Authors: Patricia Scott
© Patricia Scott 2014
Patricia Scott has asserted her rights under the Copyright, Design and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as the author of this work.
First published in 2014 by Endeavour Press Ltd.
A Captive Heart
by Patricia Scott
Bucket and spade dropped onto the sand. Lugworms forgotten, Victor Goring hitched up his pants and ran over to the crop of rocks where the tide lapped gently around his green wellies and played patter cake against the girl’s naked body lying on the sands in front of him.
Victor stared down at her face which was a bloody, battered mess; her tawny green eyes wide open in the rocky pool
surrounded by sea anemones clinging to the submerged seaweed-covered rocks. A small pink crab rested on her swollen tongue and erratic shrimps darted around the long strands of dark blonde hair floating in the water.
pulled out a mobile and a large handkerchief from his jacket pocket, scattering small change out onto the sand. Mopping his bearded face with the handkerchief, he phoned the Harling police station.
‘A woman’s body has been found on the seashore near the Harling Pier, ma’am,’ DC Calder said, putting his head through his chief’s open office door. ‘SOCO’s there already.’
‘Right - call the Doc and the necessary team, please.’
Detective Superintendent Viviane Peterson, the new broom in the Harling police station, finished up the remainder of her early morning canteen coffee, already cold in the mug, freshened up her lipstick in her hand mirror and zipped up her light blue jacket as Detective Sergeant Geoff Trask put his plump rosy face round the office door.
cars and ambulance arrived noisily on the sunny sea front near the Harling Pier entrance. Some early risers amongst the holidaymakers from the hotels opposite lined up against the green railings to watch the police team making its procession down the long pebbled beach and across the shingle to join the white uniformed Scene of Crime officers on the sands.
The local man who’d found the body, Victor Goring, stood on one side watching the police proceedings with much interest, bucket and lugworms long forgotten.
‘Mr Goring? I’m Superintendent Peterson. You found the victim?’
‘Yes, miss, er - Superintendent.’
‘Thank you for calling us. You can go now, Mr Goring. Can you come into the station later? Say in an hour’s time to fill us in with the details? Good morning, Granger. Looks like the tide’s coming in fast. We’ll have to make it quick. First impressions anyone?’
Doctor Anthony Granger, the police surgeon, a short, thin young man, with a cheerful freckled face, snub nose and pencil thin moustache, straightened up to greet
her. ‘Good morning, Superintendent. Our victim’s a female. She was strangled and battered about the face and head extensively with a heavy weapon of some kind.’
‘At a quick glance, I would say possibly - yes. Looks like extensive bruising between the thighs and in the groin area.’ He bent over again to study the face more closely and with a wry grimace said, ‘Young, a natural blonde - age about twenty-six/seven. Time of death, midnight or thereabouts, and the injuries, I would say, were committed shortly
death. The head placed as it is in the pool, its small inhabitants will doubtless have added to the damage done to it already.’ He shook his head and sighed. ‘Nasty.’
‘Could she have been moved and dumped here after she was killed?’
Granger nodded. ‘There are signs of possible movement; those purple marks on the left side under the body can vouch for that. I would say more than likely she was brought here during the early hours before the tide was on the turn.’ He shifted his brown suede shoes with a smothered curse as the water splashed and lapped in closer around them.
Peterson nodded and turned to the officers who’d joined her. ‘You agree with that lads?’
DI Nick Farmer and DS Geoff Trask nodded as they stared silently down into the rocky pool at the terrible battered face lying under the water, and then at each other, shock registering plainly on their grim faces.
DC Brian Calder joining them took a hesitant look down at the victim and gulped, then stammered out, ‘It’s - it’s, DS Handley, ma’am! Look! See there’s a rose tattoo on her left arm and that - that gold pendant she’s wearing. It’s Cancer the
star sign. Linda was given it for her birthday last week.’
The police officers grouped around her saw Peterson’s fine boned features flush with anger as she swore and slammed a fist into her open hand. It seemed that the seagulls echoed her explicative as they shrieked out and screamed overhead.
‘A police officer! Christ! The killer has a blighted sense of humour,’ Granger said straightening up again.
Pushing back her thick honey blonde hair from her wide forehead, Peterson wondered how she was going to deal with
the case efficiently and quickly. Of all the bad luck, it seemed that fate really had it in for her. Only three weeks in a new place and she was faced with this foul crime.
Peterson addressed the forensic team briskly as they started to work on the beach around them, ‘Okay, everyone, let’s get on with it. See if you can find the weapon. We haven’t got long before the tide comes in. I’m depending on you all to make a good job of it, no
mistakes - no bloody balls up!’
