A tale of Crabapple Close

Filling the pail

Mr Wilkes paused briefly in the middle of Crabapple Close, his briefcase in one hand and his black question-mark of an umbrella in the other. He smoothed his striped suit and adjusted his trilby hat. An observer peering out from behind net curtains would have seen Mr Wilkes wipe a small tear from his cheek before collecting himself and striding to the front of Number 37. A brief inspection convinced Mr Wilkes that here was no electric bell and so he rapped twice on a small window pane in the porch.

Mr and Mrs Higginbotham were expecting someone familiar when they opened the door. Mrs Higginbotham was dressed for the day and yet her hair was still in curlers. By contrast, Mr Higginbotham was resplendent in imperial purple silk pajamas and dressing gown. Their expressions took a moment to adjust from warm familiarity to mild suspicion as they surveyed the…

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