Chapter 12 – The net closes
It was clear that the groundsman had been so afraid that he had preferred to throw himself in front of a moving train than to reveal the sinister figure behind the three murders. The question, put very succinctly by a passing owl, was Who?
“He’d been acting very strangely of late, as if he were afraid of someone,” said Mrs. Groundsman when DI McBiscuit went around to tell her of her husband’s unfortunate death. “Would you like another bourbon cream?”
McBiscuit leaned forwards. Then he leaned sideways. “Do you know who he was afraid of?” he asked.
“I never saw him,” came the reply. “My husband did however mention a name. He said this person was the most sinister and evil demon one could ever imagine and that I should never utter his name again, not even in a game of charades. His name was aaaaarrrggghhh!”
“Aaaaarrrggghhh!” wrote down McBiscuit assiduously. “Sounds Eastern European. Well thank you, Mrs Groundsman, you’ve been most helpful.” And he stepped over her now lifeless body and the arrow protruding from her throat and marched out of the door.
“Three murders and one suicide,” said McBiscuit, back in his office. “How many games until the end of the season?”
“Five,” answered the constable. “Starting with the game against Athlone on Friday night. Win every match and we get promoted.”
“We must find the murderer before the season ends,” murmured McBiscuit. “Once the season ends, the whole transfer merry-go-round begins again and the trail may go cold.”
“How about a reward for information?” suggested the constable. “Anybody who has any information that may lead to the arrest of the perpetrator can pay the police €5,000.” As he finished speaking, he picked up a thumb tack from the floor and looked at it curiously.
“That’s one tack,” replied McBiscuit. “You’re a famous landscape artist, constable. You design the posters.” He looked at the two bits of haddock in his shopping bag. “I, on the other hand, have other fish to fry,” he added mysteriously.
As McBiscuit watched from the stand at Morton Stadium, he noted down two very significant facts. Number one, the Fingal goalkeeper Quigley seemed to be very nervous about his presence and, in fact, allowed a speculative shot from Giller to slip through his arms and into the net, as he scanned the stands to locate the detective. And secondly, there was the curious case of the mysterious disappearance of the ball boys when Fingal were leading.
The constable’s idea of reward posters seemed to bear fruit too, when a large quantity of grapefruit and rhubarb arrived at the station. McBiscuit chewed on his pencil late into the night, digesting these salient facts and indeed the pencil, ceasing only when he had to be taken to the Mater with cramps in his stomach.
“I feel we are near to a resolution,” he said to the constable the following morning.
“Its not New Year already, is it?” asked the constable in alarm. “Don’t tell me I missed Christmas?”
“I want every available man in the force to be in Tolka Park for the Athlone match,” went on McBiscuit briskly. “Let them dress up as Athlone supporters and mingle through both stands.”
“Won’t a large number of Athlone supporters at a Shels match arouse some suspicion, sir?” asked the constable, who was more worldly in the ways of League of Ireland football than his superior.
“Constable, we can’t go on together with suspicion minds. I want you to pack the stands out with blue and black.”
“Yes sir. And will they have to shout for Athlone in strange midlands accents too, sir?”
“Absolutely, constable. I place the diction coach at your disposal.”
The day of the Athlone match dawned, as days have a habit of doing. McBiscuit stretched out in bed as the early morning sunlight flooded in through the window like sunlight flooding in through a window.
“Today’s the day we catch a murderer,” he remarked grimly to the inert figure beside him. “He may think he’s got one over on us but I’ll get two over on him. Maybe even three. They don’t call me Detective Inspector McBiscuit for nothing, you know.”
Beside him, his teddy bear contemplated this last remark but decided not to comment.