February Story Chat: “Trophy Cabinet”

Story Chat: "The Trophy Cabinet" an operating room

by Geoff Le Pard

Welcome to Story Chat

Friends, I want to welcome both YOU and this month’s author, Geoff Le Pard to Story Chat. This month’s Story Chat, a “who done it” police mystery, has an unsuspected twist at the end that will leave you scratching your head, or whatever itches.

I hope our author is going to write a sequel to this story. Even with the twist, here’s way more to this story than meets the eye. Read it, share it with your friends on WordPress and social media and tell us what you all think.

“Trophy Cabinet”

Detective Inspector Triblane Pettimoron pinched his nose. He had a bad feeling about this one. Mind you, he often had a bad feeling about sudden and unexplained deaths; sort of came with the territory. This was different. This felt a little too close to home.

He parked his Nissan on the verge and took a moment to assess the scene. The PC keeping the public at bay looked both bored and frozen. Beyond the tape, his sergeant, Geraint Drimple was already berating some poor sod from forensics. He felt his groin itch and resisted the urge to scratch. Psychosomatic, he felt sure. ‘Come on, Blane,’ Pettimoron chided himself, ‘this is a routine case.’ Pettimoron pushed open the car door, knowing it would be anything but that.

He stood, shoulder to shoulder with DS Drimple and winced. “Those are his, I suppose.”

Drimple nodded. “The SOCOs think they were excised pre-mortem. They don’t know if they were used to suffocate him, though.”

“Geez! Seriously? Why would someone do that?”

Drimple looked at his notes. “Seems the deceased – Dr Josiah Pretty – was a specialist in male infertility. Had a pretty good rep for curing all sorts of erectile dysfunction.” He looked up. “Maybe a dissatisfied customer.”

Pettimoron nodded and felt the itch return with a vengeance. He must not scratch.

The sergeant turned away and looked at the grand Tudor style building behind them. “He practiced from here. Looks like whoever did this was waiting for him and attacked him before he could get indoors.” He looked up at the sound of voices. The Constable waved him over and Drimple went and spoke to the woman with the PC. When he returned a few minutes later, Pettimoron had not moved, his gaze still held by the testicular gag. Drimple held a key aloft. “Cleaner. Want a quick peek?”

“What about forensics?”

“The Prof is happy. Here,” he offered blue plastic gloves and booties to his boss. He led the way. “According to Mrs. Pompous or whatever her name was, he lived on the second floor. The first comprised his consulting rooms.”

And the basement, thought Pettimoron, but kept that to himself.

As Drimple unlocked the door, he added, “We had a quick look round outside; no sign of a forced entry.” He checked a slip of paper and entered a code, stilling the alarm. “Seems like the perp didn’t break in. Where shall we start? His appointment book?”

“Probably on his computer.” Pettimoron shuddered as he saw the blue door he remembered from before. “Try that.”

If Drimple wondered why his boss had chosen that door, he did not question him, tugging it open. A light came on automatically. He disappeared inside; Pettimoron heard his sergeant as he descended the steps. He reappeared quickly. “It’s pretty clinical. There are some other doors. Want to see what’s there or do upstairs first?”

Pettimoron nodded to the basement. His sergeant stood back to let him go first.

The place was as he remembered: all while walls and tiles and sharp lighting.

Drimple moved past him and headed for the door at the far end of the room. Pettimoron waited. He was soon back. “I’m no expert but it’s a pretty neat operating theatre. There’s what I guess is a prep room and one with stores. All spotless.” He turned through 360 degrees. “I guess it’s legit.”

Pettimoron pointed at a dark corner. He worked some saliva into his mouth and managed to ask, “What’s over there?”

Drimple glanced where he pointed, narrowed his eyes and headed across. “I wonder if… oh ho. Hang on.” He smiled over his shoulder. “Your nose is working today, boss. You’d not know there was a door here unless you were right on top of it.

Pettimoron didn’t move. He listened as Drimple worked on the door, he scraping telling him he’d got it open.

“Shall I?”

Pettimoron nodded, feeling sick. While Drimple disappeared into the gloom, hunting a switch, his mind flicked back ten weeks. At the time it seemed like a consequence of the anaesthetic, the foggy image of the good doctor as he disappeared, apparently into the wall. Then he had been glad to get out, never liking anything medical, but that odd memory had stayed with him.

Drimple whistled softly as light poured out of the room. “Well, I’ll be blowed.”

