Ring the Changes
In was now a full six months further on in the quest to find just two murderous fiends upon the face of the planet. Initial reports had by now been corrected, verified, corroborated, checked and rechecked. Investigated and re-corrobated, re verified and were now largely agreed upon. It was unfortunate that Letitia Wong was cited as being Lil, Lillgibet, Lucy, Lacey, Li, Lesley Wang, and Wing, Wee and Walf but such is the nature of broadcasting news under such pressure even if it is much to the annoyance and vexation of all parties concerned.
What was apparent was that she was an avid collector of shoes, a former inmate of some oppressive regime or another and died a horrible death in the orient. Age? Did it matter now? Some age of recognisable adulthood could be deduced. Transgression for imprisonment? Some minor faux pas or other loudly expressed repeatedly against the governing nation which led to her brutal incarceration for many moons over many years. Reprieved due to public outcry to become little short of a saint expounding the virtues of non violence. Background? Plain. Appearance... no longer plain due to her penchant for shoes and much else to accessorise the bespoke designer shoes.
Chief among the topics to keep the story live then was the subject of fashionable footwear. Shoes circumstantial, shoes substantial, shoes both sub sequential and inconsequential were regular favourites among young, old, footless and footloose alike with every colour, creed and form of interest from all of every age. Indeed it was a wonder there was not a referendum for foetuses to vote upon the matter for by now everyone was so weary of dreary dismal news any and all forms of distraction were welcome the world over.
The more subversive the printed publications were the more people flocked to them for more acerbic and satirical comments upon typographical errors which now appeared very much to be errors upon pain of death as Charlie Huff himself found out among the more radical yet tolerably mainstream forms of journalism. Bombed to death. Luckier than others who were unceremoniously shot, decapitated, crucified or just plain hung either literally or otherwise. The Earth bayed for more blood to be shed each time to show support but became ever more reluctant to give it save in platitudes and prayers.
The quest for shoes of note continued until; near yuletide, another eye of the Gripes... and the Snobgrasses and indeed many an Underling and Upperheights noticed a change in the investigation and the direction in which it was heading. And so we come to the first connection with the second murder of which this Dickensian tale is most concerned with.
As with the first; initial reports were confused, hasty and many inaccuracies made it to press; but unlike the first murder reported very few noticed. Hardly anyone cared and even fewer still were prepared to even mention it and yet it was very strange how in the smallest of small adverts in English and Spanish speaking nations there appeared a notice asking for any information about one Eleanora Wills.
The body of Eleanora Wills was found in a ditch, or was it a sinkhole? It was a third of the planet way from Europe so how could it possibly be connected with anyone now living there? It was the body of a peasant with no shoes. Again the name and age were lost in typographical errors. First she was a child of 12, “No, no, we said 112... Most likely a spinster too.” “Alas you are wrong again, she had been a mother, look here it says so in plain type regardless of her age so it must be true.”
The death of Eleanora Wills was of even less concern to those of interest than might be supposed. What really concerned them was that there might just be a surviving child with shoes and much more besides... with good sturdy shoes worn by someone who could walk, talk and use their brains far better than they could. It was highly unlikely of course from such a poor and troubled continent as South America and yet stranger things seemed to be happening all the time.
Indeed they were. The Snobgrasses for example had devoured their last chips and were on the fall for failing to provide any evidence of shares of any interest to anyone. Meanwhile the Gripes were on the rise for reporting as much, as were the Underlings many of whom were now; busily earning an acceptable wage making things or repairing things such as digging roads and... becoming shoemakers (which the Upperheights very much appreciated) so as to survey the fixing of all things in the most benevolent of affectionate patronage... so far.
For now the world hummed to a new variant of an old tune of busy industry. In the most developed nations this resulted in everything imaginable being repaired, albeit in haste to require demolishing and rebuilding again and again. Much was dependent on the resourcefulness of the native inhabitants. When repaired or built properly with the right materials things were left to gleam newness like beacons of hope and prosperity, health and happiness were the norm and nothing whatever had ever interrupted that progress at all. When not quite so well built the human species rallied a bit more to ensure they did not go the same way as the Snobgrasses; but alas poorly designed, engineered and hastily erected efforts displayed the grime and filth soonest and the most odious of news reports were broadcast religiously daily. The blood, sweat and tears were of course recorded somewhere near the back pages while the bloodshed, the infectiously diseased sweaty bretheren of our species and death toll now appeared in ever more decorative form larger and larger on the front page.
As was traditional in times of great uncertainty on this particular globe; it was the blue one, (third from our solar star called the Sun), every Sabbath and weekend the headlines gave way to headlines of what was being done to fix - even that fixed by our most esteemed and monumental efforts of eminent Lords, Ladies, Commoners, Royals, Heads of Faith, Commerce and the like to give everyone joy to continue yet another exhausting week of building, fixing, networking and general growth over all.
Much too was being done to stem the flow of homeless, starving refugees. Ever more was being done to save even the Snobgrasses from a fate worse than death, but such delays to the food chain only ever result in more poverty and continued an undertone of loss of hope.
Still, gone were the days of corpses being left outside in England’s hospitals weren’t they? Gone were the days of no one supporting the military to protect the land from attack weren’t they? Gone were the days of dishonest traders, dishonestly trading wherever and however they could surely? Apparently not, according to those in the Scottish Isles and in Anglesey and Mann and again, we hear the same from St Michael’s Mount near Land’s End, and in Skye and Wight and Falklands and even from the Western approaches on the edge of the these British islands too. From County Cork to Derry there is still not cause to sup sherry if you’re English through and through. How come they could still be so unwise? Do we have to help them again? Should we help them again?
The migrations to northern climes thankfully remind everyone that many birds of prey and predators seek safety on these isles, from Europe, from Africa from Asia from all seven continents and all nations in fact and the outrage dies down albeit begrudgingly to a more acceptable level of its own volition in the main. It is nearer yuletide for everyone on these isles and sober reflection and yet more sobriety and reflection seem not such a bad notion for now after all. What’s a few more logs donated or cloth woven to boost the spirits? Yes, we have done it before of yore and by such means we have saved them... our own that is. Those we can accept as such that is. Why, have we not donated our best minds to help others abroad too, even those we most dislike? Why yes. Quite. Well then, let’s prepare for our own religious festivities then and say no more about it for now.
The cogs whir in many towns and cities to that tune. They grind laboriously in villages and hamlet and even, if ever slowest and most difficult of all (but to the best quality of all) in the least accessible and most inhospitable regions of isolation these isle have ever known. So it is here in this specimen of a humble shack of a dwelling one dark cold evening. The inhabitants are as remote from the world as it is possible to be, yet even they have a spark of interested in their eye upon hearing about fellow so-called loafers who found a body in South America. The loafers this time were bakers there, but these folk are not confined to one trade, for to do so would herald their death knell too.