New Pulp Press

"Bullets, Booze and Bastards"

Sample story from The BMX Kid & The River Cult Murders

   IF YOU DRIVE AROUND the Walton on Thames area as often as I do, you would have seen him. I call him the BMX kid. He is late teens, rides a big-wheeled garish purple mountain bike, and has long, light brown hair brushed over either side like earmuffs. He appears to be trying to grow a beard, but instead can only muster tufts of bum fluff. He is regularly in the shopping center pulling stunts to half a dozen teenage spectators. Other times I’d pass him on the dual carriageway. I’d look at him getting smaller in my back mirror pedaling furiously, trying in vain to keep up with the cars. Then when we’re are all gridlocked he’d get his own back on us motorists by gliding in between us and off into the distance like the master of the road. Is he still at school? Does he work? What’s his story? I am a copper – it’s in my job to be rational and levelheaded, so why was I so intrigued by him? Did I somehow instinctively know that he was going to play such a key role in my first ever murder case?

   So Day One of my first proper homicide case started off brightly. On my morning drive to Kingston nick I clocked the jacketless pedestrians strolling about under a yellow sun among a host of cotton wool clouds. This was the sort of day that would have had an ex-colleague of mine who liked a bevvy insist we go on an all day, and I would have been mightily tempted. Today I was feeling unusually pleased with myself because through my amazing will power I had just completed the seven-day egg diet. (You will find this diet in the glossary.) Now of course once you start eating normally again you put the weight straight back on. But for the next few days at least I was going to be noticeable slimmer and less jowly than usual. With the seven-day ordeal of abstinence over, I could now go back to consuming olive oil, grease and alcohol. I was looking forward to lunch big time. At just before 1 p.m. I drove to my favorite Italian restaurant on Hersham Green and ordered a Fracosta di Manzo all’Albese (that’s a Rib eye steak topped with a red wine, garlic & mushroom sauce). With expectant taste buds and my mouth watering, my phone rings – it is Matt the Stat my trusty assistant. I let him leave a message. Whatever it is, it can wait. For the last five years my partner in crime has been Matthew Wolgrove a/k/a Matt the Stat. Matt is humble, polite, and studious. His hair is greasy and his glasses are massive, and you would never guess he is a copper. But he is, and a damn good one too. He’s been instrumental in all of my big cases, rigorously checking the data (hence the nickname) and finding those small but all-important anomalies that will get a successful collar. Ten minutes after rejecting his call Matt storms into the restaurant, his face molded into a worryingly startled expression. As he got closer I noticed his glasses were steamed up and he was foaming at the mouth. I was about to make some wise crack about rabies when Matt blurted – “Ferdy! They’ve found a body, washed up by the river.” “Dead?” Stupid question I know. “Yes – she’s dead. WE HAVE TO GO! NOW!” My thoughts were of the chef garnishing my Fracosta di Manzo all’Albese. “Hang on. What’s the rush? She’ll still be dead when we get there.” Matt gawped at me open-mouthed as if I had just turned into a giant two headed paisley patterned Alsatian. But to me, I was calmness under pressure. I was Francis Drake and his game of bowls. “Look, Matt – why don’t you race ahead and I’ll join you?” Matt now scowled with deep disapproval, I could sense he was now planning to apply for a new partner. He scribbled down the riverside location for me and made for the door. By the time he had reached the door I had stopped thinking of Francis Drake. I was now thinking of George W. Bush and that footage of him after he’d been told about 9/11, and he remained rooted to the spot, listening like a dullard to the school children singing. “Matt! Wait!” I called out. “I’ll drive.” As I stepped on the gas and sped along the river I was naively thinking in terms of – let’s get this done and then I can get back to my lunch. “So, what do you know so far?” I asked Matt. “A woman, unclothed, found when the tide pulled out. She’s fixed, strapped to the riverbed.” That sounded fucking nuts. “It could be an accident.” I was hoping. “This is no accident.” The crime scene was on the riverside slip road that links Sunbury on Thames to Hampton Court. Here the row of smart riverside houses clear to give the public access to the riverside. Concrete steps that lead down to the bank framed by arching willow trees that reach over to stroke the shimmering water. It was the sort of spot where you might run into Ratty and Moley messing about in boats. The steps were sealed off by yellow crime scene tape, watched by three uniforms. A crowd of thirty people were hovering around the tape, craning their necks, staring and muttering. Some had their phones out, snapping away. There was no place to park so I mounted the curb just by one of the attending officers, and Matt and I jumped out. I didn’t need to flash my ID. The uniform recognised me and pulled up the tape. I looked over to see the crowd gawping at me like I was a VIP stepping under the velvet rope. I felt a glow of pride. I am doing a job that everybody’s is interested in. Feeling their eyes on me I charged towards my murder site to get a proper look. Ahead of me in the shallow water, a group of four yellow plastic garbed CS (Crime Scene) were hunched over a shape that was flat on the floor of the riverbed. A few inches of the form protruded above the water, it was grey tinged with green. I was up to two inches of water before I felt shivering cold seep into my shoes. I stopped walking as my eyes processed the images to my brain.