Anticipation

27a6794966c189574c2feca8f5f781a7

“Getting a birds-eye view is unusual for me. I’m usually talking to a specific person, even if I don’t know who that person is,” I said.

“Unusual, is right!” said the detective with a mustard stain on his well-worn suit.

“If you don’t have anything intelligent to add Detective Johnson, then shut it,” said the Inspector in charge of the investigation.

I hadn’t worked with her before, and I was surprised to be asked.

From what I could ‘see’, she was driven, recently separated and was hopeful of having children. All of that was true for now, but over time, some would turn out to be accurate, and some would not, only time would tell.

My eyes told me that she was about five foot five, stylishly dressed, heals, no earrings (but her ears were pierced), trim with wide hips and a commanding personality. She didn’t have to raise her voice to achieve authority.

“This is a first for her,” said the female detective who’d led me to the squad room, “don’t fuck it up.”


Requests for my services had been constant but sporadic. I gave my time when I could, and the cynical attitude of some of the force was tiring.

My favourite contact is a lowly sergeant in homicide. He’s worked his way up through the Tactical Response Group. His abilities are as good as mine, but he sometimes likes to have a second opinion.

I asked him once about the dangers he faces, especially in the Tactical Group.

“I listen when I get the feeling that it might be terminal if I go down that alley alone. They look after me.”

I was getting nervous, but I ploughed on.
“From what I can see, it’s night time. There is some sort of orange light coming from my right as I look at the scene. The body is lying on the ground, and a man is standing next to it. The ground is free of vegetation, but I can see small trees a few metres away. There is evidence of a stream off to the right. I don’t think the standing person is the assailant. He can’t take his eyes off the body, but he doesn’t touch it. He’s lightly dressed. Too lightly dressed — it’s cold out there. The victim doesn’t look like someone who has fallen or been pushed. She looks like she’s sleeping. The young man is unsure whether to wake her. Does any of this make sense?” I said.

Silence.

I look at the Inspector, and I can tell she is trying to figure out how I know these things. This happens every time. Inevitably, I’ll be asked where I was on the night of the fourteenth — it never fails. 

There are only two ways I could know these things — either I really can ‘see things’, or I did it. 

It’s why I almost stopped being involved in homicide.

“Yes, it does. Very helpful,” said the Inspector.

Several of the detectives had been taking notes as I spoke.

“This is all complete bollocks,” said Detective Johnson.

The Inspector turned in his direction, and I put my hand out and stepped slightly in front of her.

“Detective Johnson. Is that your name?” I said without waiting for a reply.

“You are still married, but only just. Your wife used to iron your shirts for you, but not any more. You don’t believe in any ‘mumbo-jumbo’ as you put it (two detectives laughed) because you grew up Catholic and your faith let you down. Father Patric? Tall bloke, young and very friendly. You wince inside anytime someone uses the word faith.”

“You’re just making that stuff up. Could apply to anyone.”

As a rule, I try not to hurt anyone with the information that comes my way. This bloke was making me rethink that rule.

“Your girlfriend, —?” I noticed the young uniformed female at the back of the room stiffen in her seat, “do you want me to go on?”

Detective Johnson remained silent.

All eyes were on me as I took a step back. They were probably hoping I would complete the sentence.

“You all have your assignments. I’d like to thank Mr Page for coming in to help us,” said the Inspector. 

She turned to me, “The officer will show you out.”

I’d been dismissed.

I may find out if my information helped, but maybe not. Once you are no longer useful, you don’t have their attention — until the next time the trail goes cold.

“How did I go?” I said as we walked back to the front desk.

The young police officer put her hand out to take my security pass.

“It’s an ongoing investigation so I can’t comment,” she said without emotion.

“You don’t think he did it, do you?” I said.

The young woman looked me in the eye but did not answer.

“Your family are very proud of you. They want you to know that. They don’t want you to worry about them.”

The young woman was still looking at me, but now there was a different expression on her face.

“Thank you,” she said, and her hand touched my arm.

I knew that touch.

It’s almost involuntary in those who have caught sight, ever so briefly, of the ones they love.

I didn’t go straight home. I needed a moment.

I don’t know any of these people, alive or dead and it isn’t my job to worry about them, but they leave their mark on me. A stiff whisky and a bite to eat helps me to come back to earth.


