When the news came through, Carl and Peter joined their colleagues for an impromptu wake, in the lounge bar of the pub three doors down from Police Headquarters. The crowd included Chief Inspector Rankin and Deputy Commissioner Thaler, who had started at the Police Academy with Wally thirty years ago, when they’d all been new recruits with big dreams.
‘Shame he couldn’t just give them up,’ said Chief Inspector Rankin.
‘It’s not that easy, is it, Carl?’ said Deputy Commissioner Thaler, who had struggled for years to overcome his own addiction to nicotine. ‘How many days is it now?’
‘Forty,’ said Carl, ‘but it seems like forever.’
‘How many times is it now that you’ve tried to quit?’ said Inspector Bob Reid.
‘This will be the fifth and final time, Bob,’ said Carl.
‘I hope so, Carl. You’ve been a pain in the neck since you stopped,’ said Bob.
‘Well, I guess that’s better than being a pain in the arse,’ said Carl.
‘How’s that case of yours coming along, Carl?’ said Deputy Commissioner Thaler. ‘When will you have some good news for me to feed to the media hounds?’
‘What would you regard as good news, Commissioner?’
‘Anything that shows we aren’t looking for a serial killer would be a good start.’
‘I’m expecting Mike’s verdict on that any day now.’
‘And, where’s this Barry Watson fit in?’
‘According to the lad that got off the train with the last victim, there were two vans parked in front of the apartment building between the station and her home. We’ve cleared one of them. The owner’s a guy called Henry Watson. He lives in one of the apartments. An interesting case on his own, Commissioner. Has a history going back twenty years for nicking ladies underwear.’ Carl took a sip of his beer. ‘Anyway, Barry’s his son, and he owns a van the same model as his father’s. The older Watson claims Barry went home around nine that night. I’m still trying to find out if the other vehicle was Barry’s, and, if it was, what it was doing there at that time of the night.’
‘And, where is this Barry?’
‘On holidays, would you believe? His father thinks he’s probably camping somewhere down the coast, but he didn’t know for certain, and young Barry doesn’t have a mobile phone. I’ve got an all points out on his vehicle,’ said Carl, ‘and Uniform are checking all the caravan parks and known camping spots.’
‘Have you considered asking the public if anybody has seen him?’ said Deputy Commissioner Thaler.
‘We don’t want to alert him that we’re on to him, if he’s our man,’ said Chief Inspector Rankin. ‘He’s proving hard enough to find as it is.’
to be continued…