Since the government were beginning to ease the COVID-19 lockdown and John was getting ready to reopen the Hangman’s Noose, Jo Whitley decided to start opening up Lower Strangling Lavender; the village’s signature lavender gift shop just outside the village, which had been closed since March when the lockdown was put in place.
When she arrived, instead of opening the shop to check had no one had snuck in and stolen some Lower Strangling lavender soap or shower gel, she decided to check the lavender fields round the back, where the lavender itself was growing. If all was well, then the lavender should have started flowering by now.
Jo could see when she entered the lavender field that the lavender was in fact flowering as it should have done. But there was also an odd smell, like decomposing flesh.
“Hmm, that’s odd”, she thought before inhaling a little too deeply than she should have done and gagged. She then continued to survey the field to figure out where the smell might have come from.
Being a gardener, Jo knew that the Titum arum plant produced the smell of rotting flesh to attract pollinators during its 48 hour flowering period. She remembered the plant in the Temperate House at Kew well when she worked there as a Botanical Horticulturist, but she also knew full well that a. she didn’t grow one in Lower Strangling, b. if she did, she would have grown it in Lower Strangling Botanical gardens rather than in the lavender field, and c. if she had grown it in the lavender field, it would have stuck out like a sore thumb as they grow up to 2m tall. So, whatever the smell was, it wasn’t a Titum arum.
After a while, Jo suddenly spotted some flies which were gathering in a particular spot in the middle of the field. Knowing the smell must have been connected, Jo held the top of her shirt to her nose and walked over to where the flies were congregating.
Then she saw it.
The flies were congregating on the decomposing corpse of a man. The man was wearing a shirt and jeans and had short brown hair, his right arm had been severed off.
Jo gagged at the sight of the body, then leaned over to have a closer look.
She recognised the man instantly, he was Ethan Stone, a Labour Warwick District Councillor known for being on the moderate left and having a prominent position in Tony Blair’s government, as well as supporting Tony’s stance on the Iraq war. Ethan had openly criticised Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the party and his failure to tackle the party’s anti-Semitism. His criticism angered many of Jeremy’s strongest supporters who lived in Warwickshire and beyond.
Ethan had many enemies, particularly on the hard left of the Labour party, but there was one place where he had no enemies at all; Lower Strangling. All the residents of the village were left-of-centre middle class remainers, and as such were strong supporters of Ethan and his stance on Jeremy Corbyn.
As you’d expect, Lower Strangling was hated by the hard-left1, and the hatred had grown when Jeremy Corbyn became leader of the Labour party. Things got particularly bad after the 2017 election, when Corbyn’s supporters became empowered enough to vandalise the village.2
Ethan Stone had been reported missing for about a few weeks, and clearly this is what happened to him; brutally murdered by a hard-left psychopath.
Or, at least, Jo thought he had. After all, he could have been killed by a Tory.
But then she noticed a blood stained card poking out of Ethan’s blood stained breast pocket. Knowing it must have been connected, Jo took a deep breath and picked up the card and examined it.
It was a photo of Jeremy Corbyn in a similar style to the famous image of Argentine Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara, and on the back was a message; “This is for Jeremy Corbyn and Rebecca Long-Bailey. Blairites be warned, you could be next. For the many, not the few. xx.”
“Ah,” Jo said audibly. So it was a hard-lefty then, clearly Keir Starmer’s sacking of Rebecca Long-Bailey for re-tweeting an article featuring a conspiracy theory that the US Police were taught the method used to kill George Floyd by the Israeli secret service had wound them up again. Of course, it could have been a right-winger trying to put the blame on the far-left to throw the Police off the scent, but Jo had doubts about that.
“Well, what do you think?”, Jo asked her girlfriend Janet after returning home.
“I mean, to me it does seem to be a hard-left attack, possibly stirred up by the events in London a week ago, but I can’t do anything about it”, Janet replied.
“I know I studied Criminology and Criminal Justice at Oxford, but I haven’t applied to join the CID academy yet and am not a Detective Inspector.”
“I know, I know,” Jo responded, “I just wanted to know your input.”
“You need to contact Stuart immediatly”, Janet told her girlfriend, “he needs to deal with it ASAP, if this is a deliberate threat to our village, we’re in serious trouble.”
Jo then took a sip of her favourite earl grey tea. “The thing is, I have no idea why the culprit severed off Ethan’s arm.”
As soon as she said that, Janet’s phone rang. She picked it up.
“Hello?”, Janet responded.
“Hi, Janet”, it was Simon, “I’m calling you to tell you that I’ve just received a severed arm through the vicarage letter box, I don’t know what this means but I thought that maybe you would.”
Janet stared into space, her eyes widened, she dropped her earl grey tea to the floor, a large brown stain spreading on the carpet underneath broken china.
The shit had just got real.
TO BE CONTINUED
1And the far right as it so happens, since Lower Stangling was unusually liberal when several other similar villages were Tory hotspots. The residents didn’t particularly mind this, in fact they were proud of it as it meant they were firmly in the middle of the political spectrum, believing in an equal society for all without the country turning into Corbyngrad.
2Just last year, Simon had to spend time he could have used writing his next sermon washing the words “Blairite scum” off the walls of St Gerald the Damned. The Peterson’s 15th century manor was also a target, the family often coming home to see their windows smashed with bricks and words such as “Corbyn 4 eva” sprayed onto the walls. Everything’s fine now after a few days and £20,000 worth of maintenance work. But still, the village clearly has its enemies.