CXVI The Beginning of the End (Book 1): A Gripping Murder Mystery and Suspense Thriller (CXVI BOOK 1)

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CXVI

THE
BEGINNING OF THE END

Title Page

 

By
Angie Smith

Copyright

 

Copyright
Angie Smith 2015

 

Angie Smith asserts her rights
under the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author
of this work.

 

All rights reserved. No part of
this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or
transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying,
recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the author.

 

This novel is a work of fiction;
names, characters, businesses, organisations, places and events are either the
product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance
to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Prologue

Monday
30
th
January.

 

As the boat’s engine finally
spluttered into life Bulmer grinned. He lifted up his head and quickly scanned
the horizon for signs of imminent weather change. Today, as most days in Los
Cristianos, was beautiful, clear and sunny. He stepped off the boat, untied the
mooring and immediately jumped back on board.

“Adios,” he raised his hand and waved to the waiters
wiping down the outside tables at one of the nearby restaurants.

“Adios, S
eñor
,” one replied, as the small fishing
boat bobbed slowly back away from the quayside and was skilfully manoeuvred in
and around the various expensive motor yachts. As soon as he reached open water
he pushed the throttle hard and headed out to sea, unaware he would never
return to port again.

His favoured fishing location was approximately five
miles offshore; he made good time arriving earlier than normal due to the sea
being calm and the tide in his favour. He quickly dropped anchor, set up the
fishing lines and took an ice cold beer from the fridge, finally settling in
the wooden sun-bleached fishing chair. His preference, rather than trolling
with artificial lures and going after big game fish, was to bottom fish with
two lines using either dead or live baits. He was after sea bream, skate and
monkfish which he could sell to the restaurant owners back in port. This type
of fishing suited his sedate lifestyle; it was less exciting and less stressful,
and he could enjoy a few cold beers and relax.

By ten o’clock he already had a sizeable catch and
was on his fourth beer of the day. Although far from being drunk, he was
perhaps not as alert as he could have been; nevertheless something in the
distance attracted his attention. He squinted into the sun trying to identify
it. Then, as it came into focus, he realised it was a motor yacht approaching
from the south-east and, as it neared, he recognised it as an extremely elegant
looking, fairly new and very expensive Princess 42.

He relaxed back in the chair and took another swig
from the bottle.
I wonder where they’re heading today,
he mused, smiling
to himself. He’d seen the yacht a few days earlier, when fishing at the same
location, and as it sailed by he’d waved across and exchanged pleasantries with
the man and woman crewing it; he intended doing the same today. However, this time
as it approached the engine slowed and the motor yacht stopped just off his
port-side.

“How’s the fishing today, Skipper?” the man called
over.

Bulmer smiled, and with both hands cupped around his
mouth shouted, “Good, I’ve got a few sizeable keepers.”

“Any mackerel?”

Bulmer nodded.

“Would you be kind enough to sell me a couple?”

“Sure.”

“Excellent, I’ll drop anchor and come over in the
dinghy.”

“Where’s the lady today?”

“She’s down below sleeping off the booze; had a few
too many last night.”

Bulmer laughed. “Me too,” he shouted back, seeing
the yacht’s anchor and chain disappearing into the water.

When the man appeared satisfied that the anchor was
held, Bulmer watched him untie the dinghy from the diving platform on the back
of the yacht and push it into the water. Then came the awkward business of
getting on board, which was not helped by him holding a carrier bag, though
somehow he managed to undertake the task without any mishaps, and once in the
inflatable he swiftly sat down on the bench seat and placed the bag at his
feet.

Bulmer heard the sound of chinking bottles.
Ah...
What might that be?
he thought, as he chewed his bottom lip.
A bottle or
two of expensive Scotch would do nicely.

