A Body In The Liffey – Part One
Deputy Hogan pulled up outside his boss’s Northside Terrace in his ancient Vauxhall Vectra. Hogan didn’t care, he enjoyed his ride, no matter how old. Besides, in his racket, it didn’t do to look flash on the outside. Not if you wanted to keep your street cred.
Detective O’Hoira was indoors finishing off another wool jumper, her knitting needles clacking ninety to the dozen. She couldn’t help reflecting on how badly the knitting patterns were these days; gone were the intricate Celtic swirls and Catholic crosses. Instead, you had these fancy arabesques, and broad African looking shapes; made it hell getting plain over purl.
Still, not being a girl to give up on the case, no matter how tiresome, O’Hoira clicked the last stitch into place and yanked the remaining woollen thread tight with her strong horse teeth. “There, that ought to do it.”
O’Hoira was pulling the new wool sweater down over her lithe, slender hips when the doorbell rang. She recognised Hogan’s impertinent signature, punching the bell, not once, but three times; ‘ding-dong, ding-dong, ding-dong’.
O’Hoira opened the door. Hogan was standing there in his usual grey hoody; rain pissed down all around.
“Did you get any sleep last night? You look like fucken shit,” She told him.
Hogan shrugged off the familiar greeting. “You ain’t no Beyonce yourself, beeyatch.”
The pair hurried through the Dublin downpour to reach Hogan’s year 2000 model Vectra, Turbo Diesel, five-door, automatic Tiptronic, with Silver, Grey Cloth Interior, five seats, right-hand-drive. Inside, the car was in good shape, and Hogan kept it pristine, the interior looked as good as new, and the engine was spiff. Hogan was proud of his ride, and he enjoyed ferrying his boss around; smoking cigs while enjoying the air con and cruise control. The vehicle needed the air con, without it, his prized chariot would stink like a rats ass.
“Gimme a cigarette,” O’Hoira demanded as soon as they were safe inside the cabin, and out of the pouring rain.
Hogan handed her the pack. “Hey, when are ya gonna start buyin’ yer own smokes?” He whined.
“When you stop buying them,” O’Hoira said in her usual deadpan voice.
The pair smoked in silence. Several minutes ticked by before a call came in on the radio about a body found in the river up by the Law Courts. Hogan responded to the transmission. “Received, H O H en route.” Hogan and O’Hoira sped through the 6 am city streets, aiming to reach the scene before traffic started clogging the roads.
When they arrived, a young man’s body was being dredged from the river, complete with trainers and backpack.
Hogan – who was a short arse – looked up at the Viking Goddess, “How old do you reckon he was O’Hoira?”
O’Hoira gazed down at her partner. Try as she might, she could never get used to that face fuzz of his, it reminded her of adolescent pubes. “I’d say around twelve to fourteen, hard to say with the face looking like that.”
They both stared at the bloated figure on the water’s edge. O’Hoira noted the look of shock on the kid’s features. Whatever had happened, he was not expecting it.
“How long has he been under?” She asked the coroner. The coroner was a fat, balding, middle-aged man with a sour look in his narrow eyes. “Can’t say.”
O’Hoira through her eyes to heaven. Not another fucken nincompoop. There were so many of them working the river beats these days. “Why not?”
“Because it’s 6 am, and I haven’t had my cup of tea yet,” the idiot said.
O’Hoira looked at her watch. “It’s 6.15 am, and the police canteen doesn’t open until 7 am. So might I suggest you get your finger out of your butt …” She glanced at his name tag ..” Murphy.”
Murphy started to protest, “Now look here…”
“Start working this crime scene,” snapped O’Hoira, or else I might have to file a report to the Mayor.”
The river guard threw a snarling glance at O’Hoira and another at Hogan. Grudgingly, he knelt down to examine the corpse laying on the ground in front of him. “Time of death, approximately midnight.”
“That’s only six hours ago!” Hogan exclaimed.
“Correct, said the fat coroner.”
“How can you tell?” Demanded O’Hoira
The build-up of gases,” The coroner explained. “Also from the look on the face.”
“You mean the surprised expression?” Asked Hogan
“No, I mean if he were here longer, he’d have been gobbled up by river rats. As it is, the nose and eyes are intact.”
O’Hoira nodded. She’d seen enough waterborne corpses in her time to know it made sense.
She turned to her partner. “Let’s go.”
Hogan began to protest, “Yo! O’Hoira wassup! We just got here ain’t we? Why you wanna run off so sudden? The waterboy here buggin’ ya that much?”
O’Hoira gave her partner a scathing look. She disapproved of Hogan on principle; he’d been assigned as a rookie detective, and she was supposed to mentor him through to his graduation. But he wasn’t her kind of double. He had the makings of a dirty cop with his smart mouth and job short-cuts, not to mention the malodorous hoody he insisted on wearing 24/7. Still, the Dublin gurriers trusted his ass and gave valuable snippets of information about drug barons and street crims. For Hogan, it was like taking candy from a baby, so O’Hoira had to admit that from time to time, Hogan had his uses.
They strolled back to the car in the pouring rain. Hogan put the lid of his hoody up, making him look more like a member of the Dublin street mafia than ever. O’Hoira lifted the hood of her Barbour coat over her carrot-coloured hair. Back inside the car, they lit another cigarette and thought about what they had just seen. O’Hoira stared at the watery grave that was the river Liffey in the early hour. Then she shrugged off the black mood that was beginning to descend. “Let’s get back to the office. There was no ID on the body; we’ll run a check on all the misper reports in the last 24 hours. He should turn up in the system somewhere.”
“Wassup mammy!” Protested Hogan. “I ain’t had my coffee yet!”
