“Getting a birds-eye view is unusual for me. I’m usually talking to a specific person, even if I don’t know who that person is,” I said.
“Unusual, is right!” said the detective with a mustard stain on his well-worn suit.
“If you don’t have anything intelligent to add Detective Johnson, then shut it,” said the Inspector in charge of the investigation.
I hadn’t worked with her before, and I was surprised to be asked.
From what I could ‘see’, she was driven, recently separated and was hopeful of having children. All of that was true for now, but over time, some would turn out to be accurate, and some would not, only time would tell.
My eyes told me that she was about five foot five, stylishly dressed, heals, no earrings (but her ears were pierced), trim with wide hips and a commanding personality. She didn’t have to raise her voice to achieve authority.
“This is a first for her,” said the female detective who’d led me to the squad room, “don’t fuck it up.”
Requests for my services had been constant but sporadic. I gave my time when I could, and the cynical attitude of some of the force was tiring.
My favourite contact is a lowly sergeant in homicide. He’s worked his way up through the Tactical Response Group. His abilities are as good as mine, but he sometimes likes to have a second opinion.
I asked him once about the dangers he faces, especially in the Tactical Group.
“I listen when I get the feeling that it might be terminal if I go down that alley alone. They look after me.”
I was getting nervous, but I ploughed on.
“From what I can see, it’s night time. There is some sort of orange light coming from my right as I look at the scene. The body is lying on the ground, and a man is standing next to it. The ground is free of vegetation, but I can see small trees a few metres away. There is evidence of a stream off to the right. I don’t think the standing person is the assailant. He can’t take his eyes off the body, but he doesn’t touch it. He’s lightly dressed. Too lightly dressed — it’s cold out there. The victim doesn’t look like someone who has fallen or been pushed. She looks like she’s sleeping. The young man is unsure whether to wake her. Does any of this make sense?” I said.
I look at the Inspector, and I can tell she is trying to figure out how I know these things. This happens every time. Inevitably, I’ll be asked where I was on the night of the fourteenth — it never fails.
There are only two ways I could know these things — either I really can ‘see things’, or I did it.
It’s why I almost stopped being involved in homicide.
“Yes, it does. Very helpful,” said the Inspector.
Several of the detectives had been taking notes as I spoke.
“This is all complete bollocks,” said Detective Johnson.
The Inspector turned in his direction, and I put my hand out and stepped slightly in front of her.
“Detective Johnson. Is that your name?” I said without waiting for a reply.
“You are still married, but only just. Your wife used to iron your shirts for you, but not any more. You don’t believe in any ‘mumbo-jumbo’ as you put it (two detectives laughed) because you grew up Catholic and your faith let you down. Father Patric? Tall bloke, young and very friendly. You wince inside anytime someone uses the word faith.”
“You’re just making that stuff up. Could apply to anyone.”
As a rule, I try not to hurt anyone with the information that comes my way. This bloke was making me rethink that rule.
“Your girlfriend, —?” I noticed the young uniformed female at the back of the room stiffen in her seat, “do you want me to go on?”
Detective Johnson remained silent.
All eyes were on me as I took a step back. They were probably hoping I would complete the sentence.
“You all have your assignments. I’d like to thank Mr Page for coming in to help us,” said the Inspector.
She turned to me, “The officer will show you out.”
I’d been dismissed.
I may find out if my information helped, but maybe not. Once you are no longer useful, you don’t have their attention — until the next time the trail goes cold.
“How did I go?” I said as we walked back to the front desk.
The young police officer put her hand out to take my security pass.
“It’s an ongoing investigation so I can’t comment,” she said without emotion.
“You don’t think he did it, do you?” I said.
The young woman looked me in the eye but did not answer.
“Your family are very proud of you. They want you to know that. They don’t want you to worry about them.”
The young woman was still looking at me, but now there was a different expression on her face.
“Thank you,” she said, and her hand touched my arm.
I knew that touch.
It’s almost involuntary in those who have caught sight, ever so briefly, of the ones they love.
I didn’t go straight home. I needed a moment.
I don’t know any of these people, alive or dead and it isn’t my job to worry about them, but they leave their mark on me. A stiff whisky and a bite to eat helps me to come back to earth.
The police officers I deal with see it as their duty to find those who kill. They don’t understand when I tell them that those who have gone won’t tell me who took their life, sometimes because they didn’t know that person when they were alive, and sometimes because it doesn’t matter to them.
The living care about death — violent and otherwise.
The dead have other concerns, but they take pity on us and share some of the details.
I stand in the middle of all that.
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune are just things I have to endure.
If you are wondering why I didn’t ask the young police officer out for a drink?
She has a boyfriend and three kids.
Not now, but in her future and he is the right one for her.
I listen when I’m told.
Another whisky and I’m off home.
No, they don’t tell me what’s in store for me, and I would not want them too.