Here is the continuation of my Jewel Box story featuring Detective Constable Sparkle Anwyl of the North Wales Police. I posted the opening on April 17th as O for Obstructions – Part 15 0f Azure Spark: https://rolandclarke.com/2019/04/17/o-for-obstructions-azure-spark-part-15/
However, I revised it slightly when I edited ‘Azure Spark’ at the end of April – https://rolandclarke.com/2019/04/17/o-for-obstructions-azure-spark-part-15/ . I intended to continue the story for the June WEP/IWSG Challenge but have something else for ‘Caged Bird’.
Rose Gold Pendant –http://celticandwelshjewellery.co.uk/product/rose-gold-pendant-26/
Saturday 1st August 2015 – Early Morning
Swimming settles hangovers.
Kama and I race out of the swell and across the sands of Morfa Bychan beach.
“Your turn to make breakfast, cariad,” she says as I overtake her. “Your full Welsh to prepare us for work. Ffion will await us bright and eager.”
We sprint towards our cottage. “Even if our DI was partying late at our party. I’ll have no excuse to not confront my backlog.”
Resolved one crime – dozens more emerging. Plus, the never-ending paperwork. Stifle the sinking stomach. This is the price of criminal detection with CID.
Bacon, sausages, mushrooms, eggs, cockles and laver bread sets up the day.
Cloudless weather boosts our motorbike ride to Porthmadog.
The paper on my desk has spread overnight. My Email in-box has overflowed again. Fight through this. Make space for the arson.
In forty minutes, I can focus on the case file.
Two conflicting reports on the incident lead. Liam’s forensic analysis suggests arson. Although, Fire Officer Anwyl’s notes claim it was a traffic accident. Did I count on any support from my brother?
Yet, both mention ‘excessive petroleum splashes’. However, Liam detected traces of a silvery powdery crumb that was not a firefighting residue.
P for Petroleum and Powder. A reason to tackle Owen at the Caernarfon fire station.
I scan the ‘unrelated jewel thefts’ – low value pieces. There are mixed reports from uniform colleagues. Three statements are meticulous, but the other two are vague. No arrests. Just familiar suspects – including Poulsen Leach.
My tattoos set my skin tingling, and my fingers tapping my bracer.
Hugh Arbuthnot, the gift shop owner, accused his son-in-law of ‘mixing in shady circles’.
Poulsen’s record includes a spell in gaol and fines. Further, it shares a name with uniform’s suspicions. Despite this, we have not recovered any stolen items – yet. Not even at known fences.
A for Arbuthnot, Accusations, Arson and Accomplices.
S for Suspects – and for Suspicious. SAP.
Too S for Simple. Delve deeper and search sideways. Interview Poulsen and his wife, Olivia as she ran Y Bocs. Check if someone stole the 4×4.
I power along the A487 towards Caernarfon, gritting my teeth. Owen. Can I work with him, even with the approval of DI Ffion Baines? I must. He agreed to meet on the phone. Since he wanted me investigating. Why?
I park alongside the two-storey fire station, answers vying for dominance. My head throbs in time with my churning guts. Relax. Breathe. He’s like a fellow officer.
“Meinwen, let’s talk over a drink.” He smiles as he meets me at reception. Relaxed and confidant. “We have a great café nearby – not instant muck.”
He shows me back outside and nods at the black motorcycle. “Still a biker. No changes then.”
“Another major incident resolved. On to our burnt-out shop inquiry so I need your help. Why can’t we chat in your office?”
“I’m done arguing in front of my teammates.” He gestures to a red North Wales Fire and Rescue van. “Besides, we’ve family issues to discuss.”
The conversation I don’t need today. The usual blame. You were tad’s favourite. Meinwen did this…
“As long as we still review the arson case.”
The coffee is fresh brewed, and the brownie is a decadent treat.
“Talk, brawd dewr,” I say, forcing a grin.
He continues in our mother tongue. “Did our tad want you in the force over me? I never knew.”
The question he should have asked tad before he died. Owen buries his anger – but it’s simmering.
