Murder on the Links : part three

Written on February 19th, 2010 by Adam in Murder on the Links

Waking up in public with subtlety is something that’s difficult to achieve. Even with the amount of practise I get, the place that exists where your body wakes up and your mind is still dreaming can produce some mortifying consequences. And, of course, the reverse is true when the cataplexy kicks in the mind is active, the ears are listening, the nose is working but the eyes and the rest of the body refuse resolutely to co-operate.

And so I sat with a half-heard conversation assailing my ears and the faint smell of burnt hair and cigar smoke wafting into my nasal passages. For around a minute. And then it all came back, my leg twitched and the golf cart jerked forward knocking me back to full consciousness and causing everyone to stare.

“Clint! Is that you?” Mitch Van Doren stood over the body, the expensive shoes that matched his expensive suit being slowly ruined by a malfunctioning sprinkler that intermittently squirted a jet of water at him like some sort of evil underground clown.

“No.”

“Haha,” he actually laughed. “Good one.”

Good one? Who says that? No-one, that’s who.

“They told me there were two dead bodies. Glad to see it’s just the one.”

“They? Who’s they?”

“Well, that’s to say, erm, well I’m not glad there’s a dead body obviously.”

“Mitch what are you doing here are you drunk?”

“It’s just that, well, what with your condition. Erm, you can see why they made the mistake can’t you. Drunk? What, er, no. Just had the one.”

“Well then,” I said, climbing out of the golf cart and coming a little closer to him. “If you’re not drunk and you aren’t here for me why are you here?”

His brow furrowed and he stared back.

“Because I’m pretty sure,” I said as I stepped a little further towards the body, careful to stay out of the radius of the sprinkler. “There are rules around when there are dead folks involved.”

He stared the stare of a man with little intelligence and no sense of humour. I waited for his brain to re-engage and, momentarily, it did.

“Ah, right, yes. Thing is that I can. I’m a private detective, the dead person clearly isn’t you and, erm, I’ve been asked to look into it by the Agency.”

“Right. Very good.”

I stared at the body. It was the first time I’d ever seen someone properly dead before. He lay, his eyes ridiculously wide, his mouth pulled into a silent scream. What little hair he had stood straight out. It was like something from a cartoon. I laughed accidentally and then the wave started to come towards me, my eyes getting heavier and heavier.

Fighting the urge to sleep I bent over, putting my hands on my knees and breathing deeply.

“First time you’ve seen one? Erm, I mean a dead body.”

I nodded and stared at the golf clubs scattered on top of him and all around, the discarded cigar butt on his chest but mostly the smoke rising from his hair. I could feel the sleep rolling away from me again. I stood upright. I had to do something, keep moving, keep focussed.

“So what’s this agency then?” I said, walked over to the golf bag and tried to lift it onto its three-wheeled transporter-thingy. It was heavy. Really heavy and inside there was some sort of electrical contraption. Home made. Like a bomb only not. “Have you seen this?”

It’s amazing how much information you can glean from an idiot with a personality bypass. Once he’d stopped me from trying to tidy up the scene of a murder he told me some quite interesting things that seemed, for a man of his limited creative means, impossible to make up. The Agency was just that – no adjective, just ‘Agency’. He was a detective, though God knows how. I also found out that it was extremely well paid, had high profile clients, often dealt with murders, that he was a senior investigator and that he once kissed a man called Kevin and never told his wife. Mitch’s wife, that is, I didn’t ask about Kevin.

As we talked several police men and women of varying ranks had begun to arrive. The closest one to Mitch and I was talking to a tubby middle aged man who turned to us for a second to blow a plume of cigar smoke before continuing whatever it was he was saying.

The policeman’s face contorted into a frown and he opened his mouth to speak, paused, looking like he might not bother and then decided to go for it anyway. “Are you with him?”

He gestured towards Mitch who was walking towards a tall woman she instantly began to throw her arms in the air and apparently pull faces at Mitch. I grunted in the affirmative and he gave a tiny shake of his head.

“Don’t. Touch. Anything.”

It seemed to me that the act of speaking was causing him physical pain.

“Right,” I nodded and flashed him a big grin. “Message received.”

“Just because I have to put up with him doesn’t mean I have to entertain his sidekick. Alright?”

“Mitch, what the hell’s going on?” I hissed.

“Err, interviewing suspects mate,” he winked mock-conspiratorially. “Think I’ve got this one wrapped up to be honest.”

“Good show. How do you figure that?”

“Er, well, actually it was a mixture of good old detective skills and the… well, the fact that that tall woman wandering off towards the clubhouse kept repeatedly claiming to have – err – killed this poor sod.”

Mitch nudged the corpse with his foot.

“Oi,” said the policeman.

