The victim's body lay on the bed, black dressing gown on like some dark, fluffy, overpriced shroud from Marks and Spencer, eyes rolled back in his head like the rolled back eyes of some dead bloke. At first glance, and even second and third glances, it seemed like a simple case of self-suicide. The local police had assumed as much, and were about to call in the corpse-monkeys and their wipe-clean stretcher for quick disposal. At the last minute, DCI Walter Vweegoteer decided to have a look. Vweegoteer was a maverick, a no-nonsense, never-play-by-the-rules, old-school cop with an attitude as big as his drink problem, and his drink problem was life-threatening. He was a worried man, his rumpled suit and sharp words to the uniformed officers testament to his inner turmoil. There had been no murders for three hours on his manor and he was in danger of lagging behind Midsomer Murders for body count. Midsomer Murders was just behind Robocop and From Dusk Till Dawn for number of senseless deaths per minute. It was a close run thing and Vweegoteer would be damned to heck and back if he was going to let John Nettles edge into the lead.
"This," he said to a pouting police-lady who had been specially trained to look nice in a stab-proof vest " is a murder."
The police complained. It was an open and then not-open case. Look, there was a body. It had a leg and everything:
Next to the body were a packet of pills, and one of the first things Trainee Constable Plod and Plodette learn at Bacon Academy is that pills are used to commit suicide, just after which way round their hat goes and how to escort a suspect downstairs without breaking them. The pills were known to be toxic to anyone with a Y chromosome due to their dangerously high nag content:
A young policeman who used to be in Grange Hill in the eighties and looked sort of funny now that he'd shaved his head to appear tough, braved the acrid, smoked-stained glare of the DCI.
"How you know it murder, no saddy saddy suicide?" he asked, having recently being disciplined for doing a bad impression of a Gujurati man and having to work his way through every accent in the world to show he wasn't a racialist.
Vweegoteer flicked his cigarette at the window, wished momentarily that it had been open, and looked askance at the constable. The man wavered, turned green and swallowed a bit of sick back down, but he stood resolute. Veegoteer was quietly impressed with his composure, and dignified him with an answer.
"When you've been in this game as long as I have son, you see the clues that really count."
"What am dem dere clues den, Cracker?" The equity-sensitive police officer enquired.
With a glance at the younger man, and a positive eye-fondle of the totty police-lady in the low-cut armour, Vweegoteer wandered over to the body and, with a hefty kick and a dead man's gurgle, rolled it onto it's front.
" 'Ere, you carn't go 'eavin' t'body on t'front. That's evidence, is tha'."
But the colloquialistic complaint was ignored by everyone in the room, for the DCI's hoof had revealed that the back of the victims head was missing, and instead of gooey-pink brain, the only thing to be seen was ivory-white skull.
"Oh, ma Gawd!" shouted the parity-minded officer, "E's only gorn and fahnd anavva clue, an' 'e?"
Vweegoteer looked as close to smug as he ever did, which was very, and said in an almost whisper "I know who the murderer is as well."
"No way." gasped the police-lady, clasping her hand to her bosom and going slightly pink-cheeked, but being glad no-one could see that.
"Naw weah!" echoed her colleague.
"Indeed I do." Vweegoteer thought about smoking a cigarette, but realised it would be unprofessional so took a nip from his industrial-sized hip-flask instead. "This man was killed by none other than the Mad Brain-Scooping Fiend Of Olde London Towne!" and with that, he turned to face them all, stance wide, a triumphant look on his physiognomy.
"But we ain't in goddamn London." pointed out the fairest policeman in the area.
"There's a direct line." Growled Vweegoteer, "And National Express do it for £13.99 return if you go on a Tuesday and you're okay to arrive between eleven and eleven thirteen." He glanced at someone who was taking notes and wearing glasses, so probably knew everything that was going on. "When did the murder occur?"
The bespectacled scenes of crimes officer glanced at his notes, paying particular attention to underlined words, "Judging by the rigor mortis and rate of decomposition, as well as the species of fly that is currently laying eggs in the victims retinas, I would say eleven sixteen." He pushed his bottle-tops back up his nose and, with appropriate gravitas added "On Tuesday."
Vweegoteer's smug stance widened, as the station was but minutes away, a fact all the police in the room knew as they'd used it themselves to get there, budget cuts having reduced the number of police cars available. The officers on scene were, however, tenacious and would not to let go of their doubt so easily.
"Thircumthtantial evidenth." said the equal-opportunities policeman, who had decided it was only fair to move on to disabilities, "We'll need a damn thite more than that!"
Vweegoteer snorted some cocaine out of his hat, and looked up through angry eyebrows at his junior colleagues. Wearily, he pushed aside a bit of sheet on the bed next to the de-cerebrated body, and nodded as yet more gasps of disbelief, awe and, in one case, orgasm, reached his ears.
It was almost the perfect crime, but for one tiny clue. Either accidentally, or as some sort of twisted message to the cops, the Mad Brain-Scooping Fiend Of Olde London Towne had, unprecedentedly, left his weapon behind:
It had been licked clean.
Now, for the first time, they had a lead.