Flying Pizza

It isn’t necessary for you to read the FIRST STORY in this sequence of stories, but you might like to. Each story is designed to stand alone, but you will see the sequence as you go along. PART ONE was called THE CHRISTENING and you can read it HERE.

SCENE:

A shopping strip like any other. Fallen Angel Pizza does not have a verandah. The shop is sandwiched between a cafe and a shop selling printer ink. This shop has a notice in the window warning that it will be closed until next week — death in the family. Fallen Angel Pizza is just setting up for the evening trade when Inspector McBride and Sergeant Wilson park their car on the opposite side of the street. A young man is sweeping the footpath as the two policemen enter the shop.

“So, why did you call your business Fallen Angel Pizza?” said Sergeant Wilson.

The Inspector gave him a glance. Inspector McBride liked to be crisp and precise when questioning members of the public. He too was intrigued by the name, but knowing the answer was not likely to lead to the killer. It was too late to shut down this line of enquiry, so he let it play out.

“I didn’t. I mean I did, but only because it was less paperwork to leave the name the way I found it when I bought the business. They charge you for everything these days. Besides, the punters love the name. It does attract a few nutters but. Still, nut bags have to eat, I guess. The crazy ones tip better so the drivers like them,” said William Dundee, whose ancestors had emigrated to Australia only moments before they would likely have been transported. William Dundee had never been to Scotland, but he spoke with a strange approximation of what he thought his ancestors sounded like.

“Do you have contact details for all your delivery drivers?” said Inspector McBride.

“All my delivery drivers?”

“Yes. All of your drivers.”

Dundee held in the smile until he could no longer.

“I’m not Pizza Hut, Inspector. I only have two delivery drivers at the moment.”

“Do they both wear wings?” said the Sergeant.

This time Dundee did not bother to contain his smile.

“Only one. Christopher Dawson. But he likes to be known as Raphael. He wasn’t always into angels until he started working here — or so he says. Mad bugger, but a good worker. Customers love him. He makes about three times what I pay him in tips. Rides around on a bicycle with wings on his helmet which would make him look like Mercury if it wasn’t for the wings glued to his leather jacket. I’ve never seen him without that jacket. Blood good job of sticking those wings on. They seem to grow out of his jacket. Must have taken him forever to get them just right.”

Dundee scribbled something on a scrap of paper and handed it to the Inspector.

The Inspector glanced at it before putting it in his side pocket.

“Thank you for your time, Mr Dundee. We may need to speak to you again.”

“It all seems a bit too easy,” said the Sergeant as the two men stepped into the street.

“I’m not sure what this is, but I’ll feel better when we’ve spoken to this Dawson character.”

“Are you hungry Inspector?” said the Sergeant.

“Good thinking,” said the Inspector.

The two men sat in their blue unmarked car and consumed a pizza while they waited for Christopher Dawson to arrive at work.

The sun was going down, and the strip of shops was bathed in a golden glow that made them appear way more interesting than they actually were.

Eating pizza and the glare from the sun made the two men almost miss the arrival of the winged deliverer.

He was quite a sight. Winged chrome helmet, leather jacket despite the warm weather and best of all, two perfectly formed wings sprouting from the back of his jacket. The golden glow bounced off the pristine white feathers giving them a golden pink hue.

“How do you reckon he keeps those feathers so clean?” said the Sergeant.

“Save that question until we find out if he likes killing people, will you, Sergeant.”

SCENE:

The rear of Fallen Angel Pizza. An alleyway with a wire fence on one side bordering the railway line. Two plain-clothed policemen are questioning a pizza delivery driver.

Sergeant Wilson would like to remove his jacket because he is hot from standing in the afternoon sun. The delivery driver does not remove his leather jacket. A train goes by, and the delivery driver turns to watch it. The feathers from the delivery driver’s wings brush the face of Sergeant Wilson. The sensation is a pleasant one.

“Have you ever delivered to the flats on the Hemingway Estate?”

The Inspector knew that he had.

“Yes,” said the winged delivery man.

“Two Fridays ago?”

“I’d have to check the date, but I think so.”

“Did you happen to notice anything unusual?”

Christopher Dawson hesitated before answering.

