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MOWGLEY

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DEADLY TIDE 

( George East )

 

 

Out now in paperback  9.99

 

 

 


The dawn of a new Millennium finds Detective Sergeant Catherine McCarthy arriving at her senior officer뭩 temporary lodgings in the attic of the Midnight Tindaloo restaurant. She has come to report that a torso has been found in a cabin on the overnight ferry from France. Meanwhile, a beachcomber has found a designer bag containing a sizeable amount of class 멇 drugs, a number of packets of Euro bank notes...and a pair of human arms. Further along the coast, a yacht has run ashore. The engine is running but there is nobody on board.

Now read on:

Taking his hand from his nose, Guy handed the torch to Melons, reached into his pocket for an expensive-looking pen and used it to delicately separate the top edges of the bag. He then retrieved the torch, pointed it into the bag, bent forward and looked in.

밃h.

As this was the French detective뭩 only comment, Mowgley took his hand off his mouth and nose long enough to ask if the bag did contain some of the remains of the missing parts of David Burgess.

밒 am not sure, replied Guy, stepping aside to give Mowgley access, 밷ut I think it more likely a bit of an animal than a human.

Looking into the bag, Mowgley  saw a  writhing, wriggling mass of dirty white. The maggots were competing to get at what looked as if it might once have  been a leg attached to a large pig.  Given time the maggots would have stripped the meat completely from the bone, and he wondered what happened when they had eaten all of that which had bred and  nurtured them.  From pub conversations with his favourite SOCO girl, he knew that the date of death could be calculated by the stage of insect eggs, larvae or maggots. They were very efficient eating machines, she had told him over a pasty and chips at the Leopard. The front end of your typical maggot was mostly, she had said, mouth hooks which shredded and then passed the decomposing flesh back to the tail end and anus. The clever arrangement of their posterior spiracles meant they could eat non-stop for 24 hours a day without having to pause for breath. A bit like Mowgley when he was talking and smoking and drinking at the same time, she had added.

Guy stepped back and turned off the torch. 밒 think it best we leave things as they are and I will get our people in now to conduct a thorough and more scientific search of the boat. In the meantime, I have heard very good things about the restaurant here. Will you be my guests for dinner?

*

The silence was broken by the toot of a car horn, then, as if it were a signal, the men started to move towards him. They walked slowly, shoulder-to-shoulder and almost taking up the full width of the narrow alleyway.

As danger approached, an unbidden process began inside Mowgley뭩 body. Immediately, his adrenal gland  released a surge of epinefrene, a hormonal transmitter. At the same time, his respiratory rate increased quite dramatically and blood was shunted away from his digestive tract and directed to his muscles and limbs. Nature had now seen that he was better prepared to fight or run. Another of his body뭩 instinctive reactions was the fear that he might shit himself.

Mowgley had read somewhere that whenever the Admiral Lord Nelson was in a gathering of senior naval officers, the talk would inevitably turn to the best manoeuvres when confronted by an enemy. There would be much discussion about taking the weather gauge and the pros and cons of being broadside or bows-on to the foe, and at some stage the nation뭩 greatest seafaring hero would be asked for his views. It was said that he would reply: 밎entlemen, I have always found the best way is to go straight at 멷m.

Generally speaking, Mowgley was in agreement with Nelson. This inclination was not because of courage or  foolhardiness, but based on experience. In any unequal confrontation, the side with the advantage of numbers would expect their opponent to at least hesitate, try to negotiate, or turn tail and run. From the playground onwards, Mowgley had found  that running encourages pursuit, and, for some perverse reason, the punishment was invariably greater when the runner is caught. Also, an unexpected reaction is generally agreed to give a considerable advantage in battle; Mowgley had found this to hold true in a hundred scuffles, arrests and out-and-out brawls.

He thought of trying Paul Newman뭩 tongue-lolling village idiot expression when faced with a violent aggressor in Fort Apache -The Bronx, but rejected that ploy. Apart from anything else, he was not wearing a cap he could reverse. Perhaps for once he should go by the book, with a slight embellishment. Accordingly, he put his right hand in the inside breast pocket of his overcoat, held his left arm out straight, with palm upwards and shouted very loudly: 밪top! Armed police officers!

His claim was technically true as he was fully limbed, and it gave the masked figures a momentary pause. As they stopped, Mowgley breathed deeply, lowered his head and went straight at them.

He chose the lighter of the two men, and felt teeth go as the top of his head  smashed into the ski-mask. The wearer gave a muffled shriek and fell backwards under the force of the charge.

In films, fights are invariably depicted very differently from what happens in real life. Crisply delivered kicks and punches rarely miss their target, and those struck obligingly fall down or even fly through the air. In reality, Mowgley had always found fighting a much messier and unballetic affair. People swing and miss, or punch and kick to no real effect. Confined space makes things more difficult, and this fight was taking place in an a narrow alleyway containing a number of obstacles. They included the dump bin and at least a dozen bin liners stuffed with two week뭩 worth of rubbish and leftovers from a busy Indian restaurant.

With Mowgley on top of him and already scrabbling for possession of the baseball bat, the man landed on a pile of  bulging bin-liners. The top bag split under the impact, spewing out what, in happier times, would have been for Mowgley the pleasantly evocative aroma of Jalfrazi Chicken.  In these circumstances, he had other things on his mind. Having got a grip on the wrong end of the baseball bat with his left hand, he used his right to swing a punch at the ski-mask. As he did so, the bags shifted and  the man  rolled to one side, causing the blow to miss and Mowgley뭩 fist to hit the alley wall. The  pain in his hand was as nothing as the bat being wielded by Mr Toad smashed into the back of his head.

As  the  flow of oxygen to his brain was interrupted,  Mowgley did not see stars, but there was a flash of light  before he entered that semi-conscious state of fear, bewilderment and confusion when boxers hang on to their opponents as if he were a lover.

A fortunate result for Mowgley was that the blow drove his head down and forward, bringing it smashing again into the face of Ski Mask 2. The prone figure screamed through his broken teeth and bucked violently. This caused more bags to break and move, and as Mowgley slid to one side the next blow from above missed his head, found a bin liner and created a fountain of curry sauce.

Heading into unconsciousness, the detective lay on his back, alongside the prone figure of Ski Mask 2, watching almost dispassionately as Mr Toad raised the baseball bat above his head. Then, there was a dull thud and a light brighter than the brightest day filled the alleyway. When Mowgley re-opened his eyes, he saw that Mr Toad was standing, arms raised in a frozen tableau in the centre of a ring of fire.  It looked, Mowgley thought, like a painting of an Old Testament prophet on the wall of the Bethseda chapel he used to attend on Sundays for the free cup of tea and sticky bun. Then, all was dark again, and the detective drifted away as Mr Toad began to scream. 

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