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Paul Francis Mc Cann

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Til Death Us Do Part
By Paul Francis Mc Cann
Thursday, May 31, 2012

Rated "PG" by the Author.

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Who done it story set in an old manor home

Long after midnight moon shadows ran across the grounds at Barnstone Manor and trees started to sway against the might of a wind that wildly began to throw its voice around shattering the silence of the night . Some of the window shutters began to bang back and forth outside of the upstairs windows at Barnstone Manor . Inside the home a weak voice kept calling out from one of the bedrooms at the end of the corridor .

“ Winifred . Can you hear me . Are you there Winifred .“

She lifted the bell hanging from the bed head post and shook it furiously as she continued calling out .

“Winifred hurry up , where are you .”

Winifred jumped out of her bed and rushed to her Mothers bedroom at the end of the corridor . She went into her mothers room out of breath and said

“For heavens what is the matter ?”

“What’s the matter . Can’t you hear that racket out there ?”
She replied .

“Its just the wind Mother and I can’t stop it blowing . “
Said Winfred .

“But I can’t sleep , it’s the shutters. They keep banging . For hours I’ve been lying here listening to it. “

Said Ruth .

Winifred took a deep breath and sat down near her Mothers bed .
She opened the window and tried to closes the shutters but the catches on the inside were damaged and would close properly .

“Damn stupid catches “
Said Winifred .

“ What are you talking about ?”

“There’s no need to worry Mother . Try and get back to sleep . I’ll get Ted to fix all the shutter catches in the morning .“

“But Teds just a gardener and a bad one at that . He couldn’t hammer a nail in a wall never mind fix a shutter. “

“Then I’ll ring a tradesman . So just try and rest Mother.“

“ How am I supposed to rest with all this banging . I can’t sleep and I can feel my blood pressure rising . Ring the Doctor for me . He said I must get plenty of rest and lots of peace and quiet .“
Said Ruth .

“I can’t ring the doctor at this time . Its after three o’clock in the morning .”
Winifred said .

Ruth pretended to cry and said .
“If I have a stroke and die its all your fault .“

Winifred looked at her Mother for a moment and replied .

“All right Mother . I’ll go and make you a nice cup of tea and sit with you until the morning comes .“

“ All right then , can you bring me some of those crispy cookies you baked earlier today and lets have a look at the old photos again .“

When Winifred returned with the tray her mother was sitting there in her nightgown like a Queen of the realm . She pointed to the coffee table in front of her and said .

“Just set the tea there . Now where are those photos albums dear?

“Right where we had them last night . Over there on top of the dresser .“

“Well, bring them over and lets have a look . We can’t waste any more time after all you’ll be married in a few weeks and we won’t be able to spend much time together .“
Said Ruth .

“Now you know that’s not true Mother . Michael and I will be living here with you .We’ve already discussed all that .”

“Well that maybe so , but a lot can happen in three weeks . You might change your mind and move away after your wedding day .“
Said Ruth .

Winifred groaned and said .
“Mother stop being difficult , I’ll always be here to look after you . Michael knows that and so should you . “

She went over and lifted a photo album . when she returned she sat beside her Mother in the other armchair and started to flick through the pages .

“ Have you decided on a photographer yet for the wedding ?”

“Oh yes . I remember that old photo . Its me playing tennis one afternoon with Ted . Do you remember that day Mother , when he was cutting back the hedging and I had no one to have a hit with ? “

“Don’t talk . He could never trim a hedge never mind get a ball over the net .“
Said Ruth .

“You’ve never liked him . I don’t know why you still keep him on here .“

“Well I feel sorry for him . He would never get a job any where else and no one has ever married him . Anyway what about the wedding photographer ?

“Well during the week , a young lady called Joan rang .She’s seems friendly and her hourly rates are pretty good .”

“What about catering and flowers ?”

“I’m going to hire a French Chef called Patrice . He will bring his own staff and the quote I was given is good . Michael is sorting the flowers and the cars and all the rest .So we’re nearly ready “

“Good . I asked Mr Greaves the bank manager to call in this week ?”

“Why . Is there a problem ?”

“Well yes .Some of my accounts have me confuses . There have been some large transactions that I can’t remember making . Some of my money has being transferred and I don’t know where or why .’

