tagLoving WivesNaked Corpse

Naked Corpse

byoggbashan©

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Copyright Oggbashan June 2018

The author asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work.

This is a work of fiction. The events described here are imaginary; the settings and characters are fictitious and are not intended to represent specific places or living persons.


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"Mr Markham, please would you tell me, in your own words, starting from the beginning, how you found the naked corpse?"

"But I have had already told your colleagues three times..."

"But not me. I have just been appointed as the officer in charge of this investigation. I want to hear for myself. Please humour me. It will help."

The man sitting opposite me in the interview room was a senior policeman. His uniform was immaculate with shining rank insignia on his shoulders. He had introduced himself as Inspector Rogers.

"OK, if I must..."

"There is no 'must' about it, Mr Markham. You are helping us with our investigation only as a witness. You are not under arrest; it seems unlikely that you have anything to do with the death, so you could leave at any time. I would appreciate it if you could stay a little longer..."

"OK. But I would like to go home and get some sleep soon."

"As soon as I have heard your account, you can go, Mr Markham."

"Right. Here goes, again:

About 3.35 am on Tuesday morning I was driving down..."

"How accurate is that time?"

"Within a minute, Inspector Rogers. I looked at the dashboard clock as soon as I stopped. The clock is a minute fast and it showed 03:36."

"Is it a digital or analogue display?"

"Digital. It showed 03:36. You can check its accuracy. Beside that there is the tachograph record."

"Thank you."

"As I said, I was driving down the road past the Water Works..."

"Why?"

"What do you mean, why?"

"Why were you driving down that road at that time?"

"I drive that way every night from Sunday to Thursday."

"At the same time?"

"Usually within five minutes. I tend to leave the office at 3.20 am. It takes a couple of minutes to warm up the truck's engine. There is little or no traffic around at that time of the morning so my journey time doesn't vary. I check with the security guard about 3.25, he opens the gates, then I drive out. He records my time of departure in the security log and the vehicle will be shown on our various security cameras. Those records show time and date. They record in continuous real time, not time lapse. The gate cameras will show my face in the driver's seat."

"Thank you, Mr Markham. So anyone might know that you would be driving down that road at that time and almost to the minute when you would pass the Water Works?"

"I suppose so if there was anyone around to see. It is no secret. Why should it be? I am driving an empty truck, our oldest, that has little value even as scrap."

"Why?"

"Why what?"

"Why are you, the Managing Director, driving a beat-up heavy goods vehicle instead of an executive car?"

"So that Mr Jones, one of our casual drivers, can use it if we have need of him. He lives a quarter of a mile from me and has the spare keys. He is partially retired. If we want him to do a local delivery, all he has to do is walk to the lay-by near my house and take the truck. He would be likely to have finished and have returned the truck hours before I go to the office to arrive at 12 midnight. Except between 11.30 p.m. and 4 a.m. the truck sits in the lay-by. If you want me to be pedantically accurate, it isn't a lay-by. It is off the road. It has a turning circle and is on private land, owned by the company. We have a licence to park up to three heavy goods vehicles there."

"Why, Mr Markham, are you at work from midnight until after 3 am? Surely those are unusual working hours for a Managing Director?"

"If those were the only hours I worked, perhaps they would be. I'm in the office during the day from 2 pm to 6 pm Monday to Friday. When I'm at the office at midnight I'm dealing with our associate company in Melbourne, Australia. I'm a board member of that company and I am video conferencing, or available for video conference from midnight to 3 am UK time. My office time at night is a fixed routine. I'm often working more hours in the day but at night it's always the same."

"Thank you. Can you tell me about finding the corpse?"

"OK. As I said I was driving the old truck past the Water Works. They have better lighting than the rest of that road. As soon as I am past Mr Jones' house I usually switch the headlights to full beam. After his house there is a sharp bend to the left about two hundred yards further on. Unless there is other traffic -- there usually isn't -- I'm on full beam. I saw something light at the edge of the road on the apex of the road bend. I slowed down, not that I was going fast, and switched on the spotlights above the cab. They showed me that what I was looking at was a body.

