Hickinbotham quite liked the night shift. It was peaceful. Just him and the occasional other constable passing like ships in the… well, the night. He found the ethereal calliope-esque tootling of a Jubilator on the next street soothing. And if it rained (which it almost always did) the streets would shine and sparkle even more than usual. The gas mask made it a little stuffy, but with the fog it couldn’t be helped. It was a sort of privilege to get to see the Village like this, something only Bobbies were afforded.
When he came upon the mangled corpse of a woman in the middle of the street, just on the periphery of a patch of pea-soup, her entrails flung hither and thither, he wondered if that was what had tempted her to break curfew.
He blew his whistle and the constables on the surrounding streets ran to his location. They made quick work of cordoning off the area. One of them popped back to Central to collect Constable Burne-Jones.
Burne-Jones stepped out of the Bobby Popper and approached the scene. He knelt down next to the corpse and inspected the killer’s handiwork.
“Yep,” he concluded, “It fits the M. O.”
The next morning at the end of his shift, Hickinbotham clocked out and descended the elevator to the lobby. There, he found Mary Westmacott, crime reporter of The “O” Courant, hassling the two constables manning the reception desk.
“Come on, boys! It’s not going to bring anyone down,” she wheedled. “Everyone enjoys a nice murder, provided they’re not the victim. Just give me some of the details! The gory ones, preferably.”
“Miss Westmacott, there was no murder last night,” Constable Bevan deflected. “And even if there were, that information would not be for public consumption.”
“If anyone needs that information, it’s the public,” Hickinbotham interjected. “The people need to know so they’ll stay inside at night like like they should!”
“Ooh, do tell! What do we need to know, Constable… ?” Westmacott lead, readying her pen over her notepad.
“That running with scissors on a wet street in the dark is hazardous to one’s health,” Bevan bit out, before Hickinbotham could let anything else slip. He turned to the other constable in his booth. “Why don’t you take Miss Westmacott to the breakroom and give her a rundown of the accident. Give her the “good” tea too, not the regular stuff.”
The other constable nodded and exited the booth.
“Right this way, Miss,” he said, leading her around to the elevator. Once Bevan was certain they were out of earshot, he laid into Hickinbotham.
“What’s the matter with you, you gobshite?” he demanded.
“She can warn everyone that there’s a killer on the loose!” Hickinbotham said as if this was the most obvious thing in the world. “At the very least, it’ll keep people indoors at night where they belong.”
“Yes, and they’ll all lose their minds over it, thinking we can’t keep them safe. They can hear about it once we catch the bastard,” Bevan said, as if that was the most obvious thing in the world. “Assuming he don’t kill an embarrassing number of people first. Best they never know about him then. So until we know how many its gonna be, you keep mum about it and leave the public relations to me.”
Hickinbotham huffed, but left.
He planned to go over Bevan’s head on it the next day, but instead he was reassigned to the day shift patrol and told that what happened on night shift was now none of his concern.
1 thought on “Twenty-Two Short Films About Wellington Wells: A White Feather, Pt. 2”
Reading Comprehension Questions:
1. What sort of rhetorical device does the author use in the first two paragraphs to help the reader understand Constable Hickinbotham?
2. Do you think Hickinbotham’s opinion of the constabulary and his co-workers has changed since Part 1? If yes, how so? If not, why not?
KNOWLEDGE CHECK! Using what you already know from your previous readings, what do you think will happen in Part 3?