The police officers I deal with see it as their duty to find those who kill. They don’t understand when I tell them that those who have gone won’t tell me who took their life, sometimes because they didn’t know that person when they were alive, and sometimes because it doesn’t matter to them.

The living care about death — violent and otherwise.

The dead have other concerns, but they take pity on us and share some of the details.

I stand in the middle of all that.

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune are just things I have to endure.

If you are wondering why I didn’t ask the young police officer out for a drink?

She has a boyfriend and three kids.

Not now, but in her future and he is the right one for her.

I listen when I’m told.

Another whisky and I’m off home.

No, they don’t tell me what’s in store for me, and I would not want them too.

Anticipation is half the delight.

May You Find What You Are Looking For

a TJ restoration/enhancement  http://tj.eroticillusions.com

At first glance, it looks like a friendly statement, but those who have discovered the horror of reaching their goal, finding what they are looking for, will tell you otherwise.

Humans were never meant to be happy, not in that way. We are programmed to be constantly searching for something.

Give us contentment, and we fade away — and not always gently.

And so it was with Jeff.

I never liked him much, but I doubt that it kept him awake at night.

He was the kind of bloke who was worried about fuel economy — he’d drive over you rather than around you to get where he was going.

I’d planned his demise, but I was only surmising.

Someone was a little more serious than I.

You would need a toilet roll to list all the probable suspects, and I guess I’d be on that list, somewhere.

He was found under the hood of a stolen car, parked on the verge of the main highway leading to Sydney.

It didn’t stretch anyone’s imagination to guess that it was a woman who flagged him down.

Someone had brought the hood down several times on the lecherous Jeff and left him there to be found.

As people drove by, it looked like he was working on the engine, but in reality, he had died when the force of the first blow drove the dipstick up his nose, which was a coincidence because one of the things that people called him when he was alive, was dipstick.

In his prime, Jeff might have seen it coming, but he had achieved all he set out to achieve, so his guard was down.

The crime remains unsolved — the killer wore gloves, just as a woman might do, and not attract attention.

The Friends Of Jeff, meet at the Pale Horse pub on Williams Street, once a month. Anyone who was screwed over by Jeff when he was alive is instantly admitted.

Over a beer, or two, we discuss how we were wounded by the ambition of Jeff and then later, after the amber fluid has done its work, we discuss which one of us might have done it.

Some of the more fanciful theories include the Queen who was in Melbourne at the time, but the evidence is thin on the ground — something about Jeff being responsible for the untimely death of a bunch of corgis. Possibly the SAS was involved, but I don’t think they have female SAS. Maybe one of their girlfriends helped out. 

I’m not convinced.

Of the three ancient Chinese curses,  May You Live In Interesting Times, May You Come To The Attention Of Someone In Authority, and May You Find What You Are Looking For, the last one strikes me as the most potent.

I believe that Jeff would agree with me. 

For What Seemed Like Forever

83c356eaa0f1935e3cdc66ce47a24475

“Charlie Varick? I’ve been working for him for about four years, but I don’t see what that has to do with anything.”

The question came out of nowhere, and it really pissed me off. It’s a job, what difference does it make? When I go home, I leave work at work.

“What difference does it make? He’s a fucking private eye, and he uses you as a decoy.”

“I’m his secretary, and the decoy stuff only happens every now and then. Mostly, it isn’t dangerous, and mostly I answer the phones and make appointments. Of course, there is coffee and dry cleaning, but mostly it’s answering phones.”

My parents were in town for a couple of days, and I was glad to see them; well ‘glad’ is probably too strong a word, but it was good to see them. Parents should be kept at a distance that is directionally proportional to the amount of shit they put you through as a kid. Mine weren’t that bad but using this formula they should be at least 427 kilometres away at all times.

I’m 26 years old, gorgeous and leggy with long black wavy hair that men hold on to when they are making love to me. Not that there are that many of them.

I like men, just in small doses.

Not small in the way you are thinking, just small in the sense of time I have to spend in close proximity. Charlie’s different, but he is old, at least 47 years old, and he is taken, but he treats me like I’m someone. Like I count in the grand scheme of things. I guess he is so relaxed because he is old, and old people don’t worry so much about stuff.

