It was early morning. Mavis was walking her terrier dog Billy in the park. Quite unexpectedly, Billy began pulling on the lead and dragging Mavis toward some thick bushes. She hung on tightly, struggling to control him, but he dragged her nearer and nearer the overgrown shrubs. She almost ended up falling over in them.
“Stop it Billy. Whatever has got into you this morning.”
Suddenly, Mavis lifted her hand to her mouth to smother a scream. There, among the dead leaves, empty cans of beer and sweet wrappers, was what looked like the side of someone’s head. Mavis could see the long brown matted hair. Two white hands were visible underneath some twigs, and two bare feet were stuck out from a pile of soil. The rest of the body appeared half buried.
“Oh, my goodness, Billy. What ever shall we do?”
Mavis spun round. There was no one about. She wrapped Billy’s lead over her hand, making it short, and scurried out the park entrance back toward her home. Her breathing became laboured as her steps quickened and she ended up doing a kind of shuffling jog.
As she was about to enter her gate, she saw her neighbour Arthur in his back garden. She called to him. Maybe he knew what to do about the body in the park. She certainly didn’t. She’d never seen a dead body before. Even when her husband Frank died, she’d refused to follow the others members of her family and view his corpse. The mere thought of it sent shivers down her spine.
Billy, who accompanied Mavis everywhere, had also never seen a dead body. One or two squirrels maybe, but nothing more than that.
Mavis called out to Arthur a second time and beckoned to him to hurry over.
“Hello. What’s happened? You’re looking rather pale?”
“I’ve just seen a body.”
“A body? Where?”
“In the park. Billy saw it and pulled me toward it. I don’t know what to do.” Mavis was shaking.
“A body in the park? Aren’t you mistaken? Never heard of such a thing.”
“I can assure you it was a dead body. I saw it. Billy saw it. Please come back to the park with me so that I can show you.”
“Oh, but I can’t do that. I’ve never seen a dead body before and I wouldn’t know what to do about it either.”
”Maybe we should call the police?”
”No, I’m sure that won’t be necessary. Just take Billy home, make yourself a cup of tea, and forget about it.”
”But I can’t forget about it. It’ll be on my mind all day long and I’ll have nightmares tonight. Please come and look at the body. I’m begging you.”
“Oh, all right then, but I’m certain there’s no body and I don’t know what we can do about it if there is one.”
Billy headed off, choking on the end of his lead in his desperation to get back to the park. Arthur reluctantly followed, trying to keep up with Mavis as she hung on tightly to the dog’s lead.
“There it is.” Mavis pointed at the bushes. Billy tugged again and chewed frantically on a fallen twig. Arthur leaned forward, nearly poking his eye out on a long branch.
“You’re right. There is a body in there.”
”I think you should call the police, Arthur.”
”I’m not going to do that. They probably won’t believe me, anyway. I’d rather not bother the police at all. Let’s go back home and forget about it and let someone else sort it out.”
“Maybe we should talk to the vicar. He’s had lots of experience with bodies. Please come with me?” pleaded Mavis.
Arthur rubbed his chin.” I’m not sure. I’ve got loads of things I need to be getting on with at home and in the garden.”
”Please Arthur. Let’s see what the vicar has to say about it.”
”All right then. But we’ll have to be quick.”
Mavis and Arthur walked out of the park, down the main road, turned left and stood outside the huge oak doors to the church. They were closed, secured with a large padlock.
“Maybe he’s in the vicarage.” Said Mavis as she tried to peer through the stained glass window round the side of the building.
Arthur, Mavis and Billy walked down the long, winding path to the back of the church where the vicarage stood on its own luxuriously floral grounds. Mavis gave the front door a tiny tap. A few seconds later, the Vicar emerged.
“Hello Mavis, Arthur and little Billy. What brings you all to my door this beautiful morning?”
”A body.” Said Arthur.
“Oh, you're enquiring about a burial?”
“Not exactly,” said Mavis.
“What then? You said you had a body.”
