I stand quietly alone in the drafty and dark corridor watching Turmeric Knight through the glass. He has been sat in the interrogation room for hours blatantly refusing to speak to any of the officers that are trying. He is refusing to tell us anything.
Mr Knight is behaving like a seasoned pro who has been hauled into interrogation a million times before. He is acting like he has something to hide and is trying to make us work for it by refusing to speak. He also refused a solicitor because he says he does not need one. People who usually sit in interrogation and stay silent are usually as guilty as hell and are trying to prolong the inevitable, their arrest!!
We really did not know what to expected from Mr Knight. He is somebody that we have never come across before in any capacity because he has got a completely clean record. He has never even received a parking ticket or any points on his license. We have no DNA or finger prints for him, he is as clean as a whistle and he even appears to be, and comes across like a decent kind of guy. I am a pretty good judge of character and this one is really bugging me. We have pulled up his work records, interviewed people he works with, and nobody has a bad word to say about him. He is quiet and hard working, he pretty much keeps himself to himself.
Turmeric Knight is squeaky clean which does not really make a lot of sense when he is well and truly mixed up with Mace and Gravel as far as we can see. Of course we have had to check him out thoroughly, thinking it might be another case like Mace where he is using another mans identity, but strangely he is not. Mr Turmeric Shale Knight is the genuine article.
I sigh loudly to myself. Operation gone wrong!! Only hours before we were due to raid Gravel's house and take both Mace and Gravel out. Then this happens. We seriously need to scrape this together or me and Cinnamon are for the high jump!! This whole thing and possibly Mace's future now hinges on Gravel surviving the bullet that I had no choice but to put into him! Why me?! Although I guess I shouldn't complain, I could be in Cinnamon's shoes right now!! In a hospital operating theatre having bullets removed from my stomach and chest.
I was just getting out of bed, already not looking forward to the day a head of me, mainly because of Mace and what lies a head of him. I have grown very fond of Mace, too fond of him, I just hope that I have not been letting that cloud my judgement with this case, suddenly I feel like it has. There is a hell of a lot more going on here that I am only just starting to see.
Prelude was moaning quite loudly that the alarm was peeing him off waking him up at 4am in the morning when my phone started ringing which peed him off even more. I had been up a few times during the night throwing up, both times I woke him up scrambling out of bed. He is such a grumpy grouch when he is woken up unceremoniously, which had been happening to him all night!! After I had taken the phone call from Cinnamon, I had to quickly get dressed and run. The call alerting me to trouble at Gravel's house.
The ring had picked up Mace being woken up quite abruptly by Gravel. It appeared that Granite was not even in the house, the listening guy had not even realized that Granite had left the house, he thought they were all in bed. We knew pulling Tarragon and Jasmine Brownie out from under Gravel's nose was a big risk, but it was a risk that we thought we had to take. Tarragon Brownie's disappearance appears to be what seem to have unsettled Gravel. Mace received quite a serious kicking because of it apparently.
The party was kicking off early at Gravel's house and not in the right way either!! Forrest and Atlas being the surprised guests, and of course the mystery man, who crashed in at the end, who's identity at the moment is still unknown. Tuned into the ring we could hear everything that was going on inside the house while stood outside it. Gravel holding Granite, Forrest and Atlas at gun point while Mace lay unconscious on the floor. Gravel was threatening to extinguish his four captives to keep his secret.
When Coral phoned Cinnamon, which Granite had told her to do, we had no choice but to fill her in on the police operation and the danger that she could possibly be in, especially from Gravel. Coral understood that the whole house was bugged so we could hear everything going on inside, which seemed to calm her down but only a little, she was on the verge of becoming hysterical and we didn't need her to attract Gravel's attention to her. Cinnamon like, Granite, told her to stay in the bedroom with the door locked and turn her phone onto vibrate. I was the one who ended up having to talk to her, while the situation was playing out downstairs, to try and keep her calm, which made it difficult for me to concentrate on the operation fully.
The Mace situation started to sound quite alarming, I think Granite was making it pretty clear to us that we needed to send an ambulance to the house, and the only way we could think to do it was by using Coral. This also gave us a good way to get police officers into the house without Gravel realizing what was happening before it hit him.
We told Coral to go out onto the stairs and tell them that she had phoned for an ambulance. An ambulance that was already sat round the corner from the house containing two paramedics and two policeman. Granite really helped us by talking Gravel into letting Coral go to the hospital with Mace, this was the part that really worried me, getting Coral out of the house and that is what the two police officers were being sent into do, she along with Mace were our main priorities, taking out Gravel completely if necessary, but that was our very last resort, Gravel's survival is key to this whole case being a success, if he fades it is all going to fall apart and be so much harder to prove Mace's innocence. The plans changed when we could see Gravel was going to let her just walk out of the house, we thought once Mace and Coral were out of the way we could get this wrapped up quickly, but it didn't quite work out that way.
Gravel was quick to react, like we thought he might be, he is trained for these type of situations, and in that respect I have been told he is very good at his job. Taking bad police officers out is always harder because they know exactly how we think and how we work. Gravel had taken down the two police officers, before we knew it, and we knew Atlas had been hurt in the process. We were just about to go in when the mystery man appeared, we could hear that he was trying to talk Gravel down so we hung back, maybe that was a mistake that we made, if we had gone straight in Granite might not have been shot. When we heard the gun shot coming from inside the house we had no choice but to go straight in.
Gravel just seemed to go crazy after shooting Granite, we rushed in, Cinnamon wanted to go in first hoping he could talk Gravel down as he knew him better than the rest of us. The mystery guy stepped in front of Gravel trying to stop us from shooting him. This really didn't help me because it gave Gravel the chance to use Cinnamon as target practice. Strangely when he watched Cinnamon drop, he ignored my presence in the room, as well as all the other police officers coming in behind me, and he turned his gun on Forrest who was kneeling on the floor trying to stop the blood pouring out of Granite. Gravel held the gun to Forrest's head while he was taunting him. I had to quickly take out the old man to get to Gravel, a controlled shot that would not do too much damage. As soon as the old man dropped I just took a pot shot at Gravel, I had no time to try and control it, the bullet went straight through his back.
