[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.
“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.
“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?
to Z Bloggers can be found via the Blogging from A to Z website’s Master List –
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