Read Scalpel Online

Authors: Paul Carson

Tags: #Fiction, #General, #Mystery & Detective, #Crime

Scalpel (8 page)



As Hamilton finished her inspection of the crime scene, she knelt down to examine the body of Mary Dwyer, steeling herself against the lifeless eyes, the sight of the scalpel still protruding. She shuddered involuntarily. Jesus, don't let me end up like that, she thought. Not for a long time, anyway. I still have a child to rear.



Dean Lynch had finished the clean up operation by one thirty that morning. Every stitch of clothing, right down to underpants and socks, was sealed in small supermarket plastic bags. There were eight of them laid out on the kitchen table. He had taken off his shoes before getting into the car and they were already in separate plastic bags. He felt strangely calm, relieved almost. Tired but not exhausted. Sleepy. He lay on his bed, flicked off the bedside light and stared at the ceiling. As so often happened, his thoughts returned to her, Mrs Duggan, his personal tormentress.

Elizabeth Anne Duggan was a psychological misfit who should never have been let near children, let alone put in charge of them. She was a tall woman, always dressed in black with jet-black hair pulled back severely, revealing a pinched face and unhealthily pale complexion. The whiteness of her skin against the black uniform coupled with her long, white bony fingers, made her an intimidating figure for many of the children, intimidating and frightening. She was a religious zealot who felt it her personal mission in life to win back to the Lord children born to single mothers.

Elizabeth Anne Duggan was convinced these children were born with sin scorched on their souls. She forced them into acts of worship and penance at all hours of the day and night and made them perform more menial tasks than any of the others. 'This is the Lord's work,' she would often screech when she sensed any slacking. 'Jesus washed the feet of the sinner woman and you shall work as He has done. Let the Lord Our Saviour be your inspiration. Let His light be your beacon in life.'

Duggan had taken an instant dislike to Dean Lynch from the moment she came across him hiding in the kitchens, his pockets stuffed with stale, mouldy bread. That was the first time he'd experienced her favourite punishment, the under-stairs dark room, a four foot square, lightless corner where brushes and pans were kept. The seven-year-old Lynch was dragged, screaming and bucking, to the little room, thrown inside and left in total darkness for hours on end.

From that day on Elizabeth Anne Duggan hounded and haunted Dean Lynch's life. She would set little traps for him like pulling him out in front of the rest of the children at breakfast and accusing him of trying to run away. When the startled and terrified boy didn't deny the charges quickly enough she would order him back to the 'black room', as she called it. Two of the other staff would come forward, and it always took at least two, and drag him off to be squeezed again through the narrow door opening. With his hands and arms and the strength of his legs and the weight of his body he would push against that door as they strained outside to force it closed. 'Don't!' he always pleaded, first in a frightened whimper. But as he felt his legs give way from under him and the door close the light from his life yet again, panic would set in and the pleading would become roars of torment. 'Don't, please don't lock me in here!' And
always, always, he would hear that woman's voice as the door shut tight, plunging him into total darkness.

'You can sleep in hell now, Dean Lynch, you can sleep in hell.'

Elizabeth Anne Duggan knew how to turn the screws of fear.




8.15 am



Kate Hamilton had to plead with her father to take Rory to school and then collect him afterwards. 'Look, dad, I've been up almost all night. You know I need the experience. If I ring in now and say I can't take an active part in the hospital investigation because I can't find someone to look after my son, what do you think'll happen? Huh? I'll be dropped like a hot potato, that's what'll happen and you know it'

Her father had started to protest but gave up half way. He knew how ambitious she was, how she would move mountains to keep her independence and her child and her career.

'What'll I make for his tea?' he'd sighed.

Kate Hamilton bear-hugged him before rushing out the door. 'There's waffles in the freezer. Throw a poached egg over one, he loves that.' Then she was gone.

Rory had looked up at his grandfather and pulled a face. 'I hate poached eggs.'

Grandad smiled and led the boy back to his bedroom to get him dressed for school. Rory was already up to Grandad's waist, with sallow skin, brown eyes and black hair, courtesy of the Italian blood on his late father's side. He was a slight child with spindly legs and arms that seemed always to be on the go, leaving Grandad exhausted by the end of a day's baby-sitting.

