A bright pink noise turned his attention back to the ground. At first, he thought it was a birdcall but soon realised it was something else entirely. The hairs on the back of his neck were standing up like never before. He looked all around the field he’d been reading and daydreaming the afternoon away in but could see nothing.
A cold, sickly smell gathered around his nose and he tried to shoo it away like a fly. He dropped the comic on the ground and stood up, head darting around, sneaker heels spinning on the soft grass. The smell became stronger all of a sudden, like someone had opened a door to a sewerage tank. When the hand came from behind and gripped tight over his mouth, the first thing that occurred to him is he’d never be able to find out if he was a hero.
He tried to struggle but the hand gripped him like a vice. The last thing he saw was a panel from his beloved comic. The pain that followed was ever so brief but of such intensity, his heart stopped and his eyes burst from their sockets. Thankfully, he was unable to feel anything from then on.
The comic lay on the ground, flapping like an injured bird. Big, heavy drops of rain spattered onto its pages but there was no longer anyone to protect it. As the rain became harder, the colours on the comic panels became darker and more sinister before running into each other and off the page.
As these hit the dirt, the combined colours looked exactly like blood.
“So, what have you got?” The voice was as rough as sandpaper, heavy-duty sandpaper, the kind that can take mountains off a landscape. Any preconceived notion of the voice belonging to an as-grizzled body were quashed with his physical appearance though. The detective in question was tall, slim, casually neat and handsome. His name was Will Rogan but everyone called him Rogues, as in the plural of rogue.
The uniformed officer standing next to the covered body answered. “Hey Rogues, its some poor kid. Its nasty, too. I hope you haven’t had breakfast.” This voice was less rough but of the same ilk.
“Do we have an I.D.?”
“Yeah, the kid’s father found him. There’s no doubt. The boy’s name was Aiden Wilson. His Dad is Tony Wilson, you know, the bloke who runs that antique shop near the roundabout?”
“Tony, aw, bloody hell! We played rugby for school together. He was a forward. He’s a good bloke, you know. Aw, bloody hell…” He squated down next to the body and lifted one end of the cover. He looked back at the constable. His face said it all. The constable looked across at his partner, who was sheepishly standing some distance away. He looked particularly green around the gills.
“What the fucking hell happened to him? Has the coroner been here yet?”
“Nah, we just got him out of bed. He had a late night with a big accident near the Port Macquarie turnoff. He’ll be here soon, though.”
“You said Tony found him. Is he still here?”
“Yeah, he’s over sitting in the back of my car. He’s pretty messed up.”
Rogs stood and looked back toward the police car. He could see his old footy mate sitting on the back seat, legs hanging out the open door. He looked back at the constable again. “This is really fucking terrible. He’s a good bloke. Did he say if he saw anything?“ The constable looked awkward and shrugged.
“I didn’t ask, sorry.” Rogues tutted, then shot the hapless constable a quick smile.
“Don’t worry son, I’ll ask.“ Rogs walked over to the car. As he got closer, the man looked up. His eyes were red and his cheeks tear stained. Rogs really felt for him.
“Hey Tony, hows it going, mate?”
Tony just shrugged and waved a hand towards his dead son. “Who did this, Rogues, ay? Who did this to my little boy?”
“I don’t know, mate, but I’m going to do my best to find out, don’t you worry." Rogues crouched and put his hand on the other man’s shoulder.
“The constable over there says you found him. Had he been missing for long?”
“He didn’t come home last night, but sometimes he doesn’t, not on school holidays, anyway. He rides over to his Nan’s sometimes or he stays with a mate of his in town. He usually calls us first, but when he didn't, we just let it slide…” Tony sputtered and shook his head. He took Rogues right hand, squeezed it and said, “What am I gonna tell his mother, ay, what the fuck am I going to tell Lil?”
After repeating this a few times, the man heaved and hitched and sobbed deeply. Rogues, unsure of what to do, simply squeezed the other man’s shoulder with his free hand.
Eventually, the sobs ebbed and the heart-broken father looked up. “Just get him, will you, mate. Promise me you’ll get him?”
“I’ll do everything I can, mate. But I have to ask, mate, did you see anything?“
Tony looked up into Rogues eyes and simply shook his head. Tears stained his face and the shading kind of reminded the policeman of something. The moment seem suspended in time as he struggled to remember what it was. Something nasty, a smell, snapped him back into reality.
Rogues looked around, suddenly feeling nervous for no reason. He shook off the feeling and remembered where he was. He looked back down at Tony and said, “Listen, just sit tight and I’ll get someone to drive you home, okay?” With this Rogues stood and turned back to the crimescene.
In the back of his mind, he played the incident over and over again in his head, so he would remember it later. He wanted to explore it a bit now, but the coroner had just showed and would undoubtably want a proper crime scene established. The two young constables who answered the call wouldn’t know the first thing about it, so it was up to him.
He sighed and trudged back to his car.