Chapter two of the book I shouldn't yet be writing because I've got far too much editing, two already unfinished books and two or three short stories on the go. For now, it's called Inspector Cliche, but I'll give it a proper title in due course.
If you missed chapter one, it's here.
Britwell never looked forward to time in Chief Superintendent Wighton’s office. His over-indulgence in deodorant and the high heating setting always left him gagging. The seats weren’t comfortable either, shoddy plastic things that belonged on the beach or in a cheap garden set.
“Why didn’t you tell me we had a...” CS Wighton paused, as if lost in search for the correct word. “A person of non-specific gender in the cells. There’s very clear procedures you know. You haven’t interviewed him, or her, yet have you? Please say you haven’t interviewed him.” He shook his head.
“I thought, sir, that treating him, or her, any different to anyone else would be seen as discrimination of some sort to him,” said DS Walters. “Or her,” she added.
Britwell loved it when Walters got going. He’d taught her well. Too well, probably. It was like her mind had a natural response mechanism. Always the correct answer came out. Just a little bit of flippancy, but always with respect.
“Yes, yes.” Her comments had thrown him. “But, there are procedures for ensuring the non-discrimination is, urm, isn’t indiscriminate.”
Britwell nodded. “Long story short, sir, he’ll sing if we give him a new identity and a posh frock.”
The outrage grew so quick on his face time itself could have stopped while it was painted on. “How dare you, Inspector.”
“Sorry, sir. Really. I am. Just, you know.”
“This isn’t a laughing matter. You’ve probably opened us up to claims for discrimination and err, well everything. Walters, were you in on this?”
She tried to speak but Britwell spoke over her. “I led the interview sir, she was taking notes. Sorry, about the joke. I mean, It’s been a long night and you know, trying to keep morale up.”
He sat back in his comfy chair. His face still tomato-like, he sighed. “So he’s prepared to help?”
“As I said, sir, new identity, fresh start, he’ll help.”
Wighton nodded. “Any other witnesses?”
“Just the usual suspects, sir,” said Walters. “Some ladies of the night who suffer from temporary blindness when anything interesting happens and a few rent boys who’re too scared to even say their names.”
Wighton looked towards his pot plant in the corner of the room. Britwell had noticed before he always looked at it when thinking. Shame the thing was dead. It just looked like a few sticks in a vase. Whenever he thought of the plant, a joke half-formed in his head, but it just never seemed funny enough to use.
“Not sure we’ll get a conviction with just one person’s evidence. Defence will tear him to shreds. DNA?” He looked at Jill Wighton. That proved, in Britwell’s mind, that he had taught her too well.
“SOCO’s still at the scene, sir. We need to bring him in soon if we’re going to, before he disposes of all traces on himself.”
Britwell nodded. Barry Safford was as astute and cute as they came. He’d have already burnt his clothes, had a bath and sauna and most likely even torched his own car. He knew what he was doing. Britwell lost count of the times he’d tried to put him away. Teflon Baz he called him.
“Has er, he said it was him?”
Britwell shook his head. “Didn’t need saying, sir. He knew exactly who we were talking about. I reckon he could be good for more info too. It’s not the first time he’s been down there at night. Could give us enough ammo to really clean up West Street.”
Wighton shook his head. “I think there’s been enough guns and ammo tonight, don’t you?”
“Bad choice of phrase, sir.”
He nodded. “I’ll ring the Chief Super, you get a warrant for Mr Safford before he disposes of absolutely everything.”
Outside the office, Britwell wanted to shout, to scream. Years ago, he’d have put his arm round the shoulders of the DS that’d helped him. But, things were different now. An arm round the shoulder wasn’t acceptable. He’d forgotten once too. He still no idea how she’d got her leg up that high and round so quickly. Apparently it was called a roundhouse kick. His jaw throbbed whenever he thought about it.
“Well done, Walters.” He offered a hand for her to shake. “Let’s get ourselves a friendly magistrate.”