My dad was wound up, but I know it was my mum who put him up to it.

“We just want you to be safe; safe and happy. That’s all your mother, and I have ever wanted.”

“I know dad.” Things seemed to be calming down now that the shouting had stopped.

It was still early. Hotel restaurants tend to wind down around 9:30 pm, and it was now way past that, so we had the room to ourselves except for the girl at the bar and the waiter who was doing a little shuffle that was Morse code for ‘they don’t pay me past 10:00 pm even if you are still here drinking coffee, and I have a home to go to, and my dog misses me’.

It was a complicated dance.

My father, mother and I talked about nothing for another fifteen minutes before my dad signed the bill, and they went up to their room. I stood and watched as they walked up the staircase. My mother clung to the handrail as though it was saving her from a sinking ship. My dad negotiated the stairs easily enough because he never used elevators unless he absolutely had to.

I asked him about it once, and he said that it was his small concession to keeping fit, but I think it had more to do with the stories that his father brought home.

 

 His dad was a fireman, and he would be called out to rescue cats and people, and sometimes he was expected to free individuals who had been trapped — sometimes these people had been stuck in elevators, and he delighted in terrifying his children with stories of people who had gone insane after being stuck in an elevator for six hours.

“One bloke tried to chew his arm off, which seemed pointless to me. It wasn’t as though they had him in handcuffs — he was trapped in a lift for fuck sake. Now if he had tried to eat through the door, that I could understand, but his arm — that’s just nuts.”

I sat on the overstuffed couch in the hotel’s foyer and tried to collect my thoughts.

I still had half an hour before I was to meet Charlie at Bar Alfredo on Little Collins Street. I walked the short distance up Collins and turned left onto Exhibition. Little Collins was the first on the left, and the bar was about two hundred metres down.

This end of the street had been disrupted by building activities for nearly two years, which made it difficult to negotiate on foot, or by car. The street was already very narrow, and its name gave a hint. ‘Little’ Collins Street was originally an access road for the rear of the more significant and grander edifices on Collins Street. Deliveries would be made, and tradesmen would be admitted.

It was best to keep the grubby people out of sight.

These days the ‘Little’ streets were home to trendy bars and eateries as well as exclusive apartments and the occasional clothing shop.

The footpath on both sides is extremely narrow, and I was forced to step out onto the road to let a large, rude man pass by. He looked vaguely familiar until I remembered I had not seen him before — he was exactly how Charlie had described the man I was supposed to ‘distract’.

 “He’s big, about 40 years old, always wears a dark suit with a red handkerchief in his top pocket, and he smells like lemons. He will be sitting at the bar because he always sits at the bar. Third stool from the far end as you come in the front door.”

I had the feeling that these instructions and this description were going to go to waste.

To get to Bar Alfredo, I first had to walk past a narrow laneway and at this time of night, the laneway was in complete darkness. Being a female living in a big city, I avoided dark laneways because I wanted to go on ‘living in the big city’.

As I looked into the darkness, I saw Charlie lying in a pool of his own blood.

I say ‘saw’, but that’s not what I mean. I didn’t see him with my eyes; I saw him in a vision. The dark laneway was like a giant projector screen, and on it, I saw Charlie’s exact location, as though it were daylight.

I used my phone to light the way to the spot that I knew Charlie would be lying. He was behind some boxes with a single knife wound in the middle of his chest.

I would love to say that he lived long enough to look into my eyes and tell me who had killed him. I would like to tell you what his last words were and that he had smiled before he died, but I can’t.

He was gone by the time I got to him — warm but gone.

I sat next to him for what seemed like forever and thought about my life and wondered what Charlie thought when the large man in the dark suit took his life. I wondered what my life was going to be like from now on. I wondered if my mum and dad had gone to sleep yet.

I don’t remember ringing anyone, but I must have because an ambulance arrived closely followed by the police.

The weather was warm, so why there was so much fog? And why did my voice sound funny, and why was the police officer mumbling?

When I came to, I was sitting on the back step of an ambulance with an oxygen mask on my face. A young policeman was trying to get my attention, and the ambo wanted him to give me a break.

“Give her a minute mate; she’s had a rough night.”