”We haven’t got a body Vicar but we know where there is one.”
“You know where there’s a body?”
“Yes, it’s in the park. Billy found it this morning.”
“Oh, you don’t mean Billy has killed another squirrel.” said the vicar.
“No, a proper body.” said Arthur.
“A proper body?” said the vicar.
“Yes’, said Mavis. “Billy led me to it this morning. Or rather, he pulled me to it and then I told Arthur. I thought we should tell the police, but Arthur suggested it best to consult you first as you’re used to dealing with bodies.”
”But so are the police.” Said the vicar.
“Could you phone them, then?” said Mavis.
“Well, I’m not quite sure about that. You see, I haven’t actually seen the body and so I don’t know if it’s true and I expect the police or someone else has found it by now, anyway. Maybe it’s best if you all go back home and have a cup of tea and forget about the whole thing.”
”But we came here for your help. We don’t know what else to do. Can’t you just phone the police?” said Arthur.
“Tell you what, I’ll ask my wife what she thinks. Come in while I go and fetch her and we can decide what needs to be done.”
Mavis, Arthur and Billy stepped inside the vicarage and waited in the hall while the vicar went and got his wife. The vicar and Wendy returned and Mavis and Arthur listened while the vicar explained to Wendy about the body Billy had found.
“I think you should call the police.” said Wendy.
“I’m not going to,” said the vicar.
“I’m not going to, said Mavis.
“It’s not up to me,” said Arthur.
“I know what we can do.” said Wendy.
“What?” said Arthur.
“We can all go back to the park and take another look at what Billy has supposedly found and then we can make our minds up about what to do next. I’ll just get my coat.”
Wendy took her coat from the cupboard under the stairs and handed the vicar his coat and helped him on with it. The group of five went out of the vicarage, down the road and back into the park, where, once again, Billy dragged Mavis along and then he began yapping with excitement.
“Stop it, Billy.” said Mavis as she tried to prevent Billy from choking himself.
Mavis pointed a finger to where Billy was pointing his nose. Wendy and the vicar leaned over the bush, trying hard not to get poked by any stray branches and stared at the side of the head covered in hair, the body covered in undergrowth and the exposed hands and feet.
“You’re right, “said the vicar. “It is a body.”
“Then we must call the police.” Said Wendy.
Just as Wendy was speaking, a police car pulled into the layby outside the park gates. A uniformed officer emerged and strolled through the park entrance and walked over to the group.
“What shall we do?” Asked Mavis.
“Nothing" said the vicar.
Billy then stood on his hind legs, wagging his tail and holding his front paws up toward the police officer.
“Lovely dog you’ve got there. Good to see he’s on the lead. Not many people obey park rules these days. They allow their dogs to run riot.”
Mavis coughed and smiled at the police officer. Wendy, the vicar, and Arthur stood with their backs to the bush as if they were trying to hide something.
Without warning, Billy gave a loud bark, leapt toward the body and caused Mavis to spin round and land face down amid the greenery.
The police officer rushed to her aid and as he was standing Mavis upright, he saw the body in the bushes.
“There it is.” said the police officer. “I’ve been looking for that everywhere.”
“What? That body?” Said Arthur.
“That manikin. Said the police officer. “It comes from the shop on the high street that was burgled last night. They took six dummies from the shop window, stripped them of their clothes, and ran off with their haul. We found five of the dummies last night at the railway station and now you’ve found the sixth, thank goodness.”
The group stood wide-eyed, staring at the police officer, their mouths open as they listened to his story.
“I’ll pop round to the store for you kind people and let the manager know you’ve found the sixth tailor’s dummy. They’ll be thrilled to bits. Well done, Billy, you deserve a reward.”
The police officer took a large, bone shaped biscuit out of his uniform pocket and gave it to Billy, who then stopped barking as his mouth was full.
“You’re little dog needs a medal for his bravery. I’ll put his name forward to the superintendent. Good afternoon everyone, enjoy your walk in the park.”