This is my NaNoWriMo entry Part 4.

(While all locations are real, by necessity and for authenticity, the events and characters are entirely fictitious.  Please read this as a Draft.  I am writing this from memory.  Please excuse inaccuracies.  I will amend these as I get the chance to peruse my old diary entries and copious brochures and pamphlets I acquired while living there.  A murder mystery requires research, but in order to try to keep up with the spontaneity of NaNoWriMo projects, I will get on with the narrative, and tidy up the errors in the Second Draft stage.)

Singapore Slasher – Part 4

Next morning the team arrived at Orange Grove Road for a more thorough search, while as predicted a snarl of traffic snaked along the road, squeezing through the narrowed section with inches to spare.  But nothing was found.  No sign of the weapon.  No traces in the undergrowth, behind the gate, behind the wall, in the gutter other than soggy leaves washed there by the early morning drizzle, or on the pavement.  Apart from the already-swabbed, coagulated blood on the steps, and a ‘clean patch’ on the darker aged pavement at the base of the steps, there was nothing.  The team had also swabbed this area the night before to determine if detergents had been used there.  These samples were in the CSI laboratories awaiting testing.

Watching the writhing traffic from her living room window vantage point, Lara Castle cradled her coffee mug against her chest, and turned down the corners of her mouth.

“Troy’s not gonna be happy about this, then.  He’s gonna blame me.  Bugga.”

She turned away, replenished her coffee, and turned on the TV.  The news was full of the story of the murder.  A rare occurrence in Singapore, it warranted the major news time-slot, with ‘On The Scene’ footage.  There on the screen was the crime scene, a close-up of the blood on the steps, pulling back past the fluttering Police Tape, and the searching minions in their eerie jumpsuits, to a generic reporter in her make-up, sleek hair, and fitting suit, speaking at a higher pitch and, due to the traffic, higher volume.  The fact that the TV crew and their vans were adding to the congestion didn’t seem to faze her at all.  It just increased the horn honking.  Suddenly Troy moved into the shot.  Lara gasped.

“Here is Mr Troy Castle, whose wife discovered the body last night.”  She shoved a hand-held microphone into his face.  “Tell me, Mr Castle, what happened?”

“My wife was coming home from work late last night, when she found the body sprawled on the steps over there.”  He pointed behind him to the steps in the background, leaving no doubts as to the exact location of the crime.  This ensured that all the ghouls and thrill seekers would know exactly which steps to have their photos taken in front of, as soon as the crime scene tape was gone.

“Why was she late?”  The mike was thrust towards him again, then retracted as she added, “And why was she walking alone in the dark at such a time?”

Disconcerted at the twist to his first statement, Troy’s eyebrows snapped together into a scowl.  The reported smirked.  “She always walks home late at night. She teaches at a language school and the classes are always after hours.”

It was the reporter’s turn to look a little disappointed – she’d expected a bigger bite, an angrier response than that.  She tried again.  “Well, can you tell me what happened?”  She smiled encouragingly.

“She, my wife, was walking home, came round that bend (pointing), and there it was.  Sprawled on the steps.  With its head back and its throat cut.”

Delighted by these salacious details – a real bonus – she rewarded Troy with a wonderful smile.  Mollified, and smoothing his already slick hair, he grinned back at her.  She edged a little closer to him.  “How do you know these details, Mr Castle?”

“Because I saw the body too.  I came down with her to wait for the Cops – the Police.  And there it was.  Well, there she was.  It was a pretty Singapore girl.  Lovely hair, and tiny feet.  But dead.  Quite dead.”

The reporter took a step back from him.  This was a little more than she had expected, and though it was much more than she’d hoped for, and could only boost her career chances, there was something rather unsettling about the way he had responded.

“Well, that’s all for now,” she began, but Troy interrupted her.

“It’s a damn nuisance though.”

Startled she said, “What?!” a thing she tried to never to say – well not like that.

