June 17, 1947
He was gone.
It was like I blinked and my world crumbled around me.
My beloved uncle. My guardian. My shelter and whole world after the loss of my parents.
Quentin Lambert Beauchamp was dead.
I’m normally a rational person, thinking logically at all possible scenarios to pinpoint an actual cause, especially in my career as a nurse. But something just didn’t add up.
The police and crime investigators all came to the same conclusion.
First and foremost, bollocks. As much as I loved my uncle, he had a very disconcerting view on one taking their own life.
“Selfishness and inconsiderate. People who resort to killing themselves refuse to see the beauty that their lives have to offer.”
I never said my uncle was the kindest of souls, but he could never be accused of being dishonest, either. Regardless, it didn’t make sense to me for someone with that mentality to suddenly take his own life.
And secondly, there were too many things not adding up relating to his death. No sign of forced entry into the office of his classroom, but they found footprints that were not his around his body? Robbery was ruled out as a motive, but some of his personal effects (a framed photograph of him and me during our time at an archeological dig in Sudan, for example) were missing? The police even had the audacity to interview me as a suspect. The nerve of them, considering I had been at work at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh since early that morning. Seven people even wrote sworn affidavits that my alibi was solid.
In the end, despite all the evidence that clearly pointed towards my uncle’s death as a homicide and not a suicide, they closed the case with that glaring ‘s’ word in mind and went home for tea.
I did everything I could to try and get them to reopen the case. I went to the police station almost every day, and would even camp outside the building on my days off in hopes of speaking to the detective personally, but all that led to was a written warning about “harassing public officials of the law” or some nonsense of the sort.
I took my case, and every bit of evidence I had collected over the next few weeks to any private detective who would open their door to me. All but one laughed me out of their offices, and that “one” just never returned my correspondence.
“It’s hopeless,” I told my friend and colleagues Mary Hawkins-Randall the following day after being banned from yet another detective agency. “I feel like I’m never going to get someone to listen to me. Is it because I’m a woman?”
Mary, usually tentative and shy, was flushed with fury and outrage on my behalf. Widowed about a year before we started working together, Mary had lost her husband Alexander Randall to a freak accident. Despite it not being the same scenario, I know she would be just as hot and bothered if her husband had been the victim of some ill-fated misadventure at the hands of another, and no one took the case seriously.
“It could be,” she replied stoutly, no hint of her usual nervous stutter audible. “Most men around here know that if a woman was determined enough, they could run the world a hundred times better than they could. And that scares them. So, they use their stature as men to keep women at arm’s length. But enough about the world’s inherent misogyny, there may be something you ought to consider.”
Mary peered at me through hooded lashes, a sly look on her face. “Have you ever heard of a medium?”
I blinked at her. “What? You mean...a psychic? ”
Mary laughed at my incredulous tone. “Well...kind of. This particular one is the real deal. Claire, I went to him not long after my Alexander’s passing, and through him I was able to actually talk to him! He told me things that only I or Alex would have known about! Maybe he could help you. Maybe he could…well...y-you know...”
Mary’s timid stumbling of words returned, and I could sense why. She was, more or less, telling me I should use this “medium” to ask Uncle Lamb about how he died.
While that wasn’t an entirely insane proposal, and if what Mary was saying was true, then it could potentially work. But even if I got the answers I was looking for, what then? Go to the police with my findings? Make an accusation against someone on the word of someone who, what, talked to ghosts? Or was it just a matter of putting my own mind at peace? Maybe knowing the truth about what happened was what I was really seeking?
I didn’t know. I had just buried Uncle Lamb last week; I was still in the deep throes of grief and loss. Maybe that’s why I was hell-bent on finding out the truth. But, whatever I decided, I had no other means of discovery.
“What’s his name?” I asked, not bothering to hide the skepticism in my voice.
Mary, apparently excited I was taking her advice, pulled out a calling card. It was a simple design, white with a black single-lined rectangular border with no fancy calligraphic lettering or cheesy slogan. It read:
Dr. James Fraser, GP.
Full Time Doctor
Part Time Medium
43 Sanction Road
EH13 0LS, Edinburgh, UK
Please Ring M-F 8-4
“And...you’re certain he can help?” I said without looking up from the card.
“The worst he can say is ‘no’, right?” Mary replied.
“Yes...right now...that is the worst thing he can say.”