‘Bob Marple P.I.’ By Sue Brown
I live on the Mornington Peninsula down the bottom bit where, after hundreds of years of shifting sea, the dunes have been reclaimed as a golf course. I could wax lyrical about the meandering Moonah trees, whose undisciplined growth legitimises the council’s view that no pretty herbaceous borders should be allowed to grow here. It’s as if they have put up a notice saying no foreigners, no natives, only indigenous plants allowed to grow. I quickly add that this does not apply to the humans who are welcome one and all, particularly in high season. And the people come. It is a great place to be and the walks are particularly pleasing, although on some of the best one’s they do not allow me to accompany my master. I think this grossly unfair; there are, however, many well-trodden paths to peruse. I used to think it was the wind that made Moonah trees spread out in such unruly fashion, now I realise it’s just how they are. Same as folk I suppose, we all go our own ways.
On this particular morning the boss was quite perky when he got up, which I found very irritating. He put on his track suit, which I knew meant we were in for a long walk and I shuffled off the doona onto the floor. I have a little trouble adapting to daylight saving so I often wake up rather grumpy at these times. Off we went walking quickly alongside the golf course. He waved cheerily at a young lady on the 11th hole. He is, I feel, a bit deluded in his thinking, she was about thirty and he won’t see 70 again but he still thinks he cuts a bit of a dash.
I was off my lead so I started to hold back a bit, fossicking around the long grass. The boss started to admonish me as he played with his new Apple watch and would not even have noticed the body if I had not drawn his attention to it by emitting short sharp whines. When he did see it, he nearly fell over backward. The body was covered in blood and just by the behaviour of the flies it was clear life was extinct. It took a lot of fumbling and mumbling before the boss managed to phone triple 0. Then he sat down some distance away and waited.
I stayed around checking the scents, following every lead I could detect. There was a dominant scent which did not match the person in the undergrowth. However, on further investigation I noted there was a secondary scent less obvious; was it laundry powder I wondered? The body was dressed in a tracksuit and the shoes smelt of the surrounding earth but there were no recent visits from the foxes, rabbits or wallabies. The body was fresh!
I nosed around sniffing a few echidna holes, noticing a great deal of rabbit spoor laying around. This green had not been used for some time I thought. I tried to attract my boss’s attention but he continued to sit morosely on the path as if his whole day had been ruined. I moved into the longer grass and I concentrated hard on following the secondary scent, ignoring the aroma of tea trees and the thorns of the prickly currant bush. I let out a whimper as I grazed my back when I ducked below the twisting arms of a Moonah. I looked up and noticed there were some strands of hair attached to a higher branch. Interesting I thought someone has bent down here, trying not to be seen, probably crossing from one green to another.
When the police arrived, they angrily shooed me away before they started to interview my boss. I took a wide berth around the site and picked up both scents following them to the 13th hole. There was someone about to tee off; the same woman my boss had greeted. I continued, nose to the ground then I rushed up to her barking loudly, grabbing hold of her shoe lace. As she tried to shake me off, much yelling, shouting and eventually screaming occurred. She reached for a putter in the bag at the same moment my boss sped across towards me. Amazing really, I actually had never seen him move so fast, and he firmly grasped the hand holding the club. The police arrived more leisurely but not so slowly as to miss the blood and matted hair on the end of the club she was wielding.
She was led away sobbing, they had closed the courses for the COVID 19 lockdown. She waved her hand vaguely in the direction of the body. “He, that man, my husband, would not allow me to play” she cried in anguish, “What was I supposed to do?”
The police made quite a fuss of me, and I got a doggy treat. When I got home, the boss explained to the missus his heroic part in the capture of the murderer and as for my input…oh well let him have his five minutes of fame.