Seven casualties lying on the ground, two of them, the original two officers that went in dressed as paramedics I could see were both already deceased. This was definitely not the result that we wanted!! This was supposed to be a simple dawn raid with two easy arrests. It should have been easy, we even have a key to the house so they wouldn't have even heard us gaining access or coming until we woke them slapping on the handcuffs!! How the hell did it go so horribly wrong?! A voice suddenly snaps me back to reality.
"Maam, there is a very agitated purple thug out on the front desk threatening to knock the receptionists head off. He does not even care that she is a woman either, you ought to hear the abuse he is throwing at her it is disgusting!!" I laugh quietly as the officer scowls back at me "He is demanding your attention and if you do not get out there and calm him down soon, he is going to be getting a stint in the cells." he tuts at me
"Okay, I'll go and sort him out." I continue to laugh.
I already know it is going to be Prelude. He seriously does not give a shit where he lets out his attitude, or who he is throwing it at. Something which has always amuses me about him, while it used to annoy the hell out of my sister. I guess I must just like bad men and Prelude is definitely that!
"Maam, you know the super is not very impressed with your involvement with that thug!!" he rolls his eyes at me "He is a well known violent drunk, he has got a criminal record as long as his arm, a fugitive wife and he has done time more than once!"
"I am very well aware of my boyfriends past thank you very much!!" I snap at him "When I want your opinion sergeant then I will ask for it!" I continue to snap at him "Until then keep your nose out and your opinions to yourself, quite frankly my personal life is none of your business and I will be telling your super exactly the same thing!!"
I walk off down the corridor after I have started laughing again, leaving the sergeant looking a little bemused with my attitude. I do not think anyone at this station has managed to work me out, they really do not know how to take me yet.
As soon as I open the door leading out into the front office, I can hear Prelude mouthing off, which he stops the second that he spots me.
"Oh thank Berry!! I needed to check you are okay?"
Prelude looks really worried as he hugs me. When he lets me go I have a go at him for coming into the police station, of all places, and letting his ego out of it's cage, he just laughs at me.
"They said seven bodies came out of the house and that jerk ..." he says pointing at the receptionist nastily "wouldn't tell me if you was one of them!! A simple yes or no would have been enough and I would have gone quietly!!" he snaps more at the receptionist than at me "It's not true is it C? Just please tell me Cinnamon and Forrest are okay!!"
"You know I am not really supposed to talk about this right now Prelude, but yes there were actually eight casualties in total, they are not bodies yet." I tell him quietly, even though I know two of them are actually bodies in the morgue. He doesn't need to know about the two police officers from out of town. "Don't worry Forrest is okay, I am not so sure about Cinnamon tho, he was one of the casualties."
I roll my eyes at him because he starts to freak out demanding to know who and how bad Cinnamon is. So I end up telling him to quieten him down, that Granite, Gravel, Atlas, Cinnamon, a mystery man, who's identity is still unknown, and two officers took bullets and Mace took quite a life threatening beating off Gravel. I tell him that Gravel appears to have gone a little psycho, Forrest was actually the only one who walked out of there unharmed and I had to take Gravel out to stop him from blowing Forrest's brains out.
"I already knew about Mace, Coral phoned me and woke me up having hysterics. I take it Mango was called into the hospital, I'm always the one she phones to sort out her drama's if she can't get in touch with her Dad." he laughs "Mace sounds pretty bad! Did Gravel lose the plot or something?! How bad is everyone?"
I shake my head and tell him I can't tell him anymore, I've told him too much already!! Besides it is not like I can tell him anything, we have had no word from the hospital other than we have lost the first two officers that went in and Atlas is out of surgery and okay, he only sustained a mild leg wound. Prelude frowns at me and says he does not even have a clue who Atlas is.
I think about Parsley working at the stadium so I ask him if he knows anything about Turmeric Knight. He frowns at me and says not really, he hangs around with Parsley sometimes, but not often, and seems a nice enough bloke, he tells me probably the best person to ask about him is Mulberry or Forrest. We have already spoken to Mulberry about him, but not Forrest.
"You need to do one Prelude, I really need to get on, this has turned into a nightmare case!"
"I know, I'm sorry!! I think I should go track down Alpine's whereabouts. He is off his rocker enough without having to deal with Cinnamon being shot, I better go and help hold him down!!" he rolls his eyes and kisses me. "You know I HATE your job!!" I just laugh at him "Are you feeling better by the way? Should you even be at work you was up all night barfing!" he frowns at me.
"Yeah I am fine, I think it must have been something I ate yesterday!" I smile at him, even though I do not really think that is the case. I am not looking forward to telling him what I think is wrong with me!! I am really not sure how he is going to take it. Babies are not a subject we have talked about. "Now go on, get lost, you are making the place look untidy and I have got work to do!! I'll probably be late back tonight." he pulls a face at me before he kisses me again and leaves, giving the receptionist a dagger stare before he walks out.
I walk back down to the interrogation room and stand watching the officer and Turmeric through the glass again, leaning against the wall while I am running everything through my head. The identity of the mystery man is what is bugging me the most right now. I hear the door to the investigation room open and one of the officers leaving the room approaches me.
"Maam we have had word back from forensics about the bullets, they have all been recovered from the bodies." The officer says as he approaches me.
He starts to tell me that the gun belonging to PC Flowers, the barrel was full, so that gun had not actually fired a single shot. Both of the bullets taken out of Cinnamon came from Gravel's gun. The bullet that came out of Mr Map came from PC Plants gun and the two bullets taken from both Gravel and the mystery man came from your gun." He did not tell me anything that I wasn't already expect. The officer then starts to look nervously over his shoulder.
