[Background music at the end. This story will be posted in full after the Challenge for those of us that like to read everything in one complete telling,]
FRAUD – Wednesday Midday
Faking a way inside GEE’s building is as fruitless as forced entry. Nothing illegal has occurred. I have no search warrant and no reason to act on a feeling – even if the tingling tempts me.
Even before I got my first tattoo as a teenage Goth – angel wings across my shoulders – the sensation was a guide to follow or flout with fallout.
Teeth grinding, my report is curt, and I head the bike towards Porthmadog. The speed limit on the A487 is an urge to be challenged. Wind buffeting as I lean into the bends. Blood pumping as the bike roars. Foresight urges I watch out for patrol cars.
I reached CID undetected.
Kama gestures to our Detective Inspector’s office door and signs, ‘Trouble’. I nod and point to the kitchen. Mint tea will help.
Ffion Baines stands up to the Chief Inspector, but that must be a point at which her position is untenable.
We knock then enter, and I bring over Ffion’s mint tea.
“Thanks, Sparkle. A pity the Chief Inspector doesn’t drink a fitting tea. Or even black coffee like you two. I fear your current case is using too many police hours – well, according to our penny counters at HQ. Fatuous when I have my best team unravelling it.”
“So, we’re off the case?”
“No, Kama. They say just one should remain – and working from the office. I have my thoughts, but what do you suggest is the best approach?”
My eyes hold my partner’s. Tears are hiding there. And the answer.
“I will move off the case. Only one person can resolve this – Sparkle. Her mind can fathom this maze.”
Ffion beams at us. “My thoughts exactly. Officially, you will be assigned to another existing case, Kama. DS Wiley Yates needs someone with your contacts assisting him on a fraud investigation. However, I cannot stop you two continuing to discuss this case after hours. That’s impossible when you live together, but I urge caution around this office.”
My stomach groans. Our worst fear – excepting the other’s death.
Who knows? We’ve suspected Ffion ever since she and Marc Anwyl, my tad, persuaded me to join CID. But suspicions would’ve remained in this office.
“Cautious around whom? Kama and I always discuss things quietly.”
“That may be where the snide insinuations began. You’ve both figured I know you’re a couple as your tad did. But we said nothing. You have every right to be lesbians in the NWP, and nobody in this office or station has any right to abuse you for your convictions. I’m just warning you for the sake of your relationship.”
“And Wiley? How will his team react? Not that their frame of mind will stop me.”
“Wiley is firm. You can trust him, but I can’t be sure of everyone he interacts with. Just be careful, please. Thank you.”
Back at our desks, Kama messages me the latest forensic report, then walks over to Wiley’s desk.
My eyes are unable to focus. Fuzzy. Working on the same case was a blessing. The sting in my eyes must be hidden. Even if the pain remains – unless our hours remain similar. Bed, beach and breakfast.
At least she won’t be distracted by Wiley, the office catch – dark, tall and single. The new DC, Vivian Utkin, is welcome to dote on him.
Forensics confirm that the two victims may have been in the seawater – but not for long. The black substance is pitch and there are traces of timber as in boatbuilding. There are no new leads. Another road block.
I ring the hospital. Vic Vaughn is still behaving confused and now fearful.
“He’s afraid that I want to sedate him,” says the doctor. “But he won’t say why I might do that. A curious case of amnesia might cause such behavioural frustrations, but there are so many variables. The flux following his friend fleeing. Unknown factors.”
Fearful of another lecture, I say, “please let me know as soon as someone can interview him, please.”
“Have you found Ellis Evans?”
“Not yet, Doctor. All our units have been alerted, never fear. I’ll be in touch soon.”
Göteborg Electric Engineers is the only remaining lead. The Skoda Octavia is one of theirs – a fleet vehicle. No traceable driver.
Stretch that frayed mind. How was the package sent? We have the delivery company’s details.
I ring them.
“Detective Anwyl, North Wales police here. I need to know about a package delivered to GEE today. We know it originated in Göteborg, Sweden, but please can you tell me where it arrived in Wales? And the contents – were they divulged?”
“I’ll check that, but I will have to call you back. CID where?”
Always suspicious when we ring, but we could be anybody – even the Fraud Squad. That would be an irony if our case was fraud like Wiley’s. I message my suggestion to Kama. I can visualize the grin.
The phone rings.”Dashiel Gofer here. That package originated for our company at Pembroke Dock in South Wales. I believe that it came off a freighter from Göteborg. The contents were recorded as garden products. Vague, I’m afraid. I do very much hope that I have been of assistance, Detective.”
F for Fraud and Freight. G for Göteborg and Garden. A for Amnesia.
“Very much so, and we always appreciate the help.”
GAFF. From a trick to even nautical meanings. Were the marks made by a metal hook? Whatever the game, there were victims.
Is Göteborg the lead? Or part of the gaff?
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