His body was found crumpled in the road. The Police came upon a nervous driver bending over the body.
They sent for an ambulance.
The nervous driver was carted off to the Police Station, but they let him go in the early hours of the following morning once they’d satisfied themselves that the man had not died as a result of having been run over by a car.
Tests from Accident and Emergency reported that the deceased had died from heart failure, probably as a result of having taken an excessive amount of hallucinogenic drugs.
Tests also found an unusual residue of downy white feathers on the body of the deceased, particularly on his hands.
The week before one of the local swans had been found strangled and bloodied on the canal towpath. She had been something of a local celebrity, having been the female of a pair of swans who had produced a number of offspring in recent years.
Swans are renowned for their habit of mating for life. The cob was distraught at the loss of his partner, and huddled miserably on the far bank of the canal. His offspring were less affected, and carried on the everyday business of preening their feathers and swanning up and down the canal. The local population hoped that their presence and normal behaviour would encourage their father back from the misery of his mourning but so far there had been no response.
The down under the fingernails of the deceased man was analysed by the police, and found to have come from the dead female swan. The man found dead in the road was posthumously held responsible for the murder of one of the Queen’s swans, but his identity was thus far unknown.
The Queen was notably less outraged than the local population, who had over the years become fond of the local family of swans on the canal.
A banner appeared mysteriously over a bridge on the nearest section of the town bypass. It read “All Swan Killers Will Die”.
Two days later it was replaced. The new banner read “Torment in This Life and the Next to All Swan Killers”.
The locals were determined. They resolved to guard the next generation of swans with their own lives. They disclaimed any knowledge of the banners’ appearance or the death of the man found in the road, but they made it plain that they were watching over the colony of swans twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. It was found that with a combination of shift workers, the unemployed, and retired folk a twenty four hour roster could be maintained with some considerable effort of organisation.
The group of youngsters who often gathered under the bridge in the evenings gradually drifted away over a period of weeks. Young folk questioned individually said they didn’t know anything about the death of the swan, or indeed the man found in the road. Nobody knew who he was.
One of the youngest, a lad of twelve who had clearly been shaken up by events, candidly said to the Police Liaison Officer that he wasn’t going to take no more drugs because they made you go daft and kill swans and then God would be after you.
By Karenne Griffin
Last Modified on: 05-11-2015