Roland and Hayes

“Is there anything to be said for it?”

“I really haven’t the faintest.”

Two silhouettes haunched over a grave offered no prayers.

Yet, it was not an occasion entirely lacking in reverence.

The strange light of the lantern diffused spectrally through the fog like a priest with a censer.

“That’s done it then.”

The crunch of autumn leaves beneath austere black leather broke the stillness of the night. A herald of living malice more haunting than any banshee wail.

The somber pair passed beneath the marble archway and alighted the carriage.

Roland knocked thrice and with a grunt of acknowledgment, the driver had them moving.

“Alice Humphreys is missing,” Gareth said folding the morning paper over his knee with characteristic circumspection.

Mary’s large eyes widened. A feat that would have been comical on a less somber occasion.

“I was with her last evening…”

“Yes, you mentioned as much, taking tea were you not?”

“Yes, in the garden.”

“Was there anything amiss?”

“No…well…I did get the sense that she was eager to be off somewhere. But, that’s not uncommon for a young woman. I just figured she was off to see some suitor.”

“A suitor in the night?” Gareth’s eyes narrowed.

“Well, it was really early evening when we’d had the chat….”

“A chat about what?”

Mary rolled her eyes. “Well, Inspector Mabry it was nothing but the usual business. Hopes, dreams, frustrations, and a whole deal more womanly concerns.”

“There was nothing to suggest flight, elopement, anything like that?”

“You’d be the first to know.”

The left corner of Gareth Mabry’s thin-lipped mouth curled downward as he pushed himself away from the table.

“Excellent breakfast as usual Mary,” he said laying a hand on his wife’s shoulder as he made his way towards the door.

“You will find her?” Mary called after him.

“If she was taken against her will I have some confidence if she wishes to remain hidden, then perhaps not. That’s why I questioned you.”

“Well, I can’t say it’s very much fun getting caught up in your work.”

“Duty, the word is duty.” Mabry said donning his coat and making his exit.

To Be Continued 

This is the beginning of a series of gothic fragments.

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