Hear Me Roar | Exhibit B: Verpa Vlogarii (Story)

There were rumours of an escaped Jaguar, but that is all they were, rumours… Until a mutilated, half eaten body turned up and an irritating internet video star was caught sniffing around the crime scene for views. Then, horror of horrors, it turned out the body hadn’t just been attacked by a wild animal, it had been fed to a wild animal, post-mortem… We pick up the story just as Proctor and Gershwin return to the police station to begin untangling the mess. People of the internet, I give you…


HEAR ME ROAR

EXHIBIT B: VERPA VLOGARII

 OTHER PARTS:
Part 1 | Part 3| Part 4 | Part 5

“Are we even looking at a jaguar any more?” Gershwin pondered as we made our way to the station with all haste. I was enraged. I was more than enraged. I was livid and disturbed and in the mood for smashing things up. I can keep my cool at the most extreme of times but this was testing me to the limits.
“To be honest I don’t care,” I growled. “Whatever it was… I don’t care… Jaguar, panther, predatory wildebeest… I just want to catch whoever decided it would be fun to feed someone’s corpse to it before dumping the remains in the city centre.”
“The little gobshite?”
“I hope so. It’ll give us an excuse to rip his bollocks off and feed them to him! But it’s looking less and less likely. Not only would he have had to find a wild animal, but a corpse to feed to it as well.”
“Could still be a relative,” Gershwin suggested. That was one truly abhorrent thought.
“If he’s been feeding his dead grandfather’s corpse to a jaguar for YouTube views then I am going to destroy the internet. If he’s going to do shit like that then humanity doesn’t deserve it.”

‘If Corwen was in a cell I’d be down to the station in a flash. I’d leave him in the cell, but I’d still get down to the station before I did so.’Inside the station CID room Luke was waiting to give his presentation and Baskin and Reeves were waiting for orders.
“Sir… We’ve got the kid in a cell for now,” Reeves told me as we entered. “He’s called his mum and she’ll be here in an hour.”
“An hour?” If Corwen was in a cell I’d be down to the station in a flash. I’d leave him in the cell, but I’d still get down to the station before I did so.
“Apparently she’s having lunch with a friend.” There was a long pause. “Sir… He sounded really excited on the phone to her. Like… Not sorry at all. He sounded like he was celebrating. Sasha had to warn him that he was in here for a serious offence.”
“Does this twit even have any sense of the real world?” I despaired.
“His mother doesn’t come across as being much better. What kind of mother doesn’t even break off a dinner date when her son has been arrested?”
“Alright, D.S Gershwin… If it was one of your daughters in a cell, what would you do?” I asked.
“Personally? I’d beat the living shit out of them for getting themselves arrested. Whatever I was doing… Even if I were on the other side of the world I’d be there to wallop them as fast as I could get. I don’t believe in beating as a form of discipline… But getting arrested is an exception.”

“You were demoted for maverick behaviour, I believe?” I pointed out, sitting down at my old desk, which now, by rights, belonged to Gershwin. I now had the small office at the back. Gershwin sat on the chair opposite.
“You’ve heard of Harresh Kasim, the Silbury gang lord?”
“You mean kebab hand?” Luke jumped in, interrupting, spinning his chair across the room towards us.
“Luke… Please don’t call someone kebab hand! If this man has a hook or some kind of implement in place of a hand…”
“That’s what they call him,” Gershwin informed politely. “He even uses it himself… Though from what I saw he’s not got a kebab skewer for a hand like all the rumours say he has.”
“Rumours?”
“You haven’t heard anything of this guy then?”
“No I haven’t!”
“Well… All I’ll say is that I tried to fit him up, plant evidence, bring him down. My old boss found out and he gave me a choice. Either I could accept a demotion and transfer somewhere quiet and out of the way, or I could face a full inquiry and potentially damn every other investigation into Kasim’s business practices. I made my choice and here I am. Though from what I’ve seen so far it doesn’t seem very quiet.”

I looked at Luke, trying to process all this newly acquired and useless information and whilst I did that I urged him to give his briefing on our gobshite video star. Baskin and Reeves joined us.

