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Authors: David Anderson

An Indecent Death

BOOK: An Indecent Death
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An Indecent Death

 

 

by

 

 

David Anderson

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or to actual events or locales is entirely coincidental.

 

AN INDECENT DEATH

 

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be resold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or if it was not purchased for your use only, then you should return to Amazon.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of the author.

 

Copyright © 2011, © 2012, © 2013 and © 2014 by David Anderson.

 

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or portions thereof, in any form. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical without the express written permission of the author. The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials.

 

Originally published October, 2011. Revised and re-released in November, 2014.

 

Cover design by Joanna Anderson

 

Cover Art: Copyright © iStockPhoto # 16189232 Beautiful Legs on Black

 

Edited by Joanna Anderson and Ian Anderson

 

Published by Telemachus Press, LLC 
http://www.telemachuspress.com

 

ISBN# 978-1-937387-45-7 (eBook)

The correct reading order of the Detective Sergeant Nicholas Drumm books is:

 

An Indecent Death

A Striking Death

A Cuban Death

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

 

This book could not have been written without the support and encouragement of my family. So thank you Anne, Ian and Joanna.

 

Thanks to Diane Sale for "lending" me her Miata, and for all else she has done for me; I am most grateful!

 

Thanks also to Morgan Wade for providing the inspiration to finally get going and “do it.”

 

And also to Telemachus Press and Steven Jackson for helping me through the process.

 

And to Wilson, my faithful friend, who is always there for me. Especially if he gets a treat…

 

 

 

 

 

 

for Anne

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Indecency, vulgarity, obscenity—these are strictly confined to man; he invented them. Among the higher animals there is no trace of them.”

— Mark Twain

prologue

 

The place was hazy and out of focus. There were strange, unrecognizable shapes around her. Her eyes closed again, involuntarily, exhausted by the effort of seeing. A while later, when her eyes opened again, the haziness was still there but she felt a little stronger. Some of the objects started to have meaning to her, but they seemed to be spinning slowly around. That couldn’t be right, she thought. A dresser. A chair. They seemed familiar. Were they hers? And why were they spinning? What was wrong with her? With a shock she realized she didn’t know who she was or what had happened to her.

After a while, she realized she was in a room and was slowly coming back to consciousness. She could swivel her eyes from side to side, and move her head a little, but trying to lift her hand produced a wave of nausea. How could she be so weak? Her head ached but her brain was slowly coming back to life. But where was she? And who was she? Why couldn’t she remember? Why was she in this place, wherever this place was?

A large form came into view from the left. The shape made a noise and she realized it was a person. It came closer and then a face swam into view directly over her, no more than a couple of feet away. There was a smell that was familiar somehow, but she couldn’t put a name to it. It wasn’t unpleasant but it was distinctive, and she was aware on some level that she had smelled it before. There was an exclamation from the stranger. She had an instantaneous feeling of recognition, that she knew this person, but her view was blocked suddenly.

Then something was around her neck, choking off her air. She couldn’t see what it was, couldn’t move. She tried to take a breath to speak, to scream, but there was no air there to breathe. Her vision was going, the room was turning to black streaked with red. Her throat hurt, her chest hurt. And then she thought of nothing at all.

one

 

The Jacksons loved the park. They came over to Hillsdale every day that they could possibly fit in a visit. They especially loved it in the fall or now, early spring, before the park opened officially, and the place filled up with day-trippers and campers. He liked looking for the first spring flowers; she was more interested in listening to the spring peepers and watching for the baby birds and turtles. Their Labrador retriever, China, loved all of it. Today they were walking along one of their favourite trails, in search of marsh marigolds and a little exercise in the early morning sunshine.

The day was fabulous, with the hint of even better things to come: brilliant sunshine, warming temperatures and a carpet of delicate white flowers along the path. It was a good day to be alive, strolling along, enjoying nature.

The dog frisked along, reveling in her freedom. She always did, when they brought her to the park and took her off lead. Freed of restraint, China would race from side to side, charge off the trail or look for interesting things to smell.

“China! Leave that alone. No!” The dog stopped nosing at the rotting bag of something or other and looked at her owner for a moment before racing off ahead in search of new adventures.

“I wish we had that much energy,” sighed Norman. “I used to be able to keep up with her, now I’m lucky to be able to tie my shoes without having a problem.” He looked over at his wife who was staring ahead at the dog. China had darted off the path again and seemed fascinated by something. She was about fifteen feet off to their right and energetically pawing at the ground.

“She’s got something again, does she, Patti?” China was barely visible, mostly hidden behind a sumac, digging into a pile of sticks and dead leaves.

“Looks like it. We’d better stop her. You know how people toss all kinds of disgusting junk away. We don’t want her getting into a diaper or something even worse. The things people throw away in a park these days, honestly!”

As they spoke, they veered off the path, moving towards the commotion. “China! No!” This time Norman’s command was ignored. China didn’t even look up, let alone stop her digging. Reaching her in a few seconds, Norman stooped over and grasped her collar, pulling her away from her target.

