Read Wasted Lives, a Detective Mike Bridger novel Online

Authors: Mark Bredenbeck

Tags: #thriller, #detective, #crime fiction, #new zealand, #gangs, #dunedin

Wasted Lives, a Detective Mike Bridger novel (7 page)

BOOK: Wasted Lives, a Detective Mike Bridger novel
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He could
not see his face clearly in the smoky gloom to read his expression,
but his tone was unnaturally chirpy. The wounds Joseph got from his
beating in the store were not visible, and his matted dreadlocks
were shining as if he had just washed, which he knew was
improbable. It was common knowledge that Joseph preferred the old
way of creating and maintaining his dreadlocks and that was to wash
them as little as possible, if at all.

Joseph
indicated that he and Tama sit on the ground next to him.

The two
girls who were fondling him in various places, modesty protected by
the dim light, got up and scuttled away into the darkness. Martin's
eyes adjusted to the smoke and darkness of the room, he could make
out more people sitting around the periphery. These would be the
chosen, his most trusted thugs. The hierarchy of the twisted world
he presided over.

"What's
up J man?" He queried.

Joseph
smiled a black and gold encrusted smile; he took a deep lungful of
smoke out of the butt end of a cigarette, before stubbing it out on
the carpet beside him. He regarded Martin for a moment before
answering.

"Where
did you get to last night Star? We waited for you to come out of
the shop but you did not show up. Did you have a go with that tasty
piece of arse?”

Martin
remained silent and watched as Joseph shook his head in
amusement.

"Anyway
I just wanted to thank you for last night, is all", Joseph said,
looking directly at him now. "We all showed what we were made
of..., we certainly showed that little fuck what we were made of as
well". Low voices came out of the darkness, grunts of
congratulations towards Joseph and Tama.  

"Pity we
only got away with that synthetic shit and a few chocolate bars.
All that effort… still we made the paper this morning, at least
that is something though. Did you see that Star?" Joseph held up a
paper in front of him.

"Tama
showed me", he said, unsure of where this was going.

"Useful
thing is the paper, you find out what's going on. Its funny isn’t
it; you do not know what to believe. See it says here that over one
thousand dollars was taken from the cash drawer", Joseph pointed to
a piece of the article in the paper that Martin was unable to see.
"Do you believe that Star...?"

Martin's heart
skipped a beat; he had not thought about this, he did not quite
know what to say. He really did not want to give up any of the
money to this piece of garbage. Nevertheless, if Joseph found out
he was holding out on him, he would kill him.

"We didn't get
time to get any money J man, what with Tama shooting that guy after
he attacked you". Martin could feel Joseph's questioning gaze upon
him.

"That's
right Star..., they must be lying. It also says here that the pigs
have no clue about who done it. Do you think they are lying about
that to Star?”

Martin
shrugged his shoulders, "Maybe it's the truth" he said, "Maybe the
shopkeeper is just making a false claim, you know..., to get
insurance or something". Holding his breath, he waited nervously
for Joseph to show any signs that he believed what he was
saying.

More grunts of
agreement came out of the darkness.

Joseph
stayed silent for a few moments as if digesting what Martin had
said. "So if the pigs don't have a clue and you two retards keep
mouths shut then we are home free". Joseph said, quietly. "Pity we
didn't get any of that money though isn't it Star". He added giving
him a hard stare.

Martin did not
reply he just sat there in the gloom, glad of the darkness that was
hiding his fear.

 

The
office was buzzing with talk of the robbery the previous evening.
Grant had given an initial rundown of the incident followed by
Bridger who, after suffering a ribbing about having to return to
work a night early, had followed up with a full briefing of actions
completed and then a preliminary plan of attack. Although there had
been a full turnout of staff last night, they been spread around
Dunedin completing different tasks, so it was good to get together
to make sure everyone was singing from the same page of the
investigation prayer book.

