Caught Between A Cop And A Hard Case

Gethin overslept and awoke groggy eyed and fuzzy headed. The window was open and throughout the night a cool, frosty breeze had frequented the small bedroom. Forcing his tired eyes open, which at this point were thin slits, he let out a deep sigh and rolled over on to his other side. He reached out his arm for the window but it was just out of reach of his fingertips and so he relented and flopped back on the bed. The fresh air would probably do him good he thought to himself. Eventually, with various mutterings and groans of displeasure, Gethin extracted himself from the warm confines of his ‘Need for Speed’ duvet and stood shivering in his boxers. He was already late and at a guess, he reckoned his mobile phone sitting on the bedside table would have around four missed calls and several new texts. It wasn’t on silent or airplane mode, it was just that Gethin was an incredibly deep sleeper. Hence the reason he had slept through all three alarms. His deep sleep cycles were so bad, to the point that he had once slept through an entire day of college and had only been woken up when his mother had returned home from work early, to find him snoring loudly with the alarm clock actually sitting on his face. Upon further investigation, she had discovered that Rhys and Dylan had put it there for both practical and humour related reasons. According to Dylan, they had even cracked out a pair of symbols and a trumpet to aid in rousing, although Gethin and his mum weren’t entirely sure they believed them.

As Gethin stood there contemplating the universe and all existence, which on occasion he did at 8.45 in the morning, the door opened and Dylan announced his presence by mooning him proudly. He wasn’t entirely satisfied with seeing the moon at this time of day, even if he had previously been pondering the universe. After Dylan had felt he had sufficiently bared his derrière for long enough, he gave Gethin the obligatory finger and slammed the door. As the room rattled from the tremor of the door slam, Gethin consoled himself that at least he had only had to look upon one of his brother’s arse’s instead of being underneath it.

Downstairs, Gethin was surprised to find the kitchen empty for once. On further investigation, he discovered Rhys and Dylan playing PlayStation in the living room and spotted his mum hanging out the laundry in the garden. Gethin crept around the kitchen, as he made himself a morning coffee, trying to remain as silent as possible, in order to avoid a food and beverage order from the twins in the living room. Usually he would inevitably end up walking into a table or banging his head against a cupboard and giving the game away but today he was in luck. Coffee made and a bit of bread cooking in the toaster, Gethin sat down at the kitchen table and extracted a small, well thumbed paperback from under a pile of newspapers. Gethin loved books, his affiliation with them born out of his primary school days, where struggling to make any friends, he turned his attention to literary characters instead. These days, Gethin didn’t have much time for reading, what with the demanding hours of the job and the equally demanding and distracting efforts of his two younger siblings. Today however, he was graced with the good fortune of being able to indulge himself in a chapter of his book. Another of Stephen King’s masterpieces, Gethin was a big fan. So much so that he had even acquired the series of books written under Stephen King’s alias: Richard Bachman.

Gethin glanced at the clock above the window. He was running late, very late. However Gethin wasn’t one to get easily flustered and after all there was no point in rushing, as he was already late. What difference would five minutes make?

All the difference apparently. When Gethin finally arrived at work, he was met with a familiar and disheartening sight. Fran and Gethin were stood in front of the evidence board, bickering like two schoolchildren arguing over traded pokemon cards. Upholding his civic duty, Gethin chose to ignore the pair of them for the time being and retreated to the safety of Sergeant Paul’s desk.

‘Morning Paul.’

‘Gethin,’ Muttered Paul, not looking up from his daily Sudoku puzzle.

Silence followed their exchange, punctuated every now and then by Fran and Bridge’s elevated voices through the office door. Eventually Gethin whistled loudly and drummed his fingertips on the desk.

‘Good talk, Paul.’

Bracing himself for the inevitable shit storm that was to follow, Gethin made his way to the office doors and plunged into the unknown. It was only when the door had closed behind Gethin, that Paul looked up from paper, registering Gethin’s exit from the foyer.

Gethin entered the main headquarters room tentatively, holding on to the door with his hand till the last minute, in order to make as little noise as humanly possible. Fran was now seated and Bridge was stood in front of the evidence board, making enigmatic hand gestures. The two were red faced and appeared to have quietened somewhat, most likely too exhausted by one another. Gethin was reminded of when you attempt to push two magnets together at school and meet resistance between them. Fran and Bridge were the embodiment of the term opposing forces.

