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Illegal Entry: Chapter 7

...The others seemed engaged deep in conversation on mobile phones to disgruntled relatives, or annoyed mistresses, judging by the animation, but near the splayed victim on the line no-one was saying very much.

All were in agreement. It was a bad do....

The dismembered body of a woman has been found on the railway line. There are emergency service personnel on the scene – but the senior policeman Detective Inspector McGann seems incapable of taking control of the situation.

To read earlier chapters of Steph Spiers' realistic crime novel please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/2008/10/sunday_morning_1.php

Sunday Morning

One thing Conroy wouldn’t be jotting in his pocket book was this unprofessional display. This show of pent up emotion from one of their own was causing enough embarrassment throughout the rubber-necking Transport Police ground crew as it was. Those poor unfortunates unlucky enough to be paused on their daily business to be caught up in another glimpse of sudden death had been shaken out of their usual detached approach. Conroy wished he felt professionally detached. But he didn’t.

‘What do you want now?’ Twenty minutes later as Conroy’s bladder problem intensified towards critical, puffing, his cheeks blowing, Alec Yarrow, the Area press liaison officer reappeared on his right shoulder.

‘Bloody Hell Bill, is he still being mardy over there? Whatever’s up with him? The Gov’nor shouldn’t be letting the locals see him like this; it’ll only add to the ‘Wooden Tops’ image won’t it?’

Conroy stopped squeezing, ‘Difficult to say.’

‘Why give the local Plod the satisfaction? He’s playing right into their hands,’ added Yarrow rubbing his hands together to shake off the water. Yarrow was a career copper, on the verge of retirement, all long bones and right angles with a square jaw above a newly ironed shirt. He might have still been a ladies’ man but for the nose. It was all anyone ever remembered about Yarrow: the nose had been broken so many times it resembled a crinkle cut chip. With a face for radio, it was a typical BTP cock up that, once he was OTT for physical graft, Yarrow had been picked for the cushy media liaison detail which meant he had his ugly mug plastered over the TV screen every time some miscreant sneezed.

Conroy always tried very hard not to stare at Yarrow’s facial deformity which tended to drag his eyes like a magnet. ‘You can’t protect him every time he goes off on one Bill. McGann knows these bastards call the BTP the MMP behind their backs. There’s nowt Mickey Mouse about a dismembered body on the tracks.’

‘So right. Alec. I’m sure . .’

‘Couldn’t the drunken git screw up on his own time? If owt gets said, you know this daft lot. They’d have to stick up for him won’t they? After all he’s all the DI they’ve got; isn’t he?’ Yarrow loved the sound of his own voice. Never knew when to shut the fuck up according to canteen gossip. ‘Most of the lads have seen the DI go off the deep end before now. Fiery bugger, once he got his dander up – not nice, not nice at all. A might too handy with his boots and his fists, a great bloke to be standing behind, not in front of, in a rough house. I’m right aren’t I? You were there. New Street, last summer. That tattooed wanker he had over.’

Bill nodded, big talker was Yarrow. Conroy put it down to nerves, but he wasn’t admitting to anything compromising. ‘Like I was saying. Is there a toilet round. . .’

‘Sweet Fanny Addams: What a balls up!’ interrupted Yarrow shielding his eyes against the glare. ‘Hello! More bloody local Plod arriving. I suppose I’d better see to it. You wait here – don’t take your eyes off him,’ he said, pointing vaguely in McGann’s direction. Yarrow slid off down the steep incline towards the car park. Bill Conroy watched the yellow jacketed figure getting smaller and smaller. On the bright side that pressing urge to pee had subsided into a dull groin ache. Fortunately, the inter-departmental public relations disaster was mostly only occupying the mind of, and adversely affecting the sensibilities of, Alec Yarrow. He’d get over it, once he stopped his gob flapping.

Bill Conroy scratched at the bald spot on his scalp deep in concentration, safe in the knowledge that McGann was, so far, the senior – admitted, Mickey Mouse force - rank in charge. McGann was still ‘God’ until relieved by the SIO. With luck nothing would be said officially about McGann’s problems. The DI might even have calmed down by the time the duly appointed, local brass, the ‘Senior Investigating Officer’ turned up to take control of the crime scene.

A typical sterile crime scene this was not.

Professionally speaking, Yarrow was right to be concerned. It was becoming more like a three ring circus minute by minute with so many emergency service bods falling over themselves: they only needed a matched pair of traffic wardens for a full deck.

As Conroy waited, the bleakness of the desolate goods yard melted the edges of the West Midland heartland into deeper mid-tone shades spreading wide into the cheerlessness of the drizzle which was soaking relentlessly into the industrial horizon and Conroy’s tonsured hairline.

Below on the car park to Yarrow’s relief he had just discovered the local press had not yet got a sniff of what was going down. Nothing on the radar yet said Control. Meanwhile that morning further down the line, to the relief of the warmly ensconced regional controller, safe in a centrally heated office, the main lines to the North West and the South East had not been affected by the discovery of the partially dismembered body and passenger trains were chuntering along in-and-out of Birmingham’s New Street station as if nothing unusual had occurred. Only freight traffic into Aston sidings was on hold, or being diverted, as a result of the discovery of the suspicious death.

Closing his mobile, Yarrow leaned onto the coping stones atop a blackened limestone wall as he scribbled off a few pithy lines for a press statement giving away as little as possible. He was certainly not going to admit, of the twenty or so people who were called to deal with the situation, none were presently active. Once they had professionally assessed the corpse, each from their own perspective, the rescue services had moved away out of respect for the man in black sitting alone, more than for the dignity of the naked body which had been striped of any such vestige long since.

She was a thing now, a defiled slab of meat, not a ‘who’ anymore. Yarrow stopped as the biro started scratching holes in the sodden top page of his notebook. Where the devil was the SIO? All those around him now stood waiting, some in small groups, others were standing by themselves talking into emergency service band radios or staring into space.

Why do men do that? Wondered Bill Conroy atop the ridge, fighting the desire to suck his thumbnail for some shred of comfort. Some officers, getting bored as well as wet through despite silver reflective banded jackets, were stamping once polished boots while furtively smoking behind closed palms. Conroy wiggled to ease the bladder discomfort. Was it only him who needed the loo? The others seemed engaged deep in conversation on mobile phones to disgruntled relatives, or annoyed mistresses, judging by the animation, but near the splayed victim on the line no-one was saying very much.

All were in agreement. It was a bad do.

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