The Case of the Ruby Sightings

Five sightings yesterday. One at the back of the market hall, a second in Lion Street, just by the Vintage Shop and three others without specific locations. We got the best description from Mrs Pearse in the Vintage Shop, who happened to be dressing the window at the time. She said it was about a foot in diameter, a bit squashy and coloured ruby. Not just any old red, you’ll note. Ruby. I wondered why Mrs Pearse had chosen that word.
“Why don’t you ask her then Sarge?” quipped young Dixon.
“Very sage, Constable, very sage. Don’t you think I would if I could? Didn’t you cast your young eyes over the report board when you came in this morning?”
Mrs Pearse’s body was found in shallow water on the meadows late last night by some chap walking his dog. The poor woman hadn’t even got home after doing what was only her citizen’s duty. Whoever was doing this was up to no good.
“Gotta be something big, ain’t it Sarge?”
“Look here Constable, let’s be having a bit less of your clever-dicking and a bit more detective work. I want your report on my desk by 4 o’oclock this afternoon. Tea-time if that makes it clearer. The time for tea and cake.”
“Make mine a trifle sponge , Sarge.”
I was on my way out of the Station as he came out with that inanity, but it did give me cause to pause, to wonder…
It would have to wait until later. First I had to get down to the meadows and get a look at the unfortunate Pearse woman’s body.
There was a small commotion on the hill heading down to the meadows. Two men were standing by the gardens which abut the street. Ashen-faced, the pair of them, pointing into the gardens.
One ran towards me, grabbed at the sleeve of m y raincoat and pulled me towards him, as if afraid of being overheard.
“What’s the matter, man?” I cried. “Speak up now.”
“Ssssh,” said the man.
“There’s no-one else here!”I exclaimed. “Out with it now, did you see one?” For I suspected that this was, as indeed it proved to be, another sighting.
“Now look here, you two. The most important thing is to go straight home. And stay together.”
I told them I’d come round and see them directly after… and just stopped myself in time. No need to frighten them by saying what had happened to Mrs P. “Directly after a small job I have to do just now,” I said.
The sight that greeted me at the meadows was indeed a grisly one, as I had feared it would be. I left the pathology boys to do their work and walked briskly to no 4 Star Street. The two men had got a bit of colour back in their cheeks , thanks to a drop of whisky. They invited me to join them but of course I had to decline. No drinking on duty. That’s the rule and I stick to it.
Their descriptions of what they had seen were vague, apart from one thing.
“Ruby red, it was Sargeant,” said one and the other nodded vigorously. “The colour of pomegranate seeds,” he said.
“Thank you gentlemen, you’ve been most helpful.” I snapped my notebook shut and tucked into the breast pocket of my uniform.
As I put my hand on the door handle a thought struck me and I half-turned. Then thought better of it. I didn’t want to frighten these two any further.
On my way back to the Station I pondered my parallel universe theory. Pomegranate seeds the size of big balloons, intended to decorate some giant trifle, scattered over Abergavenny by an invisible hand. Yes, it made sense.
Except – who had murdered Mrs Pearse? And why?

I found this bit of silliness in my unpublished stories folder. Feel free to make use of it for your own stories, though if you do so please be kind enough to give me a credit!!

About Cath Barton

Cath Barton is an English writer who lives in South Wales. In June 2017 she was awarded the New Welsh Writing AmeriCymru Prize for the Novella, and her novella The Plankton Collector was published by New Welsh Review in September 2018. Her second novella, In the Sweep of the Bay, was published by Louise Walters Books in November 2020. Cath is also active in the on-line community of writers of flash fiction.
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