To catch up on the first five chapters, see my website: http://www.colin-z-smith.com/masm.html.
Monday 4th November 1985: 15.30 – 16.15
Detective Constable Amita Chowdhary kept a wary eye on the door as she laid out pens and notebooks on the Incident Room desks.
She’d started in her own corner, noticeably remote from the rest, but doubted she’d be using the stationery. It was for the purpose of investigating the St Marmaduke’s case, in which enquiry, she imagined, she’d take little or no part. So far, in the six months she’d been at Camtown Police Station, the most exciting thing she’d been assigned to investigate was the coffee machine; and that by everyone but the DI, whom she’d once overheard telling – actually telling – a sergeant that he suspected given half the chance she’d lace the coffee with curry powder.
Just her luck to have been landed with a boss who believed that because somebody wasn’t the same shade of ghastly grey as him, he should treat them like something he’d scrape off his shoe.
She’d been on the verge several times of putting in an official complaint. She’d witnessed, however, exactly how that procedure worked at her previous station.
A WPC had complained about a sergeant who was giving her nothing but cell toilet-cleaning duties on the grounds that ‘housework was all women were fit to do’. On receiving the complaint, the superintendent had called the sergeant into his office and given him what must have amounted to the mildest rebuke in the history of telling-offdom. After which, the sergeant had stormed back and proceeded to give the WPC such hell she’d resigned shortly after and become a traffic warden so she could have a less stressful life.
And now the door crashed open, and a stream of profanities thundered in. Even by the DI’s standards it was impressive. Some of the words, she’d never heard before.
Instinctively, she ducked below the desk she was at and began fiddling with some telephone wires she’d begun to carry around with her for the purpose of looking gainfully employed while hiding.
‘Bloody chief inspectors! Gives me a bollocking for not wasting my bloody time…’ another stream of invective followed ‘…bloody obvious what the…’ more swearing ‘…bloody…’ another thirty seconds of expletive-deleteds ‘…take the bastard…’
At the end of the next round of ripe language, he added, ‘Where’s bloody Vindaloo Girl!’
Amita sighed. The default position whenever something upset the DI this much was for her to be given a rocket so huge it was all that would be needed for the town’s Guy Fawkes celebrations the following evening. She ducked even lower, and prayed that none of her colleagues had noticed where she’d disappeared to.
Her prayer, however, fell on deaf ears. ‘Here, boss,’ a sergeant by the name of Stephens called, slinking over to where she was and pointing downward.
Grabbing some of the DI’s choice phrases out of the air and throwing them silently in Stephens’ direction, she hauled herself to her feet. ‘You wanted me, boss?’
‘Yes, I bloody did, and no, I bloody don’t, but I’m stuck with you anyway, and I’d rather waste your bloody time than a proper detective’s, so get yourself round to Jack the Ripper Court, Flat 4, name of Chafford, and ask them where they were when the St Marmite’s party was kicking off.’
For a moment Amita didn’t move, astonished that, apparently, the DI was giving her some real work to do.
‘Still here, Vindaloo Girl?’ he snapped. ‘Sling your bloody hook and do as you’re told!’
With alacrity, she made her way over to her desk and began to gather up her things. As she left, she heard the inspector saying, ‘And now the rest of you get on with finding some evidence against that bloody Makumbo bloke. If necessary, make some up. I want him banged up by the end of the week!’