As The Crow Dies

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Chapter Seven

Secrets Galore

Usually, when a man has a “party” with his loved one, he wants to sleep. Not Lochlan Kincaid. As his wife slipped into a well-deserved slumber, his mind was zoned in on his case. At home, he would sometimes pick up his old guitar and strum a few cords, trying to keep with Jake Bugg and his song Trouble Town. But this late night found him with his personal journal as a Senryu thought suddenly passed before him.

With a love like this

To end it, unthinkable

Treasure it that day

What tragedy befalls

The one who thinks their calling

Their duties to kill

What could these men possibly have in common? he thought. They certainly angered the wrong people, but to set them up like they did …it must be a warning of sorts. Aye, it has to be. Neither Nathan nor I have ever run across any group in the United Kingdom who could operate with such …efficiently. Aye, that’s it. The planning and execution was flawless. Could it have been the Masons? Not likely. Their power in Scotland was broken decades ago. This is something brand new put together by men of unscrupulous demeanor. They are absolutely convinced they have the …God given?...right to send these men to the Other Side for immediate judgement. Maybe tomorrow …

His own snoring woke him, and he crawled in bed next to Kenna, pulling her close and sleeping like two spoons put together.

-2-

The next morning brought bright sunshine into Nanna’s kitchen plus the sights and smells of eggs cooking, bacon, sausage and baked beans sizzling wrapped around the aroma of strong, black coffee. Nanna stood with spatula in hand turning, stirring and flipping everything that needed coached into an edible delight. Even impaired with osteoporosis the grandmother insisted they sit and be served, as she spurned any help.

As Lochlan and Kenna ate their scrumptious offering, Nanna sat and nursed her coffee. After her second yawn, Kenna asked if she slept well.

“Not hardly,” she answered sarcastically. “Lochlan, are you planning on staying each night for the foreseeable future?”

“I was. If that’s alright with you.”

“Aye, it tis. Then would you be so kind as to bring me a bottle of Lambrusco or a full flask. I heard everything last night. Every moan, every groan. Ah, to be young again, but me do needs me shuteye.”

From that moment on, Lochlan thought about writing a book someday entitled Antidotes from the Old and Grumpy.

-3-

While driving back to Newtonmore his phone rang. It was Nathan and Lochlan hoped his mate would’ve thought hard on their case, as he did not. Not as much as he should have, but it was time now to go to work.

“Guvnor,” Nathan said. “I’ve been talking to Sanjay and he says he found some very interesting things deep into MacGonigal’s hard drive. He wants to talk to us privately before we meet. Is this okay?”

“Aye, it’s fine. I trust that little wizard with me life if need be. How close are you?”

“Right outside the hotel’s front door.”

“Good. When you meet take him back to the kitchen and don’t let him talk to anyone else. Every eatery has an employees lunchroom. We can get private there. Capiche?”

“Got ya’?” Nathan answered, knowing the Italian word for understand. “But why keep him in the dark?”

“Because … I’ve just got a feeling it must be us three. Can’t explain it, but please do it.”

Lochlan floored his Ford and broke every speed limit in the area. But he was a copper, so who would give him a ticket?

***

Lochlan parked in the back parking lot and went through the servants entrance straight to their lunchroom. There sat Nathan and Sanjay, having a tea. He walked towards them slowly, not knowing exactly what he’d say, so he decided to wing it.

“Mates, it’s like this. Something big is afoot in our land. Something devious and very dangerous. I hate to say this, but me innards tells me to watch who I share information with. As of today, I count you two as my closest confidants, and I hope you reciprocate the feeling.”

His compadres looked at each other, knowing they’d just had the ultimate compliment. They were both in agreement.

“Chief Inspector.” Nathan said in a tone of total respect, “Rest assured, anything that transposes between us stays with us. I’m sure Sanjay would agree.”

“Just what he said, guvnor. My lips are sealed,” Sanjay said with an affirmative nod of his head.

“Capital then,” Lochlan said as he poured himself a cup. “Sanjay, what have you found out about Mr. MacGonigal?”

Sanjay looked down at the floor and shook his head left and right. “Mr. MacGonigal—and I’m having a hard time addressing him as a ‘mister’—held some dark secrets in the far reaches of his hard drive. He was good at hiding it, but I’m better.”

“At hiding what?” Lochlan asked.

Nathan looked over at Sanjay. “Go ahead, my friend. Tell him.”

Sanjay sat straight up and cleared his throat. “I found many pictures of … children having… sex with adults. MacGonigal was one of them.”

Lochlan’s face told it all. Flushed with red, and a vein throbbing below his right ear, he’d dealt with every kind of felon imaginable. Yet, in his mind, any man committing a sex crime—especially with a child—was the lowest form of humanity that existed. He thought the animal kingdom better than that man, and woe be it to his soul on Judgement Day.

“How did the children look?” Lochlan asked but knowing the answer.

“They were … mortified is how I’d put it. I’d say scared beyond belief but the men … those wicked bastards were enjoying themselves, no doubt. I could only watch a little of it and then I grew sick.”

“Sanjay,” Lochlan said as he sat straight up. “I do not envy you in the least. We need geniuses like you to help us fight crime, but what you are forced to watch is unimaginable to me. My hat’s off to you. From now on, you will get the respect you so rightly deserve from us.”

