Friday, June 17, 2005

Something for the Weekend

Ah, the gatecrasher at the party. Brash upstart and brass neck. Strutting around like he owned the place, because otherwise someone might ask him what the fuck he thinks he's doing there. Cocky, he is. Self-assured.

Not something I'm often accused of.

But I made a rash promise yesterday and now I have to back it up with actions. So here for your edification is a short story that may, or may not, fit into the White/Quertermous project. A prize of a clump of used dachshund hair goes to the first person to guess what novel I'm reading at the moment.
The Final Reel

‘What’ve you got for me, Bob?’ McLean asked as he ducked under the tape and entered the dingy apartment. There was a damp smell about the place, old mould and unemptied garbage. A dying fly battered itself against a grimy window.

‘In here, Sir.’ McLean turned and peered into the smallest room. It wasn’t much wider than the ancient cludgie it held, but three men had managed to squeeze in there. DS Grumpy Bob Laird, a SOC photographer and the deceased.

‘I’d say he died a few days ago. Massive trauma to the head,’ Bob said. McLean peered closer, a stench of rotting meat hitting him hard for the first time.

‘Pulled the chain and the whole cistern came off the wall,’ Bob continued. ‘It had to weigh a good hundred pounds.’

‘A tragic accident then,’ McLean said, stepping back to let Bob out of the room. The photographer’s flash popped a couple more times and then he too backed out. Cleared, McLean could see the whole scene now. The cistern was still attached to the pan by it’s thick lead pipe. The brackets had come out of the wall and the whole thing had tipped forward, smashed into the victim’s head. Death would have been instant.

‘RIP Shuggy Brown,’ McLean said.

‘You know him?’ Bob asked.

‘Small time cat burglar,’ McLean said. ‘Used to go through the death notices in the papers and do over the empty houses.’

‘Ah yes, the Obituary Man. I remember,’ Bob said. ‘Well, it looks like he went unnoticed.’

McLean smiled at the joke, then frowned. He looked at the dead figure in front of him, the cistern flopped to one side, its brackets still fixed to it. The bare wooden floorboards were dark with damp, but not soaked.

‘Who turned the water off?’ He asked, stepping forwards into the room and staring up at the pipe. It had sheared off neatly where it would have entered the cistern.

‘No one, as far as I know,’ Bob said. ‘Neighbours complained of a smell. We forced entry. Called in as soon as we found him.’

‘Hmm,’ McLean said, leaning over the recumbent corpse. There were four small holes in the wall above his head, where the cistern had been attached. A century of thick paint had left two bracket-shaped marks. Looking down, he saw the old brass screws lying behind the pan, two to each side. Their heads were also glossed with a thick coat of paint.

‘Maybe not an accident then,’ he said.

now read on...

2 Comments:

Blogger Stuart MacBride said...

Nice story - I liked this a LOT.

June 17, 2005 2:56 pm  
Blogger Trace said...

Excellent stuff. I lost myself in this story. Very real characters. I had fun reading it.

June 18, 2005 11:46 am  

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