Trick or Threat by Andrea Frazer by Andrea Frazer - Read Online

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Trick or Threat - Andrea Frazer

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I

‘I would so appreciate some help, Lady Amanda. These elderly parishioners of mine feel terribly threatened, and don’t even dare leave their homes to do their little bits of shopping in case something happens to their homes.

‘One of them has had the whole front of her house pelted with rotten eggs, another has had the word bitch sprayed across her front wall, and yet another has come home to find all the winter pansies in her little front flower bed uprooted and stamped into the lawn. They live in fear of a return of these young bullies.’

‘I thought trick-or-treating was a fairly innocent pastime, Vicar. Doesn’t one just keep a bowl of sweeties by the door to offer out when any of these little tots come around in their costumes? That’s what Beauchamp usually does and sometimes he even dresses up to surprise them when they answer the door,’ said Lady Amanda Golightly of Belchester Towers in reference to her butler-cum-general factotum.

‘That’s all very well, but these aren’t ordinary trick-or-treaters. They are at least sixteen years old, and what they’re after is hard cash to buy cigarettes or alcohol. They’re effectively demanding money with menaces, and I simply don’t know what to do to protect my dear elderly parishioners,’ replied Rev. Christian Goodfellow.

He was the vicar responsible for all three small Anglican churches in Belchester: namely, St Michael-in-the-Fields on The Butts, St Marks on Summerfield Road, and St Paul’s in Church Street, and sometimes he wished he had a C of E helicopter to get him to all his Sunday services on time, without the endless Sabbath race that he ran every week against the clock. The only other clerics in Belchester were attached to the cathedral, and had a comparatively easy life compared with his.

‘But can they not be described and identified, and the police informed?’ asked Lady Amanda in her firmest, ‘let’s not get this thing out of all proportion’ voice.

‘I’m afraid not, as they wear masks – as is, I believe, traditional for this activity – and completely disguise their identities. They even use hoarse, threatening voices to intimidate the poor old dears.’

‘Have you informed the police of this?’ For one ghastly moment, a vision of Inspector Moody rose in her mind, only to be completely dismissed by the vicar’s next comment.

‘I’m afraid the police are totally uninterested in our problem.’

With a sneer of triumph, Lady A trumpeted, ‘Then we shall have to apply the principles of private detection to this problem.’

‘Are you able to do that, Lady Amanda? Have you ever done anything like this before?’

‘I have indeed, Rev. Goodfellow, and I have a staff of three to aid me on this mission. The only thing I shall need are some names and addresses, so that I can speak to some of those thus intimidated, to get a little data before I decide how to proceed.’

‘What a Christian woman you are, and I thank God for your presence in my congregation – or one of them, at least,’ the vicar finished, rather lamely.

‘Just let me get a writing pad and pen, and we