As if a reluctant moth attracted to the light, Pettimoron slowly moved forward. He stopped on the room’s threshold. Each wall was lined with small specimen jars, oddly old fashioned amongst so much that was new. Even from where he stood he could see each was neatly labelled with a spidery hand.

Drimple held up one jar to the light. “Good grief, they’re balls. He kept people’s balls.” He looked at Pettimoron. “You okay, boss? You want a seat?”

Pettimoron stepped forward, shaking his head. He couldn’t say why he wasn’t surprised.  

Drimple had begun to work his way down the shelving. “There must be hundreds. You think this is research or he’s just some sort of sicko?” He grinned at his boss. “Maybe the perp took umbrage and wanted his back.” The DS moved along the second wall. “It’s alphabetical.” He took another jar. “These are enormous.” He put them down. “The patients must have given permission, yes? He…” Drimple stopped, peering closely at a jar.

Pettimoron’s heart stopped. The itch was beyond intolerable and, despite himself his hand reached down and scratched as Drimple turned to him, a curiously pitying expression on his face.

“This has your name on it, sir?” The sergeant’s gaze dropped to where Pettimoron’s hand had gone. “Or someone else with your name.”

Pettimoron nodded. They both knew, given his name that the chances of that were miniscule; about as likely as any man failing to notice he’d lost a testicle. “He didn’t have permission, sergeant.”

“Gives us a motive, boss. And…”

Pettimoron looked up.

“I’ll not say.” He held out the jar. “Not a word.”

Pettimoron held Drimple’s gaze. They both knew that was a lie.

Biography

Geoff Le Pard was born in 1956 and is a lawyer who saw the light, and started writing in 2006 following a summer school course. As a course junkie, he has tried Arvon, a Birkbeck College evening class and summer school and, latterly, an MA at Sheffield Hallam.

Le Pard has many likes and interests including cooking; passion for walking with Dog and exploring the outside world as he ponders his life. He enjoys toiling as a jobbing gardener under the Textiliste’s careful instruction; reading of the good, the bad and the indifferent in fiction. As the boy scout picture above suggests, Le Pard volunteers his time. He follows many sports (as long as no horses are involved); Darkened theatres and cinemas draw him in as he hopes that he is exhilarated and not anaesthetized. He also enjoys dancing both ballroom and Latin.

Le Pard lives in and loves London.

Books Available by Geoff Le Pard

Geoff Le Pard started writing to entertain in 2006. He hasn’t left his keyboard since. When he’s not churning out novels he writes some maudlin self-indulgent poetry, short fiction and blogs at geofflepard.com. He walks the dog for mutual inspiration and most of his best ideas come out of these strolls. He also cooks with passion if not precision.

My Father and Other Liars is a thriller set in the near future and takes its heroes, Maurice and Lori-Ann on a helter-skelter chase across continents.

Smashwords

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle is a coming of age story. Set in 1976 the hero Harry Spittle is home from university for the holidays. He has three goals: to keep away from his family, earn money and hopefully have sex. Inevitably his summer turns out to be very different to that anticipated.

Smashwords

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

In this, the second book in the Harry Spittle Sagas, it’s 1981 and Harry is training to be a solicitor. His private life is a bit of a mess and he’s far from convinced the law is for him. Then an old acquaintance from his hotel days appears demanding Harry write his will. When he dies somewhat mysteriously a few days later and leaves Harry in charge of sorting out his affairs, Harry soon realises this will be no ordinary piece of work. After all, his now deceased client inherited a criminal empire and several people are very interested in what is to become of it.C:\Users\Geoff\Pictures\Sven Andersen  KDP Cover 1.jpg

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

The third instalment of the Harry Spittle Sagas moves on the 1987. Harry is now a senior lawyer with a well-regarded City of London firm, aspiring to a partnership. However, one evening Harry finds the head of the Private Client department dead over his desk, in a very compromising situation. The senior partner offers to sort things out, to avoid Harry embarrassment but soon matters take a sinister turn and Harry is fighting for his career, his freedom and eventually his life as he wrestles with dilemma on dilemma. Will Harry save the day? Will he save himself? C:\Users\Geoff\Pictures\Booms + Busts_FINAL FRONT_KDP Cover.jpg

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Life in a Grain of Sand is a 30 story anthology covering many genres: fantasy, romance, humour, thriller, espionage, conspiracy theories, MG and indeed something for everyone. All the stories were written during Nano 2015 

Smashwords

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Salisbury Square is a dark thriller set in present day London where a homeless woman and a Polish man, escaping the police at home, form an unlikely alliance to save themselves. 

