The Squatter in the Lavender Shop

Continues on from The Body in the Lavender Field and The Case of the Severed Arm.

“Hmm, nothing out of the ordinary here.” Janet said to Jo as they observed Lower Strangling’s Lavender field.

“Good, I don’t want a repeat of last year,” Jo said.

Lower Strangling’s lavender shop, Lower Strangling Lavender, had been closed for over 18 months.

It was a year to the day that Jo attempted to reopen the shop but decided against it when she found the decaying carcass of District Councillor Ethan Stone nestled in the field.

A year later, and with all lockdown restrictions almost fully eased, Jo decided to try again. But she got her girlfriend, wannabe Detective Inspector Janet Foster, to survey the lavender field beforehand, just in case another murder had occurred.

But so far, everything was fine.

“To be honest I knew nothing was amiss, as I still remember the smell of rotten flesh from last year.” Jo said.

“Yeah, I just smell Lavender,” Janet said.

“Good.” Jo said.

Janet and Jo looked at the Lavender field for a moment.

“Strange, they never did find out who the murderer was, did they?” Janet said.

“Yeah, clearly they were very discreet.” Jo said.

“Hmm. Well, I’m sure Stu will get them in the end.” Janet said.

“Yeah, hopefully,” Jo said.

Janet sighed. “Well, if you don’t need me still, I’m going back.” Janet said.

“Sure. Bye. See you later.” Jo said.

“Bye,” Janet said, kissing Jo goodbye before returning to her car.

Reassured that all was well, Jo walked over to the Lavender shop itself and unlocked.

But before she could turn the lights on, someone leaped out from within the building and held her in a headlock. Jo screamed.

“It was me,” the person said. “I did it. I killed him.”

“Who did you kill? Get off me!” Jo said before releasing herself from the person’s clutches.

Somewhat shaken, Jo composed herself and looked at the person who’d broken into her shop and accosted her. She was surprised to see that renowned actor Christopher Shakespeare was standing in front of her, looking rather disheveled.

“Christopher Shakespeare?” Jo asked. “What are you doing here?”

“I killed Ethan Stone,” Christopher said. “It was only for a role. I needed to get into the mindset of the character.”

Jo was shocked. Christopher was known to be extremely method, but this seemed a little too extreme, even for him.

“What?” Jo said. “You killed someone, to get into a role?”

“It was a satire on left wing politics. I was playing a radical left wing activist. I needed to kill a centrist to really play the part.” Christopher said.

“You mean Corbyngrad?” Jo asked.

“Yes. It worked. I got several five star reviews and am nominated for a few awards.” Christopher said. “But I accidentally let slip at a Q+A that I murdered someone to get into the character’s headspace, which in turn alerted the Police. I’m on the run.”

“Why are you here? How did you get into the shop?” Jo said.

“I smashed a window. It seemed like a safe place to be.” Christopher said.

“Would you like a cup of tea?” Jo asked.

“Yes please. Milk and two sugars.” Christopher said.

“Sure,” Jo replied. She then entered the building and turned the light on.

“Don’t tell the Police,” Christopher said as Jo gave him a cup of tea. “I can’t survive in Prison.”

“If you don’t want to get arrested, why did you tell me you murdered someone?” Jo asked.

“I felt guilty dragging you and your village into it.” Christopher said, “I had to tell you in order to get the weight of my chest.”

“Right,” Jo said.

“Tell the vicar that the severed arm I dropped through his letter box wasn’t personal.” Christopher said.

“That was you?!” Jo said.

“Yes, I felt I had to do it. You know, to really get into the role,” Christopher said.

“Ok,” Jo said, mildly bemused.

A little while later, Jo got out her phone. “I’m just going to make a phone call,” she said.

“You’re not going to call the police are you?” Christopher said.

“No, no, don’t worry.” Jo said. “I’m just going to make some orders.”

“Ok,” Christopher said.

Jo then walked into her office and swiftly called the police. She just couldn’t allow a murderer to walk free, no matter the reason for the murder.

“Ok, I’m done.” Jo said when she walked out again, but there was nobody there.

Legendary-actor-turned-wanted-criminal Christopher Shakespeare had escaped from the Lavender shop and was on the run yet again.

Jo sighed then, knowing that nothing else could be done, got the Lavender shop ready to serve customers once more.

Christopher was the Police’s problem now.


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