“Why didn’t to speak sooner to me . Can I have a look at your some of your bank statements Mother ?”

“Don’t bother you’ve enough to worry about Winifred . “

“But you know I once worked as a banker . So let me help .”
Said Ruth .

“Well all right . All my statements are in a blue folder inside the roll top desk in the parlour “

“Ok , I’ll have a look tomorrow .“
Winifred said .

“I don’t know what I’d do without you my dear . I know sometimes I ask a lot of you Wini . Often I’ve wished you had a brother or a sister , but it just wasn’t to be .“

“Mother , Michael and I were talking last week about what would happen if one or both of us had a accident or something . He has a friend who works for an insurance company and we decided to take out a life insurance policy together . It covers one of both of us case of an accident . “

“That’s a wise move dear .”
Said Ruth .

“Is Peta coming in the morning to change your wound dressings ?”

Ruth replied .
“Yes at seven . I wish she wouldn’t though . She has hands like a coal miner . and they’re always cold and dirty . She smells of nicotine and all she ever does is cough when she’s here .“

“Do you want me to speak to the nursing service and get you someone else ?”

“Oh better not . I found in the past when you complain they send you someone even worse . Just let it go . My wounds are improving and in a week or two Peta won’t be required to come any longer .“
Ruth replied .

“She has been very nice to you though Mother . Bringing you little bunches of flowers and she walks around the garden with you after breakfast .”
Said Winifred .

Ruth replied .
“Well I suppose she tries , but she’s not a qualified nurse . I told her about my time as a nurse during the war . She has no idea what it was like for nurses back then .“

Winifred turned over a page of the photo album .

“Look Mother here’s a photo of you and Dad in the war memorial hospital after the war . Oh I meant to tell you , the marriage celebrant is coming tomorrow evening for a brief run through of the vows and selection of the hymns . I hope she doesn’t stay too late . Michael and I aren’t really that impressed with her . All she ever seems to talk about is the growing number of divorces and how and why marriages all break down .”

Ruth replied .
“You don’t need that . Get another minister . There must be someone else who can do the job .“

“Well , it’s not that easy . See Michael was married before and some ministers have said that they would not perform the service for us .So when Toni said she would marry us we grabbed her . “

Ruth replied
“Stone the crows is nearly seven already . Peta will be here soon . I better get ready for her .“

“Ok . I get breakfast started and send her up when she arrives “

Someone rang the front doorbell .

That must be her now , I’ll go see who it is .
Said Winifred .
She made her way down the staircase and opened the front door .

“Good morning Win .”

“Oh hello Ted . Is everything ok ?”

“Oh actually , could I have a quick word with your Mother ?”

“Can I help ?”
Asked Winifred .

“Well , last week Ruth she asked me to pick her up a special little something “

He held a package that was wrapped up in pretty paper and continued .

“ Its for the wedding and I can’t tell you what’s inside . Not a word ., I need to give it to her in person . “

“Ok well I guess you better go up . She’s in her bedroom . Just knock before you go in . Be quick though as Peta is coming soon to clean her wounds and change the dressings .“
“Ok I won’t be long .“

By the time Ted was leaving Peta arrived . They met briefly at the door and Peta said .
“Good day for pruning the roses , eh Ted ?”

“Oh I wish Peta , but I’ve more important things to be doing than the roses . Did you hear that wind last night ? There’s trees and fences that are fallen down all over the place today . So how’s your duties going this morning ?“

Peta sighed a breath in despair and then she said .
“Don’t start me talking . I’ve had three clients who had falls during the night . Two of them have broken their hip and the other had a stroke . I found her on the bedroom floor this morning . She’s just been taken to hospital and it doesn’t look good .”

“Well it’s good someone’s there to find them Peta . I must go , see you after .
He replied .

By the time Winifred had breakfast ready Peta took Winifred by arm slowly down the stairs . They all sat down together and enjoyed some cereal and then tea and toast before Winifred went into the parlour to check out the bank statements . Just as Peta walked outside with Ruth Mr Greaves pulled up in his car out the front .

Ruth took a long breath of relief and then she said
“Oh I’m sorry Peta I forgot to tell you . I have an appointment this morning , so you may as well go early today . See you again tomorrow morning then .“

“Ok then Mrs Barnstone . See you tomorrow , thank you .“
Peta made her way to her car as Mr Greaves came to the front door .