“Well.  Look at all this bloody traffic.  How am I supposed to get to work on time now?”  Troy waved his arms around indicating the very obvious traffic, totally oblivious to the fact that he had just cursed on Singaporean television.

Watching the screen, mouth open in shock at Troy’s revelations, but not at his attitude, Lara hoped there would be no repercussions.  Shaking her head at his folly, she moved to the bathroom.  She needed to shower and dress, then catch a taxi to the police complex to make her statement.

* * *

In his office earlier than normal – the investigation of murder wasn’t the norm – DI Lim watched the screen in disgust.  How could that Expat be so indiscreet?  Now he would have to go into immediate damage control.  And he’d probably get dressed down by his Superior.  He shook his head, lips in a tight line.  What a way to start an important investigation.

The door crashed open as DS Lee burst into the room.

“Sir.  Sir.  Did you see that on TV?”  He registered, the news footage on the TV screen behind his boss’s shoulder, then the angry expression on his boss’s face.  “Oh.  You did.”

Other than compressing his lips till the line became white, Lim didn’t respond, but turned to move behind his desk.  “I will deal with that man when he comes in to make his statement after work.  I should go down and haul him out of work, when he gets there, but as we didn’t take down those details last night we can’t do so.  Well we could go back to the apartment and get them from his wife, but I think we’ll just hit him with it when he gets here.  He won’t expect it.”

Lee nodded, afraid to comment.

Realising that he should have stopped speaking after the first sentence, Lim sighed, shuffled some papers on his desk, and asked, “Has the post mortem report come in yet?”

“Just a preliminary one so far, Sir.  Throat cut by a right-handed person.  And it looks like someone washed her feet carefully, and creamed them.  And her hands as well.”

“Like she had a pedicure, and manicure?”

“Yes, Sir.  Same, same.”  As Lim frowned, he added, “It looks like that, Sir.”

“A right-handed person doesn’t help us much – that’s the majority of the population.”  He tapped his pen on the desk.  “Nothing else?  Had she been interfered with?  There was semen in her hair.  Was it anywhere else?”

“Yes, Sir.  It was in her hair.  And some on her neck.  And her knickers, her panties were missing, Sir.”  Lim’s eyebrows shot up.  “They had been removed.  We didn’t notice before, because her knees were together.”  Lim nodded, as an image of the girl, sprawled up the steps, knees together and feet placed carefully on the pavement, flashed into his mind.

“What about ID?  Did they find any purse or handbag?  Any ID cards?”

Lee shook his head.  “Nothing, Sir.”

“Did they look in the gardens of the Shangri-La?”

Lee nodded.  “Yes, Sir.  Nothing there, Sir.”

“Widen the search area.  Look in all the garbage bins, and dumpsters, and skips, at all the buildings along Orange Grove Road, and Stevens Road.  Maybe they’ve been thrown in a bin nearby.”

“I’ll arrange it now, Sir.”  Lee moved towards the door.

“Then come back here.  We need to go to the Shangri-La and look for witnesses.  And I think we’ll go and talk to Mrs Castle on her own.”

“She is coming in this morning, Sir.  To give her written statement and sign it.  Will we wait for her?  Or go to the Shangri-La first.”

“Yes.  Yes, she is.  Bother.  I wanted to talk with her first.”  He paced up and down a few times while trying to mentally sort out his priorities.  “I think we’ll head over to the Shangri-La first.  We don’t want to alienate the Manager.  If Mrs Castle arrives while before we return, she can give her statement to DC Yeo.  And then wait for us.  Then we can add to it after we chat with her.  See to it.”

Lee nodded, then hurried out.

* * *

In a Salon on the third floor of Lucky Plaza on Orchard Road, a pretty Singaporean girl reclined into the relaxation of the special massage/pedicare chair, and wriggling her toes presented her feet for attention.  She smiled into the face of her attendant.

(C) Jud House  15/11/2012

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This is my NaNoWriMo entry Part 3.

(While all locations are real, by necessity and for authenticity, the events and characters are entirely fictitious.  Please read this as a Draft.  I am writing this from memory.  Please excuse inaccuracies.  I will amend these as I get the chance to peruse my old diary entries and copious brochures and pamphlets I acquired while living there.  A murder mystery requires research, but in order to try to keep up with the spontaneity of NaNoWriMo projects, I will get on with the narrative, and tidy up the errors in the Second Draft stage.)

Singapore Slasher – Part 3

Back in the apartment a silence had set in.  Troy shoved their now cold dinner into the microwave to reheat, then plonked the hot plates down on the table mats and flung himself into his chair.  He began to eat, cutting the food with sharp movements, stabbing the meat with his fork, chewing aggressively.

“Why do you always have to get involved in things?  In other people’s business.” He scowled at her lowered face.

She raised her head and looked him straight in the eyes.  “It’s funny, isn’t it?  That’s just what I was expecting you to say.  Not ‘what an awful night you’ve had’.  Not ‘what a dreadful thing to find’.  But that somehow, by walking home from work, I had brought this on myself.  Somehow caused this murder to happen so I could find it and get involved.”

With shaking hands she placed her cutlery as neatly as she could on the plate, folded her napkin, pushed her chair back, and left the table.  She picked up her handbag, and her keys, and left the apartment.  He didn’t speak.  He didn’t make a move to follow her.  He just sat there fuming.

Outside, the humidity smothered her as it always did when she left any air-conditioned environment.  She made her way to the lift, rode it down to the ground floor, then walked through the collonade of bourgainvillea to the pool.  Hitching up her good work skirt, she sat on the edge, dangling her legs in the water.  The breeze was cool by Singapore standards – her standards now as she had acclimatized some time ago – and ruffled her hair and clammy face and neck.

Not for the first time, she asked herself why she stayed with him.  She knew he had this side to him.  This need to control – to be the boss – to blame her for anything that went wrong.  If there was ever an accident it was “Why did you do that?”  Not “Are you hurt?  Are you okay?” Nor even, “How did it happen?”.  He had so many nice characteristics – he could be kind, though not often; he was clever and not boastful, though he never seemed to recognise that she was clever too; he was diligent at work – a workaholic in fact – and stuck to what he believed, even when proved wrong.  Stubborn.  Controlling with money, yet generous to others.  They shared humour – when they saw things that amused them together – but not verbally.  You had to converse to do that.  And they didn’t do that much, because he was ‘all talked out’ by the time he got home.  That’s why she had taken this teaching job – to be with people and have conversations.

Yet if any of these things were pointed out to him, he just denied them flat.  He did not recognise that he was like this.  He was Mr Wonderfullo.  He’d do a little dance to make her laugh – and she couldn’t help herself – she had to laugh.  He could be such a clown.  It was like the cloud of repression that surrounded him would lift and he’d behave without inhibitions, a free spirit.  But only briefly.  Then the restraints would descend and he’d resume his usual negativity.

She realised, sitting there with her legs licked by the almost tepid water, that that was why she stayed with him.  Every time she saw this breaking free, this exposure of the clown, the closest he came to a sense of ridiculousness that she had as part of her humour, she felt that there was hope for him – and for them.  She sighed, withdrawing her legs from the pool.  Sloughing off the water from her legs with her hands, she slipped her sandals back on, and headed back to the apartment.

* * *

Down in the street, the Police Tape was up, ribbons of authority defining the crime scene, the ‘no go area’.  By the morning, the traffic that  used Orange Grove Road as a short-cut between the northerly Stevens Road and the junction with the south-westerly Tanglin Road and the south-easterly Orchard Road, would be snarling through the now restricted winding undulating hazardous street, causing jams at either end and along the three tributaries.  People from the adjoining apartments would be trying to exit their driveways into the unyielding stream of vehicles, cursing in the saunas that their car interiors would become.  Taxis, shuttle buses, and delivery vans would be trying to enter the driveways of these apartments and hotels, holding up the jammed line behind them, and succeeding only in allowing a tenant to pull swiftly out to be replaced by the next in line.  Chaos and noise would ensue.  But no-one would remove the Police tape, or brashly just drive through it.  This was extremely law-abiding Singapore.  Besides they would also be curious as to what the tape was doing there – it was rarely seen by the general public.

In the cool of the night, the tape fluttered, reflecting in the glistening road, now damp from the misting air.  In the gutter a tiny trickle of water moved past the Shangri-La,  around the sharp curve dropping towards the bottom of the S-bend in front of the RELC Building, then the apartment complex driveway, then vanishing from sight as it rounded the next bend.  Orange Grove Road embraced this complex, bringing the heavy peak traffic twice a day, a steady flow during the day, and a quiet swish of the occasional car at night.

The gardens that jostled for space, created a false oasis, an apparent peace, a liquid green tranquillity that was shot with flashes of daffodil yellow as small birds flitted amongst the dank lush foliage.  Tropical flowers thrived – Helaconia, Frangipani, Orchids, Bougainvillea – their colours splashing the flashy architecture at every glance.  It was an exotic, lush, glorious heady mixture.

But on the steps, the colour was not from petals.  The bright red had already changed to dark ruby as it coagulated.  In this mist, the likelihood of it drying was minimal.  Until the entire area had been thoroughly searched, both the blood and the police tape would remain.  The young Constable, looking as many Singaporians look, at least ten years younger, stood on the pavement  near the steps.  Not too near in case there was still evidence they hadn’t found in the dim streetlighting supplemented by torchlight.  His was a boring yet onerous task, and it was important that he be alert, as the DI had made quite clear to him.  There was always a slim chance that the culprit might return.

A visible shudder shook his slender body, and he glanced around anxiously.  He fiddled with his cigarette packet in his pocket, wishing he could indulge but knowing that would be ‘out of bounds’.  He could not contaminate the crime scene with his ash or butts.  At the thought of the DI finding one of his damp squashed cigarette butts, he shuddered again, his face momentarily distorted by sudden dread.  His hands dropped to his sides and he stood to attention.

Finally home, his wife, Wan, called out to the DI from their bed “That you , Jun lah.”

“Yes.  Sorry I am so late.  There has been a murder in Orange Grove Road.”

“Was it bad this killing?”  She stood by the bedroom door, her silk dragon gown folding round her slight frame.  As he always did, on seeing her Lim felt a rush of warmth, of enveloping good luck that she was still his.

“Yes.”  He passed her wearily, touching her face fleetingly with his fingertips as he made his way to the bathroom.  The hot water washed away the clinging miasma of death that always resulted from contact with these violent crimes.  He stood there lathering and rinsing until he felt his shoulders relax.  Then he turned off the water, clambered out of the bath, over which the shower hung, and dried himself vigorously.  He cleaned his teeth, quickly shaved – better to do it now in case he gets called out again during what was left of the night – and joined his wife in the comforting dark of their bedroom.  The thick shantung drapes had blockout linings, and tulle behind them for daylight hours.  This ensured a dark sleeping chanber no matter what hour of the day or night he lay down.

“You want to talk about it yet?”  Wan was curious, but also was his sounding board.  he often talked to her about his cases, as it helped clarify his thoughts, arrange his perspectives, and often provided sudden solutions.  She was highly educated, held a respectable, and respected, position in one of the Ex-Pat apartment/shopping complexes near Orchard Road, and so was a capable listener.  It was necessary for her work to be adept at listening to others in order to solve their problems.  She had many satisfied clients.

“Not really.  I need to sleep.  We have to examine the scene at first light in case we missed something.  The sooner we can release the road from ‘out of bounds’ the better.  The traffic will be awful.  I’ll tell you about it tomorrow when I get home.”  He sighed.  She put her hand on his chest, leaned forward and brushed his cheek with her lips.  He smiled.

“Sleep well.”  Wan  turned over into her customary position facing the outside of the bed, snuggled into her pillow a little, then drifted back to sleep.

Lim gazed into the dark, then slowly lowered his eyelids.

(C) Jud House  10/11/2012

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