MY LIFE IN LIPPY AND LEOPARD PRINT
THE MISSING LINK BY CATH BORE © Cath Bore April 2012
EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER ONE
People don’t get it. Blood smells. The visual sense swamps everything when you see red whether splattered, dripped, smeared or stained. But thirty four minutes after my discovery, sitting in the police car, I tasted its sly coppery perfume in my mouth and was reminded again of what I’d found.
Today was my first free day for weeks because some toe rag from Crosby strangled his wife then lashed her naked body into a laundry hamper, leaving it there to putrefy and bloat for ten days. When we found her he bleated nagging as a reason for his actions and in court he used it as his defence, with success, getting off with a poxy manslaughter conviction. It made a mockery of the long days and sleepless nights I and the lads in the murder squad had invested so I needed time off to myself and could do without another visit to Dad’s grave today. Mam wanted us to visit twice a week no matter what, like it was some sort of a bizarre family get together. Dad’s companions rested all around with marble markers erect like soldiers on guard with only his grave un-flagged, but today it looked different even from a distance as we came through the opened gate. Two black bin bags lay on the grave where a stone should be.
Some arsehole’s left rubbish here was my first thought when I spied them but the way the bags were placed alongside each other almost tidily made me start. If there was a third bag it’d be a perfect row, like welcome party almost. Something was up here, and that something wasn’t good.
‘What’s that, Constance?’ Mam said.
‘Nothing,’ I replied, hoping I hadn’t just lied to her and as a consequence handed her something else to have a go about later on. Dad’s death last year had left her financially and emotionally dependent on me and I saw our relationship as parent and child with me as the grown up, because that was the reality. It pissed me off and got on her nerves as well.
Mam bobbed her head to see the grave so I held out my arms to bar her, my detective instincts kicking in.
‘It’s okay, Mam. Do us a favour, go back to the car for a minute, will you?’ I kept as calm as I could as I didn’t want to rattle her. That would mean hysterics and I wasn’t in the mood.
‘What is it? Come on-’ Passing her my keys I gave her a look. ‘Get in the car.’
I expected a fight on my hands and so was surprised she did exactly as I asked but still waited for her to get into the vehicle properly before fishing a pair of latex gloves out of my handbag snapping them on then kneeling down, the pointed toe of my leopard print kitten heels digging into the dirt. I swore at wrecking my favourite footwear. They weren’t the most comfortable of shoes unlike the sensible brogues I clumped around in for work but I loved them mainly because they made me feel feminine and nice, something being a detective sergeant at Merseyside Police didn’t always do. Being surrounded by mainly blokes all day and working on murders weren’t conducive to wearing a nice dress and lippy so putting on cute shoes in my spare time helped make up the emotional shortfall.
The knot at the top of the nearest bin bag was cruelly tight so I pinched the plastic with the thumb and first finger of both hands before pulling in opposite directions. The bag’s flimsy plastic split open after a couple of tugs and a circle of blood splashed out onto my right shoe, soaking in the fabric and blending in with the pattern. I pulled my foot away but stared open mouthed as a small joint of meat slid out of the bag, silent against the bleached dry earth. The joint had five long digits contracted like a toy grabber you get in the fairground, but these were a bloodied white not the shiny metal promising penny wonders. I leant closer. Promixal, middle and distal phalanx, bones making up the fingers in a human hand.
Those who don’t know tell you the human body is like a joint on a butcher’s slab or an uncooked Sunday roast, but the neat polystyrene packed squares of pink and cream in refrigerated rows in the supermarket are in a different league altogether. The bag clung to more contents, I could see that now; my fingers itched to delve in but instead I peered between the torn flaps, swearing much more at what was in there, so clocking up half a dozen hail Marys and the same number of holy fathers. Typical for me to be in deficit and the day hadn’t kicked off properly yet.