Everyday Acts of Murder: Gardening

Finding a corpse in his compost heap was not what Graham Peters expected to do when he embarked on an afternoon of gardening one spring Sunday, but he had to admit it was more intriguing than deadheading.

Which was a funny choice of words, given that the corpse was dismembered.

A limb here, a digit there… he could count almost as many body parts as he could grass cuttings and vegetable peelings. He was grateful for the vegetable waste; it seemed to have soaked up most of the blood.

When he rang the police, there was an element of doubt in the voice of the young operator. Well, she might not have been all that young, but Graham suspected only a rookie would allow surprise to creep into their voice when repeating ‘there’s a chopped-up body in my compost bin.’

When the police arrived and trudged down the garden to inspect the scene, they concurred with Graham’s original assessment of disembodiment. In fact, they even suggested that the deed was done with garden tools. Graham wasn’t a big fan of crime dramas, although his daughter, Annie, was. If this were a Sunday night TV show and she’d come round so they could watch it together, she would have said that this incision suggested shears, while that wound indicated a rake been used to grate the victim’s skin from their muscles. Graham would have fallen asleep before the big reveal at the end.

It was all rather grisly, Graham decided, watching the police come and go from his kitchen window. He made a strong pot of Assam for the officers, and topped up the sugar bowl in case any of them were in shock. Even the senior detective seemed a bit pale when she came back from the end of the garden. Well, she probably turned pale. It was so hard to tell with these foreign types. There now, he was doing it again. Annie was always correcting what she called casual racism. It wasn’t the done thing to refer to black people as ‘the N word’ or Asian people as ‘yellow,’ apparently.

Mr. Peters wasn’t sure how his daughter got so liberal, and he wasn’t sure he approved of it. What would his wife have said if she were still alive? Just recently the two of them visited B&Q and saw two gentlemen holding hands in the garden chair section. Holding hands! But Annie had smiled and said, isn’t it nice and look that bench has a sale on.

So that was what the world was coming to. Immorality in B&Q. They’d be legalising prostitution next. Perhaps they already had. Wait, no, that was marijuana. Wait, no, they were talking about legalising marijuana. That meant they probably would. And when, Graham wondered, did detectives get so young? In his day anyone in a position of seniority in any organisation had to be at least fifty. This woman was hardly in her forties, by the looks of her, although it was hard to judge age nowadays with all these miracle magic creams. One’s facial muscles need not age past twenty-two. Maybe she was pushing eighty, like Graham.

‘Mr. Peters,’ here was the detective now, standing at the kitchen door. Her hair was coiled up in braids — what were they called? Annie would know. ‘Mr. Peters, we have a few questions for you. Is there a place we can sit down?’

‘Of course,’ replied Graham, gesturing to the kitchen table laden with tea. ‘Would you like some biscuits? My daughter makes me excellent spiced cinnamon ones…’

‘No, no,’ she replied, as Graham nibbled a biscuit, ‘it’s actually about Annie that we’re here.’ Graham offered biscuits to the other officers in the kitchen. There suddenly seemed to be quite a few of them. ‘You see, Mr. Peters, we found some evidence on the corpse in your garden,’ the detective was saying. ‘We found shoes, Mr. Peters, and a locket, and scraps of clothing. Where is Annie at the moment, Mr. Peters?’

‘Well, she’s just gone out to B&Q…’ Graham trailed off. Perhaps it was yesterday they had gone there. Yes, yesterday, when they saw those two men. Of course. That was when Graham had had enough of Annie and her determination that a kind word be said about everyone. That was when they got home and did a spot of gardening, and Graham hacked her to death with the garden shears.

Of course it was. Yesterday. Well. What a turn of events. No wonder Annie hadn’t responded when he had asked about spare sugar.

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Thank you to Liz for critiquing.

© Francesca Burke 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Francesca Burke and francescaswords.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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