"Just a heads up before the Super chews your ear off, Gravels gun and it's bullets, Granite Rock 1, PC Flowers 1, PC Plant 1, Cinnamon 2." he rolls his eyes "The sixth one was found in the door frame."
"Great just great!! So he must have sent three at Cinnamon and when he was attempting to blow Forrests brains out there were no bullets left in his gun!" the officer raises his eyebrows and nods "Thanks, this just keeps getting better by the minute!! There was no need for me to take out the old man and I could have just arrested the Berry Hole instead of shooting him!!"
The officer starts to tell me that it is not all bad news, apparently Granite removed the ring from Mace's finger, probably before he was taken out on the stretcher. So that has now been recovered from Granites clothes. The ring has been silent because it was sat in a steel hospital locker. I smile at him relieved that the ring has been found, we thought we had lost it, we thought it might have been stolen at the hospital, and that would have been one hell of an expensive cock up!!
"Granite taking the ring, it kind of did us a favour, we have a second much clearer recording of the final events. You might be interested to know, the mystery man gained access to the property from the rear. The officer watching the rear said Mr Knight distracted him, he chased him out of the alleyway, which must have been when the mystery man slipped in." he laughs for a moment.
I decide I need to listen to the tapes myself so that I can refresh my memory and get a clearer picture of what exactly happened at the end, when you are in the middle of it, everything gets a little blurred and you miss things.
After listen to the tapes, I make my way back to the interrogation room. The officer looks like he needs some help, Mr Knight still does not appear to be talking!! I bang on the glass and the officer stood in the corner of the room, the questioning officer and Knights heads automatically turn towards the noise. Of course none of them can see me, the glass is blackened their side. The officer gets up then and leaves the room. I watch Knight as he slumps down on the table.
"He is seriously peeing me off!! The only thing he keeps doing is laughing. Other than that he is not uttering a word." he laughs. "I have seen him on the outside, with both Mulberry and Forrest, and normally he is quite talkative."
I tell the officer I will try with Turmeric and ask him to make his way to the hospital and camp out there and inform me as soon as the mystery man is out of surgery, awake and talking. I want to know who he is.
"How is Cin?" he asks me and I frown at him for being so slack with how he is referring to a superior officer, and remind him its DI Forrest.
"I'm sorry Maam!! It is hard not to call him Cin. We grew up together, he is my best mate, he is extended family as well as my sisters boyfriend." I pay attention to his colouring then, he is yellow and red. I've only seen Cinnamon's girlfriend Scarlet in passing, she is all red so I just presumed she was a pure berry from Apple Hill. I suddenly feel like I should know who this officer is. I think I have seen him somewhere before in passing.
"Are you one of the Shines?" He nods and tells me his name is Crimson Shine. "Oh berry, you are Cherry's twin brother aren't you!!" he laughs and smiles at me. Now I feel really stupid for not recognizing the brother of Prelude's Daughter in law.
"There has been no word on Cinnamon yet. News is very slow coming on all of the casualties, probably because most of them are still in theatre. All I know is that we lost both of the two out of town PC's and Mr Maps is okay." he rolls her eyes at me.
"Where the hell did Maps come from and who is he?"
"Atlas Maps." PC Shine rolls his eyes and starts swearing. Of course we knew Atlas was the one house sitting for Granite, we were just not privy to his surname, something Cinnamon had not made a note of. Now I think the PC is putting the pieces together. "Atlas is squeaky clean and has just innocently got involved in this as far as we can see, he is Mace's best mate apparently. He flew in with Forrest, so Mr Maps didn't make the call when Forrest turned up like Granite requested him too."
If Atlas had made that call that Granite asked him too, I doubt that none of this would have happened, Although Gravel was already kicking off with Mace over Tarragon's disappearance but I think it was Forrest's appearance that kick started it all off.
"This is a right messed - we still missed Forrest coming in, so how did Forrest slip past us at the airport?"
"They did not fly out from Cherry hill, they flew in from Rose Valley airport and that is why we completely missed Forrest coming in!!" we both stand staring at Turmeric through the glass. "He is another squeaky clean mystery!!" we roll our eyes at each other.
"Maam, There is something bothering me - Gravel and Tarragon's relationship - two wrong ones together rings alarm bells in my head and I am not sure we should let her out of the safe house just yet." he smiles at me awkwardly. "I've been looking through the Brownie files, with DI Forrest's permission before it all kicked off. I think we all know that Tarragon is far from being an angel, she seems to me to be an old school Brownie. I get a nasty feeling there is a lot more going on here than just Gravel's secret. Personally I have always thought Gravel Rock is a shifty character!! All the things he's managed to keep hidden, from all of us who know him well and especially from his own son, and these hits that he has pinned onto Mace, I am wandering if Gravel and Tarragon are not working together and have some kind of racket going in Apple Hill. The kingpin for this area for quite a few generations has been a Brownie or had connections to the Brownie family." he laughs for a moment "I'm probably being stupid but ... I wouldn't be surprised if he or she isn't it - the Kingpin!!"
He stands there and looks almost embarrassed by telling me what he is thinking. I openly grin at him for a moment. I think I quite like Crimson Shine, he seems to have a lot more about him than any of the other officers who work here. He has just said something to me that I have already been thinking myself.
I tell PC Shine I have been thinking along the same lines myself and we can look into it together when we have found out the identity of the mystery man. I ask him if he has been assigned permanently to a superior officer yet and he says he hasn't. I tell him he can work with me until Cinnamon returns.
He leaves with a smile on his face and I laugh as I watch him walking happily down the corridor. However, I can't help but feel sorry for him in a way, being a mixed berry and being trapped in this town, he is never going to get very far, especially with his career, being stuck in this colour mix town. It drove Cinnamon crazy but he had the opportuntity to get out looking like a pure berry. It makes me wander if Gravel didn't get bored with this dead beat town and it drove him to play out on the wrong side of the law!!
