DCI John Clews was an average sized man. Thick dark hair brush to one side. He had a light grey streak just above his ears and a bony hard face with a scare above his left eye. He’s a family man, with a nice home and in a few years, he has a large pension to look after him in later years. He is a particular man that always leaves his house at 7.30 on the dot. On this particular Friday, he was 5 minutes late and not happy. He popped to see an informant for some info on a murder case he was working on, then carried on to his office and met up with PC Jack Ashton, his partner. They had coffee and discussed the new information he had collected. Then they passed the ideas they had to their DCS.
After their discussion, they went back to the office to look through some paperwork and made a few calls. DCI Clews was watching some camera footage of a car incident on a screen when Jane, one of his team walked into the room.
“Gov, we’ve just received a call from a Mr Jackson ex-fireman, he’s on the M42. He claims there is a car in flames on the hard shoulder and there is possibly the smell of burning flesh. He also said what looked like a female has left the car and climbed the embankment. She has long black hair, a cream dress with a pink jacket. Ambulance and Fire Service are on there way. ETA 15 minutes Gov.”
“Ok, Thanks love!” DCI Clews switched his computer off, looked at the clock on the wall, grabbed his jacket and left with PC Ashton. After switching the siren and blue lights on, they took off at high speed. As they came down the slip road onto the motorway, they could see the smoke and flashing lights further along. The traffic was almost at a standstill, so they drove along the hard shoulder. As they arrived there was thick black smoke all over two lanes of the motorway and for a while, they were debating whether to stop the traffic in both directions.
One of the fire officers called DCI Clews over. “I’M SURE I CAN SMELL HUMAN FLESH BURNING!” he shouted, holding his mask away from his mouth.
The DCI nodded, and with that information, he decided to treat it as a death and shut down the motorway in one direction while they investigated the situation.
DCI Clews liaised with the station and ordered the motorway to be shut down immediately in the northern direction. It wasn’t long before the other police cars, and bikes came on at the junction with sirens blasting and blue lights flashing about half a mile before the incident and slowed the flow of traffic down using a rolling roadblock until it stopped entirely with police cars across the three lanes. Cones were placed at the entrance to the motorway to prevent more car coming onto the slip road.
A tall screen was placed around the smouldering wreck to stop people slowing down on the southern carriageway to have a look. While everything was happening on the motorway, DCI Clews was asked by a fire officer to go behind the screen. A number of people were already looking at a body in a plastic bag lying in the boot. The body had been severely burnt and was still smouldering.
With all the noise going on, John realised his phone was ringing and answered it “Clews...!” “Hi Jane love, what you got for me...?” he shouted. John walked away from the commotion to his car with one finger in his ear. “Hold on love, let me write this down...!” he said closing the door and pulling his notepad out of his pocket. “How do you spell his name...?” John wrote it all down word for word. “And that’s Meriden Garage...?” John called PC Ashton over with his fingers. “Ok love...!” “Ok, thanks. We’re done here, so can you organise the removal of the burnt out vehicle, and we will go over there now?” Jack climbed into the car as John turned his phone off.
“Apparently a woman walked into a garage in Meriden and ordered a Taxi!” Jack closed the door and they took off along the hard shoulder chatting about the incident and drove into Meriden. They found the garage and parked on the forecourt as a message came through on the radio.
“Gov, the body found in the boot had been wrapped up in a heavy-duty plastic bag. 39% of the body has been was severely burnt in the fire. We do know it was male and between 25-35 years of age. How he died is not know at this time. However, we do know he was dead before the car fire. From an earlier report, his fingerprints have been removed and the thumb on his left hand was missing and was removed recently. The car is registered to a Mr Smith up in Stockport aged 59; it was reported stolen Thursday morning at 6 am. He noticed it wasn’t on his drive when he woke!”
“Thanks, Jane!” John said as he turned the radio off. They both got out the car and walked across the forecourt of the garage.
“Hi, I’m looking for… Mr Williams. Vaughan Williams in fact?” DCI Clews said as he looked in his notebook.
“Yes, that’s me” the garage owner replied.
“I’m DCI Clews, and this is PC Ashton he said as they both showed him their ID badges.
“Take a seat!” Vaughan said and pointed the waiting area.
“I believe you phoned the station to report a female with long blonde hair that walked in here today at about 12.20!”
