8 Euan & Janice run; a lovely dinner ends badly

Scotland – Grangemouth

c3.4 When Janice got back to the cafe Torino, Euan had closed his laptop. He was listening to his ipod, eyes closed, tea cold.

c3.5 He opened his eyes as she sat down. “What you listening to?” “Adele”, he replied. “‘Rumour has it’. You know it?”

c3.6 Janice shook her head. “It’s good,” said Euan. He held out an earpiece. Adele’s deep, half broken tones reverberated in her ear.

c3.7….’Bless your soul, you’ve got your head in the clouds. You made a fool out of you and, boy, she’s bringing you down…’

c3.8 Euan held out his hand and retrieved the earpiece. “I’m going home,” he said. “I’m not hanging about here. Mum will be worried.”

c3.9 “There’s been more, hasn’t there?” asked Janice. She just knew. Euan nodded. “What?” Euan shrugged. “Not important.”

c4.0 His gaze moved past Janice to the red tablecloths of the empty tables. The windows of the cafe were steaming up.

c4.1 “They close in half an hour. We should be on the road. I’m sorry about your phone. You’ll get it back on insurance.”

c4.2 Janice looked at her source. The one lead she had. “The police? They’ll want to see you.” Euan shrugged again. “Not important.”

c4.4 “Tell me,” said Janice softly. “OK? Then we’ll go.” Euan looked at her again. He said nothing for a time. Janice waited.

c4.5 She knew he needed to tell someone, and it would either be her, or else the police. “What did they say?” she asked, quietly.

c4.6 “There was an e-mail,” said Euan. Anonymous of course, via some proxy….those Adele lyrics…’she made your heart melt, but…

c4.7 …you’re cold to the core…” “It’s OK,” said Janice. Euan looked away from her again. His hands moved the teacup on the table.

c4.8 “It said..” Euan hesitated. “It said ‘Ask your father what’s going on. Lots of love from Uncanny Death’ ”  Janice waited.

c4.9 “My father’s dead,” said Euan. “He’s dead, and has been for years.” He stood up. “Let’s go.”

c5.0 They sat in Euan’s car. Around them, Grangemouth tucked itself into the growing twilight. The orange  flares from the refinery..

c5.1…glowed in the low cloud, waxing and waning as the cloud thickened and thinned. “There was another message,” said Euan.

c5.2 “Not to me,  just a tweet with #uncanny death at the end. Anyone could see it.”
“What was it?” asked Janice
.

c5.3 “What do roadside flowers say?” There was silence.
“What do you think?” asked Janice.
“I think, death,” said Euan,

c5.4 “Like when people tie flowers on the fence where there’s been an accident. The flowers say ‘be careful, someone has died here'”.

c5.6  He made no move to start the car. “I was thinking,” he began. “My dad had a pal. It was before he went off and left mum.

c5.7  He used to come to the house. Wee Fergie, he was called – ‘cos he was huge. Worked with my dad, I think. I don’t really know.

c5.8  That was before, like I said. Then my Dad went off, and there was just me and Mum. I was quite wee at the time.

c5.9 “Do you know why he left?” asked Janice quietly, not to break the mood. “Not really. Mum said it was ‘cos he preferred trees.”

c6.0 Euan half turned to her. “He was in the forestry you see. He didn’t like the town. Mum did. He went back to the trees. She didn’t.

c6.1 Then she told me he was dead. I was what… sixteen, seventeen? Didn’t care much. Hadn’t seen him for years.

c6.2 Haven’t thought about it since. And now, this.” Janice said nothing. She wished she could record this. She wished she could write it down.

c6.3 There was a long silence. “There was a message for you, too,” said Euan. Janice waited. “Tell Janice there’s more”

c6.4 That’s what it said. What does that mean? What have you been doing?” “Nothing.”
“I don’t know”, said Euan. “I don’t…

c6.5 …know anything about you. You can get out and walk home for all I care. Maybe you should.”
“And what will you do?”

c6.6 Euan sighed. “When I got that message, I remembered Wee Fergie. So I searched for him online. Turns out he lives quite close.

c6.7 I don’t suppose it’s a coincidence.”
“No”, said Janice “I don’t suppose it is.”
“If I went home….”

c6.8 “…You’d always wonder,” said Janice. Euan sighed. It was a sigh of frustration and misery. Janice waited. He started the car.

c6.9 “You can come if you’d like,” said Euan. “But you don’t have to.” Janice thought of going back to her flat, of a hot shower,

c7.0 Of a night out with her friends. But there was more. She’d been told as much. “OK,” she said. “Where are we going?”

c7.1 “Somewhere called Slamannan. It’s not far. I’m not going to risk the Satnav. There’s a road map behind you. Can you read one?

c7.2 “Probably,” said Janice. “And probably will have to do.”<

Oregon:

19.6 While Evie & Blue had their dinner at the BlackFish Café, Billy Killins sat at his oak desk, working. It was Friday night…

19.7 …and getting late into October– The computer screen glowed, & his one desk lamp created an island of light. It felt cozy and secluded.