I make my way into the interrogation room and sit down opposite Turmeric Knight, who just sits staring at me with amusement.
"So Mr Knight, I hear the cat has got your tongue." he just sniggers at me "Well I suggest that you get it back and quickly, because if you do not start talking very soon we are just going to have to throw the book at you."
"You have got nothing on me!! I don't even know why you have got me here!!" he snaps at me then starts laughing. "I hope they do not think sending a piece of skirt in here is going to get me talking either!!"
"I'm not a piece of skirt Mr Knight! I am the Senior Investigating Officer on this case. Me being in here is not good news for you, because if you continue to sit here acting like a child refusing to talk, and wasting my police officers time when they have far more important things to be doing, then I WILL just charge you with what we THINK you have done!!"
"So come on, what do you THINK I have done?" he laughs at me sarcastically.
I start to explain to him that the reason that we arrested him is because he is well known as being a very close associate of Gravels. This really makes him laugh. I tell him that not only does it appear to us that he has been working for Gravel, sitting on Granite for ten years and Forrest for two years, but he was also on his way to Gravels house after receiving a phone call from him during the night. From the tone of Gravels call we can only assume that he was an accessory to what took place tonight. The attempted murder of Granite, Mace and Forrest. Also he appears to be an associate of the mystery man who entered the house from the rear, who again he seemed to be working with, out front causing a distraction while the mystery man slipped in through the back door.
He just sits there silently with his arms crossed laughing and saying nothing. I ignore his laughter and ask him if he was working for Gravel. He refuses to say anything. So I remind him that he is doing himself no favours, unless he starts talking and soon we will just take it that what we believe is true. Still he sits there tight lipped.
"I am not sure you realize just how seriously this is Mr Knight, you are facing being charged as an accessory to Murder and Attempted Murder and that is just for starters, depending on what else we find."
He sits up suddenly and squints at me for a moment and grows frown lines across his forehead. I am guessing that it is the word Murder that has caught his attention.
"Mr Knight, it would be very useful if you could share the identity of the elderly mystery man with us?"
"You will find out who he is soon enough!" he starts really laughing "I am not going to give you his name!! Go and ask him yourself!!
"Eight bodies came out of that house on stretchers tonight Mr Knight .... some of them critical." suddenly he jolts up in his chair and stares at me wide eyed with a look of fear in his eyes. I got a reaction out of him a lot quicker than I thought. "Unfortunately I can not ask the mystery man for his identity because he is one of the casualties and he is in surgery as we speak having a bullet removed from his person!!"
"NO!!!!" he starts almost choking. "WHO ELSE?! TELL ME WHO!! What happened?!" He almost looks like he is about to burst into tears. I think he is worried about more than just the old man.
"No you tell me who exactly you are worried about Mr Knight, then I will tell you." He sits just looking at me for a moment, he seems a little hesitant to speak like he is thinking. "Somebody in the house, besides the old man, is obviously distressing you! So who's well being do you want to know about?"
"The old man ... Granite, Gravel, Mace, Forrest, Coral, Atlas." he mumbles
"It is very interesting that you should name all of the people in that house? How would you know exactly who was in that house tonight Mr Knight if you were not involved in what took place tonight?" I sit and watch him cut his eyes at me before he damands to know how they all are. "At this precise moment I can not tell you how any of them are other than Coral and Forrest who were unharmed, the rest we have had no news from the hospital about yet. I smile at him "Let's just say the rest were all wearing a bullet when they left the house and Mace has sustained a serious spine and head injury."
"Stop playing games with me, you bated me knowing full well you couldn't tell me how they are!!" he thumps the table angrily.
"Listen, I am only responsible for my own actions and you will find that I actually have not done anything but mind my own business. I am not responsible for my family's actions, what they do is their business. It doesn't mean that I am taking part in their stupid games!! he snaps at me "Now you have got nothing on me so you need to let me out of here!! I need to get to the hospital!!"
"So you do know that Gravel and Mace were playing games?" he just laughs at me "Why did you just say family Mr knight?"
I frown at him and he starts laughing again and won't answer my question. I check through the few details that we have on him. His mother is deceased, Father unknown, he has three sibling on his mothers side, Thyme Knight, Silt and Shale Stone who are all as squeaky clean as Turmeric and none of which were in that house tonight. Something catches my eye and I stare at the few details jotted down under Shale Stone. I notice he is a police officer over in Orange Falls, this just keeps getting better and better. Interestingly all four children are down as father unknown, which is very strange.
"I see here on your mother's side you have three other siblings. Two of you have the surname Knight, and two have the surname Stone. I take it you and Thyme have a different Father to Silt and Shale."
"No!! We all have the same father." he laughs at me "My Mothers maiden name is Knight. Our parents got married after me and Thyme and before Silt and Shale, that is why we are Knight and they are Stone." he laughs
"So we can safely presume your fathers surname is Stone!" I smile at him as I scribble the name down.
"Obviously!!" he laughs
"It's a little strange that all of your birth certificates are listed as father unknown, especially after your parents married, do you know why that might be?"
"I don't know!! Go and ask my Dad!" he snaps "Look I'm sick of this, and you have the nerve to say I'm wasting time when you are sat here asking stupid questions!! I need to get to the hospital!! You can not keep me here because I seriously have not done anything!!"
"You are obviously worried about somebody. What family member in that house tonight might you have been talking about Mr Knight?" he starts laughing really loud.
"Call yourself police officers!! You should know, exactly who I am related to in that house, if you was doing your job properly, which obviously you aren't!!" he snaps at me "For a start, Mace Brownie is my brother in law." my blood runs really cold for a second. "Mace is married to my sister, not that he has ever taken that seriously!!"
"So you are Tamarin Brownies brother?" I am a little shocked by him saying that, I never would have expected it.
