W for Whiplash – Azure Spark. Part 23

[Don’t miss the Music treat 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,]

WHIPLASH – Wednesday Dawn

Wounds washed by waves, we lie waiting. Bodies wrapped around each other in what remains of our splinter-lacerated wet-suits. The wind carries the sound of an outboard motor approaching.

A boat draws near to the rock island in Aberdaron Bay. Seabird residents watch our rescuers – the two detectives investigating our deaths.

“Thank God,” says Wiley in English as he rushes forward. “We were on the Llŷn when control alerted us.”

“Some locals reported glimpsing bodies out here on Ynys Gwylan-bach.” Vivian stares at us, eyes wide. The rips and gashes? “Actually, the two guys that found your wrecked boat. Helpful.”

I wriggle from Kama’s embrace. Wiley lifts me and Vivian assists.

“If you can walk, we’ll get you to the boat. Then we’ll return for you, Kama.”

I stagger. Feign weakness but drag myself upright. Wary, but there’s a witness. Padrig watches from the boat and hoists me as I struggle aboard.

“Welcome back. I feared my lessons had been wasted when we found your boat.”

While Wiley and Vivian retrace their steps to Kama, Padrig continues in Welsh.

“They show concern, but I’d watch out. They’ve been asking strange questions.”

Subtle tingling. A for Alert. W for Warning.

“Like what?”

“For one, how we found the boat and where? That was okay until today. They asked about this rock island – Ynys Gwylan-bach. Why here so far from the wreckage? Currents should have carried you and the wood from the hull in the same direction.”

“We swam towards the bay.”

He nods as our detective allies return. A for Allies. W for Weasel.

“We need to get those wounds treated,” says Wiley. “Splinter slashes might get infected.”

Once aboard, Vivian sits beside Wiley, knees touching as Padrig heads to Aberdaron.

“We have your belongings from the B&B in our squad car,” she says. “We went to Penrhos yesterday – in case you had both returned there.”

I shiver, apprehensive but not from the cooler air. E for Evidence.

Ashore, Padrig says, “I’ll be in the bar if you need me, genethod. Dywed yn dda am dy gyfaill, am dy elyn dywed ddim.”

Do our English colleagues understand? ‘Speak well of your friend; of your enemy say nothing.’ It doesn’t matter. He verifies the tremors – our quarry is near.

In the National Trust car park, Wiley opens the white Ford Focus’s tailgate, and nods at two suitcases with stickers promoting Patagonia.

“Apologies.” He palms his forehead. “We should have collected more suitable gear at your home. But nobody knows the codes –”

“–for our weird security doors,” says Kama. Not exactly true as Ffion does have them. “I’m okay with these colours – for a few hours.”

We change in the pub’s washroom. Wearing pastels instead of black is an acceptable price if we expose the vigilante. I repeat Padrig’s warning on the island to Kama – in Tamil. Public toilets have ears.

Outside, Wiley leads us back to the car park. “DI Baines wanted us to get you checked by a doctor. So were going to Tremadog – as it’s near the station.”

But with minimal facilities. Why are no paramedics here? No A&E arrangements? Ffion knows our injuries are superficial. But who cancelled routine medical response?

O for Orders. M for Misdirection.

Wiley hands Vivian the keys to the Focus, then climbs into the backseat beside Kama.

Are we being separated? I’m motioned to the front passenger seat by an unsteady Wiley.

“All this messing around in boats is exhausting.”

Vivian laughs and fastens her seatbelt. Then drives off along the B4413 towards Pwllheli.

“How long were you swimming before you reached the island? All night?”

Suspicious of our story. Both of them or just Vivian?

S for Suspect and Swimming.

I smile back. “Most of Tuesday night. We tried to land but there were rocks and cliffs. Hard to find anywhere at night.”

“Ynys Gwylan-bach was the first place we saw where we could land. By then it was light,” says Kama. “We slept for hours. Until you found us.”

“Keeping each other warm seems – strangely sensible.”

Our secret relationship is illicit in her eyes. AMOURS or ARMS?

Time this right. Wrangle it out. Wary.

“Basic survival. Our wetsuits were useless in the cold air.”

Silence. Vivian seems satisfied. Wiley is dozing.