He had
been slightly nervous coming in this morning, but now it seemed
like he had never been away. It was good to be back in the fold.
Looking around him at the people in the room, nothing had changed,
except that Jo had certainly made herself at home in the office.
Her desk had a few personal items on it, pictures of a dog, two
people whom he took to be her parents smiling in the background. A
fresh bunch of flowers was also sitting near the windowsill. "Whose
idea was the flowers?” he queried the room.

"Believe it or
not, one of John's many love interests", Becky said, looking at
them with a slight distaste. “I felt sorry for the girl, she turned
up at the front counter with them and was let up to the office,
John didn't say a lot to her and she left after a few short awkward
silences".

Bridger looked
at John's empty desk; he had sent him downstairs to attend the
weekly crime meeting in place of himself. "Does anyone know what
time he got in last night after I left him to recover that stolen
car?, he didn't say this morning".

"He hasn't
said, but he was in a foul mood when he came in", Grant said.

Bridger
made a mental note to be less hard on him in the future, the team
seemed more relaxed than they had been for a while, and he did not
want to cause any issues by singling someone out. He was about to
say something when the phone rang on his desk, He looked at it with
slight hesitation, a feeling of foreboding in the pit of his
stomach. Picking up the receiver, he answered on the fourth
ring.

The news was
exactly what he had been dreading.

'Johnny Chen,
54yr old widowed father of one, proprietor of Chen's food store,
died at 0722hrs in the intensive care unit at Dunedin Public
Hospital.'

Bridger
put the phone down slowly and took a deep breath. The office was
quiet. All eyes were on him. "He died...,” he said quietly, looking
around at each one of them."This is now a murder
inquiry".

 

The next
couple of hours went in a blur, Becky and Grant had been dispatched
to the hospital to deal with Mr Chen's body, which had now just
become evidence, and as such had to be treated the same as anything
else in the investigation. The chain of evidence had to be intact.
Any evidence they located on the body while the pathologist
processed Mr Chen through the indignities of a sudden death was
important, so they needed to be there to catalogue and collect it.
It was not something that Bridger particularly enjoyed; he had seen
his fair share of autopsy procedures in the past. He was glad that
he was now able to delegate the job to someone else; a shotgun
injury at close range was not ever going to be pretty. Brian was
delegated the task of re-interviewing the daughter as the only
witness. John and Jo had a reprieve from death and were on their
way to carry out door-to-door enquiries both at the scene and at
where they had found the car dumped, not that John seemed to mind
teaming up with Jo.

Bridger
found himself in Detective Inspector Matthews’s office on the third
floor. His immediate boss was a big bullish man who called a spade
a spade. His man management skills were legendary throughout the
Dunedin police station. You did as he told you or you found out
what mood he was in that day, and it would not usually be good.
Bridger had not seen Matthews since he pushed him out on leave the
previous month.

"I won't say
it’s good to see you back on your feet or anything like that but we
do need to get a few things straight".

Bridger just
looked at his boss and kept his mouth shut, sitting there with his
arms crossed he knew he was being belligerent but could not help
it. He wanted to hear what he had to say.

Matthews had
called Bridger on his drinking which he was within his rights to
do, he knew that, but Matthew's powder was not as dry as he liked
to make out. Marion Watson's abduction, the last job he had worked
on, had taken a few people with it when it ended. It exposed a sick
culture that had manifested itself in a few people within the
police a long time ago. Those people found themselves subject to
scrutiny and all of them had been punished, one-way or another;
Matthews had actually instigated the investigation into those
people after Bridger uncovered enough facts to warrant it. However,
what bugged Bridger was the fact that Matthews had a part to play
in the completely twisted scenario that never saw the light of
day.

"I don't
know what you think you know Bridger, but whatever it is it’s in
the past and that is where it stays...” Matthews paused, looking
down at his desk, “I have done things in the past to get the job
done. Some people, even you, may think that those actions were
wrong, but they worked then and they still do now, and you know
what, I still sleep like a baby.” Matthews looked back up from his
desk and met Bridger’s eye, “Someone tried to prove otherwise once,
as you well know, but for all his bluster, it came to nothing in
the end. If you have a problem with that I suggest you look for
somewhere else to work."