The policeman ignored the world-weary ambulance driver. The brash young policeman considered civilians to be annoying. They kept passing out or screaming or generally being uncooperative. He just wanted to get a statement so he could get back on patrol. The homicide detectives would be along very soon, and they would shoo him away like an unwanted blow-fly.

“Miss? Miss? How did you know he was in that alley? Did you hear something? Did you see anyone come out of the alley?”

I was trying to decide which question to answer first when it occurred to me that this was all very strange.

“I had a vision, which was weird. I don’t normally get visions at night-time. I always get my visions in the morning.”

The police officer stopped asking me questions after that, and he and the ambo were looking at each other with the strangest expression on their faces. I don’t think that they believed me, and I wanted them too. This was a first for me.

A pair of plain-clothed detectives arrived and scooped me up heading me towards their car, but before I got in, I gave it one last try to convince my interrogator.

“I really did see him lying there, in the dark, which was weird. I always get my visions in the morning.”

It Wasn’t What He Said.

9d6624421831d29013fbf3edd65f741c

It wasn’t what he said, it was the way he looked at me.

I was used to the office pinchers, groppers, and improper suggesters, but this was different.

It’s true that he was my boss, but that didn’t explain the casual indifference in his stare. I knew he was imagining having sex with me, but there was a coldness and a ‘matter of factness’ that chilled. His eyes seemed to say, “I can have you whenever I want to, but just for now, I’ve got better things to do.”

They found his body in the supply cupboard with a quill sticking out of his eye. Since I was the only girl in the office who still used a quill, suspicion instantly fell upon me.

Plenty of people saw him go into the cupboard, but no one saw anyone come out.

The quill was definitely mine but as I pointed out to Detective Sergeant Wilson, “Anyone could have taken it from my desk, it’s always on the desk. It’s not the sort of thing that you lock away.”

“Did you have any reason to kill your employer Miss James?”

I remember thinking that this was a strange question to ask. Would a person be expected to blurt out, “Yes, I did”? Were most murderers complete morons?

I thought it best to keep it simple. “No, I didn’t. Why do you ask?”

“Because it’s my job. A man has been murdered and it’s my job to catch the person who did it. Be that a him or a her.” I rather felt that the last part of this sentence was aimed at me.

“You say ‘or her’, but would a mere woman be capable of killing a grown man?”

“If she stuck a quill in his eye, she could.”

“And that would do it. Kill him, I mean?”

He looked at me, but he didn’t answer. The silence went on for several seconds.

“I have a lot of other people to question Miss James. Please be where I can find you.”

“You know where I live and you know where I work. I’m not going anywhere.”

 

I’d gone through his desk before the police arrived.

I found nothing unusual except for a small wooden box.

It wasn’t locked and it contained a brass key unlike any I had seen before. There were strange markings on the key but no numbers or any hint as to what it unlocked.

I left the box but slipped the key into my bra. A key shaped dent in my breast was a small price to pay for keeping the only clue to the true nature of this nasty dead man.

People in the office were shocked at his death, but few people were truly sad that he was dead.

I didn’t spend much time with the other women, but it was difficult to miss the conversations in the ‘powder room’. Not surprisingly, this nasty individual had been interfering with many of the female staff and those that he had not assaulted had been tortured by his stare.

The police eventually stopped coming around; stopped taking statements, and stopped giving a damn.

I got a new boss who was only slightly better than my dead one and life went on.

Detective Sergeant Wilson had one final parting shot.

“I know you killed him, Miss James, I just can’t prove it yet, but I will. Tell me; how did you manage to kill him in the manner that you did and not get any blood on your clothes. I searched the whole building and there were no other clothes you could have changed into?”

“I suppose that it is possible that the killer may have been naked at the time of the murder,” I said, without even a hint of a smile.

“I hadn’t thought of that,” he said.

It wasn’t what he said, it was the way that he looked at me when he said it.

.

.

.

.

If you would like to help me publish more ‘Sam and Scarlett’ books you can always buy my book or tip a few coins into my PayPal account which can be found on my home site in the top right corner. Any contribution, no matter how small, is always appreciated.

So Much Depends On A Red Wheelbarrow.

red-wheelbarrow (1)

“So much depends on a red wheelbarrow glazed by rainwater beside the white chickens.”
William Carlos Williams.

