Unforgettable (Gloria Cook) - By Gloria Cook


‘Dorrie Resterick, now there’s an enigma for you.’

Dorrie raised her neat ginger eyebrows at her brother, Gregory Barnicoat. ‘Must you be so boring, Greg, forever repeating old sayings? That saying didn’t even start with you. I’m merely putting on my walking shoes to take Corky along to Shady Lane for his walk. Then we’ll sit together by the stream and I’ll write some poetry.’ She patted the pocket of her hip-length, pre-war cardigan where her notebook and pencil were tucked down inside. ‘There’s nothing remotely unusual or strange in that.’

Dorrie did not mind hearing widower Greg’s oft-repeated kindly or mocking maxims, but the enigma one about herself had been started by her beloved late husband. It had been a special thing between Piers and herself, and it had remained special to Dorrie throughout her seven years of widowhood. Special, for Dorrie was not the slightest bit enigmatic, but handsome, successful Piers, used to being surrounded by beautiful, wealthy city women, had seen Dorrie, everyday and unassuming, as fascinating and desirable. Her parents had always described her, the youngest child of their brood of five as, ‘Little Dorrie, she’s as ordinary as people come, and a good thing too.’ Her eldest sibling, at fifty-eight, Greg’s usual declaration about her was, ‘Good old Dor, you always know where you are with her.’ While Greg and her other two brothers and sister continued with old grudges, notwithstanding a feud or two, Dorrie, the peacemaker, got on with them all.

After a lifetime of learning about and watching all manner of scandal unfold, and of being confided in – all too desperately at times due to her open, trusting face – with the secrets and fears of young and old, Dorrie was pleased she was not remotely puzzling or mysterious.

I’m not an enigma at all, Dorrie thought, but they do rather seem to find me. During the war she had, or rather Corky had, sniffed out a scrap of evidence in a dreadful local crime. It turned out to be part of a poorly written blackmail note, which had led to a double murder. It had not been a straightforward case. The murderer, a young member of a small-time gangland operation, had been clumsy and was soon traced to his lair in Bristol, where he had died an ignoble death with his own gun rather than face the hangman’s noose. The torn-off part of the scribbled note Dorrie had handed to the police had stated ‘found out about Ch . . . bring money to Merryvale . . .’ Merryvale was the wrong spelling for Merrivale, a nearby property then empty, where the young murder victims, Neville Stevens and his girlfriend Mary Rawling, had been found. The authorities had decided the couple paid the price for foolishly trying to blackmail a black-market gang with a widespread operation. It seemed the most feasible explanation but Dorrie felt that wasn’t really the case. Neville Stevens had been a slow-witted petty thief who had never travelled far. The whole village had been questioned and no one had admitted to knowing anything, but a few people, Dorrie included, felt someone among them was keeping evil secrets. The murders were often mulled over but Dorrie felt too troubled to join in with the morbid speculation.

Leaving the cosy, comfortable sitting room for the hall she now pulled her beloved floppy crocheted sun-hat over her naturally curly hair, which glowed as bright as polished copper but was now prettily stranded through with silver. The copper freckles on her face and arms were beginning to fade but rather than being worried about the signs of ageing, Dorrie was rather fascinated by them. The light wrinkles at the corners of her eyes and her mouth showed that she smiled a lot, was optimistic and caring. She was proud that her once fine hands were slightly roughened by all the years of digging for victory. Dorrie was wearing a pleated blouse and tweed skirt of twenty years service, but she had been happy to ‘make do and mend’ long before the war had started, and the two years of even tighter post-war rationing was not a particular bother to her. From the long row of coat hooks, she fetched the lead of lovable, mixed-breed Corky, who had a mainly short black coat, long thick body and squat legs.

Corky was more than a pet to Dorrie. She had come across him as a puppy, lying on top of Piers’ grave just after his burial. Piers had been