Tuesday, 5 May 2009

About Haig's Law

The following 'story' isn't a complete entity, even though it might seem so. There are questions in there, which need answers. (Especially the query posed at the end.) In fact this was supposed to be the first chapter in a full-length work, one of those that probably won't bear fruit. My main contention with it is its wordiness. There's little dialogue to get to grips with and there's precious little action. I probably could have started the 'Chapter', at the scene of the murder and woven the remainder of the 'history' in as I went along. Still, I think it's complete enough in itself to act as a short story. With regard to what happens to Jack Haig after the murder and investigation, maybe it rests entirely in a reader's imagination.


Haig's Law

My name is Jack Haig.

No middle name to clutter things up; which is good. Although, I hate my name because I’m sick and tired of the whisky jokes. I don’t know much about whisky. I don’t work in the industry; not even behind a bar. I don’t drink much, but whenever I do, I don’t drink Haig; especially when there’s a good single malt going begging. So, that’s as far as my whisky expertise goes. The only relief I get from the worn-out whisky jokes, is when someone ignores the spelling difference - or doesn’t realise there is one - and mentions John Haigh and acid-baths.

Now murder, acid bath or otherwise, is my line of work, because I’m a Detective Inspector in the Metropolitan Police. If you put that with all the other stuff I just told you, you can work out that I’m not your stereotypical alcoholic cop and that I’m discerning when I need to be. Being able to discern comes in handy because the job brings me into contact with some interesting people; depending on your view of whom or what might be interesting. Plenty of folk tell me they wish they too could meet lots of interesting people, but they move in different circles to me, and their idea of different means they don’t always know what I know. So, coming across these so called, interesting members of the human race can be a problem; especially in my private life.

You see, quite apart from encounters through my work, I have this knack of getting involved with the weirdest people. You know what I mean? Like when you’re on a half-empty ‘bus, and the City idiot chooses to sit next to you, rather than anywhere else. Except in my case, it isn’t only on ‘buses this sort of thing happens.

Yet, I never go out of my way to find these strange people. I don’t go out of my way to do anything that might result in problems for me. I don’t need to. There’s Sod’s Law to cover those eventualities and Sod’s Law singles me out every bloody time, despite the fact that my job is always there to put me in the firing line to begin with. In fact, Sod’s Law, is virtually ‘Haig’s Law’ to me.

Take the girl I met a few weeks ago at one of those Emergency Services, ‘Three Nines’, parties. You’ll have heard of those I expect. A gaggle of like minded, lonely souls, sucked together by the mutual desire to get pissed, get laid, or generally make fools of themselves among people who don’t give a shit and even if they do, they’ve seen it all before anyway.

The party was okay, although there was no single malt available. I hadn’t bought any with me either, in case some other discerning sod found it and had it away. So staying with the house wine, I was no more pissed than your average Vicar might be on a Sunday. Then this girl, Anne, a psychiatric nurse, came on to me real strong.

She was doing some bluey-gooey stuff from a bottle; a kiddie pop masquerading as a real drink and dangerous only to a system unused to alcohol. No one I ever met at a ‘Three Nines’ bash came into that category, so the detective in me concluded she was sober too; which meant she was coming on to me with serious intent. I should have turned the other way, but being the discerning sod I am, I noticed right off, this girl was… well she was stacked… I wanted to get to know her better. And I did just that.

At first there seemed to be nothing remarkable about her, if you didn’t count her fabulous body and gorgeous model girl face. Oh well, okay I suppose I should mention her random, excessive and colourful sexual urges. That had been the initial reason I let things go on I suppose… I am only human after all, it was kind of nice and I considered I had earned the perks. Being a virtual monk is novel, but only for so long. During our fling, we did it just about everywhere it was possible to do it, and in ways even I hadn’t thought of in a long time.

Now, to jump back a bit. I'd realised Anne Stevenson wasn’t certifiable, but she was about as close to it as any sane person could be. I suppose there are people who like a girl with a quirky sense of humour, but I tell you, Anne Stevenson’s idea of a joke was way into touch. That was probably the reason I began cooling off.

The first warning signs came along when she started telling me about some of the patients’ more amusing exploits. Yeah, okay. Like any tactless, tasteless, red blooded idiot, I could laugh at some of the stories, but the tales started to become more and more lurid and ever more unappetising.

She nearly pissed herself one night when she was telling me about an industrial therapy project some of the more able patients had been involved in. Making and selling, concrete slabs and blocks. This cheap source of landscaping material had pleased the local gardeners no end. Until they started finding strange objects mixed in with the cement. You can imagine the sorts of things I mean; like tea-bags, dog-ends, and the occasional dog turd; or maybe other kinds of turd. Who knows? The point was such additions to the concrete mix were not only objectionable; they made the finished product unreliable to say the least. It was the used condoms that finally put the battle-bowler on it all. Sod’s Law again, decided that batch would find its way to the local convent; although, I wondered privately, if someone had exhibited a sense of humour which ought to have been beyond a sectioned patient.

I suppose the story could have been seen as humorous, but I got the impression Anne Stevenson was talking the rise out of the patients, more than she was telling a funny story. So my discernment came to the surface again and her sense of ‘funny’ didn’t appeal to me quite so much.

