Sipping tea and craving a beer.
February 23, 2014
A VG Serial: Dark Continent Continental
“In case you are wondering, Mr. Sheffield, the reason we are meeting with you—and we appreciate it—is because our Captain, Tyrone Sullivan advised us that you would be the best person to guide us, on this side of the pond,” Angus began.
“He called me,” Barton Sheffield confessed. He didn’t divulge what it was about, but he said it was important. He thinks very highly of you two. Don’t tell him I said that, now.”
Angus and Skeeter smiled and gave sideways glances at one another.
“He said that your methods are often quite outlandish, but that he has never seen any two detectives that get better results. A compliment, indeed, coming from Sullivan, and don’t tell him I said that, either.”
“He suspended us from the homicide division just to free us up to come over here.” Angus admitted.
Barton Sheffield laughed.
We are having to bankroll this operation ourselves, we are that committed to a resolution. We have tried to use every moment to fullest advantage…”
Barton Sheffield interrupted. “And the operation you are speaking of involves….”
“Have you heard of the brainless body cases?” Angus asked.
“Oh yes. They are a pox on the earth—without end, it seems, sort of like sinkholes.”
“In our own jurisdiction, we had a pitiful victim, a heartbreaking case—a young college student. In addition, our good friend, an FBI man, was coming to offer us his valuable input, and he collapsed at our very feet. He had been in contact with a brainless body and was contaminated—before they even knew there was a danger. The organism, or bacteria, or whatever it is, devoured most of his lung tissue. They were able to keep him alive artificially, a miracle, then gave him a speedy lung transplant. He is in a hospital recovering. He was luckier than most.”
“Oh, what an ungodly horror!” Sheffield winced.
Skeeter continued the conversation. “Captain Sullivan told us we could place complete confidence in you and that you would be discreet.”
“You have my word on it,” Sheffield vowed.
Angus explained further. “We have traced these crimes to Africa. We have hired two local operatives there, and they have been put on surveillance. The criminal behind all of this, we believe, is a London scientist—a man held in high esteem by many.”
Sheffield urged, “Go on.”
“He is in Africa, now. He goes there frequently. But while we are certain he is occupied there, we have investigated his residence, here, illegally, I might add. We have found some of the instruments of his crimes and we have photographed some of the addresses of the stores, shops and individuals he has sent these biological time bombs to—they resulted in brainless body deaths.”
“My heavens, that is evil. There have been almost one hundred brainless body deaths, worldwide, I think. We have had several in England. Scotland has had at least one. Ireland has had some, too. How can I help you?” Barton Sheffield was ready to assist in any way he could.
Angus answered. “I will give you a quick overview of the evidence we have gathered and we were told that you could arrange a meeting with a member of Scotland Yard that would be discreet—that would accept our illegally gained evidence and work with us to collar the guy.”
“In fact, we plan to fade into the background and turn it over to them. We would like to be on hand to witness the actual arrest, if possible. That would give us the peace of mind we need to go back home, then.”
“I admire your perseverance. How long have you been away from Austin?”
“A little more than a week and a half. We put a two week limit on it due to finances.” Skeeter answered.
“It is amazing that you have accomplished so much. Sullivan was right about you two. Scuttlebutt with the guys at the Yard—that I am privy to—well they are baffled by the crimes.”
Barton Sheffield leaned in closer to look at some of the photos of honey pots, lab experiments, Petri dishes, mysterious canisters and address lists. “First of all, let me assure you that this is all do-able. I know the perfect fellow at Scotland Yard to present this too. We all want to put a stop to this diabolical mess—for good. That is the main goal. He will look at your evidence, then, figure out a way to get this same evidence on their own, legally. They have ways. They will use a ruse to re-get the evidence and make it air tight.”
Angus added, “We want to emphasize, again, that it is not our goal to get credit. It is our goal to stop the mad man. We are resentful mothers…and we are on a mission.”
“I will get right on this. You can expect an appointment with our man, Inspector Clive Dumfries before the day is over.” Barton Sheffield got up and ducked out the door of the posh tea room.
Angus and Skeeter finished their tea and waited for the call.
“Thank you for not jutting out your pinkie, while sipping the tea. It would have been too, too much, Angus.” Skeeter giggled. She knew how badly he was craving a beer.
Chapters of Dark Continental by Sara Marie Hogg will be published on Saturday and Sunday.