19.8 Outside his big window, and far below, lights on the beach made the foam edges of the ocean waves show like snow in the night.

19.9 His house was small & warm & beautifully finished, with natural wood and lots of view, hand-made rugs and a little gourmet kitchen. 

20.0 Billy sat back in his leather office chair. He thought about the page before him. Should he kill Rosalind yet, or wait a little longer?

20.1 His phone rang, which is to say it played a bit of a Dvořák quartet, and Billy looked at it. Iris was calling. “Yes Iris?” he said.

20. 2 “Billy,” she answered. “Margaret is having a séance on Sunday afternoon. For Fluffy. To see… I promised Jill you would be there.”

20.3 “You did?” Billy smiled. “How rash of you Iris. I might have another engagement. I might have characters to murder.”

20.4 “Oh for Pete’s sake,” Iris said. He laughed & said, “I’ll be there Sweetheart. Shall I bring some brandy, for Margaret?”

20.5 “No—well maybe. I don’t know. Just come, and be nice. Poor Margaret… She has bought a beautiful headstone, for Fluffy.”

20.6 “Jesus,” Billy said. “Can’t miss that.” He sat & looked at the screen, but after the call he couldn’t think about his novel any more.

20.7  He poured some very nice port into a little stemmed glass and smoked a cigarette. Who killed Fluffy? And how was it really done?

20.8  He tipped the glass & looked– deep red port showed through floral etching. His dead mother’s stemware: old, pretty, & rosy red now.

 20.9  He thought about the members of the seance circle. He knew them, most of them.

 21.0 Jill had an interest in toxic plants–he made a note, to get her a copy of Phantastica for her birthday–but Jill didn’t kill Fluffy.

 21.1 Really he knew all the members of the circle passing well, except perhaps the mystical Natasha. He looked forward very much to Sunday.

 21.2 It grew late. Billy finally killed Rosalind with a falling chandelier. Lots of broken glass. Then his phone beeped a text message.

 21.3 Slowly, after a sip of port, Billy picked up the phone. He tapped on the icon, and the message appeared.

 21.4 It came from someone called Uncanny Death. “Good evening Billy. Love your work.” He stared at the phone, quite mystified.<

Scotland:

 a1.5  It was 4.30 pm at Broxburn Plants. Bill was sitting with Tom Fordyce in Robbie Bain’s office. Robbie had been sent home.

a1.6  Two men had gone with him to collect his computer. The databases of the whole business would be analysed in due course.

a1.7  But Bill had asked for a print-out of all Robbie’s mail order customers and the online catalogue that evening, if possible.

a1.8 The murderer had left clues all over the place, quite deliberately. ‘A smartass,’ Bill thought to himself. ‘A crossword geek.’

a1.9 Such people always underestimated the analytical powers at the disposal of the police. One mind against dedicated software.

a2.0 One mind against a dozen people whose only job was to establish facts and trace links. But there was a human problem too…

a2.1 “So you say this girl has gone off with Euan? She’s not even a journalist, but seems to think she is? And there’s a book?”

a2.2 “And she’s just gone off into the blue with him, not taking any clothes? Not a toothbrush? A boy she’s never met before?”

a2.3 “So Stuart says,” replied Tom. “I’ve no reason to think he’s hiding anything. At least, not much.”
“This book? Death in Orkney?

a2.4 “You heard of it?”
“Not me. I’m not one for crime. I’ve ordered a copy off Amazon. On expenses.”
“Billy Killins; who’s he?”

a2.5 “Gimme a chance,” said Tom. “This only came in 15 minutes ago. Wiki says he’s a highly reputed American crime writer.

a2.6 “A few novels, but he prefers short stories. This Death in Orkney book is a collection. Several set in Scotland, it says.”

a2.7 Bill’s phone rang. It was Shona. “I know there’s people in Edinburgh monitoring Twitter, but you may get it quicker from me.”

a2.8 “And?”
“There’s a lot of rubbish there now, but this feels genuine. ‘What do roadside flowers say?”

