The English Village
Short story by Iris Carden
Murder, blackmail, dark secrets and sinister intents, with a charming backdrop of verdant forests, quality china teasets and perfect gardens is the basis of English village life.
I know this, because I watch Midsomer Murders.
That’s why I was against coming here.
I watched all 20 seasons. There’s more been made, but they’re not in Australia yet, or I’d have watched them as well.
I can tell you everything anyone could ever want to know about life in quaint English villages with names like Badger’s Drift. Badger’s Drift. It sounds like badgers build little rafts to lie on and just drift lazily down the river. Actually, they drift because they’re dead.
You want to know about English villages? I’ll tell you about them.
You know the most common cause of death in the English village is murder. There’s at least three murders per week.
The most common pastime enjoyed by village residents is killing each other. Other things they like to do include incest, affairs, blackmail, extortion and disputes over land ownership or right-of-access.
I said all of this when we were planning this holiday. Three months. Some people take a gap year after high school. Fred, Bill and I went straight on through to college, but we worked through college and saved.
We always planned this three months touring Europe, and we always planned to spend a couple of weeks in the UK. But when Fred said he wanted to spend a week in the little English village where his cousin lived, I said absolutely no way.
Fred said there was no difference between a small town in England and one in Australia. He said I survived staying in Cloncurry, I could survive a week in Badsham.
I said, there were three of us, the minimum number of people killed every week in any English village.
But no-one listens to me and here I am.
Fred was killed when an ancient gargoyle that’s stayed in the same place for hundreds of years fell on his head yesterday.
This morning I can’t find Bill.
The police say I can’t leave until their investigation is over, so I’m stuck. I know I’m going to be next, so I have to be careful.
The police seem to think Bill did it. They asked where he was when Fred died right beside me. But I know where Bill was, he was trying to find a spot that had mobile phone reception.
I asked the police if I could borrow a kevlar vest, that could protect me from knives, bullets or arrows. They laughed at me. The sergeant asked if Bill had anything against me, for me to be worried about.
I’m not going to eat or drink anything at all for the rest of the time I’m here. I could be poisoned at any time.
I’ve barricaded the door to the hotel room, and am staying well away from the windows. If I absolutely have to leave the room, I’m going to stay only in public places. If I’m ever alone outside, I’m a target.
I’m not going to any of the fancy community events that are on this weekend, not the garden show or the horse race or the church fete. You know those are just excuses to kill someone.
I’m going to make sure I don’ say or do anything to offend anyone, or act in a way that might hint that I know their dark secret. Everyone in the village will have a dark secret and will be willing to kill to keep it secret.
Look, don’t get me wrong. This cute little village is beautiful. If it were anywhere else in the world I’d really like it. But television has taught me there is too much to be afraid of here, and now Fred’s dead, and Bill’s gone, it’s only proven everything I already knew was right.