"Not very bright for a police officer are you! She is my sister, we have the same Father, so yes I am her brother!" he snaps sarcastically "Dad said the police force in this town was a little backwards, simple and just playing at the job, now I see what he means!!"
I just frown at his comment but don't respond to it. Another surname is thrown into the equation and another father unknown, Tamarin's maiden name is Wolf. This is all starting to get a little bit fishy, why would a man have five children and not have his name on any of their birth certificates, especially the two that arrived when he was married to the mother - that is very very strange!!
"When was the last time you spoke to your sister?" he frowns at me and asks me if it is really any of my business and what the hell does she have to do with all this. "Just humour me, when was the last time you spoke to Tamarin?"
"I don't know ... you tell me, you are supposed to be looking for her aren't you. I reported her missing, she has gone AWOL hasn't she!!" he snaps at me "She is listed as a missing person or have you not noticed that either!!" he laughs "Me and Tarragon suspect she has run off with Aniseed Brownie seeing as he has done one too. Aniseed has a thing for Tamarin, but don't tell Mace, not that it would actually bother him!! He only went with my sister to hide the fact he is gay!!"
I stand up and excuse myself from the room. When I get outside the room I stand against the wall for a moment to catch my breath. Since the recovery of Tamarin Brownies body we have been able to keep it pretty much under wraps and hush hush, to stop the press from finding out about it and in turn stopping Gravel from finding out we have recovered three of his murder victims.
As far as we were concerned there were only two family members to inform of her fading. Mace and Tarragon, her Husband and Sister in Law. Tamarin's family background seemed pretty straight forward, a deceased Mother, father unknown, no more siblings on her mothers side, we thought she was an only child. We planned to inform Mace of her passing when we took him into custody and Tarragon was informed of Tamarin's passing when she was taken into the safe house and she has not mentioned Turmeric, or any other family, to us, and from Turmeric's comment they clearly know each other. Now I find out she has four other siblings and a known Father who also should have been informed of her passing. Turmeric does not even appear to know that his sister or Aniseed Brownie are deceased. Then I suddenly remember something I heard on the tape recording ... I think I already know who the mystery man is.
I walk into the office fuming.
"WHY THE HELL has nobody picked up on the fact that Tamarin Brownie is Turmeric Knights sister? Do I have to do everything around here myself!!" I yell at the room full of bodies, who's faces all turn to stare at me as the room goes silently quiet. "I have got Knight sat in interrogation and he does not seem to have the slighted idea that his sister is faded!!" I snap loudly pointing at one of the officers "I want Tamarin Brownie and Turmeric Knights family background picked to pieces again and THOROUGHLY this time!! Tamarin has four other siblings that none of you have noticed. And it gets better - one of their siblings is a DCI over in Orange Falls" I point to one of the officers who is sat gormlessly staring at me. "Track his phone number down for me - DCI Shale Stone, Orange Falls - I want his ass sat in my office before the day is out."
"Maam I think you need to calm down!!" one of the officers pipes up and walks towards me as I start rifling through the files "Both Mrs Brownie and Knight's birth certificates show father unknown, without actually asking them, we would never have picked up the connection and what are the chances that they would have the same father?!" he frowns at me "Wouldn't it just be easier to ask Knight about their family background?"
"Knight is being very cagey!! He is hiding something." I snap as I slap two photographs side by side onto the desk in front of them all. There is a 100% chance of them having the same Father wouldn't you say!!"
Both Tamarin and Turmeric have exactly the same hair and colouring, you can actually see there is a resemblance in their faces. Hair and eye colour that suddenly starts ringing very loud alarm bells in my head. I am now kicking myself for concentrating solely on Mace while I let Cinnamon handle all the paperwork. I spot something that seriously makes me mad!! Them being siblings is written down in black and white for them all to see, Turmeric Knight, relationship marked down as brother, was in deed the person who reported her missing like he has just told me. Cinnamon being taken out of the picture has made this more difficult, if he had been here I am sure since Turmeric Knight has appeared in the picture, he would have spotted that straight away, instead I am left with a bunch of useless idiots!!
The hair and eye colouring is now seriously bugging me as I stare down at the two photographs again and I think I know why that colouring is bugging me so much. I rifle through the files and dig out Granites file and pull out one of his pictures and put it down on the desk next to the other two. Granite's hair and eyes appear to be identical shades of brown to Tamarin's and Turmerics. Turmerics skin is a lighter brown, but Tarramin and Granites is exactly the same shade of brown. The three photographs scream out to me and ring alarm bells sat there together. I jump on the computer and try to find a photograph of DCI Shale Stone, which is quite easy to do. The same hair and eye colour again.
I get a weird feeling that Granite and Gravel could be related to the Stone's somehow, and Turmeric did say family members, plural, there is not only Mace that he is related to in that house. Rock and Stone that is quite an interesting combination of names. I start to read through Granites file then jump onto the computer. Granite and Gravel's Father is deceased, DCI Shale Rock, a police officer faded while on duty 34 years ago. I stare at a photograph of Shale Rock, same hair and eye colouring again. This is really bizzare!! However, I can rule him out of the equation, he faded before Silt, Shale and Tamarin were born. I think about the old man that I shot, and I'm almost sure he had that same hair colouring or something very similar, I can't be sure without seeing him again. I wander if this Stone guy is a brother or cousin of Shale Rocks, but why the different surname.
There has got to be a family connection going on here between the Rocks and Stones, that hair and eye colour is cropping up too much for there not to be!! I've also noticed there seems to be a play with the names, three names constantly keep jumping out at me. Shale, Slate and Granite. Shale Granite Rock - Granite Slate Rock - Gravel Shale Rock - Turmeric Shale Knight - Thyme Granite Knight - Shale Slate Stone - Silt Granite Stone - Slate Granite Rock - this is seriously ridiculously stupid!! I start hunting back to find out Shale Rock's fathers name and when I find it I just sit there laughing for a moment - Granite Shale Rock - why am I not so surprised!!! It's almost like a family tradition. Then I spot something that throws me, Shale Rocks Mother was called Tamarin ... all this has to be more than just a coincidence!!!
