Sue’s latest prompt for #writephoto is this
PC Norman Pottinger parked his Panda car by the bridge over Jefferson’s Piddle and climbed out. How did that happen? One minute he’s humming a piano piece by Dvořák, the next a hayrick in Jefferson’s Parcel bursts into flames like a crazy firework.
Norman took of his cap and scratched at the thin threads of hair on his scalp. This was a third burning stack in as many weeks. It was getting beyond a joke, and a coincidence. He called it in and waited.
‘What you going to do then, Norm?’ Peter Jefferson appeared as if from nowhere. To Norman he seemed startled. ‘That’s the second of my ricks targeted. We all know who’s doing it. Peterson. He’s out to ruin me.’
‘I know your families don’t get on but where’s the evidence, Peter?’
Peter shrugged. ‘If you don’t stop it, it’ll get worse. He’ll have a go at something really valuable.’ He turned away. Norman watched him go; he was an arrogant bully at school, the son of the largest farming family locally and not much had changed.
Dr. Thompson, from the forensic team didn’t take long. Norman waited by his car. ‘Petrol. Whoever did it probably covered themselves, too. There’s an arc of fluid and a space, probably where they stood as they threw it. I’d guess he or she didn’t factor that in the gusting wind.’
Thompson picked up his bag and paused. ‘Any ideas?’
Norman nodded slowly. Thompson smiled. Many people underestimated Pottinger what with his considered movements and Somerset burr. ‘Well, I’ll leave you to your arrest.’
Norman wiped away the sweat. ‘I need to pop to the bank first, and then the garage. And I’ll maybe need a word with Colin.’
‘Peterson? He a suspect?’
Norman shrugged. Two hours later he’d finished with Reg Nothman, the bank manager, checked in with Frank Havant at the garage and spent twenty minutes with an increasingly angry Colin Peterson.
He looked tired as he pulled into the front of Jefferson’s Farm. Peter came out to meet him. Norman waited by the car. ‘Just been talking to Reg.’
‘He said he’d seen you this morning. Bit of a barny.’
‘He never could make a decision. No imagination.’
‘Really? I always thought him prudent.’ Norman looked around. ‘Where’s the car?’
Peter shifted his feet. ‘Got fed up with it. Think I’ll get something else.’
‘Frank said you’ve sold both cars.’
‘Time for an upgrade.’
‘Why’d you do it Peter? Insurance? Setting up for a bigger fire, maybe? This place?’
‘If you mean the ricks, you’re mad. It was Peterson.’
‘When I saw you by the river you stank of fuel. Both cars sold, spending time with your least favourite person in Reg Northam – no he didn’t say but we will check and I guess we’ll find a few financial worries – and then suggesting the fires are the work of Peterson. Looks to me like you might have more reason to start the fires.’
‘Is that the best you can do?’
Norman pointed at Peter’s forehead. ‘You should have stood back when you lit it. I thought you were shocked but it wasn’t that. You’ve lost your eyebrows.’