There was the sound of a quickly taken breath from Patti. “Oh, no, Norm!” And then he saw what she was looking at. Amongst the broken sticks and dead leaves and a pile of loosened earth was a human hand. The fingers were curled up, grimy with dirt, pointing at the sky.

 

Detective Sergeant Nicholas Drumm of the York Police Services, Violent Crimes Unit, was enjoying some well-earned time off. Life had been hectic just lately and the spring sunshine felt good on his face. It could be a little warmer, he thought; he wouldn’t mind that at all. There was plenty of time for cold days in winter. Once spring arrived, he was eager for warmth and resented even one more day when he was forced to shiver.

Drumm puttered in his back garden, doing the tidying and weeding required after the long winter. The garden was a mess. He remembered that in November, he had lost interest, as he usually did in the fall, and let it go. He looked at the resultant clutter with some dismay, wondering how he would be able to get it back to the way he wanted it. Dead stalks were everywhere, with dozens of pesky dandelions already threatening to take over the whole garden, as well as invading clumps of grass and an accumulation of doggy droppings.

“Will! Don’t I shovel enough crap at work? Geez!” Determinedly he picked up the spade and commenced to edge the border. “It won’t get done by looking at it, right, my friend?” Drumm often chatted to his dog, a habit that he’d developed from living alone.

Will was a five year old Shetland Sheepdog, sable in colour. As Shelties go, he was a pretty special dog. Will accepted whatever life threw his way, rarely barked at cars or strangers, loved traveling and was always there to listen. He wasn’t the greatest guard dog, Drumm had to admit, but Will more than made up for it with his other qualities.

“We’ll have to go for a long walk soon. Right, buddy?” Shelties needed a lot of exercise and Drumm often felt guilty because he didn’t have enough time to get Will out like he should. But good-natured as he was, the dog was content to lie around in the sun, awaiting Drumm’s time and attention whenever he could afford to give it.
A walk would be just what I need today
, thought Drumm;
it might make me feel better
.

Yesterday had been a tough day. There was the usual stress at work, the office politics and the petty disagreements. He was worried about his health again and hated the fact that he
was
worried. In fact it annoyed him that he couldn’t stop obsessing about his damned blood sugar. Drumm had always prided himself on being in charge. He knew that he was a control freak, and when he couldn’t control his mind, it bothered him. And then there had been the phone call.

His phone had rung last night, not so long after he had gotten home and was looking forward to a relaxing evening watching baseball.

“Nicky?” And that one word, spoken by a female voice, meant that his evening was ruined. Only a few people called him Nicky, and only one female that he could think of. Most people called him Nick, or Nicholas, or maybe Mr. Drumm. “Nicky” meant that it was Emily, and Emily meant trouble.

“Hello, Emily.” His voice was flat, and wary.

“I’ve been thinking.”

That was not good, not good at all
. Emily was his ex-girlfriend, his former live-in companion,  or ex-roommate, or common-law wife, or whatever it was called these days. They had never been too sure how to characterize their relationship. Except, for the last six months of it, life for him was hell on wheels. That was a label he was pretty sure was accurate. Drumm loved her dearly, loved her outlook on life, loved touching her, loved most things about her, in fact. But she was emotionally unstable, and he had found that difficult to take. Towards the end of their time together, things degenerated to the point of shouting matches and weeping. Emily wanted him to give up his career with the Police Services, and while he was willing to do a great deal for Emily, that was something he just couldn’t agree to. He felt it was unfair of her to ask it of him and he got angry. They would fight, and then they would make up, and the making up was wonderful. But then the cycle would begin again, until sometimes he felt like was on a merry-go-round. The constant flare-ups drove him to distraction. He eventually had enough, there was one last explosive argument, and she moved out. Clothes, TV, everything she possessed and kept in his home – it all left with her.

That had been three months ago. For the first two weeks, he thought he would die of misery. He wanted to call her every day, nearly every hour sometimes. Work got him through it, and the past month had seen the ache of her departure die down to the point where it was manageable. And now here she was calling him again, just when he was beginning to get a handle on his feelings.

“OK, Emily, I’ll bite. What have you been thinking?” Despite himself he had to ask.

“I think we should give it another try. Now wait, I know what you’re going to say. Just hear me out. Please?”

Drumm could picture her saying that. She was probably sitting on her couch, feet tucked up underneath her. She would be curling her hair around her finger as she talked, not even aware she was doing it. Those blue eyes of hers would be focused on some distant point and there would be a look of concentration on her face.

Drumm stopped himself daydreaming and said, “Alright, Emily, I’m listening.”
God help him.
He could hear Emily take a deep breath. When she began speaking, it sounded like there was a catch in her voice. Was she crying?

“I’ve been miserable, Nicky, and I can’t stand it. I miss you so much. I thought it would get better with time, and it has, a bit, but life stinks right now. I want us to try again.”

“Emily,—”

“I’m different now, Nicky, really I am. I’ve thought about us, a lot, and what we had. I can’t just give up on it. We were too good together.”

