Tompkins checked his pigeons were all healthy and had plenty of food. There was a knock at the front door. Tompkins looked down from the roof and saw a car he recognised. Inspector Ingram was paying him a visit, presumably about the body of Spinky Mills. Tompkins ran down to the mezzanine floor, picked up Marvin, and carried him back up to the roof, where he gave the dog a bone to chew, which Tompkins hoped would keep Marvin awake. He dashed back down to the front door and threw it open.
“No Jehovah’s witnesses, thank you,” said Tompkins in mock seriousness before almost closing the door.
“Mr. Tompkins,” said Inspector Ingram, “we’re not Jehovah’s witnesses, we’re here about a serious matter.”
“Well, why didn’t you say, Constable Ingram. There was me thinking you would lecture me on my own doorstep about how I could ensure everlasting salvation for not only myself, but also my family, forever and a day. By the way, I think Jehovah’s witnesses take their religion seriously, so remember that. Who might I ask is your smiling accomplice?”
“This is Sergeant Evans. He is helping me with this rather strange case we’ve been notified about by the Sussex Police. May we come in?”
“Of course, where are my manners, please come in and let’s sit at the kitchen table. Sergeant Evans you seem a happy soul, which is why I thought you were a Jehovah’s – they’re always smiling too.”
“This is the Sergeant’s first real case,” replied Ingram, “and he finds the manner of the death comedic and yet somehow tragic, all at the same time.”
“Conflicted, eh?” asked Tompkins, “well that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but why would you find someone’s death amusing in any way?”
“I will let the Sergeant answer for himself,” said Ingram smiling at Evans.
“I can hear snoring,” said Evans, “I am sure I can, is there someone else here?”
“Yes, my wife’s having a rest, she’s exhausted after working continuously for most of the week.” Tompkins hoped his lie was convincing – Marvin was becoming a liability already – Tompkins would take the dog to Aunt Jemima’s as soon as possible.
“Yes, she sounds exhausted,” said Evans grinning.
“Anyway,” said Tompkins, “can you explain what amuses you about the death you want to talk to me about? I’m not sure why you’d be smiling about such a thing?”
“Well, it’s not the death so much, as the manner of the death, and that this is the second death of this kind in the same room within the last two days.”
“Perhaps there’s an epidemic?” asked Tompkins feigning concern.
“More like a serial-killer,” said Evans, “who deploys the same method of asphyxiating the victims.”
“What is this?” asked Tompkins, “a pillow is being used, you mean?” He was enjoying himself.
“No, Mr. Tompkins, it’s something softer than that, but the practitioner is an absolute expert, as we believe she killed her victims in the same way. The DNA evidence suggests this.”
Tompkins tried hard not to show his feelings. The police obviously felt that Miss Scarlett had killed Spinky. What did this mean? Either Miss Scarlett was now working for the other side or she thought Spinky was working for the other side and had removed him in the quickest time possible.
“DNA? How do you mean?”
“Hair samples, from between the victim’s teeth, they match the samples found for the previous victim, a Mr. Stark,” replied Evans.
“You mean to say that someone has broken into a crime scene and been killed in the same manner as my friend Stalky Stark?” Tompkins hoped his indignation seemed genuine.