Chapter 2:

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 173
Comments: 1



‘So you can’t even give us a date?’  Ruth asked, as she helped herself to another grape from the bag on the sofa Tom Calladine was sprawled over.  ‘Or perhaps you don’t want to,’ she suggested with a frown on her face.  ‘If I didn’t know you better, I’d say you were swinging the lead,’ she put to him. So come on then, come clean – what have the Doctor’s said?  Your injuries weren’t really that bad, were they?  It’s just that works piling up and we were short handed before you went and got…, well before you got yourself shot,’ she said soberly.

‘You’re a hard woman, Ruth Bayliss.  You’d have me out of my sick bed and back at my desk without a second thought as to whether I was up to it or not.’

‘Up to it!’ she scoffed.  ‘Granted your arm caught a bullet, but be fair, Guv, it barely winged you,’ she reminded the Detective Inspector. 

‘Thanks to Lydia’s quick thinking,’ he told her pointedly.  ‘Without that woman’s timely intervention things could be very different now,’ he sniffed.

Ruth rolled her eyes.  ‘You got shot, you knocked yourself out when you hit the floor, but surely even you must have recovered by now.  Think about the timescale - all that was over two months ago.  So … I have to ask, what’s stopping you?’

‘I broke my arm too, don’t forget that,’ he said, snatching his grapes and stuffing the bag behind a cushion, out of her reach.

‘If I didn’t know you better, Tom Calladine, I’d say you’d become a tad work shy,’ she suggested then took a step back out of his reach.

‘Like I said – a hard woman,’ he grimaced, picking up the cushion and throwing it at her.  ‘You’ve got some cheek – I’d like to see you apprehend a villain with an arm like mine.’

‘If that’s all that’s bothering you then I’ll do the apprehending, and you can come back and do the thinking for us,’ she joked.  ‘Seriously though, we need you, Guv.  It’s crap at the nick right now.  Jones got the push – don’t even bother asking me what happened because no ones talking.  So what do they do?  They put Brad Long in charge!  Brad bloody Long, for heaven’s sake.  Given him the title ‘acting DCI’ and stuck him in Jones’s office.’

‘That bad, eh – well looks like you could certainly do with a bail out.’

‘Too bloody true we could – so when can we expect you?’

Tom Calladine didn’t get time to answer.  There was a knock on his front door and Ruth went to answer it.

‘Rocco,’ he called out as he spotted the young Detective Constable.  ‘Great to see you.  Get yourself a coffee or something and join us,’ he said nodding towards the kitchen.

‘Sorry Guv, its Ruth I need to see,’ DC Simon Rockliffe apologised.  His face was serious - this was obviously no social call.

‘We’ve got a major incident on our hands – Hopecross,’ he explained.  ‘A Consultant from City Hospital in Manchester was found dead on his kitchen floor this morning.’

‘You should have rung,’ Ruth told him.

‘Well I’m glad you didn’t,’ Calladine piped up.  ‘Not only is it good to see you but now you can give us both the grisly details.  I presume it is murder?’

‘Yep – stabbed in the back and there’s something else – something a bit creepy if you ask me.  The poor guy had a playing card nailed to his head – can you believe that?  Goodness knows what it means,’ he shrugged.  ‘But it’s already looking like another head scratcher, no pun intended,’ he smiled.

‘Sounds like a juicy one to me,’ Calladine threw in.  ‘Anything else?’

‘Not that I know of but we need to get down there quick,’ he said, turning to face Ruth.  ‘Long’s sent DS Thorpe to the scene but he’ll miss more than he sees.’

‘I’m getting pretty sick of having to cover his back.  The man’s a menace and a right lazy sod.  He’s sticking his nose in everywhere and all because it was his DI that got the leg up.’  Ruth folded her arms then looked long and hard at Calladine.  ‘It should have been you, you know.  Fallon or no Fallon, you’re the best man for the job.  The whole nick knows it.’

Calladine knew that was never going to happen because Ruth was wrong.  It was all about Ray Fallon.  The man was a criminal, awaiting trial for murder, and his bloody cousin!