Don’t feed it. “No. He was scared whoever followed him into the police might have family problems like—”
“—him and mam, but that came later. In your mid teens, you were talking about joining—”
“—the force? I was only a vigilante.” I sip the rich brew, searching for a path around the sleeping flames. “That’s what tad called the Goth Patrol – before he inspired us. He must have dropped hints to your class too.”
He sputters. “Community service lectures – from every single emergency service. I never realised tad was behind those.” His turn to bury himself in his mug, then take a final swig.
I order more coffee – without tempting chocolate brownies. Will our chat end the sibling rivalry?
“That road traffic accident might not be arson. I presume you read my exhaustive report.”
I switch into case gear. “Yes. Our forensic guys agree with the ‘excessive petroleum splashes’. What could cause those in your experience?”
“A leaking petrol container.” He hesitates, rapping his knuckles together. “If the vehicle reached the right-hand side of the shop. I’ll run a test back at the station. Maybe a simulation. A smash-raid requires speed to damage the fuel tank.”
“Although, wasn’t it half inside the shopfront?”
Owen nods. “And not all the splatters were there. The raiders might have incinerated the car to destroy its identity.”
“We can still trace it.” If someone from NWP hasn’t yet run a search. “Our senior forensics guy, Liam Rhys detected the remains of a white dust. Not drugs or a harmless household product. Did you take a sample?”
My brother stares at me, eyes ablaze. “You accusing us of missing evidence? The powder is our dry chemical agent, stupid. I will send your Rhys what he needs to strike that off your suspicions, Meinwen.” He drains his coffee and stands. “I need to get back and investigate other incidents – pressing ones.”
Dismissed again. I follow him to the van. We don’t speak until we reach his workplace.
He smoulders as he parks, then slams his door when he gets out. “Thus, a smash-raid gone wrong. Your thieves torched the vehicle and caused a fire – not arson. I’ll put your forensics guy right and you can close your file.”
No fond farewell. He stalks away as if renewing our absurd rivalry.
R for Rivalry and Ram-raid. A for Arson and Anger. P for Petrol and Powder.
RAP sheet or PAR for our relationship?
If I add E for Evidence and Excuses, then PARE. Shave off the distracting details, for now.
I dial Forensics as I walk to my Kawasaki Ninja.
“Thanks Liam, for the detailed report on Y Bocs – The Jewel Box crime scene. I’ve just talked with the Fire Investigator – my evasive brother. He insists that the crumb was their chemical agent.”
“A chemical, but an unidentified incendiary.”
Why is Owen ignoring blatant evidence? To provoke or obstruct me? Petty most likely. Does he expect us to do his work? Although, he’s a professional.
“He’ll send you a specimen. Can you help find the actual powder?”
He chuckles. “On it. I’ll email you my conclusion.”
The station doors open and one appliance leaves heading towards town.
“Any identification found on the vehicle used? Or was it too badly torched?”
“The perpetrators tried to erase the plates and other marks. But not thoroughly enough. The 4×4 was a 2012 Dacia Duster registered to Poulsen Leach – reported stolen a week before the fire.”
My heartbeat rises, but tattoos sting. More convenient evidence – more questions for Poulsen and Olivia.
Half-an-hour weaving through lunchtime traffic focuses my racing mind.
Kama points at the new row of post-its across my desk. “Compliments of your friends stuck in this hot office. Enjoy.” She winks and takes half. “I desire you home early tonight.”
“For one of your tasty Tamil treats. As you’re cooking.”
More emails too – including Liam’s analysis of the crumb.
Material is an industry standard pyrotechnic flash powder composed of aluminium dust and potassium perchlorate. The natural colour is dark grey, but someone doctored this composition. Hence, it simulates the dry fire suppressant. Look for a pyrotechnician.
As Executive Producer of Oriole
Productions, Hugh B Arbuthnot has the special effects contacts. So, the means
to frame the son-in-law he belittles.
R for Ram-raid and Relations. U for Unreal and Used. F for Flash and Film. A for Accusations and Arson. D for Dacia Duster and Deception.
FRAUD. By who?