Discover more from Heaven & El
Beverly: Chapter 4
After thanking Claire for her time and leaving her my card in case she heard anything about Tortoise, I knocked on Beverly’s door. She wasn’t a paying client but I wanted to keep her updated, even if I was currently drawing a blank. It had only been a couple of days but I loved to get an early break. The current dead ends were frustrating and I needed Beverly to know I was doing all I could. I also wanted to know more about their day to day routine. With Beverly out at work and Tortoise unable to be left alone for long, there had to be someone else helping to look after her elusive pet.
I knocked on Beverly’s door but there was no answer. After knocking a second time and with still no response, I decided to wander round the back. The side gate was locked so I climbed on the wall and peeked over. Online research had told me dachshunds liked to burrow so I’d expected Beverly’s garden to be a mess but hers was immaculate. It was possible she had an area for the dog round the other side out of sight but there was nothing about her setup that screamed “sausage dog” to the casual observer. When I’d spoken to Beverly’s next door neighbour on Saturday, she hadn’t even known Beverly had a dog. Her garden wasn’t overlooked. If Tortoise had been stolen, this had to have been planned.
It was time to speak to Beverly again. She wasn’t home so I decided to try her in the charity shop. She seemed to love her job so it wouldn’t surprise me to find her there. Having got myself a parking space I decided to leave the car where it was and head to the shop on foot. It was a warm day and the fresh air would do me good. As I walked I tried to imagine the route the dog might have taken, if she had in fact escaped, but it was impossible to guess. Besides, this was a close-knit community. Even if no-one had known about Tortoise, I liked to think someone would have handed a wandering dog into the police or local vet.
The bell above the shop door rang as I opened it and the two ladies inside turned to look at me. Beverly had told me she had a whole crew of different helpers every day of the week. I held out my card.
“Charlie Diamond, I’m here to see Beverly if she’s around?”
One of the ladies took the card and looked at it. “Charlie Diamond, private investigator. Oooh, what’s she been up to now?” She leaned in and spoke in a whisper. “Have you been tailing her?”
I laughed. “No, nothing like that. I’m helping her find her dog.”
“Oh.” She sounded disappointed. “She’s out the back. Show Charlie the way would you Jill?”
I followed Jill as she led me through the shop and out into the storage room at the back.
“Bev love? Someone here to see you. It’s your investigator.” She turned to me. “Go in, she won’t be a minute.”
I did as I was told and walked into Beverly’s kingdom. Judging by the bags littering the floor near the door, they’d just recently had a donation. Cuddly toys, if the outline in the bags were anything to go by. When I’d first met Beverly I’d been blown away by her attention to detail and ability to create order from apparent chaos. I knew it wouldn’t be long before order was restored.
“Beverly?” I called out as I walked in but she didn’t reply. The sound of a flush coming from the belly of the building gave her away and I waited, expecting her to appear any minute.
“Hi Charlie!” She smiled when she walked in to find me standing in her stock room. “Sorry, have you been here long?”
I shook my head. “Just arrived. Wanted to let you know that I’ve spoken to a few of your neighbours. It’s not good news I’m afraid. No-one’s seen her.”
I watched as her face, which was usually calm and composed, collapsed. She sunk into a chair and buried her face in her hands.
“I’m sorry.” I put my hand on her shoulder. “I’m not giving up though.”
She lifted her head slightly and gave me a watery smile. “What will you do now?”
“Keep looking. Someone must have seen something.” I hesitated, not sure if she was up to too much questioning. “I wanted to ask you about Tortoise’s routine. She liked to play outside?”
“In the summer, but right now she’s indoors. Or, she was.” Beverly’s eyes filled with tears.
“You mean she was stolen from your house?”
“You didn’t mention that. If you think someone’s been inside your house, that’s important.” I sighed and spoke more softly. “I wish you’d told me.”
“Sorry, I thought you knew. No-one would keep a little dog like Tortoise outside in this weather.”
After mentally cursing my stupidity for not having asked about the dog’s living arrangements sooner, I decided that late was still better than never. I also knew what I would do next. Rob had told me to let him know about any developments but if he wanted the inside scoop it was time for him to make himself useful.
I smiled at Beverly. “Cheer up, this is actually great news. At least now I have a line of enquiry.”
“I don’t understand.”
“It means it’s time to call in a favour. What time do you finish here?”
“Not ’til about six. I need to close up and then run the hoover around.”
“Perfect! I’ll be outside your house at six sharp.” I turned and started to head towards the door.
“What favour?” When I didn’t reply she called to me again. “Charlie? What favour? Are you going to tell me what’s going on?”
“You’ll see. Six o’clock.”
I skipped off in the direction of Beverly’s house. I had a lot to do between now and then if I was going to keep my promise to Beverly and I knew exactly who was going to help me, whether he liked it or not.
The phone rang just once before he answered. I didn’t waste any time with pleasantries. “Rob? Got a lead.” I gave him Beverly’s address. “Meet me there at five. I’ll explain everything when I see you.”