I ask one of the officers to dig up Granite and Gravels family history on the Rock side, Uncles, Aunt's and Grandparents in particular and check to see if he can find any connection between the Rock and Stone families.
I think about the tape that I have listened to. The identity of the mystery man I think was spelt out in black and white - What was it Gravel said about 'your precious little princess being at the bottom of Apple Lake? Who did we find in Apple Lake? Tamarin Brownie - I think that the mystery man is Tamarin Brownie's Father? Which would also making him Turmeric Knights father, better still, DCI Stones father!
One of the officers puts DCI Stones phone number that I asked for on the desk, scribble down on a piece of paper. I stare at it for a moment before I snap open my phone and make a call.
"Hello, DCI Stone." he replies yes and asks me who is calling "I'm DCI Wine, from Sugar Valley."
"Sugar Valley?" he sounds surprised "What can I do for you DCI Wine."
"We have had an innocent happen this morning in Sugar Valley and we believe we have two possibly three of your relatives in custody and I would just like to confirm that with you."
"WHO?" He snaps suddenly
"A Mr Turmeric Knight and a Mr Mace Brownie."
"Yes Turmeric is my brother and Mace is my brother in law!!" he sounds worried "You said possibly three?"
"It has not been confirmed yet, I don't want to worry you because I could be wrong, but I suspect that the third person, who is an elderly gentleman, might possibly be your Father. As yet he has not been identified and Mr Knight, who we have in interrogation, is being very cagey and not very forthcoming about the elderly gentlemans identity." he starts laughing "I don't suppose you know the whereabouts of your father at this time?"
"You THINK you have my Father in custody! Oh Berry!!" he starts to laugh quite hysterically "I can believe you've got Mace, his past antics leave a lot to be desired!! I am struggling to believe that you even have Turmeric in custody, but MY DAD on the wrong side of the law - NEVER!! He would not even be in Sugar Valley for starters, that is for sure!!" he continues laughing then stops suddenly "Is this some sort of wind up DCI Wine because if it is, I don't find it funny!!" he snaps "What the hell are Turmeric and Mace supposed to have done? Have you not asked the elderly gentleman for his name Maam?"
"No Sir." I pause for a moment and he doesn't say anything "I'm afraid we are unable to ask the elderly gentleman for his identity at the moment because he was injured in a shoot out and he is at present in Sugar Valley General having a bullet removed from his shoulder. I also need to inform you that Mr Brownie is also in surgery after sustaining a serious head and spine injury and Mr Knight who we have at the station, is being very cagey, especially about the elderly gentleman's identity. We believe Mr Knight is an accessory to murder and attempted murder and Mr Brownie we have been investigating for a while in an ongoing undercover operation."
"WHAT?!" he yells down the phone. "You are having a laugh!!"
"No Sir!! Can I ask you a question, are you by any chance, in anyway related to Granite Rock and Gravel Rock?"
"What the ... !!!" he snaps suddenly then goes silent for a moment "DCI Wine I don't know what the hell is going on here, but I will not talk to you about this over the phone. I am actually on my way to Apple Hill right now. I will meet you at the hospital in Sugar Valley so I can sort this nonsense out!!" he suddenly pipes up "Make sure you have your ID on you, otherwise I won't be talking to you."
I am really baffled by the ID request but am glad that he has said he will meet me. My next job was to tell him about Tamarin's passing, which I always hate doing over the telephone, I would much rather do it face to face. I tell him I will have a yellow and red officer waiting for him at the main entrance and finish the call. I phone PC Shine who informs me that the mystery man is now out of surgery and in with Gravel. I ask him to wait at the main entrance for DCI Shale Stone and to escort him to the mystery mans room when he arrives.
I have requested that the mystery man be kept under armed guard with Gravel until we find out his identity and how he is involved in all this. I am glad to see that Gravel is still with us for the cases sake, however, alarm bells start ringing in my head as soon as I walk into the room and see the old man sat in the chair by Gravel's bed holding his hand and talking to him, even though Gravel is still unconscious and on life support.
The mystery man glances up and smiles at me when I enter the room.
"Aahh DCI Elderberry Wine, finally we meet in the flesh." he smiles at me "I was very surprised when I was informed that you are the SIO on this ongoing case. I never imagined I would find you in Sugar Valley, I thought the North East was your patch." I am very surprised by him even knowing that, him knowing me or anything about me. I explain to him that it used to be, but I have moved to Sugar Valley for family reasons. "I need to be briefed on your case because I am very much in the dark about what is actually going on here."
I smile in response to what he has just said but the bells start ringing in my head again, because of the manner in which he is speaking to me. I think I can already tell he is a high ranked police officer, and his face looks very familiar, like I have seen it before, which really starts to worry me.
The old man stands up a little unsteadily and starts to make his way back to his own bed slowly and awkwardly. I automatically rush over to help him and he sits down in the chair next to his bed, he mumbles that he is still a little woozy from the anesthetic.
"Nice shot. I have had to take a few bullets in my time, but I have to say yours has been the best so far." he smiles at me as he pats his shoulder. "A very well controlled text book shot, it is just a shame you did not send Gravel the same!" I frown at him "Well this is a mess is it not, and I am afraid I have not helped the situation very much crashing in like a fool!!"
"No you did not really help." I frown at him "We need to know who you are, so maybe we should start by you introducing yourself to me." I smile at him and he just laughs a little.
"Marble Stone." he holds his hand out to me. A bomb goes off in my head as I shake his hand ... no it can't be, can it?! I study him for a moment.
