Professor Archibald Deacon glanced up and nodded. ‘Time of death. Two days ago, I’d say. A liver test would pin-point it.’
Two days? Orson wondered if anyone had reported her missing. He turned to DI Andy Hillock, who was acting officious; a right know-it-all. ‘Do we know who she is?’
Hillock, a tall thin man with floppy hair, blew into his hands. ‘Possibly … my money’s on Carol Wearmouth. Lara, who is another tom, called us to say Carol had gone off with a punter and wasn’t answering her phone. She’s been missing two days, which fits our time-frame. We’re going to haul Lara in when we find her.’
Orson stamped his feet to try and improve circulation. He received – and ignored - a glare from Archie. ‘What … has she gone missing too?’
‘Lara Croft? No way. It’s just that she travels a lot.’ Hillock chuckled. ‘Likes truckers; likes long-distance relationships.’
Orson disregarded the attempted humour; he looked at his watch, and turned to Archie. ‘How much longer?’
‘Could be soon. No murder weapon to locate; see these bruises on the neck. Strangulation.’
‘Well, take your time professor. It’s not that we’ve got better things to do than stand around freezing our nuts off.’
He received another glare from Archie that he ignored. He turned to Andy Hillock.
‘Looks like you got everything under control. No point me hanging around here.’
Hillock grimaced. ‘Suppose so. Make sure you’re at the PM.’
‘You can assure your DCS, I’ll be there. Flax Bourton mortuary?’
Archie looked up, nodded. ‘That’s right. Aim for midday, tomorrow. It should be pretty straightforward.’
Another two kidneys available.
Orson gave Andy a thumbs-up. ‘Well I’ll be off then.’ He didn’t wait for a reply; just walked back to the tent, stripped off his jump-suit, and dumped it in the basket.
By the time Orson arrived back in Bridleton, parked the car in the police compound, and scooted to the Albion for a quick one, it was gone ten. Ten forty-seven, actually, and they were calling last orders.
Not that the regulars minded. Bridleton local authority had stipulated closing time at eleven, but what happened behind closed doors was up to Eric Large.
Orson made straight for the bar, a man on a mission. He ordered a pint of Archers Best – to replace the armful of blood - and a Bells whisky to warm him up. He gulped down the whisky – felt a warm glow inside – and looked around, then turned back quickly. He tried to look extremely interested in the contents of Eric’s sandwich bar.
No good, she had spotted him. She came over and stood next to him.
He turned. ‘Tania … what a surprise.’
She pointed at the moth-eaten sandwiches leaning against the glass case. ‘Don’t touch the green ones.’
She giggled, like she’d had one too many. ‘Either very new cheese or very old meat.’ She nudged him. ‘The Odd Couple ... you know … a sixties movie.’
‘Before my time.’
She lowered her voice. ‘I wouldn’t say that, looking at you. Had a rough day finding the serial killer?’
‘What are you talking about?’
‘Jackie was in here earlier. Girly gossip.’
‘What did she say?’
Tania tapped her nose. ‘That would be telling. But I know Operation Venus is linked to the first tom’s murder.’
Orson felt his blood pressure rise. ‘She told you that?’
‘So it’s true then?’
He gulped down a large draught. ‘No comment.’
‘Come on, Orson. Cat’s out of the bag.’
He grimaced. ‘Subject is closed.’