a bit more of the story...
Latymer turned to the gathered spectators. ‘There’s nothing to see.’
A policeman was leaning against the counter in the refreshments room. Gaunt and thin, Sergeant Simmons spent most of his duty time at the railway station. During the war the duty was particularly important, as it could have been one way for spies to enter the country. Sergeant Simmons never apprehended anyone, mainly for two reasons: one was that he didn’t know what he was looking for, and secondly, he spent most of his duty time standing where he was now, chatting to Cyril and Cyril’s wife, Dot. Simmons drank tea and ate bun after bun without putting on an ounce in weight. He left his post only when he needed to relieve himself.
‘Hey, Sarge?’ said Cyril.
Simmons stopped mid-bite. It wasn’t often he was interrupted whilst eating.
‘There seems to be quite a crowd gathering.’
‘Ooh, I wonder what’s going on there?’ Dot was a nosey woman and didn’t miss a trick.
Sergeant Simmons looked in the wrong direction.
‘Over there.’ Dot pointed with a cup she was drying.
‘Ah yes.’ Simmons spoke as if he had known all along. ‘Best take a look.’ Simmons put his shoulders back, so he looked more like a figure of authority, and strode purposefully towards the crowd.
‘Now then. Now then. What have we here?’
‘This man has injured his arm. He trapped it in a carriage door. I’m trying to take a look at it.’ Latymer told the policeman.
‘I see,’ said the policeman, full of self-importance. ‘You trapped this man’s arm in a carriage door? I shall need your name, sir. There may be further proceedings.’
The crowd murmured their disbelief at the crime committed by a doctor.
‘I’m Dr Latymer. I didn’t trap his arm. I’m trying to help him.’
Carefully scrutinising Reginald, Sergeant Simmons said to him, ‘Now I need you to answer truthfully. Did this man,’ turning to look in the direction of Latymer, ‘who looks too young to be a doctor in my opinion, shut the railway carriage door onto your arm?’
Sergeant Simmons paused for a moment to let the gravity of the situation sink in, whilst the crowd collectively held their breath. ‘I warn you that anything you may say could be used in evidence.’
‘This is ridiculous,’ exclaimed Latymer, wishing he were in a taxi on his way to his first medical practice.
‘As far as I know,’ replied Reginald, as if he were at the Old Bailey surrounded by aging varnished brown oak, and men and women in grey wigs representing centuries of law, ‘it wasn’t him.’
There was a sharp intake of breath at the doubt expressed.
‘I was in a different carriage. I came here to help him.’ Latymer corrected Reg’s information.
‘He sounds very guilty,’ said one of the expanding group of people.
‘A terrible thing for a doctor to do,’ replied another.
‘I saw him, the man who says he’s a doctor, get out of the carriage up there. Three carriages away from where the man screamed like a woman,’ said one man moving to the front of the pack.
‘I did not scream like a woman,’ Reginald protested.
‘Yes you did,’ said the ten-year-old boy as he stepped forward from the other observers.
‘Are you prepared to swear to that?’ asked the policeman.
‘This boy has been taught to tell the truth,’ said the boy’s keeper.
‘Look, Constable,’ said Latymer.
‘Sergeant,’ Simmons corrected.
‘Sergeant. I need to see what this man’s injuries are. I have somewhere else to get to.’
‘Meeting a woman, are we?’ Simmons said.
‘My practice,’ said Latymer growing annoyed.
‘What you do in your private life is of no concern to me, as long as long as His Majesty’s Law is kept intact.’ Simmons glanced at the station clock and saw it was time he was off duty, ‘Right, sir, I’ll take your word for it. I’ll disperse the crowd.’
‘Thank you, Sergeant.’
‘You could trust a doctor in the war,’ said one of the onlookers as she moved away.
‘You can never tell,’ said another.
‘Can you slip off your coat?’ Latymer turned to Reg.
‘You’ve asked me that once.’
‘So will you do it?’
‘It’s still a bit cold.’
‘Come on, Reg. Do what the doctor wants. He can’t look at you.’
Reginald stood up, and with his wife’s help, took off his coat, ‘Ayah,’ he complained as he did so.
‘Let’s see. Can you bend your arm?’
Reg managed to do that.
‘Good. I don’t think there’s a lot wrong.’ Latymer paused as if thinking deeply. ‘Hm, you need a doctor to look at this.’
‘You said you were a doctor. Were you telling fibs?’
Latymer ignored the question. ‘You need your own doctor. Do you have far to go?’
‘Stocking Farm. Dr McFadden’s our doctor.’ He looked at his wife as if it were something to be proud of.
‘That’s where I’m going,’ said Latymer. ‘We’ll share a taxi.’