I have finished three novels. Which is no mean task and I found it highly satisfying. Two of them will never be seen by the world and for very good reasons believe me.
The third one The Newtown Tailor is an OK novel. It has received some nice comments from the people in the know, but not nice enough for them to want to take it on.
Writers have a masochistic streak and they keep churning stuff out so they can get rejected, maybe it's a bit like a drug and once you have had your fix of several rejections you get a craving for them.
Well I am now on novel number four and like a million writers before me I think it is probably going to be my best and possibly even publishable. Hope is a great driving force.
So here is the start of The Newtown Tailor, I may make it all available at some point.
The Newtown Tailor
The slight drizzle, which set in late afternoon, was now a steady rain. Newtown’s wet streets reflected lights from windows and passing cars. The rain made the evening chilly, and Ellin shrugged deeper into her jacket. As she turned into the Gravel car park, she scanned the few vehicles, until she saw his car. The passenger door swung open as she neared.
‘Hi, get in before you get too wet.’
Ellin bounced down into the seat and leant across to kiss him. His lips tasted of salt and grease.
‘You’ve had a McDonalds again, haven’t you?’ she said.
‘Yeah, too busy to cook anything.’
‘Why didn’t your mum make you something?’ Ellin asked taking the proffered paper cup, which she knew contained cola.
‘I’ve been busy today and I didn’t think I’d have any time to get home, so I told her not to bother.’ He pushed her damp black hair back from the side of her face and tucked it behind her ear. ‘What have you been doing?’ he asked.
‘Still working on the exhibition, we’ve nearly finished mounting all the work. Even though we’ve all photographed different topics, we decided to mount the prints in the same way, to give some continuity to the whole thing. Have you been able to get Friday night off so you can come and see my work?’ She took another long slug of cola.
‘I’ll be with you on Friday, no problem.’ He picked up his own drink and sucked hard on the straw. They sat together in silence for a couple of minutes, watching the rain fall on the windscreen, distorting the spread of orange light from the street lamp.
Ellin let her head fall backwards against the headrest and closed her eyes.
‘Are you okay?’ he asked.
‘Yeah, I just feel a bit dizzy and tired. I think this exhibition is taking it out of me.’ The cup in her hand lurched dangerously to one side; he took it off her, and then held the straw to her mouth.
‘You suck, I’ll hold.’ He placed the straw on her bottom lip.
Ellin sucked at the cool liquid. Forcing her eyes open, she tried to focus on the overhead light in the car park. The rain shattered the light into fragments and she couldn’t see anything clearly.
‘I don’t feel too good. I feel sick.’ Ellin struggled to sit up, but her body refused to co-operate.
‘Here have another drink, you’ll feel okay soon.’
She did as he said, the cool liquid pouring down her throat and then over her lip and down her chin. She was hanging on to reality by a thread and it was ready to snap.
Beth glanced at the clock, half an hour to the team briefing. She scanned her computer for the previous nights logs, for anything linked to her investigations. Apart from some drunk and disorderly, a case of sheep rustling, and several minor incidents with school children and fireworks, she couldn’t understand why they were selling the damn things so early, nothing stood out as relevant.
Her desk phone rang. ‘DI Rees,’ she answered, listening for a minute before adding, ‘right away, Sir.’ Putting the phone down Beth grabbed her jacket and headed out of the office bumping into Jimmy in the corridor.
‘Everything’s ready in the briefing room.’
‘Great, I’ve just had a call from Bentley. I hope it won’t take long.’ She hurried on towards the Detective Superintendents office. Knocking, she pushed open the door and peered into the room.
‘Beth, come in.’ Beth closed the door behind her and sat down in the chair Bentley indicated. ‘Won’t keep you, know you’ve got a briefing in ten minutes.’ Leaning his forearms on the desk, he clasped his hands together. At five foot eleven, he was a formidable man even sitting. He’d played rugby for his school and then for the police college, he had a neck like a bull, which always looked squashed into a shirt half a size too small. ‘So how was yesterday?’
Resisting the temptation to tell him it wasn’t a day out at the seaside, Beth made do with filling him in on the details. She’d travelled down to the Heath in Cardiff to attend the post mortem of Leanne Davies. DS Jimmy Bryant and scene of crime officer Brian Halliday had accompanied her. Much to Beth’s annoyance, Jimmy had spent the entire journey, in both directions, spieling out stupid jokes and inappropriate comments. She knew it was his way of dealing with the situation, but when Brian encouraged his nonsense Beth had known she was on a losing streak and had tuned out.
‘The doctor is sure it’s the same perpetrator, he’d repeatedly raped and abused the girl, as well as stitching her mouth together with large black cross stitches. Same MO, same time scale.’
‘This is bad, Beth, very bad.’ Bentley sucked air in over his teeth, a habit that got on most peoples nerves. ‘Nasty business, we have to be seen to be doing everything we can. The papers are turning this into a, persecute Newtown police, story. Let’s get a result fast.’
‘With all due respect, Sir, we have every intention of doing our best to find this killer, and what the papers are saying about us isn’t going to make the slightest difference.’
‘I appreciate that, Beth, but in my position I have a lot of pressure from above to keep the papers happy.’
Beth bit her bottom lip to stop herself replying.
‘Anyway, that’s not what I wanted to talk to you about.’ Bentley changed position, leaning back in his chair. ‘We’re having a new DS join us today. Peter McEwan; he’s from Glasgow and he’ll be with us for an indefinite period. I want you to take him under your wing and don’t let him out of your sight.’
Beth raised an eyebrow at Bentley’s instruction, ‘Is he likely to misbehave if I don’t watch him.’
‘Don’t underestimate DS McEwan. He’s going to be your responsibility. Now off you go, he’ll be here at nine o’clock so you’ve time to get your briefing out of the way before he arrives.’ With that, Bentley turned his attention back to the papers on his desk.
‘Is there something I should know about this DS, Sir, because with all due respect I’m heading a double murder inquiry. I can’t be expected to baby sit this guy.’
‘If there’s anything you need to know about McEwan, I’ll make sure to pass it on. Just keep him close, he might even be a help in the investigation.’
Bentley focused his attention back on his paper work; Beth had little option but to leave the office. She wasn’t happy with the news, and if this guy screwed up even once, she’d refuse to have him on her team. What the hell did Bentley think he was doing, when he was the one shouting about getting quick results on this case?
Beth headed back to CID. As she entered the room, she saw Jimmy and PC Yvonne Jennings studying something on the desk.
‘Anything I should know about,’ Beth asked.
As she walked across the room, Jimmy picked up a folder and placed it with other papers to one side of his desk. ‘Nothing, I want Yvonne to re check some of the statements we’ve had. I thought I’d get it organised now so she can get straight on it after the briefing.’
‘Right, so is everyone in the incident room?’ Beth asked.
‘Should be, I managed to contact everyone last night.’
Beth asked Yvonne to go ahead and let the team know the meeting would start in five minutes. Left alone with Jimmy she walked around his desk, scanning the files and loose papers, stopping herself from moving them, she went to her own desk, behind a glass partition in the corner of the room.
‘You haven’t forgotten Katie’s birthday have you?’ Beth asked.
‘What do you take me for?’
Jimmy pulled a stick of chewing gum from a packet and, as an after thought, offered Beth a piece. She shook her head.
‘I know you from old Jimmy, she’s been looking forward to this party for weeks, so don’t let her down.’
‘Look, I said I’d be there and I will, haven’t you got a briefing to get to?’
Beth almost said more, and then decided she’d done as much as she could. If he let Katie down this time, she wasn’t going to make excuses for him. Grabbing her sheet of paper, on which she’d listed the things that needed covering in the briefing, she marched out, leaving Jimmy to follow her to the incident room.
The team were sitting about, some on chairs others perched on desks. It had grown in number after the second murder. Technically, they had two teams now, one dealing with each case.
Beth walked over to stand in front of a large, white, magnetic board; she glanced across it, avoiding the post mortem photographs of the two victims.
‘Right, settle down,’ Beth got the teams attention. ‘As you know Brian, Jimmy and I attended the post mortem yesterday of Leanne Davies. Dr Mitchell is certain it’s the same killer. This means he may well be choosing his next victim as we speak.’
Several officers glanced at each other, none of them wanted a serial killer on their patch, and none of them wanted to admit to the buzz they felt.
‘The biggest problem with the last two victims was, neither were reported missing until after it was too late. From what the Doc has worked out, taking in to account when the victims were last seen and when they were found, it looks like our killer loses interest after seventy two hours.’
