No need for an embarassing scene

by Dan

The sun beamed through the stained glass windows onto the angelic-looking bald pate of Phillip Finworth- Brown. It rersembled a halo framing the organist’s head as he practised in Saint Anthony’s church, Little Dipling.

The music soothed the dozing cattle on the glebe farm and sweetened the mood of Mrs Watson who was putting out her washing and talking to the stranger who was standing by her garden wall, asking her questions. These concerned the man whose magnificent musicality was dappling the village in beatific wellbeing.

“He plays so beautifully” she sighed.

It was the summer of 1970 and Little Dipling had stayed unaltered by plagues, world wars and the advent of both Elvis and The Beatles. Mrs Watson felt this was due to small things such as the neatness of her washing, the organ-playing of Mr Finworth-Brown and the flower arranging of Eugenia and Millicent Stroop.

The stranger pressed her for more information on the organist’s character, “He is a refreshingly private individual” She declared proudly, adding that his preserves had scooped several prizes at this year’s village fete.

“Does he practise the organ all morning?” Asked the stranger.

“Oh yes he’s regular as clockwork!” she enthused. “Always stops at 1.00pm on the dot!”

The stranger decided that Mrs Watson knew nothing of Fenworth-Brown’s colourful past and host of pseudonyms. These included liaisons with glamorous flapper girls, membership of Moseley’s Blackshirts, a prison sentence for fraud and the murder of a leading politician with an ice pick in Stockholm. He was wanted for over 100 further suspected crimes. In short he was more bad egg than angelic pate.

He consulted his cheap watch and thanked Mrs Watson for her time. Then he repaired to the pub opposite and waited for the boys from the Yard to arrive. 12.22! They would be here by twenty to. Then they could surround the church and make the arrest. He felt unusually excited that his twenty year quest to bring the malignant recidivist to justice would soon be over.

Meanwhile Mrs Watson had rushed to church. “You’ve done well.” said Fenworth-Brown, a faint smile flickered upon his lips. He reached into a secret compartment inside the organ and picked up his disguise and a bag containing, pistol, keys and passport. Then he departed quietly through the back of the church where his motorbike waited.

The stranger barely heard the music stop, it took him a minute or so to discern that it actually had and by that time he had already failed to register the sound of a distant motorbike engine disappearing. A moment later, after a horrible moment of realisation, he put down his pint and shouted a word that had never been heard in Little Dipling before and ran to the church.

It’s doors hung open and the ivory-tinkling criminal was gone.

Mrs Watson returned home feeling satisfied. It was a shame such a good organist had left the village but she was sure that another could be found. She was relieved that an unpleasant scene had been averted and that the village’s reputation as a place where that sort of thing simply didn’t happen had endured. Furthermore, she ruminated, the preserves prizes at the fete were now winnable again.