The briefing started with a picture, one that wasn’t recent because in it he looked like he’d only had half a haircut, whereas right now his mop was quite thick. In the photo he looked the very definition of what the kids these days think of as trendy.
“This,” Luke pointed to the picture. “Is Ubi-Hobb-Throb- Real name Jessie Hobb- Age fourteen- YouTube star, four million subscribers and almost fifty million views in the last year. He uploads a ten minute video every day without fail. He’s been circulating the platform for three years but eighteen months ago he hit big.

Luke fiddled with the nearest computer and brought up the video that had made Hobb an internet megastar. It showed Hobb, as he was in the picture, being followed around nearby Connah’s Quay with an unseen co-conspirator (operating the camera) and a water blaster, jumping out at random people, soaking them. These people were obviously annoyed and upset, without fail, but Hobb didn’t apologise. Every time he just ran away laughing whilst screaming ‘it’s just a prank braaah… It’s just a prank,’ in an annoying voice. All of us, myself, Gershwin, Baskin and Reeves, had some very derogatory and unrepeatable comments about this video. One of Hobb’s targets was a woman who, when he jumped out, screamed in terror and started crying when he, unapologetically, drenched her to the bone before running away and screaming his catchphrase of ‘it’s just a prank braaah!’

“Who was his camera man?” Gershwin asked Luke. She was making notes of her own. On the page I could see she had written the title of the video and the words ‘evidence of assault?’
“No idea… But a huge proportion of his videos are like that. He never uses one particular place for what he calls his ‘pranks’ but they’re all somewhere within easy reach of Chester… Connah’s Quay, Parkgate, Flint, Wrecsam, Ellesmere Port…”
“How extreme are these so called pranks?”
“Most of them involve assaulting pedestrians in some way, jumping out at them with water blasters… He loves that one… There’s one where he screams in people’s ear which is particularly…” Luke brought it up on screen. This was far worse than the water blaster video, far worse. I don’t even want to recall it, it made my blood boil that much.
“Has he ever done anything physically violent? He has ever shown any tendency towards doing anything that comes close to what we’re looking at?”
“Dumping a mutilated body in an alley? No. Nothing at all. Most of his videos amount to nuisance behaviour bordering on assault or talking rubbish in that stupid voice… With lots of screaming.
‘About a week ago, when the jaguar photo started to go viral, he began to focus on that. He wasn’t the first, but he’s certainly been one of the loudest voices. Three of his last seven videos have been him shouting about the how the jaguar is real and how we’re all going to die… The other four… This was from two days ago.” Luke looked positively grim as he clicked through onto another video.

It started with Hobb, hiding behind a wall, giggling and saying that this was going to be his ‘bestest prank evaaah braah!’ He again had his camera man with him. Hobb pulled a hood over his head and a mask over his face then jumped up from behind the wall and started creeping towards… I gritted my teeth and my fingers clenched around the arm of the chair I was sat on… A Jaguar car dealership!
“Are there any Jaguar dealerships nearby?’ I pondered aloud. I didn’t know of any and this definitely didn’t look like Chester. Luke paused the video.
“I checked and the answer is no… But I found where this was from the sign here in the background… The one that says Chung Ku restaurant. It’s Liverpool. Just outside Toxteth.”
“Dangerous place to be making prank videos,” I grimaced. “And who thought of building a Jaguar dealership in Toxteth? That’s like rubbing salt into a wound.”
‘And who thought of building a Jaguar dealership in Toxteth? That’s like rubbing salt into a wound.’
Luke restarted the video and Hobb, followed by his camera man, snuck up to one of the cars and hid behind it. Then from his bag he pulled out a can of spray paint and painted the words ‘escaped’ all over it before giggling, as if it were funny. Then, unseen, they ran up to the dealership itself and started spray painting on the window. Hobb had got to the P of escaped when one of the salesmen caught him. There was a scream, a shout and then Hobb and the cameraman running from the scene with the salesman giving chase. Gershwin added ‘mindless vandalism, Jaguar, Toxteth… Confirmed,’ to her notes. On screen there was a change, an edit. It was clearly some time later because it had grown darker and Hobb was wearing different clothes.
“Alright D-cup braah’s… Part one was wicky wickad so now let’s move onto part twoooo yaaaah?”