Beth kept a steady stare as she scanned the room; she wanted them to understand if another girl went missing, they would be on countdown.
‘At the moment we have no connection between the two victims. Susan Pugh was in sixth form at Newtown High School, she told her parents she was going to her sisters for the weekend, straight from school on the Friday. Her parents didn’t expect to see her until after school on the Monday, her body turned up on Wednesday morning. No one knew she was missing until the Monday night. Is there anything further to add, Clive?’ Beth asked the leading officer on the Susan Pugh case.
DS Clive Hammond shook his head, ‘Nope, we haven’t been able to place Susan anywhere after four o’clock on the Friday. None of her friends knew if she was seeing anyone outside of school. A young lad, Aled Williams, was sort of going out with her, what ever that means. He has a solid alibi for the whole weekend. Nothing new I’m afraid.’ His cheeks flushed red to match his shock of ginger hair. Having finished his bit, he slumped lower into his chair.
‘Okay thanks, Clive. Jimmy, what about the Leanne Davies case?’ Beth said
Jimmy stood up and turned to face the room.
‘Leanne Davies worked in a fish bar in town. She has her own flat, and it was only after she hadn’t shown for work for three days that someone went round and found she wasn’t there. It was another four days before they thought to tell us she was missing. It was another two days before we found the body. Forensic still believe she died seventy-two hours after her last sighting. The age gap, Susan was seventeen, Leanne twenty, is making it difficult to place the two girls together.’
‘Could the fish bar be the link?’ Brian Halliday asked.
‘Not as far as we know. In fact, Susan was vegetarian, so it’s doubtful she went to the fish bar.’
‘What about night clubs?’ Yvonne Jennings asked.
‘Susan’s mum said she didn’t go out much, that she was more into studying. No one at any of the clubs could recognise her picture,’ Clive said.
‘A few people remembered Leanne around the clubs and bars,’ Jimmy added.
Beth stood up again and Jimmy took his seat. ‘The only thing we can say they had in common at the moment was long black hair, their mode of death, and where the killer disposed of their bodies, if you’d like to take it from here, Brian.’ Beth perched on the edge of a desk and allowed Brian Halliday to take over the briefing.
‘Forensics have placed both bodies in the same place prior to death. They have found coal dust traces on their skin. That doesn’t help when loads of houses, hotels, and bars still use coal. Not to mention factories and coal yards, but it’s worth keeping in mind.’ Several officers made grumbling remarks about not narrowing the field of investigation.
Brian held up his hand to get their attention, ‘Neither girl had been cleaned after the killing, so urine, faeces and blood, stained most of their lower bodies. Each victim had been beaten and bitten; the bites were mostly on their breasts, which does indicate a sexual inclination rather than just to inflict pain. We have taken teeth imprints so we can match them to the killer when you catch him.’
‘You’ll have to give us a bit more to go on,’ one of the officers said.
‘There’s not a lot more at the moment, although we have skin cells, probably from the killer, taken from under the girls nails. The bodies were both dumped out on a county road. It appears that the killer drove his car to a quiet road, but not too far out of Newtown, there he dumped the body, probably pushing it down the grass verge so it would roll into the field. Leanne rolled into a ditch, which was why she wasn’t found as quickly.’
‘What about tyre tracks or footprints?’ Yvonne asked.
‘Nothing, he obviously made sure his car was on the tarmac so it didn’t leave any marks in the grass. The heavy rain has removed any forensics.’
Brian sat down and Beth took the floor again.
‘I know it isn’t a lot to go on, but there has to be something that’ll give us a clue to his identity. We just have to keep asking the right questions, someone must know something and just hasn’t realised how important it is. I know you’ve worked your rocks off, but now we need to go back over every statement, speak to everyone interviewed, and check and double check every piece of information. The press are beginning to bay for blood and we need to make sure he doesn’t get a third victim. As usual anything significant flag it to me, Clive or Jimmy.’
The gathered officers began to make a move.
‘One more thing before you go. We’re being joined today by a DS McEwan from Scotland.’
Several voices asked who and why?
‘He’s here to work, so make use of him. I’m sure I can count on you all to make him welcome.’ Beth grabbed her papers and left the room before they could ask her things she didn’t have the answer to.
Ó2009 Chris Williams All rights reserved except as otherwise stated. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental