As would be fitting for a pathologist.
Jim Bean, the head of the Venereal Disease Unit at the hospital, had informed her that a patient had been diagnosed with a virulent form of AIDS infection; one they had never seen before.
‘What’s the name of this patient?’
‘He wasn’t willing to discuss that with me. Said medical records were confidential.’
He started steaming. ‘Like fuck they are. This is a murder enquiry.’
‘Language, please Inspector.’
‘Helga, I recognise this is not your expertise, but let me assure you I’ll gain access to these records today.’
She snorted, and disconnected the call. He swore. He didn’t think she was the sensitive type. He looked at his paper files strewn across his desk, and swore again. He rummaged underneath the top layer, found the Hershey bar, tore off the wrappers, and bit off a lump - savouring the sweet milk chocolate. He started to calm down; think more rationally. It would have to be Jackie. She had plenty of ‘bottle’. Jim Bean was just the man for her.
‘No, Doctor Bean is not free. He’s booked solid through to eight o’clock tonight.’
Jackie clenched her fists. Typical bureaucracy. She gave his receptionist a hard stare. ‘This is official police business ... and it’s urgent.’
Laura - according to her name tag - waved aside Jackie’s ID, as if of no importance. ‘All Doctor Bean’s appointments are urgent. This is a hospital.’
As if Jackie needed telling. She tried charm. ‘Laura, I know Doctors are busy people. Please help me here. I just need ten minutes of his time.’
Laura shrugged her shoulders. ‘Maybe after his last appointment. You can come back later, if you like.’
That didn’t work. ‘Where is Doctor Bean, now?’
Laura pointed behind her, to the closed door she was guarding. There was a glowing red light above it. ‘He’s seeing a patient.’
‘Okay I’ll wait.’ Jackie marched over to the waiting area. Several people were sitting on hard backed chairs, watching a wall-mounted TV. Afternoon soap; overpaid actors arguing, pretending they were moneyless.
She sat where she could see Doctor Bean’s door.
Twenty minutes of boredom later, Doctor Bean’s red light went out. Jackie was at the door as it opened and just in front of the flustered receptionist. Ignoring the ‘you can’t go in there,’ plea from Laura, she stood aside to let a thin weasel of a man fidget past, then stepped in, and closed the door behind her - and behind the complaining Laura.
Jackie clocked the room. Doctor Bean’s’ office was pristine; an empty desk, apart from a prescription pad, and one Parker fountain pen on a leather bound blotting pad. Doctor Bean was not quite so pristine. He was in his mid-forties; looked like a mad professor who had had an electric shock. He had grey-black hair standing on end and bulging eyes behind huge reading glasses. He was wearing a striped three piece suit that had leather patches at the elbows, although it was uncomfortably warm with the room’s heaters on. He seemed non-plussed at the intrusion; maybe disaster happened a lot. Or he was too tired.
‘What can I do for you Miss?’ he asked. His phone rang. He gave her an “excuse me” grimace, picked it up and listened. ‘I see ... not your fault ... it’s okay ... tell Mr. Tarak I’ll be with him shortly ... yes thank you ... I understand.’ He put the phone down and stared at her. ‘Laura says police business?’
Jackie pulled out her warrant card and showed it to him. Not Miss. Detective Sergeant. She explained that Helga had told her about the AIDS patient with the highly infectious strain. She needed a name and address - like now, not later, not tomorrow. It was a murder enquiry.
He refused. Politely. Disclosure of medical information without consent. The hospital board were quite clear on procedure. Not without a court order.
Jackie tried another tack. ‘It’s in the public interest to isolate this woman; she’s a threat to others, and to assist us in solving a murder.’
He seemed taken aback, and put on a holier than thou look. ‘Let me be the judge on medical matters, Detective.’
Jackie tried again. She tried to keep from jumping up and dragging the smug asshole across his pristine blotter. ‘Doctor, we only need a name and address, not a full-blown account of the patient’s medical history. We will respect confidentiality, I assure you.’
He didn’t respond. Just got up and started to usher her out. ‘It’s nearly six. I’ve got work to do.’
Jackie arrested him; called out a patrol, and then booked him in with Arthur for obstructing the police in a murder enquiry. Sod the red tape. Sod the bureaucracy. Sod the friggin’ hospital board. Let DCI Angers deal with him.
The evening got better, then a lot worse. Marty called in to tell he was stuck in a Bristol brothel - the Cloud Nine massage parlour. Information gathering he called it. No street-walking that night, it would give her blisters a chance to recover.
But DCI Angers spoiled it all. She was ordered into his office. He held up a chewed dinosaur between two fat fingers and said she was that far from being suspended.
‘If it’s about Doctor Bean ... I can explain.’
‘No it’s not about Doctor ... who did you say?’
‘Bean. Jim. I’ve arrested him.’
‘You’ve what,’ he screeched. He slumped in his chair, held his face in his hands. He was leaning on a newspaper. She peered at it. Evening Argus. Headlines.
Police rubbish claims that landfill murder is a cover up.