Authors: Denzil Meyrick
Tags: #Fiction, #Mystery & Detective, #General, #Crime
‘Are there many lobster boats there?’
‘Ach, nooadays only six or so. Used tae be a lot mair, aye, an’ scallop boats too, but that trade’s dead now after the ban. The scallops got infected by sewage. Well, they said they were. If you ask me there was nathin’ wrong wi’ them. That was my trade, Inspector, scallop fisherman.’
Fraser was frowning, ‘I know the fishermen out there, sir, and they don’t miss much.’
Daley ran his hand through his close-cropped dark hair. It looked very much as though the body had been dumped
in the bay, rather than being washed up there; then there was the restraint mark around the ankle of the victim. ‘I take it you have a record of which vessels moor here, Mr Flynn?’
‘Of course, Inspector.’ Flynn appeared suddenly on the defensive. ‘I make sure my books are meticulous.’ He looked at Daley and Fraser in turn; the latter had his eyebrow raised at this sudden rush of self-justification. ‘Sorry, chaps.’ He laughed, eyes downcast. ‘A bit of a touchy subject, actually. That’s what did for my predecessor, y’see. The place was a shambles when I arrived here.’
Daley looked around, unintentionally making his thoughts clear.
‘I know it’s untidy, Mr Daley, but I know where everything is.’ He reached under a pile of papers on the bureau and pulled out a heavy leatherbound ledger that looked as antiquated as the furniture. ‘Everything is here. I’ve no’ had time tae put it on the machine yet, but all the information is up to date. I even log the fishing boats in and out these days. No need to really, since they’re moored here permanently, but, well, there’s so few of them now.’
‘So it’s only visiting boats you would normally register?’ Daley hoped he was wrong.
‘Nah, nah, Inspector, that used tae be the case, but, you know, we’re no’ all that busy just noo, so I like to keep myself goin’, in case somebody takes it intae their mind that I’m no’ required, if ye get my drift.’ He laughed nervously.
‘What about the yachts over there?’ Daley pointed at some pleasure vessels moored at a wooden pontoon. There were three small sailboats and a couple of expensive-looking cabin cruisers.
‘No, Inspector, they’re no’ my responsibility. Well, unless somebody breaks the harbour rules, or in some kind of emergency. It’s owned and run by a private company – Newell Enterprises. James Newell’s the main man.’
‘Where can I find him?’ Daley took out his notebook, prompting Fraser to do the same.
‘Aye, as well as running the pontoon, he has wan o’ these big RIBs.’
‘RIBs? What’s that?’ Daley’s lack of nautical knowledge was beginning to show.
‘Rigid Inflatable Boat, sir.’ Fraser’s time in Kinloch had not been wasted, ‘Big powerful boats – they go like f—’ He managed to stop himself.
‘He takes passengers on trips, Mr Daley.’ Flynn filled the gap. ‘He’s away on a trip tae Ballycastle with a party o’ tourists. He always lets me know his plans – for safety, you understand. He’s a nice big bloke. Used tae be a captain in the Royal Navy. A wee bit hoity-toity sometimes, but sure, we all have our faults.’
Daley looked out the window. ‘When is he due back? I’d like to have a word with him.’
‘No’ until tomorrow. They’re staying overnight.’
Not to be outdone, Flynn brought his own notebook out of a breast pocket in his shirt. ‘Let me see. Aye, due back about two tomorrow. I’ve got his mobile number here if that’s of any help?’
‘Yes, please. Take a note, will you, Constable.’
Fraser jotted the number down in his notebook.
‘Well, thanks, Mr Flynn, you’ve given us a lot to think about.’ Daley held out his hand. ‘I trust you’ll keep our discussions to yourself for the time being – not add to the rumours,
eh?’ He smiled at Flynn, who was now shaking his hand enthusiastically.
‘Just so, just so, Inspector. And mind, if you need anything else, just gie me a shout. I’m here all day, and half the night sometimes as well,’ he said, somewhat ruefully. The harbour master led them out of the office and to the exit. As he again shook Daley’s hand, he looked around to see who could be watching.
Noting Flynn’s apparent unease, Daley nodded towards the Jaguar. ‘Who belongs to this wonderful beast?’
Flynn looked embarrassed. ‘Well, me, actually, just a little indulgence. I’m sure you treat yourself now and again, Inspector?’
‘A treat for me is a good malt, I’m afraid I couldn’t stretch to anything like this. It must be, what’ – he looked along the lines of the car – ‘best part of sixty grand?’
