“The first I knew of it was the fuck’n smell. ‘Bloody ’ell,’ I thought, ‘that honks.’ So I looked up to see where it was coming from, and there it was ... sort’f hanging there like a bloody great turd,” says Stan Bishop.
D.C. Fry glances up at the large, black bag, dangling precariously off the digger bucket.
“Was the bag torn by then, Mr Bishop?” he asks, wanting to be clear on the facts before his new boss arrives.
“I’d say. Tibsey must’ve ripped it open with his last scoop.”
“The bag, you mean?”
“Yeah, the bag—bloody great thing. Anyways, it was just sort’f swaying there off the bucket-fork, when that fuck’n head thing dropped out.”
“From the bag?”
“Yeah, from the bag. So I shouts up to Tibsey: that’s him over there.” Fry looks to where Stan Bishop is pointing and sees a man by the site hut, sitting on an upturned oil barrel. Even at this distance, Fry can see the distinctive, sharp, red glow of his cigarette as he drags on it deeply. “Mike Tibbet’s his name. Poor fucker’s really shaken up,” Stan Bishop continues. “Don’t suppose he’ll want to dig again for a while. S’pect you’ll be wanting to have a chat with him too?”
“Probably. You were saying about the head?” Fry prompts, checking the light on the Cam to make sure it’s still recording.
“Dropped out. Just like that. Plop. Bounced around a bit before rollin’ into the bottom of our ’ole. Round and hairy-like, and smelly. You wouldn’t wanna smell that again in a month of Sundees.”
“I’m sure you wouldn’t,” Fry agrees, finding the gentle waft of decomposing flesh on the morning air bad enough to stomach. “So, what happened next?”
“So I shouts at Tibsey to cut the fuck’n motor but he can’t hear me on account of his ’eadphones and he’s too busy singin’ anyways. He’s a bit of a Country and Western fan. So there I am, jumping about and waving my arms like a right loony, and that’s when the head dropped out. I’ll remember that sight to m’ dying day.”
“So, the head dropped out when you were waving at Mr Tibbet to switch the digger’s engine off?” Fry confirms.
“Yeah, I said didn’t I…though I did stop to puke.” They both take an involuntary glance at the pile of lumpy vomit. “Tuna sarnies, Mrs made them fresh this mornin’. She’s good like that,” Bishop enlightens Fry, making him want to gag even more. Fighting the urge, he swallows hard.
“Is that when Mr Tibbet stopped the digger?”
“Yeah, must’ve seen somethin’, or smelt it. You’ll have to ask him. But it was either me jumping around or the bag or the stink, cos that’s when he switched the motor off.”
“And is that when you went to get the foreperson?” Fry asks.
“Yep, that’s about the long and short of it. I went off to tell Ms Bragg and she called you lot in.”
“Thank you, Mr Bishop. That’s all we need for now, but you’ll probably be required to make a formal statement.”
“Okay, but it’ll just be the same. It’s not a thing you s’pect to see every day and that head, ugh, it’s enough to give you the willies. Anyways, I’d best go and see how old Tibsey is, poor fucker.”
D.C. Fry watches Stan Bishop trudge off across the building site before instructing the Cam to stop recording. Heading back to his car, he pulls on a set of white forensic overalls, pockets a pair of latex gloves and taking some police tape he sets about cordoning off the crime scene.
“Morning, Fry.” Turning round, Fry sees a small woman wearing a matching set of overalls, tucked firmly into a pair of Wellington boots, and wonders why he hadn’t thought of that.
“What have we got?” D.C.I. Logan asks.
“Looks like the remains of a body.”
“Anything from the digger driver or his mate?”
“I’ve not spoken to the driver He’s in a bit of a state. But his mate, Stan Bishop, saw most of it and has given a full description.” Fry tries not to think about the pile of sicked-up tuna sandwiches sitting a couple of yards away from where they’re standing.
“What did he have to say?”
“Mainly how there was no obvious indication of a body being buried here. They were digging out foundations, and the bucket-fork punctured the bag as it brought it up to the surface. I reckon the weight of the body widened the rip.” A large, muddy clod leisurely slides off the underside of the bag and falls with a wet thump. They both look down at the freshly dug hole then at the bag.
“It doesn’t look very secure,” Logan comments.
“Could go at any moment,” Fry agrees. “What do you think? Body bag?”
“Could be. Military, hospital or private morgue. Look, on the edge… that might be writing.”
They both squint up at the mud-coated bag, bent double and secured by the remnants of a frayed rope that is dripping blackish water.
Suddenly, the rip widens and a bony arm topples out, making Fry jump. It swings, pendulum like, before dropping into the pit next to the head. They both instinctively peer in after it.
“We’d better take a closer look,” Logan says.
“Okay, I’ll get the ladder.”
“Be quick, I want a gander before the Fozies arrive.”
Squelching across the furrowed track again, Fry nearly slips over in his office shoes.
“Damn,” he thinks as he tries to wipe some of the mud off on a patch of grass before grabbing the collapsible ladder and carefully picking his way back across the building site.
Taking the ladder, Logan clicks it open and guides it down into the pit. Climbing down, she carefully steps around the arm and the skull. Fry gingerly follows her, balancing the Cam in one hand.
“Okay Fry, Cam on, let’s see what we’ve got,” she says, bobbing down next to the bony remains.
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