The Poppet Maker, part 1

Here is the start of the story.  See under Ongoing Investigations above for the contents page.

I had called the phone number from the Dingo’s notes and arraigned to meet the family and sent a text to Detective Jayne to let her know.

She met us outside the house.

“Alright. Here’s the plan.” I said. “Jayne you question the Father. We need to know the movements of the whole family.” She nodded. “Chris and Mycroft you stick with Jayne, you need to learn forensic questioning. If the chance arises to speak to the boys then you do that. A lot of Autistic boys love technology and I’m sure Chris is used to dealing with people on the spectrum.”

“Sure. And what are you going to be doing?” Said Chris.

“I’m going to speak to the girl. One witch to another.” I said.

“You’re sure it’s her?” Said Detective Jayne.

“Pretty sure.” I said. Actually I was underselling it. I was absolutely sure but I knew that the facts didn’t quite support the strength of my conviction. I was sure it wasn’t the father. He couldn’t have had the time or the energy and the thing did look like the work of a child. The poppet was a product of calculating anger. That probably ruled out the boys. It’s not that Autistic people don’t get angry it’s more that when they get that angry they can’t use the anger creatively. They become overwhelmed by the emotion and lash out.

Now the girl was the right age to have made it. From reading the reports, or more accurately reading between the lines of the reports, I knew that she was traumatized by her brothers’ diagnosis and her mother’s death. She had every reason to be angry and no outlet for it. She’d also been very cutting about the Dingo during a hearing.

Inside it looked like every house with an Autistic child. That is to say like it had been hit by a small fast-moving bomb armed with crayons and lego.

If the father’s face had been a painting if would have been a portrait of guilt painted by Albrecht Durer using water colours diluted with human tears. One look at him had me wondering how he was still alive. Why hadn’t the grief and pain just stopped his heart. I suspect that if the Dingo had succeeded then that would have done for him but he was living for his kids.

As he led us into the living room to talk the girl was watching us from the stairs. In the living room the two boys were playing some complicated car game on the floor. Judging by the way the cars were laid out they were planning to use the whole floor. It took at least five minutes for their father to drag their attention away from the cars long enough to introduce us. The moment he was finished talking they went back to their cars. It was as if the rest of the world was just an inconvenient distraction.

Detective Jayne began her preamble about routine enquiries and talking to everyone who’d had contact with the Dingo and I slipped out and headed for the stairs. The girl was still there, staring at me though the banisters. Behind me I could hear Detective Jayne begin possibly the most gentle interrogation in the history of the Grampian police.

“What do you want?” Said the girl.

“I think you mean who are you?” I said.

“Fine. Who are you then?” She said.

I held up the photograph of the poppet. “I’m the woman who’s come to talk to you about this. Witch to Witch.” I said.

A portrait by Albrecht Durer.  It was like this only more so.

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