I stopped the truck short of the road curve with the spotlights shining straight at the body. I switched the engine off and the hazard warning lights on. I climbed out of the truck and walked the twenty yards or so to the body."

"Did you see anyone or anything around, Mr Markham?"

"No. Nothing and nobody. I didn't hear anything either. I wouldn't expect to. Once past the Water Works the road only goes to Mr Jones' house, the lay-by and my house. It is technically a through road not a dead end. The surface isn't maintained after a high-voltage electricity sub-station two hundred yards beyond my house. After that it is little more than an infrequently used farm track. There is a much better road running parallel about a quarter of a mile away."

"What did you see when you got to the body?"

"The person was naked. There were no clothes or any belongings. I had the impression as I approached the body that it was young and female. The back was towards me but it had a definite waist and longer blonde hair. When I could see over the body even though that part was in shadow, the breasts were obvious. I felt the temperature of the body. It was completely cold."

"How did you check the temperature?"

"I felt at the side of the neck. I couldn't see any injuries, not even a scratch. There were no signs that I could see of any vehicle leaving the road or failing to get around the corner. She was just lying in the ditch three feet from the stone edging of the road gutter."

"What did you do then?"

"I went back to the truck and dialled for Police emergency."

"The call was logged at 3.41 am. You didn't ask for an ambulance? Why not?"

"She was obviously dead and had been for some hours."

"You're sure? How could you tell?"

"I am a currently qualified First Aider. At this time of year, even naked, a person wouldn't be that cold unless dead."

"OK. And you stayed there until the Police arrived. In your truck?"

"I stayed at the scene but I put warning triangles about fifty yards back from the bend in each direction."

"Can you think of any reason why no one had seen the body earlier?"

"Yes. Two reasons. That part of the road is rarely used except by me and she was in a ditch. Unless someone was in a vehicle with a high driving position she would have been invisible."

"Deliberately?"

"I doubt that. A few yards further, beyond the ditch, is thick undergrowth. It would have been easy to conceal the body. But why ask me? Your detectives could work that out for yourselves."

"Did you recognise the woman, Mr Markham?"

"No. Why? Should I have done? I said her back was to me and to the truck's lights. Her face was in shadow. Even if it hadn't been, her hair concealed much of it."

"You didn't notice that she had a ball gag in her mouth?"

"No. I didn't see that. As I said, I didn't see her face. Who was she?"

"A local constable recognised her, despite the complete lack of cosmetics. Her long blonde hair was distinctive. It was a woman formerly Mrs Rebecca Ellis. Do -- sorry -- did you know a Mrs Ellis?"

"Yes. I think I had met her a couple of times at the factory's social events. She had been married to one of our foremen but they divorced about two years ago. I think I remember that the divorce was uncontested, not acrimonious but because of several years' separation. However, while I might have recognised Mrs Ellis' face if I had seen her in the street, I wouldn't be likely to recognise her in the poor light by the road."

"What about Mr Ellis? Is he still an employee?"

"Yes -- and no. After the divorce he transferred to the Australian part of our company. Technically he's not employed by the UK company."

"Do you know why he went to Australia?"

"I'd have to ask my secretary, June, to check the personnel records but I think he wanted to have a new start away from his ex-wife. It could have been awkward for them to meet frequently in our small community. I think -- again I'd have to check -- that he applied for a specialist vacancy in the Australian factory. His brother had been in Australia for a decade and Mr Ellis had other relations near the Australian factory. I only remember that much because I personally had to help with paperwork for Mr Ellis' permission to work in Australia. He had specialist skills. That helped."

"Has he come back to the UK?"

"I wouldn't know, Inspector Rogers."

"Do you know whether Mrs Ellis had any male friends?"

"Again -- I wouldn't know. She was never an employee. She was the ex-wife of an employee who has moved to Australia. I don't even know her maiden name or what surname she was using after the divorce. All I might be likely to know would be from the village rumours, and I don't think I had heard anything recently about Mrs Ellis. If I had, I've forgotten because it wouldn't be of any interest to me."