Flynn laughed awkwardly. ‘Oh no, Inspector, that is to say, I got a good deal on it. I sold my scallop boat when I got this job. A treat, as I said.’
The thought crossed Daley’s mind that this was, indeed, a guilty pleasure, judging by Flynn’s discomfort. His thoughts were dragged away from the car when his phone rang, and he made his excuses and walked to the side of the pier to take the call.
‘Hi, darling.’ It was Liz. ‘You’re a hard man to get a hold of.’
‘Sorry, I’ve been a bit . . .’ As usual she cut him short.
‘Listen, I’ve got some hot news.’ She was clearly in a bar or restaurant; he could hear the chink of glasses and the animated conversation of people consuming alcohol. He had learned to beware of his wife’s idea of ‘hot news’, so he listened with no little trepidation. ‘Mark has had a brainwave.’
‘His company has just bought a helicopter, and he has the use of it if they’re not ferrying clients about. Apparently there’s a gorgeous golf course down there. So, to cut a long story short, I’m coming to visit you in Mark’s chopper, while he plays boring old golf.’
‘Mark’s chopper’ had elicited a guffaw in the background. ‘Well, it’ll be nice to see you. I’ve got a lot on though . . .’
‘Never mind that, darling. I’m sure we’ll find some time . . .’ There was an exaggerated ‘oooh’ from those listening in. ‘Anyway, got to dash. We’ll be down at about lunchtime tomorrow. Bye, love.’ With that, the sound of nothing from his mobile, which he was well used to.
Daley felt as though he was being watched, and turned to look down the pier. Standing apart from a group of fishermen, Hamish was staring straight at him. The old man nodded his head and gave Daley a stage wink.
Daley was silent as he and Fraser walked back up Main Street. That this investigation was puzzling, there was no doubt. He was also well outside his comfort zone in terms of the location of the case, which surprised him; he had not considered just how different an investigation could be this far away from Glasgow.
His mind turned to his wayward wife. Why was she coming all the way from Granton to Kinloch? He felt sure that all this had been Mark’s suggestion. What better than spending a weekend winding up the man he saw as a worthless civil servant, a poorly paid lackey barely worth his consideration? He was grim-faced as he caught sight of his paunch reflected in a shop window and involuntarily pulled his stomach in.
‘Any ideas, sir?’ Fraser was looking as bemused as Daley felt.
‘No. Well, yes and no really. My theory is that our victim was murdered elsewhere, then, for whatever reason, her body was taken to the bay and dumped. Either that, or we are dealing with a truly remarkable suicide.’ He smiled wanly at Fraser to indicate that, yes, he was joking.
Inspector MacLeod was getting into a car as they walked to the rear door of the office. On seeing Daley and Fraser, he
ducked back out of the car and stood at the open door, his hand resting on the frame. ‘Your man has been on from the Glasgow mortuary. You’ve to phone him as soon as possible.’ With that, he got into the car, started the engine and pulled off, taking care not to look at the two CID officers as he passed.
‘I take it that’s your boss being civil? Well, he can stick his attitude up his arse.’ Daley waited as Fraser punched in the security code to the entry system. He was tired and hungry, and he sincerely hoped that Crichton had not uncovered yet more mystifying post-mortem data.
He settled in his glass box, picked up his phone and pressed 2# to enter his voicemail – at least this method was standard all over the force. He heard Crichton’s familiar tones, hung up, then dialled the pathologist’s direct number. It was six thirty, but Daley knew that when Crichton was working on a case, he might as well throw his watch away. He was dedicated above and beyond the call of duty.
Daley was just about to hang up, when a breathless Crichton answered. ‘Dear God, I swear they’re making that corridor longer. Give me a couple of seconds, Jim.’ Daley heard the clunk of the phone being put down on Crichton’s desk, then the rustling of papers mixed with the sighs and breathless oaths of the pathologist. ‘Now, Jim, here we are . . . Your victim from lovely Kinloch, she had sex with two different men prior to her death.’
‘Aye, you said as much last night, Andrew. I thought you had something new. Probably just as well you haven’t, this investigation’s going to be a bastard as it is. Do you have a DNA profile of the two semen samples?’
‘Three semen samples, Jim.’
‘You said two, Andy. My memory’s not that bad.’
‘I said she had sex with two men prior to death. A third man had sex with her post mortem.’
There was a brief silence as Daley processed this new information. ‘Necrophilia? Are you absolutely sure, Andrew?’
‘Afraid so, Jim. We have highly accurate tests for that sort of thing now. Fascinating, yet macabre at the same time. None of the samples match in terms of DNA, to answer your question.’
