Home > Dark Water (DCI Erika Foster #3)(4)

Dark Water (DCI Erika Foster #3)(4)
Author: Robert Bryndza


It was still raining hard when Erika climbed into the driver’s seat of her car. It hammered down on the roof, and the blue light from the surrounding squad cars and dive lorry caught in the raindrops on the windscreen. She ran her hands through her wet hair and turned to John.

‘Are you alright?’

‘Sorry, Boss. I don’t know why I… I’ve seen two dead bodies before. There wasn’t even any blood.’

‘It’s okay.’ Erika started the engine as the two backup vehicles and the one escorting the case of heroin pulled away. She put the car in gear and followed. They rode in silence as the convoy’s headlights illuminated the dense woodland, rolling past on both sides of the gravel track.

‘Looking on the bright side, we found the case, where she said it would be,’ said John.

‘We need fingerprints.’

‘Theresa Grove said she was there when he packed that case with his bare hands…’

Erika was exhausted, but they still had a long night ahead of them. Jason Tyler’s girlfriend Theresa Grove had been persuaded to turn informant. If they found his prints, and the case went to trial, she would most probably have to go into hiding and then witness protection. If they didn’t find any prints then they would still have to move fast to keep Theresa and her two children safe.

They left the common, and drove through Hayes Village. Lights blazing in the windows of the supermarket, chip shop and the newsagent where a row of Halloween rubber masks hung limp in the window, all blank eyes and grotesque hooked noses.

Erika couldn’t seem to summon up any feelings of triumph. She’d spent several years heading up anti drug squads during her time in the force. The names seemed to change: Central Drug Unit, Drug and Organised Crime prevention, The Projects Team. All with their own snappy acronyms and mission statements, but the war on drugs would never be won. You take out one supplier, another one takes his place, filling the vacuum with even more skill and cunning. Jason Tyler had filled a vacuum, and in a short space of time it would happen again. Murderers, however were different, you could catch them and lock them up. Sometimes if you were lucky you got to throw away the key.

The squad cars in front came to a halt at a set of traffic lights as commuters streamed out of the train station carrying umbrellas. The lights turned green but they couldn’t move as the roundabout up ahead was clogged with two double decker buses. Rain clattered on the roof of the car.

’You asked earlier if I was married,’ said Erika.

‘Sorry, Boss. I just wanted to know if you’d like to bring anyone for dinner.’

‘He was in the force. He died during a drugs raid, two and a half years ago.’

‘Shit. I didn’t know. I wouldn’t have said anything… Sorry.’

‘It’s okay. Although, I thought everyone knew.’

‘I’m not really into gossip. And you’re still welcome to come for dinner. I meant it. Sarah’s lasagna is really good.’

Erika grinned, ‘Thank you. Maybe when this is over.’

‘What about that skeleton, it’s a little kid, isn’t it?’

‘Yeah… I know its tough, but you have to put that to the back of your mind, at least for the time being.’

John nodded. The buses moved off from the roundabout, and the traffic began to creep forward.

 

* * *

 

Bromley South Police Station is a modern three-storey brick building at the bottom of Bromley High Street, opposite the train station, and a large Waitrose. On weekdays, the shops on the paved high street all shut their doors at six pm, and the last of the workers were hurrying under the awning of Bromley South Train Station, the torrential rain and the promise of the weekend to come hastening their rush. The first groups of Friday night drinkers were moving in the other direction, congregating under the station awning and moving up the high street. There were young girls holding tiny jackets over their heads, to keep their even tinier dresses dry, and boys in shirts and smart trousers holding free copies of The Evening Standard. Erika turned into the slip road, which wound down to the underground car park, following the two squad cars, their lights still flashing, flanking the car carrying the heroin.

The ground floor of Bromley Station housed the uniform division, and the corridor was busy with officers arriving for the night shift, pensive and gloomy at the prospect of the night ahead, dealing with underage drinkers. Superintendent Yale met Erika, John, and the six uniform officers accompanying the case at the main staircase up to CID Division. He had a ruddy face, a shock of bristly red hair, and he always looked as if someone had stuffed him into his uniform, it was a size too small for his bulky frame.

‘Okay, Sir,’ said Erika.

‘Good work, Foster,’ he said, beaming at the case wrapped in the evidence bag. ‘I’ve got the fingerprint technicians waiting upstairs.’

’The salvage didn’t go to plan, we found…’ started Erika.

‘Yes, human remains. Let’s hold off on talking about that. Any requirement for an investigation will be determined by the age of the bones. If they’re more than seventy years old we don’t have to investigate…’

‘Sir. The skeleton was wrapped in plastic sheeting.’

‘Yes, but we’ll have to rule out that it’s not medieval remains. There was a case a few years back, where a skeleton was found on a beach in the Isle of Wight. Police were looking to open a murder investigation and then carbon dating showed that it was 2,000 years old…’

‘Sir, they looked modern, it was a child…’ started Erika.

‘Erika, we’re at a crucial stage here, don’t lose focus.’

They reached the door to an office where a plain-clothes officer was waiting.

‘Ah, DI Crabbe. Here it is, let’s see if we can get some prints off this and nail Jason Tyler!’ said Superintendent Yale. ‘Erika, you and John grab something to eat and warm up. We’ve got four hours and seventeen minutes,’ said Yale, pulling up his sleeve to check his watch buried in his hairy wrist. ‘So let’s get cracking.’

 

* * *

 

Erika and John came up to the large open plan office on the second floor and waited with a group of six other CID officers from her team, two women and four men. Four hundred and seventy-seven wrapped bags of heroin had to be separated and dusted for prints by the team of six fingerprint technicians.

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