My #WEP/IWSG post for February is part of the 2019 WEP/IWSG Challenge and the conclusion of the incident from my Halloween/Deja Vu or Voodoo post, White Lady. and my December Ribbons and Candles post, Rushlight Wreathes.
However, this is not the only incident in the career of Sparkle Anwyl that unfolds in Fevered Few, Book 1 of the Snowdon Shadows police procedural series. I m.ay return to Wales for future WEP/IWSG entries but I need o avoid spoilers – at least in relation to the main plot
Dark brown splatters.
Shivers tease me. Blood can signify crime, accident or
The spots on the kitchen counter would have been suspect at
a crime scene. A reason for luminol spray and light. But no weapon. Not even a knife.
A wooden love spoon bears witness on the wall.
It wasn’t me – even in our bathroom where Kama has heightened
my sense of cleanliness.
My time of the month was as cyclical as the moon, but work
stress has played games with it. Kama is more constant. Does meditation help
her? Is that why she is now in our garden staring at the sun?
Clues are on the counter.
By her head movement, Kama hears me open the garden door
onto the small paved area where she has traced the auspicious kolam design in white lime powder in the
early morning after bathing.
She continues her ceremony, raising her face to the sun,
then bending to our makeshift firepit.
The fragrance of rice and milk wraps around me. Chakkara
pongal preparation. The golden jaggery stains were the main clue – and
the empty package from India.
I squat beside her. She is dressed in a simple saree and
blouse with face and arm markings – more traditional than my black trouser suit
The earthenware pot of milk has boiled and overflowed, so
Kama has added the rice, even if the harvest that the sun made possible is the
one back in the Southern Hemisphere, in Tamil Nadu.
“Our colleagues at CID may not recognise Pongal,” says Kama
zipping up her leathers, “But they respect our days-off.”
“Until some serious crime intervenes. Let’s escape while we
A fifteen-minute ride out beyond Prenteg, takes us to a
well-maintained farm track off the B4410 leading to some modernised farm
buildings with a restored farmhouse.
We park the Ducati and Ninja beside a spotless 4×4
Raimund Virtanen is working on a chassis with an arc-welder
but hears us approaching as if he has super-hearing. Weird for a coachbuilder.
He removes the helmet revealing blond hair and blue eyes.
Six foot three inches and strongly built. I estimate mid-forties.
“You are the two Heddlu with a carriage mystery –
intriguing-like. Come inside and we’ll talk.”
The farmhouse kitchen is a modern and expensive take on a
traditional Welsh one. It reminds me of my grandparents’ home except this one
looks as spotless as the Shogun. Does this man eat or drive? Our roads aren’t
dirt-free, and the salt-laden air can coat things.
“How do you partake of your tea or coffee, ladies?”
“Two black coffees, please.”
I can’t place his accent. Not one that tallies with those foreign
visitors I’ve met on the streets of Porthmadog.
“We were wondering if you can identify a vehicle from a local
painting – puzzling as it’s the reflection in a mirror.”
He takes the printout and studies it under a magnifying glass
for a few minutes.
“This is a phaeton, I’m sure. Drawn by one or two horses, a
phaeton features a lightly sprung body atop four extravagantly large wheels.
With open seating, it is fast and dangerous, so its name, drawn from the
mythical Phaëton, son of Helios, who nearly set the earth on fire while
attempting to drive the chariot of the sun.”
“A common carriage?”
“Not around here. There weren’t many made locally. Ten at
most – more like half that.”
“Do you know who owned them?” Kama clutches the group painting
but holds it back. “Locally, for instance?”
Virtanen goes to a filing cabinet and removes a folder.
“This is a list that I compile of vehicles that I trace – not many but a few
notable ones like Captain William Yong. He raced other owners and win – for
“And he lived locally? Do you know what he looked like?”
The carriage expert throws up his hands and shrugs. “I only
know he lived in Porthmadog and marries into a Tremadog family – make his
fortune by investing in his in-law’s business. No more. Why are the police
“More our personal interest.” The compelling urge to confess
is too much for me. “More like ghost-hunting. We encountered a female figure on
Halloween that might have been killed in a carriage accident.”
“This phaeton crashed? Unlikely if Captain Yong is driving –
he has a reputation as an expert at ‘Hunting the Squirrel’. Side-swiping a rival’s
carriage requires certain accuracy.”
Accuracy needed to hit a fleeing lover.
“A pedestrian was hit at night,” Kama says. “No headlights I
presume back then. So accidental – perhaps.”
“Agree. The horses won’t have seen someone crossing a dark
road – until they crush the poor woman,” His expression is tortured. “Back
home…I am knocked over by horses as a child…and savaged bad. Hooves are strong
and sharp, especially with shoes. I hate to think of your woman’s injuries.” He
hesitates. “If you see a ghost – the horses killed her. Back home that will be
blame on the animals – punishment.”
“Back home?” asks Kama who shares my curiosity.
“I grow up in rural community – in Finland. Many years ago.
Poor – so I move here as I want to learn to build vehicles like horseboxes – to
help them. I call this ‘reparation’ – my making terms with the past and moving
on. Do we know the woman’s name?”
There seems to be no harm in telling him. “Dinah Quinlan.”
“Strange matter that I will not forget. Blood is easy shed.”
He escorts us back to our bikes.
Is our cold case closed? Until anything new emerges.
The moon is full when we celebrate the last day of
Pongal. My arm around Kama, I’m
oblivious to the calendar with the four days in mid-January highlighted.
My mind is on November 1836.
“That old nineteenth century painting indicts Captain Yong for murder – four weeks before he married his victim’s sister. The artist knew the truth.”
Word Count 999: MPA
For more information on the Pongal Festival visit: http://www.pongalfestival.org/
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