The man pulled the starting cord on the inflatable’s
outboard motor and it immediately fired into life; he then made the short
journey in the fairly calm blue water across to the fishing boat. “Bill Jones,”
he said, standing up and precariously balancing in the dinghy. He held out his
right hand and offered the carrier bag to Bulmer with his other, “Something for
you to enjoy later…”

Bulmer shook his hand. “Thank you…” he said, his
leathery tanned hand taking hold of the gift, “Christian Bulmer; nice to meet
you,” he added, busy looking in the bag. “Thank you,” he repeated. “We can’t
get this over here; I used to love this when I was in the UK.”

“Did you really? It was a good choice then,” Jones
said beaming. “I’ve got half a crate left on the yacht; I’ll get you some more
before I go.” He grabbed the side of the fishing boat to steady himself.

“What must you think of me?” Bulmer said
apologetically. “Come aboard, let me get a bottle opener and we can share
these.” He carefully placed the bag down and held out his right hand to help. “Welcome
aboard,” he said as Jones clambered over the rail and tied the dinghy cord to
it.

“Nice to meet you, Christian.”

“And you,” Bulmer replied, picking up the bag and
disappearing off into the cabin for a few seconds. When he emerged he was
holding two open bottles of strong real ale and was smiling broadly, his white
teeth shining in the bright sunlight. He handed one to Jones. “We’ll enjoy
these and then you can choose what you want from the catch. It’s on the house.”

 “Excellent,” Jones said, adding tentatively, “I couldn’t
have mine in a glass could I?”

“Sure,” Bulmer replied, placing his bottle down on
the staging and heading back into the cabin. “Too posh to drink out of a bottle
are we?” he shouted through the window, before retuning with a grubby looking
glass.

“Thank you,” Jones said, pouring the beer; he
chinked his glass against Bulmer’s bottle, “Good health.”

“Cheers.”

Jones headed down the boat towards the rods and
Bulmer followed. They drank the ale as they discussed the merits of the various
types of fishing gear, then at Bulmer’s behest Jones was allowed to reel in one
of the lines, re-bait it and cast out, but the fish were no longer biting.
While Bulmer was chatting he noticed Jones taking an avid interest in him, then
mid-sentence Bulmer stopped speaking.
I think I’m gunna throw up
, he
turned seawards, steadying himself against the rail.
Jesus my head’s
spinning… What the hell’s wrong with me?
He shook his head and caught sight
of Jones staring at him.
Who is he..? Oh my God… Where am I..? What the f..?
He retched over the side, but produced nothing.
For Christ’s sake,
he
stooped and clutched his abdomen; then his legs started to give way and he
tried in vain to grab onto the side-rail. He just managed to stay upright,
although he was staggering around.

“Are you alright Christian?” Jones’ voice echoed in
his head.

Bulmer tried to speak, but could form no words, he
was losing control of his abilities;
I can’t breathe… I can’t breathe… I’m…

Jones quickly grabbed him from behind, and then
slowly moved him towards the side-rail.

BANG!!!

Bulmer’s head slammed down hard on the warm wooden
rail; he felt the impact as the pain shot through him and immediately lost
consciousness. He was unaware of being lifted over the side-rail and dropped
into the clear blue water…

 

 

Jones stood motionless, waiting a
few minutes, watching as Bulmer’s lifeless body remained submerged and slowly
drifted away from the boat. He looked around, scanned the horizon, paused and
then took a cloth. He wiped his fingerprints off the fishing gear, cleaned the glass
that he’d handled and gathered up the two bottles he’d brought, placing them
back in the carrier bag. He wiped the side-rail where he’d clambered over and using
the cloth he carefully collected an array of empty beer bottles from the cabin,
where Bulmer had left them, along with four full bottles which he emptied
overboard, and arranged them all around the fishing gear.

Before disembarking with the bag, Jones took a black
marker pen out of his pocket and very neatly wrote MDXVI on the glass in the cabin
door. Then, being careful not to leave any fingerprints on the side-rail, he
climbed back into the dinghy and returned to his own craft. He started the
engine, drew up the anchor and sailed slowly away towards the south-east.

Chapter 1

Wednesday 7
th
March –
Thursday 22
nd
March.

 

Dr Smith had spent the past two
and a half hours seeing patients at the surgery, which he held at Orchard Croft
Medical Centre. There had been the usual array of health related matters to
deal with, none of which were too taxing for a senior GP of twenty-five years’
experience. He had worked at the centre for the past decade and taken the time
to really get to know his patients.

While sitting at his desk, busy tidying up his notes
and checking through e-mails, there was a quiet knock at his door. “Come in,”
he said.

“Sorry for troubling you Dr Smith.”

“What can I do for you, Gillian?” he enquired,
smiling. “I was expecting coffee.”

“Sorry. I’ve just received a call from the duty
manager, Mrs Hoffman, at Cliff Crest. She said to let you know Jim Broadbent
died this morning, and asked if you would go and certify the death.”

Smith glanced out of the window momentarily, and
then looked back at his secretary, who was waiting patiently. “Let Mrs Hoffman
know I’ll be there within the hour,” he said, rubbing his chin. “I’d hoped he
might pull through; I was due to see him tomorrow. What a shame, he was such a
nice old gentleman.”

“Yes he was, Dr Smith,” his secretary replied half
smiling. “I’ll get you that coffee,” she added, closing the door behind her.

 

 

At 12.30 p.m. Smith parked his
car outside Cliff Crest Residential Home; he walked up to the glass-fronted
entrance and Mrs Hoffman, who had seen him pull up, was waiting to greet him. After
exchanging pleasantries she escorted the doctor upstairs to the EMI Unit, where
she walked with him down the corridor to Room 21.

“Do you need me to stay with you?” Mrs Hoffman asked,
her keys jangling as she unlocked and opened the solid cream door.

Smith shook his head and they both entered, “I just
need to ask you a couple of quick questions and then have a few minutes to
complete the examination. I’ll lock the door when I’ve finished.” Then, placing
his case onto the bed, rolling up his sleeves and reaching for his notepad, he asked,
“What time did he die?”

“Sometime between 10.00 a.m. and 10.48. It was Jackie
Capestone, one of the care workers, who discovered he’d passed away; she’d come
to check on him at 10.48 and collect his mid-morning teacup.”

“So he was alive when tea was served, at 10.00?”

“Yes.”

“How did he seem?”

“Jackie said he was very quiet and sleepy, but
responsive. Much the same as usual.”

“Did he drink any of the tea?”

“Yes, but only a small amount.”

Smith nodded as he scribbled down notes.

“We’ve been expecting the worst, as you know he’s
been so ill, but it was still a shock.”

Smith nodded again, “Have the family been informed?”

“Yes, they’re on their way, they said they’d be here
later this afternoon.”

“Do you know if they will be requiring an interment
or cremation?”

“I’ve checked the records and it’s a cremation.”

The doctor made a note. “Right, thank you,” he said.
“When I’ve finished I’ll pop down and see you in the main office.”

Mrs Hoffman left the room and Smith spent a few
minutes formally examining Broadbent’s decrepit body; he found no signs of life
and after another ten minutes the examination was complete. Death was to be attributed
to myocardial infarction due to ischaemic heart disease. However, before
completing the Medical Certificate, he picked up the telephone in Broadbent’s
room and called Reception. Two minutes later there was a knock on the door and
Mrs Hoffman appeared.

“You wanted a word Dr Smith. Is there something
wrong?”

“I don’t think so. As far as I’m concerned this is an
expected death; in other words where the cause is quite clear and I’ve attended
the deceased during his last illness. But I just wanted to ask if you’d seen
this?” he held out the palm of Broadbent’s left hand.

Mrs Hoffman came closer to get a better look and
then shook her head, “I didn’t spot that. What does it mean?”

