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It's a long way to Fallujah..

By Tom_M_7b All Rights Reserved ©

Humor / Mystery

Chapter 1

Detective Inspector Joshua Lewin glanced at the body for the seventh time since he arrived on the scene that Tuesday.  It was still lying by the ancient Bentley, and it still had three holes in it.  The body had three holes in it. The Bentley had six.

More’s the pity, Lewin thought.  That Bentley could have looked fine in some museum, or in someone’s drive way.  Like his drive way.

He couldn’t disguise the sigh, and Sargent Dickinson knew from what he’d heard that was his cue.

“Fine car, sir.”  Dickinson mumbled, his full head of brown hair flipping in the morning breeze.  So at least Lewin wouldn’t have to get whiffs of that hair spray Dickinson used, just that overwhelming cologne named after this month’s superstar.  But Dickinson was a natty dresser.

“What? Oh yes. Well, we know Mr. Cheltnam had a sensational collection of autos. But why would he stop here on this empty dirt road before sun-up, not a building for a kilometer in any direction and wait to get gunned down in American gangster style?”

Dickinson shrugged.

“Dunno know, sir.  I suppose I could call my auntie Rose. She talks to the dead all the time.”

Lewin raised a doubting eyebrow.  His thin face made Dickinson always think of a science fiction TV show he’d like as a kid.  

“Seriously, sir. She does.  I’ll just give her a knock.”

Before Lewin could say anything more, Dickinson was off with his mobile, off with his finger in one ear, phone to the other ear.  So maybe it was time for Lewin to earn his keep as the Chief Detective, Crimes Division, Parnell-Locksey.  He strolled over to the body which was now free of picture takers, investigators, and waiting only for the coroner to show up.  If he ever would answer his damn phone.  The coroner, not the body.  Mr. Cheltnam would no longer answer phones.

Lewin looked closely.  Bertram Cheltnam looked about seventy, grey hair slicked back, brow unfurled, eyes closed (gratefully- Lewin despised dead eyes). Beaky nose and full lips, walrus mustache.  Standard dark blue business suit decorated by three bullet holes near the heart, in much the same design as had continued across the side of the Bentley.  The late Mr. Cheltnam was laid straight upon the tarmac, arms at his side, is if prepared to be slid into the box which would soon be his permanent home.  

The sound of rubber on road allowed Lewin to look up from the body.  Deputy Coroner Maggie Jepson stepped out of her auto, waved, and then grabbed her bag from the boot of the car.  Lewin admired her grey pant suit and shoulder length blond hair as she stepped over to the body.

“Inspector,” came the lilting voice.  She squatted down to look over the cadaver as she slid the plastic gloves on 

“Dr. Jepson.  What, is Walter busy? Lots of murders? Alien Invasion? Daleks?”

The Deputy Coroner sighed. She moved over to the bullet holes.

“Please remember, Inspector, that our Coroner is a newlywed for the fourth time, and therefore is using his vacation time for various and sundry purposes.  Very sundry.  Hmm.  Who found the body?”

Lewin looked around, hoping to find Dickinson someplace, but the Sargent was still ear fingering his-

“Is Dickinson calling his Aunt?” 

Lewin gave another eyebrow raised facial inquiry.

Dr. Jepson smiled perfectly.

“Oh, right, you’ve never worked with Dickinson before.  His Aunt Rose is the real deal, I mean she’s a nutter, but a hoot.  She’ll say it was your karma that the three of us are going to be working together on this.”

Dickinson had hung up and was making his way over, dodging the Coroner’s van that had finally found its way to the scene. 

“Why would the three of us work this?”

Another Jepson smile.  

She stood up and started to slip her hands free from the gloves.

“You are a fine detective.  He is going to be, with or without Aunt Rose.  And me..”

She looked down at Bertram Cheltnam.

“...because I’ve seen bullets holes like that before.  When I was in Iraq.  I’ll know more after the autopsy, but this man was killed by an AK-47. Three short three bullet bursts. Classic. Very little blood though.”

Dickinson arrived, nodded at his confederates.

“Aunt Rose says hello. And she wanted me to tell you Mr. Cheltnam has a message for us.”

“Really,” said Jepson, already regretting his life choices. “And that is?” 

“Duck and cover. Now.”


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