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A Man of a Few More Words - by Swan Morrison

He Seemed So Ordinary

‘Hello, this is the Crimestoppers’ telephone helpline. How can I assist you?’

‘I think the police should know about my neighbour.’

‘In what way?’

‘I think he might be a rapist or serial killer or terrorist or something like that.’

‘What’s made you suspicious?’

‘He just seems so ordinary. I don’t know him very well, but he appears to be very nice. He always says a friendly ‘hello’ when I meet him in the street. You wouldn’t think there was anything odd about him at all. He’s the very last person you’d suspect of any wrongdoing.’

‘I agree that sounds a bit worrying. I’m glad you contacted us. This kind of neighbour description has been typical of some of our most dangerous and notorious criminals. What else do you know about him?’

‘I see his wife sometimes. She seems pleasant enough. I think she helps out at the local school. Do you think she might be involved?’

‘It’s hard to say. She’ll probably never be prosecuted, but we’ll all suspect that she must have known something. After all, those heinous crimes would have taken place right under her nose and over a long period.’

‘I think they’re both involved in charity work.’

‘That’s a bad sign. It’s a classic strategy to select victims whilst allaying suspicion. He's not involved with the Church, is he?’

‘Yes, he preaches at St Michael’s.’

‘Oh God! This sounds even more serious than I first feared.’


‘Those who minister in the Church tend to have their crimes go undetected for much longer periods. It’s quite likely that he’s been abusing vulnerable members of his congregation for years in addition to his other catalogue of terrifying and horrific offences.’

‘What are you going to do?’

‘I think the police will want to act quickly. What you’ve told me already sounds pretty conclusive. What’s his name and address?’

‘Henry Smith of fourteen Acacia Drive.’

‘That’s a frighteningly nondescript name and address – once again typical of this kind of monster. He drives a white Mondeo, doesn’t he?’

‘How did you know?’

‘Have you ever known a criminal in a Crimewatch reconstruction drive anything else?’

‘Now you come to mention it…’

‘Of course all the offences he will have committed thirty years ago - the worrying crimes which would have clearly linked him to recent sickening and depraved acts - will have gone unnoticed by police enquiries.’

‘What will have gone wrong?’

‘Typically, in cases like this, there will have been a simple error by the police that will have led them to overlook key evidence and hence not make the vital connections. I expect the Chief Constable will have to resign again.

‘What shall I do now?’

‘Nothing. The police will pick him up today and release him due to lack of evidence. He will commit one more crime and then be arrested, tried in a blaze of publicity and finally imprisoned. Don’t worry though, you’ll be perfectly safe. They never harm the neighbours. In fact, you’re the first neighbour who’s ever suspected anything.’