"Not as in Chief Constable Marble Stone?" I ask wide eyed, I am so faded if this is!! It is no wander DCI Stone thought I was joking when I told him I thought I had his father in custody.
"Yes DCI Wine, that is correct." he smiles at me, but I can not smile!! Oh heck!! I am so done for!! I have only gone and shot a Chief Constable!!
"Do not panic yourself DCI Wine!! You had no choice but to shoot me. I knew it was a possibility when I stepped in front of Gravel to try and stop you from shooting him! It was my own fault for getting in the way!!"
Marble Stone sits there laughing at me a little because he must know exactly what I am thinking. Even though he is as much in the wrong as I am here, the powers that be won't see it like that. While he will get away with a soft slap, they will come down on me like a tonne of bricks. I should have recognized him!!
"I am sorry Sir!! I did not recognize you!!"
"I am a little surprised that nobody on the force here has recognized me yet, but then I am out of my jurisdiction." he laughs "Unfortunately though I think they might recognize me around here for a whole other reason."
"With all due respect sir, like you said you are well out of your jurisdiction, and the force in this area is a little, well lets just say, it leaves a lot to be desired. I doubt they would know who you are, they don't tend to know much about the world outside of this town." he starts really chuckling "Myself, however, I have no excuses sir. I should have recognized you and I probably would have if you had been in uniform, however, I'm sure you can understand the very last person you would expect to come crashing into a police operation in the south east, is the Chief Constable of the North West!!"
"Yes, I hold my hands up, I have broken every rule in the book, but unfortunately I let my heart rule my head and I was not aware that there was actually an ongoing operation in progress or I would not have gone bundling in there!!" he stares over at Gravel for a moment "I thought I was walking into a family squabble and if I had known Gravel was up to no good, I would have been able to put a stop to this nonsense a long time ago!!" he stares over at Gravel again.
The door bursts open and a man comes in who I do not know, but soon realize who he is when I see PC Shine poke his head round the door before he smiles at me, and tells me he will make his way back to the station. The man is DCI Shale Stone.
"Dad!!" he says as he rushes into the room. "I thought DCI Wine was joking when she said she thought she had you in custody!!" he turns to me "Maam, you do know who this man is don't you!?" he laughs at me
"Yes Sir, I do now! I didn't when I phoned you." I laugh at him "However, with all due respect Sir, he did crash into the middle of an ongoing police operation without identifying himself and got himself shot in the process trying to protect the perpetrator!"
"The perpetrator being?" he frowns at me
"DI Gravel Rock, Sir."
"WHAT?! Dad? What the hell has the berry hole done now?" DCI Stone asks his Father in quite a shocked manner. I can't help but be amused at Shale calling Gravel a berry hole, does anyone have a good opinion of that man?!
I do not need to be told that this man is his son, he has the same hair colouring and looks a lot like him. I can't take my eyes off Shale Stone because he is spooking me, he looks like and reminds me so much of Slate Rock. The old man looks pretty confused with his sons appearance.
"Shale what are you even doing here? I thought you was in Orange Falls!!"
He explains that he flew in last night and was supposed to be meeting Turmeric in Raspberry Hill this morning but he did not show and hasn't been answering his phone, now he knows why because he is in custody. Shale says he has a week's leave from work and he along with Turmeric have made plans to scout about looking for Tamarin. Shale was just on his way to Apple Hill when he received the phone call from me. He stops talking when he spots Gravel and rushes over to the bed.
"What the hell is wrong with Gravel? Why is he handcuffed to the bed and why are there armed guards outside?!" he does not hang around by the bed as he makes his way back to the old man waiting for answers to his questions. "Dad what the HELL is going on and why are you even in Sugar Valley? Are you stupid?!"
"Shale I'm not entirely sure what is going on. However I can tell you, It is not just Gravel and Mace lying in a hospital bed, it's Granite too!!" he pulls a face at his son who looks at him wide eyed and worried, he asks his Dad if this has anything to do with his past.
"No son, this is all Gravel's stupidity and doing!!" he tuts "Turmeric phoned me yesterday and has finally told me what soft lad over there has been up to, I think this has been brewing for a while in that STUPID head of his ..."
I just stand back and listen to the old man talking to his son. He does not really seem to know very much other than about Gravel sleeping with Coral which has driven Slate to attempting suicide, the consequences of which have left him needing a kidney transplant and that is why Granite is back in Sugar Valley to give Slate a kidney. Turmeric has told him that Gravel is playing some kind of stupid game using Mace to try and keep Granite and Forrest apart and keep Granite away from Slate. That is all he really knows, he doesn't know why he is doing it. The old man said he came to Sugar Valley because Turmeric told him Mace was here with Gravel and Granite, he wanted to catch up with Mace to find out what he has been playing at doing his disappearing act and to find out what game Gravel is playing, as well as he thought it was time he put things right with Granite.
Boy are they not going to like what I have to tell them!! They are going to be surprised when I have to tell them that this operation started originally around Mace and what we first suspected he was. I had never heard of the notorious Mace Brownie until I moved into this area, news of his suspected activities had not filtered through to the North East where I was based and I don't think it has filtered through to the North West either listening to them talking. They don't have a damn clue about what is going on here and when I do tell them it is going to be harder for them to take having Mace, a family member involved and being on the force themselves. It makes me wander why Mace did not go to them for help!!
"Shale, I did not realise that what was going on here was actually so bad until I walked into Gravel's and there were three bodies lay on the ground and he was holding Granite and Forrest at gunpoint or that I was walking into a police operation." The old man looks really miserable as he glances over at Gravel again and I see the tears welling up in his eyes. "Gravel has seriously beat up Mace, he has shot Granite, I couldn't stop him and I think he's done something to Tami, but I don't know why he has done any of this." the old man starts choking. Shale asks his Dad how Turmeric is mixed up in all this and the old man just shrugs his shoulders. "You need to ask DCI Wine what else is going on here because I don't have a clue!!"