He again went towards the Jaguar dealership, but this time bold as brass. There were uniforms there, I could see, examining the window which Hobb had earlier graffitied. He turned excitedly to his camera man.
“Awww sweee-et brah! The po-po have come a sniffing round! We can ‘ave even more fun wid dis one!” He continued striding towards the dealership and right up to a salesman who was checking every car for signs of damage. He was a fair distance from the uniforms.
“Scusey me may-at… Have any of your Jag-wahs been chompin down on people?”
“I beg your pardon?” the salesman, an obvious scouser, was understandably confused.
“Chompin down on people… Going for munchies… Eating them…”
“Piss off kid,” the salesman snapped, clearly having no time for such stupid inanities.
“I think they ‘ave braah… One of them chased me and mah mate Spicksey down the street… Its lid were doing all this…” He made an alligator snapping motion with his hand.
“Turn it off!” I ordered. “That’s quite enough. We get the picture. And that’s all he’s been doing?” Luke nodded.
“Seems like it.” I stood up and started pacing.

“Right… I want to know why this idiot was sniffing around my crime scene. How did he know there was an animal attack there? Is there any chance at all that he planted the body? He’s got motive… This could be one of his pranks, brah… I want someone to check this morning’s camera footage. Volunteers?”
“I will,” Gershwin raised her hand.
“Excellent… Baskin? I want you to go through all his so called prank videos. You recorded the places, Luke?”
“It took some work, but yeah. Got them all down.”
“Excellent. Baskin… Look through the videos and cross reference with any reports involving the specific ‘prank’ in the days leading up to the upload. Reeves… See if you can find me a wild predator expert. I want to know what we might be dealing with, jaguar, predatory wildebeest or whatever, and I want to know where on earth this thing might have come from. Is there any way the would be Jeremy Beadle could have got hold of such an animal? If not him, then who could?”
“Sir…” Baskin raised his hand. “Are any questions going to be asked if this kid’s bollocks mysteriously disappear?”
“None whatsoever!”

I moved into my office, agitated and in need of a good scream. I sank down behind my desk and buried my head in my knees. This was turning into the day from hell. It was about to get worse, for Pearson soon flounced in.
“I’m going to resign,” he declared.
“You can’t. You’re the best pathologist in the county,” I told him.
“After today I don’t want to be a pathologist anymore,” he sulked. I pushed Hobb’s photo at him.
“Right now this kid is prime suspect number one.” Pearson grimaced at the photo.
“Jessie Hobb… I know him. I had to ban my daughter from watching his videos. Sickening little freak! But I don’t think he could have done it.”
“Why not?”
“I’ve just had the remains transferred up to Blacon. There’s no way Hobb could have transferred them to Crook Street so cleanly. He’d need a vehicle of some kind. Not only that, the remains would have been too heavy for a weedy fourteen year old kid like him to lift on his own.”
“So he had help,” I shrugged. “He has a co-conspirator for some of his videos… A camera man…”
“He’d also have had to either break into a funeral parlour or go grave robbing,” Pearson raged. “I’ve not confirmed this with tests, but I think the body has been professionally prepared for burial… Or cremation… Either way, that corpse has been through the system at some stage.”

I couldn’t believe I was hearing this. This was like something out of a nightmare. Worse, it was a nightmare that kept getting more and more ludicrous.
“Right… So what are the chances? Bollox rumours of an escaped jaguar… Fine… Conspiracy nutters come out with this crap all the time… But then all this with the body… With it being dumped, not attacked at the scene… Then with it being dead to begin with and now you’re telling me whoever this person is they’ve been body snatched? Why would anyone do all that? If it was to make people panic… Well they could have just dumped a load of butcher’s meat in the alley, arranged it to look like an attack. Nobody would go to the trouble of actually snatching a body, feeding it to an actual animal and then dumping it, just to make people panic.”
“Even for a prank video it’s over the top,” Pearson grieved. “Even in that context it’s extreme.”
“There is one possibility,” I regretted. “We could be looking at some sort of maniac. Not homicidal, if this person were homicidal then he wouldn’t have bothered snatching a corpse.”
“I suppose Hobb might fit that profile,” Pearson suggested. “But I still don’t think he could have done it without a vehicle.”
“When do you suppose the body was left there?”
“Had to be some time the night before. I’d suggest very late, when there was nobody around.”
“If whoever did this used a vehicle then it would have been caught on camera. I’ll have Reeves check through last night’s footage once he’s done finding me a wild predator expert.”