“And ditto’s from me too,” Nathan said as he gave Sanjay a pat on his shoulder. Sanjay seemed to blush a little, but soon recovered.

“If the other teams will allow, I’d like to search all the hard drives myself. Suffice it to say, if you don’t really know what you’re doing in this, you can lose a lot of data.”

“Then we will suggest it, not command it,” Lochlan said.

“But guvnor,” Nathan said, “You have the power to command it. Why not use it?”

Lochlan smiled and said,

“My gut feeling says to do it that way at first. I want to see if anyone balks at the idea, if you understand what I’m saying.”

It took Nathan and Sanjay a few seconds to figure out what he meant, but the expressions on their faces told all. And it was a numbing thought they had, knowing their boss now trusted no one.

-4-

All twelve men were there and ready to start the game plan. After a little small talk, Colonel Stewart loudly cleared his throat and Lochlan took his place. Standing in the middle of the four tables, he’d thought a lot about what he’d say now. His inclination could be misguided, but if it wasn’t, than anyone guilty of this crime must pay. Even one of their own.

“Gentlemen. I trust you all slept good last night,” Lochlan said with a smile. “My goal today is to seek all the information garnered, synchronize our minds on one idea and go home to our respective stations. All contact now can be done with the internet, any questions so far?”

“Just one,” C.I. Arnott from the Glencoe region said. “Just what is this one idea?”

“Glad you asked,” Lochlan answered. “Nathan and I have discovered, with the expert help of Mr. Patel, that our perp was deep into child pornography. This insane addiction to that kind of carnal knowledge angers many a mate in our land. Some, dare say, would do murder. I’m not saying this is the cause, but it’s a start.”

“How was this knowledge found?” Arnott asked.

Lochlan looked at his colleague’s younger partner, Mr. Berwick. He shot a quick glance at his boss but recalled it as fast. He sat with his head down a little and looking away. This was the crack Lochlan hoped for.

“Mr. Patel is our research and technology expert. There are many ways for men to hide things on their computers, and he has worked tirelessly last night to find this garbage. I’d say it would be profitable for one person to be in charge of this,” Lochlan said. And then he waited for an answer.

“Aye, but I don’t really think that’s necessary, Chief Inspector,” Arnott said. “We have capable people at our precinct to do this and I ,for one, will take their counsel first.”

All the others seem to be in agreement with me, Lochlan thought, but Arnott seems to be the only one resistant. Why doesn’t he want to cooperate? What does he stand to gain in fighting my efforts? Why is Berwick not agreeing with his superior. Oh no … that couldn’t be.

“I’m a big believer in democracy, so let us put it to a vote,” Lochlan said. “All in favor of one Information Officer say aye.”

Ten ayes.

“Opposed?”

Two no’s, both from Glencoe.

Arnott rose from his chair and tapped his partner on his shoulder. Berwick rose too, only reluctantly. “As you can see, I’m not in agreement with this but I will comply. Mr. Patel, my man will contact you at the proper time. If there is nothing else, my partner and I have work to do.”

They gathered their paperwork and quickly walked out the door. They received a cold, hard stare from Colonel Stewart, but if they saw it, they paid it no mind. The other four detectives agreed to hand the hard drives over to Patel and await his briefing. Lochlan had achieved what he was after.

He had his first lead.

-5-

Coming to the conclusion that only a pedophile—or someone who’s being blackmailed by one—would be unsympathetic to his reasoning on this, Lochlan decided to take a harder look at his comrade from Glencoe. But, he thought, am I being too lofty in my thinking? Maybe Arnott just doesn’t want to deal with this. He’s close to retirement and his partner is a young man. Maybe I should concentrate on Berwick. Or should it be Nathan? They’re both around the same age.

He rang his partner’s cell.

“Aye, Guvnor,” Nathan answered after four rings. “What can I do for you first thing tomorrow morning?”

Lochlan swore he heard the muffled gigglings of a lady in the background, and then it quickly dawned on him Nathan was having a “nooner.”

“It can wait till we get back home tomorrow. Just think about talking seriously to Berwick and get his take on Arnott’s behavior. I think you and he could develop quite a rapport. And remember what they say, ‘When you does the bartender, make sure to cover your member.’ Have a blessed day.”

Lochlan just loved to mess with Nathan.

-6-

After talking to his superiors, Lochlan suggested they all go home and parlay with conference calls when needed. It was agreed this was the best course, as everyone would be more at ease and more productive on their home turf. He then invited Colonel Stewart and Constable Robertson for a drink, but the Constable declined as he was “in recovery.” Lochlan admired his honesty and, over a scotch-n-soda, wondered if someday he should try to go dry. He ordered another scotch and thought he’d tackle that subject another day, remembering his instructions for that night.

“My good man,” he asked the bartender. “Might you have any Lambrusco on hand?”

“We certainly do. How many bottles do you want?”

“One bottle of wine and a small bottle of Pinch.”

He bid his mentor adieu, and set course for Nanna’s house, sedatives in hand. Arriving just around suppertime, Lochlan knew he was in for another culinary treat. Not that Kenna wasn’t a good cook, but he always thought there was something special about grey hair and good cooking. They dined, they drank their respective brews and went to bed early, all sleeping soundly.

Really. They did.

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