Screen Shot 2015-06-25 at 11.25.15 am

This story is now part of SLIGHTLY SPOOKY STORIES.

 

Red Wheelbarrow cover # 3 (1)

This story is now part of Red Wheelbarrow

Without it, I would not have been able to move the body.

I’d always taken it for granted — the wheelbarrow, not the dead body.

It had always been there, leaning up against the shed or sitting quietly, filled with weeds or split fire-wood — just waiting for the task to be completed.

It was ‘on special’ at the hardware store on the high street.

The shop went out of business not long after, but I remember the wheelbarrows all lined up outside with a huge sign saying how much they were and how much I would be saving if I bought one.

The sign had the desired effect.

I’d needed a wheelbarrow for some time, and the first one in the stack was red. 

The gentleman who served me was happy to make the sale but worried about how I was going to get it home.

“Have you got a ‘ute’ lady?”

“No, why? Is it a requirement for owning a wheelbarrow?”

He looked at me for a moment. I could tell that he was wondering if I was ‘winding him up’.

He decided that I was.

“No, but she’s a big bugger, and she probably won’t fit across the back seat of your car.”

“I don’t own a car. I walked here, and I’m planning to drive her home. I’ll park her outside the supermarket and load her up with my weekly shopping, and away I go.”

“Fair enough, but she really is a bloody big wheelbarrow. Are you sure you wouldn’t like a smaller one? You can still give the grand-kiddies a ride in a smaller one. The one you picked is big enough to fit a large dead body in.” 

He must have thought that he had gone a bit too far because he looked up and gave an embarrassed smile. I wasn’t worried about the ‘dead body’ crack, but I was considering running over his foot for the grandmother comment.

“Is the smaller wheelbarrow on special as well?” I said.

“No, just these huge industrial buggers that I got stuck with when I bought the business.”

“Well then; I have the right barrow, don’t I?”

I smiled and staggered off down the footpath scattering pedestrians in my wake. 

I didn’t stop to buy groceries; that was just me ‘getting carried away’ with the hardware store owner.

Every time I go past his old shop, I wonder what happened to him. 

His shop became a Noodle Shop, then a $2 Shop, then a Tattoo Parlour, then a Bakery, then an empty shop with a strange collection of bits and pieces lying in the middle of the tiled floor. 

It looked like someone had swept up after the last tenants, and never came back to throw out the collection of flotsam. 

I’ve always wondered what the orange penis-shaped thing was. 

I’m sure that it’s not an orange penis, but there has never been anyone at the shop for me to ask; which is just as well because I think I would be too embarrassed to make that particular enquiry.

Gardening is not my favourite pastime, but since my husband died, I have had to work up the enthusiasm.

Bill was the love of my life, and I miss him so very much.

He left me suddenly — an industrial accident. Everyone was very kind, especially his business partner Ambrose Kruis. 

Bill and Ambrose built the business up from nothing, and when Bill died, Ambrose inherited the company; it was part of their partnership agreement. I understood; I wasn’t upset. They were engaged in high-risk construction, and if one of the partners died, it would put the whole business in jeopardy, so it was only fair that the surviving partner benefit. 

It also explained the massive payout that Ambrose received as a result of the ‘partners insurance’. 

He was not under any obligation, but he helped me anyway. 

He knew that Bill put all his capital into the business and consequently, there wasn’t any life insurance. 

I had some savings, but they were for a ‘rainy day’, as Bill used to say. 

Ambrose was very generous when the roof needed replacing and when the plumbing packed it in. 

I knew that I could not rely on him forever, but up until I made a surprise visit to his office, he had looked after me financially.

I arrived early on a Wednesday morning, and his secretary let me wait in his office. “He won’t be long. He’s at a breakfast meeting with the bankers.” 

I decided to make the most of my time and write a couple of letters. 

I do send emails, but I still prefer the personal touch of sending a letter. 

I stepped behind what used to be Bill’s desk and opened the top drawer looking for notepaper. 

Two more drawers were opened before I found some, and that’s not all that I found. 

The writing paper was not lying flat in the drawer. 

There seemed to be something small and bulky under the ream of paper. I removed the paper, and the sunlight coming in low through the office window reflected off the polished silver surface of an antique Victorian hip flask.

