Written by Mithra Stubbs
Do you remember when the only questions we asked of our clothes were whether anything else might be living in them? Do you remember when Mrs Beaten was the only person making a fuss about properly starched shirt collars, and Frampton Jones was the only person wearing them? Those were the old days, before Fiona and Nimrod Lancaster floated ashore with characteristic grace and aplomb.
When Fiona Lancaster died from a head injury last month, we all mourned her passing. Doc Willoughby said it was probably an accident, and that she had fallen all the way from the bottom to the top of the stairs in a moment of freak unreality that probably happens around the town hall all the time. Some of us muttered to each other then. Some of us had suspicions – but there’s not much you can do with suspicions. If we lynched everyone we felt suspicious of, who would be left to tell the tale? Because while Fiona was much loved, and much emulated, she was also the focus of much jealousy.
In light of the recent accidental death of Nimrod Lancaster, all of these suspicions seem more reasonable. According to Doc Willoughby, he appeared to have backed carelessly into one of his own shoe-making devices, and stayed there until it hammered him to death. It seems an odd way to go for a man who had always seemed so thoughtful and careful. Not all of us hold much stock by Doc Willoughby’s ability to assess cause of death. Only last week he proclaimed that someone who had clearly been savaged by werewolves was in fact a victim of chronic indigestion.
It is my suspicion that whoever killed Fiona, did so in the hopes of better being able to get something out of Nimrod, and on failing to achieve that end, killed Nimrod as well. Clearly they were not after his shoemaking machine, which will never be quite the same again. Who had the motives? Who had the opportunity? And will they strike again? Because this may not be a case of perfectly reasonable private assault, but may be the opening moves from someone bent on a killing rampage, and no one wants to go through all that again.
I think it was Mrs Beaten. She’s always seemed jealous of Fiona, and a bit obsessed with Nimrod. There was that time when she fainted in the street as a consequence of his especially beautiful shoes. With Fiona out of the picture, she might have imagined she stood a chance with the island’s best dressed gentleman. And then, when he resisted her advances – as any sane man would – she fell upon him in a rage – probably quite a literal falling that pushed him accidentally into his own machine.
I look forward to hearing other people’s murder theories. There won’t be any justice for these needless deaths – we’re rubbish at justice. But what we can do is make a series of ever more unlikely accusations and become paranoid about each other, and suspicious of anyone well dressed, and then we can get back to being the dirty, slightly infested wearers of whatever held together when we pulled it on this morning, and that would be much better for all of us.
And before anyone suggests that this kind of clothing Puritanism might be a motive for murder, let me just say that if this is some kind of killing spree, it’s best not to offend the perpetrator and therefore you should pick less likely suspects to accuse.