”Good morning Mrs Barnstone . Nice to see you again . Now what did you want to see me about ?”

He looked awkward and spoke with a nervous edge to his voice .

“Come inside and have some tea . Wasn’t it a wild night “

“A gale force five they said “
“ Its hard to ride a bike on a stormy night . Close the door behind you Mr Greaves .“

“My Mother loved riding bikes Mrs Barnstone .“

They made their way first to the parlour where Ruth knocked upon the door and said .

“Winifred , Mr Greaves is here . Could you bring us a drop of tea to the sunroom ?”

”Yes indeed Mother . I’ll be there shortly . “

She noticed Mr Greaves looked uneasy and fidgeted as he sat at the table in the sunroom . She looked into his eyes and said ,

“It’s always much clearer in the morning , don’t you think so Mr Greave’s ?“

“Why I never thought about that . I did notice a lot of damage this morning to rooftops around the village . Some homes even lost their electricity supply power during the night . Power lines have come down all over the place . “
Mr Greaves replied .

She said .
“Oh well I wouldn’t know about that . You see I have a few different energy sources . As well a wind assisted turbine I have solar and a gas supply . “

“You do have a nice set up here at Barnstone Manor. “
He replied .

“Winifred my daughter planned it all you know . She’s a very clever girl .“

Winifred arrived with a tray and on it a teapot with a cover , a milk jug with a sugar bowl , two teacups and saucers and two buttered scones with jam and cream. Then as she placed the tray before them on the table she said ,

“ Well , good morning Mr Greaves . Isn’t it amazing the things that are left when a storm has been through . Its been like Murphys house here this morning . Here you are . Some tea and scones .”

“Are you not going to join us ?”
Mr Greaves asked as he lifted the teapot and started to pour .

“Not just yet , I’m just doing a few calculations and making some enquires on the phone . Did I ever tell you I was a banker Mr Greaves ?“

It was noticeable he started shaking and put the teapot down . Then he started coughing . Ruth patted him between the shoulder blades and said ,

“Are you ok Mr Greaves ?”
“Yes , its just a bit of bronchitis . Too many hours behind a desk and not enough fresh air I think .“

Suddenly there was a loud knock on the door and in walked Michael .
Winifred rushed to greet him with a kiss and said .

“Hello my darling . How are things at the office ? “

“Just thought I’d take escape for a while . A special moment everyday with my future wife is a glimpse of the happiness that is to come for us both .“

“ Remember we have a meeting with the marriage celebrant at seven .”
Winifred said .

”Oh no . Do we really have to go through all that again .?”

“This is the last one before the big day . Have you had morning tea yet ?”

“I have , my love . Can we just have a walk outside around the garden . I want to breath with you and talk with you , just for a half hour .“

Winifred turned around to Mr Greaves and her Mother and said .

“Please excuse us but as you see I’ve got a date .“

The two sweethearts walked off into the garden and shortly returned arguing about something . Michael stormed out the door and Winifred started crying .

“What ever happened ?”
Said Ruth .
Winifred tried to composed herself , she sat down beside her Mother and said

“Everything was going fine and then I told Michael about the photographer .
As it turns out ,Joan is the sister of his ex-wife and now Michael doesn’t want her to take the photos but I’ve already paid and signed a contract for her to do the job .“

Ruth Replied ,

“Well don’t worry dear , I’m sure things will settle down . There are always little things to test you before and after you get married . Mr Greaves can you come back later in the week . I think my daughter and I need some space this morning ”

He replied
“No problem Mrs Barnstone , I’ll speak with you later then .“

He anxiously got to his feet and headed for the door .

In a short time Michael returned and he walked straight over to Winifred and put his arms around her and said .

“I am so sorry my angel for hurting you and I never meant any of the things that I said . The relationship with my ex-wife and her family is over . They are no longed part of my life . So I want you to know that I’m very happy with the choice you made to have Joan as the photographer on our wedding day . .“

“ Really . Oh thank you darling . That means a lot to me .“

:”Listen my love I’m taking the rest of the day off . How about we go out for a drive and have lunch by the sea .“

“That would be great . I just have to organize someone from the nursing service to be here with Mother while we’re out . Give me a minute to make a phone call .”

