Sunday 29 – Monday 30 April 2018
Lucas Gates wandered around the incident room mulling over all of the possible scenarios that could have ended with Harry Miller lost overboard in wild water. It was days like this that left him wondering why he’d ever chosen to become a police officer, and why he’d bothered climbing the ranks to make detective. He stopped in front of the whiteboard that was covered in photographs, and lines linking suspects to the victim, places to people, times to locations. The amount of information was, quite frankly, underwhelming. He wasn’t sure what he expected when he opened the case of Harry Miller’s disappearance and suspected death, but he had thought they’d have more information to go on.
‘Bloody shithouse when someone goes into the water, isn’t it, boss?’
Gates turned towards the incident room door and watched Amy Turner shuffle into the room carrying two trays of takeaway coffees.
‘Yep. Which one’s mine?’ He pointed to the trays. Turner tapped one of the cups, and Gates stepped forward and relieved her of it.
‘Careful. Hot,’ she remarked as he brought the cup to his lips. He raised his eyebrows in acknowledgement, and cautiously sipped the beverage. After considering the information once more, Gates pushed Turner for a suspect.
‘So . . . what do you think? What happened and who did it?’
Turner set the trays down on her desk as she passed it. She stood in front of the whiteboard and examined each photograph carefully, then shook her head.
‘I normally get a feeling about these things, boss, but this time . . .’
‘Me too,’ he replied. ‘Where do we go from here then? Who do we focus on first?’
‘Well,’ Turner sipped her coffee, ‘I’m wondering why the friend was on this trip with them. Bit sort of dodgy, isn’t it? Taking your best mate on a trip with you and your wife?’
‘No, I don’t think it’s that dodgy. Maybe boring for the wife because the husband would be hanging out with his mate the whole time.’ Gates stepped closer to the whiteboard and analysed the photograph of Steven Benson. ‘Does he look shifty to you? What’s your women’s intuition tell you about this bloke?’
Amy joined him at the photograph. ‘He’s a bit good looking.’
‘Good looking? I ask your professional opinion about this bloke, and you tell me he’s a bit good looking. What the hell is that?’ Gates’ tone was more mocking than questioning.
‘Well, it could go either way here.’
‘What the fuck are you on about, Turner?’ He refrained from breaking into a fit of laughter.
‘Depends what school of thought you’re from. Some people think that fewer crimes are committed by good looking people. Others think that good looking people are more likely to commit weird crimes, like horrible ones.’
Gates’ expression told her she’d lost him on this idea.
‘Think about it – how many good-looking criminals have you ever arrested compared with how many ugly bastards have committed crimes? That’s the first one. The second line of thinking goes like this – Ted Bundy, notorious serial killer, was a pretty bloody handsome guy, and that’s how he managed to con so many women into thinking he was harmless. After all, good looking guys don’t commit heinous crimes because they get all the women they want.’
Gates burst into laughter, and tears rolled down his cheeks.
‘Oh, shut up,’ Turner replied and slapped him on the shoulder. He was still in fits of laughter as the other members of his team filed in through the door. Turner gestured to the cups of coffee on her desk before anyone could enquire what was going on. Finally, Gates straightened himself out and assigned their tasks for the morning, leaving Turner waiting for her job.
‘Turner, you and I are going to reinterview Benson first up. Let’s see if his good looks can get him out of anything.’
* * * * *
It was not like you saw in the movies or television shows. The interrogation room was bright and far less hostile a location than TV producers would have had Steven think. A little on the whiffy side, but certainly nothing to be frightened of, the relatively spacious room was large enough for Steven to walk around a few times to stretch his legs. Gates and his sidekick were making him wait. That much he would credit TV and film for getting right. Clearly, they hoped to get him on the back foot, edge him towards making a mistake and confessing to Harry’s murder, and stress him out enough to make him uncomfortable and question his own version of events.
When he heard Gates and the female detective whose name he couldn’t remember speaking outside, Steven glanced at the door and waited for them to enter the room. He was aware they’d been in an adjoining room, watching him on the closed-circuit TV, waiting for him to give something away. He wondered if his pacing made him appear suspicious. Gates was the first to enter.
‘Good morning, Mr. Benson. Thanks so much for coming in. You remember my colleague, Detective Turner.’
She nodded in Benson’s direction. He reciprocated with a nod and a smile. Gates continued speaking.
‘We just have a few things we want to go back over with you. See if we can’t put this sad situation to rest for you and Mrs. Miller sooner rather than later.’ Gates and Turner took their seats opposite Steven.
From her jacket pocket, Turner pulled an empty pill bottle and placed it directly in front of Steven. The glass bottle made a considerable noise against the metal table, startling Steven.
‘Do you want to tell us what this is, Mr. Benson? We found it in the galley of the Lady Windermere when we search the vessel.’
Steven hadn’t played this scenario out in his head. He’d assumed that Claire had dumped the bottle overboard with Harry. Shit, he thought, we could be fucked here.
. . . To be continued . . .