This is available here 

Smashwords

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Buster & Moo is about about two couples and the dog whose ownership passes from one to the other. When the couples meet, via the dog, the previously hidden cracks in their relationships surface and events begin to spiral out of control. If the relationships are to survive there is room for only one hero but who will that be?C:\Users\Geoff\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\INetCache\Content.Word\B&M KDP Cover.jpg

Smashwords

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Life in a Flash is a set of super short fiction, flash and micro fiction that should keep you engaged and amused for ages 

Amazon.co.uk 

Amazon.com 

Smashwords

Apprenticed To My Mother describes the period after my father died when I thought I was to play the role of dutiful son, while Mum wanted a new, improved version of her husband – a sort of Desmond 2.0. We both had a lot to learn in those five years, with a lot of laughs and a few tears as we went.

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Life in a Conversation is an anthology of short and super short fiction that explores connections through humour, speech and everything besides. If you enjoy the funny, the weird and the heart-rending then you’ll be sure to find something here.

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

When Martin suggests to Pete and Chris that they spend a week walking, the Cotswolds Way, ostensibly it’s to help Chris overcome the loss of his wife, Diane. Each of them, though, has their own agenda and, as the week progresses, cracks in their friendship widen with unseen and horrifying consequences.C:\Users\Geoff\Pictures\Walking Into Trouble_KDP Cover.jpg

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Famous poets reimagined, sonnets of all kinds, this poerty selection has something for all tastes, from the funny, to the poignant to the thought-provoking and always written with love and passion.C:\Users\Geoff\Pictures\Sincerest Form Poetry_KDP Cover.jpg

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Geoff Le Pard’s Amazon Author Page

Now it is your turn. Pour a cup of tea or coffee, glass of wine, and sit back with your friends and dive into the story. This is your chance to ask the author questions, interact with each other. It’s up to you. What makes this story tick? Who killed the doctor?

Author: Marsha

Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, author, blogger and retired teacher/consultant - Promoting Hobby Blogging

110 thoughts on “February Story Chat: “Trophy Cabinet””

  1. Well, the clues are all there, aren’t they?

    The itchy groin.
    The basement, but kept that to himself.
    The blue door he remembered from before.
    Pointing to the secret door in the corner.
    The place was as he remembered: all-white walls and tiles and sharp lighting.

    But I think they are red-herrings. It looks very obvious, but that’s how murderers’ like what they have done to look.

    I think this is a case for Miss Maple – another character Geoff may remember.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Hugh, after reading The Trophy Cabinet several times, I agree. There’s the twist at the end, but I think Pettimoron is going to be charged, but he will defend himself and find the real murderer. Otherwise, why would he give the DS all those clues?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree, Marsha. It’s almost as if he’s embarrassed that he’s been there before and that one of the trophies is his. Maybe he didn’t want this case, but his name is on one of those jars. Perhaps he wanted to get the inevitable out of the way?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It’s always fun to pose those questions. One challenge in this case was Blane’s interior monologue. How can I maintain the essential ambiguity in his position and not appear to be deliberately hiding anything from the reader (were there to be anything to hide)!? Is his nervousness a result of guilt or embarrassment? Glad it left you thinking (which was my aim) but is that as satisfying to you as a neat resolution?

        Liked by 1 person

          1. That is the challenge, isn’t it? Part of the fun f writing it is that I didn’t have to decide – maybe that’s me being lazy, or maybe it’s more evidence that I never know how any of my stories are going to end when I start them. How about you? Do you know where all your stories are going? Given how horrid they are part of me hopes not!!

            Liked by 2 people

    2. I loved Miss Marple though i doubt Agatha would have penned a dick mystery (is that a genre?). Margaret Rutherford was my fav as the actor playing her. Yours?
      When I wrote this the main issue was the resolution. Should I point at the culprit? Or leave it to the reader to speculate? What is more satisfying? Are you short changed by this or given something for your imagination to work on after you’ve finished. And I wonder how many readers will pick up the question you’ve hit: is the perp Blane, who is using his position to try and manage the investigation? Thanks for the comment, Hugh.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I was thinking more of Miss Maple, one of the characters in ‘Murder in Evershot’ from More Glimpses, Geoff. I can’t imagine what her face would have been like walking into that storeroom and seeing what was in all those jars.
        When murder is involved, I believe most readers like an outcome. The TV show ‘Murder In Paradise’ comes to mind where we find out whodunit and how they did it.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. On TV and film, I’m with you utterly because I fear I’ll miss the sequel or they’ll not commission it!! Though in literature a hanger is not that unusual, I suppose because the author decides if they are going to finish it off. I’ll ponder on the follow up!

