key

The key was lying on the altar.

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Copyright © 2016, Michael M Wayman

There was that face again, strangely grey and sad, at Evensong in the back row in the Chapel. What does he want from me? I think that is a man, but I'm not sure, he's never there at the start or end of the service. But I am sure that he wants something from me.

I tried to get closer by taking the collection myself, but just before I reached the back of the chapel something forced me to turn my head away and he was gone.

He looks like Mr Leach. However Mr Leach had always avoided the Chapel, for some reason unknown to me. I haven't seen him for two years since I chased him naked out of St Swithins within. Now that was a story.

I had to tell Primrose about the face at the back and that it could be Mr Leach. I was sure that she would think that I was bonkers. But no, she came to the evening services and she saw him too. We saw him later at Matins, but not Communion. And only in the Chapel of Our Sweet Lady.

But it was a mystery for Primrose too. What did he want?

Another mystery. The Chapel has many small alcoves each with a wooden door, we store hymn books and stuff in them. However one never had a door – until yesterday. This alcove has a new painted wooden door and it is locked. I asked the Vicar about it. No, it is a mystery for him too.

I tried the lock with all the keys I could find in the chapel, several fitted into the lock, but none would turn. I tried all the keys from Swin and Swout – unsuccessfully. No amount of praying in Swin's bell tower helped.

And there it was – the key was lying on the altar in the Chapel. I wanted to try the key in the new alcove door, but I phoned Primrose first.

“No, don't do that! Call the Vicar and our policeman friend Inspector Jones. And wait until we all get there. Don't touch anything!” Primrose is so clever.

I explained about the face. Primrose said that she thought that it was Mr Leach too. I showed the new door to the Vicar and Inspector Jones. And of course the new key.

“I'm going the try to open the door now.” The key turned and the door opened.

Shock! Shock! There was a skeleton inside – sitting or perhaps kneeling.

“OK everybody! Stand back! There will have to be a police investigation, the coroner will also be involved.” Inspector Jones knew what to do.

The men in blue plastic coats were soon all over the Chapel. We were interviewed by a young detective sergeant. We signed written statements. The skeleton was later taken to the pathology laboratory.

“Sorry about all the hassle, but we have to follow the rules.” “That's alright, Inspector Jones. I wonder who it is.” “The path lab report will probably be ready in a week.”

A reporter came from the local newspaper, the headline was as expected:

Skeleton in the Chapel Cupboard

The newspaper reported later:

The skeleton belonged to a middle-aged, middle-sized man. There is no sign of disease or physical violence. The teeth are in a poor state. A DNA sample was taken, but it matched none on the database.

Nothing was found to identify the person or to determine the cause of death. The skeleton is clean and complete and at least two hundred years old.

The police didn't want to know.

The coroner didn't want to know.

The archaeology department didn't want to know.

But Primrose did! “Let's give him a good funeral and bury him.”

And that we did.

“Do you think that it was Mr Leach?”

“I just don't know, but we haven't seen that face at the back of the Chapel since you opened that door.”

“True, but the door is still a puzzle and so is the Chapel. It's less than one hundred years old. All we can do, Primrose, is pray for whoever it was.”

Primrose sat at the piano and sang:

Just a song at twilight, when the lights are low And the flickering shadows softly come and go Though the heart be weary sad the day and long Still to us at twilight comes love's old sweet song



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