the room back to Sullivan standing in the doorway. He unfolds the towel and holds it out to him.
A gun. Same make and type of the one that killed Mr Warner. Sullivan looks back up at Sid.
“And you promise me you just found it?”
“And not from your... friend?”
Sid frowns and pulls the gun back again, “Leave Eddie alone.” he says, “he did nothin’.”
Sullivan holds his eyes. “So you found this on the beach.”
“ Yes .” Sid says, pushing the gun back over to him, “There’s literally sand all over it.”
Sullivan sighs and takes it shakily, folding the towel back around it. “Thank you, Carter. And you’ve not told anyone about it?”
“No, Father Brown’s been at church and Mrs McCarthy would only worry, probably call the cops anyway.”
“Good.” Sullivan tells him, “And let it stay that way.”
He turns and heads towards the door. Sid goes after him.
“What is your problem with him? Father Brown, I mean.” Sid asks, “He could really help you.”
Sullivan drops his hand from the door, “He’s interfering in matters that don’t concern him.”
“He’s doing exactly what you do but without pay.” Sid retorts, then smiles slightly, “That’s the problem, isn’t it? You feel useless compared to him? Threatened?”
Sullivan turns from the door and pushes Sid, suddenly, up against the wall. Sid laughs gently,
“This is more like it.” he murmurs, running his eyes across the detective’s face.
“You don’t know anything about me.” Sullivan murmurs, his breath on Sid’s lips.
“Perhaps I could get to know you,” Sid says, thumb running across the detective’s lapel, “over that drink that you owe me.”
Before Sullivan replies, a voice interrupts them.
“Is everything all right?” Father Brown asks, having walked in from the back door.
At once, Sullivan steps back from the wall and Sid drops his hand.
“Fine, Father.” Sid replies, “Just…” he glances at Sullivan and the warning look on his face, “helping the P.I.”
“Anything I could help with?” Father Brown offers.
Sullivan rolls on the balls of his feet, “No thank you, Father, it’s perfectly fine.” he says, shuffling the gun awkwardly under his arm beneath the towel, “Goodbye, Carter.” he pauses and casts a hesitant glance at the priest, “Father.”
Then he opens the front door and strolls out.
“Ah, Detective!” Valentine greets the moment Sullivan enters the station, “Just in time, Inspector Mallory has arrested Benjamin.”
Sullivan frowns, “The Warners’ cook?”
Valentine opens the office door where Sullivan notices a handwritten sign has been added above the plaque reading Inspector Mallory , that says Chief Inspector Valentine.
Inside, Valentine takes a seat behind the desk, “Benjamin has been stealing from the Mayor. Well… so we think.”
Sullivan ignores him and places the towel on the desk, in the centre, on the yellow tape that still runs down it. He unfolds both sides and reveals the gun. Valentine stares at it, then up at Sullivan.
“Where did you find this?”
“Washed up on Lady Felicia’s beach.” Sullivan replies, “According to Sidney Carter, anyway.”
Valentine frowns back down at it, “But that doesn’t mean it was thrown into the sea off of the Montague beach, does it?”
Sullivan shrugs, “Probably not, anyone could have done it anyway. They killed a man, doubt they’d worry about trespassing. Anyway… Benjamin?”
“Yes, was stealing money in installments.” Valentine explains, “We’ve discovered hidden wads of money in the kitchen that Mrs Warner confirmed belongs in a study drawer.”
Sullivan thinks this over, “But… he’s there all day why sneak in in the middle of the night?”
Valentine thinks this over, looking most uncomfortable, “Perhaps he doesn’t get a chance during the day.” he offers.
Sullivan still isn’t convinced, “Well now we have the gun, do you think it’s Benjamin’s? The Mayor’s?”
Valentine sighs and stands, “We didn’t uncover a gun at the Mayor’s so I suppose it is possible that his own weapon was used. But then why dispose of it?”
Sullivan shrugs, “Perhaps they panicked.” he suggests, “Either way it matches the type of gun used in the murder, it must be the one.”
Valentine nods, “I have no doubt about that.” he agrees, “We ought to tell Mallory before he embarasses himself in that interview.”
“I imagine we’re a little too late for that.” Sullivan replies as Valentine opens the door. Valentin laughs in agreement and lets Sullivan follow him out.
Father Brown reaches the station soon after the call and is let into Benjamin’s cell.
“Benjamin.” Father Brown says before sitting beside him as the door slams shut.
At once the cook bows his head, “Forgive me Father, for I have sinned. It’s been… two months since my last confession.”
“I’ve noticed your absence in church.” Father says.
“Couldn’t face it.” Benjamin replies, then, realising the implication of the words, turns to Father Brown hurriedly, “I didn’t kill him.”
“I didn’t think so.” Father Brown replies, holding the man’s eyes to convey the earnest, “What did you do?”
Benjamin turns away again, clasps his hands together and looks down at his shoes, “I did take the money.” he admits, “but we… we’re struggling and the Mayor had so much. He hardly noticed what I took.”
Father Brown looks over at the door, in thought. He nods slowly, “I understand.” he says, “and the others, Martin, Catherine… did they know?”
Benjamin nods, “Catherine did, but not Martin he… he would have told Mr Warner I’m sure.” Father Brown nods and Benjamin looks over at him, fear in his eyes, “They’ll charge me anyway, won’t zey? If not for murder, then for robbery.”
Troubled, Father Brown can’t look at him but stares at the door. “I’ll do my best to clear you of murder.” he promises. It’s the best he thinks he can do.