Wednesday 15 – Thursday 16 March 2017
‘The door was locked from the inside.’
‘Yes, Anderson, I’m aware that the door was locked from the inside. What else did you notice when you discovered the body?’
‘Well, Detective Chief Inspector Fraser, I don’t think I really noticed anything else.’
‘So, you broke your way into the room, discovered the room was locked from the inside, found Benjamin Rowe’s body, and that was it?’
‘That sounds about right, DCI Fraser.’
‘You’re a police constable, Anderson. What did you learn during basic training?’
‘Well, sir, I wasn’t expecting to find a dead body so it sort of threw me.’
Jack Fraser massaged his brow in the hope it would dull the headache that was brewing from dealing with PC Anderson. He scrutinised Anderson through squinted eyes, and shook his pounding head at the stupidity of the young PC.
‘Basic training, Anderson, basic training. Observe the environment and people around you. Don’t be blinkered. Don’t just look at the victim. What if the doer had still been in the room? You’d have been knocked unconscious or, worse still, killed because you had no idea what else was going on in that room. And then I’d been doing the death knock on your parents’ door. How’d you think that would make them feel? How’d you think it’d make me feel? Use your bloody brain, son.’
‘Yes, sir. Sorry, sir. Won’t happen again, sir.’
‘It’d better bloody not, Anderson, because if it does, I’ll write you up for your stupidity.’ Jack went back to massaging his brow. ‘Get back to your report. I want it on my desk before you go home today.’
Anderson beat a hasty retreat out of Fraser’s office, leaving the DCI to combat his headache.
‘What the hell did you say to that PC, Jack?’
‘I asked you what you said to that PC? He’s legged it downstairs faster than I’ve seen a PC move in years, and he looked like he was crying.’ Ali Corbyn walked into Fraser’s office, and sat herself on the couch against the far wall. She groaned as she stretched her legs out in front of her. ‘Too much beat work today. My feet and legs are killing me.’
‘My head’s killing me.’ Fraser joined his work partner on the couch. ‘Anderson, that PC you were asking about, he walked into a scene today without even checking it. So focussed on the victim, he didn’t check the room for suspects or perpetrators or whatever we’re calling them today. He could’ve ended up dead like the victim.’
‘Could have, but didn’t. You had any of your pills?’ She looked at Fraser with his head in his hands and patted him gently on the back.
‘No, none left. Haven’t had time to get my prescription filled.’
‘You want some of my painkillers? I’ve got some good ones in my desk. Left over from when that scrote Norton kicked the shit out of me.’
Fraser sighed, and lifted his head from his hands. ‘Actually, yeah, if you wouldn’t mind. Don’t think I can get through the rest of the day if I don’t have something.’
Ali groaned as she got to her aching feet, and wandered to her desk to retrieve the pills.
Jack stretched back against the softness of the couch. He carefully leaned his head on to his left shoulder and then on to his right, stretching out the cricks that had been making him tense up all day. He knew it wasn’t helping that he was sleeping on the couch at home, but with Hannah lead prosecuting QC on the biggest case in organised crime in the last ten years, it was a small sacrifice for him to make for her to have uninterrupted sleep each night. He’d woken himself up by snoring loudly on more than one occasion, so he understood Hannah’s need for him to sleep elsewhere for a while.
‘Thanks, Ali,’ he whispered, holding out his hand to receive the box of pills she’d brought him.
‘No more than eight a day. They’re highly addictive.’ She watched him struggle to open the box, and then fight with the blister pack to pop out two of the white caplets. When he’d wrestled two painkillers from the pack, she handed him the unopened bottle of water that he kept on his desk in the event he needed to wash the rancid office coffee from his taste buds. He broke the seal, tossed the pills in his mouth and guzzled some of the water.
‘And you know they’re highly addictive because?’ he teased.
‘Because it says so on the box, and my doctor told me so.’
‘And how many do you have every day?’
‘No more than I need. Some days, none.’
‘Do I need to be concerned? Have you drug tested?’
‘You can if you want, but I’ve got a prescription for my drugs. The ones that you’ve just taken. So . . . if I get drug tested, I might just have to mention that I’ve seen you having my painkillers too.’ She smirked. She knew he’d take her banter in jest as she’d intended, just the way he’d intended his accusation to be taken.
One of the benefits of having worked together for two months shy of twenty years meant that Jack and Ali knew each other well. Progressing through the ranks as partners, the DCI and Detective Sergeant chose to continue working together when they’d been given the option of new partners. With the exception of leave entitlements, Jack and Ali had spent more of their daily adult lives with each other than they spent with their spouses. Another benefit of their working relationship saw them foregoing small talk where other colleagues and friends needed it to fill the silences of conversation.
‘So, what’s with your victim?’
‘Don’t know yet. Waiting for all the relevant reports to come in. Tweedledee and Tweedledum out there are doing background on him, plus all the necessaries. Uniforms are doing door to door as we speak. Somewhere someone must know Benjamin Rowe, must know what happened to him, or who had it in for him.’
‘Any chance it was self-inflicted?’
‘Nope. Well . . . not unless he rammed his own head into the brick mantle of the fireplace. And the door was locked from the inside.’
Ali screwed up her nose the way she always did when something puzzled her.
‘What are you thinking, Ali?’
‘Access through windows? Any crawl spaces from one room to another? Any other ways or means of entry?’
Fraser shook his head. ‘Nope.’
‘We have an enigma then. How did –’
‘Thank you. How did Benjamin Rowe die, how was he murdered from behind a locked door?’
Fraser snickered. ‘You know who we need, don’t you?’
Ali grinned. ‘Yep.’
‘Monsieur Poirot and Miss Marple,’ they said with synchronised sarcasm.
Fraser looked towards the door. Detective Constable Mark Pendleton raced through, police notebook in hand, pages waving back and forth as he moved.
‘What is it, Tweedledee? Fraser snipped.
‘For starters, and for the millionth time, please stop calling me that. And secondly, you’re not going to believe what we’ve just found out about Benjamin Rowe.’
. . . To be continued . . .