As he got closer however, he was met with a sight of such a bizarre nature that he had to pinch himself to make sure he wasn’t hallucinating. Fran was laughing. Not only that but Bridge was smiling. So bowled over by this turn of events, Gethin had to sit down in a nearby chair, slightly weak at the knees. Bridge pointed at something on the board and glanced around the room. It was then that he saw Gethin. He did a double take before actually absorbing the fact that Gethin had essentially materialized out of thin air.

‘Morning Gethin…didn’t see you there, gave me quite a turn.’

Fran twisted round in her chair and jumped in surprise at the silent Gethin, watching them intensely.

‘Jeez Geth, you trying to give me a heart attack.’

Gethin looked from Fran to Bridge then back again and realized that they eyed him with a look that a parent would give a absent teenager. Forcing himself up out of the chair, he shook out his wobbly legs and smiled suddenly, the low hanging dark cloud dissipating from above his head.

‘Sorry, I didn’t want to interrupt you guys. You looked like you were in the middle of something important.’

Both Fran and Bridge relaxed and beckoned him over to the evidence board eagerly. What neither of them had realized was that Gethin was utilizing every effort in his body to disguise his discomfort. Luckily, as a child Gethin had, for a time, been interested in acting and was very good at it. So much so, that people underestimated Gethin and upon first meeting took him to be a slightly naive and unaware young man. Whilst this was true to certain extent, Gethin had a habit of playing this aspect of his personality up. And what Bridge and Fran and a number of other people failed to realize was that Gethin was a rather accomplished police officer, due to the fact that he played dumb, using it to his advantage to glean information and find out important things when no one was paying enough attention.

‘Whilst you were having a nice lie in, some of us were up early working on new possible leads for the case.’

Gethin ignored Bridge’s slight remark and Fran’s reproachful look and moved in closer to the board, to inspect the latest developments. A few more photos and barely decipherable sections of texts had been added. It now grew more and more out of control, the various pins and strings, criss crossing over the board, connecting the relevant pieces of evidence to victims and suspects.

‘Whose that?’ He asked and tapped an old black and white photograph of a young, pretty woman with long brown hair. She wore a long flowery dress down to her knees and was knelt in a field of tall grass, smiling joyously. A pearl necklace hung around her neck. Her skin was light but tanned coppery brown by time spent outdoors in the summer.

‘Vera Mayhew.’ Fran said proudly, her chest swelling at the fact that Gethin had picked up on her discovery first.

Bridge looked a little disgruntled but hid it quickly, as he felt Fran’s eyes upon him and didn’t want to give her the satisfaction of seeing him beat. Gethin frowned at the photo and mulled over the name in his head. It meant something to him but was so vague it was hard to pinpoint. Fran smiled, glad that she wasn’t the only one who had found it hard to put the name to the face.

‘…She’s not…old crazy Vera who lives…over Cottles way?’

‘The very same.’ Fran confirmed, surprised that he had made the connection so fast.

‘My brothers used to chuck apples at her house when they were younger. Sent her into a right frenzy I can tell you.’ He laughed and shook his head in disbelief. ‘But she looks so different here, so young…and pretty.’

Gethin glanced at Fran. She looked serious all of a sudden. Bridge too was quiet and inspected something on the end of his shoe awkwardly.

‘What is it?’

Fran cleared her throat and placed a hand on his shoulder.

‘Now…I don’t want you to worry…straight away, at the end of the day…it is just a line of inquiry and it might mean nothing.’

‘What?’ Gethin replied, a nausea gripping his stomach all of a sudden. ‘What are you on about?’

‘Bridge has a lead…a theory to do with…some of the gangs.’

Bridge flashed Fran an expression of annoyance. Thanks, throw me under the bus why don’t you? He shot this question at her telepathically, hoping that the this would be a great time for his superpowers to kick in. Gethin groaned and already knew what she referred to, before he scanned over the board. There. His eyes snapped to a series of mugshots of young lads, all around the same sort of age, with similar hairstyles and clothing. However Gethin did not need a magnifying glass to pick out the two lads on the end. Rhys and Dylan stared back at him with cocky, slightly thug like expressions. Facial expressions that pretty much said ‘Up yours mun.’

Gethin could feel Fran and Bridge’s eyes upon him, waiting to gauge his response to this new development. Gethin needed to play it careful. It was important to show a certain level of shock but at the same time disheartened understanding. And most important of all, he had to keep his festering emotions at bay. The ones that wanted to rip free from his throat and scream at the board in front of him. To seize the thing by its edges and toss to the floor, before stamping on it repeatedly. Instead, he widened his eyes in alarm but just for a moment before sighing and kicking a nearby chair in frustration. It was a bit of an over the top reaction but necessary to at least vent some of his anger. Otherwise it would just build and build inside him until eventually it would burst out at another time, in a far less accommodating or appropriate situation.