“Yes that’s right; I heard your appeal on the radio. But the appeal said the girl had black hair; this girl was definitely blonde.”
“Can you tell me how she arrived?”
“It was in a car, black BMW.”
“Do you know the registration of the vehicle?”
“Yes, it is JSB 833!”
“How can you be so sure?”
“He is one of our customers, we have worked on the car before, and I recognised him when he filled up with petrol after he dropped her off.”
Vaughan turned to his secretary “Can you pass me that file, please Joyce?”
“This is the last invoice we gave him, and there is the address he gave. It’s a photoshop on the green just up the road.”
“Thank you!” DCI Clews said and wrote it in his notebook.
“Can you describe the girl and tell us what happened?”
“Yes, she walked in, asked if we could get her a taxi as her car had broken down and the battery was flat on her mobile. She was attractive looking with long blonde hair, she wasn’t here more than 5 minutes, and when the taxi came, she left thanking us.”
“Who was the taxi company? “
“Its A to B we always use them!”
“Did she ask you to collect the car for her?”
“What about her clothes?”
“Cream dress with flowers all over it… red shoes, fashionable shoes!”
Then the secretary added “Yes tall heels; and expensive too. I was jealous of them!” She said with a smile.
“Thank you, Miss…?”
“Joyce… Joyce Jones.”
“Oh! and no handbag!” she shouted as DCI Clews wrote on his notepad.
“What about a coat?”
“No, I commented on that after she left, she had nothing with her at all!”
“So you have never seen this woman before?”
“No!” Vaughan replied.
“No!” she said, sitting at her desk shaking her head.
DCI Clews closed his notepad. “Well, I think that’s all we need if you think of anything, please give me a call!”
He placed a card on the desk and walked towards the door. As he opened it he turned and looked back. “Just one other thing… can you tell the mechanic not to smoke weed while the police are on the premises!”
Vaughan nodded and waved with an awkward smile as the secretary piped up again, “She was pregnant!”
DCI Clews pushed the door shut again, and he reached for his notepad.
“Extremely, I would have said. She was holding the bottom of her stomach, 5-6 maybe 7 months.”
“Thank you, Miss Jones.” DCI Clews said as he closed his pad and opened the door again.
The police got in there car, and Jack’s mobile phone rang as they drove up to the shops.
“Sorry, Gov!” “Hello…!” “I cant I’m working…!” “What do you mean he’s gone missing…?” “Well, I’ll go round when I get home…!” “No, I can’t...” “OK, see you later!”
He turned his phone off as they approached the green and found Becket’s photography shop.
“Is everything ok Jack?”
“I don’t know Gov. Apparently, the wife’s sister is upset because her husband went to a stag do up north, and he’s gone missing.”
“He’s probably pissed up somewhere!” John said as he shut the car door.
The shop door opened with a loud ping and eventually, a woman appeared from behind a curtain at the back pulling her hair down.
“I’m sorry gentlemen I’m closing, it’s well after 4 o’clock and I don’t get overtime!”
They showed her their ID badges. “We need to talk with a Mr Becket!”
The lady turned and got a piece of paper off the desk and with an unsteady hand, she scribbled his home address and passed it to them.
“Are you ok love…?” DCI Clews asked.
“Stretton, it’s Mrs actually, Mrs Susan Stretton, and Yes, Yes I’m fine, thank you!”
DCI Clews thanked her, and they left.
They sat in the car outside the shop and waited. “I’m having one of my strange moments Jack,” John said looking in the mirror and the shop door opened. The woman came out. She stood by the door and looked around, and then John noticed a man follow her out. After as she locked the door, they walked off in different directions.
With a smile on his face, John mumbled “Overtime. I bet that wasn’t Mr Stretton giving her a hand!” Jack looked confused as he asked, “Sorry Gov?”
John started the engine “It’s ok Jack, I was thinking out loud!” he said as they drove off.
They drove through the countryside and over the motorway bridge where the car court fire to the address they were given.
At 5.15 the two policemen knocked on the front door.
As it opened, they held their ID up.
“Hello I’m DSI Clews, and this is PC Ashton. We are looking for Mr Becket?”
“Nothing we just need to talk to him! Is he in?”
“No he’s at work, can I help?”
“No Mrs Becket…!” they said looking at her.
“Sorry, I’m Samantha Sullivan where not married.”
“Its Mr Becket we need to talk with, do you know when he will be home?”