"But you, Mr Markham, are a single man and Mrs Ellis, an attractive young lady was also single..."

I laughed.

"First -- she wasn't my age group. She was younger than my children. Second -- I'm technically single because I haven't remarried since my wife died but I have a partner, Mrs Helen Thomas, a local widow. She is supposed to be my part-time housekeeper. It's no secret in the village that she is far more than that. We might marry except that it could complicate our financial affairs. Helen gets a substantial pension from her husband's employers. That would cease if she remarried. Our respective wills provide capital and incomes for our families. If we married we would have to prepare new wills and have complicated financial affairs to organise. We are happy as we are -- for now."

"Does Mrs Thomas live with you?"

"From Friday evening to Sunday evening. The rest of the week she is in her own bed in her house."

"And Mrs Thomas would confirm that?"

"I suppose so, but why should she need to? It was Tuesday morning. She wasn't with me when I found the body. She wasn't waiting for me at home."

Inspector Rogers went back over my account again and again. I didn't say anything different. Why should I? I was telling the exact truth about finding the body of Mrs Ellis. He did say that her body might have remained undiscovered for weeks except for me. I asked the inspector how Mrs Ellis had died. He answered that he didn't know and wouldn't know until the post mortem results.

+++

As I drove from the town towards my village I passed the large retail park built between the town and its bypass. That retail park had sounded the death knell of most of the village's shops. When I returned from university decades ago the village still had a butcher, a greengrocer, three convenience stores, a baker and three pubs. We even had had a milk delivery service based on a local dairy farm. We still had a combined Post Office, convenience store and tea room. That relied on the employees of our factory for its trade. The only remaining public house was a restaurant although they had kept a basic bar for the local drinkers.

The blacksmith's forge and wheelwright's shop had been next to a field where the carter's horses were kept. The blacksmith, wheelwright and carter had all been part of an extended family. In the 1930s they had added a garage, later with fuel pumps. In the 1960s it had become a service station and car sales showroom. All that had gone. Cheaper fuel in the town and better outlets for used cars had made that location uneconomic. The site was fenced off. Sometime it might be developed for housing.

The factory had been started by my grandfather and three partners on a World War Two RAF bomber airfield built on my grandfather's land. After the war it was returned to him with many brick-built buildings and too much concrete for him to farm. The factory had started in the existing buildings. We manufactured specialist measuring equipment, originally things like micrometers and gauges but most of our output now is very specialised electronic equipment. Now it was a modern architect designed structure employing more than a thousand employees, including almost every adult from the village. The sons and daughters of the former shopkeepers were part of the factory's workforce.

Apart from the convenience store everyone shopped at the town's retail park. They had to have their own cars, or order on line for home delivery. The village's bus service had ceased to run ten years ago. Sometimes I and the older inhabitants regretted the loss of the facilities. We still had a primary school but after age 11 all our village children went to the school in the town.

When I had attended the primary school many of the villagers had never travelled beyond the county boundary. Now many of those I had been at school with were scattered across the UK and the world. The village wasn't the inbred and insular society it had been.

+++

That interview was on Wednesday afternoon. Back at the office I sent an email to the Australian company to say that I wouldn't be available that night. June, my secretary, informed the security personnel. That evening I went home. As I passed the corner there was Police tape securing the area and a Police van parked nearby. The old truck had stayed in its lay-by where I had left it that early morning after I had finished with the Police at the scene of discovering Mrs Ellis' body.

As I ate my evening meal I wondered if I should have told Inspector Rogers about the old rumours I had heard about Mrs Ellis before the divorce. They would have been more than three years old, so would they have been relevant? She was supposed to be a party girl who took part in sexual games with other people in the nearby town, perhaps with recreational drugs, certainly with mild bondage. But she was supposed to be a Domme, not a Sub. There were stories about men complaining about her bondage going too far. Did it matter? Did it have any relevance to her death? I didn't know. I just felt mildly uneasy that I hadn't mentioned it. Some other names had been mentioned as part of the group but I hadn't taken them in. I didn't know any of them. I hadn't really known Mrs Ellis. Rumours about people I didn't know hadn't stuck in my memory. I'd ask Helen on Friday evening if she knew any more.