“One thousand, three hundred and sixteen, if I’m not
mistaken.”

Mrs Hoffman shrugged and looked blank.

“Would a member of staff have written it?”

“I can’t imagine so; maybe Jim did it, sometime
after washing… Look, there’s a pen.”

Smith glanced at the tray, “I wonder what
significance one thousand, three hundred and sixteen has to him.”

“Perhaps it’s a pin number or a security code, or an
amount of money. Maybe, realising he was nearing the end, he scribbled it on
his hand so his family would know.”

“It’s an unconventional way to write it though.”

“Yes it is. Perhaps it’s in code. I’ll mention it to
the family and ask if it means anything to them.”

Smith scratched the side of his nose and regarded
her for a moment, “Right, I’ll make a note of it and I’ll complete the Medical
Certificate and the Formal Notice.”

It took him another couple of minutes to deal with
the paperwork. He handed the relevant copies to Mrs Hoffman and they both left
the room, returning to the main entrance foyer.

“Let me know what the family have to say,” Smith
said, preparing to leave.

“I will. And thank you for coming so promptly.”

Dr Smith went out to his car and drove the short
distance back to Orchard Croft Medical Centre. It was 1.27 p.m.

 

 

Pauline Crean stared at the
windscreen of her Range Rover, which was parked in a secluded, wet,
litter-strewn lay-by just off the A65 in North Yorkshire. She was watching the
rain droplets slowly descending the screen, and, whilst aware of her new
acquaintance speaking, she wasn’t listening. She was thinking about Gerrard,
what they’d done together, where they’d been, how she missed him, and what
they’d be doing now if he were alive.

“Pauline. Pauline, are you alright?”

She snapped into focus and looked across to the
passenger seat. “No, I’m sorry, I’m anything but. It’s me, I don’t want any
more pain, and this isn’t going to work. You deserve better.”

“Shouldn’t I be the judge of that?”

She glanced in the mirror as a large HGV pulled into
the lay-by and parked up behind her. The rear wheel on the trailer unit was
steaming and the driver jumped out of the cab, pulled up the collar on his
high-vis jacket to protect him from the rain, and went to investigate. She
looked back to the passenger seat, “I’m so screwed up… I don’t know what I’m
doing half the time.”

“You’re still grieving.”

“It’s been two years.”

“It takes a long time to get over someone you’ve
loved; someone who’s been such a major part of your life. Listen, we don’t need
to rush things, if you prefer we can be friends; I’ll be there if you need
someone to talk to, a shoulder to cry on.”

She blinked away a tear and smiled softly. “You’re a
sweet young man and you have such a wise head on those broad shoulders, but I
need to have some space; some time to sort myself out. I don’t want to string
you along, particularly when you could be enjoying life; I’ll run you back into
town.” She leant towards him, kissed him on the cheek and, sensing he was about
to speak, put her index finger across his lips and slowly shook her head.

He indulged her wishes, and during the journey back
to town neither spoke; again she was thinking about Gerrard as she pulled up in
the square. She looked over, intending to apologise and say goodbye, but the
passenger door was open and he was jumping out. The door closed with force and
he walked away without looking back.

She felt tears welling up and pangs of guilt burning
inside; she hit the accelerator pedal and drove towards home.
Things need to
change, and fast,
she thought, pulling up at the farmhouse entrance gates.

 

Thursday 22
nd
March.

 

Hussain glanced at his watch,
Blast;
I’m going to be late
. He quickly threw the paperwork in the bureau drawer.
“I’ll have to sort this out later, I need to hurry darling.” He picked up the
car keys and grabbed his bomber jacket from the back of the chair. “Can you
text James, let him know I’m running late?”

“Yes dear, drive carefully,” his wife answered.

“I will.” He exited through the back door, sprinted
across to his car, jumped in, started the engine and drove off towards
Slaithwaite.

