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Losses not seen since fire destroyed the interiors of Heythrop Hall in 1831 have split the community of Enstone, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, U.K. Police have taken statements (reprinted below) about bloody acts (44+ dead) on Heythrop Park golf course. Damage to the 1710 landscape design of Thomas Bainbridge has been repaired.
A hacked and punctured corpse was found in the fairway 200 yards from the tee. To reach the victim, the perp(s) threaded his/her/their period arrows between the 300-year-old beech trees on the right of the hole – planted in straight lines to recreate the estate’s original avenue – and the Jesuit’s Graveyard on the left.
Rain was not plothering down, so the slaughterer(s) would have been afforded a delightful view towards Heythrop Church. To squash the twosome who became Victim Nos. 2 & 3 on the undulating but generously large green (that slopes from back to front and is protected by a pot bunker on the left), the medieval catapult must have been wheeled into position on the tee with practiced skill and malice aforethought. If the authorities allow the instrument of destruction to remain on the course as a memorial, and be treated by golfers as an immovable obstruction, the hole is to be rechristened as Church and Catapult View.
“Move along!” is the copper’s refrain to busybodies at the last stand of the poor bleeder who had counted on a brisk downhill trot into the prevailing SW wind, past three well-placed bunkers. A matchlock musket ball to the head finished him, in the hollow on the right that feeds into a valley.
This birdie opportunity tests all golfers who hit the ball from left to right. It is dominated by a dry stone dyke wall on the right – with dense Foxberry Wood beyond. It was not tested by Victim No. 5, bludgeoned to death on the tee, where ex post facto the Chief Coroner listened to Pink Floyd’s 1979 album “The Wall” while plying the tools of her grim but necessary trade.
The buzzards that commonly cast shadows in the trees surrounding the elevated tee must be the sole witnesses to the explosion that did for Victims 6-9. The foursome’s mettle, consequently, was not measured by the stream leading to the pond, the two bunkers guarding the landing area, and the deep swale on the right.
It is no coincidence that entry wounds point to an ambush by expert archers, on the historic bridge that traverses the water on the way to the next tee. Victims 10-13 expired on a hole destined to feature in glossy golf magazines.
Suspicious of placid surfaces, the Chief Inspector assigned to the case ordered the waters to be dredged. At one lake’s deepest point, inside a burlap sack, at the end of a rope: Victim No. 14, dead. The Chief Inspector next demanded a list of local anglers. Later, after the list of anglers proved to be identical to a previously compiled list of local golfers, the Chief ordered a round of drinks.
Swinging battleaxes, our psychopath(s) must have swept uphill and overwhelmed the raised green protected by a front bunker, where Victims 15-18 cavalierly supposed they were safe from harm. A sergeant assigned to the case, obviously a film buff, reminded reporters (off the record), “Remember the demise of Steve Buscemi in Fargo?”
Police caught a break that “mermaid-like awhile” (Hamlet, Act IV, Scene VII) the clothes of the next victims bore them up in four ornate ponds. Before being collected as evidence, torn-up scorecards (4) littering the historic Serpentine Walk to the rear of the green, resembled, from a distance, fallen leaves.
Boiling liquid (analysis results tba) was the weapon of choice against Victim No. 23 in an historic walled garden (Heythrop Park is famous for its walled gardens). The crush of the media was accommodated in the ancient orchard surrounding the green, where the thick-skinned reporters enjoyed traditional species of apple, pear and cherry, and in the oldest Crown Bowling Green in England, “nestling in the woods” (as the resort’s literature phrases it), just to the right of the green.
Earwitnesses heard a Supermarine Spitfire turning sharply in the vicinity of No. 11, and indeed this par 5 has room (551 yards long from the White Tee) for a Spitfire. The target was the small green built round to the left between the old Skating Lake and the ancient woodland. Veterans of the force searched their memories and databanks in vain for a double whammy comparable to the one executed by the WW II replica. Machine gunfire from the single-seat deliverer of vengeance, followed by aerial bombardment, brought a premature end to the round played by Victims 24-27.
The massive gnarled oak tree that bisects the fairway 200 yards from the Black Tee presented the spectacle of four golfers with ropes around their necks, hung by their necks until they were dead. The adjacent property to the right of the green was once owned by the Jesuit Order, which used it as a centre for philosophical and theological studies.
Where were the contemporary equivalents of local 18th and 19th century ladies, who used to watch a steady stream of carriages pass along the pathway here, when the successful plotters against the lives of the next victims stored caches of period gunpowder, dynamite, cordite and breech-loading rifles? A natural brook, lined with Cotswold stone, burbles by as of yore. The deceased, a twosome, were newlyweds and having a smashing time.
Dumb luck, according to the starter, enabled a golfer to miss her appointment on 14 with the killer(s), for she cancelled her tee time after realizing her DVR was not set. “Football Saves Duffer’s Duff” announced one subsequent tabloid headline.
We will never know if Victims 37 and 38 shared the opinion that the 15th tee’s panoramic view over the English countryside compensates for the uphill walk from the 14th green. They were robbed of the chance to play down the prevailing SW wind, and make the difficult club selection necessary to carry the bluff that makes the green seem closer than it is.
The unknown assailant(s) channeled the victors of the Battle of Shrewsbury in 1403 A.D. As of this writing, bodies have not been recovered. Even the golf bags are missing. Perhaps they were claimed as spoils of war. In the near term (once the crime-scene tape is pulled down), golfers will have to contend with an unusual number of poor lies as balls come to rest in the divot-like imprints of horses’ hooves.
Even the casual, morbidly curious observer detects a now-familiar pattern of slaughter. This was no old-school engagement between gentlemen, of matched weapons in accordance with agreed-upon rules. Next of kin shall be notified after the pikes and tanks are dusted for prints, and autopsies reveal the identities of the late twosome.
A Sopwith Camel provided the coup de grace on the straight closing hole. Measuring close to 600 yards, 18 seems longer to pilot and golfer because the view is elongated by the presence of the Hall, which sits 100 yards behind the green where the nun, senior citizen and two schoolchildren were holing out. Although the attack happened in broad daylight, no witnesses have come forward, evidence of the characteristic reserve of the British public.
I was in the Tower Suite reading a murder mystery. Care to pop up to my room for a little chat about the case over a cup of tea?
Mrs. Spoon, village sleuth
I was in the Royal Suite, as usual. My mistress will vouch for my presence in the bedroom or I’ll have her whipped, again. Do I own a catapult?! I dare say my ancestors were dab hands, but I have stayed out of the business. I have other weapons. You might be interested to know that the chaps who built the golf course had to ensure that it would not be seen from the Hall. One of the guests may have spotted it and jolly lost all sense of proportion. If the villain is not a resort guest, it must be a local. You would do well to watch Penelope Brassie and the Village Idiot, both of whom don’t know their place in Enstone, Chipping Norton. I say, Lady Cleek-Baffy does not have to hear about this beastly business. Now I want my solicitor, there’s a good copper.
I was walking me dog, is all, as I have for centuries. Aye, dead blokes everywhere. Nay, not a mark on Old Bailey. Or me collie Old Bailey. If I was you, I would insert a microchip in Sir Cleek-Baffy and see where it leads you.
Old Bailey, village idiot
I took photos of the crime scenes. You are welcome to inspect them. Look me up at the Brassey Bar, where I work nights. They may remind you of Warhol’s Death and Disaster series. You would do well to cross-examine Sir Cleek-Baffy. The gentry loves its collections of sword-rattling beastliness.
Penelope Brassie, university student
I was in the vicarage the entire time cleaning my clubs and studying yardage books. May God have mercy on us sinners.