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The Unemployed Detective.
Damn, no milk. I wanted to check the fridge again, but I doubted staring mindlessly into a freezing press would magically summon just enough milk for my cup of tea.
I grabbed my house coat, slipped my bare feet into a pair of trainers at my front door, and scurried across the hall with a small jug to my neighbor’s hall door. I was prepared to beg. A loud bang came from the other side of the thin wooden door just as I was about to knock and my hand dropped to my side. On closer inspection I could hear muffled abuse coming from both parties. I rolled my eyes, sighed and walked across the hall back to my apartment. I checked the clock on my computer, 8:49 am. They had never fought this early.
I knew what the fight was about, what it was always about. The husband was having an affair with one of his workers, and the wife was upset he leaves for hours without telling her. I had never spoken to them a day in my life, but it was obvious. He would come home in the late hours of the night, with fading blood red lipstick stains on his cheek and neck, the buttons on his shirt would be mismatched, and he would have dry mud stains on his shoes that he would clean every night. The mud stains didn’t scream affair, but I noticed the woman he was having an affair with was getting her front garden professionally redone, and the rain Dublin had experienced over the past week was enough to turn the dirt into mud. The wife never noticed any of these things, but why would she, she was always sound asleep with the help of her prescribed sleeping tablets. I just wanted the wife to find out so he would leave and peace would be restored to the whole second floor of the apartment building.
I sat in the kitchen and listened to the radio. Tuesday’s morning headlines consisted of a drug related murder, a baby tiger born in Dublin zoo, and protests from workers at some factory who had lost their jobs. It was always the same, boring announcements. Two buzzes from my phone on the kitchen counter diverted my attention. As I read the message
‘Might need you for this one. Dun Laorighe Train station. Behave.’
I knew who it was from.
I arrived at the train station, battled my way through the luminous yellow jackets and official tape, and found my sister beside her superintendent. She nodded to her boss and before I could greet her, grabbed my elbow and turned me to face him
‘Super, I would like you to meet my sister, Nicola Watts’, her posture was suddenly straight and I was obviously expected to follow suit.
A red faced, middle aged man held out his hand for me to shake it. Typically Irish freckly skin and wispy orange hair, hidden slightly by his decorated hat.
‘Nicola, pleasure to meet you. You don’t often enlist the help of the general public but –‘.
‘Well, lucky for you I’m not the general public’, I interrupted. I wasn’t there to be treated like a disposable contributor to the case. My sister glanced at me with razor sharp eyes, and then resumed her stare at official looking papers in her hand. I assumed I was called to a murder case. Amanda knew best not to bore me with anything less than psychotic.
‘When and where?’ I asked the Super. He looked baffled, which was surprising because I thought my English was simple enough for even him.
‘When and where were they murdered?’ I asked again.
‘Erm, last night, found behind platform three. A deep laceration was discovered on his lower back and three stab wounds on his chest. I’m sorry, who told you this was a murder case?’ he finished with a stern tone, like whoever informed me was suddenly in hot water.
‘You did’ I smiled and followed a Guard to the body, leaving behind a very confused man.
It was a drizzly morning, but the deceased was sheltered under those gaudy white tents that usually followed dead bodies. Latex gloves and a white suit were shoved in my face before I entered, but I lightly pushed them aside, ignoring the looks of disgust to my rejection. If I was going to solve a murder I certainly didn’t need to look like a giant marsh mellow to do it. The stench that greeted me as the door unzipped was indescribable, but it was unusual even for a savaged corpse. It was foul, but there was a smoky aroma woven into the smell of rotting flesh, which obviously no one noticed.
Hunched over the body was a white suit, presumably with a person inside, scraping skin and putting the samples in a small container. Very delicate work that required much concentration.
‘How long is he dead?’ I purposely interrupted.
The white glove stopped scrapping the shoulder. I had obviously annoyed them.
‘Who let you through?’ they replied, unmoving. I recognized the voice. As they spoke I noticed a slight lisp as a result of a pool accident in Portugal which really wasn’t a big deal, mainly because I had caused it and an obviously annoyed tone because of my sudden presence, I assumed.
‘You know it’s rude to answer a question with another question’ I playfully scolded, but I sensed she wasn’t in the most playful of moods today. She remained frozen in place.
Just as I was about to deliver one of my infamous snide remarks, the plastic door flew open, followed by my sister and her super, both ridiculous white suits.
‘Amanda’, I began, ignoring Rachel ignoring me, ‘would you kindly tell me how long this gentleman is dead?’
She began ‘Our investigators think-‘
‘Know’, an interruption from behind me surprised the Super. Amanda gave a scolding glance at Rachel, but continued.
‘Know that he was not killed here, but outside IDAT, the college close by, around 1 am. He died of blood loss from the three stab wounds, but the laceration to the lower back is fresh, probably made yesterday, two days after he died.’ she finished.
I nodded and she guided me to the body to examine closer. Along with all the undesirable smells that surrounded him, alcohol was prominent. He was slightly overweight, wearing an expensive looking suit, and firmly clutching a black leather brief case.
Analysis so far: Married, indoor office worker, heavy drinker, frequent gambler judging by the betting slips falling out of his trouser pocket, and most likely no children.
I went to reach for the briefcase when a hand grabbed my wrist.
‘Sorry, that belongs to the investigation unit. Hands off’ Rachel’s tone was soaked in pleasure, pleasure from the fact she had authority, not over me, but over the briefcase I wanted.
I forcefully pulled my hand from her grip, and found my sister outside again, this time with another sergeant.
‘If you want me to help you, you will really have to get me more access’ I whispered.
‘Why don’t I give you a lift home?’ It was directed at me, but she remained transfixed on the male Sergeant in front. She smiled at her college and said goodbye. On our way over to the Garda car, her grip on my elbow was growing increasingly tighter.
‘It will be a challenge, but I think I can manage it from here to the car on my own’ my tone soaked in sarcasm. She looked behind, checking to coast to make sure it was clear for something she was about to tell me. I automatically moved closer.
‘You need to swear to me that whatever you've seen today does not leave the crime scene’ she whispered, pointlessly, because there was no one behind us to hear. I nodded, and waited for the other important thing she was to tell me.
‘Swear?’ she repeated the word louder.
‘Yes, yes, I swear. Now tell me what you are really whispering for before you forget. You have a tendency to do that.’
She forced a sarcastic laugh, then resumed her seriousness.
‘I can get you the briefcase, if you really think it will help’.
I was surprised that a law abider would bend the rules for her border line psychotic sister.