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Boz  peered morosely through the window of his little hut as Mrs O’Brien fiddled with her groceries. Why couldn’t she fiddle with them at home? She only lived two miles away, but every time she came out shopping she had to rearrange the bags in the boot of her car for ages before closing it after her daily walk to the beach with her black labrador and bucket and spade to scoop up its shit with. He could hear the rustling from here, and felt a rising irritation inside his ears. He wanted to close the car park  but he had been forced to stay open because of the discovery of the skull, bloody nuisance but might be interesting.Then a smart new blue Audi A6 2.OTDi SE saloon drove in and parked up, a man with a beard sprang out and stretched his arms and did a weird nodding thing from side to side with his neck. Boz noted down the number in his private log as unusual.

The man had moved around to his boot and opened it. “Oh please don’t fiddle with something for ages” Boz  was about to think, when he saw the man take out a big briefcase and come quickly towards him. He held a police identification badge up for Boz to see and was about to stride past. But Boz could not resist the opportunity, he dashed out of his hut, pulling on a high vis jacket over his work clothes to give himself more status and coughed purposefully. “Excuse me sir!” he called. As he neared the bearded bloke, he became aware of the height difference between them. The man was a good foot taller than Boz.

“Excuse me,” he said again a bit louder. “But are you intending to park overnight?”

“I may stay overnight in an hotel when I find out just what’s happening.”

“What is happening?” asked Boz.

“I’m Chief Inspector Langley of Suffolk CID and as you are probably aware by now human remains have been found on the beach. I am here to lead the investigation. Other cars will be arriving so keep the car park open until further notice.” And with that he strode off towards the beach…

“Fuck you and your orders,” said Boz torn between wanting to stay and observe the newcomers and wanting to make his way to his bird watching hide on the beach. “You spend your life in either one shed or another,” his mother would say. He was looking forward to the evening’s viewing of roosting water fowl who came to feed on the estuary, before turning in for the night. Then again police interest in the beach was troubling re. any meet and greet activity…

“Oh let the police have the  bloody car park,” he decided. “I’ll get a better view from the hide anyway.”

The sun was spreading long low trails of blood red and purple as he opened the hut door and set himself up on the big bench and looked out. Taking out his binoculars he began to focus. He could see the crime scene tent on the beach covering what remained of “Sexy Sue the sand sculpture.” He saw the Langley bloke go inside, PC Ferry was hanging about outside, looking important – oh and that Swedish bird was looking around, saying something to Colin Ferry and then making her way to the pub. Nice.

Boz needed something stronger, optically. He pulled a large telescope out of his bag and set it up. Beyond the waders, a bunch of ducks and a heron he could see his car park filling up. “Oh blimey – there’ll be a lot of people in the pub tonight, think I might go and take a look”

**

“Put a big drinks order in love,” Trevor shouted to Tracy who was busy doing a stock check in the cellar of The Old Bell. “I think we might be getting some extra customers.” He rubbed his hands together at the thought of the pub being busy that weekend. He could use the money, if he was honest. The idea of a country pub was one thing, but the realities of a grade II listed roof and a village of mostly holiday homes was much grimmer than the dreamers might realise. All those London holiday-makers usually brought their wine with them when they came down to their second houses, although now they had that decent chef, food takings were up a bit. He must remember to get Steve in for an extra few shifts over the weekend, make the most of it while he could. Whoever these remains belonged to, and whoever was responsible, Trevor thanked them silently and was glad that no one could hear him.

They were queuing four deep at the bar and the barrels were in danger of running dry. The regulars sat morosely in the draughty corner, having been forced out of their usual seats by the tourists and off the dart board by the press. The only bright spark in their evening was the presence of the Swedish woman Linnea, who was staying there. She really only wanted a quiet drink in a typical English pub but some local bore had latched onto her and was telling her about the work being done to preserve the pier. Him and his paunchy chums were just too close for comfort in the crowded bar, beaming at her and asking what she did for a living.