‘So we’re talking about three separate men, right?’
‘Yes. The first two within a relatively short space of time – maybe even at the same time – and our third man some eight or nine hours later. Most unusual.’ After a few moments of mutual reflection, Crichton spoke again. ‘I’ll send the DNA profiles to the database, of course. You should get a match, if there is one, early tomorrow.’
‘This is a strange one, Andy. A victim, no missing persons, no suspects, and now necrophilia. Anything more on that mark on her ankle?’
‘Only that it was made by some rough type of plastic – like that stuff they wrap parcels in these days, but much thicker.’
Daley finished his call with the pathologist. He knew that the possibility of getting a DNA match from the semen samples with someone already on the database was remote. Right now though, it was his only hard lead. The grinding process of checks would continue through the night. A young PC was settling down to check the footage from all the CCTV cameras operational in the town in the forty-eight hour period prior to the victim’s estimated time of death. She had contacted all the neighbouring
police forces, including the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the coastline of County Antrim being less than twenty miles from where the body had been found. So far, no response.
Daley took his mobile from the inside pocket of his jacket. Within seconds the familiar sound of DS Scott coughing loudly could be heard on the other end of the phone. ‘What a way to greet your superior. You sound as though you’re on your way out, Brian.’
‘Aye, a happy Christmas tae you too. Should you no’ be stripping the willow, or whitever they get up tae in Teuchterland?’
Daley smiled. He was tired, hungry and perplexed, but he was realising what a tight team he and Scott had become. He had forgotten all the things his DS would have attended to as a matter of course, until today when he himself had had to make sure all the bases were covered. ‘I thought you’d be pleased, a trip to the country at this time of year. Just the thing.’
‘No’ when you’ve tae listen tae all the pish I’ve had tae pit up wi’ today. First His Majesty giein’ me the pep talk aboot representin’ the division. Noo my dear lady bendin’ my nut wi’ how much she’ll miss me, an’ how will she manage tae get the shoppin’? Blah blah blah.’ Scott told Daley to hang on; muffled oaths were audible as he imparted some more wisdom to his long-suffering wife. ‘Sorry aboot that. She’s burst intae tears noo. Ye’d think I wiz headin’ off tae Afghanistan. Will you shut up, woman, I’m talkin’ tae Jim.’
Daley heard Mrs Scott shouting hello as though there was nothing amiss. ‘Have you managed to read the PM report, Brian?’
‘Aye, in between a’ the shit. Some right goings-on doon there. Lucky I’m comin’ doon tae watch yer back.’
‘Wait till you meet Inspector MacLeod – he’s a cracker.’
‘Oh, I’ve got something for you from on high. I’ll gie ye it tomorrow when I get there. Who dae ye want me tae bring? They’re all on standby, as ye can imagine.’
Daley thought for a moment. Thinking was getting difficult, so he left the choice of personnel to his sergeant.
‘How long dae ye think it’ll take me tae get there in a minibus, Jim?’
‘Well, hang on.’ Daley swivelled around in his chair to consult a large map on the wall behind him. ‘Seems as though you’re going a long way for a short cut, as you’ve got to go north before you head back south towards us. One of the lads here said it takes about three hours by car, so I’d guess it’ll take you more like four.’
‘Aye, OK. Whit’s this hotel like?’
Daley looked at his watch. Time seemed to fly here. All he’d eaten were a few sandwiches, and a truly dreadful Cup-a-Soup from the office vending machine. ‘I’ll tell you when I get there. What time are you leaving tomorrow?’
Scott coughed loudly again, regained his composure, then answered, ‘No’ before six, so I’ll see you aboot half ten. Fuck me, it’s like the voyage o’ the damned.’ After more deeply held opinions about rural Scotland from the DS, and a brief mention of the A4 envelope Scott had been given by Superintendent Donald to pass on to Daley, they ended the call.
Daley went to the toilet. He looked at himself in the mirror as he dried his hands under the inefficient dryer. He was getting grey at the temples, and the flesh under his chin
was getting loose. He was turning into his father. At forty-three. How was that happening? He unbuttoned his trousers, able to exhale properly for the first time in hours. After smoothing creases from his shirt-tail, he pulled the trousers back up and buttoned them again with a sigh. He wasn’t getting any thinner, despite the paucity of his lunch. Looking at himself side-on in the large mirror, he let his stomach relax again. A large paunch showed over the waist of his trousers. He yawned, as the hunger and fatigue of the day began to take their toll.