What a night. Murderers, paedos, sadist school teachers, OD's, and now to top it all off, pyrofuckingmaniacs and a charred human carcass. And it was only eight o'clock in the morning. He needed a decent caffeine fix.
'Definitely arson,' stated the fireman again, 'no doubt about it.'
DS Hartless scratched at the side of his head, it'll take a fucking week just to write up the reports for this one night, he thought. Then a plod came over and whispered in his ear.
'No?' he cried.
'Yes,' said the uniformed constable, 'Billy and I was here a couple of hours ago. This is the very house.'
'Right, thanks,' he dismissed the constable and got his phone out. Why had he not immediately connected the address? Tiredness, he thought. Well, time for the DI to be given a rude awakening. Fucked off to the hospital for snooze on the pretence of being there to question the staff about the kid. He could visualise Oswalk decanting a genuine inpatient to a trolley in the corridor to make use of the free bed.
He passed on the good news, and while she was speeding her way here, he ran over in his mind what they now knew for a fact.
Simon Parker, a long term claimant of incapacity benefit, no previous, and had never come to the attention of the forces of law and order, till yesterday, when what at first was thought to be a mugging was interrupted and he made his escape. He had been identified by more than a few neighbours as the quiet Mr Parker of 32 Harris Street. The same address which was presently being dampened down by the power hoses of the Strathclyde Fire Department after being deliberately incinerated.
On checking his email on his phone not an hour ago, an updated forensic report attached to what they thought was a mugging, was of the conclusion that grey slimy matter splattered over the old man victim, and the dog belonging to him, was in fact human in origin, and a test had conclusively proved the DNA belonged to the student, missing, presumed dead by now, Suzi Tonner.
Furthermore, the said Simon Parker, grew up with his Uncle Shamus Parker of Pricey Street, Govanhill, who this very night was found dead by broken head, along with a badly injured ten year old female child, now in hospital recovering, but whose mother, abode of a few streets away, in Lomond Lane, was also recently deceased, body discovered this same night, from apparent drug overdose.
As if that wasn't enough to keep a busy copper active, the said Simon Parker, who was a resident here, where now he'd just been told a charred body lay smoking in the bedroom, and the blaze was started deliberately. Going by the estimated size of the carbonised carcass, it was definitely not that of Simon Parker, who was reckoned to be over six foot tall. It was in all probability, either the missing student, Suzi Tonner or yet another, to date, unknown victim.
Hartless returned to his car, the forensics were in the house with the Fire Investigation Team, he was barred from access till they were done, and anyway, he was in no hurry to get in there at all. He needed a coffee, and looked about for a sympathetic looking neighbour to take indoors and question at home next to a boiling kettle. The neighbours all looked like extras from a low budget zombie flick though, he decided he would leave the questioning to the plod and went looking for the constable who had approached him earlier. He was laid back in the passenger seat, the driver was PC Willimena Bennet, aka Billy Bennet, a female constable whom he knew from a quick grope she allowed him in the filing room at the last Christmas party. He smiled and rapped at the window.
As she was reversing out to go and get coffees for him and Oswalk from the nearest open cafe, Oswalk herself turned into the street, parked up on the kerb, and made her way towards him through the throng of de-housed neighbours and ghouls.
'Can't leave you for a fucking minute,' she cried as she approached like a heat seeking missile.
'Don't start,' he replied, holding up his hand to silence her. 'You haven't heard the best of it yet.'
By the time Oswalk was up to date, PC Bennet had returned with the coffees, and been sent back for more. Oswalk organised a team of uniform to go up and down the street and question the neighbours. Eventually they were allowed admittance to the house.
'Don't touch anything,' the Fire Investigation Officer stated as he led the way into the house. Oswalk just glared at him.
'The bedroom, with the body, is the worst,' he ran a commentary as he stepped from room to room, 'every room though had an accelerant, probably gasoline. We're pretty sure it was initially started in the kitchen, a trail of petrol, or a similar, as yet undetermined catalyst, leading to every other room in turn, ensuring the end result, total house barbeque.'
'No back door,' stated Hartless, and looked at the clasp on the kitchen window, it was loose.
'Yes, appears to be how he, or she, made their escape. Once that lot was ablaze there was no prancing merrily out the front door.'
'So,' Hartless turned to Oswalk, 'the patrol came to question him around one am., no answer, they buggered off leaving a note to get in touch with me, around five hours later the place is set ablaze, and no sign of Mr Simon Parker.'
'The note was a bad idea, whose fucking idea was that?' asked Oswalk.
'I told them to ask him to report to the station,' Hartless protested. 'We had nothing, not even sure if it was the same guy as the CCTV image. The plod didn't get an answer, and they can't hang about all night waiting for who knows who to come home from who knows where.'
'Ok,' Oswalk suddenly went quiet. They had now entered the room with the corpse.
'Bit crispy,' said the Fire Investigation Officer with no suggestion of humour.
Oswalk ran out the room, they both heard her spewing her guts up somewhere in the hallway.
'Never made it out then,' the FIO stated.
'Don't suppose you can tell if the victim was alive or dead when the fire started?'
'Pathologist for that mate, I just deal with the fires, I would take a guess and say she was dead before. No one lies still when they're being toasted.'
'Definitely a woman though?'
'Again, Pathologist for that,' said the fireman, 'but despite all the ashen bits, no dangly parts, so high possibility unless you've got a castrator on your hands...'
'Let's not complicate things further,' said Hartless. 'Thanks.'
He was feeling a bit queasy himself now. He found the hallway and left the house, Oswalk was in the garden looking like she had some matter left in her guts that wanted release. She breathed in short concentrated breaths till she had her stomach under control again.
'Right,' she said. 'Stay here till the pathologist and forensics team arrive and get set up. I'll need to get back to HQ, this is turning out to be a fucking marathon of carnage. I'll have to get the higher ranks up to speed and get some proper man power appropriated, set up teams and divvy up the tasks.'
'They'll take it off you,' said Hartless.
'I know they will,' she said with resignation. 'When there's kudos and glory, and TV press releases, rank has its privileges. But they won't until all the hard work has been done, getting everything in place, and getting everyone working as a team.'
Next instalment coming soon...
To read this novel from the start go here.
Copyright © Stevie Mach 2013 All rights reserved