+++

Driving to work on Thursday afternoon everything seemed like a normal day except for the continuing Police presence at the spot where I had found Mrs Ellis. Why were they still there? What could they discover two days later that they hadn't already seen?

When I drove my car back after 6pm the police had gone and so had the tape. Apart from wheel tracks where police vehicles had pulled off the road there was nothing to show that anything had happened at that corner.

At 11.30 pm I climbed back into the old truck and went back to work. I had taken the dashcam out of my car and stuck it to the truck's screen. It was recording as my full beam headlights showed that corner clearly. At work I was very busy with the Australians. Missing one night's contact had worried them. They seemed obsessed with trivia but there were several queries about Mrs Ellis' death. Mr Ellis had been at work since a short holiday in Sydney a month ago. The Australian police had checked. Mr Ellis had an unbreakable alibi. At the time I had found Mrs Ellis and for several hours before that he had been in the Australian factory. I couldn't answer their queries about the cause of Mrs Ellis' death because I didn't know. Would I ever know until an inquest? I had no idea. The report in the local media didn't tell me anything new even if the headlines were lurid.

I was slightly late leaving, so much so that the security guard commented as he opened the gates for me. My dashcam recorded as I drove through the gates at 3.55 am. Ten minutes later I was approaching the corner again. I stared before braking sharply. There seemed to be another body exactly where Mrs Ellis had been two nights ago. I drove the truck closer with the over-cab lights on full. It was another body. I switched on my mobile phone, always off when I'm driving, and rang police emergency.

The police call centre told me to stay in the truck but watch for any movement. I left the dashcam running. A patrol car would be with me in five minutes, they said. They weren't. It was seven minutes. They pulled up behind the truck with their blue lights flashing. An officer approached the truck's door as another one with a bright torch walked towards the body.

"Mr Markham?"

"Yes," I replied.

"You haven't got out of the truck since you stopped?"

"No."

I pointed at the dashcam.

"That is still recording. If I had got out it would have shown me."

"Thank you. Why didn't you?"

"Because it is either a crime scene or a despicable practical joke. Whichever it is I didn't want to get involved too closely."

The other officer was walking back towards us. He shook his head.

"It's another body -- a dead, naked female. This one is taller and a brunette. Like the other she has no make-up and a ball gag in her mouth."

Other police cars arrived, blocking the road. It seemed as if half of the county's available night police patrols had come. None of them went beyond my truck, until Inspector Rogers arrived. He walked forward with the policeman who had first gone to the body. They examined it for a couple of minutes. Inspector Rogers walked back and came to the truck door.

"Can you join me in that car, Mr Markham, please?" he said.

He pointed to an unmarked car. I switched off the dashcam, took the keys out of the truck's ignition and walked to the car he had indicated. Inspector Rogers sat in the driver's seat. I sat in the passenger seat. I noticed that he wasn't in uniform and his clothes weren't as neat as when I last saw him. He noticed my glance.

"They got me out of bed," he said ruefully. "What can you tell me, Mr Markham?"

"Not much. I drove to work about 11.35, as usual. There was no body there then. My dashcam will show that. I left work slightly late because I had to spend more time dealing with the Australians. The security guard, the factory's CCTV and my dashcam will show the exact time. I drove here, approached the corner, and there was another body. I rang the police and sat in my cab until they arrived -- with my dashcam recording everything I saw. I saw nothing except another apparently naked dead body."

"Unfortunately that is what it is. It is another naked woman, dead some time but like Mrs Ellis no obvious sign of cause of death."

"I don't know when or how she died but she wasn't there at 11.35."

"You're sure of that?"

"Yes, inspector. I noticed that the police presence had gone at 6 pm and the area around the corner was unchanged at 11.35. I had a clear view of the ditch the second time. There was no body in it at 11.35. There is now."

"Anything else you want to tell me, Mr Markham?"

"Only some old rumours about Mrs Ellis."

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