There was a knock on the door, Gershwin carrying a laptop.
“Sir… I’ve checked the camera and it suggests Hobb was acting on a tip off from someone.” She put the laptop down on my desk and brought a folder up. “There are three video files on the camera card, all from this morning. Two are the usual bollox, him sneaking around the crime scene till he gets caught… One of them has you looking at the body, sir… He seems to find it hilarious… The first is the most interesting though.” Gershwin let the first file on the card play.

It was rougher than the uploaded stuff, lots more pauses and faffing about trying to get his angles right, but Hobb was still the same annoying little shit as ever.
“Alright d-cup braahs…” He used that one in an earlier video and it was just as cringey then. “Some old gezzer on twittah-twit hooked me up wid a source… Said I needed to get down to Crook Street coz there’s evidence of our jaggy down dere. I don’t know if he telling the tooth or not but if he ain’t ima gunna find him and beat his dentures owwwt… Know wad I’m-ah sayin’ braaahs?” Hobb made some sort of weird gesture with his hands.
“See… Threatening people!” Pearson pointed. “If Corwen was a ten year old girl would you let him watch that?”
“If Corwen was a ten year old girl then my life would have been a lot simpler!”
“I sincerely hope my daughters aren’t watching this shit-bag. If they are there’ll be hell to pay,” Gershwin snorted.

We watched the rest of this clip. It was mainly Hobb being a nuisance on the rows, the side opposite to Crook Street, until he reached the barber’s, where he swung the camera round. The two uniforms who had been there when I had arrived were talking to people, trying to keep them back. There was a buzz going on around the place. Hobb turned the camera back on himself.
“Awww shiiit braahs… Looks like the po-po have got here first… But what’s that down there?” He turned the camera back around and zoomed in on the rags which covered the remains. “That looks like sometin… Let’s sneak round da back and get a looksies for ourself, yah?” There the clip ended.

“Have you checked the tweet?” I asked Gershwin as she closed the laptop.
“Yes sir. It seems genuine. His timeline shows a retweet from a Gordon Gloucester, posted to him at around seven this morning and retweed just before nine. It says…” She checked her notes. “Hey kid… Get yourself down to Crook Street, Chester. Massive jaguar evidence!”
“And Hobb just took that?”
“I had a look at Gloucester’s twitter feed. He doesn’t look like the type to dupe children, even irritating ones.”
“Who is he?”
“Local man by the looks of it. Animal lover… Tweets a lot of RSPCA, animal charity stuff… He also seems to have a close connection St Blaise’s church in Christleton…”
“ST BLAISE’S!” Pearson and I chorused together.
“Is that significant?”
“St Blaise’s,” Pearson informed, “Is where the photo that first started the whole jaguar rumour was taken.”
“This case gets stranger and stranger,” I voiced. “Putting aside the St Blaise’s connection for the moment, what does Gloucester have to do with a fourteen year old internet star? Assuming, for a moment, based on that tweet, that it was Gloucester who dumped the body, why would he then want to lure some kid to the remains?”
“Could be a coincidence,” Pearson suggested. Gershwin and I both simultaneously shook our heads. It was not a coincidence.
“Gloucester definitely doesn’t look the type to watch internet videos, especially not ones like Hobb’s. Reading through his tweets he seems… Kind… Genial… He seems like the kind of man who would side with the victims rather than the perpetrator.”

“Something about all this doesn’t add up,” I groused for about the thousandth time that day.
“We don’t have all the evidence yet,” Gershwin said, side eying Pearson and hinting that he should get on with identifying the corpse. He took the hint and threw it back at her.
“Yes… Well… I’m procrastinating… I’m thinking that if I sit here long enough I’ll reach retirement age and somebody else will have to identify the poor sucker.” Gershwin and I both glared at him and he gave up. Yes, it was horrible, but his job was to look at horrible things. This one just happened to be more horrible than most. “Fine… But don’t ever ask me to identify any corpse ever again… Next time you can do it yourself!”
“Next time it’s likely to be some old dear in Handbridge who’s passed away in her sleep aged one hundred and two.”
“Oh if only this were, if only this were,” Pearson lamented as he passed out of the office.

Reeves’ head replaced him.
“Sir… I’ve got you a wild predator expert… Doctor Caroline Faulkner, lecturer in animal studies at the university. Specialises in South and Central American mammals…”
“Jaguars?”
“Jaguars!” I grinned for the first time since the body had been discovered. “One problem… She’s currently flying back from a conference in Brazil and won’t land until eight tomorrow morning.”
“Then we’ll pay her a visit first thing. Can you leave a message for her? Excellent!”
“One more thing, there’s a man in reception claiming to be Andrew Parsons, Jessie Hobb’s father.”
“Even better… Maybe we can persuade him to exert some influence over his errant son.”
“If he hasn’t already, there’s no hope,” Gershwin corrected me. It was a fair point.
“Perhaps… But if there is no hope then I’ll make sure he regrets it for the rest of his days.”
“That sounds like you plan on indulging in some maverick behaviour!”
“There are more ways of making someone regret something than with maverick behaviour, Sergeant Gershwin… Like making him feel the guilt of his son’s actions, for example?”

I got up and walked out into the main office.
“Reeves, I want you to check all the CCTV in and out of Crook Street and Watergate Street for last night between half nine and seven this morning. I want the plate of every car that went through and the name of every driver… I want you to keep an eye out for one name in particular, Gordon Gloucester.”
“Gordon Gloucester… Got it chief!”

««««««⊕»»»»»»

Andrew Parsons was a drip from the Black Country. He was a coward who looked uncomfortable in his own skin, a weed with a pathetic drone of a brummie accent. Gershwin dealt with him initially, whilst he sat in the reception in his padded blue overcoat and tried to come up with lame excuses for his son.
“He doesn’t mean to cause any harm… Do you Jess?” he claimed after we had sat him down in the interview room and showed him the water blaster video. ‘Jess’ shook his head. He’d suddenly lost his tongue. “He’s only having a bit of fun… It’s…”
“It’s what? Just a prank, brah?” From the look of fear in his eyes he really didn’t like D.S Gershwin. She didn’t much like him either. I was on her side. It was no wonder Hobb was so out of control, pathetic and off the leash. His father couldn’t have exerted influence over a wet paper bag and his mother, who had decided not to cut short her dinner date after all, obviously didn’t care.

‘And what if she didn’t? Do you even know that lady, at all? Do you know what goes through her head? What she’s been through? She could be the loneliest woman in the world, just wanting somebody to come and give her a hug…’I threw a video still at him, to see if that would change his mind.
“That lady there was clearly distressed. The video shows her in tears… IN… TEARS!” Parsons’ lip quivered.
“I’m sure it was just the shock,” he tried to excuse. Gershwin and I were keeping a stress toy under the desk and passing it between us. It was getting some rough treatment as Hobb and his father were pushing us both to our limits. I, who currently had hold of it, clamped down on the toy and turned to Hobb.
“And what do you think, Jeremy Beadle? Was it just the shock?” He looked confused over ‘Jeremy Beadle’ but then the rest of my question worked its way into the swamp.
“Yah blud… It were just the shock!”
“You made a lady cry… Do you not think that was wrong?”
“Nah blud… She got over it!”
“And what if she didn’t?” Gershwin snapped at him. I passed her the stress toy. “Do you even know that lady, at all? Do you know what goes through her head? What she’s been through? She could be the loneliest woman in the world, just wanting somebody to come and give her a hug…”
“If she wants a hug she should get herself a boyfriend then,” Hobb paraded. I heard the stress toy begin choking under the desk.
“You are looking at some very serious offences young man. Right now one of my D.Cs is cross checking the dates of all your prank videos with any reports made. If just one of them comes back then you are looking at a very serious punishment… That’s before we add in the fact that we already have evidence of assault and vandalism, both of which are going to net you some serious consequences of their own.”
“Evidence?” Parsons looked at us, bemused. “You’ve not got any evidence!” The stress toy came into my hand. Gershwin had well mangled him during that last question.
“What the hell do you call those videos which show your son ‘pranking’ people? There’s no denying it’s him, Mr Parsons.”
“And I’m sure if we looked at the IP we’d find they were uploaded from your son’s computer.” Both Hobb and Parsons were quiet. The stress toy got a moment’s recovery.

I took out a picture of Gordon Gloucester and handed it over. Hobb didn’t show any sign of recognition.
“That’s the man who tweeted you this morning… Ever seen him before?” Hobb shook his head. “Do you have any idea why he might want to lure you to a crime scene?”
“Hang on… Lure him to a crime scene?”
“Yes, Mr Parsons… Lured to a crime scene! I highly doubt that this man is a regular viewer of your son’s videos.” Parsons began to splutter and cough before turning towards Hobb.
“What the hell have you done to this man Jess?”
“Ah dunno blud… I ain’t never seen this man before in mah life ‘ave ah?”
“Please teach your son to speak English, Mr Parsons,” Gershwin warned. The stress toy was passed over.
“So you’ve never heard of this man before this morning? Gordon Gloucester… Answer in clear English, please.”
“Nah mate… I ain’t.”
“I said English, Mr Hobb…” Hobb tried to stare me down. “I bet your teachers at the King’s school don’t let you talk like that, do they? DO THEY?” The stress toy came back to me.
“No sir, they don’t,” Hobb sulked, finally reverting to a normal mode of speech.
“Excellent… Now… Yes or no… Had you ever heard of Gordon Gloucester before he tweeted you this morning.
“No sir, I hadn’t.”
“What about St Blaise’s church?”
“Yah mean where the jaggy jag was spotted?” A stern raised eyebrow, a clench of the stress toy. “I mean… Errr… Where the jaguar was spotted? No. I’ve never been there.” Parsons suddenly looked confused. Both Gershwin and I noticed.
“I think you’re lying, Mr Hobb,” Gershwin pressed, taking back the stress toy. “Judging by your YouTube channel you’ve become obsessed with this escaped jaguar story. Why wouldn’t you visit St Blaise’s, see where it all started? Attempt to track down the jaguar? It would have been more worthwhile than vandalising a car dealership.”
“What? I didn’t do that,” Hobb protested.
“WE HAVE THE FOOTAGE!”  The stress toy went flying across the room, right over the cowering Hobb’s head, and collided with the wall behind him.
“For the benefit of the tape, D.S Gershwin has just thrown a stress toy across the room,” I said aloud before returning to the matter at hand. Parsons quaveringly collected the toy from the floor and passed it back to Gershwin.

“If you’d never heard of Gordon Gloucester then why did you follow his advice to go to Crook Street this morning?” There was no answer. “Some random stranger tweets you, and you go? That doesn’t sound like very sensible behaviour to me…”
“He looked honest,” Hobb admitted. “Old gezzer’s like that don’t lie, do they?”
“Trust me, they do. I’ve worked as a police officer for long enough to know that they really do!” Hobb looked ashamed, guilty.
“And when you get there? You see the police… Instead of being sensible you attempt to sneak around them, to see what was in the alley!”
“I didn’t know it was a crime scene, did I?”
“What did you think the police were doing there? You must have known it was a police matter because you saw my colleague investigating the body. You laughed at him and called him P.C Freak-Out.” Parsons laughed but I shot him down with a daring glare.
“And then after that, even though you had seen my reaction, you still decided to have a look for yourself. You knowingly attempted to trespass on a crime scene and put your grubby fingers all over evidence.”
“You did!”
“I’m a police officer… I know what the hell I’m doing. You are a child who assaults people for internet views. You even said it yourself when we caught you… What was it he said D.S Gershwin?”
“He said… I’m getting those sweet, sweeeet ay-asss views, ain’t I blud?”
“You’d film a corpse for views? Someone who has suffered and who has had their body dumped in an alleyway?”
“He didn’t do that,” Parsons protested. “How could he have done that when he only found out about it this morning?”
“Maybe he didn’t dump the body, Mr Parsons… But somebody did. Somebody fed that man to a wild animal and dumped the leftovers in an alleyway… And your son was going to use his corpse for views. Does that not strike you as wrong?” Parsons couldn’t answer. He was looking almost as guilty as Hobb.