Kate and Rory lived in a red-bricked artisan cottage
situated in a quiet cul-de-sac in the south Dublin suburb of Ranelagh. Keeping up with the mortgage payments swallowed most of her monthly salary and she relied heavily on her father to help out with looking after Rory. Not that he minded. Grandad, as Rory called him, was as much devoted to the boy as his mother and had moved to Dublin to be closer when she arrived back from Boston six months pregnant. She was his only child and indeed his only family, his wife dead almost five years previously. He'd bought a two-bedroomed flat fewer than five minutes' walk away and based his life around the child.

Most mornings Kate would get Rory ready for playschool and drive him the short distance to Grandad's flat. There he would play for about half an hour while Grandad finished off his breakfast and then the two, hand in hand, would walk the short journey to the school gates. Grandad usually picked him up again in the afternoon and took him home. There, while Rory told him all the latest classroom gossip, Grandad would cook his tea and prepare a hot dinner for his mother. He always waited until Kate arrived home and had a chance to eat the meal in peace before leaving.

Often as Grandad walked back to his empty flat from the toy strewn house his heart would be heavy with worry. What's going to become of the two of them? They're just so wrapped up in each other, what's going to become of them? She needs a man to help her out. She should be looking for a husband. That boy needs a father.

But looking for a partner was the last thing on Kate Hamilton's mind as she drove to Store Street Garda station. The murder investigation was the first she'd been allowed to become actively involved in. Despite her revulsion at the murder scene and shock at the viciousness of the attack, she still couldn't suppress the excitement she felt at being so closely involved. She was even more elated when Tony Dowling briefed her on the questioning of the lab staff and suggested she conduct it herself, while he and McGrath listened on.

'Where were you between ten and midnight last night?'

'Can you provide names of people who can confirm where you were?'

'What do you know about Mary Dwyer?'

'Can you think of any reason anyone would want to harm her?'

'Did she have any boyfriends, any male friend that you know about?'

'What sort of work did she do?'

'What kind of tests was she doing last night?'

'Could her murder be in any way related to her work?'

Hamilton fired the questions thick and fast but the answers didn't come as quickly as she or the team had anticipated. The shock on the faces of Mary Dwyer's colleagues was genuine. Reactions ranged between tears and an ashen-faced, stunned, numbed silence. Female staff wept openly, while male staff were subdued, some almost catatonic. Heads were repeatedly shaken, fists clenched, words of disbelief muttered. Hamilton looked towards Dowling, then McGrath. He shook his head slightly. We're getting nowhere fast.



Dean Lynch watched the bin lorry trundle over the bridge down to the shops along Lower Baggot Street. The bin men were running along beside, lifting black plastic bags, bins and boxes full of rubbish, tipping them into the back of the lorry. He calculated that at three-minute intervals the driver tripped a lever setting in motion the giant claws that compressed and then dragged the rubbish inwards.

Easing his BMW slowly forward Lynch glided to a spot ahead of the moving lorry, stopped and suddenly jumped out with the ten plastic bags. Walking quickly along the kerb he watched the claws creak into action and began to count. At two and a half minutes by his own calculations he stepped forward, dropped the bags and stood back. Right on time they were caught and dragged.

He allowed himself a slight smile.

Right again, Dean boyo.

Keep your cool.

You're doing just fine.

Despite the bitterly cold weather he was dressed lightly. He didn't feel the chill.

Dean Lynch was on a rollercoaster of revenge. He knew he was HIV positive, knew he had an advanced stage of AIDS and that the virus was destroying his body. And while the disease might progress only slowly, in his mind Lynch was preparing for the worst.

He believed he was dying.

He decided he wasn't going alone.

There were a few more scores to settle.

But first he had to cover his tracks.





9.05 am

The Master's Office



'There are almost five hundred people employed here at any one time.'

Luke Conway was trying to explain the logistics of conducting a murder investigation in the Central Maternity Hospital. 'There are forty-two doctors, thirty male and twelve female. We have two hundred and seven nurses, all female. There are no male nurses. The rest of the staff is made up of physiotherapists, laboratory workers, pharmacists, social workers, administrative back-up and various support systems such as security and maintenance etcetera.'

