K for Knuckle-duster – Azure Spark. Part 11

[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,]

KNUCKLE-DUSTER – Friday Midday

Kama’s knowledge of kickboxing keeps me alert to her moves in the gym. One hesitation and I’m flattened Nan bread. She gives no quarter. Nor do I.

 Sweat washes off as she soaps my hair.

“How soon is the deep-water course – and the regatta?”

“Tomorrow is the training on Ynys Môn. Anglesey has great dive sites. Sunday, we try out our Aberdaron boat. Monday, we race. So, no pressure.”

“Just that spot where your palm is playing on my right cheek. But enjoyable.”

I kiss her. “Just returning your attentive touch. We better sneak out separately. Remember the warning.”

There are strange looks when I return to the office, even though Kama is back conferring with Wiley. He’s proved one of our understanding friends – even if he’s captivated with Vivian. Supportive friends are too few. If only others were like PC Megan Matthews and her husband Cefin who protect our secret.

A new email arrives. Kristina Yoxall, our tame journalist.

“Story understood and appearing as attached in this afternoon’s online edition. If you approve. I expect my usual kickback – advance details of another successful outcome.”

The story is brief and baited:

Returning Tremadog athletes, Sioned Wilkins and Rashmi Sharma, 23 and 28, have announced they are entering the Aberdaron Regatta. Their first race is on Monday. They paid special tribute to Guto Thomas of Porth Meudwy, who restored the boat they are racing. In advance of their practice day on Sunday, the former champion divers said, “Our return to the Llyn Peninsula, where we grew up, is a great honour.”

If the lure isn’t taken, I’m stumped. For now, my heart surges. Suggesting a few word changes, I email Kristina. Then ring Guto.

“Mister Thomas, this is Sparkle Anwyl. Did you get my message?”

“About a boat for our regatta? Yes. I have the perfect one. Bit fancy and she should turn heads like any fine lass. But she won’t win anything else.”

“Other than catching the right breeze, the aim is to catch our attackers.”

“Suppose you know what you’re doing. What about in a boat?”

We are more familiar with being in the water, but I refrain from saying that.

“All advice is welcome. Can you help us? We aim to collect the boat early Sunday –”

“– If you are here at 5 AM, we can help. Won’t breathe a word about you being Heddlu. You’re one of us. Goodwill. And good sailing.”

“Thanks. We’ll be there prompt – Sioned Wilkins and Rashmi Sharma. Former champion deep-sea divers.”

A chuckle confirms Guto is our man – our boat builder.

A pleasant tingle as I press my bracer. G for Guto and Goodwill. L for Llyn and Lure. A for Aberdaron. E for Edition.

LEGAL. Are we? Will CPS approve of our actions? Does it matter if the Swedish kingpins use every weapon against us? Not just gaffs, staves and knuckle-dusters, but knives and guns.

Lethal force.

For further details on this theme visit my Blogging from A to Z Theme Reveal, and on the evolution of Sparkle Anwyl visit Snowdon Shadows.

Other A to Z Bloggers can be found via the Blogging from A to Z website’s Master List –
http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/2019/03/link-to-view-master-list-and.html

^*^

And now for something completely different.

“Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.” William Congreve – The Mourning Bride

J for Jeopardy – Azure Spark, Part 10

[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,]

JEOPARDY – Thursday Evening

Jackdaw jigs keep us entertained as Kama and I relax on our patio, enjoying the evening sun and breeze. Negesydd had adopted us and even assists on cases.

“He’s entitled to time off too – and I’m glad your fraud case is nearing a conclusion.”

“Once Wiley and Ffion think we have enough material for CPS.”

Unless the Criminal Prosecution Service feel a judge and jury would dismiss the case. A chill settles over me. My stomach is heavy.

“I need a witness to the assault on Stefan and Ivan – and identities for their rich assailants if my Aberdaron case is going to progress further.”

“But you’ll find them and the motive.”

An idea sparks in my head and my tattoos. R for Regatta.

“Want to enter the Aberdaron regatta? Late entry.”

Kama leans against me and whisper-kisses my ear. “Sounds like one of your typical ploys. A risk. And a rush. So yes.”

I snigger and kiss her, tasting grape and lemongrass.

“If our rich Swedes want divers who can sail, we can oblige. Ffion should endorse the sting. With Stefan in supposed custody and Ivan on the run –”

“– They might bite. Our lives in jeopardy as usual.” She winks and caresses me. “So, early to bed tonight. Exercise. Tomorrow, and early swim session. Then you devise a plan with Ffion.”

