This is the 24th Instalment in the Series surrounding the activities of the Murder Squad Detective Joseph Lind. His two young partners of recent vintage, Shelley Shields and Dallas Courtney have made the grade to become a fledging, young team of Murder Detectives in their own right.
The three still operate as a unit on two cases that had involved their time together. The two committed not far from each other. That of the 'Two Boys in the Park' Bashing Homicides and the death of William Dean Worseley on the same night.
Circumstances occur to ensure that Shelley Shields once again partners Joseph Lind on a disturbing case that becomes known as the "Bones under the Bridge" Homicide Investigation. The execution style death of three young women of east Asian extraction. No ID's. No clues. No suspects.
Buried together in a lonely bush grave under a bridge.
Detective Lind finds himself partnering a hopeful middle aged Cop who wants to become a Murder Detective. They are called out to a suspicious death of a Catholic Priest that challenges Detective McPhillemy's very beliefs.
Can a person be worked to death? Or is there always controlling influences beyond the understanding of those around the victims. Detective Joseph Lind finds himself facing some home truths before the puzzle is complete.
The heat hit me in the face as I emerged from the air-conditioned interior of the Cop 4WD.
Almost immediately my head and shoulders were affronted and assaulted by a huge cloud of flies. They manically whizzing about as though they felt I was topping their battlement and they had to do everything in their power to repel my advance!
I almost slumped back into the dim interior of the vehicle. Wanting to head back to the Airport to catch the next flight back out to Sydney.
This would be my first case without my junior partners, Shelley Shields and Dallas Courtney. The 'powers to be' insistent on them now capable of flying solo as a formidable Murder Squad Team. Recently promoted to Dee 2 status.
There was as yet, no suitable candidate that I could take under my wing to mentor. To advise. To teach.
Would you believe it??!!
The hierarchy seeing me as the Officer most capable of passing on his knowledge on all things to do with the human condition and the particular ugliness of its more psychopathic elements.
Who would believe it?
"Road-train!" Someone yelled, as a three trailer Road-train came rumbling towards our position on the side of the Highway.
Its very width seemed to fill the entire north bound lane. The noise and whine of its diesel engine deafening.
Its initial bow wave of air wanting to throw me off the side of the road... then the suction as the length of its three trailers sped past. Luckily, I was on the lee side of the Cop vehicle...but maybe that wasn't the safest place to be as the 4WD vehicle rocked alarmingly from the air pressure of the speeding behemoth. Its top speed well above the prescribed 100 which meant little to the 'pilot' of this huge road-train. Even the obvious sight of about a dozen Uniform Cops on both sides of the road had little effect on the driver as though he was immune to their presence.
Sticking his finger up and sneering his thoughts on what he thought of cops. Several words mouthed. You didn't need to be an expert 'Lip Reader' to understand the gist of the insult!
The smell of cattle and dun sandblasting up our noses seeming to linger long after the passage of the behemoth had occurred.
I felt that I could almost dust it off my clothes, such was its 'heaviness'!
Sixty kilometres south of Dubbo on a straight, flat section of road. Slightly raised above the surrounding parched farm land. A culvert crossing over a small creek bed. A parking area, better described as a 'Travellers' Rest Area' on both sides of the creek down off the Highway bitumen. On both sides of the road and the bridge, giving the tired caravan and mobile home traveller an area to 'prop' overnight...or just to stop for a breather and a cup of coffee.
These areas were usually formed some two hundred kilometres apart or positioned at some local 'spot' of interest. Used regularly by the Grey Nomads as free-camping sites for that overnight 'prop' were there premium concern. Even staying longer depending on finances, though this habit was not sanctioned by the powers to be. The Stray Greys waiting for Pension Day to arrive before heading into town and a cosier place to bed down with electricity, water and grey water connection at the town Caravan Park.