Conway looked pale and drawn and was in a state of shock. At the beginning he could barely believe what was happening. But as dawn broke and the police remained and the lab door stayed sealed off, the awful significance of the yellow incident tape began to sink in.

'I need a list of all male staff members. I also need a list of any males who call on the hospital regularly, especially to the lab. I'm thinking here of couriers, flower deliverers, taxi men, whatever. I want you to sit down now, while your mind is fresh, and make a list. I need that list by lunch time.' Jack McGrath was at his efficient best. 'Also I may need to interview every member of staff individually and privately if we don't get an early break.'

'That's a lot of people, a lot of very busy people.'

'I know,' McGrath's muttered reply was weary. He hadn't slept much. The image of the scalpel sticking out of Mary
Dwyer's neck haunted him. 'A cast of thousands. That's what it looks like. A cast of bloody thousands.'

Neither spoke for a while.

'When can the lab staff get back to work?' Conway was determined to keep an air of normality in the hospital but was acutely aware the news had already spread like wildfire. 'There are lab results from yesterday that the staff need for today and tomorrow. I need to know now, otherwise I'll have to farm out all today's tests to a private lab.'

McGrath looked at his watch and slowly stood up. 'Forget the lab for the rest of today. There's a lot of work for my men to do in there. I'll let you know when it's clear to go back into action.' He was about to leave when a thought entered his mind. 'Could we use the medical library for our conferences. It's big enough and it'll save us trudging back and forward to Store Street station. Is that okay?'

Conway hesitated then nodded reluctantly.



Walking along the corridor towards the library, McGrath passed Dean Lynch. Neither man seemed to pay the slightest attention to the other. Lynch pulled the door into his consulting room closed.

Maybe they're going to make their base in the library?

That's right up your street, Dean boyo.

They're looking for you, but all the time you're looking at them.

Keep your cool.

You're doing well.

Plan ahead.

He always planned carefully. That was the secret of his successes. That was how he had first tasted sweet revenge.

Elizabeth Anne Duggan had asthma, everyone in the orphanage knew that. They could hear her coming long before they saw her, wheezing and coughing and panting. She was often seen leaning and grunting against a wall, waiting for her breath to return, fumbling among the layers
of her black dress for the tablets that gave her relief. And when any of the children saw her take one, they ran to warn the others, for whatever was in those tablets sent her wild. With a seemingly renewed strength she would scour the corridors and dormitories looking for the slightest scuff mark on a wall or a bed not properly made, a locker not closed or tidy. And with shaking and trembling hands she would find someone, anyone to vent her rage upon. More often than not it was Dean Lynch, more often than not it was he who was made to suffer for her drug-induced rage, for it was the stimulant in the tablets that drove her to such extremes as well as relieving her asthma.

But he finally sorted her out.

He decided he'd had enough, he felt he could take no more. More importantly, he'd discovered by accident how to end his misery, how to end the tormenting, the taunting, the false accusations and beatings. And it was so simple. When he discovered how to do it he was astounded at its simplicity.

He stole six small pink tablets that the gardener used for his high blood pressure. He stole them after he'd read the label on the bottle in which they were kept.
One to be taken twice daily. Never to be taken by asthma sufferers.

He'd brooded over that warning for weeks before he made his move. And when he'd thought his plan through he felt a quiver of excitement for the first time in his life, an electric tingling of delight as his mind registered the audacity, the sheer danger, of what was to happen. And happen it did, after he switched the tablets.

The shouts along the corridors alerted him to his success. As he followed the older children and staff running towards the noise, the sight of the collapsed and sweating and black-faced Elizabeth Anne Duggan struggling to stand up, struggling to breathe, greeted him. Through the milling crowd that had gathered around wondering how to help, Dean Lynch watched. And smiled. Just before Elizabeth Anne Duggan gave up her last tortured attempt at breathing she
looked up to see the twelve-year-old Dean Lynch smiling down at her.

It was a smug, satisfied smile.

It was a job well done.

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