“The front door to number twelve was open and I had a sinking feeling that I was too late.”

“Too late for what, Mr Dawson?”

“To save her. I knew she was in danger, but I thought I had more time.”

“More time for what, Mr Dawson?”

“To save her.”

SCENE:

Police interrogation room. Inspector McBride and Sergeant Wilson sit across a metal table from Christopher Dawson. Mr Dawson is still wearing his jacket. Mr Dawson has been given an official caution, and the tape machine is recording. Three paper cups containing water sit untouched on the table. No one even considers lighting up a cigarette.

“You said earlier, when we spoke to you at the pizza shop, that you needed more time to save her. Who were you referring to?”

“The woman who was murdered.”

“Did you kill her, Mr Dawson?”

Inspector McBride liked to get the question out of the way early on. Other officer preferred to wait.

“No Inspector. I haven’t killed anyone in a very long time.”

The Inspector wanted to ask what he meant by that statement, but he felt it would push the interrogation off track, so he let it slide.

“But you were there?”

“Yes. I found her and I knew my mission was at an end.”

“Mission?”

“You must know that a woman is killed every day of the year by someone she lives with. Three hundred and sixty-five women every year. It was my mission to convince this woman to leave before the inevitable happened.”

“Why was it your mission?”

“She had important things to achieve and being dead would mean that she couldn’t achieve them.”

“You’re a strange one, Mr Dawson. If you don’t mind me saying so?” said the Inspector.

“I don’t mind at all.”

“If you found her like that, why didn’t you call the police?” said the Sergeant.

“She was dead. My involvement was at an end.”

“How did you get out of there without leaving a trace?”

For the first time since they had met, Mr Dawson smiled.

SCENE:

The coffee room at the police station where Inspector McBride and Sergeant Wilson are stationed. The room is large and half empty. The floor hasn’t been swept, and empty coffee cups are spilling out of the garbage can in the corner. Sergeant Wilson would very much like to light a cigarette, but those days are gone.

“The men in white coats went over his flat with a fine-toothed vacuum cleaner and came up with nothing. We could do him for not reporting the crime scene but a good brief would get him off. We have nothing on him. He has to be one of the strangest blokes I’ve come across and I’ve arrested football players so that’s saying something. Still and all, I can’t help liking the bloke. Wouldn’t trust him to have my back, but I like him all the same,” said Sergeant Wilson while chomping on a chocolate croissant.

“There is nothing in her file about living with someone. Someone must have come across her partner. Interview her workmates again. She must have talked about her partner. Women love to brag or complain about their other half.

SCENE:

The back of the shop — Fallen Angel Pizza. Two plain-clothes police are talking to the pizza shop owner. Several men in white jumpsuits are swarming over the body of a dead young male. Trains periodically travel past, making it difficult to carry on a conversation.

“So what did Mr Dawson tell you before he left?”

“He said that there was a body at the back of the shop and that I should ring you blokes because you don’t like it when someone gets murdered and no one says anything.”

“Was that all he said?”

“No. He said that he was sick of not getting there on time, which didn’t make any sense to me because he was always punctual. The customers loved him.”

“Anything else?”

“Yes. It freaked me out a bit. He stood in front of me and it seemed to me that his wings got bigger, which is nuts.”

“What did he say?”

The pizza shop owner didn’t want his best delivery driver to get into trouble, but he told them anyway.

“He said he hadn’t killed anyone in a long time, and he thought that this time he might be in trouble. I didn’t ask him what he meant and I don’t want to know.”

The pizza shop owner would have to go to the station and make a formal statement, but that could wait until tomorrow. There were pizzas to make.

A search of Dawson’s flat revealed that he had packed up and left, which came as no surprise to Inspector McBride.

“We need to be very careful about the way we write this one up,” said the Inspector and the Sergeant agreed.

Before going home, they bought half a dozen beers and sat in the park near the Fallen Angel Pizza and ate a delicious pizza, with the lot — on the house.

When the beer and pizza had been consumed, the two men travelled home to their loved ones.

They slept soundly and never mentioned a word of the case to the ones closest to them.

The boyfriend was never charged because he was dead and it’s hard to cross-examine a dead bloke.

