Witch Is When Everything Went Crazy (12 page)

BOOK: Witch Is When Everything Went Crazy
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“Jill? What are we—?”

“Follow me.” I led the way into the kitchen.

“Where’s the back exit?” I asked a surprised sous chef. He nodded to his left.


The three of us legged it through the kitchen, out of the door and into an alleyway. Back on the street, I hailed a cab and told him to take us to the other side of Candlefield.

“Anywhere in particular?”

“As far away from here as possible.”



Chapter 16


“We’re so dead!” Amber laughed. The cocktail in her hand was a colour I’d never seen in nature.

“She might use magic to track us down.” Pearl hadn’t taken her gaze from the door since we’d walked into Red, a club that catered for all sups. It was much larger than DingDing, and every bit as noisy.

“Hopefully, she’s too drunk to notice.” I must have been crazy. I was already in Grandma’s bad books because of our run-in over Mrs V. If she knew I’d been the one to instigate the escape plan, I was in serious trouble. “We’d better enjoy tonight, for tomorrow we die. Whose round is it?”

As the night wore on, we began to relax. Maybe Grandma had pulled or was flat out somewhere. We laughed and drank. We danced and drank. We flirted—even I got my fair share of attention. ‘Spectacular’ had worked—who knew?


The next morning came around much too soon.

“I want to die.” Amber was holding her head in her hands.

“I think I already did.” Pearl was resting her head on the table.

None of us could face breakfast. It was almost midday, and the three of us had only just made it out of bed.

“What was in that cocktail anyway?” I downed two headache tablets.

“Which one?”

“The orange one.”

“I don’t know. Nice though weren’t they?”

“Nice, but deadly.”

“You seemed to be getting rather hot and bothered with that wizard,” Amber said to her sister.

“He asked for my number.”

“Did you give it to him?”

“I gave him ‘a’ number. I made one up.”

“Who’s looking after the shop?” I said.

They both shrugged.

“Don’t you think you should check? It might not even be open.”

“Amber, you check.” Pearl picked up the box of aspirin.

“Why me? You do it.”

I couldn’t handle the squabbling. “I’ll take a look.”


Every step I took reverberated inside my head. Never again. I was way too old for this kind of thing. Still, if
was feeling bad, how must Grandma be feeling? Maybe she’d been so drunk she’d have forgotten that we ditched her.

“Good morning, Jill.”

Either I was still asleep, and this was an alcohol induced nightmare or Grandma was behind the counter.


“You look like death warmed up, young lady.”

“Why are you here?”

“I figured the twins would be in no fit state to open the shop this morning, so someone had to give these poor girls a hand.” She nodded to the two assistants behind the counter who looked duly intimidated. “Jill, why don’t you go and get the twins. I’ll make us all a nice cup of coffee.”

We were so dead!

“Amber, Pearl!”

“Don’t shout!” Pearl rubbed her temple.

“Grandma’s here.”

Suddenly they were awake.


I nodded.

“In the shop?”

I nodded again.

“What’s she doing?”

“She’s behind the counter.”

“How does she look?”

“Better than us, that’s for sure.”

“What did she say? Did she ask where we disappeared to last night?”

“No. She said she was going to make us coffee, and that I should come and get you.”

“We’re dead,” Amber said.

“So dead. It was all your idea.” Pearl pointed at me.

“Hey, don’t blame me. You both said you wanted to ditch her.”

“We’re so dead.”


“Take a seat, girls. I’ll bring your coffee over.” Grandma smiled. That was even more unnerving.

“What’s she up to?” Amber whispered.

“Maybe she got so drunk, she’s forgotten.” Pearl was clutching at straws, and we all knew it.

“There you go!” Grandma arrived with a tray. “You don’t mind if I join you do you?”

We all shook our heads.

“It was a great night wasn’t it?” Grandma sipped her coffee.

We nodded.

“I had a great time. I must have lost you three somewhere though.”

We nodded again.

“Drink your coffee. That will wake you up.”


Half an hour later, Grandma had left. The three of us exchanged a look. “What’s she up to?” I said.

“Maybe she’s forgotten.”

“Maybe she got lucky and pulled, so didn’t care we weren’t there.”