‘What about this new case then – how are you going to tackle it?’  He asked ignoring Ruth’s observation about his career.

 ‘Well if you get your arse off that sofa, you could come with us.  Once Thorpe sees you on the job he’ll back off, so will Long,’ Ruth suggested, tapping her foot as she waited for his reply.

‘That’s no way to speak to your DI, Sergeant,’ he sniffed.

‘Well you’re not, are you?  Not at the moment anyway.’

‘Hopecross, you said?’  Calladine reached for a notepad on his coffee table and hastily scribbled a couple of lines.  ‘Just letting Lydia know where I’ve gone.  She worries,’ he confirmed, with a grin.

‘Proper little housewife she’s turned into,’ Ruth noted sarcastically.  ‘Got you wrapped round her little finger good and proper.  I bet it’s down to her that you’ve stayed home with your feet up all this time.’

‘What if it is - I like it around her little finger,’ he smirked.  ‘I like her being here – she’s been brilliant.’

‘She got you into this mess, you mean.  Or have you forgotten how she went tearing after your renegade cousin and brought him back here, gun in hand?’

‘Fallon was after me before Lydia stuck her nose in.  He knew it was me that got the evidence to finally convict him.  I was always going to be his favourite target.’

‘Any excuse not to see things as they are,’ she sighed.  ‘Do you want to help with this or what?’

‘I could take a look.  I suppose it can’t do any harm.’

‘My car then – I promise to bring you home afterwards?’

‘Okay, I’ll get my coat.’


The house was a huge stone detached on a leafy lane bordering the village of Hopecross – very different from his own tiny cottage in the back streets of Leesdon.  Calladine wondered how much it would cost to run a place like this – too much most likely.  But then their victim was some big shot doctor, so he could probably afford it.

There was a heavy uniformed presence but amidst the mêlée Calladine spotted the Pathologist, Doctor Sebastian Hoyle and the Senior Forensic Scientist, Doctor Julian Batho.  Two men he’d not seen in a while.

‘Good to have you back, Tom,’ Doc. Hoyle shouted to him, a big smile on his face.  ‘If you are back that is.  You had us worried for a while,’ he said, handing him and the others white, paper suits.  ‘You never know with knocks to the head.  Are you on this one?’  He asked.  ‘Only DS Thorpe was here earlier but I don’t think he stayed above two minutes.’

‘Yes Doc, this one’s mine,’ Calladine confirmed.  ‘And yes, I think I might be back, finally.  I’ve certainly missed this,’ he said matching the pathologist’s grin.

Doc. Hoyle nodded.  ‘He’s been dead since last night, no later.  His cleaning lady found him earlier this morning.  Poor woman, she’s been carted off to the General in shock.’

Calladine pulled on the suit, donned a pair of over shoes and a mask and followed Doc. Hoyle into the house. 

‘According to Ruth I’ve not showed my face a minute too soon,’ he told the Doc as they went.  ‘She’s getting a bit lippy about the situation at work, and to be honest, I’ve had enough of being a patient.’

‘As long as you’re up to it, this job’s no picnic even when things are slack.’

‘Picnic or not I need to get back.  My brain’s going to porridge and I’m in serious danger of losing my edge.’

Tariq Ahmed was lying as Harriet Finch had left him.  The pool of blood had grown, seeping though into the hallway from the small kitchen. 

‘One stab wound to the back.  The Post Mortem should throw some light on what was used but it was quite long, I’d say.  The volume of blood loss suggests one of the major arteries has been severed – the aorta, perhaps.’

 ‘There are plenty of prints – we’ll start checking them out as soon as, but I’ll lay odds they belong to him,’ Julian nodded at the body.  ‘My bet is that our man wore gloves,’ he added.  ‘We’ll bag everything then we’ll take what we find back to the lab.’

‘Did you give DS Thorpe the details?’

‘He didn’t stay long enough,’ Julian smirked.  ‘He had a cursory look round and decided he’d be better off going back to the nick.’

Lazy sod – Ruth’s description was accurate then!

