DS Bruce sat briefing Supt Payne on the days progress. “He’s gone no comment throughout but that was expected. He lives in a caravan near the old saw mill in the forest. Sgt De-Hayes has sent PC Kirkwood down there with CSI but it’s totally isolated, the forest dense and getting dark. In order to do a proper job down there we are going to need loads of lighting and generators. I’m beginning to think that starting the examination tonight is flawed and we should put staff on scene protection and do it in the morning. It’s a bit resource hungry but I don’t want to lose any vital evidence as bobbies traipse around the forest in the dark.” Mark Payne was leaning on his elbows on the desk and steepled his fingers as he listened to the update. He turned to his computer and punched in a few figures and hit send. The computer dragged itself into life and began processing his request. He ran his hand across his chin as he thought and felt the gentle rasp of 13 hours of stubble growth. It had been another long day. The results appeared on the monitor and he scanned the information. “Inspector O’Hagan is on tonight with Sgt Travis. His team looks a bit thin but that’s a sign of the times these days and I guess we’ll have to manage. I agree with you Bruce. Make it happen and I’ll see you in the morning.”
Jane Hamilton had now read the complete will of Edward Scholes. It was pretty much as expected but the last paragraph was clearly the riddle Max Blain had been referring to. It didn’t make a great deal of sense and she quickly concluded she needed another pair of trusted eyes. She reached over to her bag and grabbed her iPhone then laying out the document on the bed she took several photographs. She checked they were clear and legible and then uploaded them to her private cloud server. Then flicking to her email application she began to type an email to her old “journo'” buddy Rob Preece… “Hi Rob, I have a document I want you to look at for me…
Doug had been back in his cell about 30 minutes. The cell area seemed quiet from what he could make out but he was surprised how quickly his ears became sensitive to anything happening in the corridor. He could tell the different weight of footfall to determine if the gaoler coming down the wing was the pretty young girl or the older chap who looked like an ex cop. The footsteps coming now were different and the shoe heels tapped loudly on the floor. The steps were quick and with some energy. It was definitely a bloke.. probably somebody who’s just come on duty. His thoughts were interrupted by the hatch sliding down. The stark light from the corridor flooded into his small room with its stainless steel toilet. “You alright fella? I’m Sgt Harris the night Custody Sgt. The CID will be doing their search on your property tomorrow so you’ll be here all night and remain incommunicado. Ok?” Doug nodded his head. “Thanks Sarge. I’ll try to get my head down then.” The hatch racked back up and the gloom of the simple night-light returned. Doug settled down under his blanket. The cell temperature was either freezing cold or roasting hot which made it difficult to get comfortable. As he lay there in the dark gradually drifting off to sleep he could feel his cheek adhering to the pvc covered pillow. It was going to be a long and uncomfortable night.
A small wooden jetty jutted out into the lake and tied off at the end was a well-worn, tatty looking rowing boat. The sun had risen a couple of hours ago but only now was it starting to burn the morning dew from the treetops that created a delicate cloud of vapour drifting up on a gently soughing wind. It was going to be a nice day. Inspector Guilfoyle stood halfway down the jetty and took in his surroundings. He was in charge of the searches in the forest and had come ahead of the teams to get a feel for the place. It was a beautiful tranquil location and the silence, except when broken by the cry of a buzzard soaring high over the trees, was deafening. It had been an early start and he yawned and stretched out his arms to the side as he did. The damp and rather slippy decking creaked beneath him as his weight shifted and didn’t inspire confidence. His attention was then drawn to the muffled sound of laughter and the thud of slamming doors. The teams had arrived at the saw mill. “Time to get this road on the show” he said to himself as he stepped off the jetty and picked his way back up the narrow path to the mill.