Sweat on her forehead. She’s thinking. Plotting? Remembering?

The case that convicted her brother for arson?

“Have you seen your brother recently?”

She grits her teeth. Blinks but stares at the road. “He took me to the races at Chepstow on a recent day-off. Backed a few winners. He’s taking me to Ffos Las for Ladies Day later this month.”

Intentional evasion. She’s talking about her brother Quincy the goading polo player.

“And Xander?”

“Deservedly locked up – unlike the women that put him there.”

Her fingers grip the steering wheel tighter, turning white. Hate. Kama and me? Xander’s ex-wife and her queer partner? All of us?

“He set fire to the stables and poisoned their horses. Unprovoked and the jury found him guilty.”

“And ignored what drove him to breaking the law. You and your partner were the arresting officers. You ignored the provocation. Failed to report all the facts. Scorned divine law. I can’t forget, but enough said – for now.”

Impassive but sweating.

So, divine law makes me guilty. I’ve been a sinner for years – in chapel eyes. Even if I attend – when crime allows. Guilty. Vigilantes against Gay Pride? Unreal and yet too possible.

West of Mynytho, Vivian throws a left onto the smaller B4415. We’re thrown to off-balance as she weaves to straighten up down the lane between two stone walls.

Wiley is sound asleep. Trees close in.

“Where are we going?”

“Bangor – the A&E. Or aren’t you really injured?” She smirks as she accelerates. “You two are such fakes – except for your disgusting perversion.”

I try to grab the steering wheel, but she just wrenches it to the side again, scraping the stone wall.

“This time, I’ll dispose of you properly – and Wiley.”

A belt whips around her neck and I wrest the wheel from her, steering us onto the rain-soft verge where the wall ends.

“Never let an officer sit behind you with a whip for a belt. Wisdom 101.”

I blow a kiss at my colleague as I cuff Vivian, then drag her onto my side of the squad car.

“What did you give Wiley? A sleeping draught?”

Another sick laugh. “Nothing so inept. Diluted weever fish toxin sweetened with xylitol – no known antidote. But he knew the risks of not punishing criminals. Death.”

“Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. Why? Pric pwdin.”

“I don’t have to say anything. Not to you two dikes. To our DI, Ffion Baines – perhaps. Then, I will mention everything that I will rely on – if this ever gets to court. If anyone survives to witness this.”

A warped version of our police caution. Do we need to warn her officially? Yes.

Kama does as she secures Vivian inside the squad car.

X for Xylitol and Xenial. A for Amours, Arms and Alert. N for Nervous and Names. D for Directions and Deception. E for Envenom and Embittered. R for Retaliation and Revenge.

XANDER. How is he connected to murder? Is he the real threat?

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 –
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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

V for Vendetta – Azure Spark. Part 22

[Don’t miss the Music treat 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,]

VENDETTA – Tuesday 1 p.m.

Vague visions vex me as they vanish. Memories return as Kama kisses me.

“You fainted, cariad. You need more time to recover.”

She’s kneeling on the grass with my head in her lap. She caresses my face.

“No. We haven’t got time. I fear what Lagens väktare means.” I look up at Ffion and Uthyr, their brows creased. “I need to go online. On my sister Gwawr’s computer.”

We sprint to the house and I sign to my deaf sister.  

Upstairs in her room, the four of us squeeze behind Gwawr as she types Lagens väktare  into Google Translate.

“Guardians of the Law”

“Above the law. Vigilantes. That’s their motivation. And my hyper-active tattoos are screaming Arms.”

“Explosives?” asks Ffion. “Like they used on your boat? Or guns?”

“The canisters were not tall enough for long weapons,” says Kama. “But disassembled ones, handguns, or components would be a viable guess.”

Uthyr waves me to the doorway. I trust my sister, but guessing she can lip read, Uthyr asks, “Should we talk outside?”

“Gwawr’s my trusted researcher – and my late tad knew that – as does Ffion. She knows more than mam-“

“-About you and Kama as well?” His smile eases my racing pulse. “Yes, I suspected when I arrived. You make a great couple and my unit would validate that.”

As they look over at us, we call the others over and suggest grabbing tea or coffee and sitting outside.

Drinking as we sit on the wooden bench overlooking the farm, I attempt to relax. This is almost home – this working farm. The sound of sheep. The glistening water where Kama and I swam before not making love. Better to dive in again to banish the nightmare.

Utkin. Xander Utkin.

“Ffion, does Vivian’s personnel file show any relationship to Xander Utkin, the guy Kama and I put away for arson, earlier this year?”

Our DI closes her eyes. A long pause when I wonder if this thread is coincidence.

“Vivian admitted Xander was her brother when she applied to join CID, three months ago. However, she was estranged from him and said he deserved to be locked up.”

Connected. Disapproval.

“Any sign that she feels that we are too soft on crime?”

“None. Like all of us she sympathizes with the victims. Works tirelessly to resolve cases. I suspect that’s one of the reasons that Wiley-“

“-Obsesses about her,” says Kama. “Those two are inseparable. Perhaps another team.”

Perhaps vigilantes. Or are they virtuous?

“Their follow-up on your deaths,” says Ffion, “has been exacting and sensitive.”

V for Vigilantes or Virtuous. E for Exacting and Explosives.

A mobile phone rings. Uthyr’s.

“Varley.” He listens, one hand rubbing his neck. “On the move? Which direction?” He nods then glances at his watch. “I’m forty minutes away at least. Follow them and keep me informed.” He snaps his phone closed.

Njörðr Hämnaren has cast off?” I ask. “Heading where?”

“East. Possibly towards Liverpool so outside the NWP’s operational area. But not my Marine Unit’s. If necessary, I’ll contact our colleagues at Merseyside Police. We’ll continue monitoring the transponder signals. Ffion, your team must find the vermin that think they are above the law.”

M for Merseyside and Monitor.

Uthyr leaves us strategizing beside the llyn.

“If we’re to draw them out,” says Kama. “Sparkle and I are the prime bait and-“

“-Your usual jeopardy approach,” says Ffion. “Last time nearly got you both killed.”

“Nearly is not stopping me. Fainting was just a memory recall device – that worked.”

Like my tingling tattoos.

W for Weapons. A for Arms. E for Explosives. S for Strategy.

V for Vendetta. Ours.

WAVES. Staggering ashore having survived the watery nightmare. Where?

“Sparkle and I must return to Aberdaron Bay and drown again.”


Aberdaron Beach – © Copyright Eirian Evans and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

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 –
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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

R for Rogue – Azure Spark. Part 18

[Music treat 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,]

ROGUE – Monday Afternoon

Regatta races are never routine. Padrig’s factors are in play as he leads us rank and file racers. We were warned. That includes the risk awaiting us on the Swedish yacht. Ffion tried to alert us, but thrills win every time.

Evading rivals, we jibe too violently. Lose ground – and the wind.

Patience. Rationalize. But we like to win – whatever the odds.

As I steer us back into the breeze, my mind dual-tracks. Sailing and strategy. Both risky but only one roils my stomach.

Rashmi shifts her weight as my next jibe is precise.

We’re no longer last.

Will Peder and Pia Pilkvist expect better? Reject us for shit boat-handling? Fail us – with the case wide open?

Unlikely. They implied time was tight. But They know something.

A boat closes on us. The next turn needs to be tight. No room for error.

Setup perfect. Jibe gentle. Danger passed.

Smiles. For now.

Mistakes have been made. We know we have a renegade copper. A police officer with a price. Our heads?

No suspects before we left Porthmadog. None now we are on our own.

We cut inside another boat on the next turn. Gain another place.

Sailing might become a serious pastime. Rashmi’s beaming’s face underlines that – if we can abandon swimming.

Never.

I glance at my watch. Not long left

Raucous cries ring from the shore. Local fans and tourists. Drowning out the roars from crews exhorting their partners for a final push.

 Our interaction is mental. Written on our faces and in our pounding blood. We are a team. Unstoppable.

Except in a regatta. Trailing in mid-pack – also-rans. Padrig and his racing partner win again.

“Do we congratulate them?” I ask. But Peder and Pia Pilkvist are waving us over to the night-black luxury sailing yacht that looms offshore.

We lower our sails as we draw alongside. Peder motions to the stern which rears over us. He throws us a line, and we secure our Aberdaron boat.

A metal ladder hangs off the yacht. We climb up, past the blood red name

“Welcome aboard the Njörðr Hämnaren,” says Pia, simpering like a snake. “She can out-sail most yachts in her class – when we choose to compete. Not today though.”

The couple lead us to the cockpit which I recognise as highly automated. A necessity with a minimal crew.

“Did you sail her here alone?” I ask, wondering if we are expected to help with the yacht.

“All the way,” says Pia. “With all the technology installed, especially the computer-controlled electric winches controlling the sails, it was leisurely.”

State-of-the-art navigation equipment from what I can tell. Someone has money from somewhere. Illegal goods?

“All we lack,” says Peder, “is a submersible.” He laughs. “Human divers are preferable – especially at night and close to the rocks.”

So, a night dive. No witnesses. What does that mean? Has the rogue cop set us up? Rocks are treacherous too.

Cold fingers crawl up my spine. T for Treachery.

“Our money. The risk – deep diving at night close to the shore.” My lowered voice is not fake concern. Every tattoo screams. “Five thousand pounds at least.”

Am I provoking a fight? Or testing their commitment? Our worth?

“Acceptable.” Without hesitation. “But first, we move the Njörðr Hämnaren around the coast.” Pia’s mask slips. Warning light. “While you two check the equipment we acquired for you. Best scuba gear available.”

An attachment on the sonar depth indicator catches my eye. Like a vehicle tracker. My glance shifts to an out-of-place garden gnome. On a yacht? An electronic component smuggled into Wales?

But the gnome is staged. For us.

Peter taps his watch.

“Time to run those safety checks in the aft cabin. Go below and it’s the one nearest the stern. We will tell you when we’ve reached the dive site.”

As we head into the plush space below, Rashmi says, “Every sense says get off this ride. Our cover is blown. But we are reduced to one choice. Dive.”

I squeeze her hand as we reach the smallest cabin and inside find the scuba gear.

Brand-new with labels still attached. Staging? Sizes are right. Air tanks are full. We run through all the checks Varley taught us.

“These gloves, boots and hood fit snugly. But we use our own special wetsuits – for luck,” says Rashmi. “And certainty.”

S for Safety and Security. T for Treacherous and Tanks. E for Electronics. P for Price.

STEP. Forward or into the unknown?


Photos by Peter Ainsworth – Aberdaron Sailing Club
http://www.hwylio-llyn.co.uk/home.htm

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

C for Coma – Azure Spark. Part 3

[This story will be posted in full after the Challenge for those of us that like to read everything in one complete telling,]

COMA – Tuesday Late Afternoon

“Coma complications?” Not what I want to hear. “Still unconscious?”

The doctor is quick to clarify. “No, they’re awake but confused. It may not be worth you coming back in – at least not again today. I’ll tell your uniformed colleague to call you.”

“Can they talk? What have they said?” My tattoos stab me. I dread his reply.

“Nothing significant. They are rambling and can’t even remember their names and I would prefer that they are not pressured into remembering. My preliminary diagnosis is retrograde amnesia. They have both lost a substantial proportion of their declarative memory, especially their autobiographical recollections.”

He launches into a detailed description of how the brain functions. Enough for me to know they have post-traumatic brain injuries from a blow to the head. Concussion.

Unravelling their identities is my task. Heart beats quicken. My case, my challenge.

“Keep me informed of their condition, doctor. I’ll ring if I discover anything. We have created composite images from the photos that forensics took. Somebody will know who they are.”

Mobile off, I consider the best course. Calm the clamour of scenarios. Alone is best – or with Kama. She must wait.

Aberdaron is a small village although tourists swell the numbers, but someone might recognise our two men.

The church sits just above the beach and opposite are the pubs. One seems more frequented by the locals and I approach the bar.

“Myrica Gale,” I say in Welsh, hoping they stock the seasonal stout. I’m on-duty but who is going to report me.

The barman smiles and pours me a pint. “Perfect Welsh but not local. Nor a tourist. Journalist?”

I laugh. “Heddlu.”

His brows lift. “Not your average copper, more like a biker chick. Investigating the assaults?”

“I’m impressed, but publicans are a sharp lot. First, I need to identify them.” I call up the photos on my smart phone and show him. “Do you know them? Either of them?”

He shakes his head. “Never seen them before, and nobody seemed to know them when the bodies were found. I don’t think they were even tourists.”

Not what I want to hear, but there are no easy cases. That’s the challenge – the charge to my life.

“I also need to find a local boat builder – clinker boats.”

“Our Aberdaron beach boats, not many of those left. Even fewer builders. You’re best asking at the Porth y Swnt Visitor Centre – they have one of the boats there. And they might have a list of builders.”

With his directions, I find the centre and the clinker-built exhibit.

A guide approaches me.

“Beautiful boat,” she says in English.

I detect her lilt and reply in our mutual tongue. “Clinker built. She must be old. Are there many builders left?” I show her my warrant card.

Relief floods her face. “I expected you to be a tourist. Sorry. I’ve never met a police woman like you.” Her blushing face appeals, but it’s not attraction. “Over 100 years old and there are very few builders. Most of the boats are restored in Porth Meudwy, but this exhibit was restored at Felin Uchaf Educational Centre in Rhoshirwaun near Pwllheli.”

Stay focused. “And are the restoration techniques unchanged? I’m following a lead into boat building.” Attractions are dangerous. But one risk was worthwhile.

“Pretty much traditional. Best to ask the builders themselves, starting with Guto Thomas at Meudwy.”

*

https://www.ukholidayguide.co.uk/porth-meudwy—near-aberdaron—gwynedd—north-wales-47-p.asp

The National Trust track to the cove is closed to the public vehicles but not to me or my motorbike. Clinker built lobster boats on trailers line one side near a single stone cottage. Beyond beside the sea are a couple of old Land Rovers and the tractors for launching the boats including the ferry to Bardsey Island.

I find a man working on a boat – he’s about forty, five foot six, black hair and wiry. Clean Celtic blue coveralls.

“Guto Thomas? I’m DC Anwyl,” My Welsh relaxes him. “The Visitors Centre said you might be able to help.  I’m investigating the Aberdaron assaults and I need to learn about the Aberdaron boats. One of the men may have been building one.”

A long shot but my instinct – my tattoos – have never lied. Maybe they’re misleading if I misread them. Caution is for colleagues. But my head says careless kills.

His dark eyes read me. “Well. our traditional Aberdaron beach boat was clinker built, transom sterned and single masted, and under 15 feet in length so they could be handled by two men.” He pauses but I don’t curb his enthusiasm. “Each one was slightly different as they were built specifically for the individual fisherman who would be using them. We only restore them now…although there a few replicas. Not the real boat.”

Memorise the details. My tattoos cry ‘continue’.

“Do you all use traditional materials in the restoration? Pitch or tar for instance.”

“Most do, but some take short cuts – not that a layman would notice. I still use pitch over the caulking. Others use the modern alternatives. You suspect a builder was involved?”

“One of the victims might have been in contact with pitch.” I hand him my smartphone with the photos.

Guto studies the two guys. “These guys asked my advice as they wanted to rebuild an old lobster boat, one of them had bought.”

“Did they give their names or where they were from.”

“Not local but from the Llŷn – Nefyn area. They said they were… Ellis Evans and Vic Vaughn.”

Fairly common names but a valuable step forward.

“Did they come here more than once? When did you last see them?”

He glances at a chandler’s calendar. “Last week, on Monday. I showed them how to seal the hull with caulking and pitch.”

A sigh. Relief my tattoo hunch works.

P for Pitch. But no motive for the A for Assault – or A for Accident. Minimal evidence and confused victims. E for Evidence. C for Confusion.

PACE. Never waver. Dig deeper.

“Were they far enough advanced with the boat to try to launch at the weekend – before the storm?”

Guto shakes his head. “Impossible. They were slow workers. Enthusiastic but amateurs who might have ignored the storm warnings. But they said they had to go to Cardiff for a midweek deep-water diving course.”

Cardiff is almost 200 miles from Aberdaron. Did they go on the course?

As a wild swimmer, I know about the dangers of diving. Decompression?

http://www.rhiw.com/y_pentra/holiday_cottages/tir_glyn/tir_glyn.htm

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