Mitch looked down, avoiding eye contact with him and continued, “Seems pretty straightforward.”

“Sounds good,” I said, giving him a little pat on the back. “So how did she do it?”

“Oh, well, she didn’t say.”

“Really?”

“Erm, yeah.”

“And did she say why she did it?”

“No, actually. That did strike me as odd at the time.”

“So there’s a good possibility that she didn’t do it.”

“Ah, well when you put it like that…”

“So who was the lanky bird then Mitch?”

And Mitch broke down the little he actually knew. The dead man was some sort of banking high-flyer who got out before the bubble burst and everyone started lynching bankers. Since then he’d got into dealing high end art, the kind bought by corporations as investments. He’d been golfing with his lawyer (the tall, dark, mentalist) and a rival dealer (the cigar smoker). Some other bloke who was an accountant had been tagging along to make up the numbers but that was it.

That was all he knew.

I carefully explained to my investigatively-challenged partner that perhaps Miss Tall didn’t murder anyone. At first he wasn’t having any of it but when I explained more slowly and put some more emphasis on the fact that she was a lawyer Mitch began to catch up.

“So let me get this straight. You, erm, you think she’s just so cocky that she doesn’t care what she says to me because she knows she’ll get off?” Mitch asked.

“I knew we’d get there in the end. Anyway what’s she got to gain? Of course it’s possible she just thinks you’re a buffoon.”

“Ah, well, it’s possible.”

“It is,” I said. “It really is.”

Mitch stared at the corpse for a minute.

“Still, bollocks to it, eh?” he smiled. “My boss wanted this one wrapped up quick and if she’s prepared to admit to it then we might as well just leave it.”

“What are you talking about, there’s some sort of weird electrical thing in the golf bag you know?”

“Well, er, she probably put it there. These things are usually connected you know, Clint.”

The was a noise in the trees, a horrible, guttural scream of a noise that started way back in the throat and gradually transformed from a growl to a scream. Everyone turned around to see where it was coming from.

“What the hell was that?” I said.

“Probably the lads,” said Mitch, nodding calmly. “I had a couple of texts. Someone slipped a bunch of them laxatives and it looks like they figured out it was you.”

“What?”

“Well, it was, wasn’t it?”

“Yeah, but…” I began.

“Dean shit himself on the fairway, then a bunch of them, you know, the new lot?”

“Yeah.”

“A bunch of them didn’t make it to the toilets. They had to close the, err, you know, the lounge part of the bar.”

Out of the trees four men I vaguely recognised were staggering towards me like something out of a zombie movie.

“I better get out of here,” I said and sprinted towards the golf cart once more.

“Mind if I tag along?” the fat, Tweeded, cigar smoker asked. “I’ve had it with this little prick.”

He gestured towards the policeman and hauled himself into the passenger seat. Mitch looked at the approaching zombies then back to us before clambering in the back.

“Be my guest,” I said and turned the cart around.

“You the comedy turn then?”

“Something like that,” I flicked on and off my best fake smile. “Clint.”

“Bartholomew Travers. Come on then, step on it.”

I stepped on it and the golf cart groaned under our collective weight, gradually coming to life and moving us away from the scene of the crime and the approaching attackers. They were shouting something I couldn’t quite make out but it wasn’t nice, I was certain of that.

“First time you’ve seen a corpse is it lad?”

I nodded, “Yeah. First time.”

He sucked on his cigar.

“Don’t know why the bloody police are here. Poor bugger just had a heart attack.”

“Err, murdered actually,” Mitch piped up from behind. “He was murdered. And Clint, I think they’re going to catch us.”

Travers turned and glared at Mitch. Then he turned to look at the four blokes chasing the golf cart.

“We’re never going to outrun them with all this extra weight are we?” he said.

“Do you, erm, sorry to ask and all but do you stand to profit from the murder?” Mitch asked.

“Shut up, man. I am, or at least I was, one of his greatest rivals. That much is certainly true but it doesn’t follow that I will gain anything from his passing,” Travers turned back to me, leaning in until I could smell the ashtray of his mouth. “Is he housebroken?”

I laughed my best fake laugh but the lads had practically caught up, coming towards us like a stinking cloud of obscenities. You could actually smell them gaining ground. My head tipped forward as I started to lose consciousness, the cart swerved but I pulled it together, steering back on track.

“So, erm, do you or not? Sorry to be a pest, it’s just my job you see.”

“Hang on,” said Travers, twisting in his seat, screwing his cigar firmly into his mouth then pushing Mitch off the back of the cart with his not inconsiderable strength.

Mitch rolled onto the fairway and into my pursuers, knocking them to the floor.

“You need to be more resourceful, son,” said Travers

The cart picked up speed.

Slightly.