Whodunit 001 (Matters of Life and Death)

At 7.40 AM the alarm clock went off. The Inspector opened his eyes and for a few seconds he hoped his wife had made coffee. Then he remembered, as he had done the days before, that his wife had gone. There was a bitter taste in his mouth, mainly because of one glass of Dutch jenever too many last night. He missed his wife but he would never admit that, not even to himself. He showered quickly, put on some clothes and left the empty house.

In his car, he wondered whether he should call her. He decided against it. If she had anything to tell him, she should be the one to call him, thought the Inspector. Then he started the car.

When he arrived at work, the Police Desk Officer got up and handed him a post-it note.
– “They found a corpse. Here is the address”, she said.
The Inspector looked at the note which showed the address but nothing else. Not even the name of the murderer, he mused.
– “Anybody there?”, he asked.
One look at her face told him the answer before she said it: “The Greek and Tall One.” This gave him a fright and he quickly walked out again.

Half an hour later, when he stood in front of a run-down building in scaffolds, he dug up his mobile phone and dialed his wife’s number. He waited. Nobody replied. Then he called his daughter. Again, nobody replied. Then he went in.

In a bare room lied a dead boy. The Greek was standing at one of the windows, talking through his mobile. Tall One was questioning an old man. The Inspector walked up to the Greek.
– “What are you doing?”
– “I call you later” said the Greek into the phone and hung up.
– “What are you doing?”
– “Nothing. The Forensic is coming in a minute. A lost case, I think.”
He might be right, thought the Inspector. It seemed to be that kind of case. The boy was barely 14 years old and, by the look of him, had been living on the streets. Still living from pick-pocking tourists, in a few more years he would have stepped up to handbag mugging. The people in the streets wouldn’t have stopped him, either because they were scared or because they used to be just like him. Or still were. There were places where these kids could go, but not much, and there simply wasn’t enough manpower to properly keep them in check.

He bent over to the body and gently poked an arm. Stiff and cold. Must have been dead for a couple of hours. The Forensic would know more. There was no doubt on how the boy had been killed. The kid’s face had been battered in and next to him lied a blood spat scaffold coupler. Since the whole building stood in scaffolds, there were plenty of those lying about. The boy wore a T-shirt, sweatpants and trainers. Probably there would not be any identification on him, but he didn’t want to search him until the Forensic had come.

The room was on the 3th floor of an abandoned building whose proprietors had preferred leaving it empty instead of renting it out and get molested with complaints about the rent, leaking gas pipes, unsafe electricity installations and water running down the walls when it rained. People had become very unreasonable since democracy had been introduced in this country. Recently, however, renovation work had started to turn it all into lucrative tourist apartments.

The Greek spoke: “There was nobody in the whole building except for that tramp that Tall One is questioning. There is nothing to do I guess.”
– “Too early too say”, said the Inspector because it was part of his job to say these things even when it was pointless. He nodded and stood up: “You can go, I´ll wait for the Forensic”.
The Greek gestured apologetically but since he clearly didn’t want to stay, he left.

The Inspector looked at Tall One and the tramp. Actually, he couldn’t be sure he was a tramp. In police work, one never should jump to conclusions. In theory. In practice, they mostly stumbled into conclusions. When they were lucky. For instance when the murderer gave himself up. He walked up to them and asked Tall One the same question he had asked before:
– “What are you doing?”
– “I am questioning him. He’s homeless and he slept in a room two floors below. His name is…” He started looking in his notebook. Whereas the Greek had a very high opinion of himself, Tall One was quite the contrary. Too worried he might do anything wrong, he seldom dared to take an initiative. The worst thing was that Tall One was well aware of his shortcoming. On the whole, the Inspector found it more difficult to deal with him than with the Greek.
– “Good work”, said the Inspector vaguely and walked into the next room. It was bare and apparently a kitchen, judging by the gas pipes for a cooking furnace that wasn’t there.

His mobile went off just then. He waited 2 rings and then opened his phone quickly. It was his wife.
– “It’s a girl!” she said.
He shook his head and had to ask her to repeat.
– “A girl. Your daughter! She delivered just this morning.”
Now he remembered. Of course. His wife. His daughter.
– “Ah. Good!”
– “Where are you? Aren’t you happy? You don’t sound happy!”
– “Oh yes. Of course. Of course I am happy”. He tried to make it sound convincing.
– “You don’t sound happy. Are you alright? I probably stay over one more night, to help out with things…” She clearly wanted to say more but outside he heard the footsteps of what must be the Forensic and he interrupted her:
– “Sorry, got to go now. Work. I am happy. Say hi to Peppy.”
– “You should be happy, it’s your daughter! Your granddaughter!”
– “Yes of course. I am. Bye now.”
He hung up and walked back into the other room. Indeed the Forensic had arrived with an assistant. They were bending down next to the body and looked up when he came in.
– “It’s a girl”, the Inspector said.
– “A girl?”, said the Forensic and his assistant in unison, equally surprised.
– “No, I mean…”, he waved his hand, “Of course not. It’s a boy. Go on.”

And while the two men continued their work and Tall One tried to pin down some address where he could contact the tramp, the Inspector wondered. One dead boy and one new born girl. He wondered whether he should feel something. And whether there was something wrong with him for not feeling anything at all. Then he hunched down next to the two other men and began taking notes.

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