With the animals dropped off, WPC Evans whacked up the volume of the car stereo and motored along at about twenty miles an hour faster than most people would consider safe.
“Girls just wanna have fun!” she sang with a smile. “Yeah, girls just wanna have fun!”
The irony was not lost on her as she steered the police van down the windy lanes that led to St Mildred’s convent school. Her old school. She had certainly got an education there, and no mistake. Her smile widened at the memory. Mr Jones, the trainee maths teacher had learnt a thing or two as well, the poor man. Kippie could not help but wonder what he was up to now. She had heard rumours that he had been moved to an all-boys school. What a waste.
It had not all been fun and games, though. Sister Millicent was particularly vicious at handing out punishment to the troublemakers. What would the old bat think of ‘Evil Evans’ becoming a policewoman? Evans found herself hoping that she bumped into the old battle-axe. Then she thought of the current crop of young ladies at St Mildred’s and rescinded that wish. With any luck, Sister Millicent was long gone.
Worse that Sister Millicent, however, was Bishop Plum - a man whose face was as purple as the fruit with which he shared his name. He had been forced to leave St Mildred’s following a scandal of indecent exposure. Ewww.
The memory jogged her back to the case in hand. She could not remember a caretaker called Patrick Edwards from her time at St Mildred’s. This was particularly surprising as she thought she knew everyone there who could get hold of drugs. Sister Josephine (or “Blow Jo” as she was known to the students) was especially fun but she must surely have retired or expired by now.
According to the file, Patrick Edwards was forced to resign three years ago. Kippie had not been a pupil at St Mildred’s for over ten years. The smile faded at this thought. Had it really been that long? She suddenly felt very old. Anyway, it was eminently possible that Patrick Edwards had started working there after Kippie had left.
The police van rounded another bend, barely on all four wheels, and the ancient building of St Mildred’s came into sight down the hill. It had originally been built as a monastery in the sixteenth century during the Reformation. Having been abandoned sometime during the Napoleonic Wars, the nuns moved in around 1860. It became a convent school at the turn of the century.
The Roman Catholic School of St Mildred and the Improbable Martyrs. (Like St Barnaby of Weston-Super-Mare, patron saint of candles, who was convinced that electricity was the work of the devil. He died when an electricity pylon crashed through his roof during a storm and ignited the gas lamps that lit his home.) Yes, there was some history here. St Mildred’s had been churning out well-educated emotionally-repressed young women just begging to go off the rails for just over a hundred years.
Kippie switched off the radio and slowed to a respectable five miles an hour over the speed limit as she turned onto the winding lane that led up to St Mildred’s cast-iron gates. This was no time to get sentimental. She was a professional and she had a job to do.
The school was expecting her visit and the gates were open to receive her. There was even one of the nuns was waiting for her in the doorway: a nun who looked very familiar.
Kippie smiled. Sister Mary Lou Gargrady had been in her class at school. Together, Kippie and Mary had been part of the lacrosse team that had finally brought the sports cup to their House – St Bernard. (St Bernard was the patron saint of brandy. He died after being run over in the street by Dick Turpin. Local legend said that he had been trying to stop the highwayman getting away after robbing the visiting Bishop of Bath. In actuality, St Bernard had been drunk out of his mind and mistook the fleeing bandit for one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.)
She got out the van.
“Kippie!” Mary came forward to greet her with a big hug. “Long time, no see!”
“Good morning, Lou Lou!” she replied, breaking out into a big grin. Perhaps it was time to get sentimental after all. This was going to be like old times. Then a voice from the shadows of the doorway spoke. “Ah, Evil Evans has come to visit us.”
Kippie’s smiled vanished. It was going to be just like old times.