Linnea tossed her blond head in annoyance which only made Robin lean closer. She could stand it no longer. “I’m a Detective Inspector with the Swedish police in Malmo, here on vacation, OK? And now if you’ll excuse me please I go to bed. I am needing to be up early. I’m singing tomorrow, in a big competition. Goodnight.” Robin shrank back to let her pass and there was a general mumbling of “Goodnights” from the other men who suddenly found something very interesting going on in the bottom of their beer glasses.

***

Effing freezing this weekend and mum drags me off of the playstation and out of the house to go look at the effing sea again I ask you. Park behind them gloomy dark brown beach huts and over the dunes to look at nothing but boring bloody waves crashing rain spitting grey sky boring boring

It were on the local news weren’t it about the human skull. Beachcomber my arse, that pissed yob Bennyboy larking about with us after closing time zonked on beer and the weed I nicked off my dad, Abdab skinning up and gawping at my tits what I don’t even have yet, Benny kicking away at that amaaaazing sandcastle and clunk felt his boot connect with bone, this skellington head, eye sockets stuffed with sand, sent flying across the beach in the dark. Scared the shit out of him hahaha me too him fumbling about with his lighter to try to see what it was, protecting the flame with his hand bending down to find the bony grimace and the dead head stare. Ooohhhhh! Now everyone who comes walking here imagines this. Me too. Everybody suspicious. Even that dog, Vera’s black Lab, digging there.

On Look East they said no clues yet, no nuffing.

Said to Abdab would be good if vampires dunnit eh. Or some teenage girl hellbent on revenge on her shittycheatinawayrunning dad. She’d get to bury him in sand up to his neck just as a joke like, then one crack across the head with a rock like the one that dog’s just pissed on and it’s done. Shovel sand over and leave it looking pretty. Sorted. Vampire could suck him dry first too, sink fangs into his neck and feel the warm blood pouring down her throat. Yuck! Neckin my dad yuk yuk!

**

Blue and white police tape strung between metal poles twists and flaps in the wind sectioning off a few square yards of this sandy expanse. Under a looming grey sky, on the edge of a wall of brown sea, breakers arcing and crashing onto the sands, a shingly beach stretches into the distance, at the end of the bay the white globe of the power station.

A tent erected around the crime scene strains at its guy ropes. Is there anyone in there doing anything? No sign of that dozy constable who was hanging around before. A few sightseers though, pointing at the tent and clucking, whispering their suspicions.

Linnea Lingstrom fills her lungs and sings “Peter GRIIIIIIIIMES” loud into the wind. Typical – suspended from the Malmo force, chance to escape from the grey remnants of Scandinavian winter to tour round springtime England with the Police Choir and a bit of what you might call freelance work to do, to find the weather’s horrible and a murder’s been committed on the desolate stretch of beach she was planning peaceful walks along singing into the wind, practicing the aria she’s booked to sing that week at the Maltings in Aldeburgh.

The Swedish Police Choir with its 32 singers whose day jobs are all involved in law enforcement, can range from delicate a capella tones to oratorios of enormous power and elasticity. Their repertoire is richly varied. This week’s concert includes music by Sven-David Sandström and Poulenc with a Benjamin Britten song for the finale.

Linnea, a perfectionist on all fronts, likes to be thoroughly prepared, now can’t stop herself walking up and down this stretch of sand practicing her scales and scanning for oddities.

In the pub last night, after yet another bloody conversation with some local twerp about all those crappy Scandi thrillers they’re all obsessed with here, she managed to garner some odd bits of information, or gossip rather. In a little village like this you could feel the murmur of rumours spreading and mutating around you.

“Suspicious that no one’s seen Mister Macey for weeks. Plenty around here would like to see him bumped off…”

“That poor woman and her stroppy daughter to look after all on her own now her husband’s fucked off with some woman I expect, vanished a month ago and not a word from him since.”

“Ask me I reckon there’s some nasty pieces of work round here, peeping toms with their binoculars, pretending to be birdwatching. Keeping watch for more than marsh harriers I reckon.”

