“Let us recap, constable,” said DI McBiscuit. “Quasimodo O’Shaughnessy and John Clapper were both murdered in Tolka Park. Now what is the connection between the two?”
“They’re both dead, sir,” replied the constable smartly.
McBiscuit knitted his eyebrows. Then he crocheted his moustache and wove his nasal hair.
“It’s a very violent underworld that we find ourselves in, constable,” he said. “There’s plenty of attacking football, killing the game off, stabbing balls home, shooting on sight, fighting to the death, burying the ball in the back of the net and murdering a pint. It’s a wonder there aren’t more fatalities.”
Suddenly the phone rang. The constable picked it up, listened for a few seconds and then handed it to McBiscuit. “It’s for you, sir,” he said.
“Thank you, constable,” said the DI, stuffing the phone into his pocket. “Now let’s get down to Tolka and see if we can nab ourselves a suspect.”
The groundsman was clearly puzzled. “I am clearly puzzled,” he said, removing his cap and scratching the back of his head.
“Is that better?” asked McBiscuit, scratching the parts of his head that the old man couldn’t reach.
“Thank you, officer. It’s all much clearer now.”
Forensics had come up with the conclusion that the latest murder victim, Quasimodo O’Shaughnessy, far from having been hung, drawn and watered, as initial examinations had suggested, had died from being force fed shovelfuls of gravel. And then hung, drawn and watered.
“So you are saying there was a pile of gravel here a few days ago?” queried McBiscuit, pointing down at a particularly gravel-free piece of concrete by the side of the New Stand.
“Yes, sir,” said the groundsman. “Can’t fathom it?”
“Maybe the victim was made to swallow all of it?” suggested the constable.
“I don’t think so,” murmured McBiscuit. “He’d have been too heavy to hang from the crossbar. Besides the chief pathologist said there was only enough gravel in his stomach to build a small path from his patio to the shed.”
“Maybe there was some more lodged in his… What’s the name of that canal that goes right through your stomach, sir?”
“Alimentary, my dear constable. No there was none found there.”
“But why would anyone want to steal a mound of gravel, sir?”
“To hide the evidence, of course. The question is – where would they hide it?”
“Maybe they scattered it all over the pitch, sir?”
“Don’t be ridiculous, constable. This is the League of Ireland. Nobody would dream of spreading gravel over a football pitch.”
“We have one victim flattened by a roller and another one force fed small stones, constable. What does that tell us about our murderer?”
“That he’s a member of the Rolling Stones, sir?”
“Too easy, constable. Though it could be someone is trying to frame a member of the band. Find out where Charlie Watts was last Friday, will you?” McBiscuit placed a suitcase on a chair and then squatted down in the corner of the room, staring at it intently.
“We need to look at this case from a different perspective, constable,” he continued. “I think we need to call the manager in for questioning.”
“Surely you don’t suspect him, sir?”
“Listen, constable. Has he, or has he not, got a gravelly voice?”
“So has Rod Stewart, sir. And Bonnie Tyler.”
“Then bring them all in for questioning, constable. Let’s see what they’ve got to say for themselves.”
Although she had no alibi, Bonnie Tyler’s assertion that she was lost in France at the time of the first murder was accepted by McBiscuit. Similarly, Rod Stewart’s defence that he had been off sailing seemed to be verified when he produced a mackerel from his trouser pocket.
And despite the constable’s suggestion that they might all be “in it together,” the manager’s blunt statement that he had thirty witnesses to the fact that he was on the team bus to Galway at the time of the second murder seemed to make further questioning unnecessary.
“Who shall I call in next, sir?” queried the constable. “BB King? Bryan Adams? Maybe Janis Joplin?”
In reply, the DI jumped off the merry-go-round. “We’re just going around in circles, constable,” he stated impatiently. He pushed a thumb tack into the wall and watched it fall out again. “I think we ought to try a new tack, constable,” he said. “I want you to go to Tolka Park and pretend to be a new player recently signed from St. Albans or somewhere like that. I want you to be my eyes and ears inside that football club.
“And, while you’re at it, give yourself a ridiculous name. How about Neil Dubble?”