The yellow strips were put in place carefully across the beach, under the pier, fluttering in the brisk sea breeze frivolously like yellow ribbons. Photos were taken quickly as the invading tide encroached on the crime scene.
Accompanied by Trask, DI Nick Farmer
strode back up the beach, and attempted to sort out the maelstrom of thoughts that were catapulting around in his head. He had worked with Peterson some years ago as her sergeant in the Met. She had a reputation of the iron hand in a silk glove to keep up; it had followed her even here. He hoped it stood her in good stead. Linda Handley had been an efficient young officer. Well liked. Who could had have done this? Who’d wanted her out of the way? He cursed, brushing his eyes quickly with the back of his hand, and hoped Trask hadn’t noticed.
‘So what do you think, lads? Was it because of something she was working on?’ Peterson joined them half way up the beach. ‘Or was she a victim of a sexual assault out in the street? Are we looking for a rapist turned killer?’
Farmer curled his generous mouth expressively, shook his dark head and shrugged. ‘No idea, ma’am. We have had a couple of reports of attempted rape locally but no leads so far.’
‘Do you think we’ve got to look for a rapist, Nick? It seems motiveless otherwise,’ Geoff Trask said. ‘God! What wouldn’t I do for a smoke right now.’ He fidgeted in his loose blazer jacket pocket for a peppermint sweet
, popped it into his mouth and chewed on it.
‘We don’t know that, Geoff. We’ll have to take a look at her
house. See if the bastard got at her there. It’s not far from here on the front.’
‘Come on lads, let’s get moving
,’ Peterson said studying their grim faces.
Farmer walked on up the beach quickly. Behind
him, the forensic team in their white uniforms were zipping up the body in a black body bag. Farmer felt his mouth constrict and his palate grow dry, as he glanced back over his shoulder and saw the body bag lifted carefully onto the stretcher, passing him by as it was carried up the beach by the medics. He’d made a swift move from the Met to Harling two years previously, leaving the mess of his earlier life behind. He had settled down uneasily at first into this new lifestyle, a new team, new home and new working routine. He had found, surprisingly, that the south east coast was equally as busy as London. He hoped that Peterson would not wish to interfere and leave it to him and the others on the team to deal with everything.
Peterson forced herself to remember all she could about the young, bright eyed woman officer. She recalled Linda greeting with a wide welcoming smile, chocolate biscuits and a mug of decent hot coffee in her office on her arrival at Harling Police Station.
contracting stomach muscles were betraying the acute uneasiness and nausea she was feeling. It wouldn’t have taken much for her to throw up in front of her officers. They were on the move again, ignoring the crowds of interested onlookers staring down at them from the wide promenade above.
She swallowed hard before speaking again. ‘Linda was a local, wasn’t she, Trask? Do her parents live here?’
‘Both, ma’am. Her mother’s a nurse in the local hospital and her dad’s in insurance.’
‘Better get the father to identify her then.’
They climbed up the metal staircase from the beach onto the seafront, to face the interested audience of holidaymakers and locals collecting quickly on the busy promenade. Adventurous children, like monkeys, clambered out from under the pier, and attempted to climb up over the stone groyne to invade the beach but were sent away quickly by the uniform on duty below.
Laura Goring, Clairvoyant and Tarot reader, while out on her early morning stroll, dressed in a brilliant purple silk
kaftan, long chains of amber beads swinging and clinking around her neck, a heliotrope silk bandanna swathing her frizzed hennaed hair, leant over the pier rails to watch the ongoing drama below with an uneasy look on her long, bony features.
Close by on the pier, overlooking the rails, two worried town councillors called on by anxious hotelkeepers, conferred together and looked down at
the police activity with growing anxiety. A brutal murder couldn’t be played down that easily in Harling. This could cause a crisis in the town’s publicity drive. They could do without it occurring at such a busy peak holiday period.
The annual carnival week was due to commence the following Monday, with beauty and baby contests, dancing competitions and talent shows on the pier, the big fancy dress carnival parade and prize floats, culminating in a large firework display in the Victoria Park on the Saturday
. It could all be so easily ruined by this…
In the local newspaper office, Mel Goring answered her phone, ‘Uncle Vic! Hi. What can I do for you on this beautiful Thursday morning?’
‘It’s what I can do for you, Mel. There’s a young woman’s naked body lying on the beach here on the right side of the pier - or there was. They’re bringing her up now.’
Mel Goring pushed aside her empty coffee mug, excitement filling her large brown eyes. ‘Hey there - you’re not kidding me, are you?’