          Liked by 2 people

      2. I love the story as it is, Geoff, but it is a story, not a book. In a book or a Netflix series, I would eventually want to know the end or I would be dissatisfied maybe mad even. I’d feel like I invested my time reading or watching only to not know what happened and I’d feel cheated. Even a movie makes me mad if there is not a good resolution.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. yes, good point and better than I tried to express it. I’m happy to be left to decide in these short story situations but it is very much personal taste. I guess there is a line, even here where you can leave out so much as to leave any reader feeling short changed but I probably haven’t pushed that line this time!

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    1. One question around the doctor’s motivation that I worried at is Blane’s knowledge. He knew about the room and it appears to be secret. So why not report what appears to be an egregious medical assault to the authorities? He has to be the perp, doesnt he? Or could he be so embarrassed about what happened to him he tried to pretend it didn’t exist and now he’s both exposed and looks guilty.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Very good point, Geoff. Do they have mandated reporters in England. In California teachers were all mandated reporters as far as children are concerned. I had not thought of that angle. Even if he was not mandated to report the doctor, you would think his professionality would have driven him to protect others from the same fate. It would have been big news, though, and he might have shied from the publicity.

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        1. I know there are a lot of professions required to report these days to report all sorts – lawyers if suspecting money laundering, social workers and police is suspecting human trafficking, child exploitation and so on, so a policeman would be duty bound if he thought there was a crime… though he might have his own reasons not to!! Mind you, as an aside, as part of the vaccine rollout here, a lot of people were encouraged to come forward to take part as injectors – former doctors, dentists etc. They then hit the bureaucracy which included showing they had received current training to spot cases of radicalization or FGM, which, while v important rather got in the way of a speedy sign up and put off some people (this is why my blog is called Tangental… off on a tangent!)

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          1. Ah that could well be. Yes a shock, that was. Such a delightful lady. I had this notion of visiting NZ again and introducing my wife to her. They’d talk embroidery and quilts and art all day and I’d walk Siddy… she read all my books and was a generous critic. As you say, a hole in the blogsphere was left after Pauline passed

            Liked by 2 people

  2. Ha, fun story. I love the names, but they also confused me as, looking at the comments, I assumed Blane was a third character. So had to go back and check. But I never suspected for a moment that Pettimoron was the murderer – is that because embarrassment is more my thing?

    I think you could do more with the alphabeticalisation at the end. It could build up more tension. And as we’re in Pettimoron’s POV, and can see he’s unusually anxious, it might be fun if they got to the other guy first. Not sure.

    But now I’m thinking of the medical issues. I know police are very juvenile but if he’s had to have an orciectomy, wouldn’t it be for something serious, in which case, would he be so embarrassed? So maybe his discomfort IS about him being a murderer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, Anne, what a great analysis. I don’t think he had a n orciectomy on purpose. I think he was having erectile disfunction issues and he came out of surgery minus one important body part. Having had a mastectomy, I can attest that he wouldn’t still be itchy if the surgery had been done correctly. Our pastor had a vasectomy that was very uncomfortable for a couple of weeks. I think he must have had an infection,

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      1. Gosh, Marsha, I see what you mean and what I missed. Fascinating how we bring our own issues to a reading. I was triggered by the image, btu read on because it was Geoff, not realising what must’ve been going on for me underneath!
        I have to disagree, however, that skin can itch as it scars.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. So much to chew on, Anne! I am certain that, even if it had been a serious issue – testicular cancer say – as a man he’d have been awfully embarrassed esp in a macho profession like the police. I had a triple hernia – no biggy but after I told two colleagues they told me they had too but had hidden it as they were embarrassed, given it related to their view of their robust maleness. Maybe younger men are more able to be open than my generation and above. My father for instance wouldn’t have told anyone if he could possibly avoid it. So embarrassment is a likely cause of his anxiety, esp if he’s been the subject of egregious male banter already.
      You’re right about the reveal; I cold have made more of the discovery of his jar. Part of me feels the whole ending is rather rushed and would benefit form a longer exposition – maybe he tried to hide the jar or remove it.
      And in my head Marsha is right; he didn’t actually know he’d lost a testicle; in one scenario it is replaced by the good doctor with something akin to a fake one; I wonder if they do that for people who have had one removed?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh, I did not think he had a replacement. I know nothing about the subject. What plans could the creepy doctor possibly have for all his specimens? Such a totally weird guy. I wish we could have some back story from his perspective. This story could definitely blossom into a full-length book. I would definitely buy it!