"Coloeus monedula -Ham Common, London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, England-8" by Maxwell Hamilton from Greater London, England United Kingdom - Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Coloeus_monedula_-Ham_Common,_London_Borough_of_Richmond_upon_Thames,_England-8.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Coloeus_monedula_-Ham_Common,_London_Borough_of_Richmond_upon_Thames,_England-8.jpg
An adult Jackdaw on Ham Common, London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, England ~ Photo by Maxwell Hamilton – Flickr

Friday Morning

Ffion reads my satisfied grin as I bring her a cup of mint tea.

“Hopefully your colleagues don’t interpret joyous rapture for what it is. Remember keep that at home. So, I presume the case has progressed due to our custody visitor’s revelations.”

I’m outmanoeuvred so I hand her the flash drive with my plan. She studies the details, her expressions ranging from a grin and nod to pursed lips with a long frown to close.

“The money guys will balk at this – unless most of it is done off-duty. Your lives will be in jeopardy as usual – but I expect that with you and Kama.”

“We’ve agreed to do the training off-duty – but I fear time is short so –”

“– We might need to fast track your diving licenses. What’s your current status?”

Our wild water swimming is already challenging. Ffion knows that. Lying isn’t necessary.

“More than proficient. We need more deep-water hours.”

“I can arrange that with the North West Police Underwater Search & Marine Unit  – and adjust your off-duty days. Issuing a license won’t be a problem. You want to leak the bait through the press?”

My body thrills at the thought of decisive action. My fingers tap bracer studs.

 L for Lure. O for Off-Duty. And J.

“Our tame journalist will spread the fake news. She’s reliable – despite her jealousy at our not-so-glamorous jobs.”

We laugh together. The plan will only work if the rich couple are desperate after losing Stefan and possibly Ivan.

Too many variables.

“Why do you think the Swedish couple need divers and a fishing boat?” Ffion raises her eyebrows.

Our wildcard. “The freighter jettisons its illegal cargo off Aberdaron. Divers are needed to recover the goods.”

“Interesting lateral thinking. What inspired that? Wine or passion?”

Her teasing eyes prompt an honest answer. “Both.”

Memories of our evening – after Negesydd hopped away – blood my cheeks and send finger spirals up my spine.

I force them down and let my tattoos feed in.

K for Knowledge and Kama. I for Intrigue. L for Lure and License. J Journalist and Jeopardy. O for Off-Duty and Ops. Y for Yield and Yester-eve.

KILLJOY. Our penny-counters or someone else?

Ffion’s smile turns serious.

“When this case is closed, I have a new mystery for you both. It’s minor – non-CID incidents now. But ones I’m watching. Seemingly unrelated jewel thefts – low value items, trinkets but from tourists.”

“Intriguing. When you want our input, let us know. Meantime, I’ll work on the diving scheme.”

“I’ll monitor the jewel incidents – perhaps let you see something in advance. Unofficially. Get some judicious feedback.”

For further details on this theme visit my Blogging from A to Z Theme Reveal, and on the evolution of Sparkle Anwyl visit Snowdon Shadows.

Other A to Z Bloggers can be found via the Blogging from A to Z website’s Master List –
http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/2019/03/link-to-view-master-list-and.html

^*^

And now for something completely different.

“Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.” William Congreve – The Mourning Bride

I for Intent – Azure Spark. Part 9

[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,]

INTENT – Thursday Afternoon

Intuitive interviews are rare, but I have an instinctive partner. Wiley keeps the doctor and nurses entertained – distracted – while we talk to Vic Vaughn.

Vic attempts confused and almost succeeds. Nonsense phrases and swaying head suggest insanity or evasion.

“Where are you from in Sweden?” I ask. His feigned English is inadequate to con us.

Vic shrinks. “I’m no illegal immigrant. I’ve valid visas from your embassy. Expensive but I pay, legally.”

“And your present job?” Kama studies him intently. “Where is it?”

“I can’t go back – yet. I’m Stefan Mikaelsson, a landscaper from Ince-in-Makerfield. They know.”

His gaze flicks from side to side. Kama and I interchange our probing inquiries.

“Near Wigan. Who knows?” she asks.

I taste his fear and feel the trauma.

“The guys that need us to dive. Their identity is unknown. Rich and Swedish but that’s all I know.”

Blood races and tattoos tingle. Inbred? Resist hasty conclusions. There must be more.

Breathe. Don’t rush him.