You might be wondering why I knew what it was. 

I’d given this flask to my husband on our wedding night. 

It belonged to my grandfather. 

It was some twenty-years-old when he bought it upon arriving in England in 1915. 

He was a young Lieutenant on his way to the front. 

The flask saw a lot of action, and no doubt helped to dull the terror that trench warfare brought to all those involved. 

I recognised the flask from the inscription and by the dent on the top corner. It was caused by a German sniper’s bullet. 

After surviving at the front for all those years, one moment of lost concentration and my grandfather’s war came to an end, only months from the close of hostilities.

The notice of his death arrived on the day that the Armistice took effect. 

The flask was returned to the family along with his other belongings.

Obviously, I was aware that the flask was missing from my husband’s effects, but I put it out of my mind. He had it with him on the day he died; he always had it with him.

I’m not that bright, but I didn’t need a degree in Physics to figure out that something was terribly wrong.

Ambros had murdered my husband so that he could get control of the company and collect the insurance. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was all about the insurance and he probably expected to sell the failing business for the value of its component parts. But, to his surprise, the company survived, mainly because my husband had set it up well and the business had an excellent reputation. Its employees loved him and worked their arses off to keep the company going.

It helped that Ambrose was a bit of a womaniser and that he would often disappear for several days at a time when he was on a ‘bender’.

I invited him around to the house for a meal — something that I had done a dozen times.

During the dessert course, I excused myself, “Just need to visit the ladies room.” I came back with an old shovel that my husband used to dig the veggie patch — the irony was not lost on me.

I struck Ambrose twice on the back of the head. He went down, and apart from his lemon-meringue-pie landing on the floor, he did not make much of a mess.

Moving the body proved to be a bit of a chore, but the trusty red wheelbarrow was up to the task.

I didn’t own a car, so Ambrose was going to have to travel in the wheelbarrow for the two-kilometre ride to the construction site that Ambrose’s business owned. There was a concrete pour scheduled for the morning.

I’m not sure what I would have said if someone had stopped me, and I’m pretty sure that I looked hilarious as I struggled along with this huge red wheelbarrow filled with an Ambrose.

I was utterly exhausted when I got him there and dumped him into a pit and covered him with gravel, but I still had to get the wheelbarrow back to my house without being seen.

I was in the lap of the gods on both halves of this deadly journey, but the gods smiled on me, and I made it safely home.

I slept for fifteen hours straight. 

I cleaned up the blood and the lemon-meringue-pie when I woke up and waited for the police to arrive.

They never did, and what’s more, it turned out that the partnership agreement had a clause covering the eventuality of both partners dying within ten years of each other. 

The business went equally to the wives of the partners.

Ambrose wasn’t married.

I had to wait seven years before Ambrose was declared dead, but I didn’t mind — the money and the business weren’t the points.

That old red wheelbarrow is very ancient, and rust and a little red paint are about the only things holding it together now, but there is absolutely no way I am ever going to throw it away.

Every time I look at it, I’m reminded of everything I’ve lost and also of the revenge that was mine to take.

So much depends on a red wheelbarrow. 

     

Right From The Start.

0216rightfromthestart

 This story is now part of my new short story anthology, PASSERBY.

You can purchase a copy HERE

If you like what I do, you can help me to keep on doing it by buying one of my books.

PASSERBY cover png

This was the best job Dave had ever had and he was more than a little bit sad to see it go.

Dave Takach had been in this squad since the beginning. He was one of three original members along with Jeff Borrelli and Genaro Boyce.

The Unsolved Case Squad came into existence to keep the politicians and the tabloid media happy, a case of being seen to do something. The truth was, that compared to the rest of the country and most other countries, there was very little unsolved major crime.

No one knew who stole Mrs Miller’s purse or Mr Smith’s big screen TV but frankly no one cared much and unless it got out of hand like it did in ’78, the newspapers didn’t care much either.

 

Screen Shot 2014-03-12 at 1.26.37 pmMurder was the crime that got all the headlines, and headlines sold newspapers; back when there were newspapers.

 

Jeff Borelli died, in non suspicious circumstances, not long after the squad was established and was replaced by Elijah Clabough.