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      2. You’re probably right about the machismo. I guess that’s also a foil for other anxieties any of us might have in relation to alterations to our bodies.
        I like the idea of the fake testicle. Must be possible, I presume they create them for trans men.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yep, I have a friend who I played rugby with. He had one removed – cancer – in his late twenties and was more concerned about how lop-sided he might look than a return of the cancer – or so that’s how he made it sound. But rugby men are good at bravado and crap at honesty emotions. Back then anyway…

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Probably still are good at bravado. I would be more concerned with what the doctor put in its place, how clean it was, what material was used. He could be allergic to latex or some other material used in the prosthetic device. Also what did he fill it with? Maybe that leaked. My mind is all over the place trying to solve the mystery of how to fix this poor guy, not how to solve the crime of his murder. I’m waiting for the full length feature. 🙂

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  3. I think you’re right Marsh. There’s a helluvalot more to this gross but intriguing story LOL. A true Geoff story! I read it because I enjoy Geoff’s stories, but I gotta tell you guys, sounds eerie and gross, lol, but fabulously written! ❤

    Like

    1. It’s very difficult, knowing where the ‘line’ is. A bit like trying to write a convincing sex scene (I can’t, it’s hopeless). But gross out is slightly easier. I was encouraged to try my hand at horror and I’ve had a couple of stories in anthologies. I tried, mostly to push myself into areas that are uncomfortable. You know you’re going to risk upsetting some people. When I did a Creative Writing masters, the Professor who was moderating the course took issue with a character in what became my first book. It was the mother of the main character and someone who you were meant to empathize with. But because the book was set in rural Hampshire in 1976, when the character found herself dealing with an Indian immigrant her unconscious racism came out. My prof thought I’d alienate my reading audience whereas I thought this was exactly how that character would have reacted in white rural Hampshire in the 1970s. I stuck to my guns and she marked me down. Tricky!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I remember discussing this with you, Geoff. I agreed with you but I’ve subsequently cut the term ‘darkie’ from my next novel. It was culturally apropriate, even mild for the times, but it wasn’t essential for the story. But I’ve left ‘loonies’ and ‘nutters’. It’s a tricky balance.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. It’s a balance and in the end it’s what you are comfortable with. My current WIP has a twenty something lesbian protagonist. Some will say I shouldn’t write from that POV as an ancient pale male, because I cannot understand their experience. But why on Earth not? As with all my characters I need to use my imagination and the work will stand or fall by the effort I made to understand that character. There are characters I can’t imagine writing – a paedophile for one, someone addicted to violence – but that’s because I don’t want to use my imagination in their service. Personal choice again.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. The understanding is where research comes in. I’m sure you have role models for you characters as well as people you can talk to. Anne and I had a conversation about this topic on her story chat.

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      2. LOL Geoff, you have a unique style and voice with your writing. Just as your attempt here at horror, I could just imagine your writing sex scenes, lol. Your style brings us in the story, but though a bit gross subject does not give off a horror vibe despite, lol. That’s what makes your stories true Geoff LePard! 🙂 Don’t change your style to accomodate anyone’s requests. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Love the names. One that you have to go back and read again. I suppose it was about halfway through it became clear he’d been there before and Something Was Up. I didn’t get the impression he was necessarily the murderer – just one of a long list of possibles. He knew the sergeant wouldn’t keep the find to himself but I reckoned he would spread the story all around the station to get a laugh. I got the impression his discomfort was from embarrassment rather than guilt – otherwise he would have been more concerned about getting into that basement and hiding the evidence.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Exactly, Cathy! You are so sharp. We don’t even have a real clue as to who did it, but we do know that the PC is a little bit of a moron. Maybe like Inspector Clouseau. Da duh, da duh, da duh da duh…

          Like

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