**

There was something going on at the beach, Julie could tell. At the car park she passed Ginny and her mother off to see what’s going on, poor Ginny only just twelve and left to run free with the lads while Mum knocks back Prozac and other dodgier stuff her Dad flogged till he went awol a week or so back no doubt with some posh city girl he’s copped off with at The Old Bell. Poor lamb.

The beach. A slight chill ran through her. Anyway, she had a lot to do today. She tried to focus on her To Do list. The kids were in school, the washing was in, the cleaning woman was on her way, the cakes were made for the Pier Opening event this afternoon, although some of them needed icing, and she still had to untangle the bunting, count the tables and chairs, update the stall plan, make sure that Vera was ready with the cups and saucers and turn the tea urn on in time for it to heat up. She looked out of the window again. Perhaps she could just go for a little look. She could skip yoga at the village hall, even though all the cake she was going to eat that afternoon means that she really should go, but something had been found and it could be something to do with…

“Going out,” she told Mark who was buried behind his newspaper.

She got a grunt in reply, as expected. She hadn’t married him for his conversation, that was for sure. She put on her coat, checked her lipstick, fluffed her hair and was off.

There were more people than usual walking along the path to the beach, and there was a frisson of interest in the air. Julie walked as quickly as her new boots (Jones the Bootmakers, 20% off in the sale) would allow. She passed Boz in the car park hut without catching his eye, they hadn’t spoken since the incident, and caught up with Pam from the village who was walking to the beach too. Pam was wearing her new coat (Jaeger, Julie had seen it in the shop in Ipswich, very nice, Pam had bags of money) and was obviously regretting it as the drizzle fell onto the soft fabric. Pam had seen a police car drive past earlier and thought she would see what was happening. Not often you get a police car around here, they agreed, speeding up a little.

When they reached beach they headed straight for the knot of people crowded around the forensic tent.

“What’s going on?” they asked, but no one could see much because the tent hid all the activity. Everyone agreed that the tent was annoying.

“It’s a proper crime scene,” said Trevor from The Old Bell. “That’s what they’re saying.”

“A crime?” Julie asked. “Not an accident?”

“Hard to know, they’re not really saying much, and the copper on the door doesn’t look like he’s going to tell us.” Trevor pointed to a young policeman, who had just arrived at the entrance of the tent, obviously late, and was making up for his tardiness by taking himself very seriously indeed. He stood like a man proud to have his job, and he was going to do it to the best of his ability, no matter what. Unfortunately, his job involved not telling them anything.

“I can’t tell you anything, madam,” he said, managing to be both polite and pompous. Julie rolled her eyes. He was too young to flirt with, and too old to cuff around the ear (she was sure he’d been a kid around here), so she was going to have to come up with another plan if she was going to find out anything at all. The closer she was to all the activity, the more she realised that she needed to know what it was that had been found. The tent flapped in the chilly breeze and the policeman tucked his hands under his armpits to warm them up a bit.

“Chilly, isn’t it, er…”

“Sergeant Ferry, madam.”

“Sergeant Ferry. I tell you what, why don’t I bring you a nice cup of tea, help the morning along a bit? You’re going to be standing here for ages.”

Sergeant Ferry looked grateful. “Thank you, yes, that would be very greatly appreciated.”

“And, anyone else who might want one whilst we’re at it?’ Julie nodded at the tent. ‘Lots of people in there are there?”

Sergeant Ferry frowned. “A few, madam, yes a few.”

“You might get brownie points for organising some refreshments for them all, mightn’t you? then maybe they’ll give you a job inside the tent next time.”

“Thank you, yes, thank you. Tea for everyone would be lovely.” He ignored her barb.

“And cake perhaps?”

“Cake, yes, thank you. Cake would be nice.”

“Ok, so, let’s see, that’s tea and cake for, how many?”

“Let’s say for 4 people,” Sergeant Ferry counted on his fingers. “The inspector, two assistants and me. Yes, four.”

“Right, be right back, then.”

Julie nudged Pam and they hurried back along the path to Julie’s house. Tea and cake should soften him up a bit. Julie thought about what they might have found, and felt a bit sick. She was going to have to be strong.

**

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