Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: PHONE (11/10/16)
TITLE: She Knew a Little Too Much
By Ellen Carr
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Working at the Talder Telephone Exchange was Josie's dream job. Every time she sat down at her switchboard she felt a rush of pride. Here she was at the hub of everything. She connected people to one other for business and pleasure, and emergencies.
But today she wished she had any other job in the world. A policeman was knocking on the door. Not that she was guilty of anything really. Just that she knew a little too much.
Everyone knew that telephone operators listened in to their calls. Josie was just like the rest of them. A few flicks of switches and Josie would have people connected. Then she would take her time to switch herself off from the conversation, listening for the gossip.
“I know you're listening, Josie,” Mrs March would sometimes say. “There'll be no juicy gossip until I hear the click of you replacing your receiver.” Josie would feel a blush spread over her face as she quickly put the receiver down.
“Come in Sergeant Tyler,” she said as she opened the door.
“Good day to you, Miss Ashley.” Sergeant Tyler bustled into the room and stood with his arms crossed. “You, Miss, are my chief witness.”
Josie went weak at the knees, and her stomach filled with butterflies. “Sir, I have to look after the phone as well as talk to you. I'm on duty. So you'll have to excuse me now and then.”
“You go about your work as you must, but I need you to tell me what you heard last night.”
“I was listening in to Mrs March talking to Doctor Roberts.” Josie felt her face reddening as she spoke. “She forgot that I was listening and she started telling him that the deed was done. Of course I pricked up my ears.
He asked her where the body was. It sounded like a murder! I would have screamed if I didn't put my hand over my mouth!”
“What else did they say?” asked the sergeant.
“Not much. They said they'd meet in the lane behind his house at eight o'clock. She said she'd taken it round there – the body, I suppose. Then Mrs March hung up. I finished my shift and went home, but I couldn't get that body out of my mind. I went to bed, and then this morning when I got to work I rang you, Sergeant Tyler.”
“Shame you didn't ring me last night. We might have caught them red-handed. But, thank you Miss Ashley. You've been very helpful.”
“Will you let me know what you find out, Sergeant. And can I tell my friends?”
“Certainly not! You could jeopardise my investigation. Keep quiet and don't tell anyone at all. I'll let myself out. Goodbye Miss Ashley. I'm glad I caught you at a quiet time.”
Alone in the silent room, Josie shivered. She had heard a crime being discussed by two criminals who were well-known local entities. She was glad they didn't know she had been listening.
Just then a call came in. “Talder Telephone Exchange. Operator speaking.” Her words came automatically.
“Mrs March here, Josie. Could you connect me to Doctor Roberts please?”
Josie froze. She went hot, then cold. What should she do? She would talk calmly, set up the connection, and then take notes about what they said. She could help Sergeant Tyler in his work.
“Putting you through,” she said grabbing her pencil and paper.
“Good Morning Doctor Roberts. Glad we got that business done.” Josie's eyes widened.
“Yes, I think we've sorted it all out,” replied Doctor Roberts. Josie scribbled furiously, recording each word.
“I 'm glad I was able to assist you,” Mrs March continued. “I didn't have any more use for that old body.” Josie nearly vomited. How could someone talk like that about a dead person?
“Well, it's a good chassis and I'll get my mechanic onto it. I think he'll be able to make a full car out of that and the engine I've purchased.”
A light went on in Josie's head. They were talking about a car body. She'd better ring Sergeant Tyler as soon as she could. But, it would not be an easy call to make.
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