They stood staring at the large board which had been hastily assembled in the station’s incident room. It wasn’t a particularly impressive array of information, the investigation had only just begun after all, but they did have a map of the area that the body had been found and a picture of the as yet unidentified victim.
Having left feet on the ground to take any potential eyewitness statements, Williams and Daly had made their way back to the station. Not that they expected much joy from the house to house. The estate behind the waste site was notorious for criminal activity and for having reportedly the worst vision of any collective of residents in any borough in London. As in the best crime novels and in order to create just the right amount of intrigue and tension, no one ever saw anything. Even the Refuse Collection and Recycling Facilitation Officer, or to give him his less formal title, bin man, didn’t seem too surprised to have found the body. It wasn’t that finding a body in with the rotting veg was an everyday occurrence, but it wasn’t exactly unexpected either. Nothing ever truly is in crime fiction after all.
Williams was still feeling a little tender from the journey, and looking a little green around the gills, no mean feat given his naturally dark complexion. It wasn’t that Daly was a bad driver, it was that she was an exceptionally bad driver and between her unique driving style and the stop start nature of London traffic, Williams was feeling more than a little sea sick. Not that he could say anything. He’d hate to be accused of stereotyping. He’d never do that. It wasn’t women drivers who were a problem, it was just that woman. Davis’ driving was impeccable. Daly was impossible.
‘So what do we have so far?’ Williams asked, turning to face the few bodies who were back from the door to door or who had been reassigned to the investigation having been found lurking in CID with little else to do. Surprising given the high crime rates in the area of late, thought Williams. And because I should, in truth, be reflecting the state of modern policing and making a pseudo political statement about the lack or resource available to my investigation. Of course, this not being entirely about realism, and not wanting to alienate a large portion of the potential readership by seemingly being either pro or anti-government, Daly decided to leave that particular observation for another novel.
‘Not a lot, Gov,’ Daly said, sighing loudly and plonking her ample rear onto a nearby desk. It was okay for Daly to think of her rear as ample. It was her rear after all. Had Williams have thought it, that would have been blatant sexism and chauvinism and completely inappropriate.
‘Do we at least have an I.D. on him yet?’ Williams persisted, turning his attentions from his DS to DC Davis.
Davis stared over at DC Watt who was frantically tapping away at his computer keyboard. As he sensed her looking at him he shrugged, sinking further into his seat.
Coward, Davis thought, scowling at Watt before looking back at the Boss.
‘We think his name is Kevin.’
Williams frowned. ‘Think?’ he questioned. ‘Why do we think his name is Kevin?’
‘Well…’ Daly looked over at the picture of the dead man. ‘For a start there was the name badge on his shirt. It said Kevin.’
Williams turned his head toward the board again, taking a closer look at the small badge pinned to the pocket of the man’s formerly white, now red, shirt.
‘I can see that,’ he said, shaking his head and hoping his dark complexion could disguise the blush rising currently rushing to his cheeks. He hadn’t seen that at all. How the heck had he missed it? Bloo…. Fluffing Daly’s driving he thought, mentally checking himself to prevent any swearing. As he turned to look at her he could see her eyes had narrowed as though she had guessed his thoughts.
‘How do we know the shirt is his? That it’s his name badge?’
‘Er…’ Davis paused, her gaze moving between her two senior officers. ‘He was wearing the shirt. When he was stabbed… Gov.’
‘And?’ Williams queried. ‘Does that definitely make it his? Could he have borrowed it? Maybe stolen the name badge?’
‘Why would he do that Gov?’ Davis queried. ‘Steal a name badge I mean. It’s not exactly glamorous is it? Looks like it might be from a burger joint or something. Why would you want to impersonate someone who works for a burger joint?’
‘Or lie about being called Kevin?’ Daly asked, giving Williams a brief shrug as he stared at her.
‘I don’t know but it’s too soon to be making assumptions about who or why or what our victim is.’
‘Dead, Gov.’ Daly said, smiling sweetly at Williams.
‘I beg your pardon?’
‘You said it was too soon to be making assumptions about what he was. He’s definitely dead Gov. That’s no longer an assumption, is it?’
‘Give me strength,’ Williams muttered, standing straighter and taller and addressing the room. It’s never this difficult in an Erika Foster novel, he thought. I moved to the wrong part of London.
‘Somebody find out which restaurant he worked in. Get me this man’s name. We can’t just call him Kevin.’
Williams looked across at the door where a tall and skinny looking ginger haired man had entered the room and was now looking at him expectantly. Williams was relieved to see a red head amongst them. Statistically only around 5% of the country’s population had naturally red hair, but it was good to include minority groups, even if only hair colour related, in the story.
