a4.1 It was 4pm. Slowly the crime scene at Broxburn plants was starting to clear. The corpse was gone. So were the evidence bags.
a4.1.1 But no one had found the cat. Bill had asked Tom to ring the number from its collar. “Just ask if they have lost a cupcake..”
a4.2 A press officer hauled out from Edinburgh was handling the press. The numbers had grown during the day. They had learned little
a4.3 Robbie was in the office, double-checking his stock under supervision. Bill was closeted with Shona in the potting shed
a4.4 “So, let me get this clear,” said Bill. There were two tweets to Euan Mccrum with the Uncanny death Hashtag? And he retweeted?
a4.5 “So, whoever this guy from Bigcrimenews was, he could see his message had been picked up simply by looking at #uncannydeath?”
a4.6 “That’s right,” said Shona, softly. “And he’d know that Euan was in the conversation. He’d see anyone else who retweeted @emccrum too
a4.7 But only four people RT’d the first tweet. And no one except Euan the second.”
“They had more sense,” said Bill.
a4.8 “Maybe”, said Shona. But #uncanny death is starting to pick up trolls now. “Police are numpties #uncannydeath – for example…
a4.9 ..so they may not have bothered.”
“Is Euan being targetted?” asked Bill. Shona hesitated. “I’d say Yes,” she ventured.
a5.0 “He was picked out from the start. He spends his life on crime blogs. He’s young, I guess pretty alone. He’s being used…
a5.1 …I don’t know why. I think we need to find him, Sir, for his own sake.”
“We are trying,” replied Bill.
a5.2 “His mother says he has gone to Stirling, but his office knows nothing about that. His mum says there was a girl in his car.”
a6.2 Shona raised an eyebrow. “Someone from work?” Bill shrugged. “No idea”. “Does he have a location app enabled?”
a6.3 Bill looked blank. Shona explained. “We can’t just bust into someone’s mobile without all sorts of permissions,” said Bill.
a6.4 “You know the law as well as I do. These things take time.” Shona sighed. “This guy, whoever he is, is opening and closing…
a6.5…Twiiter accounts and e-mail addresses the whole time. He’s shifting faster than we can hope to track him…
a6.6 ..He’s not using proxies yet, but he will if needed. It’s odds on that he’s posed as a crime fan, befriended Euan on Facebook..
a6.7 …and got what detail he wants. A bit of work with 192.com and elsewhere and he knows everything…
a6.8 ..Phone number, home address, probably the colour of his underwear – without doing anything illegal.” Bill shook his head..
a6.9 “How can anyone be so stupid?”
“I’m sorry, Sir,” said Shona, “but everyone does it. It’s how we live.” Bill noted the ‘we’...
a7.0 …with a tinge of regret. “Very well, thank you Shona. What should we old-fashioned policemen do apart from watch for the car,
a7.1 and see if he uses his bank card?”
“If you’ll let me,” said Shona, “I’ll try what I can. But I don’t see why this guy is using Euan.”
a7.2 “I don’t know either,” confessed Bill. “But I outrank you by billions of years. Plus I’m a detective, and you aren’t…
a7.3 …so it’s my job to find out. But if you think you can pull Euan back into the fold, you have my blessing. OK, dismiss.”
a7.4 Bill stumped up to Robbie’s office. Mr Bain was looking even more glum than before. “What’s the tally?” asked Bill cheerfully.
a7.5 The constable spoke. “Mr Bain confirms he is missing some plants, Sir.” “Right,” said Robbie. “One box Viola delta..
a7.6…variety Lavender Blue. One Amelanchier canadensis. Oh, and I suppose the Cotinus coggyria, since you lot have pinched it.”
a7.7 “It was growing on a corpse, Mr Bain.”
“It wouldn’t have suffered,” replied Robbie. Bill bit back a retort.
“OK, about cotinus..
a7.8 ..Tell me what special virtue it has that would make someone search it out and put it on a newly dead body?”
“It’s a shrub,..
a7.9 …good foliage, nice autumn colour. That’s about it. Don’t like it much myself. As for the body..” Robbie shrugged “No idea.”
a8.0 “If it’s any consolation, Mr Bain,” said Bill, ” I have no idea either. But I intend to find out.” “You do that,” said Robbie,
a8.1 “Then we can all get a good night’s sleep…”<
a8.9 Tom Fordyce appeared. “We’re getting there. We’ll keep the place locked down tonight. There’s stuff that still needs to be done
a9.0 The gateway and the lane are a mess. I doubt we’ll pick up any useful footprints or tyre tracks. We need a second look, though.
a9.1 …and we need to search through the compost..” “My compost!” exclaimed Robbie from the corner. “That cost me money!”
a9.2 “Your missing plants might be buried in it, you never know,” said Bill maliciously. “You, by the way, are not in the clear….
a9.3 You are going nowhere, and a constable will check on you every hour. If I’d a free cell, you’d be in it. But you can sleep…
a9.4 …in your own bed, for once.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Just that we will check all your women, customers, suppliers..”
a9.5 ..and find out about your performance, Mr Bain. So, if you need to tell us anything, now is the time.” Robbie rolled his eyes.
a9.6 “Can I have a word?” asked Tom. Bill heaved himself to his feet. They went outside. “About that cat.”
“You rang the number?”
a9.7. “Yes. There was just the message ‘this number has not been recognised’ So I rang BT.”
“They said it was unallocated.”
“That the number didn’t exist. It was never given out for use.”
Bill groaned. “I had so hoped that sodding cat..
a9.9…had nothing to do with it. That some nice old dear would think kindly of the police for ever more when she got it back.
a1.0 But no such luck. Someone has gone to the trouble of equipping Cupcake with a name and a spurious phone number and letting..
a1.1.. it out on a crime scene. Pray God the media don’t get hold of that.”
Tom Blushed..”I’m afraid…”
“No! don’t tell me..
a1.2 …the press officer said the media needed something new, and you thought..”
“It seemed a good way of finding the cat…”
a1.3 “…But at what expense, Tom? At what expense? You know what tomorrow’s headlines will say? Nothing about diligent police work
a1.4 It will be ‘Mystery of the missing Cupcake.'” And, so indeed it was.<
12.0 It was dark by the time Jill returned home. “Sorry I’m so late,” she said.“Billy & I walked up the trail to the old bay lighthouse.”
12.1 “A cold day for that,” Iris said. “How is he? How’s his next book?”
“I don’t know,” Jill said. “We talked about the cat, and…Evie.”
12.2 Jill went to the refrigerator in search of leftover soup. “Evie called,” Iris said, “when I got home from Margaret’s house. To chat…”
12.3 Jill said nothing. Iris continued. “She seems to be somewhat concerned about you Jill.”
“What? About me?” Jill’s mouth dropped open.
12.4“Now don’t get upset. But she thinks you might not be ready for such a large garden area as she had originally planned.”
12.5 Jill plunked down in a kitchen chair, staring.
“She thinks you need to do a little more research maybe, more reading about the plants…”
12.6 “…and Jillie, if you think foxglove is a vine, like she said, then you aren’t ready to order seeds. You need to learn some more.”
12.7 Just then Wendell came in. He’d had his share of afternoon beer and was smiling broadly. Jill turned to him with an angry voice.
12.8 “Wendell, did Evie talk about English laurel, at the nursery?”
Wendell laughed. “Yeah,” he said, “We made English laurel jokes.”
12.9 After a moment he added, “You had to be there to see the humor…That Evie is one heck of a girl!” Jill turned away and rolled her eyes.
13.0 Iris had the soup heating on the stove, and Wendell was making grilled cheese sandwiches. Jill pulled her phone from her pocket.
13.1 “Criminy” she muttered, and she opened her Twitter account and wrote: “@killinswrites Forget everything. My world is made of mirrors.”
13.2 A minute later Billy returned the text. “Can I steal that expression?– works for my current chapter.”
“B my guest!” Jill wrote.
13.3 Over dinner Iris talked about Margaret Benson, that she had erected a monument by Fluffy’s grave. It was of granite, 3 feet tall and engraved.
13.4 Iris tried to remember the words. “Something like, ‘Fluffy Benson, a true friend—no, not true friend—Fluffy Benson, a golden friend…”
13.5 “But he was white,” Jill said.
Iris continued, “…rudely taken while in his prime.”
Wendell said, “Just ‘rudely’? Wasn’t he poisoned?”
13.6 “We don’t know that,” Iris said, and then added, “There’s an image engraved, a pair of cat ears– above the words.” She looked sad.
13.7 Jill bit her tongue, and Iris continued. “Margaret has scheduled another séance.” She looked at Jill, & then at Wendell.
13.8 “You might want to come. To be supportive.” Wendell chewed his sandwich and Jill turned her smile away. “On Sunday afternoon.”
13.9 “Aunt,” Jill finally managed. “Does Margaret think that Fluffy will communicate, at the séance? Really? Cat words?”
14.0 “Oh don’t be ridiculous Jill,” Iris said. “But Natasha, the medium, will be there- she has spirit connections. We may learn something.”
14.1 “I’m playing pool down on the bayfront,” Wendell said, “just like church.” He smiled, and Jill laughed.
14.2 “Wendell, go home,” Iris said. He tipped the bowl to finish his soup and left, sandwich in hand. He hugged Iris as he went by.
14.3 As the door closed behind him, Iris sighed. “Feral man,” she said. Then, “Listen Jillie. I hope you will come to the séance.”
14.4 “Why?” Jill asked.
Iris looked unhappy.“Because your parents will be home in January, and they won’t take you to séances.”
14.5 Jill stood up. “What? They’re coming home?” She was shaken. “But Aunt, I don’t know…What if, I mean, it’s been over a year…”
14.6 “Laura said she wrote you. She said she would explain…” Iris was upset. She didn’t like this any more than Jill did.
14.7 “The last I heard,” Jill said, “they were on a ship from Hong Kong to Britain… to Scotland. Or something. Nothing else.”
