Looking Down

Looking Down Read Online Free PDF Page A

Book: Looking Down Read Online Free PDF
Author: Frances Fyfield
Tags: UK
shifting his weight every minute to avoid the cold of the ground. It marked the difference between the visitor to the cliffs and the virtual inhabitant. John knew that Edwin lived in a tiny bedsit above a shop in the centre of town, but the cliffs were his real home. Old rumour had it that Edwin had escaped to the cliffs as soon as he could walk, with good reason.
    ‘Nope. I can’t be everywhere. I was in Cable Bay, and a couple of the botanists saw me. Came over yonder after the others arrived. Lent a hand. You’d already got your bloke by then andthere was quite a crowd. Don’t ask me did she fall or was she pushed, I don’t know any more than you do. Looks like someone stripped her first.’
    ‘Took away her personality first. That’s what bothers me. Someone trying to make her untraceable, forgettable. That’s what so cruel. It’s robbery of more than a life. I think she was thrown, Edwin. On account of what that bloke said. He said she seemed to have been projected out, “hovered”, he said. She was only a little lightweight.’
    Edwin grunted. ‘And you’d heed what a bloke says when he’s said he’s seen the chough in flight? Here? More fool you. There hasn’t been a chough here in over a hundred years. Some excuse, he has.’
    ‘Some people live in hope, Edwin. Some have only read bird books from the last century. And miracles happen.’
    ‘There’s more of them plain ignorant liars. Why did they let him go?’
    ‘Can’t keep him, Edwin. No connection. I pinched a photocopy of his sketch. Rather good, I thought. Are you sure you’d never seen a girl like her before?’
    ‘Did I say so? I might have done . . .’
    John waited patiently until Edwin got to his feet, carefully, and stretched his arms above his head. ‘I’ll have to go over it in my mind,’ he said. ‘Things come slowly, you know. I’d seen
him
,of course. Trying to sketch from behind bushes, dirty bastard. He was always hiding. She might have been hiding, too. I’ll have to think about that.’
    Edwin did not like to linger in this populated part of the cliff path, preferring the lonelier, more dangerous stretches of his favourite Cable Bay and beyond. Not such an invaluable source of information, then. His fierce shyness would have made him reluctant anyway. His whole manner of standing indicated that enough was enough and he was ready to move. Beginning atdawn he walked the coast path end to end every day, fourteen miles each way, varying where he paused and watched, sat and stared, acting as its very own policeman, although it was not the people he wished to protect. John wondered if every half-tamed, wild place like this had a similar, self-appointed custodian, an invaluable source of information – if he chose, and the choice was always his. He economised with his knowledge and information in the same way he did with his movements. Dr John Armstrong could not quite like Edwin, although he did admire anyone who could maintain such passions, and admiration was enough to sustain a close acquaintance of mutual respect, laced with a tinge of pity. He had treated Edwin for a broken leg years before, admired his bravery, and there existed between them a bond of ill-defined loyalty. It was slightly diminished by John’s association with the police, which Edwin suspected, and John reckoned it was only because Edwin knew that he, too, dwelt on the cliffs as often as time allowed, walked the path at least once every month of the year and had some real knowledge of the flora, fauna and history, that he consented to talk to him at all. Plus the knowledge that John wasn’t a policeman, merely a semi-retired, part-time medical examiner, hardly empowered to investigate, or arrest, a fly. The sort of harmless doctor at home in a police station, who made tea for the prisoner and held his hand rather than asking the questions, useful in welfare for his mildness of manner and a necessary presence when the health of a detainee was in
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