If it looks like an elephant and walks like an elephant, it’s an elephant, thought Captain Trevor Watson.
For some reason, though, the higher powers within the South African Police weren’t buying the wisdom.
He stood at the entrance to the rich man’s garage, the smell of car fumes still tarnishing the night air. He scanned the confined space.
“This exactly how you found it?” he asked Jones.
The pimply constable stood to attention. “Yes, sir.”
To the left side, a Ford Cortina with a teddy bear on the back seat. A silver BMW to the right. An expensive status symbol car for him, a practical one for her, Watson noted. That in itself said something about the dead man. A garden hose extended from the Beemer’s exhaust to the driver’s side window.
They had all the garage doors open now, airing out the interior before proceeding with the investigation.
“Your thoughts, Constable?”
Let the youngster learn on the easy ones.
Jones shrugged. “Looks like a suicide to me.”
“Right.” Did to Watson too, but obviously the brigadier had a different take on it to call him when he wasn’t up on the rotation. Watson knew better than to complain. After last week’s crap-out session, his job was hanging by the proverbial thread, except in his case the thread was thinner than a hair and more brittle than a dry twig from a thorn tree.
Officially, he’d been in the right. A white property owner had the legal right to shoot a black burglar, provided a warning shot had been fired first. The way some policeman worked, they would fire that warning shot themselves when they arrived at the crime scene and found only one spent cartridge. Some policemen, but not him. A week ago, Watson had been called out to a shooting scene: one dead burglar, one shot fired. Only one shot. Instead of fixing up the scene after the fact, he had chosen to obey the letter of the law, arrest the white homeowner for culpable homicide. The result? The guy who shot the burglar without warning got off with a smack on the wrist. Watson, given the history of his employment in the South African Police, came out with excrement stuck to both boots.
Remember whose side you’re on, Watson, the brigadier’s words kept ringing in his ears. One false move. Just one, and you’re finished. I’m watching you.
So. Saturday night, and he’d been pulled out of bed to investigate yet another suicide. Yet another white middle-aged guy whose life of luxury had blown up in his face. Watson remembered the outline of the man’s sprawling mansion, eyed the BMW, tried to understand. No go.
“Word has it he’s some sort of big shot. That right?” Jones swatted at his forearm, brushed off the dead insect. “Bloody mozzies.”
“Far as I know, the victim hasn’t been positively identified yet. Both cars and this residence, though, are registered to a scientist doing classified work for the government. That’s why all sorts of trip wires sounded the alarm the moment the call came in.”
“Live by the sword, die by the sword, hey, Captain?”Watson waved a mosquito away from his own arm. Shook his head. “It’s not as though the victim…” his memory was still sluggish from the sex marathon he’d had only half an hour before, “this Gordon Pretorius…” He paused, found his train of thought. “Not as though he died of poison, or a bomb explosion, or whatever it is government scientists create in their labs.
(link to the book)