‘Brilliant.’ He growled and glared at his brothers’ mugshots.

Bridge replaced the chair quietly, whilst Fran gave him a sympathetic smile.

‘I’m sure they have nothing to do with it. It’s a big gang at the end of the day…’ She trailed off, wanting to say more but not quite sure what to follow up with.

Gethin nodded and let his shoulders droop half heartedly.

‘I know. I just wish they weren’t so….’

He glanced up at the ceiling, searching for the right words.

‘Temperamental.’ Bridge suggested.

Fran glared at Bridge but Gethin clicked his fingers at him.

‘Exactly.’

The three fell into silence, all musing over the predicament of the two brothers. Eventually Fran sat down beside Gethin and said calmly.

‘If you want to take five and grab a coffee we can…’

Gethin shook his head, looking at the board decisively.

‘No…no, I’m alright. I’d rather just get on with it…if its all the same to you.’

‘Good man.’ Bridge said encouragingly.

Fran gave Bridge a sympathetic smile. Gethin was again taken aback by the civility of the two. Obviously, they noticed his sideways glance ,as they flushed red with embarrassment all of a sudden and moved away quickly. Bridge returned to the evidence board and turned on the spot, ready to make an announcement. Fran moved over to her desk and settled herself in her chair.

‘So…me and Fran have been talking over the case all morning and we have come to the conclusion… that the best course of action… is for you two to take a visit to Vera Mayhew’s and interview her about the witness.’

Gethin flapped his hand to interrupt. Bridge grimaced at the impolite gesture but kept a level head. It was no use enflaming the situation. As long as Gethin and Fran played ball he could get on with his side of the case and wrap things up quickly and jump on the first train back to London.

‘Yes, Gethin.’

‘How does old, crazy Vera link into this?’

Bridge straightened his tie slightly.

‘Vera Mayhew.’ He corrected.

Gethin rolled his eyes at Fran, who sniggered behind her hand.

‘Just so happens to live next door to our victim.’ Bridge continued, choosing to ignore their childish behaviour.

Gethin’s mouth dropped open a little and he turned to Fran for clarification.

‘Steven recognized him the case file photo.’

‘Which he shouldn’t have had access to.’ Bridge added.

‘Well it did help open this case didn’t it?’ Fran retorted.

Bridge opened his mouth to protest but Gethin beat him to it.

‘So we have a witness?’ Gethin said excitedly and sat up straight, his attention rapt on Bridge and the board.

This was brilliant. Not only did this mean they were closer to solving the case but also that their attention would be diverted from Dylan and Rhys. Unfortunately this promising news was soon crushed by Bridge, when he delivered his next part of the speech.

‘In the meantime I will analyze the tracksuit fragment for any hair or skin traces.’

Gethin felt his stomach lurch horribly as Bridge talked. He shifted uncomfortably. Good actor or not, Bridge noticed Gethin’s discomfort. He stored it to one side of his brain, his skill of compartmentalization coming in useful once again. Bridge was well aware of the importance but at the moment he had more pressing matters such as talking to the gang members. Much to his discomfort however Fran shot him down.

‘No way.’

‘But…’

‘May I remind you what happened when you tried to interview Gareth Owen.’ Fran warned, her eyes narrowing.

‘I know but…’

‘Not a chance.’

Bridge appealed to Gethin to provide him backup but had no luck.

‘I think Fran’s right.’

Bridge huffed loudly and dry washed his face.

‘Fine, I will talk to forensics and then see where we are at.’

Fran scrutinized him shrewdly, not trusting him to just look at the evidence and not go the next step further. However Bridge’s face was impassive and Fran couldn’t discern any hint of a hidden secret. Gethin was staring at the floor, trying not to think about Bridge poring over the tracksuit piece with a magnifying glass and tweezers.

‘Gethin?’

He looked up. Both Fran and Bridge were watching him.

‘What?’

‘I said, are you ready to go up to Vera’s now? Fran repeated.

Gethin nodded, a numbness in his head and body and lifted himself out of the chair. As he followed Fran out towards the station car park, he felt like he was floating on air, as opposed to walking on solid ground. The feeling was not freeing or comforting in the slightest but instead filled him with unease.

© [Daniel Ashby] and [Ashby Tales], [2015]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Daniel Ashby] and [Ashby Tales] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content

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