"I'm happy
where I am.... Sir." Bridger put emphasis on the word 'Sir' in a
childish attempt to show his contempt.

"Good…,
well we have to draw a line under this and get on with some work;
unfortunately we have a murder on our hands. Not the best time for
me to be looking for a new Detective Sergeant". Matthews leaned
back in his chair and put his hands behind his head. "Now, tell me
where we are at".

Bridger
looked at his boss; he had skin as thick as a rhinoceros. It did
not even faze him; he was living a life in which you could deal
with any issue by ignoring it. He had even taken on a chummy stance
as if they were old friends discussing past conquests. Bridger knew
he would gain nothing by pushing the matter. It would have to
keep.

He took
a deep breath and then laid out the enquiry so far. It all boiled
down to two things, a grainy black and white image of the side of
someone's head in the store, as well as the DNA and fingerprints
from the cans recovered from the area around the stolen
car.

"Not a hell of
a lot then is it Bridger, looks like you have an uphill climb on
this one. He said, with a neutral tone. "I'll take care of the
press release, and get someone to liaise with the family...I’m
going to promise them the world Bridger, don't make me a liar".

Matthews
dismissed him with a wave of his meaty hand.

The
Inspector had actually surprised him though, by not uttering a
single expletive in his whole speech.

A first for
everything, he thought.

He stood
for a second in the hallway outside of Matthews’s office and shook
his head, unsure of how to take Matthews new approach. He had not
mentioned the assault on Jonas Crompton that had plagued the Marion
Watson investigation, he was sure he would have had at least had a
disciplinary hearing under the code of conduct. You cannot just
assault prisoners and expect to get away with it, but it seemed
that someone had swept it under the carpet. If they let him off the
hook for this assault, he was damn sure he would be on someone's
hook when it came to calling in the favour. Bridger pushed the
thought to the back of his mind; it was not something he wanted to
dwell on.

Returning to
his office, he found a message waiting for him taped to his
computer monitor, Julie Downie's handwriting with her trademark
smiley face at the bottom.

Julie
was a civilian employee whose job description seemed to change
regularly to accommodate whatever new initiative the bosses had
decreed that week. She was a friendly and affable person who took
each new change in her stride, happy to be involved. This week it
seemed that she was taking messages.

The note read
simply; 'Fingerprint result from robbery, please call ext
44467.'

That was fast,
Bridger thought, a surge of adrenalin spiking in his bloodstream. A
suspect at this early stage would be the magic pill to possibly
solving the case. Picking up the phone, he dialled the numbers.

 

"The
suspect is Tama Wilson, twenty year old male, lives in Corstaphine.
We found his fingerprints on some empty cider cans littered around
where we recovered the stolen car at Unity Park. He has an
extensive history of dishonesty and he loves stealing cars so it
makes sense he could be involved with this stolen car". Bridger was
looking around the room as he addressed the staff. The office was
full; Bridger almost found it hard to breath. His Detectives and
the members of the Armed Offender Squad had squeezed into whatever
space they could find.

The last
time he had anything to do with the AOS he had not acquitted
himself very well, beating a suspect in an irrational rage, so he
felt slightly uncomfortable in their presence.

"We
still don't know if the car is actually connected to the robbery
just yet though do we", a police officer dressed in his black AOS
jumpsuit said from the rear of the room. Ken Moore, second in
command of the Armed Offender Squad, made the statement.

Everybody in the station knew that Ken was someone who had
little time for him. He unconsciously rubbed the spot on his
forehead that had felt the stock end of Ken's AOS rifle. Ken had
apparently ‘mistaken’ him for the bad guy when in the midst of a
fast moving situation; he was not so sure that was a true
account.

BOOK: Wasted Lives, a Detective Mike Bridger novel
13.79Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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