They found the body on a Tuesday. And the surprise came on a Friday. In the mean time, not much happened.
At home, his wife had passed by Wednesday evening, but only to pick up some clothes and to criticise him for not visiting his daughter and granddaughter yet. So he went by on Thursday afternoon. There was nothing to do in the office anyway.
Peppy´s boyfriend opened the door.
– “Ah, it´s you.”
Peppy´s boyfriend had a lot of hair, most of which was knotted in a rastafari fashion. He made a gesture with one of his long arms to show him in.
– “As a matter of fact, yes, it is me,” said the Inspector.
In passing, the Inspector noted that the boy only wore some kind of bedsheet around his waist. The corridor was littered with clothes, packs of tobacco rolling paper, little metal tins, coloured hairclips, broken pencils, raffia mats and bits of uncooked macaroni. In the living room he saw his wife. She sat on the only chair in the room, with a huge african drum between her legs, some kind of turban around her head and an uncomfortable smile on her face. She looked like a protestant pilgrim´s wife visiting an Indian tribe on the first thanksgiving day.
– “There you are,” she said. And with her head she motioned which he way he should look.
In a corner, in Buddha position on a mattress, his daughter was breastfeeding her baby. She looked up and smiled to him. He smiled back and after a short hesitation hunched down near the matress. He tried not to look at it his daughter breast and he knew she noticed and thought him a bit silly.
– “Hi, Peppy. Everything fine?” he said.
She grinned. “Yes, daddy, everything is very very fine. Do you want to hold her?”
– “Maybe later,” he said. He reached out clumsily and touched his granddaughter´s cheek. The baby´s eyes were closed and her skin was soft and clean. When the baby let go of her mothers nipple, the Inspector stood up and stroked his knees.
– “Oh, daddy,” she said mockingly. “Why didn´t you visit earlier? Are you very busy at work?”
Her boyfriend came in and sat down next to her. He put an arm around her and bend over to kiss his daughter´s forehead. For a short moment the Inspector could look all the way up inside the bedsheet or whatever it was he was wearing.
– “Yes, I am very busy. A murder case.”
He turned around to look for confirmation from his wife, who had been joined by another man with a long beard who showed her how to play the drum. There was something strange about him, thought the Inspector. It took a moment before he noticed that all the man´s hair was dyed pink. His wife was too concentrated on the drum lesson to pay attention to the Inspector.
– “I am afraid I have to go. I am glad everything is fine. She is beautiful.”
– “Thanks for dropping by, daddy. Please, come by another day. Have lunch with us.”
– “I will,” he promised.
He went out alone. When the door closed behind him, he sighed wistfully. Then he hurried to his car.
The forensic report on the body told them nothing new. The kid must have been killed in between eleven and twelve o´clock at night, the night between Monday and Tuesday. There were severe concussions to the boy´s head and these were what killed him. No identications of sexual abuse. No identification found, which was exactly as the Inspector had expected. Identification marks on the body: a mole right next to the right nipple and an operation scar on the belly. Also the boy was circumcised.
There was an interview with the Chief Commisioner on Thursday. It went as it was supposed to go: a routine conversation.
Chief Commisioner: “Any progress?”
Inspector: “Not much”
Chief Commisioner: “Any suspects?”
Inspector: “As of yet none.”
CC: “Any identification of the victim?”
CC: “Any ideas of his background?”
I: “Juvenile delinquent probably. Homeless. Or squatter. Nobody claimed him yet.”
CC: “Why would someone kill someone like that?”
I: “Hard to say. Could be drugs. Money. Some petty argument. An accident maybe. The house was full of these whatdoyoucallums…, Clamps and stuff. The whole building is in scaffolds. Two kids have an argument. One of them picks up a coupler. One things leads to another… The rush and the shock… And later, he runs away and hides. Either he´ll give himself up or he doesn´t.”
CC: “Any ideas as of in which direction to go with the investigation?”
I: “Not really. We´ll ask around in the neighbourhood. Of course, we don´t have any good photos of the kid. His face was rather battered.”
CC: “So…, probably not a case we can solve.”
I: “We´ll try anyway.”
CC: “Any press?”
I: “No. Not really interesting enough for them. We gave out some small statement. Homeless kid found murdered in abandoned building. Maybe a few of the locals published it, don´t know.”
CC: “Good. Any other issues at hand?”
CC: “Give it a week. If you don´t find anything, go back to the usual work.”
And that was that. The “usual work” meant helping out on the other, severely short-staffed departments. The ones dealing with homeless kids for instance. Or the pick-pockets in the underground. Tourist muggings in the old part of town. Drunk driving. Street prostitution. Friday and Saturday night party aggression. Often Thursdays too. Fining people who drink beer on the streets. And of course, to keep police agents morale high: hunting down Africans selling illegally copied CDs and DVDs, and cheap sunglasses and leatherbelts on the tourist crowded streets. Nowadays, why watch television? Why watch obnoxious clowns or boring living statues (devils, angels, a toilet pot)? Much more fun watching police chasing illegal street venders. Pointless, useless and picturesque vaudeville.
Of course, there were also the specialised divisions. The ones that did long going and complicated investigations into appartment mobbing, political corruption and fraude, contrabande (guns, drugs, women), narcotics, luxury prostitution, and russian maffia, rumenian maffia, italian maffia, chinese maffia. He considered himself blessed for never having had to work on one of those operations.
So, when he drove back home Thursday evening he imagined he would have a quiet week. Maybe tomorrow, he could have lunch with his daughter. He would bring his own sandwiches, though.
However, the next day, a Friday, the suprise went off like a bomb. It came in an enveloppe. It contained a list of persons that were reported missing. There were three names on it. Two of them were girls, 16 and 17 years old. Hopefully, they had ran away from home and were now sky high on some hippie beach in the south. Hopefully, it was just that. The third missing person was a boy. There was a photo included. A film and audiovisual art student of 19 years old. His father was the director of one of the most important universities of town. His mother was a politician of one of the most important political parties of town. There was a photo of the boy included. And even though the dead boy had had his face badly damaged, the similarity was clear. Moreover, the parents had reported a mole on their son´s chest, and a scar of an appendix operation on the belly. Also, their boy had been circumcised.
So, there it was. No street boy. No homeless boy. No tourist mugger. Instead, the son of two of the most influential and important persons of the city. Now, the case had to be solved. And he would be lucky if they gave him more than a week for it.