The file was closed with a brief explanation that said, the main suspect is deceased. No further action required.

The dead boyfriend’s file mentioned the bloke with the helmet and wings as being the likely murderer.

It also said that after an exhaustive search, no trace of Christopher Dawson aka Raphael has been found.

A Suitcase and a Fan.

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It’s not much to go on.

No name and no crime to speak of, but Sam had the sinking feeling that usually preceded a particularly messy case.

It started out as a routine ‘find this bloke and tell me where he lives’. Not glamorous, but then again neither was a ham sandwich, and if Sam’s fortunes didn’t change very soon he was going to be eating them on a regular basis, without mustard, and on stale bread to boot.

The ‘bloke’s’ abode was easy enough to find but said ‘bloke’ was long gone, and all that was left was a fan and a mostly empty suitcase. The place had been cleaned to within an inch of its life and Sam wondered why it didn’t fall down now that all the accumulated grime had been scrapped away. Most little houses in this suburb would have fallen over years ago except that the junk stored inside them held them up in one last act of defiance. A final ‘fuck you’ to the urban planning gods who had decided that this particular suburb should no longer be in favour. A hundred years ago maybe, but not now.

The fan was old enough to be almost valuable and the suitcase had once been a very fashionable one.

It’s not easy to trace the former owners of an antique Westinghouse fan, but Sam did it. Sam knew a lot of people and some of them had strange hobbies and for ‘a case of this’, or ‘a bottle of that’, they could be persuaded to part with their knowledge.

The entire history of the fan was asking a bit much, but its recent history revealed itself through a police report of stolen goods from a house in Toorak. The heist took place about two months ago and the perpetrators were well known and both of them were in custody on an unrelated matter, but neither of them could shed much light on the life of the fan after they sold it to a local ‘fence’. The light-fingered gentlemen were more than a bit peeved to find out that both items were ‘collectable’. They had parted with them along with a whole bunch of other stuff that was probably worth a lot more than they got for it. These blokes were not very bright, but they were friendly enough. Sam gave them the name of a good barrister. It was his way of saying thank you. His mentor told him never to underestimate anyone and never to leave a trail of angry or disappointed people in your wake. You never knew when you might need a favour. Your life might depend on some lowlife who has the exact piece of information you need. “Being tough is not the same as being an arsehole”.

Nelly Touraville was a wise and good friend and Sam missed him every day.

Being the good citizen that he was, Sam handed over the fan and the suitcase to the police. They then proceeded to lift fingerprints which linked the bloke that Sam was sent to find to a particularly nasty murder.

The ‘bloke’ in question had called in a firm of cleaners, ‘Maids on the Run’, who specialise in ‘squeaky clean’ makeovers for dubious crime scenes. The missing bloke was a bit forgetful and left the fan and the small suitcase sitting where he had put them during his final preparations to ‘disappear like smoke up a chimney’, as he so eloquently put it to his mates at the pub on the corner.

He knew he was a bit forgetful so he made lists, just like his dad taught him when he was a little tacker. Unfortunately, the list was titled ‘Preparations for moving permanently to Wollongong to escape being caught for the murder of William Fisk.’

It was also unfortunate that this ‘missing bloke’ chose to leave the list with its illuminating title inside the small suitcase, which he forgot to take with him.

Just to add a little icing to the story, the police didn’t know that William Fisk had been murdered. They didn’t think he was even missing. Mrs Fisk had not said a word, but she did manage to cash his unemployment checks.

As with most things in life, this case looked straightforward enough but it ended up with a few twists and a smile. The blokes at the corner pub thought it was typical of their friend and they decided not to attend his trial; unless he pleaded guilty, which would not eat into their drinking time.

Sam eventually got paid, but he had to ask three times because his client didn’t feel as though he got value for money. Sam pointed out that he was hired to find the ‘missing bloke’, which he did, and tell his client where he was, which he did. It wasn’t Sam’s fault if the ‘missing bloke’ was in jail where Sam’s client couldn’t get at him.

His fee kept Sam in Ham sandwiches for many a week, and not long after, business improved enough so that Sam did not have to accept ‘find this bloke’ assignments. But, it did make an interesting chapter in Sam’s second crime novel.