Out here at these designated Rest Stops, they had to rely on Solar panels and a bright sun for their power. Some even had small generators to ensure that precious ingredient. Allowing the Air Conditioner in the Van to hum along joyously all night. Keeping any close by fellow 'traveller' awake all night with the chugging of the generator!
Annoying the crap out of their fellow travellers who may have inadvertently pitched camp within earshot!
Supposedly you were only allowed to 'bush camp' at these off-road areas for no more than twenty-four hours. It would appear that the persons who had called in the find had been there for three days! Sure, there was those sites where a maximum stay of seventy-two hours was sanctioned, but these were usually in the more remote parts of the country.
Their Pension just arrived in time for them to head towards Dubbo after the initial Crime Scene Officer had made himself known. They breathed a sigh of relief as fines are hefty if this basic law is ignored.
Non-existent water in the creek, the constant whooshing of Road-trains especially in the middle of the night and the clouds of flies because of nearby cattle and sheep, not my idea of that perfect Bush Camp....but then I wasn't or would never travel on the smell of an oily rag.
There had to be better Camps though, well off the highway down some dry dirt, corrugated track or road. But some of these guys would rather prop in locations like this instead of ever subjecting their 'rigs' to the roughness and dirt stained back-track away from the busy inland Highway.
These modern-day Adventurers still lived it rough, I sarcastically thought as I looked around at the area!
A Bush Loo. Limp shade trees and BBQ bench seat and table settings anchored to the ground scattered throughout the areas of the four Rest Areas.
- - - - -
I'd disembarked from the plane knowing that it was going to be a hot day.
It greeted me immediately as I stuck my head out of the plane's rear door to negotiate the wheeled in set of steps.
A slap in the face. Feeling as though you'd gone from the cool air-conditioned space of the plane straight into a furnace. An oven. It took your breath away, such was the shock.
I picked up my hire car from the smiling Hire Car Firm attendant at the Airport and headed for the Dubbo Police Station. That false smile a prerequisite in getting the job. The falser the smile, the higher up the employee role of promotion!
It was still miles too early to drop my things at the Hotel.
It was still too early for the Day Shift Senior Constable to sign on for the day, so I thought. I would have met me at the Airport....but then I was that type of friendly guy. Friendly was a strained emotion after three years of severe drought around these parts, apparently.
I left my things in the car in the designated Visitors car position at the rear of the Police Station yard and took a wander through Town, glancing at window displays. I wandered into a small Coffee Caf? and ordered. The coffee on the plane way below my acceptable high standard.
I needed a stronger fix if I was to function all day.
Waking at 3 in the morning to catch that early flight out of Sydney was going to bugger me for the rest of the day...and the week! The older I got, the more severe the after-effects of that early morning rise... to catch a bloody plane at least.
"Detective." Not a question but a statement.
I turned to see a tall, red-headed solid woman standing behind me.
I wouldn't want to go ten rounds with her in a narrow alleyway on a cold and dark night, let me tell you!
"Senior Constable Debra Taylor. Dubbo Central LAC."
She thrust out her hand.
"Am I that easy to spot?" I replied.
A smile on my face as I shook her hand.
"The usual, thanks Carol...and whatever this gentleman wants. Put it on my tab." She turned back to me. "A table, perhaps? I saw you drive into the rear yard of the Station. An overnight bag on the back seat...I'll take the kudos for the excellent Cop that I am with above average deductive reasoning instead of knowing in advance that you'd be on the early flight in and would arrive at the Station at a certain time as long as the flight was on time...and that is a hire car from the Firm that has a contract with the State Government." She again smiled. "I apologise for not meeting you at the Airport. I had to organise the roster for the coming days for all the guys who we'll need out at the body dump...and make sure all the right equipment was available before the Forensic guys asked for it...it's been a bit hectic around here. I'm sure you understand as we don't get that many body remains being found under bridges in dried up creek beds."
She giggled at her own joke.
Clem 'Lofty' Hills Series:
Murder Squad Series: