4 Cats and corpses feature in a nasty discovery.


a8.2 Bill Williams stood staring at the gate and wished he had the digital gene. All the young guys seemed to have it. Hardly fair.

a8.3 And where was the kid he asked for anyway? He turned around. He saw Tom Fordyce returning.

a8.3.1 There was a uniformed constable standing behind Tom. She looked ridiculously young and small to be at a scene…

a8.3.2…where a man lay with his head smashed. She reminded him of his daughter. He suddenly felt his age creeping up on him.

a8.5 Tom  was carrying a cat over his right arm. The cat purred and Tom scratched its ears.“What’s that?” Bill asked.

a8.6 “It’s a cat,” Tom explained. Bill took a deep breath. Then he saw the dried blood on the cat’s cheek, & more of it on its back.

a8.7 It wasn’t the cat’s own blood– the animal was fine. “Stop touching it!” Bill said urgently. The cat looked at Bill’s face and didn’t like what it saw.

a8.8 There were claws, and a jump, and the cat shot out of Tom’s grip and ran back into the plant displays.

a8.9 Tom followed, calling, “Cupcake! Cupcake! Here kitty—Cupcake!” But the cat had vanished.

a9.0 Bill was not pleased. “Tom that’s evidence and you let it escape. We need it back before the blood is gone.  Why the hell are you calling it Cupcake?”

a9.1 Tom looked bereft. “That’s her name,” he said. “I didn’t get to show you, but she has a little pink collar, & a tag. It said Cupcake.”

[I might have known….you lose a cat, I gain one. Did it HAVE to be called Cupcake?]
 [Well just remember, you are responsible for her.]
[not any more]

a9.2 “Anything else on it?”
“Yes a phone number.”
“And you wrote it down before you let the evidence escape?”

a9.3 “…it was an Edinburgh number.”
“Get someone to find out who it is. But don’t ring it yet. We need the cat back.”

a9.4 “But don’t rush on that. The last thing we need is people trampling all over a crime scene in pursuit of a demented moggy.”

a9.5 Bill turned his attention to the young policewoman. “You are..?”
“Shona McLean, Sir. F division.”
“Do you know anything..

a9.6 “…about Twitter and all that social network stuff?”
“A bit, Sir.” Her Highland accent was obvious. “I spend a bit of time..

a9.7 “…when I’m off duty, of course.”
“Good,” said Bill. “From now on you can stop what you were doing and help me. The STV boys..

a9.8…tell me they came here because of some ‘tweet’ to something called a hashtag. Hastag uncannydeath, I think.

a9.9 Go and find a laptop, sit in Mr Bain’s office over there, and get me everything I need to know. Report back as soon as you can”

a1.0 Anyone in charge of a crime scene has a to do list that grows by the minute. But Bill’s was dropping off the bottom of the page.

a1.1 Cats with phone numbers, plants on corpses, tweets, Robbie Bain, media turning up early. And now his mobile rang again.

a1.2 “We are ready to turn him, Sir. You wanted to be there.” Bill walked the short distance to the corpse in the fruit trees.

a1.3 At least the body had its arms by its sides. With this degree of rigor mortis, outsplayed arms would have made life difficult.

a1.4. “OK, go,” said Bill. With grunts and heaves, the body was turned over. There was a collective intake of breath.

a1.5 “Jesus, what was he on?” The voice might have been the pathologist’s. It was hard to tell. Everyone was anonymous in the Tyvek.

a1.6 The eyes of the corpse were wide open. The pupils were grotesquely expanded, and there was no colour around them to be seen.

a1.7 The man looked more like an owl than a human being. But he was dead, for all that.

a1.8 Another voice broke the shocked silence. “I know him, Sir. I know that face!”


d6.4 Iris gently rested the cat’s body back down on the porch floor. She hesitated–there was no avoiding this.

d6.5 She called through the kitchen door, “Margaret!” Something in her voice brought everyone. As they saw, they gasped.

