What a complete and utter waste of bloody time. These were the thoughts of Detective Inspector Nick Burton as he returned to his home patch after a fruitless trip to Wales.
He was trying to imagine if there had been an alternative reason for his boss to want him out of the office and out of town. He didn’t think there were any secrets between them. After all, they were a good team as well as good friends, so why the silly subterfuge?
However, jammed in the window seat of an overcrowded train carriage sitting next to a man of very ample girth, whose breath smelled of stale beer and onions, is not ideal to conducive thought. Opposite him across the dividing table sat the man’s wife, a woman of equal size, who fidgeted constantly and managed to kick him every time she moved, with a sickly grin and “sorry dear” every time it happened.
As a distraction, he tried looking out of the grimy rain streaked window, but with the gathering gloom outside and the bright lights inside, all he could see was his own miserable reflection. He grimaced at the sight of the life battered face looking back at him. It appeared older than his forty-five years. Once upon a time, it had been a handsome face, sitting on top of a well built body. However, in those far off days he had had a relatively carefree, easy going attitude to life and he enjoyed the challenges life threw his way.
Twenty odd years a policeman had changed all that, carefree became careworn, easy going had become embittered. The all new politically correct police force and a legal system that cared more for the rights of the criminal than their victims had taken its toll. Add to that a broken childless marriage, a receding hairline, an expanding waistline and the promise of a stomach ulcer, and you had his life in a nutshell.
He dragged his thoughts back towards the half assed reason as to why he was even on this train in the first place. His boss, Chief Superintendent Daniel Davies, or Dapper Dan as he was more commonly called, had sent him on this fool’s errand to review evidence held at another police station. Evidence that, as far as he could see, was completely irrelevant to anything they were currently working on. He was doubly annoyed, given his well known aversion to travel, that Dapper would send him on a job that could so easily have been handled by a first year constable.
Courtesy of his recent travelling companions and the time-wasting exercise, he was still fuming two hours later in the darkness of late evening as he walked towards his own police station.
As he pushed the front door open if he was expecting a sea of calm efficiency, which was the norm around here, he was in for a shock. The place was in uproar, and most of the noise was coming from his colleagues.
There, milling in front of him, was a weird mixture of uniform and plain clothed policemen. The two different day watches were strangely intermingled; all seemed to be talking at once.
He pushed his way through the crowd to the front desk and the uniformed sergeant that stood there. As he approached, he could see the sergeant was not a happy man. His facial expression seemed to darken even further when he saw Nick coming.
He asked, “Tom, you mind telling me what the hell is….”
The rest of the question died on his lips as the sergeant spoke almost in a whisper, “They’ve arrested Dapper.”
Nick’s jaw dropped. “What? Arrested… arrested Dan… what the hell for?”
“Murder,” was the reply.
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