At 7.30am Parker, Craven and Yates returned to the shelter on the Golden Mile. The sun was just beginning to gain its late autumn strength as it turned the early morning easterly sky a wonderful shade of pink that faded into a blue grey as it lit up the westerly horizon. The morning showed promise of a glorious day.Advertisement
As they neared the shelter, they could see it had been cordoned off by copious amounts of orange tape; the same shade as Blackpool Football Club play in. “It looks like an away friendly.” The normally serious Inspector joked. They drove over the pavement, crossed the tramlines and parked looking out to sea.
Turning off the ignition key, the engine continued to run on for a second or two, its valves rattling with the strain. There was a cough, a pop, a fast idle and the motor finally stopped. “Damn car.” The Sergeant snarled as he rubbed his hands together for warmth. “I wouldn’t mind but the blasterd heater doesn’t work either.” He gazed west, out to sea. “Hmm, At least the wind has died down now.”
The Inspector and PC Yates climbed out of the car as the Sergeant reached in the back for his top coat and after a few seconds the three of them approached the gazebo, where the other Officers helping with the case were stationed. There were 7 Policemen already at the scene all busy doing nothing except keeping members of the public and a few from the press, firmly away. “Morning Gentlemen!” The Inspector dutifully said. “I take it nothing has been disturbed?”
“Nothing at all Sir.” The nearest Bobby replied.
“Very good.” He pointed to the left hand portion of the shelter. “Sergeant, if you would be so kind as the check that section. I will have a look at the right half.” He turned to the Martin and smiled. “Now tell me where you normally stand and have your smoke.”
“Over there sir,” Pointing to the far right. “it’s normally sheltered see.”
“You normally have your cigarette in the very spot where the body was found?” The Inspector smiled. “That’s a bit of luck. It leaves out the possibility that you may not have noticed it earlier.”
“I don’t sit down as a rule sir but about 6o.clock I bought some fish and chips from Taskers. You know sir? The one next to Woolworths just round the back of the tower? I brought them here and ate them sitting down.”
The Inspector gave him a withering look and the PC dropped his eyes to the floor. “Go one Constable.” He said.
“Sorry sir but I was famished, the missus doesn’t cook very well and always makes me sandwiches. She expects me to eat like a sparrow some times.” He gave a little smile and looked uneasy. “I still think she’s a smasher though.”
“That’s OK Yates. What ever you tell me won’t go on your record.” He moved closer and softly whispered. “We’ve all done it. You forget that many years ago I was once a copper on the beat lad.”
The Inspector saw a screwed up newspaper on the floor under the rear bench. “Is that your chip wrapper Constable?”
The PC looked at it intently and went to pick it up. “Don’t touch it man!” Parker bellowed. “That’s evidence at the scene.”
The Constable stood bolt up straight. “Sorry sir. From here it looks like it. I remember that picture of Stanley Mathews on the back, it called him the ‘Wizard of the Dribble‘.” He smiled a little.
“What brand of cigarette do you smoke Constable?”
“Kensitas filter tipped sir.” The nervous policeman replied as he pointed to one or two discarded butts on the pavement outside the shelter. “I suppose some of them could be mine if the wind hasn’t blown them away sir.”
“The Inspector looked beyond them to a pile of manure some six feet towards the tram tracks. “Strange, I thought the Donkey rides only happened in the Summer.”
“Oh, that’s not Donkey droppings Sir, it’s elephant shi—– manure Sir.”
“Elephant?” Parker queried.
“Yes sir. They come from the tower circus for a walk on the beach. There’s two of em sir, Nancy and Cleo. Ever so friendly they are. Sometimes if I’m on duty in the daytime, I bring em an apple each. They love em.”
“How do you know it’s from an elephant and not a horse or donkey? Parker asked.
“Well it’s the shape sir. You see elephant dung is in a big ball where as donkey and horse is in a little pile made up of little balls.”
The Inspector moved closer for a better look. “Sergeant!” He called out.
“What is it sir? Craven replied rushing over.
“The Constable tells me this is elephant droppings.” As he pointed to the festering pile on the floor.
“Yes but look closely and you’ll see there’s a very distinct tyre mark right through it.” Parker looked up and down the Promenade then observed the droppings again. “This is a long way off the road. For some vehicle to get this far it would have had to leave the road, cross the pavement and the tram lines and then over the tarmac. This is no mistake.”
“I see what you mean.” The Sergeant agreed. “But this could have happened days ago, the street cleaners only work part-time in the winter.”
“I know that Sergeant but it rained yesterday morning and this is dry.” He turned his gaze towards the Constable. “When you bring the apples, how do you know if the elephants will about?”
“It’s the tide sir. They only go on the beach when the tide is out.”
“And when would that have been yesterday?”
The young constable rubbed his chin as he thought. “About 2 o’clock sir.”
“Oh yes sir. The tide was in last night about 8pm so that should have meant it was out at about 2am. That’s give or take half an hour or so.”
The Inspector quickly grabbed the Constable and turned him away from the sea wall. Looking at his watch he saw it was 7-35am. “Without looking Yates, tell me the state of the tide right now. Will it be in, out, or half way?”
“Nearly in sir, probably just getting close to the sea wall.”
The inspector hurried over for a look and found the constable to be correct. The sea was just about washing the lower part of the wall. “Sergeant!” He bellowed. “Don’t let anyone near to that shit.”
Part 2 will be published later in the week. If you missed chapter one, click here.