d6.6 Margaret knelt by the cat, touched it, then noticed the blood and the eyes. She stood up. Her hands came together at her heart.

d6.7 “What happened to him?” She looked at the others with pleading eyes, too horrified for tears. Iris put a hand on her shoulder.

d6.8 Billy Killins stepped forward, looked closely at the body & spoke in a calm voice. “I killed a man like this once,” he said.

d6.9 “Death in Orkney.” He looked up. “One of my best stories really.” There was a smile. “Those eyes, so graphic. I used belladonna…”

d7.0 “…and then an ax.” He tilted his head.“The situation here makes me think of Jimsonweed though. Also called Datura.”

d7.1 Margaret looked stricken. “Billie, honestly,” Iris scolded. “Come inside, Margaret, & sit down. Jill will move Fluffy to…someplace.”

d7.2 Iris glanced at Jill as she & Margaret went inside. “Have fun,” Blue said, & he walked away with his jacket over his shoulder.

d7.3 Jill & Billy were left standing alone on the porch with the body. Jill was very sorry but also challenged. She looked closely.

d7.4 Shouldn’t we have an autopsy or something Billy?” she asked. “To find the cause of death?”

d7.5 “I told you the cause of death,” Billy said. “The cat was poisoned.” <

e1.0 Two days later, Iris thought it about time she heard something from the garden designer. She hadn’t seen Evie since her arrival.

e1.1 Iris was paying almost $200 a day for the best room in the Sylvia beach. She thought it strange that Evie had not phoned.

e1.2 She supposed Evie would need time to get her ideas worked out. But still, she found it a little rude. She liked good manners.

e1.3 On a whim, she decided to visit Evie at the Sylvia Beach. It wasn’t far to NW Cliff Street, and for once her legs did not ache.

e1.4 She decided not to take Jill. The child had been acting strangely ever since the unfortunate business with the cat.

e1.5 She found Evie in the library of the Sylvia Beach. It was a lovely room, with alcoves and books, and a loft area for puzzles.

e1.6 To her surprise, Evie was not alone. There was a man sitting just across a small coffee table from her talking earnestly.

 e1.7 For a moment, Evie looked very shocked to see Iris. The man didn’t miss a beat. He rose to his feet with a friendly smile.

 e1.8 He was big, with the kind of build that suggested he had once been a good football player. He was tanned.

 e1.9 A solid gold bracelet adorned one wrist. His black shoes were highly polished, and his teeth were sparkling white and even.

 2.0 “Hello ma’am,” he said without waiting for Evie to speak. “Evie’s been telling me all about the opportunity you’ve given her.

 e2.1 “I must say,  she’s delighted. We’re both delighted. I’m Mart Cruickshank, by the way. Let me give you a card.”

 e2.2 The card had gold edges and embossed script. ‘Mart Cruickshank III. Chief Executive, Boston and Global reinsurance.’ it read.

 e2.3 There was an impressive list of offices: Boston, New York, LA, Paris, London…no doubt that was all the card could hold.

 e2.4 “Please sit with us, Ma’am. Evie and I were just having a visit.”

a2.5 Iris didn’t think they’d just been casually visiting. She felt strangely awkward. She often felt like this before she had money.

 e2.7 Evie spoke for the first time. “I’ve just completed the preliminary drawings Ms. Oat. I could come round with them tomorrow?”

 e2.8 She put a little smile into her face, but there was no smile in her voice. Mart shot her a sideways glance.

 e2.9 He turned back to Iris. “Evie will do you a fine job.” He gave Iris a grin. “I’ve known her a long time and she’s good.”

e3.0 “Are you here long, Mr Cruickshank? Maybe you could come and see what will be the garden.” “Please call me Mart or Marty, ma’am.

e3.1 I would love to, ma’am. But I fear I have to be in Seattle tomorrow. Then Tokyo. You know how it is.”

