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REGINALD HILL

BONES AND SILENCE

A Dalziel and Pascoe novel

We insist, it seems, on living. Then again, indifference descends. The roar of the traffic, the passage of undifferentiated faces, this way and that way, drugs me into dreams: rubs features from faces. People might walk through me . . . We are only lightly covered with buttoned cloth; and beneath these pavements are shells, bones and silence.

VIRGINIA WOOLF, The Waves

 

part one

 

 

 God: First when I wrought this world so wide, Wood and wind and waters wan, Heaven and hell was not to hide, With herbs and grass thus I began. In endless bliss to be and bide And to my likeness made I man, Lord and sire on ilka side Of all middle earth I made him then.

A woman also with him wrought I, All in law to lead their life, I bade them wax and multiply, To fulfil this world, without strife. Sithen have men wrought so woefully And sin is now reigning so rife, That me repents and rues forthy That ever I made either man or wife.

The York Cycle of Mystery Plays:

 'The Building of the Ark'

January 1st

Dear Mr Dalziel,

You don't know me. Why should you? Sometimes I think I don't know myself. I was walking through the market place just before Christmas when suddenly I stopped dead. People bumped into me but it didn't matter. You see, I was twelve again, walking across a field near Melrose Abbey, carefully balancing a jug of milk I'd just got from the farm, and ahead of me I could see our tent and our car and my father shaving himself in the wing mirror and my mother stooping over the camp stove, and I could smell bacon frying. It was such a good smell I started thinking about the lovely taste that went with it, and I suppose I started to walk a bit quicker. Next thing, I caught my toe in a tussock of grass, stumbled, and the milk went everywhere. I thought it was the end of the world but they just laughed and made a joke of it and gave me a huge plateful of bacon and eggs and tomatoes and mushrooms, and in the end it almost seemed they loved me more for spilling the milk than fetching it safely.

So there I was, standing like an idiot, blocking the pavement, while inside I was twelve again and feeling so loved and protected. And why?

Because I was passing the Market Caff and the extractor fan was blasting the smell of frying bacon into the cool morning air.

So how can I say I know myself when a simple smell can shift me so far in time and space?

But I know you. No, how arrogant that sounds after what I've just written. What I mean is I've had you pointed out to me. And I've listened to what people say about you. And a lot of it, in fact most of it, wasn't very complimentary, but this isn't an abusive letter so I won't offend you by repeating it. But even your worst detractors had to admit you were good at your job and you weren't afraid of finding out the truth. Oh, and you didn't suffer fools gladly.

Well, this is one fool you won't have to suffer much of. You see, the reason I'm writing to you is I'm going to kill myself.

I don't mean straightaway. Some time soon, though, certainly in the next twelve months. It's a sort of New Year Resolution. But in the meantime I want someone to talk to. Clearly anyone I know personally is out of the question. Also doctors, psychiatrists, all the professional helpers. You see, this isn't the famous cry for help. My mind's made up. It's just a question of fixing a date. But I've discovered in myself a strange compulsion to talk about it, to drop hints, to wink and nod. Now that's too dangerous a game to play with friends. What I think I need is a controlled outlet for all my ramblings. And you 've been elected.

I'm sorry. It's a big burden to lay on anyone. But one other thing which came out of what people say about you is that my letters will be just like any other case. You might find them irritating but you won't lose any sleep over them!

I hope I've got you right. The last thing I want to do is to cause pain to a stranger - especially knowing as I do that the last thing I will do is cause pain to my friends.

Happy New Year!

CHAPTER ONE

'I still don't see why she shot herself,’ said Peter Pascoe obstinately.

'Because she was bored. Because she was trapped,' said Ellie Pascoe.

Pascoe used his stick to test the consistency of the chaise-longue over the side of which the dead woman's magnificently ruined head had dangled thirty minutes earlier. It was as hard as it looked, but his leg was aching and he sat down with a sigh of relief which he turned into a yawn as he felt his wife's sharp eyes upon him. He knew she distrusted his claims to be fit enough to go back to work tomorrow. He would have gone back today only Ellie had pointed out with some acerbity that February 15th was his birthday, and she wasn't about to give the police the chance to ruin this one as they had the last half-dozen.

So it had been another day of rest and a series of birthday treats - breakfast in bed, an early gourmet dinner, front row stalls at the Kemble Theatre's acclaimed production of Hedda Gabler, all rounded off with after-show drinks on the stage, provided by Eileen Chung, the Kemble's Director.

'But people don't do such things,’ Pascoe now asserted with Yorkshire orotundity.

Ellie looked ready to argue but he went on confidentially, 'I can smell a rotting fish when I see one, lass,' and belatedly she recognized his parody of his CID boss, Andy Dalziel.

She began to smile and Pascoe smiled back.

'You two look happy,' said Eileen Chung, approaching with a new bottle of wine. 'Which is odd, considering you paid good money to be harrowed.'

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