“Yeah, that must be it,” I said.


“Let me in!” I screamed at the toilet door.

“I haven’t finished!” Pearl screamed back.

“I have to go too.” Amber was standing beside me now.

“She did this,” I said, my buttocks clenched.

“She must have put something in the coffee!”

“Open the door!”

“Open the door, Pearl or I will kill you.”


The next three hours were not pretty. One toilet between the three of us—you do the maths.

We were in my bedroom. We had nothing left—literally—it had all been flushed away.

“We should kill her,” Amber said.

“Painfully.” Pearl squirmed around on the bed, trying to get comfortable.

“How did she survive last night? She’s like a million years old, and yet she looks better than we do.”

“I’m never going to drink again.” Amber hugged a pillow to her chest.

“Or eat.” Pearl rubbed her stomach.

“Still,” I said. “We did look spectacular.”


“Thank you, Jill. Thank you for taking me to the dog show. Is it time to go now? Can we go?” Barry was beside himself with excitement.

“In a minute.” I gently pushed him off me. My stomach and head were still very tender.

“Are you sure you’re up to this?” Aunt Lucy asked. She and Lester had looked after Barry while the twins and I were on the hen night. Aunt Lucy hadn’t mentioned the incident with Grandma, and I thought it best to say nothing.

“Yeah. I promised I’d take him. It might be fun.”

Colonel Briggs had given me a ticket to the dog show, which his charity held every year. I’d asked if I could bring Barry along, and he’d said I should enter him into the ‘mutts’ category which was just a bit of fun.

“Have you prepared your speech for the wedding?” Aunt Lucy said, as she helped to push Barry into the back seat of my car.

“I’m still working on it.”

“Good luck at the show.”


I hadn’t travelled more than a few miles before Barry had squeezed between the seats, and planted himself in the passenger seat beside me. “I can see better here.”

“Stay on your side. Don’t get in my way while I’m driving.”

“I won’t. What’s that?”

“It’s a post box.”

“What’s that?”

“It’s a bus.”

“What’s that?”

This was going to be a long journey.


When the colonel had first mentioned the dog show, I’d pictured a low-key event—perhaps in a church hall. I couldn’t have been any more wrong. The show took up two large halls at Washbridge’s main exhibition centre. I needed all of my strength to hold onto Barry when he heard the sound of a million dogs barking inside.

“This must be Barry.” Colonel Briggs had arranged to meet me at the booking-in desk.

Before I could stop him, Barry had launched himself at the colonel.

“Hello, boy. You’re a stunner aren’t you? Did you enter him for the ‘mutt’ competition?”

I nodded, but was already having second thoughts.

“Why don’t you two take a look around? I have a few things to do, but I’ll catch up with you later. Here, you’ll need this.” He handed me a copy of the official programme.

It was difficult to read while holding on to Barry’s lead, but I managed to find out where and when the ‘mutt’ competition would be held. On the inside cover of the programme was a full page tribute to Edna Vicars.


I signed Barry in, and locked him into one of the large cages which were provided.

“Let me out!” He did ‘pathetic’ really well.

“It’s only for a few minutes. I’ll be back soon.”

Colonel Briggs had given me a list of the people who had been particularly close to Edna Vicars. Even though I felt sure that Maxwell would soon confirm Hector had been arrested and charged with his mother’s murder, I didn’t think it would do any harm to talk to her friends anyway.

Freda Giles was due to judge the terriers. She was a sprightly seventy year old with blue hair and a sharp tongue. “Edna was too set in her ways for me.”

“How do you mean?”

“A judge should assess the dogs against the breed standard, and they shouldn’t play favourites.”

“Which group did she judge?”

“The Toy Group, always the Toy Group. Alistair Howard has had to step in to judge this year. You should talk to him. He knew Edna better than anyone.”

I already had Alistair Howard on my list and tracked him down in the refreshment area, whiskey in hand.

“Just settling my nerves.” He smiled.

“Feeling the pressure?”

“You can say that again. There’s a lot of expectation now Edna—” he hesitated, a little embarrassed. “Now I’ve taken over.”


