The Visiting Detective – Episode 01

“MISS,” the tall man said, “I think you might be better waiting out at the front.”

Gaby looked up from the papers on the desk. The man was standing in the office doorway. He might as well have had Copper written across his forehead in red ink, she thought. He was so obviously a detective. She wasn’t sure exactly what gave it away – the severe Fifties haircut (why were so many CID men out of date?), the clothes that were a symphony in beige or the way his toes turned out as he stood there.

“I’m fine here, thanks,” Gaby said, reading again from the sheet of paper in her hand.

He stepped inside the room.

“You do know,” he said politely, “that this is a CID office? Are you waiting for someone?”

Gaby put the report down and turned round to face him. He was looking her up and down, and Gaby remembered that, because it was Friday, she was dressed a little more flamboyantly than usual. Her mini skirt was in a shade of orange she loved. She was wearing quite a lot of kohl around her large brown eyes. She’d used the pale and delectable new Maybelline “Pink Icing” lipstick shade. On her feet were her favourite patent boots – ever so now, but comfortable, too. The boys were taking her to a club in Soho after work. There would certainly be dancing, so why look dowdy?

“Yes, I do know this is a CID office,” she said, smiling and holding out a slender hand. “It’s my CID office, or at least the one I share with the rest of the West End team.”

The tall man was blinking rapidly, and his jaw fell slightly open.

“I didn’t know,” he stammered. “You don’t look like . . .” A puce flush was spreading from the middle of his forehead to the edges. “I haven’t come across a –”

“A female in the CID?” Gaby said. “Well, welcome to the West End station. I am DS Gabrielle Clark.”

He slowly took the hand that was still held out to him, and shook it even more slowly.

“I’m DS Kit Robinson.”

“By your accent I’d say you’re not from round here.”

“Liverpool Central, Serious Crime Unit. I’m on secondment.”

Gaby frowned. She hadn’t heard about any secondment, and hoped Rawlish wouldn’t decide to send her to Liverpool in reciprocation, or anything silly like that. London was her spiritual home. She also hoped somebody else would be dealing with the paperwork, and with the tedious training of an inexperienced officer from the regions.

And who had arranged this secondment, anyway?

DS Robinson dug into the beige pocket of his beige slacks and pulled out a letter.

“Oh, yes, I see the name here,” he murmured. “DS Clark.”

“That’s me. So they’ve listed the whole team for you, have they?” Gaby moved back to her desk. She had been planning to spend the morning wading through a mountain of paperwork, and had expected to be alone. The others were doing routine follow-up work on a cluster of assault cases at the less salubrious end of the Tottenham Court Road.

“I’m sorry there’s only me here,” she said, sitting down and pulling her chair up to the typewriter. “The chief ought to roll in from his meetings soon.” She wound a fresh sheet of paper into the Olivetti.

DS Robinson was peering at his letter. Gaby wished he’d find himself a quiet corner to wait.

“That’s probably a help,” he said. “You’re down here as the officer I’m to pair up with.”

“I beg your pardon?”

He walked over and handed her the letter.

Two months, West End Station, from Jan 12, it read. Partner: DS G. Clark.

She reread it, and handed it back.

“I think that must be a mistake,” she said. “It may mean DS Clarence. Maybe they mistyped from a list. He’s very sociable, is Ben Clarence. Me, I don’t need a partner.”

Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process, which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one tip to new writers is “write from your imagination”.