Cast-iron green eyes blazing from under dragon-spine brows—that was Rory Drummond’s trademark. He once thought he’d patented the “baleful glare.” Until, that is, he’d met Inspector Patricia Finley.
The fifty-something inspector looked up from a stack of paperwork and managed a half-smile and nod toward Alex. “Special Constable Dominguez, it’s been a while.” With a flicker of her eyelids she acknowledged his companion. “Please sit. I have five minutes.”
Rory thought of Prince Valiant-meets-Godzilla. Her straight-to-the-shoulders hair and severe bangs were a color some might call “dishwater brown,” if they were being gracious. Her mouth rarely moved into an all-out smile. Somewhere under the PS-blue sweater might be a pair of breasts…but surely under the severe skirt hung a pair of brass balls.
Finley and he had a love-hate relationship. Or better to call it ignore-and-tolerate. She put up with him because she liked his father. Aye, she was married, but Ken Drummond was a fine-looking man; and he and his sire were two beards in a bollock cart.
Rory grinned and sat in a straight-backed wooden chair in front of her desk, executing his best manspread. Catching Alex’s danger-eye, he leaned forward a little and removed his hat, setting it on the bump of his fly.
Alex wasted no time. “Inspector, I need to ask you for some time away.”
“And you could not call me?”
“Yes. I could. But I wanted to give you the respect of looking in your eye when I ask.”
Her fingers relaxed on the pen. Rory noticed that she actually dropped it.
“Which means to me you are serious as St. Andrew. Go on.”
“A friend of Kenneth Drummond is missing. From—” he turned to Rory.
“Gleann Cu. Near Braemar.”
“Kenneth has called the local P.S. stations, old friends, anyone who might have a clue. No luck.”
“And he’s been…away…how long?”
“We think at least a week. The man is responsible to a fault. He looks over one of the Drummond properties and has never been late getting in the monthly reports. But for some reason he—”
Finley leaned back in her swivel chair and looked at the ceiling.
“Your father already called me, Rory. What he doesn’t know, Alex, is this: Andrew MacCallum is a retired Detective Constable. One of our own. Someone I actually remember from the old days in Perth. He retired more than a dozen years ago, but once a cop… So we have a man unaccounted for who either disappeared on purpose or who has been dealt with by an outside force. Accidental or otherwise.”
She turned on her cell and flicked through her photo file before handing it to Alex, who passed it to him. He saw a fleshy-faced P.S. man in his early forties wearing a cap. Hardly a definitive resemblance. The man he remembered was full of face like this, but his red hair had stood out like a halo of fire.
Leaning forward, she fixed Alex with her signature stare. “So what can you do about it, Constable? You are one man. I currently have four if you leave. I’ve contacted Sergeant Constable Connell in Braemar. They’re currently one man down— meaning they have one left.”
“Just give me the paperwork to switch my duties temporarily to…Braemer? Glenshee?”
“It’s not done that way. Special Constables have no—”
Rory felt something close to a sob rise in his throat when he saw the look on Alex’s face, the storm in his eyes. Finley must have seen it, too.
“Calm down, Alex. I still have friends in Perth. And Connell is a good man too.”
She opened the long top drawer and pulled out a form that Rory would swear she had already prepared.
“This bit of cockamamie crap is one way I sometimes deal with…what you Americans call red tape.” She scrawled something on the bottom and pushed it across the desk to Alex.
He read over it quickly before looking up with a puzzled frown. “This gives me and ‘all necessary agents’ the right to question, detain, and arrest.”
“Yes. Well, I have a similar form for your necessary agent, who may affix whatever fictitious name he’s prepared to prove with identification.” She brought another sheet of paper from the drawer and pushed it toward Rory.
Rory read it with a glance and fixed the starchy Inspector with a stare of his own. Except he knew, and she knew, it spoke his deep-felt gratitude.
“For Andrew. And Kenneth. Two good men. If that’s all, gentlemen…”
“I will keep you informed, Inspector.”
“I know you will, Constable. Good luck.”
Opening the door to the outer office, he almost did not hear her farewell.
“And good day, good luck, both of you…good men.”
That’s all, folks. I hope to finish this novel before November, when I’ll attempt another Nanowrimo, probably a continuation of another popular O’Quinn series, the Gaslight Mysteries.
I leave you with a link to the Nevada Highlander group: