Made A Killing
Following a fairly ordinary morning, Alex Warren's day had taken a distinct turn for the worse. He was not a happy man.
The sickening sight of the corpse lay in front of him. It was a mess of blood and guts. A bright red pool surrounded the wound which was edged by ravaged flesh and dotted with black congealing clots. The horrified, wide-eyed stare of the victim exacerbated the profound ugliness of the scene. Overwhelmed by the smell of blood, Warren felt nauseous imagining he could taste metal in his mouth, and with great reluctance he took another look at the body before exhaling loudly. Even when he looked away, everything seemed bathed in a red haze. He was confused. There could be no doubt about how Stevenson was killed and Warren had strong suspicions about the murderer's motives. He wasn't surprised that someone murdered him but, rather, that it hadn't happened sooner. What perplexed Warren most was thinking about all the possible candidates for the crime.
The normally towering, muscular frame of DCI Alex Warren was weary and his shoulders drooped. His black hair seemed lank and the clean-shaven skin of his normally tight, angular face sagged. Instead of his usually healthy colouring, his skin came closer to matching the white protective one-piece coverall he was wearing. He normally carried his age well and most people, on first impressions, imagined he was in his early-thirties, but today he looked all of his forty-one years. Only his bright green eyes showed their usual sharpness. He was unhappy to be the poor sod assigned as senior investigating officer on this case and given the task of finding Stevenson's murderer. It was most unusual for him not to be keen to solve a crime. His fundamental problem was that he was happy to see Scott Stevenson dead. He couldn't consider the person who terminated his life to be a criminal, a hero more like. Yet he was the one given the task of finding the murderer so that justice could be served. What kind of justice was this?
Alex Warren was all too familiar with Scott Stevenson. He'd investigated countless complaints of how he'd robbed and cheated people and, in particular, claims that he'd targeted the elderly, conning them out of their life savings, their valuables, or the inheritances they'd planned for their offspring. At least three of the poor buggers who Warren was aware of had taken seriously ill and died as a direct consequence of the anguish Stevenson had caused.
Although he couldn't ever utter his opinion, Warren was of the view that Stevenson deserved to die. He believed the ancient, eighteen inch, ivory carving impaled below his chest to be a fitting end. The carving was crescent in shape, presumably pointed, and appeared to have been ornately carved from a slice of elephant tusk. Warren smiled at what he saw as an ironical statement. Reputedly, an elephant never forgets and clearly, someone else wasn't prepared to forget or overlook Stevenson's heinous deeds. Added to this, Stevenson had a reputation for dodgy deals involving antiques. Yes, using an antique, carved elephant tusk to end Stevenson's life was most appropriate.
Scott Stevenson had had no redeeming features. He was five foot four tall and his circumference wasn't too much less. His obese frame was topped by a spherical, bald head, thick-framed black spectacles which only served to emphasise his little piggy eyes, and was accompanied by an equally piggy nose and large pointed ears that a Vulcan would have been proud of. Despite all of this, he'd been vain and was once flattered when a paid for, nocturnal partner claimed he had the body of a God, little understanding her sense of humour and that she'd been thinking of Buddha. His looks were only the start, as it was his character which was most obnoxious. Over the years, he'd developed his despicable strategy; he'd endear himself to elderly householders, particularly little old ladies. He would target poor souls who were desperate for company and conversation and this gave him the opportunity to gain access to their homes. Even when they weren't forthcoming with information, once entrusted into their houses, he was quickly able to identify anything of value. In his earlier years he mostly targeted their cash, abusing his position of trust and convincing them to purchase unsecured investments. He persuaded them by explaining how easy it would be for them to enrich their own lives or that of their offspring. In his time he had sold life assurance policies before they were regulated, then went on to an assortment of strange and allegedly lucrative plans from foreign property to ostriches. In recent years he'd concentrated more on depriving them of the value of their antiques and collectibles. He'd convince them he was being generous and doing them a favour by taking their heirlooms off their hands, but he did so at a fraction of their true value. Then he'd make a killing selling them on at their full worth. Unfortunately, it was hard, nay impossible, to prove a crime had taken place as Stevenson was fastidious and ensured he had all the paperwork he required to justify and support his transactions.
Over the last few years there had been countless complainants and every one of them, together with each member of their family, was a potential suspect for the murder, not to mention what must be a multitude of other unknown victims who'd been too embarrassed to levy an official complaint.
Warren was sick at the thought of what lay ahead. To properly investigate the death, he'd have to interrogate the victims of Stevenson's cons and, worse still, force them to relive the trauma they'd been put through. Hadn't they suffered enough already?
When first assigned the case, Warren had considered his options. He wanted to refuse, but without a legitimate reason it would most likely have damaged his promotion prospects. His most compelling reason was because of his previous encounters on a personal level. Eighteen months ago, not long before the final breakdown of his marriage and not totally unrelated to it, his wife Helen's elderly aunt had fallen prey to Stevenson's charms. Spurred on by the insistence of his wife, it had taken all of Warren's persuasive powers, using some not so metaphorical arm twisting and tactics not considered acceptable to today's constabulary, before he regained her valuables. No reports were ever filed, nor could there be, and Alex could hardly give his prior dealings with the victim as a reason for not becoming involved now. He could have faked an illness and taken time off sick, just long enough for someone else to take over the job. That would have been cheating the system and, although not in the same league as Stevenson's transgressions, in his mind it would have put him into the same category. The potential hypocrisy was not lost on him. No, it just wasn't an acceptable option. He decided he'd just have to grin and bear it and hope his team's skills would be sufficient to solve the crime and do it quickly before too much damage was done.