14.8 Iris put her arms around Jill. She had grown up so much in the time they had lived together. Such an extraordinary child, so bright…
14.9 “Will I have to live with them?” Jill asked. “I don’t know,” Iris said. “Perhaps not. They won’t stay long. They never do…”
15.0 “And January is months away. You have a birthday in two weeks. Fifteen! So grown up-” Jill hugged her old Aunt close.
15.1 “So,” Iris said, “will you come to the séance?” Then she added, “Blue will be there. And Billy.
”Jill looked up. “ I’ll come,” she said.<
c6.2 Euan had been driving on the M9 for 15 minutes, when he asked “Where are we going?” “Stirling,” said Janice. “We can’t go there..
c6.3 …I told my mum that’s where we were going. The police will pick us up, no trouble.” “So where, then?” asked Janice.
c6.4 They were passing an exit. “Grangemouth,” said Euan. He swung off the motorway. Grangemouth is Scotland’s oil refinery
c6.5 It’s a town where lurid flares drive out darkness, and houses hunch beneath cylindrical tank farms of chemicals.
c6.6 Janice’s phone bleeped. It was probably work, wondering where she was. She pulled it out and read the text. She was right.
c6.7 She thumbed back a response, full of apologies. Time of the month. Sorry. Headache. Had to go home.
c6.8 The phone bleeped again. She read, and couldn’t help exclaiming. “What?” asked Euan, eyes on the road. “It says ‘Hello Janice..
c6.9 ..and welcome to Uncannydeath. Glad to have you on board.” She turned to Euan. “What….?”
c7.0 Euan pulled the car savagely to the side of the street. “Ditch it,” he said. “I’ll do the same. We’re being tracked.”
c7.1 Janice looked at her precious HTC Desire. “What? My phone?” “I know about this,” said Euan. “I read about this every day.”
c7.2 “You can’t hide if you have a phone. Facebook, Twitter, Location apps – you have them, right? So anyone can get you…”
c7.3 “If I switch it off?” “No, even then. The police may be slow on it, but this Uncannydeath guy won’t be. He knows stuff.”
c7.4 Janice looked at her phone. She felt the humiliation of tears. “You kissed me,” said Euan. “I wanted the story,” said Janice
c7.5 “Well then,” said Euan. Janice opened the car door and climbed out. She put her phone on the pavement. She stamped on it. Twice
c7.6 Euan handed her his phone. She dropped it, stamped, climbed back inside. “It’s OK,” said Euan, I have a laptop, and its clean.”
c7.7 “I still want that story,” said Janice. “More than me?” “Yes!,” she shouted, caught between anger and fear. “More than you!”
c7.8 Euan hadn’t endured being called Crummie all his life without developing a certain stoicism. “That’s understood then,” he said.
c7.9 He started the car. “But why am I here?” Janice burst into tears. “You’re my source. You’re my fucking source.” That’s why.<
[No idea where all that came from. Must have been hallucinating]
c8.0 Minutes later Janice spoke again, calmly. “Euan, I do need your help. You have the attention of these ‘uncanny death’ people.”
c8.1 “Now we both appear to have their attention,” she added, and her voice lost some balance. “So we are in this together, right?”
c8.2 Euan was driving automatically & thinking madly. Yes Janice was drawn into this because of him—he was responsible.
c8.3 It changed everything. She needed him, not just for information but for protection. He glanced over at her.
c8.4 Her face was flushed & there was still an overlooked tear. She brushed her hair out of her eyes. But mostly she looked determined.
c8.5 He knew they must solve this, to extricate him and to build her career. In the meantime they had to avoid getting killed.
c8.6 Time was needed, to think & research. Euan pulled the car into the first cafe he came to in Grangemouth.
c8.7 As the car stopped Janice reached & grasped his arm. “Euan,” she said earnestly. “Promise me you had nothing to do with the death.”<
[There. See how nicely this is going? Keep your hand off that ‘delete’ key…]
[It sounds like something from a bad soap! Just stay OUT of my romantic interest build up.]
[And Which cafe, dammit? You take over my narrative, you provide the details!]
[Besides, I need to put it on the map]
[And go and visit it and check for internet access. I’m not standing for you putting MY characters into some unknown hole]
[How would you like it if I let Jill just wander around Newport on her own. You have DUTY OF CARE while you are in charge!]
[OMG. Well fine. But I selected based on a photograph….]
zc8.6 (Rewrite) Time was needed, to think & research. Euan pulled the car into the Cafe Torino–because it didn’t look expensive…<
[Cafe Torino: burned? closed by Health Dept? Leveled by bulldozer? BAD COFFEE?? I will hope for the best, & await your Extreme Critique..]
[And FYI Jill wanders around Newport alone ALL THE TIME. It is a very nice safe place. Mostly.]
[Ah, an Italian cafe. They might have espresso. I stress might. Chances are, not. I’ll let you know]
[But kindly go and develop your OWN love interest. Or you just might find one of your characters coming to a premature end!]