e3.2 There was a pause. “I guess I’ll be getting home then,” said Iris. Mart gave another of his trademark grins. “A lovely evening

 e3.3 ..for a walk, I have to say. Evie says you live just up the beach to the north? So lucky. I only wish”…he shook his head.

 e3.4 “It’s been a real pleasure.” He shook Iris’s hand warmly, as if the last thing he wanted was for her to go.

 e3.5 As Iris walked slowly homewards, she wondered what had happened to the bouncy, happy Evie she had first met.

  e3.6 ‘Boyfriend troubles I expect,’ she said to herself, and thought no more about it for the moment.<


a1.9 Bill Williams sat on a hard chair surrounded by compost and plastic pots. He had sneaked off to grab 5 minutes on his own.

a2.0 He reviewed what he had. A minor criminal called Fergie Armstrong, with convictions for sexual assault and drug dealing.

a2.1 Dead, major trauma to head. A plant on his shoulders. Wearing a tweed jacket. Why? Fergie wouldn’t even know what tweed was.

a2.2 Next: a likely murder weapon. One large terra-cotta pot, cracked, blood-spattered. Fragments of same in wound.

 a2.3 Almost impossible to inflict a blow with it if the victim was upright. So the victim was lying down. Why?

a2.4 Next: suspicion of drugs. Extreme dilation of pupils. But was Fergie dead before he was hit? Await path results. Next: cat…

a2.5 It wasn’t Robbie’s cat, so he said. He’d never seen it before. “What twat would call a cat Cupcake?” Bill couldn’t answer that.

a2.6 Next: Twitter. Bill was waiting for Shona here. But something was going on. He wished he knew what. So what was the hypothesis?

 a2.7 Bill picked up a plastic pot and stared at it. “Tell me all I need to know..” he intoned at it. The pot was silent.

 a2.8. “Very well, I’ll tell you. The murderer arrives, maybe by car, maybe not. Probably with the victim. Maybe the victim’s drugged

a2.9 Maybe the murderer brings his cat. He’s asked the victim to dress in tweed. He knows he won’t be seen ‘cos he’s checked it out.

 a3.0 It’s raining. He walks the victim up to the fruit trees. Then…’ Bill stared at the pot disbelievingly ‘he says “Wait here…

 a3.1 …while I find a nice Cotinus.” He brings the shrub back, leaving its pot behind. He also brings a big terra-cotta pot.

 a3.2 He tells the victim to lie face down so that he can bash him on the head. He does that. Then reads the instructions…

 a3.3 ….and positions the Cotinus on the victim’s shoulders as we have seen. He can’t find the cat. Too bad. Time to go.

 a3.4 He gets a good night’s sleep, wakes up, sends a tweet….’ Bill looked at the pot forcefully. ‘But why? Why all this palaver?’

 a3.5 ‘Why not just kill this low-life and dump him somewhere, if that’s what he wants to do? Eh? Tell me!’ The pot said nothing.

 a3.6 Bill reached out and jammed two handfuls of compost into the pot. “Speak, or you’ll never breathe again! What am I missing?”

 a3.7 The pot looked vaguely resentful. “It’s a message, stupid,” said Bill. “But do I have it all? Or is there something missing?

a3.8 “What else is missing from Broxburn Plants?” He threw the pot into a corner. ‘I never checked, fool that I am!’

 a3.9 With a surprising turn of speed, he ran for the office. “Get Mr Bain out here!” His mobile rang as he reached the door.

a4.0 It was Shona. “There’s been another interesting tweet, Sir. I think you should see. I’ve tracked everything I can.”<




2 thoughts on “4 Cats and corpses feature in a nasty discovery.

  1. Sheila says:

    What?! I have to wait for the next installment? This is highly entertaining, first-rate literature involving all my favorite things: crime, journalism, gardening, the spirit world. Now I have run out of things to do to procrastinate my job search … Perhaps I should check Twitter.

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