Author: Evelyn Ransom
Characters: Frank Longbottom, Mad-Eye Moody, and others
Genre: Cop Drama
Crime(s): Murder, etc.
Summary: Frank visits the scene of the crime. 'Chapter I' can be found here.
'Gangland: Chapter II'
Frank Longbottom ducked his head and stepped down into the Coven House's front room.
Moody nodded to the barman. 'Tam.'
A couple of uniforms were retrieving remembrances from the patrons. A third catalogued each liquid thought before transferring it to a standard issue Pensieve. Receipts were drawn up.
'Min', lassie, I'll be needin' tha back. I was havin' a wee thought when yon stiff topped it,' warned a senile clergyman between drinks.
'Yes, sir. Thank you for your time and patience. All memories will be returned to their owners as soon as they have been checked for residual evidence and psychic trauma.'
Frank looked into the uniform's face - tired eyes, no liner, clenched grin. Bad luck to pull this job. Short-strawers. But aren't we all?
'Real mess is in the gents,' reported one of the scene-of-crime boys as they passed.
'Always is,' grunted Moody.
The necessaries of the Coven House were a rudimentary affair - small, dank, badly-lit. Space for at most two men to simultaneously obey a call of nature. Here, now, it was crammed with no less than six persons.
Frank stood on the threshold, Moody watching the proceedings from over his shoulder. The dark space flashed white for an instant as the Ministry photographer discharged a few shots. Two men in stained blue protective suits and goggles crawled over the mucky tiles, waving their wands gently before them like a pair of single-antennaed cockroaches.
Pearl Rochdale looked up at them from a spot in the corner.
'Good of you to come, Longbottom,' she told him in a tone that indicated exactly the opposite. She rose to her full height - the head of the Ministry's Specialised and Organised Crimes Squad, or 'Gangland' in-house.
'Hello, Alastor. Minister's ruled this strictly a Gangland case. Not your patch, I'm afraid.' She smiled. It didn't seem to be an expression that came easily to her.
Moody raised his hands in mock surrender.
'Don't need to tell me twice, Pearl. I was just dropping young Longbottom off. But you've got the right idea.' His strange blue eye swiveled down towards her skirt and he leered, exposing a few broken teeth. 'You guard that patch of yours. In the end it's all you've got.' With a laugh he turned and left.
More flashbulbs. The body had been taken away. The body - a fellow Auror - a fellow resident of Gangland - a good man, Frank reminded himself.
There was a large black pool of blood on the floor. The splatter from whatever had taken off Hogmanny's head coated the lavatory wall, towel dispenser, hand sanitiser.
'What do you reckon?'
Rochdale was about to answer, but one of the blue suits beat her to it.
'Bit early to tell yet.' Frank recognised Andrew Scarlotti, Gangland's golden boy (though obviously not afraid to get a little dirty), as he removed his goggles and unzipped. Scarlotti caught Rochdale's look. 'Sorry, boss,' he apologised with a charming smile. The kind that costs a year's salary.
Rochdale took center stage and made a show of consulting her notes. Frank felt someone behind him and, turning, saw Kingsley Shacklebolt and Evan Rosier. They nodded a mutual greeting.
'Well, for the benefit of our late arrivals - it looks as if Marty was meeting a young man here.' Glance to the notes again. 'Cropped hair, average height, tinted spectacles. First met in the bar, had a bit of a talk. Suspect leaves and Marty waits. Hour later suspects returns. Both head in here...'
'For a bit of privacy?' The ape-like form of Rab Barnlow pushed past Frank and into the cramped lavatory space. 'A hard man is good to find,' he croaked with a wink to Longbottom.
'Are we all here now? Fine. For whatever reason, Marty follows the suspect in. As far as we can tell, Marty stood somewhere about here.' So saying she marked the spot with her expensive heel, a faint line scratching the surface of the congealed blood before it sealed over itself again.
'The suspect seems to have been roughly where Longbottom is. They were alone for maybe two minutes. Then the suspect makes a hurried exit from the pub.' She let the silence hang for a second.
'Whoever did this, Marty either trusted him or had no reason to fear him. His wand was still sheathed when he was found.'
Shacklebolt seemed to sigh but Frank couldn't get any confirmation of this from his face.
'There's one more thing.' Rochdale brought out a small sealed evidence bag. It was passed from hand to hand. 'He was holding that when he died.'
Frank stared at the contents of the bag. A small strip of bloodstained parchment with one word scribbled across it - BENT.
'Marty was one of us. I want his killer found - and fast.' With that Pearl Rochdale left the murder scene and made her way into the light.
Most turned to follow her, except the techs and Rab Barnlow.
'You coming?' Frank asked him.
'I'll be along in a minute.'
'Yeah, well, don't forget to put the seat down.'