c1 Euan Mccrum picked up the tweet as he was starting out to Livingston tax office where he worked. Euan’s social life was not great.
c2: His unglamorous job, his nickname of ‘Crummie’ and the fact that he still lived with his mum, saw to that.
c3: His free time was spent online, and most of it was devoted to fansites and forums about stories of crime, true or otherwise.
c4 This mild obsession was reflected in his Facebook page, his comments on various blogs and a lengthy following list on Twitter.
c5: Just before starting up his Astra, he pulled out his phone to check for overnight tweets. He had a mention from @bigcrimenews.
c6 @emccrum Why are the police all over @Broxburnplants? Could be big. #uncannydeath
c7 Euan’s home was in one of the new estates on the outskirts of Broxburn, but he had never heard of Broxburn Plants.
c8 A moment’s search showed him that it was no distance away from his route to work. He was in two minds. It was likely a hoax…
c9 …but he might as well go and have a look.
As soon as he reached the muddy lane signed to Broxburn plants, he knew it was real.
c1.0 There was police tape strung across the entry. Four patrol cars, an ambulance and several civilian vehicles were parked behind.
c1.1 There was also a large officer manning the tape who strolled purposefully over. Euan lowered his window.
“What’s going on?”
c1.2 “Nothing to concern you, son. The nursery is closed for the day. Now, on your way if you’d be so good.”
c1.3 Euan’s interest in crime did not extend to confronting large policemen. He put the Astra in gear, turned, and drove off.
c1.4 But before rejoining the main road, he drew into the side and delved in his pocket for his phone.
c1.5 ‘Confirm big police numbers at @Broxburnplants. He thought for a moment, added a number of online contacts who lived locally..
c1.6..and tweeted the same to @Westlothiancourier and @STVEdinburgh. At the end, he added, partly as a joke, #uncannydeath
c1.7 It was something he would later regret.<
b1.7 A few months later found Iris unpacking boxes in her new house. She had moved from the rental, down the coast a few miles.
b1.8 Really it was lovely to be rich. But she did miss the paintings; they would have looked so nice with her bookcase.
b1.9 A geodesic dome created the central portion of the 1960’s house. (Iris loved domes since reading Buckminster Fuller’s books.)
b2.0 More conventional rooms occurred off two short hallways, but the central dome housed the kitchen and living/dining spaces.
b2.1 A good part of the house was glass, and it overlooked the Pacific Ocean from high above, with stone steps down to the sand.
b2.2 Wendell appeared every day, to do the cooking, and to be the handyman, and because he didn’t have anywhere else to go.
b2.3 At 55 he was still Iris’s little brother, and she didn’t mind providing for him. He was pleasant mostly, and useful and funny.
b2.4 Wendell was divorced, and Iris had never married. She was retired from a job as school librarian. He was unemployed.
b2.5 He used to tend bar at a place on the waterfront. He knew a lot of the fishermen, and he could play piano and sing.
b2.6 Jill moved into the dome house with Iris. She was grand-niece to Iris and Wendell, and had been granddaughter..
b2.7 ..to their older sister, who was dead long ago of heart failure.
b2.8 Jill’s traveling parents were wealthy from first developing & then selling a successful television antenna business.
b2.9 The most recent postcard from them showed a night picture of the Hong Kong skyline.
b3.0 Iris had solar panels installed on the outside of her house. She then decided to hire a landscape designer to create the garden.
b3.1 Jill wrote an online ad to help find someone suitable. She went through the responses and chose which ones to pass on to Iris.
b3.2 “I like this one Aunt,” she said, brushing back her dark hair and adjusting her wire-rim glasses. “It’s a woman from Seattle.”
b3.3 The landscaper’s name was Evie Lane. Jill had checked her on Twitter: @EvieDigs)
b3.4 She arrived early one morning in a little green van with letters on the side that said GARDENS OF EVIE.
b3.5 It was October, and Wendell was outdoors, unloading firewood from his truck. “Hi!” Evie called, as she got out of her van.
b3.6 Her voice was like a silk ribbon that wrapped around Wendell’s throat. He stared.<
a1.1 Lowering his bulk carefully so as not to transgress the taped access lane,
DI Bill Williams read the label aloud:
a1.2 He looked down at the shrub which seemed to be growing from the dead man’s shoulders. Its roots were carefully separated.
a1.2.1’Carefully tease out the rootball and spread out the roots before positioning…’ He stood upright again. “He did that OK”
a1.3 They extended down the sides of the neck and dipped into the pool of dried blood. “Can we get this plant off him yet?” he asked
a1.4 “It looks like a sodding triffid. It’s not dignified to be dead with a plant growing out of you.” The photographer looked up briefly
a1.5 “Blood’s supposed to be a good plant fertiliser.” Bill shot him a foul glance. “Shut up. Do your job. Wisecracks are my territory.
a1.6 “What is a Cotinus anyway?” No one answered. “Alright. Why does anyone kill a man and then plant a shrub on him? Answer me that”
a1.7 “Maybe it’s a sexual thing?” The voice was that of DS Tom Fordyce, who was lingering just beyond the access path.
a1.8 Bill sighed. “In this day and age all things are possible, Tom. We must keep open minds. But my instinct says no, it is not sex.
a1.9 Though what it is, I don’t know. Maybe a message.” He turned to the team round him, quiet, except for the rustle of Tyvek suits.
a2.0 “How long? I want to be called when we can turn him over.” “We’re waiting on the lights,” came the reply. “Maybe an hour?”
a2.1 “Right, I’ll go see what the owner has to say. Call me if anything new crops up.” It would be a relief to be out of the Tyvek.
a2.2 The suits claimed to be breathable, but if you carried weight, as Bill did, they did not breathe fast enough.
a2.3 Bill Williams was a Yorkshireman. He had moved to Scotland to follow a woman, and when she no longer wished to be followed…
a2.4 ..Bill had stayed. He often wondered if he was a fish out of water in Lothian and Borders Police. He was not a Scot.
a2.5 He could never hope to fully understand the litany of custom and prejudice of his adopted home. Also, he disliked football.
a2.6 Even so, he had found a degree of acceptance. The blame lay with London, not Yorkshire. So he was tolerated – even sometimes obeyed.
a2.7 Rugby was Bill’s passion. He could be found at Murrayfield for most Edinburgh games. But when it came to the Calcutta cup..
a2.8 Bill’s English heart won out and he wrapped himself in red and white. He had also found his colleagues were entirely irrational.
a2.9 Nothing would stop them staking their pay on a Scotland win, however dismal the prospects. Bill usually cleaned up.
a3.0 “You want in on this Tom?” he asked as he unzipped the suit. “I’ll leave it you Sir. I’m supposed to be co-ordinating this lot.
a3.1 Free of the Tyvek, Bill walked over to the shed by the gate, which served as Broxburn Plants’ office.
a3.6 Inside there was an ancient cash register, a small electric fire, a uniformed constable and Robbie Bain.
a3.7 Robbie still looked green, but less so than when Bill first saw him. He seemed to have managed to make a statement.
a3.8 Bill scanned the proffered sheet. “So, you saw nothing, heard nothing, and it wasn’t you.”
“Aye, that’s about it,” said Robbie.
a3.9 “Let me get this straight. Yesterday you were not in this office, you were down in the tunnel potting plants for mail order?”
a4.0 “Aye. There was no call to be in the office. There was too few folk around. I left a note on the door for people tae find me.”
a4.1 “So your customers had to come down to the tunnel to pay you once they had chosen what they wanted? Is that right?” Robbie nodded.
a4.2 “You couldn’t see who came in or out of the nursery. You have no CCTV cameras either on the gate or in the car park.”
a4.3 “You didn’t have a cash register in the tunnel, so you made a note of what you sold in a notebook. Am I correct so far?”
a4.5 Robbie nodded again. “You had the portable card reader with you. Customers who paid cash got change from your own pocket.”
a4.6 “Between 1pm and 3pm, you think there were three customers. But maybe four?”
“Some folk just come for a chat,” said Robbie.
a4.7 “Ah dinnae exactly remember who bought stuff and who didnae.”
“And between 3pm and 5.30pm when you closed, there were no sales?”
a4.8 “Not a one,” said Robbie, mournfully. “So, at 5.30pm you decided to close, even though your notice says you were open to 6?”
a4.9 “It was raining. There was no one.”
“And before you closed, you checked to see?”
“Aye, I had a quick look around.”
a5.0 “But you didn’t spot that there was a man lying among your fruit trees with his head bashed in?”
Robbie shook his head. “Nah.”
a5.1 Bill sighed deeply. “Right, Mr Bain. What is to prevent me arresting you here and now on suspicion of murder?”
a5.2 Robbie suddenly became animated. “Why would I have killed him and then rung you when I found him? Why would I kill him here?”
a5.3 Bill chuckled. From a man of his bulk, the sound was not amusing. ” Mr Bain, many murderers come up better questions, I assure you.”
a5.4 Robbie slumped on the hard wooden chair which was his office furniture. The constable stood quietly, waiting and watching.
a5.5″Do I need a lawyer?” The question was whispered.
“Lawyers,” replied Bill, quite solicitously, “there’s a whole new field of pain..
a5.6 “You call a lawyer and then things move to a whole new level. I’m not arresting you yet. I’m just asking you questions.
a5.7 So let’s turn to your staff.”
“Don’t have any at the moment.”
“You run the nursery on your own?”
“At this time of year, yes.”
a5.8 “There’s two lassies from Poland who help out in summer. Then they come back for the mail order in January. There’s no need..
a5.9 ..at this time of year. I manage fine by myself.”
Bill sighed again. “Until someone dies in your nursery, Mr Bain….
a6.0 “At which point, you find yourself a little exposed.” Bill’s rhetoric (it was a fault of his) was interrupted by his mobile.
a6.1 It was Tom Fordyce. “Sorry to interrupt, Sir. We’ve had word from the gate. The media are here…” <