The satnav issued its next command. “Turn left in 100m”. Sparty flicked on the indicator and slowed. “You can’t turn here it’s a bloody one way street. These satnav’s are just a waste of time” said Winter becoming increasingly annoyed. The main divisional police station was in the centre of a mainly pedestrian area. They could see the building. They just couldn’t get to it. Response Plod suddenly saw a small blue sign and reaching between the two front seats pointed to it. “There. See it? Police Station Parking”. Sparty pulled in and drove into the car park. It was 8.30 in the morning and the car park was full. “Look at the state” said Winter. “50 cars ramming the car park and I’ll bet they’re turning one out on response.” A figure clearly in police uniform but wearing a civvy jacket over the top was walking across the car park. Sparty wound down the window and introduced himself to Dave Stevenson. “Where can we park?” Dave smiled, “It’s like this every week day. We have to park across the road on the pay and display.” He pointed in the right direction. Winter held his head in his hands. “How hard can this be? Drop me here, park the car and I’ll meet you inside.” He got out of the car and strolled across the car park to the main entrance.
Jane Hamilton finished breakfast and then wandered out for a stroll in the village. The sun was warm on her back as she walked down the main street. She took the phone from her pocket and rang the local police. “Yes that’s right. The accident was about 10pm. That’s the one. What happened to the driver?” Jane went on to explain that she had some property belonging to the driver and needed to get it back to him. “I know you wont give me his details but please do pass on mine to him. The item seems quite personal and I’d hate for him to think he’s lost it. If you ask him to call me I’ll gladly meet him.” The call taker was very helpful and agreed to do what she could. Jane hung up and having reached the end of the village was about to turn around when she saw a police car parked outside a cottage a little further along.
WPC Pink had pulled up outside Lock Cottage. In the boot of her car were the documents she and Dave’s friends had gone through last night. They had worked through maybe 1000 different items but nothing save 2 seemed to be of any interest. The first was the reordering of the estate boundary and the second was the odd notepaper with the same logo on that she had found on the cottage wall. She knocked on the door and Katharine Winter answered. “Morning. I’ve brought all these papers back” she said. Katharine looked at her watch. “I’m just heading out and I’m late already. I know it may be rather rude but if you can just drop them in the attic and pull the door closed that would be great. The door will lock itself when you pull it to.” Having worked several years in a major city Pink was a little taken aback by this open rural trust, particularly after the burglary but she was obviously trusted. Secondly it may just help in reducing some of her fears so she agreed. Katharine, made her farewells and left leaving the front door wide open. Pink opened the tailgate of the Astra and grabbed the first box of papers. She took them up to the attic and then returned to the car for the second box. She grabbed the box and lifted it out of the back of the car. This one was much heavier and by the time she was halfway to the door she realised she may just drop it. The box was too heavy to the front and she began to struggle. Suddenly the balance of the box returned. “Here. You look like you’re struggling. Let me help you with that.” Jane Hamilton took the other side of the box and walked with Pink toward the door. “That’s very kind of you” said Pink. If you just drop it here I can get it up to the attic myself.” “That’s ok.” replied Jane. “You don’t want to fight with this up stairs. Let me help you”. Before she knew what was happening Pink found herself in the house with an unknown lady going up to the attic with a box of a papers. She wasn’t concerned for herself but was worried what Mrs Winter might think if she suddenly came back.
Winter walked into the front counter and was greeted by the unusual sight of a police officer on the desk. Crazymom took down his name and asked him to take a seat whilst she informed Supt Payne of his arrival. Winter couldn’t sit down. He was too wound up now. He reached into his pocket, grabbed a Haribo and took out his wrath on a jelly shape.
Pink and Jane got up to the attic and dropped the box down on the bare floorboards. Jane looked around. “This is a dusty space isn’t it” she remarked. “If you don’t mind me asking what are all these documents?” Pink was reluctant to give any detail. “They are just miscellaneous documents relating to the property. Nothing unique really.” Jane could detect evasion at first sight. “How odd” she said. “What would the police want with property documents? Pink didn’t know why but she suddenely felt under pressure. “I think it’s time we left.” Jane apologised, “You’re right. I’m sorry. It’s got nothing to do with me I’m just nosey.” Pink escorted her out of the house. “Thank you for your help. It was very kind of you”. At that she left Jane on the footpath and returned to the house. Something made her want to go back and check that everything in the attic was as it should be before she left.
Jane stood on the footpath thinking. The officer was not giving much away. That was what cops were like universally but there was something nagging at her. She turned and stepped back toward the village and casually glanced into the police panda as she passed by. On top of a clip board that looked like it contained speeding tickets was a small piece of notepaper. She read the words “Les Trois Cles” and immediately identified the same key logo. Committing the name to memory she continued back towards The Bull.
Pink climbed the final steps back into the attic. She was now out of breath and reminded herself that she needed to sort out a gym membership. The attic space was very dusty and sunlight now streamed in through one velux type window catching particles of dust dancing in its brightness. The ceiling went up to the ridge and the space, with the addition of some more windows would make a sizeable room. Toward the far end of the room was the chimney breast rising up from the lounge, through the master bedroom and on to the chimney top. The brick work was bare and cobwebs heavy with dust long since abandoned by spiders draped across the rough surface. In the far corner was an old rocking chair. Her historic interests took her imagination and she began to imagine the room 200 years ago. She saw a lady gently nursing a baby in the rocking chair and a large wooden toy chest in the corner. The chimney breast was open with a small fireplace. As this thought crossed her mind she pulled herself up short and stared intently at the chimney breast. The breast was actually deeper than it should be if was just a flue. It looked like a fireplace should be there and then she saw it. There was a slight change of colour of the bricks around the base stretching up about six rows and the mortar looked lighter than elsewhere.
Pink walked across to the chimney breast and crouched down for a closer look. Placing her hand on the brickwork caused a small piece of mortar to crumble away. She gently pushed a brick and it gave to her pressure easily. Her heart was in her mouth. She shouldn’t be here now let alone poking holes in Mrs Winters chimney breast. The temptation was beyond endurance though and her curiosity got the better of her. She shoved just a little harder and the brick and all it’s adjoining ones gave way. The pushed one disappeared into the black hole behind the wall and the others fell out onto the wooden floor. She panicked. “How are you going to explain this Pink” she said to herself.
She pulled the LED torch off her body armour and shone it into the hole. The missing bricks revealed an old hearth. She reached in and pulled the loose brick out. Something caught her eye at the back of the hearth. She had to get on her hands and knees to reach in far enough and grasped at the item. Her fingers found purchase and she gingerly pulled it out. A well filled envelope was her prize. The paper had faded to a deep yellow and was covered in dust and soot. She blew it from the surface and read the writing on the front.
A Lemon Nursery
The desire to simply open the envelope was strong but she resisted the urge, tidied up the debris of her actions and withdrew downstairs with the envelope. She placed a call to Katharine Winter using telephony on her digital radio. She thought honesty the best policy and told her what had happened. She agreed to leave the letter on the dining room table and would call back to see her at 3pm. At that she pulled the front door to, checked it had locked and climbed into the panda.
The search teams were experienced officers and carried out a meticulous search of Doug’s caravan. It was almost like a military barrack room. Everything had a place and everything was in its place. Nothing untoward had been found. The search of the saw mill was still ongoing as it was a much larger building. So far nothing had been found that would assist with the investigation. DS Bruce arrived mid morning and met with Insp Guilfoyle for an on scene update. “Any more news Gov?” he asked. “Nothing Bruce. The search team in the saw mill needs another 30 minutes or so and they will be complete. The place is used but it’s not a full commercial business. I think a lot of the timber here ends up on the Calder Estate as fencing or firewood. Otherwise it all seems quite clean.” DS Bruce stood with hands in his pockets and looked up into the canopy created by the trees. Yet again he had that feeling that something was missing but couldn’t quite put his finger on what. In the meantime his PACE clock for Doug Beattie was continually ticking down. “Have you run the dog through Sir?” he asked. “Yes. The dog went in first with Daz. Nothing found at all. He’s hung around in case he’s needed but I suspect the dog will stay in the van for the rest of this search” replied Guilfoyle.
After another forty minutes the search was completed and Insp Guilfoyle released the teams back to division. The forest suddenly took on a quieter feel as the vans disappeard down the bumpy track to the lane. “That’s it Bruce. Nothing else I can do for you today.” Bruce began to ponder his next move but first of all he needed to get back to the police station and work out a plan of action for further interview with Beattie. He thanked the Inspector and headed off.
The final two vehicles remaining at the saw mill were Insp Guilfoyle’s and van driven by Daz the dog handler. Simon wandered over. “Are you still here Darren?” Daz shrugged. “I thought I’d hang around. Once everyone has gone it’s a good opportunity to exercise Kip in the forest. I can do some work with her before returning to division.” The Inspector had always fancied being a dog handler when younger in service but the opportunity had never presented itself at the right time. “Go ahead Darren. Make the most of it. I’m off.” At that Simon walked back to his car and followed in the wake of those already gone.
The forest descended into silence with the sound of the wind in the treetops the only discernible noise. Darren walked to the van and Kip began to bark excitedly. “Come on mate. Time for a run.” He let Kip out and walked across the open area and picked up a path. Kip had been cooped up for some time so he gave her a free reign for now and let her run. The path was a narrow affair and often it was difficult to determine exactly which way it went but Daz followed a trail that led him right around the lake and then back toward the saw mill. It wasn’t in sight yet but he knew he had almost come full circle. The path here was massively overgrown with ferns. The pathway would be clear enough if not for the ferns that had grown over it making it difficult to pick out. Kip was now just behind his feet happy to allow Daz to forge the path and she would follow. The ferns suddenly stopped and the track became markedely clearer. Daz glanced at his watch. He’d been an hour walking and it really was time he got back to division. “Come on Pal. We’d better get back.” He headed off a few steps but realised Kip wasn’t following. He turned and she was stood still with her nose in the air. She had the scent of something but it was probably a fox or a rabbit. “Come on Kip. Time to go”. Kip broke to her right through the ferns, put her nose down and began a track. Daz decided to let her run with it. “Go on girl. Where is it? What have you got? Where is it.. where is it? Kip walked slowly and then suddenly burst into a run and was off. Daz struggled to keep up with her but continued to shout encouragement. Then as quickly as she had set of she stopped. She picked on an area and began circling it sniffing all the time. Daz couldn’t see anything obvious but Kip was onto something. What he didn’t know. Kip then stopped stone still and began barking at a bunch of undergrowth. Daz walked over and stood alongside her. “There’s nothing there mate. Come on. Time to go”. Kip however continued to bark and so he crouched down and put his arm over her. “What is it mate? What’ve you got?” He looked in the same direction but could see nothing until his attention was drawn to a fern branch that was broken and looked like it had been stood on. It could have been caused by anything but it made him look closer.
As he did he noticed the debris of needles and twigs on the floor looked manufactured somehow. The needles and mould beneath his feet engendered a spongy feel to the earth but he scraped it away and the ground beneath was solid. Reaching forward he gently brushed away some of the pine needles and twigs. The earth looked softer and some distinct lines could be seen as though the earth had been pressed down. He dug his fingers into the ground and it was soft and easy to turn through his fingers. Kip stood by his side and was now barking incessantly. He knew they were on to something. He stood up and placed a direct radio to radio call to Inspector Guilfoyle. “Gov. I think Kip has found something. I’m not sure what but I think you should come back now and bring some spades with you.”
To be continued…………
This post is fiction but the characters are people I follow on Twitter and by referencing to them I recommend (#FF) them to you. The story is just a different way of #FF’ing that gives me some pleasure. The personalities of my Twitter characters portrayed in this tale are hypothetical and in no way reflect their true professionalism and personal qualities.. it’s meant to be fun.