"Date 27th June 2018, time 15:00 hours. This is D.I. Horatio Badger accompanied by D.C. Candice Owl interviewing suspect one Mr. Colin Wolf."
"Suspect? What am I suspected of doing? Do I need a lawyer?"
"Do you feel you need one?"
"No, but if I’m suspected of something, shouldn’t you read me my rights?"
"Let’s get on, shall we. Mr. Wolf, can you please confirm you name, address, date of birth."
"Colin Wolf, 15th March 1990."
"And your address?"
"No fixed abode. You should know that; it’s your investigation last autumn that got me run out of town."
"We just need confirmation for the tape. So, where’ve you been staying since we last saw you in October 2017?"
"Yes, who’ve you been living with?"
"I’ve not been staying with anyone. Just been on the road. Or did you think these rags were this year’s fashion?"
"So, you’ve been on the road all that time. Must have been pretty tough, especially over winter."
"You could say that."
"No shelter from the rain and snow."
"And food. How’ve you been doing for food recently?"
"Picking up what I can when I can get it."
"Raiding farmer’s fields?"
"I admit to taking the odd cabbage, yes. Is that what I’m here for? Stealing cabbages? Guilty as charged then."
"Yes, did you take any livestock from these farmers?"
"No. If I’ve eaten any meat since I left here it’s because it was dead already. Sometimes it was raiding human bins, sometimes it was carrion. In the latter case it would have been me or the crows."
"So you’ve not killed for meat since we saw you last."
"Most definitely not."
"Where were you 3rd April this year? For the tape, Mr. Wolf is shrugging. Perhaps you could clarify that shrug Mr. Wolf."
"I’ve no idea where I was on 3rd April. I don’t have a watch to tell me the time, or anything to tell me the date."
"So you’ve forgotten where you were on 3rd April."
"No, what I’m saying is that on 3rd April, I didn’t realise it was 3rd April. I tell the time of day by the position of the sun, tell the seasons by the leaves on the trees or lack thereof."
"Okay. Let’s try a different tack. Have you been in Barton Woods since you left here last autumn?"
"I’ve been up the woods a few times, yes. I try to find food that’s in season, see if there’s anything left around, you know the sort of thing. It’s amazing what human’s leave lying around if they’ve been walking."
"Now the north end of the woods. Can you recall seeing any new housing up there?"
"New housing? No. Can’t say I’ve seen any construction going on up there."
"So you never saw a straw cottage in the area?"
"Straw cottage? Who’d be stupid enough to build a cottage of straw? No. Hang on a minute though, there was a day this spring, and I’m not sure, of the date, but I came across the remains of a fire. Looked like humans had been barbecuing and hadn’t put the fire out properly. That had straw in it I think."
"Yes. As I said it was still burning, so I cleared the straw round it and huffed and puffed to blow out the flames."
"And that worked??"
"Oh yes. There wasn’t much left by that time. Just a few wisps of straw, and most of the ground round about was clear. Bit unusual that, because I seem to remember that bit had been quite overgrown last time I was around."
"And after you’d put out the flames, what did you do then?"
"Yes, who did you inform that this house had burnt down?"
"Well, no one. As I said, I didn’t realise it was a house. But I did look about, shouted, but there was nobody about. You see whoever had built that fire, they’d left a good amount of food cooking."
"Yes. And even though I was hungry, and I mean really, really hungry, like you wouldn’t believe, I thought it only polite to try and find out who it belonged to. Okay, so I was hoping that they might let me have a morsel or two, thanks for putting out the fire they’d left and all that, but I couldn’t find anybody."
"No one at all."
"So what food had they left? And what did you do with this food?"
"As I said, I was really, really hungry, there was nobody about, it’d be me or the crows, so I ate it."
"You ate it."
"Yes. Well, it did smell rather delicious, you know, the way bacon does, especially if you’re hungry. And as I hadn’t had a decent meal, any meal come to think of it, in days, I made a bit of a pig of myself, if you’ll excuse the pun. Still plenty left for crows though."
"And it didn’t occur to you that the bacon inside the burnt-out house might be anything other than that?"
"I saw no house. What I saw was the remains of a barbecue. I mean, who’d be stupid enough to build a house with straw anyway? That’s asking for trouble. Isn’t it?"
"Okay, let’s visit the events of 23rd May. Can you tell me where you were on that date?"
"With no means to tell what date it is, you’ll have to be clearer."
"Okay. Have you or have you not visited the eastern edge of Barton’s woods?"
"As I’ve already said, I’ve probably visited most parts of the woods to…"
"I know, see what food’s in season."
"And have you come across any new housing in the area?"
"As per my previous statement, I’m not aware of any new building, planned or seen, in these woods."
"So you never saw a house of sticks in the woods?"
"A house of sticks? Who’d build a house of sticks? A log cabin, yes, but sticks? Still I suppose it’s one up from straw."
"So you never saw a house of sticks."
"Now I come to think about it, I found the remains of another fire one day some weeks after the first. I think that was at the eastern edge. I thought it was those humans again, because it was the same as last time, remains of a barbecue, though there might have been sticks in there."
"So, what did you do?"
"Like last time, I put the fire out as best I could. Cleared the ground round about…"
"You huffed and puffed?"
"And then you did what?"
"Well, it would have been rude not to, wouldn’t it?"
"Rude to what?"
"Leave all that food. Especially as I hadn’t eaten again in days."