After Elijah joined the squad their success rate went through the roof. His mum must have known something because she named him after a bloke from the bible and Elijah’s abilities were definitely biblical.

 

The ‘powers that be’ had chosen what they thought were a bunch of ‘no-hopers’, the kind of coppers that made other coppers feel nervous. Dave never took a ‘backhander’ in his life and he didn’t know what a beer glass looked like so his fellow officers took an instant dislike to him. For his part, Dave was lazy and he knew it, so a cushy job away from the mind-numbing normal routine suited him just fine.

 

Genaro was one of those blokes who remembered everything he ever read or heard. He was intelligent and, in a job that valued brawn over brains, he was a misfit. He was a hell of a researcher even before the internet came along. Before this assignment he was disheartened and disillusioned. He was just waiting out his time until his pension kicked in.

The final piece of the puzzle was Estella Gilly. She was added to the squad at the same time as Elijah. It was refreshing to have a female in the squad and there were times when a woman could get information from an interview where a man would struggle.

 

The cases they were given had little chance of being resolved but they went through the routine anyway. They all knew that this particular gravy train would reach the end of the line eventually. The press would move on to some other cause and politicians would be busy getting re-elected; or not. Either way they would forget about the issue and the squad members would be reassigned.

 

Anselmo-Ralph-Chavez_mugshot.400x800They had been working on the Anselmo case for a few weeks when Elijah confronted his colleagues while eating a particularly delicious chocolate croissant from La Brioche, which just happened to be across the road from the squad room.

 

“Williams did it.”

“How do you know that?” Estella asked

“I’ve known since day one. I always know.”

 

It was true that Elijah had cracked some high-profile cases and the others wondered why he was here. As it turned out it had something to do with the commissioner’s wife, who was much younger than the commissioner. She had a taste for even younger policemen, especially ones with biblical names. It turned out that she liked to brag about her conquests.

Elijah was sent to the unsolved case squad as a form of punishment.

 

“You wouldn’t be trying to piss us off, would you Elijah?”

“Look, whether you believe me or not, most of the time I know who did it.”

“Who did what?” Asked Genaro, who was starting to get interested in the conversation.

“It; whatever the crime is I’m working on; it. I get started, I do a bit of leg work and the name comes to me, and it’s always the right person; always. Then, all I have to do is dig around a bit and gather the evidence and bingo, instant ‘solve.’ If it turns out that the person in question wants to deny it I only have to shake them with a few details that should be impossible for me to know and they fold like the proverbial deck of cards. It’s a lot of fun, and knowing who did it saves heaps of time, time we could be spending playing Candy Crush, Angry Birds or figuring out where Carmen Sandiego is.”

 

“Or working on my novel.” Estella had been working on her novel for about three years but she couldn’t get the main character to sound quite right.

 

“Or sleeping.” Dave had always been a big fan of sleeping.

 

“Personally I prefer crosswords and puzzles.” Genaro was the last to speak but you could see that they were all intrigued; but they were also coppers and they wanted proof.

 

Genaro worked out a test.

He requisitioned a group of old solved case files and removed the last page, the013 page that said who the squad had arrested.

 

Genaro gave the six incomplete case files to Elijah and they all settled down and waited while he read them.

 

After about an hour, Elijah said, “Hopeless Robinson, Wild West, Mad Bill Baker, Wee Willy Williams, Mad Bill Hickock, and Spider Webb.”

 

The group slowly woke from their slumber and looked at Genaro. “Well?” They all said at much the same time.

 

Genaro checked the loose pages. “All correct except for Spider Webb.”

“Not bad, but not perfect either.” Said Estella.

 

Dave was developing a sick feeling in his stomach. “I worked on that case and a few of us thought we had the wrong bloke.”

“So who was the next on the list?”

“Spider Webb, and the bloke who got convicted did twenty years.”

 

No one spoke for a long time.

 

As the minutes ticked by each squad member could see their short-term future stretching out before them. Elijah would read the case file, he would say who did it, followed by a few days of intense activity, gathering evidence and frightening the guilty party, followed by a longish period of doing whatever they wanted to do. Solve the cases too quickly and the top brass would expect them to do it again, so the result would have to be suitably delayed so as not to put too much pressure on and to leave the maximum amount of time for recreational activities.