After Peta returned Michael and Winifred went to have lunch .

Not long after they had gone Ted walked up from the garden with a wheelbarrow . He had seen Michael and Winifred drive off and wondered who was in the house . He knocked on the door but no one answered .
He waited and knocked again . The third time when no one came to open the door he went inside .
There at the foot of the staircase he found Ruth .
She lay there motionless . Ted checked for a pulse then noticed she wasn’t breathing . He went into the parlour and rang the emergency phone number .

When he returned from the parlour he saw Peta kneeling there on the floor beside Ruth . She tried in vain to give some breath and to restore a heart beat into Ruth’s body but the fact was Ruth was dead and could not be revived
The ambulance arrived and then the police . At first it was assumed she had fallen down the stairs and broken her neck but on a further examination and due to colouration of the lips and face it was now clear that Ruth had died from being poisoned . A crime scene was established and people were now being questioned .

When Winifred and Michael returned , they were greeted by the police with the terrible news of the tragedy that had taken place . An old detective by the name of Gregory Williams was put in charge of the case and he started his investigations unobtrusively speaking to everyone who had been in the home on the morning of Ruth Barnstones death .

When Ruth was buried in a grave that held her husband , people had said how sad it was that Ruth wasn’t going to be there for her daughters wedding.
Although Winifred was deeply in shock , plans were made and life had to go on . There was no postponing the wedding day .
Winifred and Michael had decided they were going to restore some love and happiness back to Barnstone Manor . They had worked very hard to decorate and renovate the main hall where the reception would take place .

The garden where the ceremony was to take place had been transformed into a setting with a archway of colourful flowers that led to a platform where some seats where placed before a gazebo .

Joan took plenty of photographs of family and friends who had gathered for this wonderful occasion .
Michael was really agitated because of Joan the sister of his ex-wife who walked around with a camera , enviously looking at him when ever she passed by . He almost said something to her but declined as he didn’t want to ruin Winifred’s big day .

Behind the scenes the investigations were continuing and Detective Williams had asked Michael about how much wealth was left by Ruth to his wife to be . Michael was getting upset by what that insinuated .

Patrice the chef was not very happy after he had been spoken to abruptly by Michael , who had noticed him drinking in the kitchen . Patrice would have walked away and really left the proceedings if it had not been for the intervention of Peta the community nurse who explained how important it was for Winifred that the reception would be successful .

Detective Williams had asked Peta about a number of recent complaints made about the care she had given to Ruth before her death .
These complains were made by Winifred and Ruth but Peta said she was not aware of those complaints .

Mr Greaves was there and had presented a letter to Winifred before the wedding . She put it aside and said she would open it after the reception .

Ted the Gardener presented a little gift to Winifred that he said Ruth had bought for her . That really upset Winifred and she went to pieces just before the ceremony was about to start .

Patrice the Chef had prepared some special treats for the guests and canvas food was being brought around before the ceremony started by waiters and waitresses . A few drinks were handed out to lighten the tone as you could sense something was not right .

Soon wedding bells rang out to tell the guests it was time to take their seats . An organ sat inside the gazebo and started to play the wedding march as Winifred made her way to stand beside Michael.
Toni the celebrant welcomed everyone for this happy occasion .

After the wedding Winifred went to change into some comfortable clothes for the reception . Everyone made their way into the main hall where the reception was to be held . There were a number of small tables set with glasses and napkins . Six name cards were placed on each table .
On the ceiling white and black balloons were hanging with streamers .

A band played on a small stage that was set up in the corner .
Everyone took their seat waiting for the bride and groom .

When one of the kitchen staff came out screaming detective Williams rushed to investigate . There he found Michael the groom . He was found in the cool room hanging by the neck on a rope tied to a hook that was once used to suspend large sides of beef .

While all this was going on Winifred’s body had been found . She had been stabbed a few times with a knife and was dead her Mothers bedroom .
On her finger the wedding ring was removed .

The whole household was placed under arrest . No one was permitted to leave .

The letter that was presented to Winifred by Mr Greaves was opened and it was discovered that a large sum of money was enclosed . After interrogation and a search of his home some blackmail letters were discovered . They were send by Winifred to Mr Greaves stating she had proof that he was withdrawing money from her Mothers account and traced a number of large deposits made by him into off shore accounts in a business name that separated him from the transactions .

