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Murder at the B&B. An Ophelia Perhaps Mystery.

Why would I not order fish and chips here?

The Eagle and Child, when you hit it right and it’s not too crowded, is the best pub on the planet. A literary pedigree, low ceilings, a bright and helpful staff, and fabulous cooks. Even featured in the Inspector Morse TV series. I’m early, so I watch Dad as he enters ten minutes late. He seems to know the waitress, says something that makes her laugh, then orders fish and chips and a pint of lager at the bar.

“Hey, Pumpkin. You look nice.” Dad always notices clothes. Sometimes that drives me crazy. Especially when I dress in a hurry, and then he notices that.

“So, Dad, why are you ordering fish and chips? They make a lot of other – “

“Why would I not order fish and chips here? They’re great. And I get to sit where C.S. Lewis sat, and I like to think he would have ordered fish and chips as he was holding forth about whatever.”

“Tolkien maybe. I think Lewis would more likely be having a bowl of soup. More Presbyterian.”

“Well, whoever. I like their fish and chips. I come here whenever I’m in Oxford. Are you going to come to my talk tonight?”

“I’m still not sure. I’m working on a case.”

“Really? Well, how about I throw in some psychological bits about Diggory Venn?” He knows I adore Diggory Venn, the patient, heroic reddleman in Return of the Native. If I could somehow conjure Diggory Venn from thin Dorset air, I would. A  farmer, someone sure of himself, a man of the earth. If I could find somebody in any way close to being Diggory Venn, I’d melt into his arms.

“Oh, Dad. You know I’m such a sucker.”

“Well, try to come. It’s at that lecture hall they always book me in at Christchurch at 6:30.”

“I’ll try.”

As I’m leaving the Eagle and Child, I spot a tall man in a checked shirt leaving Blackwell Books with a package under his arm. White hair, cap, coat over his arm. This is it. This is the man who’s been following me. I’m sure of it. I get into my car and with great purpose start the ignition. I follow him a few blocks till I see him stop, look in the window of The Albion Beatnik Café, test the locked door, give up, and walk around the corner. I’m suddenly hungry for Dennis’s famous lemon cake. I decide to go to The Beatnik the next morning.

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