Chapter 3 – The Murderer Strikes Again
The discovery of the body of football triallist John Clapper beneath the roller at Tolka Park had caused quite a stir at Shelbourne Football Club. This was never more apparent than in the game against Limerick FC, when DI McBiscuit insisted that the murder scene remain cordoned off and the players were told to avoid the ten yard square area of pitch at the Ballybough end.
The receipt of a sick letter from the murderer had given McBiscuit a lead but unfortunately when he followed it up there was a vicious Jack Russell on the other end of it and he had to run into the local Spar to evade its snapping jaws.
Back in the office, the constable patiently explained to McBiscuit that the phrase “being on trial at Shels” did not have criminal implications.
Somewhere over the city, a clock struck ten times.
“I have a feeling he will strike again,” said McBiscuit.
“No, sir,” said the constable, checking his watch. “It’s only ten o’clock.”
“No, the murderer, I mean. I have a definite hunch.”
“Oh, it’s not so bad when you stand in profile, sir,” offered the constable.
McBiscuit suddenly strode over to the fridge, flung open the door and pulled out a battered old suitcase. He felt it carefully. “The case is growing cold, constable,” he announced mournfully.
“Yes, sir. What we really need is another murder, I suppose.”
It was a glorious sunny day as the squad car drove through the town of Athenry, heading westwards.
“Look at the way those free birds are flying,” murmured McBiscuit. “Curious, eh?”
“It’s a result of the prevailing geographical phenomena, sir,” answered the constable. “They’ve no need to fly particularly high because, as you see, the surrounding fields lie very low.”
The journey had begun earlier in the day when, as a result of secret surveillance, several of the major suspects of the murder had been seen to board the same bus in Dublin.
“Maybe they are all in it together?” surmised McBiscuit, as the bus left the Pale. “Did you ever see Murder on the Orient Express?”
“Or maybe it’s the team bus and the players are on their way to Terryland Park to play Mervue United,” replied the constable, a remark which had the DI brooding darkly for an hour or more until he found that brooding lightly was more comfortable.
The constable’s suggestion proved correct and the bus disgorged its plethora of players outside the revamped Terryland. McBiscuit watched them closely as they alighted but was disappointed that none wore the tell-tale signs of a murderer, except perhaps Alan Keely, whose beard immediately marked him out as a person of ill repute.
“Just a moment, driver,” said McBiscuit curtly, flashing his wallet as he ascended the steps.
“Your Dunnes Stores Club card?” replied the driver evenly.
McBiscuit flicked his wallet open again and this time proffered his police badge. The driver shrugged and the two men walked down the bus.
“What are we looking for exactly, sir?” asked the constable.
“Clues, constable, clues!” came the curt rejoinder. “Honestly we’ll never make a detective out of you.”
He stopped suddenly and bent down and picked up a copy of Nuts from the coach floor. “A forestry magazine,” he said, reading the title. He flicked through a few pages. “Good Lord, constable!” he uttered. “What do you make of this?”
Pages six and seven were full of holes as though somebody had cut letters out of the articles in order to compose an anonymous letter.
Before the constable could answer, McBiscuit’s phone rang. He answered it and listened as an excited voice on the other end relayed some urgent information. Then he said “Right!” and thrust his phone back in his pocket.
“What is it, sir?” asked the constable.
“It’s a phone,” explained McBiscuit. “A device for communicating with people who would ordinarily be out of earshot. Come on, back to the car!”
They jumped down from the bus and sprinted over to their car like a police constable and his superior officer.
“Where to, sir?” cried the constable, starting the engine.
“Back to Dublin!” responded the DI. “There’s been another murder!”
Leaning back, he pulled his battered old suitcase off the back shelf, where it had been sitting in the sun. He felt it carefully.
“Do you know, constable,” he said at last. “I do believe this case is hotting up at last.”