“There are those who say that Edna had it in for certain breeds. Of course she denied it, and only she knew for sure, but it’s true that no Pug or Papillion ever made it through to Best in Show while Edna was judging. Look, I’m sorry, but I have to prepare.”

“Of course. Good luck.”


With ten minutes to go until the start of the ‘mutt’ competition, my nerves were beginning to jangle. Barry showed no such stage fright. “Let’s go!” He pulled on the lead.

“Not yet. We have to wait until it’s our turn.”

“What will I win?”

“Nothing most likely.”

“What about a trophy?”

“Only for the winners. It isn’t the winning, it’s the taking part.”

“Stuff that! I’m going to win. Just watch me.”

When it was our turn, I walked slowly towards the ring. There was a surprisingly large crowd which greeted Barry enthusiastically. Me—they couldn’t have cared less about. We’d watched the contestants who went before us, and to my surprise, Barry appeared to have been taking note. Instead of pulling me in ten different directions at once, which was what he usually did, he walked to heel. I could scarcely believe it. But it was the next part I was dreading. I had to undo Barry’s lead, tell him to lie down, and then walk to the other side of the ring. So far, the dogs who had gone before us had behaved impeccably. They’d stayed put until called by their owners. The chances of Barry staying put were somewhere south of zero.

I unclipped the lead and gave him the command to lie down—he did. I was so stunned the judge had to prompt me to continue.

“Stay!” I said, with as much conviction as I could muster.

I turned my back on Barry, and began to walk across the ring. Any second now, he’d pounce on my back. Any second now.

I reached the other side, and turned to see Barry still lying where I’d left him.

On my command, he came running to me.

“How did you do that?” I said in a whisper.

“This stuff is easy. That trophy has my name on it.”



Chapter 17


Lester greeted us at Aunt Lucy’s door. “Hi you two. Looks like someone had a good day.”

“Third place.” I held out the cup for Lester to see.

“Well done, Barry.”

Barry huffed.

“What’s wrong with him?” Lester beckoned us inside.

“He thinks he should have won.”

“I was clearly the best.” Barry paused to scratch himself.

“Maybe next time.” Lester grinned at me.

“Where’s Aunt Lucy?”

“There’s been a bit of a mishap.”

“Is she okay?”

“Yes, she’s fine. It’s just—”

“Look at this!” Aunt Lucy appeared from the bathroom. Her hair was lime green.

“Your hair is lime green.” Sometimes I should just keep my big mouth shut.

“Thanks for that, Jill. I hadn’t noticed.”

“What happened?”

“Grandma happened.”

“Why? How?”

“You may well ask. Apparently she holds me responsible for the actions of my daughters, and—” She glared at me. “The actions of my niece.”

“You mean the hen night?”

“That’s exactly what I mean. What were you thinking?”

“We’d had a lot to drink.”

“So you thought you’d ditch Grandma? Surely you knew there would be repercussions?”

“I’m really sorry. If it’s any consolation she gave us the—”

“Please.” She held up her hand. “I’ve already heard the grisly details from the girls. It serves the three of you right. Though why
should have to be punished, I don’t know.”

“Green does suit you,” I said. Foot in mouth again.

green suits me,” Aunt Lucy said. “I like my hair
green. Not like this.” She ran her hand through her hair. “Look at it!”

I sensed it was time to change the subject. “Barry took third place.” I held up the trophy.

“Great! Maybe I can wear
on my head when I go to the wedding.”

The moral of the story was clear: ‘Do not cross Grandma.’

I left Barry and the trophy at Aunt Lucy’s before driving back to Washbridge. It was on days like this I was pleased that I had two homes. I didn’t envy the twins being stuck with Aunt Lucy and Grandma. I’d just have to give Ever a Wool Moment a wide berth for a few days.


Halfway home, I got a call from Kathy—could I go around straight away? What now? I was still feeling the after-effects of the hen night. All I really wanted to do was go to bed. Kathy was as insistent as she was mysterious.

“Surprise!” I was greeted with party poppers and silly string.

“What’s this all about?”

“It’s a thank you party for saving our holiday,” Kathy said.

“Thanks, Auntie Jill.” Lizzie threw her arms around me.

