Techno Fail

Eric Cooper is about to discover something that will set in motion events he cannot predict, with the stakes being incredibly high...

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4. The Cops are Called

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A homicide wasn't what Detective Inspector Adjoa Idowu had planned on dealing with when her shift started, but no sooner had she sat down behind her desk at than the call had come in for her to take a trip to Gants Hill. Reports of a shooting and a man seen forcing another man into the boot of a taxi, which then left the scene. Now she and her partner were racing toward the scene, providing extra numbers, whilst armed units were en-route. No one was to take any chances where guns were concerned.

"Any idea where the taxi is?" She asked of her partner. The man seated on the passenger side looked tired; dark circles around his eyes made him look older than he actually was.

"Not at the mo, alerts have been put out, there are a lot of bloody taxis. We need the reg number." His east-London accent emphasised his mood, which was grouchy.

"Cassandra keeping you up?"

"Yeah. Teething stage. She's grizzly and wants nothing but cuddles, even at four in the morning."

"You wanted to be a dad..." She began.

"Yeah, and I wouldn't change it for the world. "He flashed a toothy grin and ran his fingers through his somewhat wild light-brown hair. "I would like a little more sleep though."

"We'll be there in a minute. Murder and kidnapping too. Early thoughts? Stephen?"

"Hmm? Oh, sor..." Stephen yawned. "Sorry. Could be gang-related, most gun crime around here is."

"Yeah, maybe. Pretty serious if they're moving in on the suburbs. We're here..." Flashing blue and red lights overwhelmed the lights of Christmas decorations, and several people had stepped out onto their front paths to gawp at what was going on, despite repeated warnings to stay indoors. Harried uniformed officers, some in hi-vis jackets, were establishing a cordon around the scene. Coming up from the other direction was an ambulance.

One of the uniforms walked up to the blue Honda as Idowu stopped. "Evening Ma'am. SO19 have already arrived and have determined the area is safe."

"Great Kevin. What do we know?" She asked as she switched off the engine and unbuckled her seatbelt.

"Victim is an Andrew Harper, 88 years old, lived here for nearly fifty years." Kevin waited to continue as the two detectives got out the car. They pulled their coats tightly around them then all three started toward the house. "At first it looked like a robbery gone wrong, but a couple of the neighbours have reported seeing an older gentleman force a man in a balaclava into the boot of the taxi, at gunpoint."

"Weird." Remarked Stephen. He and Idowu let Kevin lead them into the house.

Andrew Harper's body was still propped against the frame of the door, where he'd fallen. Blood had soaked the old man's cardigan and had run down his trousers and onto the carpet. Someone had closed his eyes, a gesture of respect. White fluff was everywhere.

"Forensics should be here in a minute to examine the scene and the body. Did either of you need anything?" Kevin asked. Idowu looked at Stephen, who shook his head.

"No thanks Kevin. Can you organise door-to-door?"

Kevin smiled tightly. "Already on it, but a lot of locals are being quite quiet. They think it's gangs, and they don't want to get involved."

"I can understand that. Just do what you can." She replied. Kevin nodded and walked back out of the house. New footsteps followed, and a moment later a young blonde woman in the green overalls of a paramedic stepped into the room. She greeted the detectives with a nod.

"Hey." She said, in a light voice.

"Hey Jen." Stephen answered. Adjoa smiled at her, despite the scene.

"Hi."

"So this is the victim?" Jen knelt down, looking over the body. "Looks like a bullet wound the region of the right lung. Would have done a lot of damage to this old boy."

"I thought we were the detectives." Idowu said sardonically.

"Yeah, well, sadly I've seen quite a few bullet wounds in my time. I've got a stretcher outside, we'll get the body to the coroner to look over him properly, but looks like just the one bullet. Not gonna poke around too much, I know the forensic team is going to want a look first..."

"Ma'am!" Kevin came storming back in, sticking his head round the corner. "Sir, Ma'am, another body, dumped in a hedge. Could be related."

Idowu and Stephen looked at each other. "I'll take a look at that, you stay here." Stephen said. "Come on, let's go." He let Kevin lead the way."

Idowu locked eyes with Jen. "I had wanted to see you tonight... just not..."

"Yeah, I know." The other woman offered up a lop-sided smile. "Still, first time our jobs have crossed our paths eh? One to tick off the list."

Despite the scene, Idowu smiled. "Yeah. I don't know if there's much more to do here."

"Sadly not for this guy. Makes me angry you know. No one should get gunned down in their own home."

"I have a feeling this is going to be an all-nighter."

"Well, in that case, I'll see you later. Be safe." She smiled one more time, because heading off toward the waiting ambulance.

Idowu watched her go, appreciating the discretion, in more ways than one. With a shake of her head, as if to dismiss certain thoughts, she started to take note of the pictures on the walls, and the gentle-looking home that Andrew Harper had maintained. "I'm sorry Andrew. I really am."

****

"Sir. We think we've found the weapon used here." He held out a sealed evidence bag, containing a bloodied blade.

"Thanks Kevin. Can I have a look?"

"Yes sir." Kevin handed over the bag. Stephen flipped it over, studying the weapon.

"Looks like a carving knife."

"Yes sir. Seems like it. We're asking residents if they saw or heard anything suspicious, so far no one's seen anything."

If it's gang trouble they don't want to know, and I don't blame them. "Thank you Kevin. I don't think anyone will come forward, but for now, let's keep asking and keep searching for any clues."

"Sir." Kevin nodded, and headed off toward the road. On the side of the road was the young man's wallet. Stephen had flicked through it, finding the cabbie's licence, regular driving licence, and a couple of ten pound notes. A card from his employer, that had the phone number on it. The poor sod had been stabbed violently, once in the neck and several times in the torso. There was a lot of blood that had dripped down from the rust brickwork that seperated the hedge from the pavement, blood that was rapidly congealing. The young man - one Liam Roper - had been killed more or less on the spot.

****

Broken glass, a broken door, and signs of a struggle. An old man murdered in his own home. Idowu rubbed the bridge of her nose. Aside from the pointlessness of it all, how did this crime connect to the stabbing of a taxi driver?

"A man with something on his face, being forced into the back of the taxi. Seems a bit weird." She looked down the road, in the direction the taxi was said to have headed. "We'll know more once forensics come back with their reports, but I have an idea."

"Well, don't hold back. Let's hear it."

"The killer stole the taxi to use as a getaway - probably the first car he came across. Quickly killed the driver and disposed of his body, before heading off to find what he thought was a vulnerable target."

Her partner nodded. "Old man, living alone, but our killer didn't bank on him having a visitor. Still, why would this guest kidnap the killer?"

"That's the piece of this puzzle I don't get. It doesn't make sense."

"Gotcha. This is gonna be an all-nighter isn't it?" Stephen rubbed his cheeks and groaned. "I'd better let Michelle know."

Idowu offered a weak smile. "Fraid so mate."

"I've got the station calling the employer of Liam Roper now, trying to find out if he's got any connections to to anyone unsavoury through his work."

"Good idea. I'll try and see if he's somehow connected to Andrew Harper, and run a background check on Andrew. I don't think this is gang related."

"Me neither. Let's go."

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