Friday, September 7, 2012

Wasted by Jo Morgan

Detective Inspector Bextor investigates the death of a young woman, and he can't help thinking about his wife; by Jo Morgan


Detective Inspector Bextor took one last look around the scene. He was tired and he wanted to make sure he had not missed anything.

Her lean, tanned body was naked and flawless, apart from bright red bruises on her elbows and thighs. Her legs and arms were splayed and her once pretty face was bloated as she stared at the ceiling. The soles of her feet were dirty and cracked and this made him think of his wife, Suzy, who had pretty feet; soft and pink, toenails always painted pink or red.

The death had taken place in the bathroom of the luxurious hotel suite where US actor Ben DeSilva was staying. DeSilva was apparently not involved in the death but this didn't stop the paparazzi from buzzing around outside.

'We've found her purse, boss,' said DC Smith; a whippet of a woman who was doing well considering this was only her second week on the job.

'What we got?'

Smith leafed through the purse, pulling out a driving license.

A sad expression crossed the young woman's face as she cleared her throat. 'Nicola Adams, she was eighteen, boss. There's no next of kin details though, no mobile either.'

'Good work, Smith. Make a note of her address, we'll go over there later and see what we can find.'

With a smile, Smith turned and left. Smith's smile didn't go unnoticed - Bextor was used to flirting from policewomen; he was young for a DI and his wife loved to tease him, saying his blue eyes would get him in trouble one day.

'How's it going, Bob?' Bextor addressed the coroner who was feeling around the victim's neck.

Standing up and snapping off his gloves, Bob sighed.

'Classic OD, no sign of a struggle. Looks like this young lady fancied a mid-morning high before she got thrown out of this place.'

'The bruises?'

'Early stages of OD can cause fitting - those bruises are self-inflicted, she would have bumped and banged all over the place. This girl was alone when she died.'



During the drive to Nicola's apartment, Bextor's thoughts drifted back to the row he'd had with Suzy that morning.

'For god's sake Liam, it's been booked for months!'

Bextor was gulping his second coffee and struggling with his tie at the same time. 'Suze, we can reschedule. I need this case.'

'You say that about every bloody case. She threw the plate that she had been washing back into the sink, water and suds splashed the front of her white blouse. 'Bollocks,' she said to herself, making Bextor smile. Hearing profanity from such a sweet looking woman amused him, he thought it was cute.

'How is this funny?' Suze turned to Bextor, hands on hips. 'I've been looking forward to this. Do you know how long it's been since we've had a holiday?'

Bextor didn't answer.

'Do you? No, I didn't think so.' Suzy stormed out of the kitchen.

'Suze, please, you know there's a promotion coming.'

Bextor heard the jangle of keys then the familiar sound of the front door slamming.

'You ok, boss?'

Bextor had almost forgotten that Smith was in the passenger seat.

'Yeah, fine. Here it is.' Bextor pulled up outside the block of city flats.

He held the door for Smith and as they made their way up the stairs he couldn't help but admire the curve of her slender buttocks above her lean thighs. Damn it - when were Detectives given the OK to wear tight jeans on duty?

After knocking the door to no response they entered, using the keys they'd found at the scene.

'Take the bedroom,' he said to Smith as he looked round the living room.

The apartment was tiny, painted in greens and creams. He picked up a picture of Nicola and another girl who could have been her sister. Both girls were pretty but Nicola was exquisite. Smooth skin with luminous green eyes, soft blonde hair. Even from the picture, Bextor could see this girl had a sparkle. Something in those green eyes spoke of something - intelligence? sadness? Bextor wasn't sure, but what he wanted to know was how this beautiful young woman ended up dead in some Hollywood actor's London hotel room.

Bextor ran his finger along the rows of books that Nicola had stacked alphabetically on her bookshelf. Aristotle, Darwin, Descartes, Edison. There was book after book by scientists, philosophers and great physicians.

Bextor leafed through a chest of drawers and came across a letter addressed to Nicola, from the local university. It was from the head of Science, expressing concerns at Nicola's poor attendance and late essay submissions.

The framed pictures on the wall caught Bextor's eye next, a young Nicola surrounded by her smiling family as they crowded around a cheap-looking Christmas tree. Nicola, aged about eight was dressed as a fairy. In another, Nicola was in a school uniform, her beauty not yet fully realised but beginning to show. Then later, pictures showing a smiling Nicola with friends on a beach, in a club, at a party, her eyes glowing with life and promise as she looked into the camera.

As the photographs became more recent, Nicola's shine faded as her clothes became skimpier, her hair blonder and her make-up more obvious. Behind her, Bextor recognised famous bars and clubs; all of them famous for being frequented by footballers, TV stars and singers.

Someone who looked like Nicola would have no problem getting into these places, Bextor thought. He could imagine the kind of attention she would get from rich, famous men. It would be hard to resist, even for someone as obviously intelligent as Nicola. What a waste thought Bextor; if only she'd tried a bit harder.

'I've found an address book, boss. I have her family's details.' Smith's voice interrupted his thoughts.

'Good, let's go get this over with.'

Bextor allowed Smith to drive, and during the journey Bextor thought back to the morning.

With the sound of the slammed front door ringing in his ears, Bextor drained his coffee. Of course he knew how long it had been since they'd gone on holiday. Two years ago, a weekend in Prague, to celebrate the news that Suzy was pregnant with their first child. During a guided tour of the Saint Vitus Cathedral, Bextor and Suzy had giggled and cuddled like teenagers to keep warm along the winding corridors. Suzy had gasped and squeezed Bextor's arm at the first stabbing pain and within hours they were in a hospital room. A young doctor told them in broken English that their baby had died and there had been irreparable damage which meant Suzy would be unable to conceive again. Bextor had held his wife as she sobbed into his chest.

He knew why it was so important to Suzy that they go on holiday again. Bextor had been looking for aspirin in Suzy's bag one day when he had found literature from an adoption agency. He knew she wanted them to go away so she could bring the subject up, away from everything.

'Looks like it's gonna be another weekend in the office boss,' Smith smiled at Bextor.

Bextor thought about Suzy, her soft, pink feet, the sweet way she swore and the shadow of pain that had haunted her eyes since that weekend in Prague.

Then he thought about Nicola, how she had wasted her life by not trying hard enough, by giving up too easy. He would go with Smith and break a family's heart, then he would go home and pack.

'Not for me, Smith. I'm going to Rome.'

3 comments:

  1. life´s too short, often it takes something, a shock, to wake us up to what we´ve got and stand to lose.
    a nice story, i mean that in a positive way, with a message. i found it very convincing.

    michael mccarthy

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  2. I loved it. Very short, sweet and meaningful. Great!

    Ziyad Hayatli

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  3. I was engaged from the onset (though I might have flipped the first two paragraphs for a more intense hook).
    Six short paragraphs and I have the whole backstory of the dead girl through the eyes of an expert detective and the driving force for a man not to waste any more time with what really mattered inhis life. We should all be so lucky. Very nice, Jo.

    O. D. Hegre

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