“We weren’t good together when we were yelling at each other every day,” he pointed out. Drumm could still remember the bitter words of that last argument.

“I know, I know. Neither of us could go through that again. But I’m different, now, I promise. I… I’ve been taking counseling, seeing someone, a doctor. I’ve been trying to figure myself out and why I was asking you to give up being a detective. I’ve realized some things.”

Drumm was almost amused. “Is that so? And what have you realized, Emily?”

“I wanted you to think of me as the number one thing in your life, Nicky. But I wasn’t always. Your job came first.”

Drumm snorted. “That’s nothing new! You told me that a dozen times.”

“I know. And I know that the YPS will still come first. But I’d rather share you with the force than not have you at all. My doctor has helped me to see why I used to feel the way I did. I was always worried that something would happen to you. Or when you were late, that you were spending time with one of your lady officers. Like that Sue Oliver.” Detective Susan Oliver was an attractive woman in her early forties who had worked with Drumm on a homicide the previous year.

“You never said that before,” said Drumm. “That’s ridiculous! I was never interested in anyone else, especially Sue Oliver.” Drumm found the woman competent but maddeningly slow and fussy.

“The doctor helped me see that. I know myself a lot better than I used to, that’s for sure,” Emily said. “And I know you’re what I want. I’ll do what it takes to make things work, Nicky. As long as you’re willing to try too. I don’t expect you to say yes right away. Think about it, please, take some time. Call me tomorrow and we’ll get together for coffee. Just one small step, and we’ll see how it goes. Please, Nicky.”

And he was lost. He knew it, and maybe she knew it too. For appearances’ sake he said, “I don’t know, Em. I’ll have to think about it.”

“That’s what I want, Nicky, Just think about it, please, and call me tomorrow. I love you.” And she hung up on him.

That call came just after dinner, and instead of contentedly watching baseball, he sat fretting about Emily. A couple of beers settled him somewhat and he was careful not to let the two stretch into six or seven. But he had a lot of trouble sleeping. Should he call her? Was he ready to get into all that again? But he was just fooling himself. He knew he would phone.

Drumm sighed and bent over his spade again. A little more edging got done. Will lifted his head and eyed him briefly, then settled back contentedly into the grass.

Over on the little retaining wall that he had built, Drumm’s cell phone rang. This time it was Staff Inspector Mark Chappell, his superior.

“Drumm? Chappell here. What are you doing? You’re not busy are you?”

“Now why would I be busy, sir? It’s Sunday and I am gardening. I’m on holiday.” Drumm really didn’t want to be talking to anyone from the Police Services today.

“But that’s a policeman’s lot, isn’t it, Drumm? There’s a case waiting for you.”

“But have you forgotten, sir? I’m on holidays.”

“The dead can’t wait, Detective Sergeant. Justice needs to be done and all that. Dispatch just took a call about a suspected homicide in the Woodbine area. There’s a body in Hillsdale Park.  It looks like a female in a shallow grave. An elderly couple found her this morning, just about an hour ago now. And I know you’re on vacation and it’s not your turn but I need you to take this one. We’re a bit shorthanded, as it turns out. Bradley’s had to take a bereavement leave because his mother just died, and you know King is going on that course tomorrow. If this is a homicide, it’ll go on for some time. So I need you to look after it.”

Drumm wondered how much of a protest he should put up. Whatever he said, it wasn’t likely to do much good.  He sighed into the phone. “I’m sorry about Brad’s mom. A shame.” He paused. “What else do you know?”

“It’s probably a teacher, Drumm.”

That was interesting. In an earlier incarnation, Drumm had been an elementary school teacher for a couple of years, before he came to his senses and realized  that teaching wasn’t for him. It had been two years of frustration and futility. Police work was simple compared to trying to control a classroom full of unruly adolescents. “Why do you think it’s a teacher?”

“I think it’s a teacher, Detective Sergeant, because one Sarah Noonan, age 32, was reported missing Saturday. And Sarah Noonan is a seventh-grade teacher at Elmdale Elementary School. That’s all I’ve got right for you right now. Oh, and you can have Smith and Wesson. Get yourself out there, as soon as possible.” And Chappell hung up.

Somewhat bemused, Drumm put his phone away in his pocket and returned the spade to the shed. His gardening would have to wait for quite a while, he now knew. Walking into the house, Will trotting happily after him, Drumm started making his plans. Smith and Wesson? That wasn’t too bad. Detective Karl Wesson was a good, solid cop, dependable and with a sensible head on his shoulders. Detective Lori Singh was typical of the new generation of female officers: young, fit, highly intelligent and quick to learn. It didn’t hurt that she was of Indian extraction, a real bonus in today’s increasingly diversified society. She was sometimes teamed with Wesson. Singh and Wesson, Smith and Wesson. Some wag at the station had called them that early on and the nickname had stuck. No, this might work out fine. Emily forgotten for the moment, Drumm hurried to make his preparations. When Staff Inspector Mark Chappell said as soon as possible, it didn’t do to dawdle.

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