‘Any sign of the murder weapon?’ 

‘Don’t think we’re going to be that lucky, Inspector,’ Julian told him.

‘What do we know about Doctor Ahmed?’  Calladine asked Rocco.

‘Nothing yet, Guv, other than he worked at the City.  I’m going to start having a proper look around, see if he had any close family but I get the impression from uniform, who’ve been talking to the neighbours, that he lived alone.’

‘What about the neighbours?  Someone should ask if they saw or heard anything.’

‘One of the uniformed PC’s has already been down the road asking, Guv,’ Ruth said as she joined him and Rocco inside.  ‘Apparently they heard nothing.  Mind you these properties are big and well spaced apart.  Anything could go on and I doubt the neighbours would hear.’

‘Could this have been a robbery gone wrong?  We could do with knowing if there’s anything missing,’ Rocco suggested.

‘Okay, we need to search the house anyway.  We need the names of any family members so that we can inform them.  Also work colleagues; anything and everything in fact that will help us build a picture of this man’s life.  But this is no robbery, Rocco.  The stabbing is one thing – that might have happened as the result of some altercation but not that,’ he said, nodding at the nail pinning the card to the doctor’s face.  ‘What is that, anyway?  It’s not like any playing card I’ve ever seen.’

‘It’s a tarot card, Inspector,’ Julian informed him in that superior way he had.  ‘They’re used for divination purposes,’ the scientist explained. ‘That one in particular is rather interesting.  It’s one of the Major Arcana -‘The Tower’, otherwise known as the Bolt from the Blue. 

‘You mean mumbo jumbo?’

‘As you wish, Inspector,’ Julian replied huffily.  ‘But as I said this card is interesting.  It has a number of different meanings. but to many, it symbolizes failure, ruin and catastrophe.’

‘Neither Doctor Ahmed nor I can argue with you on that one.’

‘Perhaps the killer was trying to tell us something, Inspector.  We should be open to all possibilities.’

It came as a complete surprise to Calladine that such a clinical, logical guy like Julian Batho would know about cards like this, but he didn’t ask.  He didn’t fancy a lecture on the subject.  But it was intriguing, coming from a scientific, complicated individual like Julian.  If he’d been asked to guess, he’d have bet on him being scornful rather than knowledgeable.

Calladine looked back towards the front door then went into the kitchen and sitting room to look at the windows. 

‘There’s no sign of a break in.  So whoever did this was either let in or had a key.  The Doctor knew him,’ he observed to Ruth.‘Find out if he was expecting anyone – a visitor or even a patient.  Look for a diary, laptop or something, and see if you can find his mobile phone.  Perhaps he saw patients privately – look around, see if you can find a consulting room.  The house is certainly big enough,’ he put to both Ruth and Rocco.  ‘We need to know everything there is to know about the man.  That thing on his face could be meaningful but it could also be nothing other than the killer having a laugh at our expense.’

‘It’s weird though, Guv.  Perhaps we should have a look at the local fortune tellers – he might have a link to one of them,’ Rocco suggested.

‘Okay, if you must,’ he told the young detective.  ‘But don’t waste too much time.  It might be more use to find out if there’s any CCTV on the road.  Properties like these often have their own cameras.  One of them might have caught something.  Ruth,’ he called out to his sergeant, who was talking to Doc. Hoyle.  ‘Will you get back to the nick and put what we’ve got on the Incident Board.  Ask Imogen to find out what she can about Tariq Ahmed from the Hospital, particularly regarding his family.’

‘Don’t you want a lift back home, Guv?’

‘No, I’m going to the Morgue with the Doc.  See what his preliminary findings turn up,’ he smiled.

He was back, well and truly back in harness once again.  This case had all the ingredients he’d missed.  Languishing around the house with Lydia at his beck and call was one thing, but this was what he was made for. 

Submitted: December 21, 2014

© Copyright 2021 helend. All rights reserved.


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Joseph Mark

So far so good. Please KMU. Thanks!

Wed, December 31st, 2014 11:45am

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