Samantha stood looking at them in a daze and shook her head.
He took a card from his top pocket and held it up.
“We will call back tomorrow?”
“You OK Miss?” PC Ashton asked.
Samantha nodded and closed the door.
They walked back to the car and got in.
“She was a bit strange! What’s next Gov?”
“The man on the motorway reported seeing a person leaving the car wearing a pink jacket and black hair! Williams and his secretary said she was blonde!”
“Could she have taken them off and thrown them when she climbed the embankment Gov?
“Let’s go and have a look!” John said.
They drove back out into the country and parked on the top of the motorway bridge.
They got out and looked down at the cars speeding along the M42.
“Gov if the car was facing north, she must have climbed up on the left side of the bridge!”
“Good thinking Jack, be careful as you go down, it's slippy!” John said Smiling.
Jack carefully climbed down the embankment holding onto the branches and bushes, while John watched from the bridge above.
After a while, Jack appeared holding the rails and breathing heavily.
“Nothing down there… Gov!” He said, puffing and panting.
“No, I didn’t think there would be. She wasn’t pregnant!” John said.
“Sorry, I don’t understand!” Jack said wiping his forehead with his hankie.
“Let’s talk to the taxi driver!” John said opening the door.
They drove back to Solihull and pulled up at the shop where the taxi company operated from.
The police opened the door showing their ID badges “I am DCI Clews and this is PC Ashton.”
A girl on the phone replaced the receiver.
“Can we talk to the driver that picked up a girl today at around 12.15 from Meriden Garage please Miss...?”
“Piper, Louise Piper!” she said.
Louise searched through the pile of papers she had in front of her and called out on the Radio. “Mr Singh car 12234 come in please!”
They waited for a reply and Louise told them to sit down.
“Yes, base. Mr Singh here. You wanting me?”
“Hi, can you come back to base? We have the police here; they want to talk to you.”
“Yes, I will be here in just 5 of your minutes!” he said.
The police glanced at each other while they sat and waited.
Eventually, the door opened and a man walked into the office “You are wanting me for?”
“DCI Clews stud up with a slight a smile on his face after holding his badge up.
“We have reason to believe that you picked up a girl today at around 12.15 from Meriden Garage?”
“Yes, this is correct.”
“Where did you take her?” DCI Clew asked pulling his notepad out of his pocket.
Mr Singh sat down. “Now let me be thinking!” he said pushing a pen up the side of his turban.
“I had been very asleep till ten this morning. My first job was to drop some people at… the airport. They were going to India, not far from where I was being born in Deli you know? I was just leaving when I got my second job from the Garage that you mentioned. A girl was needing my taxi too.”
Mr Singh stopped and stroked his long grey beard looking up at the ceiling. “I can’t be remembering!” he said.
Mr Singh knew if he told them he had £200 pounds for letting someone borrow his taxi for one hour he would lose his job.
“Are yes, it is coming back to me. She went to the hotel at the Wheatsheaf on the Coventry road. I put her there in the car-park she paid me £5 note.”
“Did she have anything with her? A bag, coat?”
“I am not knowing. She was in the back of my taxi.”
“What colour was her hair?”
Mr Singh looked at the floor. “Yellow!” DCI looked at him with a frown.
“I think he means blonde Gov!”
“Thank you, yes I gathered that!”
“Oh, and a nice piece of Bottom!” Mr Singh said, with a big smile on his face and wobbling his head.
With that, they stood up, thanked Mr Singh and louise, then they left.
As they pulled away from the office, Jacks Phone rang. “Excuse me Gov!” “Hello…!” “Oh that’s good, where was he…?” “Ok I will see you later.”
“They found him Gov, and you were right, he was pissed up.”
As they pulled up at a junction, they got a message on the radio. “Gov, we've have had a report of a man missing in Liverpool! His wife, a Mrs Jennifer Slone has phoned Merseyside and said she hadn’t seen her husband for three days. Just thought you ought to know Gov, as the burnt-out car came from up that way!”
“Ye, good thinking! Can you get someone from up there to interview her?”
“Ok will do!”
“Fancy a pint Jack?”
“Don’t mind if I do Gov!”
They sat in the bar with a glass of beer each and picked away at the information they had gathered during the day.
Did you enjoy my ongoing story so far? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, Vaughan WilliamsWrite a Review