Naturally, I had asked Head Porter about how The Fellowship went about killing off so many of their number. I somehow cannot picture the cloisters of Old College drenched in the blood and guts of its members. For a start, the Bedders would have kicked up a dreadful fuss about having to clear up the mess.
“That’ll be eighteen pounds sixty, miss”
The taxi driver rouses me abruptly from my thoughts and I am aware that we have reached my house. A little dazed, I pay the man and shuffle myself out of the car and through my front door. My house, I am sad to say, is not quite as tidy as Head Porter’s, but then I have considerably more clutter to contend with. Must be a girl thing.
Although tempted to further dampen my chaotic mind with yet more alcohol, I wisely choose to make a nice cup of tea instead. Dumping the tea bag in the sink, I shake my head in disbelief. How could he?
The hour is late and it is not particularly warm but I take my steaming mug of sanity out to the small terrace at the back of my house. I settle down on the back doorstep and watch for a while as the bats flit and arc around the trees, chattering in sonar. This is perhaps the most peace I will feel for quite some time.
So the modus operandi of The Fellowship was poison, perhaps unsurprisingly. And who better to prepare and administer such an instrument of death than a Professor of chemistry? Indeed. My dear departed Professor K was the avenging angel of The Vicious Circle for decades; expertly exterminating anyone who got too close to the truth. Head Porter was unable to tell me quite how it was done, he isn’t party to such information, but I do not feel that that really matters.
Head Porter believes that Professor K was struggling with his conscience and thought I would somehow be able to help him break the cycle. His general thinking is that someone realised what he was up to and killed him before he could reveal too much. Thinking back over our conversations, it all seems so obvious now. I curse myself for not realising all this at the time, I might have been able to save him. But how could I have known? How?
And why all the riddles and mysterious monologues? Maybe a combination of his own guilt and some kind of misplaced loyalty to The Vicious Circle, I don’t know. But I could have saved him! Perhaps. Perhaps I could have saved him. Head Porter thinks he was scared to say too much in case he endangered me, too. But then again, he was killed because he was talking to me. Someone, somewhere knows this. And that someone is not shy of taking serious steps to ensure silence.
Head Porter ventured a theory that the poison was actually intended for me, not Professor K. It was, after all, me who ordered and collected the breakfast I took to him when he returned from hospital. No one knew it was for him. I was just trying to do a nice thing. Did I kill him? Although, we have no way of knowing how the poison was actually administered.
So many questions and so few answers. The problem with The Vicious Circle, Head Porter had said, is that you couldn’t be sure who was a part of it. Certainly, it is a minority group within The Fellowship. He said that he was convinced Senior Bursar was involved, but now he is dead, too. An electrical ‘accident’, I suppose because there was no one readily available to arrange the more traditional method of poisoning.
If we follow the theory of those that ask the questions end up dead, The Dean and I are in a very precarious position indeed. It is too late now and I am too tired… to ponder this any further. I have no way of warning The Dean until tomorrow morning and my body is telling me to go to bed, even if my brain is suggesting other things. Like another drink. No. As my Grandmother always says, there is nothing that can’t be solved by a nice cup of tea and a good night’s sleep. I just hope she is right.