“Mr Parsons… Have you ever attempted to teach your son a single ounce of morality? The difference between right and wrong? Did you never tell him not to hit other children? Not to take what didn’t belong to him? Did you ever teach him to share? To show respect for other people? No… I didn’t think so. I’ll bet you haven’t even had words over these sickening acts he’s been uploading to the internet…”
“They’re just pranks, brah!”
“They’re not just pranks, brah… This is harming other people. This is being a little bully. This is being a menace to society. A prank is nothing more than a harmless jape, something the other person might find amusing. It is not making grown women cry.” I moved back to Parsons. “This, Mr Parsons, is on you. Your son and his behaviour are your responsibility. Your job is to make sure he grows up good and decent and proper… Your job is to stop him from going around assaulting people. You, Mr Parsons, have failed. You have failed both as a father and as a human being. Do you want to know what the cost of that is? Your son will now have a criminal record, a large and serious one. He won’t go to university, he’ll go to prison, to a young offender’s institute. For the rest of his life he will live with the consequences of these so called pranks hanging over his head. And why? Because you couldn’t even teach him some basic morality. Because you are a failure!” I said all this as calmly as I could, though still with a degree of harshness.

I had told Gershwin that were ways besides maverick behaviour to make Parsons feel guilt, and this little speech had done the trick. The guilt of his failures crushed him and he broke down in tears. We suspended the interview, allowed him time to recover, and returned Hobb to a cell.

««««««⊕»»»»»»

There was bad news back in the main office.
“I’ve checked the CCTV footage sir,” Reeves admitted. “There were seventeen cars that went down Watergate Street last night and not one of those stopped outside the alley. Those that did stop? No dice. They didn’t stop anywhere near Crook Street.”
“What about on Crook Street itself?”
“Nothing sir…”
“What?”
“Absolutely nothing between half nine and seven, like you asked for. There were a few pedestrians but none that looked to be carrying a body.”
“See if you can identify them… They may be potential witnesses.”

My phone rang… Pearson.

“This had better be good news!” I walked over to where Gershwin was setting up an incident board… Pictures of Hobb, of the crime scene, of Gordon Gloucester at a barbecue, the original jaguar image…
“There really isn’t much to identify this poor sod,” Pearson decried. “The face is chewed to pieces but hopefully we’ll still be able to get those dental records.”
“Did you find anything?”
“Yes… It might help… There’s a tattoo on his arm…” All of a sudden my eyes snapped to one of the photos on the board.
“It isn’t a lion is it? Left arm, just above the elbow?”
“How in the name of Delia Smith roasting herself alive did you know that?” Because I could see it, clear as day… It was right there in that photo of Gordon Gloucester, right there on his left arm just above the elbow, the tattoo of a lion!


Next Time: Proctor and Gershwin attempt to discover just what Gordon Gloucester was fed to… Jaguar? Predatory Wildebeest? Find out in… EXHIBIT C: CONOCHAETES PRAEDONIUS

THE PREQUEL TO THIS, D.S PROCTOR (WHICH INVOLVES A DEAD WELSHMAN BEING SHOT IN THE BACK) IS AVAILABLE NOW IN eBook AND IN Paperback FROM AMAZON. YOU CAN ALSO FOLLOW @Morfas_Family ON TWITTER FOR REGULAR, BRIEF, IN UNIVERSE COMMENTARY.

Above image from chesterzoo.org

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