Abdul Hussain was a forty-eight-year-old finance
manager who lived at Scapegoat Hill in Huddersfield, not far from Junction 23
on the M62 motorway. He worked for the local NHS Foundation Trust, and was
married with a teenage son, James, who was a member of the Slaithwaite Scout
Group, which met every Thursday in the local Community Centre. It was there that
Hussain was now heading.

He looked down at his watch; it was 9.10 p.m., it
would take him another ten minutes to reach his destination, meaning he’d be
twenty minutes late. However, knowing that his son would have received the
text, he relaxed, there was no need to rush. This suited him as the route took
him on some tricky, dark, isolated lanes where the car’s full-beam headlights
were essential.

As he drove down a steep right-hand bend, unexpectedly
he was forced to brake hard. In his headlights he’d spotted a man in cycling
gear lying in the middle of the road, then, noticing a bicycle strewn up the
banking, realised there had been an accident.
He’s come down the hill too
fast and crashed into the wall!
Hussain jumped out of the car and ran over
to the cyclist, who was face down and not moving. “Are you alright, Mate?”
Hussain bent down and touched the man lightly on the shoulder. The man groaned
and started to turn.

It happened so fast that Hussain didn’t know what
hit him; instantly he felt completely rigid as a terrific shock of 75,000 volts
fired through his whole body. The shock ceased, but intense pain followed with
mental confusion and disorientation. He went limp.

 

 

The cyclist sprang to his feet,
hurriedly dragging Hussain’s limp, gangly body back to the car, and bungling it
into the passenger seat. He held Hussain’s arms behind his back and placed an
electric cable tie around the sleeve-covered wrists, pulling it tight. He
secured the trouser-covered ankles with an identical tie and placed gaffer tape
over Hussain’s mouth, before securing the seat belt across the lifeless body,
and closing the passenger door. Finally, he threw the bicycle out of sight over
the wall, gathered up a rucksack, which he had stashed there, raced back to the
car and jumped in the driving seat. After starting the engine and quickly turning
around he drove back up the hill and headed towards Scammonden. It had taken
him less than two minutes to abduct Hussain.

 

 

Pauline Crean was undertaking the
final check of the day on the stable block, outbuildings and horses. The whole
yard, together with the surrounding buildings, were well-lit by powerful
halogen lights and she felt completely at ease, accompanied by her three chocolate
Labradors, as she wandered around outside the isolated farmhouse. “Hello boy,”
she whispered, patting the neck of one of the horses; she held out the flat
palm of her hand and the horse quickly made short work of devouring the apple.
She patted him again and said, “Goodnight.” Then, as she was heading back
towards the farmhouse she heard the telephone ringing: there was an outside
bell in the yard and an extension fitted in the tack room, so she could always
hear and answer the phone while outside.

She quickly sprinted over to the tack room.
I hope
this is Jonathan
, she thought, crossing her fingers. She snatched up the
telephone, “Hello,” she said, slightly out of breath.

“Hi, Pauline, it’s Tracey.”

Tracey Proudfoot was a former work colleague from
back in the 1980s; she had been the secretary at the law firm where Pauline
first practised, and the two had become good friends.

“Hi, Tracey,” she said, trying to sound upbeat. “It’s
been a while.”

“Yes, I think the last time we spoke was just after
Gerrard’s funeral.”

“Yes it was,” Pauline said, thinking back.

“How are you and the kids?”

“I’m okay, I suppose,” she replied, sounding
anything but. “The kids are enjoying university, although they’re both on a
gap-year travelling around Asia together. Sarah rings me every couple of weeks
to see how I’m doing, and Scott, well he misses his father.”

“Have you still got the menagerie?”

“Yes, I’m currently in the yard, checking on them.
So how are you doing?”

“I’ve got some news about me and Austin. We’re tying
the knot next year and we’d love you to come to the wedding.”

“Oh, congratulations. That’s great news. It’s nice
to hear something good for a change; of course I’ll come.”

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