Then one evening, maybe a month after our first date, she drank more than was usual for her, and between girly-giggles and knowing winks, she told me that she got a sexual kick out of being spied on when she was getting ready for bed. Well, any time really, as long as it was dark enough. She liked to perform, with lights full on and the curtains drawn wide; knowing, hoping, there would be eyes leering at her from the darkness. Unless there’s some new medical speak for her little kink, I suppose she was an exhibitionist. Many would have said a pervert, but as a Copper, I can assure you, 'the many' probably wouldn’t know what a genuine pervert is.

She shook me out of my reverie. ‘I'll even lend you some binoculars if you like.’

To smother my surprise I replied, ‘I’ve got my own.’

‘So watch me sometime.’ She kissed my nose softly, and fondled me in the way that I privately called her special handshake. She whispered in my ear. ‘Do detectives have a truncheon, like the uniform men?’

Considering where she was fondling me, I was sidetracked for a moment and I took off on another tack. ‘I don’t really know. I’ve never compared…’

She cut me off with a burst of giggling and I remember thinking: God, it hadn’t been that funny, surely.

Then she said. ‘Silly! I mean a real, wooden truncheon.’

‘Ohhh… Yes… well... er… I knew that,’ I smothered my confusion. ‘I was trying to be funny.’

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m as lusty as the next man. I knew what was in her mind, and I tried to steer her away from the subject and said. ‘Yes we do, but they aren’t made of wood any more, and anyway Inspectors don’t carry one.’ I kissed her lips softly. ‘You’ll have to buy one yourself.’

‘I will, so long as you promise to use your binoculars.’

I’ll spare the details, but I pretended to go along.

The next time I saw her she asked me almost straight away. ‘Did you like what I did with the truncheon?’

Trouble was I hadn’t the slightest idea what, if anything, she had done with the truncheon. Yeah… well, of course I had my suspicions... but I hadn’t been anywhere near her window on the arranged evening. I had used the binoculars, yes, but as I often used them on my own lawn, gazing at remote star-fields. I just made some excuse about my binoculars needing a good clean, and tried to brush the subject aside.

Still, the events of that particular night had started me thinking. Was her job getting to her? Was she beginning to crack? And if so, did I really care? I ought to have done, but then there was the other side to things. The sex was good, Christ… way better than just good, so what the hell? I was happy enough; enjoying myself with her. What man wouldn’t be? Now, wrapping my arm about her shoulders, I tucked my hand beneath her right breast, and got the usual thrill from its firmness. I steered her towards the park.

She put her arm about my waist and squeezed. ‘I’m at work early tomorrow Jack.’ Her protest was half-hearted, I could tell.

I guided her across the path and pressed her against someone’s larch-lap fencing. ‘Well sweetheart neither of us is at work now.’ I leant against her as I kissed her warm, soft, eager lips. God, why did she have to be so bloody gorgeous? So I let things carry on.

We didn’t always have our fun under the stars. There were some wild encounters in her room, and over time, her imagination started to unleash itself, on her rickety, folding divan. That bloody divan… It had put the brakes on more than one earth shifting climax, I can tell you; probably why I hadn’t managed to put her in the family way. That’s by the by, but the things she started talking about.

Now, I’d served on the vice squad so none of her little fantasies were news to me. That didn’t mean I wanted to practice any of that stuff and I began to go off the heater a bit. It never occurred to my ego that she might have been categorising me as vanilla; which was true of course. I do like different flavours, you understand, but only so many where sex is concerned.

The lying awake nights started for me. How could I break the relationship without hurting her? That was my ego again maybe, although I truly didn’t want to cause her any grief. So, having tested the endurance of the larch-lap again last night, I resolved to take her out tonight, for a nice meal, and try to soften the blow.

Then something happened that made my problem redundant. I’d finished my breakfast, when I got a turn-out call. I recognised her address of course, and my heart leapt about like a frog on heat. Fifteen minutes later I was in her room looking at her bound, mutilated corpse.

Someone had finished her with a savage blow to the back of her skull, caving it in like an empty egg-shell. To make it worse for my conscience - although good for the investigation - the old-fashioned, wooden truncheon, covered with blood and a few matted hairs, was still there beside her body.

The blow had been delivered after someone had finished torturing her with a sharp knife, - which wasn’t there - and then raping her. According to the pathologist, and confirming my own suspicions, they had probably used the truncheon too. Forensics would determine that. There was a great deal of blood around the corpse, and around her intimate orifices. She had also been bound helpless with rough, hempen twine, which was still cutting into her body and we didn’t need forensics to tell us that through all her suffering, she had been alive. Not any more though. I looked at the truncheon again.

I felt sick. This had to be the truncheon she no doubt had bought herself.

Oh shit… this was going to make interesting reading in the case file, because I certainly couldn’t leave any of it out of my statement. Also, as my relationship with Anne was common knowledge, I would be off the case and the statement would be the sum total of my professional involvement; as well as a source of embarrassment for me. I was going to come in for a bit of stick, if you’ll excuse the pun. Nor would it be mere piss taking. I knew I would be a suspect, Christ… even I would suspect me, if you see what I mean. I was glad I had spent that particular evening studying the night-sky. Until I remembered there was no one to substantiate that. Here it was then… Sod’s Law again. I was a suspect and worse; a suspect without an alibi.

Then I remembered a couple of other things.

The larch-lap fencing and fairly fresh DNA.


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