“Thanks, Auntie Jill!” Mikey threw a balloon which bounced off my nose.

“A party? For me?” Oh goody. “You got the money back then?”

“The police returned it to us. Dominic Whitelaw had kept it at the power station. Looks like the holiday is back on.”

“How’s Norman Reeves doing?”

“He’s okay.” Kathy pulled silly string from her hair. “He’s out of danger and might even be well enough to come on the holiday. He has a spare ticket, if you’re interested?”

“I think I’ll pass.”


Peter was reading the kids their bedtime story.

“I don’t understand why Dominic and Natasha did it,” Kathy said. “Why would they kill someone for such a small amount of money?”

“It will all come out in court, but my guess is that originally they only ever intended to steal the money. Whitelaw had huge financial commitments and had lost his job. The redundancy money was never going to cover his outgoings. The holiday fund added up to a tidy sum. I guess they figured it was easy money that would keep them going until they had figured something else out.”

“So why hurt Norman?”

“He must have caught them with the money, and threatened to go to the police. They panicked, and had no idea what to do, so they took him by force to the power station.”

“They must have realised he was going to die?”

“Maybe, but more likely they just closed their eyes to the problem, and hoped it would go away.  This wasn’t a well planned crime. It was two very stupid people who tried to make a quick buck, and ended up in way over their heads.”

“So Natasha deliberately set out to befriend Norman Reeves just to get to the money?”

“Yes, he was putty in her hands. Once she knew where he kept the cash, they took it, and that would have been an end to it if Norman hadn’t found them out.”

“The world is going crazy.”

No arguments from me there.


“You look rough, Jill,” Peter said, once the kids were down. “Are you okay?”

“You’re such a charmer.” Kathy slapped his arm. “He’s right though, you do look off colour. Are you okay?”

“Just tired. I’m going to have to get off soon.”

“Just wait until you’ve got kids,” Kathy said. “Then you’ll know what tired
is. Oh, and by the way, why was there a traffic warden in your car the other day?”

“It was just someone I used to know from school. I was giving her a lift.”

“I don’t remember her.”

“You didn’t know all of my friends.”

“I did. There were only three of them.”

“I had more than three friends.” Four actually.

“What’s her name? Your traffic warden friend?”

“Daisy Flowers.”

Kathy laughed. “You’ve just made that up.”

“That’s her name, honestly. Everyone used to call her Daze.”

“I still don’t remember her.”

“That’s because you were too busy flashing your knickers at all the boys in the playground.”

“I did not flash my knickers.”

“If they gave you a Snickers you did.”

“Take no notice of her, Pete. She’s lying. It was a Mars Bar.”

Peter shook his head.

“I almost forgot,” Kathy said. “Your aunt Lucy came around this morning.”

I almost spat out the water I was drinking.

“She came here?”

“Yeah. She’s lovely, isn’t she? I’m not sure about the lime green hair though.”

“Why did she come?”

“She invited us to visit her and the rest of your family in Malten next month.”

“In Malten?”


“You’re sure she said Malten?”

“Where else would she say? That’s where she lives, isn’t it?”

“Malten? Yes, of course, Malten. That’s where Aunt Lucy lives.”

“Are you sure you’re okay, Jill?”

“Yeah, I’m just tired. I should be getting off.”

Aunt Lucy had delivered on her promise. Somehow she’d used her magic to alter their memories—Kathy, Peter and the kids—so that they all now believed that my family lived in Malten, a small village thirty miles north of Washbridge. Did Aunt Lucy actually have a property in Malten? Oh well, at least now I didn’t need to worry about Kathy asking about Candlefield.


It was the following day before my stomach was back to normal again.

“That isn’t a scarf!” I said.

“I can see why you chose this profession.” Mrs V stopped knitting. “Nothing gets past you, does it?”

“But you only ever knit scarves.”

“Not any longer. I have set my sights on a second trophy.”

“What is it? A hat?”

“A hat? Of course it’s not a hat. It’s a sock. The sock category is one of the toughest. Eva Doors has taken the trophy for the last seven years. But things are about to change.”

“Good for you. Will you still knit the scarves?”

“Of course. I intend to defend my crown too.”