On further investigations , it showed that Mr Greaves had been paying Winifred regular instalments to stop her revealing the well guarded secret money that he had been taking from many different accounts without the customers permission or knowledge .
Mr Greaves had a motive for the murder of Winifred and now Detective Williams was looking at opportunity and where he was when the bodies were found .

When Ruth was found poisoned , Mr Greaves had visited her that morning in her home .
Mr Greaves had admitted that he did have the opportunity to poison her but that he wasn’t a killer and that he was at that time being blackmailed by Winifred . It was stated that Mr Greaves also did have the opportunity to murder Michael and the motive was that Winifred could have told her husband to be about the money moving business that had been going on with the not so honest bank manager . Mr Greaves was arrested and charged with the murders of Ruth , Winifred and Michael and was to going to stand trail for the accusations .

After he was arrested and taken away all the guests were allowed to leave Barnstone Manor .

Detective Williams asked Ted if he could had the keys to lock up the home and all the sheds and other buildings . Ted said he would do that as soon as everyone left . When Detective Williams asked Ted if he lived nearby , Ted explained he had been given a small caretakers cottage on the property .

When Detective Williams asked if he could have a look at it ,Ted got very agitated and said .

“What’s the problem , haven’t you already got the murderer . Am I a suspect .
or something . Anyway you don’t have a search warrant . So come back when you have one .“

Ted was in such a hurry when he walked away to his cottage that he tripped over a small branch limb that lay on the ground and fell to the ground .
A bunch of keys fell out of his pockets but Ted never felt that and got to his feet and ran off to his cottage . Detective Williams picked up the keys and had checked each one . There were ten keys but the one in the middle intrigued him . It was very old and cut on both edges . He made his way to the front door of Barnstone Manor and placed it into the keyhole to find it opened the main door of the house

In previous investigations there was one point that didn’t seem clear .
On the day Ruth was killed Peta had said she locked the front door when Michael and Winifred left in their car , Yet Ted stated the door was opened when he came .
On Teds keyring the key to the front door was in the middle of the ring which would signify it had been there for many years .

Detective Williams began to have a look around the Manor and on the dresser in Ruths bedroom he noticed some photo albums . As he went through each page he saw many photos of Ted and Winifred . The something began to make sense .

He started to look around Winifred’s room and in some old tins in her wardrobe he found items of jewellery with the inscription , To Win , my only love . Forever yours Ted .

One by one other things became evident . Letters from Ted to Winifred and times and dates for dinner at the cottage .
With this new evidence Detective Williams had a new motive to work with .
Jealousy and hatred for being jilted as Winifreds ex-lover and immediately he went for a search warrant for the cottage .

When Detective Williams and the police got there with the warrant Ted was looking everywhere for the keys to his cottage .

“Are these what you’re looking for . I found these on the ground Ted . You must have dropped them when you fell .“

Ted grabbed the keys and as he did , Detective Williams produced the search warrant .
Once inside the cottage the police found photos of Winifred where hung everywhere . Photos of Michael were found in the fridge freezer with safety pins pushed through his head . There were also photos of Ted and Winifred together holding hands and kissing .
Letters were discovered from Ruth , that offered him money and a home to live if he would not bother Winifred anymore .
Other letters from Winifred stating she didn’t love hima nd had met a man called Michael .
Then they found Teds diary that described in detail how he was going to destroy the three people who had destroyed him .

The poison that was used to kill Ruth was found in the greenhouse beside the cottage . Rope similar to the one used to hang Michael in the cool room was found in the tractor shed and the knife that killed Winifred was a hunting and part of a set of knives found inside the cottage where Ted lived .

He was charged and convicted with three murders and sent down for life
With no possibility of parole . Due to the face their were no descendants left Barnstone Manor was sold and all the money was placed into a government slush fund that provided compensation payments for victims of crime .

Mr Greaves lost his job and spent a few years in prison for fraud He had to repay all the monies he took and once he was released from prison he took up a new job selling flowers on street corners .

The End

By Paul McCann

       Web Site: Pool

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Reviewed by JMS Bell 6/4/2012

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