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Mrs Walker and the Lady in the Laundry
About the Author: Katie is an aspiring freelance writer, living on the south coast of England and is working on her debut novel. Her mystery short story, 'Murder Upstairs' will shortly be published in 'Why?' an anthology of mystery stories by Zimbell Publishing.


When Mrs Walker stepped into her garden at precisely 7:10 am on a bright, July morning, she did not expect to see a dead body tied up in her washing line.

Her chest tightened in surprise and she scowled. Not only was the blue, puffy face unpleasant to look at, but it was also incredibly inconvenient. Mrs Walker hadn’t made time in her schedule for a dead body, or interviews with the police, for that matter. She bit the inside of her cheek. Though retired, she had her routine to consider.

Every day, Mrs Walker rose promptly at 6:30 am and would be washed and dressed by 7 am, sharp. By 7:10 am, she’d be checking the garden, cup and saucer in hand, (no mugs please, she is not, after all, a tradesman), and by 8 am she would have eaten a light breakfast and be waiting for the number 127 bus to town. You see, the library opens promptly at 9 am and Mr Grosvenor is a devil for nabbing the best books if you don’t get there on time.

The old lady ran a hand through her sleek, bobbed brown hair and stared at the woman’s body. She took a sip of her tea. The poor things hands were tied either side of her head and the washing line was wrapped around her neck. She wore what can only be described as ‘tarts’ clothes on her more than ample frame. Her skirt was three inches too short and her neckline barely covered a bosom that, when alive, heaved even if the owner hadn’t intended it to.

Mrs Walker tutted, brushed down her clothes and turned on her heel, silently cursing. With a rather petulant look on her face, she headed inside to call the police.

What on earth would the neighbors say?

The call made, Mrs Walker stood in her living room, staring at the bookshelf wondering what Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple would do.

As a retired headmistress of St Madeleine’s School for Girls, her fondness for books had often endeared her to the students. A love of classic crime novels had sharpened her quizzical mind and proved useful when investigating the girls’ various misdemeanors.

She looked back through the kitchen window into the garden, pushed her glasses further up her nose, grabbed the notebook and pen from next to the telephone, and strode outside.

A gentle breeze carried the sweet scent of flowering honeysuckle, giving a strange and delicate perfume to the macabre scene. Mrs Walker approached the body with caution, examining it without touching. After closer inspection, and looking past the bruising and bulging eyes, she recognized the body as that of Judith Bramble, local barmaid and well-known trollop.

Her thick make-up was still intact, even death couldn’t shift it. Her clothes were not disheveled, though Mrs Walker stopped short of checking to see if her underwear was still in place. Even a slattern like Judith deserved some dignity, especially in death. Her usually long fingernails were broken which, Mrs Walker felt, indicated some kind of struggle. She noted all this down in her notebook.

Before she could examine the garden any further, police sirens sounded from the front of the house and Mrs Walker made her way indoors, dropping her notebook and pen back in place as she went. She opened the front door of her cottage and admired her prize winning roses, hoping the policemen wouldn’t trample them.

“Mrs Walker?” asked a man in a badly fitting suit.

“Yes,” she answered, eyeing him suspiciously.

“I’m Detective Inspector Graves.” He flashed a badge held in a black wallet as he marched up the garden path.

“May I have a look again, please?” asked Mrs Walker as he neared the door. Not because she hadn’t seen it, but simply because she wanted him to slow down and not go charging through the house without wiping his feet first.

“Certainly,” he said through gritted teeth, displaying his badge again. “I understand you found a body this morning?”

Inspector Graves was quite a young man by Mrs Walker’s standards, being in his late thirties with dark blond hair and tired grey eyes.

Mrs Walker went through the morning’s events with such precise timings Inspector Graves looked at her as though she had made them up. He then examined the body and investigated the garden. To Mrs Walkers chagrin, he also ruffled her begonias.

“Did you know the deceased?” he asked, making notes in his own notebook.

“Yes. Judith Bramble, the barmaid from the Hare and Hounds.”

“Do you have any idea who could have killed her and put her here?”



This story appears in our MAY 2017 Issue
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Reader Discussion

23
May
Great story! Nice mystery with just the right amount of complexity. Fun, believable characters. An easy, enjoyable read.
By Scott Merrow

23
May
Your story was totally captivating. I should be working and only intended to glance at it and read it later, but couldn't stop. Congratulations!
By Jane Sherman

23
May
Excellent characters and story line. Author should try a full novel.
By Joseph G. Norcross

23
May
I enjoyed the characterizations. The characters were very believable and I could easily picture them in my mind as I read of their 'investigation'. The beginning scene - the situation of the body in the garden and the habits of Mrs Walker immediately captured my attention and drew me further into the story. I thought the determination of the murder happened a bit too quickly and I would have liked to have read more twists and turns in the plot at the end. But... it was a fun read nevertheless.
By Don Herald

24
May
Loved this story and characters - a new Miss Marple in the making!
By Rosemary Gemmell

24
May
An excellent and fun read. The characters are believable and just right for the story - I could see this as one of a number of stories involving the same characters. Love the 'English phrases' that are so intriguing to an American.
By Nancy Sweetland

28
May
Charming story! I enjoyed all of the details.
By Sarah Glenn

29
May
Excellent story. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
By Frances Dunn

30
May
This was a lovely story, well-told. Excellent characterizations, great dialogue, and a satisfying conclusion. I enjoyed it so much.
By Elizabeth Varadan

3
Jun
I enjoyed reading your story. I think Mrs. Walker and Jane Marple would have gotten along well together. I liked Tilly and Mr. Miller and how they interacted with Mrs. Walker.
By Maureen Keimig

30
Jun
By ' or 1=1--


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