"My sister, Tamarin Brownie? DCI Wine, has something happened to her?"
"Yes, I am sorry Sir ... she is deceased." the old man starts screaming and Shales legs nearly go from underneath him. "Tamarin Brownies body was recovered about a week ago from Apple Lake. We have had both Mace and Gravel under surveillance for a while and we have an undercover taped conversation of DI Gravel Rock openly admitting to Mace Brownie the crime of disposing of the bodies of Aniseed and Basil Brownie in the lake. Mace is unaware of Tamarin's passing, she was mentioned in the conversation by Gravel, but only as an idol threat. When we recovered Aniseed and Basil Brownies bodies, unfortunately, we also found Tamarin's body along with them. She was bound and weighted down in exactly the same way. All three bodies had been in the water for the same length of time so we will be charging Gravel with her murder." the two men just stare at me disbelieving for a moment. "I am really sorry for your loss!!"
"He has always been a jealous, selfish, evil BERRY HOLE!!" Shale yells as he glances over at Gravel's unconscious body. "But I NEVER thought he would go THAT far!!"
The old man starts to break down and almost collapses. Shale sits him in the chair and starts to crack up himself as he tries to comfort his Dad. I have to just stand there uncomfortably watching until they have both calmed down a little.
"Maam, I want to know EVERYTHING that has been going on here!!" DCI Stone snaps at me when he has composed himself a little.
"I will brief you on the operation surrounding Gravel and Mace shortly sir." I hesitate for a moment "Firstly, I need to ask you both about Granite and Gravel Rock, what is your connection to them?" I see DCI Stone give the old man a worried look.
"It's okay son!! You can tell her." the old man puts his hand on his sons arm as he continues to cry. "Now I am back in this town, it is all going to come out, it won't be long before someone recognizes me." he smiles at Shale "My only worry is Granite, I don't want him finding out through gossip, I need it kept from him until I can sit down and explain properly!!"
Shale Stone stands there staring at me for a moment while the tears continue to roll down his face.
"Granite Rock and that Berry Hole over there ... are both my brothers." Shale says to me quietly as he glares over at Gravel again.
"WHAT?!" he did just say brothers didn't he!!??
Suddenly the door bursts open again. Forrest comes storming into the room tears streaming down his face, followed by Mango. I can see Forrest is angry and upset. Mango is trying to pull him back. I fear the worst about Granite when I see Forrest is crying and wander if he is not in here to vent his anger at Gravel.
"Forrest, stop you are off your head, it CAN NOT be Shale Rock!!! We all went to his funeral remember and so did all the police force in this town!! There is no way that man can still be alive!! You are all stressed out because of what you have been through, and because of Granite!! Mango shouts at Forrest but he is not listening. Mate you need to calm down!!" Forrest storms right up to the old man who stands up to face him.
"OH FUDGE!!" Mango says suddenly as he stops dead in his tracks and stands there staring at the old man in disbelief. "What the hell?! This can not be happening!!"
"I told you!! I am not going crazy!! This is going to completely destroy Granite!! That is definitely Shale Rock alright!!"
"Yes Mango, Forrest is right!! Although I have not been called Shale Rock for a very long time now!! I'm called Marble Stone these days." the old man smiles at them both "Man you two have grown some since the last time that I saw you both!"
The room goes silent for a moment then the old man turns to me and tells me that his identity change is all perfectly legal and above board, and he will get me clearance to access the classified files which will explain everything to me!
Mango just stands there with his mouth wide open, and so do I because I seriously was not expecting this even though I was guessing along the right lines of a family connection. However, I just never would have expected this man to turn out to be Shale Rock himself!! Forrest just launches himself at the old man yelling and screaming at him. DCI Stone jumps up and tries to pull Forrest off the old Man.
"Leave him son!!" the old man snaps "This is Forrest, he is the one married to your brother!"
Forrest freezes and stares wide eyed at Shale Stone for a moment then at the old man before he starts to crack up in front of them. The old man puts his arms round him and holds him tightly while Forrest just breaks down in his arms and they stand there just holding each other while they are both crying.
I stare at Mango who looks like he is in shock at seeing the old man and what is unfolding in front of him, and I can quite understand why. I have read only recently in police files that Shale Rock, Granite and Gravel's father, faded 34 years ago when he was shot during a police operation, but here he is, stood in front of us all, and very much alive. He says there are classified files about his change of identity, so I can only presume his death was faked by the force as part of a police operation.
Now everything starts to fall into place, I understand why Turmeric was being so cagey in interrogation, there was only Atlas in that house who he is not related too, his family connection to Granite and Gravel he couldn't reveal to us!! I understand why the old man went crashing into that house, why he tried to stop Gravel shooting Granite and why he tried to stop me from shooting Gravel. He was trying to protect his two sons. This is just one big family mess!! I ask Mango about Granite. I know he was the surgeon that went into the operating theatre with him.
"Granite is still critical and just about hanging on for now." he smiles at me half heartedly "He is in the room next door on life support with Cinnamon, they are both in a very bad way." he starts to look really upset. "We all need to prepare ourselves, because at the moment, we are not sure if either of them are going to make it."
I know Mango is particularly close to Cinnamon, being part of the extended family. I have to sit down because it knocks the wind out of me too being fairly close to Cinnamon and I also know what Granite not making it is going to do to Mace, it is going to destroy him!!
The old man starts screaming again and demanding to see Granite. I just nod my head when he looks at me. How can I seriously keep this man in custody, a Chief Constable who clearly doesn't have a clue what one of his sons has been up to yet. Telling him is a job that I am not looking forward too!!! Forrest and Shale both take one of the old mans arms each and support him while they make their way out of the room.
I see Mango glare over at Gravel for a moment.
"Well I hope that Berry Hole is proud of himself!!" he snaps "I have now lost count of the amount of lives he has destroyed!!"