Easy As Falling Off a Bike pt 3222

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The Weekly Dormouse.
(aka Bike, est. 2007)
Part 3222
by Angharad

Copyright© 2017 Angharad


“Professor Watts, could you please relate your relationship with Ben Smithers?” asked the coroner, a blonde woman in her late forties.

“Other than working at the same university and owning a Jaguar, I wasn’t aware we had one.”

“So why did he come and speak to you that day?”

“I have no idea and even less of one about why he should kill his wife.”

“So what did he say to you?”

I reported the conversation we’d had as I remembered it about his car being stranded in Spain.

“He said nothing to you about struggling with his job or his relationship with his wife?”

“Nothing at all.”

“And he gave no indication of what he did later?”

“Not at all, he was upset by Jaguar and their agents but he said nothing about his wife or his job, if he had I’d have been forced to act.”

“He was in one of your departments?”

“My role is effectively as overall chair of science, he was in electronics which had been lumped with us but I had no direct contact with him as we had two levels of management between us. If he had issues he should have seen his head of department or the professor of electronic engineering and computing, who reports to me.”

“So you barely knew this man?”

“Only that he worked at the university and to say hello to if we passed in a corridor. I knew next to nothing about him or his situation which was why I found it strange he should speak to me that day and about something so bizarre.”

“So you didn’t believe him?”

“I didn’t say that but I didn’t know if he was telling me what actually happened or what appeared to have happened in some sort of imaginary world.”

“Were you aware he had a history of mental illness?”

“No, but we try to help staff if they have a problem. I like to think we’re a caring employer.”

“Yet he was reported as saying he had difficulties at work and with his bank, both of which appear to involve you?”

“If that’s what he said, it might.”

“Doesn’t your husband work as a director of the bank, as do you and hasn’t High street bank funded a number of projects at the university?”

“My husband is head of the retail division of the bank and I’m director of environmental affairs there.”

“Did he have problems with the bank?”

“I don’t know, it isn’t my area of concern and besides it’s confidential between him and his account manager.”

“So he didn’t have problems with the bank?”

“I don’t know, as I said, that would be confidential between him and his account manager.”

“Would that be his local bank manager?”

“Probably, it isn’t my area...”

“Of concern, yes you said that before, but obviously two people are dead and one of them worked for you and used your bank, so you could see some sort of connection between them?”

“You obviously can though it could be purely coincidental.”

“Professor Watts, I find that disingenuous from such an obviously intelligent woman.”

“In science, your honour, we look at facts not coincidences. That two things happen at the same time doesn’t mean they are related.”

“I’m well aware of that, Professor, but surely it increases the probability.”

“Not necessarily, if they’re unrelated it has no affect on probability.”

“I think we may agree to differ there, professor.”

“Superstition relies on the misunderstanding of unrelated events and people seeing connections that aren’t there.”

“You have a problem with superstition, Professor?”

“Only when people deride science in favour of it.”

“Thank you, professor.” I was dismissed and left the court. It was nearly the end of the day and I’d only had a sandwich since leaving home that morning. I’d got a taxi to the coroner’s court to save the difficulties of parking in one of the most congested cities in England. It was half term and Jacquie agreed to supervise the girls. She’s finished her course now but as yet hasn’t found a job, so I pay her something for her help—poor girl needs some sort of pocket money. Julie offered her some time helping at the salon, she’s very good at doing nails and I did offer for her to do a course so she’d have a qualification she could use until she could get a better job. She declined. I think I understood why as did Julie who said nothing.

I asked at the court if they needed me any further and when they said they didn’t, I called Diane and said I’d be in tomorrow. She told me there was a mound of paperwork awaiting me. I asked her what we paid her for. “Arranging it in pretty piles for the likes of her unappreciative, tyrannical boss.”

“I might be a tyrant but I do appreciate you, slave, now get back to work.” I heard a cackle as I switched off the phone, she is very strange at times which probably explains why we work so well together. If we were in partnership, I suppose we could call it ‘Strange and Stranger.’ I’ll leave it to you to decide who was which.

Simon came home for dinner with a face like a horse’s backside. “What’s your problem?” I asked as he snapped at the cat and ignored the dog. Mind you, Bramble had just tried to climb up his leg using his built in crampons.

“That bloody bloke of yours who killed his wife.”


“The coroner has summonsed the local branch manager to attend to discuss his financial status.”


“Well he was close to having a repossession done on his mortgage having ignored three letters of warning for non payment.”

“Is his mortgage with you then?”

“Was it you mean?”


“Yes it was, he owes us over a hundred thousand in mortgage and secondary loans.”

“Did his wife work?”

“She did before he killed her, not so well afterwards,” came back the schoolboy answer. I gave him a scornful scowl, assuming scornful looks can also be a scowl. “Oh come on, Cathy, we’re losing clients hand over fist thanks to this bloody case. It’s just as well he killed himself because it saved me the bother of doing it for him.”

“Good job you weren’t at the coroner’s today with that sort of attitude.”

“Don’t worry, I know when to remain quiet or monosyllabic and not smile, even though I’m told it lights up my face.”

I was tempted to say something unhelpful about Specsavers and the eyesight of whoever it was told him that, when he beamed me a smile and his face did seem to light up—nah—it’s suggestive thinking, he put the idea in my head.

“How did you get on?” he asked changing the subject.

“I suppose the coroner was only doing her job...”

“Gave you a rough time then?”

“That would be one way of describing it.”


“She appears not to believe in coincidence.”

“Ah, one of those?”

“I don’t know, she didn’t seem to be gay.”

“Not one of them, one of those.”

I thought that meant the same, obviously not.


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