“Going for the double then?”

“It’s about time someone put Eva in her place. She’s been getting a little—”

“Big for her socks?”


My humour was wasted here.

“Good for you. Sock it to her.”

What? Come on, that was funny.


“What are you wearing?” I asked Winky.

“The crazy old bag lady gave them to me.” He held up a paw to show me one of the four red socks. “They’re great for doing this.” He took a few steps, and then slid across the floor. “Good eh?”

“Amazing. How’s your love life?”

“I’m playing hard to get.” He slid back across the floor.

“Is it working?”

“Early days. I’ve been offline for a couple of days. She’s probably pining for me by now.”

I glanced through the window. Bella was frantically waving her tiny flags around, but not in this direction.

“You’ll ruin those socks.” Mrs V was standing in the doorway, watching Winky slide from one side of the room to the other.

“He’ll soon get bored with it,” I said.

“I forgot to mention.” Mrs V scowled as Winky slid past her. “Detective Maxwell called yesterday. He’d tried to get you on your phone, but you weren’t answering. He’d like you to give him a call.”

I did, and caught him on the first attempt.

“Can we meet?” he asked.

“Usual interview room?”

“Let’s get a coffee for a change. Can you make it to Java’s in fifteen minutes?”


“I’m going to meet Detective Maxwell for coffee.”

Mrs V gave me a knowing look.


“Nothing dear. Ask him what colour socks he’d like, will you?”


“You’re a difficult person to get in touch with.” Maxwell handed me a latte.

“Things have been a bit hectic.”

“I promised I’d update you on the Vicars case.” He took a bite of caramel shortbread.

“Have you charged Hector Vicars?”

He nodded—his mouth still full of shortbread. Eventually, he said, “Not with murder though.”


“Armed robbery.”


“The car in the breaker’s yard matched the one used in the recent bungled jewel robbery. We’ve arrested a man named Joseph Truman—better known as Battery.”

“Hilary’s boyfriend.”

“We had him banged to rights, so he couldn’t wait to cut a deal. He gave up your friend Hector Vicars as the getaway driver.”

“What about the hit and run?”

“It couldn’t have been Hector. He and Battery were busy bungling a jewel heist at the same time as Mrs Vicars was knocked down and killed.”

I sighed. “Are you sure?”

“One hundred per cent positive. I don’t know who knocked down Edna Vicars, but I do know it wasn’t her son and it wasn’t that car.”

“Back to square one then.”

“Looks like it.”

“Oh, before I forget.” I wiped the froth from my lips. “Mrs V wanted me to ask what colour socks you’d like.”

“I thought she specialised in scarves?”

“She’s branching out. Do you still have your Tweety Pie socks?”

He looked puzzled. “How did you know about those?”

“I’m a P.I.—remember? Why not have some red ones? They’ll go with your bowling shirt.”

He grinned, mopped up the last few crumbs of shortbread, and said, “I’ll let you decide. You seem to have a lot to say about my fashion sense.”

“Or lack of it.”


As soon as we’d left the coffee shop, I contacted Colonel Briggs to ask if I could go over to see him. I wanted him to hear the news from me first.

“Jill, come in. I hear your boy, Barry, took third place.”

“He thought he should have won first prize.”

Colonel Briggs gave me a puzzled look.

“Err—I mean that’s probably what he thought—I guess. Maybe.”

“Is there any news on Edna’s killer?”

“Hector Vicars definitely didn’t kill his mother. He’s been charged with robbery—a jeweller’s shop. The raid took place at the same time as Mrs Vicars was killed, so he couldn’t have been responsible. The police are still looking for the hit and run driver.”

Colonel Briggs nodded. “Thanks for coming out here to tell me, and for all your efforts. Let me have your bill, and I’ll see it is paid immediately.”

“I’m sorry I couldn’t help more than I did.”

“You did everything you could. Now, will you stay for a drink?”

“I’m sorry, I can’t. I just wanted to tell you the news face to face.”

“Before you go. Take a look at these.” He handed me a stack of photographs. “It’s all the winners and runners-up. Your boy is among them.”

BOOK: Witch Is When Everything Went Crazy
2.82Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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