 

Sometimes a member of the group would feel guilty, but only for a moment. Everyone wants to win the lottery but often they don’t know what to do with all that money. Then it all goes pear-shaped and the winner ends up unhappy and probably broke.

 

The Unsolved Case Squad were determined not to fall prey to the ‘lottery winners curse.’

Genaro was the first to broach the subject.

“Have any of you fine law enforcement officials played the ‘What Would You Do If You Found A Million Dollars’ game?”

Not surprisingly there was much nodding and affirmative grunting.

“It’s true that whenever I’ve played that game everyone was a bit under the weather but taking that into account, everyone talks about all the things they are going to buy and no one talks about how they are going to hold on to it, let alone how they are going to keep it quiet.

Keeping it quiet is the key. People find out and they want to take it away from you.”

 

“So how do we keep this quiet?” Elijah had risked a lot sharing his skill with his fellow squad members but deep down he was hoping they would help him carry this burden.

 

“By keeping our mouths shut. The first arsehole who opens his mouth will ruin it for all of us. They stuck us here because they wanted us out-of-the-way and if we can keep a lid on this, we get the last laugh. No one can know, not spouses, girlfriends, boyfriends, drinking buddies, shrinks, no one, no exceptions.”

 

 

Carrie Selvage skeleton 1920 headlineAs the years rolled on their success rate proved to be spectacular. None of the squad members were crazy enough to let anyone know what they were up to and the good life continued for a number of years; way longer than any of them expected. In the end, they became a victim of their own success and they ran out of major unsolved crimes to solve. The squad was disbanded and no one protested. They had become famous and infamous at the same time. Other coppers saw it as making them look bad. The press was bored and had moved on a long time ago, except when an arrest made a good headline.

 

Most of the squad members retired, but they kept in touch.

Occasionally they were asked to consult on particularly difficult cases in other states, and a couple of times they were asked to work overseas.

Where they worked depended on how interesting the city was, with the single exception of cases involving children. They all agreed that cases involving kids should have nothing to do with their own comfort, but for all other cases only those that offered first class accommodation, an interesting destination and no time limit were accepted.

 

Estella handled the negotiations, she liked that sort of thing. She always made sure that her squad was well looked after.

Life was good.

The press loved them and they lived a kind of rock star lifestyle.

There was never any talk of retirement, they were having too much fun.

 

When it ended, it came suddenly.

 

Sheldon Conner served eighteen years for the murder of his girlfriend Janice. He was particularly annoyed because he thought he had gotten away with it. Twelve years after he ended Janice’s life the cold case file hit Elijah’s desk and a few month’s later Sheldon was on remand. A year later a jury found him guilty and the judge gave him life. As they dragged him out of the ancient, ornate courtroom he swore vengeance.

 

Sheldon was good to his word and went straight from the prison to a pub in pub_346Richmond where he bought a revolver for a fair price from a large bloke who had a wart on his neck and worked on the docks.

Elijah was his first call, and his last as it turned out. Elijah had kept his service revolver and never went anywhere without it despite it ruining the line of his jacket.

Sheldon’s first shot missed it’s mark giving Elijah time to draw his pistol, but Sheldon’s second shot hit Elijah just under the left arm. It spun him around but he managed to get off a single shot before he fell. That single shot caught Sheldon in the throat and with a surprised look on his face he bled to death in a matter of minutes.

Elijah lived long enough to make it to hospital. Estella was with him when he died but the others were too far away to get there on time.

 

The newspapers made a big fuss over Elijah’s death but inevitably they lost interest.

 

The three remaining members of the group decided to go their separate ways after Elijah’s funeral. It wasn’t going to be fun anymore, not without Elijah.

 

Estella finally got to finish her book.

The homicide squad had recently been expanded to include two new members. The experienced members delighted in taking them down to the pub on their first day and making them get the drinks. Everyone was a bit the worse for wear and old coppers being old coppers, there were plenty of stories and they saved the best till last.

 

The story of the cold case squad with a perfect clear up record. They always seemed to know who the culprit was.

 

The young detective with the silly grin kept smiling even when the others laughed at him.

“It’s not that hard” he said. “I always know who did it, right from the start.”

The laughter got louder but the young detective just kept on smiling.

He was going to enjoy this job.