“Your friend ran. Do you know why? Ellis Evans – what’s his real name?”

“Ivan Tjäder. He fears them too. But he’s a fighter and challenges them once. All we wanted was to race the boat.”

What does a Swedish company want with an Aberdaron fishing boat? And divers? Not treasure. Smuggling?

“What did the couple demand?” asks Kama. “After you completed the course?”

Stefan’s eyes dart between us. “They pay for the training. They expect us to dive at night – for sea jewels, they say. Ivan accuse them of lies and refuse. Call them gangsters. We all fight.”

“Where? With fists?”

My finger taps G for Gaff as he replies.

“On their yacht before sailing, by a jetty near Llandudno. We use fists, but they have hooks and staves.” His head droops with my heart. “Then I wake here. Confused until memories come. I can’t leave.”

I anticipate Kama’s reply.

“You will be safe with us in Porthmadog.”

I tap my bracer studs.

I for Identity, Ivan and Intent. J for Jewels and Jetty. G for Gaff and Gangster. S for Stefan and Staves. A for Assault and Aberdaron. W for Wigan and Waterlogged.

JIGSAW. The investigation coming together. Or sawn into pieces?


Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor, Wales (Image: Daily Post)

For further details on this theme visit my Blogging from A to Z Theme Reveal, and on the evolution of Sparkle Anwyl visit Snowdon Shadows.

Other A to Z Bloggers can be found via the Blogging from A to Z website’s Master List –
http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/2019/03/link-to-view-master-list-and.html

^*^

And now for something completely different.

“Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.” William Congreve – The Mourning Bride

H for Halestorm – Azure Spark. Part 8

[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,]

HALESTORM – Thursday Morning

Holyhead hides hindrances I need to fathom. Reasons for the GEE package to go via Pembroke Dock. The harbourmaster confirmed ships from Scandinavia do dock at Holyhead, although more often in Liverpool. Still, a better port for North Wales.

I’m being hoodwinked. Taken in by a bloody herring. My tattoos tingle and my finger taps my bracer.

N for North Wales. B for Boats. I for Indecision. NIB or BIN.

My coffee is empty, so I leave the café. Walk along the harbour seeking inspiration. Seagulls screech and lorries honk. Hail has driven shoppers inside as missiles hammer wet streets.

Officially, I’m not here – not to the penny pinchers. Damn their interference. They are my biggest hurdle. But it’s my day-off, when I get to relax at home – or power though bends with Kama. But she is on-duty with Wiley – in Holyhead hearing out suspects in the fraud investigation.

Cadging a lift was easy. A chance to be with Kama – for the drive.

So near to the hospital in Bangor, yet miles away. Interviewing Vic Vaughn is still hindered by money counters. Austerity sucks. Ffycin nhw.

The hail lets up. A brief reminder of the weekend’s storm. Where was the Swedish freighter during the storm? Further north. Acting normally, even though an online search reveals the freight line and GEE have the same parent company. Harmless? Honest?

The hunch – the stab of tattoos screams guilty. Why?

Lateral moves.

Visualize the coastline. Places to avoid. Rocks. Wreckers in another century. Treacherous areas in the storm. The Llyn has a few – most notably Hell’s Mouth, or Porth Neigwl.

Valuable cargoes looted. Hijacked.

Smugglers. Defrauding customs.

The drab office block where I meet Kama and Wiley overlooks the thrashing sea.

“We’re done here, cariad.” Kama kisses me openly. “Wiley has a digression planned – unofficial.”

He directs us to the squad car in the building’s carpark.

“A lead at the Bangor hospital – your lead.” He grins at me. “Tenuously connected to ours But Bangor is on our way home.”

My tattoos tingle as warmth builds in waves.

R for Rocks and Reasons. E for Evidence and Evasion. D for Decisive and Divers.

Plus, I for Intent and Investigation. B for Boats and Buildings. N for North Wales.

INBRED. But in which way? Inherent or from inbreeding?

Wiley tunes the squad car radio to a local station playing my music.

Kama beams. “Halestorm. Lzzy rocks.”

Holyhead Port, North Wales – http://holyheadport.co.uk/

For further details on this theme visit my Blogging from A to Z Theme Reveal, and on the evolution of Sparkle Anwyl visit Snowdon Shadows.

Other A to Z Bloggers can be found via the Blogging from A to Z website’s Master List –
http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/2019/03/link-to-view-master-list-and.html

^*^

And now for something completely different.

“Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.” William Congreve – The Mourning Bride

G for Greed – Azure Spark. Part 7


[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,] 

GREED – Wednesday Mid-afternoon

Göteborg is well outside my remit, but that won’t stop me. Kama might have Interpol contacts, but gentle persuasion gestures. Garden products will be on the manifest of the correct Scandinavian ship dock at Pembroke Dock. And customs will have the details.

The message request to SWP permits me to go direct.

“Detective Anwyl from North Wales Police. I’m checking on some garden products from Göteborg and wondered if you can tell me anymore about them, the ship and the day they arrived. The goods were dispatched to Caernarfon yesterday.”

“I can see what we have, detective. Stay on the line while we check.”

While the music plays, my mind delves into options. Göteborg is one, but gaff as a weapon is another. The forensic report doesn’t mention a weapon, but something caused the injuries and the knock-out blows.

Or does gaff mean, in slang terms, someone divulged a secret. A motive for attempted murder? Is Ellis Evans on the run from his attacker?

“I found your shipment, Detective Anwyl. The products referred to garden gnomes.” My mind spins as he continues. “The freighter from Göteborg docked on Monday, just after the storm.”

Gnomes don’t sound electrical. Glowing eyes? Garden glitter doesn’t justify assault.

“Was the freighter carrying anything of concern to HMRC? Was this the only consignment for Göteborg Electric Engineers?”

A click of a keyboard. “No. It was a routine import, and the garden gnomes were the only consignment for Göteborg Electric Engineers. Anything else I can do for you, detective?”

Regular shipment or one-time?

“Have there been other goods for GEE in the last few months?”

More keystrokes. “Not for that company. The freighter from Göteborg has docked here once before – last month. Do you need those details? That might take a few minutes. Anything else, detective?”

“You can email them to me at North Wales Police. If I have further questions, I’ll call back. Otherwise, many thanks for your help.”

Close eyes and tweak threads. Heartbeat growing.

First reaction, drugs. The only thing that might justify assault. Unless I am being led astray. Minimal clues, minimal evidence. One man is missing, and one man is confused – or he is pretending to be that way. No leads on my screen, and my tattoos are silent.

Reverse gear.

I need an excuse to leave the office to interview our remaining victim. But he needs to say something that the penny-pushers class as ‘germane’.

His wounds. Forensics must know something relevant.

“We know there were extensive claw-like wounds on the victims. Do you know what caused them, Liam?”

“An item made of steel, but they are uneven so not a claw-like weapon. We found no sign of anything else that might assist our inquiries into that. Do you have a lead?”

“A theory. A gaff – a steel hook with a handle for landing large fish. Could that have been used?”

The suggestion stumps Liam for a moment.

“Have you found one? Send it over if you have. We need to analyse all possible assault weapons. And a gaff has a stout handle that can be used to hit someone, causing a concussive blow to the head.”

“As I said, it’s a theory. Now a lead that I’ll pursue. Thanks Liam.”

But where? A vague hope that might be a red herring.

Or herring as in the fishes caught by the Aberdaron boats.

Kama walks over to my desk and places a bag beside me, winks, then heads back to where Wiley’s team are gathered. The bag is my lunch that I forgot to buy.

Dates, ham sandwich, and haloumi cheese.

D for Dates and Docks. H for Ham, Haloumi and Holyhead.

Why didn’t a freighter from Göteborg dock further north? Pembroke makes no sense.

Ellis Evans knows perhaps.

I for Injuries and Interview. E for Evasion and Evidence.

HIDE. Is he hiding out of greed or fear? Greed if he doesn’t want to share with Vic Vaughn. Fear if there are people after him – hired hands.


Team Deep Sea Flying Butt Gaff 

For further details on this theme visit my Blogging from A to Z Theme Reveal, and on the evolution of Sparkle Anwyl visit Snowdon Shadows.

Other A to Z Bloggers can be found via the Blogging from A to Z website’s Master List –
http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/2019/03/link-to-view-master-list-and.html

^*^

And now for something completely different.

“Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.” William Congreve – The Mourning Bride

F for Fraud – Azure Spark. Part 6

[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.

Focus.

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.

Ffyc.

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?”

“Porthmadog.”

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?

For further details on this theme visit my Blogging from A to Z Theme Reveal, and on the evolution of Sparkle Anwyl visit Snowdon Shadows.

Other A to Z Bloggers can be found via the Blogging from A to Z website’s Master List –
http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/2019/03/link-to-view-master-list-and.html

^*^

And now for something completely different.

“Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.” William Congreve – The Mourning Bride