Wing Commander Tom found it troubling that nowhere in Number Ten proved secure enough to guarantee uninterrupted interrogating. Despite commanding the elite Cambridge Intelligence Agency – who were heavily although discreetly armed – there seemed to be no order or threat that could keep the rampaging parades of various ministers from interrupting his important work. It was to his great regret that his team were not allowed to shoot Government ministers, and even greater regret that the ministers knew this only too well.
There were good reasons for Tom deciding to interrogate fearsome Cabinet Secretary Sir Edd Evans-Morley in his own office. Firstly, he knew that physical violence would be required to convince Sir Edd to comply with any requests to attend the Cabinet Office for questioning. Secondly, the chance of interruption was minimal as no-one went to Sir Edd’s office unless they absolutely had to. Although the feeling was largely unspoken, it was clear that those at Number Ten found visiting Sir Edd in his lair akin to being summoned by a particularly sadistic headmaster.
Accompanying Tom was the Prime Minister, who had seen fit to bring with her a bacon sandwich. She argued that she had missed lunch, due to her enormous sulk at being excluded from the recent press conference, and she knew for a fact that Sir Edd kept nothing in the way of biscuits or cakes in his office. She sat at Tom’s right shoulder, munching quietly while the dashing Wing Commander made his opening gambit.
“Sir Edd, what was your opinion of the late Tony Blair?” asked Tom.
“He was a vile human being and I’m pleased he got shot,” replied Sir Edd, a sinister half-smile on his lips. A bold remark to make when being questioned about a murder, certainly.
“That may be so, but it’s likely that I could ask anybody that and get a similar response,” Tom remarked. “Did you support the Prime Minister’s plans to try him for war crimes?”
“It is my job to support the Prime Minister in all her plans, Wing Commander. Not matter how ridiculous.”
“Do you really think my plans are ridiculous?” asked Lucy, eyes wide and crumbs tumbling from her chin.
“Of course not, Prime Minister,” Sir Edd replied, his voice dripping with thick insincerity. “But even if they were, I would still support them.”
“Right,” Lucy tried to decide how she felt about this. “That’s good to know.”
“What were your movements on the night of the murder?” Tom continued.
“I was over-seeing the running of the Epic State Occasion,” replied Sir Edd. “A great deal of my time was invested in maintaining diplomatic relations between ourselves and the Oxford contingency, due to the Chancellor of the Exchequer leading other Cabinet ministers in a supposed charm offensive that was simply, well, offensive.”
“You’re lying,” countered Tom.
Of course he was lying. But then lies and truth were more or less the same thing for Sir Edd. The reality of others was irrelevant in the pursuit of his own reality of choice.
“I heard you were making matters worse by slagging off their rowing team,” noted Lucy, between mouthfuls.
“They haven’t fielded a decent boat-load since 2019,” snorted Sir Edd. “And their last cox turned out to be a kind of over-sized guinea pig, do you remember?”
Lucy sat up straight and slapped her knee in delight.
“Oh yes! That was very funny, actually.”
“It is not so amusing to those of us who regard river activities with the respect and reverence they so rightly demand. Especially an event as historically and culturally important as the Boat Race.”
“Actually, I take the Boat Race incredibly seriously and I thought it was funny as well,” remarked Tom, casually. “But anyway. It was you who broke the news of Blair’s death – talk me through what happened.”
“Well, I entered the Prime Minister’s bedroom and I told her that Tony Blair had been shot,” replied Sir Edd, blankly.
“No, I mean the bit before that – when you yourself discovered he had been shot.”
“Oh. I had gone to the kitchen to complain about the last wave of offerings from the barbecue. The chicken wings were atrocious. Also the Foreign Secretary had finished off the cheese and onion crisps, but insisted there were further supplies below stairs. When I arrived, I found the far wall decorated liberally with brain matter.”
“Was there anyone else in the kitchen?” asked Tom.
“Yes – Mumsie and Steve were both there,” Sir Edd made great play of recalling the events to his mind. “Steve was stood in shock at the back door, holding his sausages, and I think Mumsie was looking around for something to clean up the mess. She had on her marigolds and appeared industrious, anyhow.”
“Do you recall seeing anyone else enter or leave the kitchen in the time before or after you discovered the scene?” Tom continued.
“Now you come to mention it – yes I do,” Sir Edd wore the expression of a snake about to strike. “That butler fellow – Snetterton – he was there as well. Forgive my inexactitude, I don’t make a habit of noticing butlers, but he was there. I am certain of it.”
Tom and Lucy exchanged glances. This could be a breakthrough. After all, isn’t it always the case that the butler did it?