‘I’m sorry?’ Williams asked, addressing the newcomer. ‘Is there something you wanted to say?’
‘Not me Gov,’ the man said. ‘I thought you called me.’
‘Not you Watt,’ Williams said, shaking his head at the DC who had finally extricated himself from his computer screen. ‘Back to the search.’
‘His name is Kevin, Gov,’ Daly explained, nodding towards the new DC. ‘He thought you were talking about him.’
‘Right,’ Williams said, nodding slowly and staring at the man, suddenly less delighted to see him. ‘You’re called Kevin?’
‘Great. Now I know.’ Williams turned to look at the picture on the board, shaking his head. ‘Who are you Kevin? What do you want to tell me?’
‘Me Gov?’ Kevin asked, staring at Williams with a bemused expression. ‘I’m a DC just transferred in from West Mercia. I don’t have anything to tell you Gov. At least I don’t think I do.’
Williams glanced over his shoulder at Kevin, his expression flat.
‘Not you, Kevin,’ Williams said with a sigh, tipping his head towards the board. ‘Kevin.’
‘Yes, Gov?’ Kevin really was getting confused now.
‘Good God,’ Williams said.
‘Blasphemy,’ Daly countered.
With a roll of his eyes Williams turned back to Kevin the DC.
‘Right. Well we can’t call you Kevin, Kevin, at least not until we’ve properly identified Kevin the victim. What’s your surname?’
‘What about her?’ Williams asked.
‘No …’ Kevin looked at Daly with a little uncertainty. ‘My name, Gov. It’s Daley. No relation.’
‘You’re joking right?’ Williams looked from Kevin to Daly and back again.
‘Nope,’ Daly said, shrugging her shoulders. ‘He’s Daley with an ‘e’, D-A-L-E-Y. I’m Daly without an e. D-A-L…’
‘Yes thank you,’ Williams said, staring at the DS. ‘I get the picture. Well I can’t call you Daley,’ he said to Kevin, ‘and we can’t call him Kevin,’ he said looking over at the picture of the dead man. ‘This never happens in bloody fiction.’
‘No, Gov,’ Daly agreed, ‘but statistically speaking the chances of you working with two people of the same christian name or surname are actually higher than you think. Although generally avoided in fiction as it adds to the confusion, it does reflect real life. After all we can’t base recruitment decisions on the likelihood of confusion should two people of the same name happen to be working within the same division now can we?’
Williams stared at Daly for a while before speaking. ‘For Christs sake,’ he said eventually, ignoring Daly’s raised eyebrows at his religious based faux pas. ‘Somebody get me the man’s surname will you.’
‘Got it,’ shouted Watt from behind the protection of his computer screen.
‘That was quick,’ Williams said. In a former life, he probably would have remarked rather than said it, but right now that seemed a bit too pretentious.
‘Facial recognition Gov,’ the DC said, a broad grin stretching his cheeks outward and upward. ‘We managed to match the man’s picture to pictures held on the DVLA database.’
‘Really?’ Williams asked. ‘That quickly? Is that even possible? We’re not in an episode of CSI and last time I checked we didn’t have a Tardis to enable time travel. We can’t possibly have a match already, surely.’
‘Factually speaking,’ Daly said, her head tipping from side to side. ‘Absolutely not. But, for the sake of expediency and, as this is only a short story, it’s better if we bend the rules just a little and push this investigation onward. It beggars belief I know, but readers will occasionally accept some stretching of the truth provided that it isn’t regular and doesn’t throw them out of the story too much. To be fair, the appalling grammar and punctuation in this chapter alone has probably stopped most readers dead in their tracks already.’
Williams ignored Daly and stared Watt. As Williams and Daly moved towards him they watched the smile which was plastered on his face slowly disappear to be replaced by a an expression of pure horror. What ever one of those was. Daly could have attempted to describe it but felt it better to leave it to people’s imaginations lest they get accused of including too much description.
‘For heaven’s sake man. Out with it. What is his name?’
‘I could tell you, Gov’ Watt said, shrinking back in his chair and wincing. ‘But you’re not going to like it.’
Williams stood before him, his arms folded and a grim expression on his face. At least it felt grim. It may well have just come across as trapped wind. He had never spent much time in front of a mirror studying his facial expressions. Maybe I should try that he thought. Improve my interrogation techniques.
Lack of rehearsal aside, his stare was obviously working as Watt finally spoke up.
‘His name, Gov.’ Watt paused dramatically, as all good Detectives do when breaking bad news or, in this case, the punchline. ‘His name is Kevin…
‘Kevin what, Watt?’
‘Williams, Gov. Kevin Williams.’
‘Oh for fu-‘
‘Language,’ said Daly. She didn’t even bother to hide her grin.