Here’s our continuation of our serialised novel, if you missed part 1, catch up here.
As Rhodri was enjoying his cake, a Police Constable in the Blackpool Borough Force, was patrolling his regular beat on the seafront promenade. It was 9.50pm, the wind from the sea was cruel and didn’t take prisoners, PC Martin Yates struggled to keep his feet when the more ferocious gusts ripped at him hard. The town had been shut for about one month and the popular summertime seaside resort was as quiet as the grave, interrupted mercilessly by the roar of the westerly wind.
Blackpool hardly ever saw frost, and snow was extremely rare, almost every fall would soon be turned into slush by the salty air that seemed to cut through to the very bone. Blackpool in winter had its own type of cold and Martin wanted a cigarette but most of all wanted to be snuggled up with his new wife in their matrimonial home in South Shore. He couldn’t be with her but he could have a smoke. On his particular beat; known as ‘the golden mile’, he always used the same shelter for his ‘fag break’ and it was just a few strides away from its familiar haven. As he drew closer, through the dim light, he could see the shape of a person huddled in the corner, a man possibly and not appearing to be sitting on one of the benches that ran along the back and down both sides but actually on the floor. At first sight Martin thought the figure had a white newspaper on his chest and presumed it was to stave of the cold a little but the night was a killer and anyone sleeping rough may soon perish so he gently kicked the man’s feet.
“Come on now!” He said. “You can’t sleep here.” The person didn’t move. Martin drew his torch and shone it in the man’s face and could clearly see the man was black, didn’t have a coat and for protection only wore a pair of thin trousers and a blue nylon shirt. Again he kicked his feet. “Come on now!” He repeated but this time even louder than before. Still the man did nothing. Martin turned on his torch bent closer and read a note hanging around the man’s neck. He had previously mistaken the note for a newspaper but now he could plainly see it was attached to a noose and read. ’Niggers Beware KKK.’ Nothing had trained Martin for this. Not a dead body. Not in winter. Nothing ever happened in Blackpool in the winter. Things only ever happened in the summer when all sorts of thieves and vagabonds gathered to hide in the massive crowds of holiday makers.
In blind panic he dropped his torch which broke on impact on the concrete floor. Reaching for his whistle he gave three long blasts and repeated it six times. As his head began to clear, he remembered the Police Call Box outside the town hall. He ran as fast as he could and called the incident in.
Rhodri finished his cake, licked his fingers then wiped his sticky hands on his tweed jacket. If it wasn’t for his landlady Mrs Gladstone, regularly taking his laundry and giving it a thorough clean followed by a crisp ironing, Rhodri’s clothes would tell a tale of every morsel that had passed his lips within the week. He pulled out the choke, turned the ignition keys and his 6 cylinder car roared to life. The radio was tuned to Luxemburg who’s signal repeatedly faded to a crackle and then rose to full volume and the voice of Elvis Presley singing ‘You ain’t nothing but a hound dog’, filled the vehicle for a few seconds and disappeared almost as if the King had gone back to Memphis. Rhodri took the column change gear lever and selected first and as the stick came closer to his face he used it as a microphone and briefly sang along whilst he turned and headed South towards Ponty and Cardiff, his headlights catching a glimpse of the bare trees that lined the roads. A thick layer of grime had settled on his windscreen and he tried to clear it with his wipers only to make matters worse at first but soon it cleared and Rhodri sat comfortable as he prepared for the five hour journey back to London.
At the scene where the body had been found, there amassed five Constables and two Senior Detectives. Martin sat in the back of a Humber Hawk motor car sipping hot sweet tea a colleague had kindly obtained from one of the few Hotels still open that time of year.
Through the steamy windows, he watched as an ambulance crew carried a stretcher into the back of their vehicle and although he couldn’t see the body; because a grey blanket covered the reality of things, Constable Martin Yates knew the grim truth. The very occasional passing car slowed so the occupants could catch a glimpse of what was going on but a burly officer only waved them on shouting ‘there was nothing there to see’.
Suddenly both front doors opened and the car’s interior light sprung to life. Inspector Parker, a heavily built man, in his fifties with grey hair and a salt and pepper moustache and Sergeant Craven , a younger man by some ten years and much slimmer, both dropped clumsily into the front seats.
“You alright lad?” The sergeant asked.
“Yes I suppose so.” Martin replied. “It’s just a bit of a shock that’s all. I was nearing the end of my shift as well.”
“That’s how it goes I’m afraid but you’ll have to fill in a complete report before you go. Best do it whilst it’s fresh in your mind.”
“Of course sir.” He replied.
At the station, Parker, Craven and Constable Yates sat in the office.
“Now think back to the events that took place before you found our black friend.” The Inspector said. “Had you passed the shelter earlier?”
“Yes sir.” replied Martin. “I’d used it twice before to have a fag sir.”
“When was the last time you went there?”
“About a quarter to nine sir, that’s when I found the body.”
The sergeant scowled irritably and turned to face the Constable but the Inspector touched his arm and shook his head indicating he should be patient.
“No Constable, I mean before that. When was the last time you visited the shelter before you found the body.”
The Constable gave a look of understanding. “Oh I see sir. That would be about an hour before.”
“About 8-45?” The Sergeant asked.
“Yes about then. Generally I have a breather and a smoke about every hour.”
“Every hour?” The Inspector asked.
“Yes sir. It’s never been a problem in the past and the Golden Mile gets terribly cold in the winter so I have a bit of a chill out in a shelter.” He looked at his superiors for sympathy. “I don’t sit down and I hide the cigarette under my cape.”
“That’s OK Yates.” The Inspector turned to his Sergeant and grinned. “I’m certain we’ve all done the same at one point in out careers so go on. Now between 8-45 and 9-45, did you notice anything unusual?”
“No sir, nothing.” Yates stopped and raised his eyebrows in remembrance. “Except for the mini sir.”
“This mini. Me and the lads call em ‘mini maniacs’ because they race about like Sterling Moss. Well this one passed me like a bat out of hell heading north and had to swerve to avoid a motor bike and sidecar, I think the driver must have seen it at the last second and had to go right across the Promenade to avoid hitting it. About ten minutes later it came racing back and who ever was driving the mini looked like they were in a terrible hurry to get away.”
“How did you know it was the same car?” The Sergeant asked. “Did you get its number?”
“That’s just it sir. I couldn’t. You see when the boot is open on minis the number plate swings down and level so it can still be seen but this one had a massive bundle or something hanging over the plate.”
“Let’s get this straight?” The Inspector queried. “The boot was full and what ever was in the boot was so big it was hanging over the tailgate?”
“Could it have been big enough to be a body?” The Sergeant asked.
“I suppose so.” He replied. “But I didn’t get a good enough look at the mini, it’s only the speed at which it was being driven that got me to notice him.”
“Him!” The Sergeant snapped. “You think the driver was a him and not a her?”
“That’s right sir. I noticed who ever it was could hardly fit in the drivers seat. Their head must have been touching the roof. I suppose it could have been a woman but she would have had to be the tallest woman I’ve ever seen.”
“And the colour of the mini?”
“Red Sir, bright red.”
The Inspector jumped to his feet. “Well done Constable. Do a full report and we’ll have a word again later, have a little rest and then I want you here at 6-45am.”
The two senior officers left PC Yates to do his gather his thoughts and do his report.
Chapter 2 coming soon, let us know your thoughts!