“That’s all?”
“Yes”

a2.9 “Make sense to you?”
“No, Sir, none.”
“Me neither. Thanks.” Bill sighed. “Another smartass clue. What do roadside flowers say?

a3.0 Any idea, Tom?”
Tom shrugged. “We won’t know until we find them.”
“You think there may be actual flowers?”

a3.1 “I doubt it,” Tom said. “But there are an awful lot of flowers in this case already. So who knows? What’s next?”

a3.2 “Find those kids – that’s a priority. They may be sticking their necks into something nasty. Shona thought Euan was targetted.

a3.3 That book being sent to him confirms it. Something — someone — is pushing him to react.”
“And the girl?”
“Who knows?

a3.4 They meet. Euan’s work says he went out to lunch. They talk. Janice is looking for a story. Ross told her to track him down.

a3.5 Then they go to Euan’s house, pick up a laptop, and then vanish. I’m told their phones don’t answer. We have an alert out.

a3.6. Is there more we can do? TV?”
“Stuart won’t be pleased.”
“Sod him. Their lives could be in danger. Give them the descriptions.

a3.7  No need to mention the book, though. Just ‘Police are looking for…’ Someone will see them and phone in. Anything else?”

a3.8 “The cat, Sir. Cupcake.”
“Bugger Cupcake! The cat will be found when it wants to be found. The press have the name.

a3.9 The whole of Scotland will be looking for it. OK, lets pack up and get home. Full shake-down tomorrow 9am. Initial leads, teams.

a4.0 Accommodation. Cars. All the usual.”
“Path? Autopsy? Identification?”
“Let me know – I’ll be on call all night if need be.”

****************************************************************

d1.0 Stuart Ross put the phone down and looked again at the copy he had written. He rang the news desk on the Daily Record.

d1.1 “Matt, are you covering the Broxburn Plants death tomorrow?”
“We don’t have much on it, but we are using it, yes.”

d1.2 “I’ve some words here you might want to work in. A bit of new stuff. Two missing kids and an angle the police haven’t given out.”

d1.3 “Sounds good. Flick it across and let’s have a look. Any pix of the kids?”
“There’s a few you can rip from Facebook.”

d1.4 “All the better. Hang on a moment…..” Stuart waited. Matt came back to the phone. “The cops have just put out something…

d1.5 Euan somebody and a girl called Janice. Those them?”
“Yes.”
“Runaway couple flee from murder?”
“You guessed my head.”

d1.6 “OK, send it across. What do you want for it?”
“Give the paper a namedrop and stick it on the wire. That will do.”
“Done.”

d1.7 Matt on the Record’s news desk read the copy, worked it into the piece he was writing, and, true to his word, sent it on to PA.

d1.8 The Press Association is Britain’s biggest news agency, sourcing and re-distributing stories wherever there is demand.

d1.9 Every paper with space to fill looks to ‘the wires’ for suitable content. Stuart’s paragraphs joined a host of other tales…

d1.91 …from hard news to celebrity gossip. PA staff copytaste, edit, filter and distribute. Josh Mullins, seconded to PA’s Yorkshire base…

d2.1 …picked out the name of Billy Killins. He was a crime fan himself, and knew the author had a big US following…

d2.2 …especially on the West Coast. He sucked a pencil for a second, put his feet on a spare chair, and re-read the story.

d2.3 Re-cast, it might do for AP, the big US agency. They could float it out West and still hope to hit local deadlines.

d2.4 He put the pencil down and started the re-write. “Crime author Billy Killins may be the key to a Scottish murder.

d.2.5 A young couple has fled a gruesome killing, clutching Killin’s recent best-seller ‘Death in Orkney’. The book contained the…

d2.6 …message “lots of love from #Uncanny Death.”
The killer used Twitter to taunt police with the same hashtag. Police are eager…

d2.7 …to find the missing couple to help in their investigation.
Killins is well known for his lurid crime scenarios. A TV series…

d2.8 …based on his tales of death and wrongdoing is rumored to be appearing in the spring. Ends.’ Josh topped and tailed…

d2.9 …and pressed Send. AP might or might not use it. He didn’t care much. He turned to the next thing on his screen.

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One thought on “8 Euan & Janice run; a lovely dinner ends badly

  1. Alberto says:

    Ok I hope this uncanny death guy doesn’t have black mop-like hair, ball eyes and two red swirls in the middle of his face… and maybe drives a trycicle?

    Well I hope not, because I’m faint hearted.

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