The Mysterious Disappearance of Marsha Boden - Chapter 28
Bert’s funeral was an uplifting occasion and Lucy was whisked off to a paradise island
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A light mizzle fell steadily over the churchyard in Little Twichen as the pallbearers were lowering Bert’s coffin into the ground, rendering the straps quite slippery. Lloyd Peterson held on with all his might and was relieved when his friend’s final resting place had been reached. The cemetery had a wonderful calm aura about it today; some Wood Pigeons were cooing in the trees and a robin perched on a nearby tombstone, as if to oversee the safe resting place of a new soul. The closer members of Bert’s family stepped forward to toss a handful of soil onto the coffin and to have a few moments of silent reflection.
An enormous crowd of mourners had come from far and wide and passed their condolences to Bert’s family who were still in shock at losing him so suddenly and tragically. Although the mood was sombre, Bert’s family were uplifted to see so many people gathered to pay their respects.
Miss Moorcroft was wearing an ancient black suit and had even topped it off with a hat that she had found at the back of the wardrobe all crushed and dented, but nothing that a good brushing couldn’t fix. She stared down at the coffin and stopped for a few moments, reminiscing that she and Bert were going to enjoy an afternoon tea together on the day that he died and, in her mind, that may have led to something more. Now, she would never know. ‘God bless you, Bert,’ she whispered, tears prickling the backs of her eyes and a lump forming in her throat.
‘Helena, are you alright?’ A woman’s voice asked softly. It was Kate Bursford. She linked her arm through Miss Moorcroft’s and gently led her away from the graveside. The two women shared an unspoken bond because they had both spent time with Bert on the day that he met his end and both had been profoundly affected.
‘Have you met my partner, Zelda?’ she asked, trying to lighten the mood, as a beautiful young woman materialised by her side.
Miss Moorcroft dabbed her eyes with a white cotton handkerchief and looked Zelda up and down. Before she had a chance to say a word, Kate steered her towards the path leading out of the churchyard.
‘I’ll walk with you down to The Sun.’
‘That’s very kind of you Kate. I might have a sandwich and a quick sherry to say my farewells to Bert.’ Her voice was faltering and she blew her nose as they ambled along the narrow path and under the metal archway out onto Mill Street.
Just as Kate thought how well Miss Moorcroft had dealt with the introduction of her new partner, Miss Moorcroft added sharply, ‘Don’t ignore your fancy woman on account of me.’
The three of them found some empty seats around one of the big, wooden tables in the spit-and-sawdust bar of the pub, and settled in alongside some strangers who were deep in conversation, regaling stories of when Bert was a lad and how he loved to help out on local farms after school and in the school holidays and had a reputation for being the best hedge layer in the locality. There were lots of smiles and nods of agreement and a fuzzy warm feeling in the air. Bert Humble was obviously very well thought of and highly respected; he would be sorely missed.
Kate was relieved when her mobile vibrated and left Zelda alone with Miss Moorcroft to step outside onto the wooden veranda overlooking the garden.
‘We need to talk,’ the message read.
Kate’s heart plummeted.
Lucy was flabbergasted when the black Mercedes pulled up at a hangar on the edge of Birmingham Airport and stopped alongside a Cessna Citation X. At first, she thought there had been some mistake, or that Billie was messing with her, but when the driver opened the door and led her towards the steps, she couldn’t believe it.
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