O’Hoira shook her head. She was surrounded by morons. “Okay, go and get your damn coffee, and get me one too while you’re at it. Remember, Cinnamon Latte”
Starbucks on the Green opened at 6 am. Hogan went in and ordered two coffees and a couple of muffins. He started thinking about the woman he was partnered up with; a stingy son-of-a-gun, never put her hand in her pocket. He had to provide the smokes, the coffees, the donuts. She must be earning twice the rookie wages I get, Hogan reflected. Deep down, he didn’t mind his boss being so tight. He was glad of the work experience, and O’Hoira was legend back at the depot. She’d solved more cases than most dicks had had hot dinners.
O’Hoira was sitting in her office knitting. Whenever things played on her mind, out came the needles, clack, clack, clack. What the hell, it kept her off the fags. Hogan, on the other hand, chain smoked without a thought. For him, it was better than shooting up, not that he’d ever tell O’Hoira about that particular phase of his life. She already thought he was a useless gimp. What would she say to him being an ex-addict? Hogan thought O’Hoira was a prig, but he had a grudging respect for his boss. She had an odd way of cogitating, and he could never tell what was going on in that damn head of hers, but whatever it was, it had to be good.
She stood up all of a sudden, “Come on dickbrain, let’s go.”
Lesser men would balk at how she spoke, but sneakily Hogan liked the name calling. It made him feel special.
“Where we goin mama?”
“We’re going to solve this murder.” O’Hoira snapped back. “That’s what. Of course, if you have something better to do don’t let me get in your way.”
Hogan jumped to his feet, “I’m cool.”
O’Hoira and Hogan got in Hogan’s chariot.
“Where to mama?” Hogan asked.
“Pennys Department Store,” Said O’Hoira
Hogan looked at his supervisor, “Hell, this ain’t no time to go shoppin’. We got us a case to solve.”
O’Hoira looked heavenward; Hogan was proving a real pain in the butt. He was a strain on her nerves. “Just do as I ask.”
Hogan whistled through his teeth, “Shee! You on your period or what?”
They drove in silence up O’Connell Street, then parked up and walked back towards Henry Street where they entered the busy department store. O’Hoira showed her badge. She asked to see the manager, meanwhile Hogan intercepted a couple of shoplifters stuffing t-shirts up their jumpers, and in return for not grassing them up to the security guard, he showed them a picture of the body found in the Liffey. “Every see this kid around here?”
One of them, a girl of around sixteen pointed at a shop dummy wearing a hoody and jeans, “Looks like him.”
“Ha ha, very funny,” Hogan said, but he let them go and sauntered over to O’Hoira, who was deep in conversation with the manager.
As Hogan ambled up to meet them, he caught the tail end of the conversation. “Yes, it’s weird,” the manager was saying, “but we’ve had more break-ins this month than in the past year – and always the same thing.”
“What’s that?” Hogan asked, imposing himself on the conversation. The shop manager, a neat and dapper man not much taller than Hogan turned toward his interlocutor.
“And who might you be?” He asked, adjusting his spectacles.
“He’s my partner, we’re investigating together,” O’Hoira said, throwing her eyes heavenward again.
The manager smirked. “I see. Well, as I was saying to your partner, detective er…”
Hogan showed his police ID. “Hogan.”
“As I was saying,” the snarky manager continued, “We’ve had a spate of break-ins of the most peculiar kind. Nothing was taken except…”
He shook his head, removed his spectacles, rubbed them with a hanky and put them back on his head, Hogan and O Hoira waited patiently throughout.
“Except…?” Prompted Hogan.
“I’m sorry, but I really can’t get my head around this,” said the manager. “The burglars just take the models, nothing else.”
“Models? You mean the dummies?” Asked O Hoira.
“Yes. We come in, and the entire show window is bare, all our models are robbed.”
Just then a call came in on the radio. Another body was found, a girl this time. Hogan and O Hoira thanked the manager and took their leave of the store.
“You think the two cases are connected?” Hogan asked O’Hoira as they zipped up O’Connell Street in Hogan’s Vectra.
As the bedraggled pair reached the quays, storm clouds gathered, and the rain came pelting down.
O’ Hoira remained silent. Hogan could see that she was deep in contemplation about the case. He popped a cigarette, and O Hoira’s hand came out, auto pilot. Hogan handed her the pack. The beeyatch was costing him a fortune in smokes.
At the river, they faced the same scenario as before. Other than the victim’s sex, everything was identical, the state of the body, the location where found, only one small difference. The young teenager had a number tattooed on her foot. O’Hoira took a note of the number. 1666-66. What was the significance? Some satanic cult?
Hogan nudged his boss. “Don’t look now but we’re being watched.”
O’Hoira took a face mirror out of her bag and held it discreetly up to her eyes. Through the driving Dublin rain, she saw in the distance a small neat figure observing them from the bridge. The weather broke, and a ray of sunlight crept through the clouds causing the observer’s glasses momentarily to glint and flash in her mirror, when the sun disappeared again, the mysterious observer was gone.
“Look familiar to you?” Hogan asked.
“Looks like we gotta be payin’ us another visit to Pennys department store.”
O’Hoira’s phone rang. She answered it. Hogan waited.
“Gone? Gone where? What do you mean gone you stupid fat dyke! I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that, I’m sorry. Look I’m very busy right now…bit stressed. Look, I’m on my way.”
Hogan didn’t need an almanac to tell him which way the weather lay. O’Hoira’s teenage brat must’ve run away. Again.
He popped a ciggie and handed one to his boss. “Come on, let’s go find your girl.
They made their way toward the Vectra in the pouring rain. This case could wait; some things were way more important.