"What food would that be?"
"The remains of the barbecue, the bacon?"
"Hmm. So let me get this straight. On 3rd April you came across a house of straw burning"
"A pile of straw, officer, that’s all I saw. And it was largely burnt out by then."
"On 3rd April you came across a pile of straw, largely burnt out, and as there was no one about, you thought you’d help yourself to the bacon the visitors had left."
"The abandoned bacon, yes."
"And on 23rd May you likewise came across a house of sticks on fire…"
"A pile of sticks."
"You came across a pile of burnt sticks and again thought you’d help yourself to the bacon."
"Would it interest you to know that the house of straw belonged to Mr. Percival Pig?"
"Yes, Mr. Percival Pig had been granted access to build a house of straw in that spot and had done so."
"So that wasn’t…"
"That bacon. It wasn’t the remains of someone’s barbecue?"
"No it wasn’t. It was the remains of Mr. Percival Pig."
"Oh my God. And I always liked Percival, so cute. I’m gutted. Hang on a minute, what about?"
"What about what Mr. Wolf?"
"The house of sticks?"
"So, you admit it was a house?"
"No, you were the one that said it was a house. I just said it was a pile of smouldering sticks. "But the bacon, was it…"
"Was it what Mr. Wolf?"
"Was it the remains of a barbecue, or was it one of ours?"
"The bacon you so greedily ate the second time was Percival’s brother, Mr. Peregrine Pig."
"Oh my God."
"You look quite shocked, Mr. Wolf."
"Wouldn’t you be if you’d found you’d eaten your friends?"
"That’s why I stick to worms, Mr. Wolf, so numerous and all called Dennis. No chance of getting attached. The problem with eating bacon is making sure you know where your friends are before you eat, especially if your friends happen to be pigs."
"What about their brother?"
"Percival and Peregrine’s brother, of course. Peter Pig."
"Good friends with Peter as well are you?"
"Not particularly. I mean, I was always friends with Percival and Peregrine, great chaps both of them – oh God, I still can’t believe I ate them – but Peter was a bit more standoffish, if you know what I mean. Not such fun to be about."
"Do you think you’ve eaten Peter as well then?"
"Hell no. But up until five minutes ago, I wasn’t aware I’d eaten Percival and Peregrine."
"Perhaps it was Peter you intended to eat all along."
"No, of course not. They were the only two times I found barbecues in the forest. But if you see him, and if he has any plans to build a house, perhaps you ought to tell him not to build it out of straw or sticks."
"Sir, if I may but in, I believe Mr. Peter Pig has recently started construction of a brick house down at the south side of the woods."
"There you go then, Colin. He’s being sensible. He’s using bricks to build his house."
"Hang on a minute. You say he’s building a house with bricks? In the south side of the woods?"
"That’s what D.C. Owl tells me,"
"And how big is this place."
"Quite big I believe Sir. I’ve seen the plans. And I mean, they wouldn’t give planning permission for a small place, not down the south side, would they."
"And where exactly do you think he got the money from? Last time I heard, Peter Pig was broke. And the land on the south side would be pretty expensive too. So, where’d he get the money?"
"Perhaps you could help put Mr. Wolf’s mind at rest. Could you go and have a quick check through Peter Pigs financial records, just to check there’s nothing unusual."
"And while D.C. Owl goes and checks that out, perhaps we can have a little chat about your general attitude in regards to the forest folk. I mean, it’s not the first time we’ve had to pull you up about your behaviour, is it."
"No, that’s why I had to leave. And that was all a misunderstanding, as you well know."
"So, threatening to eat young Red was a misunderstanding was it?"
"Look, you know the story."
"Your side of it."
"But Red’s grandmother supported the story. Eventually. It was her who wanted some time alone with the huntsman. Said she thought Red a tiresome child, and would I keep an eye on her for a couple of hours when she came to visit."
"So by keeping an eye on her included threatening to eat her."
"No. It’s what a lot of parents and grandparents say, isn’t it? They say they could eat the child up and then blow raspberries on their bellies to make them squeal with laughter. At least that’s what my mum used to do. Used to love that when I was a kid. I miss my mum."
"But why did you think it was an appropriate thing to do on Red?"
"I didn’t really. I’d just been doing some odd jobs for her grandmother when the huntsman came round. He gave her the eye, she eyed him back, and before I know it, I’m dressed in a nightie and in her bed being told to wait there and pretend to be grandma when Red comes by. Then they ran off together."
"People that age? Honestly?"
"Old, not past it, apparently."
"But why act like that with Red?"
"Well, she commented on the size of my teeth. If she’d commented on my claws, I’d have said all the better to tickle you with and tickled her. But she didn’t. Look, I was trying to behave in a grandmotherly way."
"So you say. Ah, here’s D.C. Owl. So, found anything?"
"Yes sir, I think I have. If you look here, there’s a couple of big pay-outs, the first in mid-April after the demise of Percival, the second in early June after the demise of Peregrine. Both from different insurance companies."
"So neither would link the deaths? Hmm, it looks like we’ve got to talk to Mr. Peter Pig a bit more. Thank you D.C. Owl."
"Does that mean I’m free to go?"
"No it does not. It means you’ll be in a cell for tonight at least until we’ve managed to investigate these deaths further."
"Oh, that’s disappointing. But will there be breakfast?"
"And will it be bacon sandwiches?"