Excerpt #6 – Chapter 2:
Ben held Connolly’s gaze. He’d had two plastic surgeries already and figured he’d eventually deal with the rest of the scarring, but cosmetic surgery didn’t come cheap in Canada. Anyway, up here, it would be a badge of honour. If he’d taken a southern posting, people would have stared relentlessly, and working in the field would be insufferable.
Connolly broke away first, much to Ben’s satisfaction. “I’ve got something I want you to look into, a cold case from Winnipeg they want us to go through again.” He passed a thick manila file folder over his desk to Ben. “She was from here and turned up dead in Winnipeg three years ago. I figured you could reinterview the relatives, see if they remember anything new. Get your feet wet again.”
Ben opened the file and looked at the photo attached to the left-hand side of the folder. A stunning teenage girl smiled into the camera. It was a selfie taken in a brightly lit bathroom—not one of the homes up here—maybe a motel down south? She wore a yellow tank top, jean shorts, and two gold necklaces holding a tiny gold cross and a bird charm. Her highlighted lustrous brown hair curled around her face and shoulders. She playfully held up a water bottle to her lips, smiling into the camera.
He started scanning the first page: Morag Raider—Caucasian; date of birth April 16, 1999; 5’2”; 105 lbs.; light brown curly hair, medium length; blue eyes; no tattoos; appendectomy scar; ears pierced; dental records on file in Churchill. Left Churchill June 22, 2016 on the train to Winnipeg to visit her older sister. Last known address showed she was living with her aunt Ruby Gallagher at 36 Tillman St.
“Ruby’s her aunt? She lived with her for how long?”
Connolly waved a dismissive hand. “I have no idea. There are interview reports in there from us and the guys in Winnipeg who spoke to her sister once they tracked her down. The girl turned up dead quick once she hit the big city. Do a recanvas and update the file.”
Ben nodded and rose to leave.
“Try and remember your shift starts at 0645 hours. Dismissed.”
Dismissed. Like he thinks this is the military. Which I would’ve been in, except for my stupid peanut allergy. Ben fought the urge to salute him and left the office, clutching the file folder.
Morag Raider was Ruby Gallagher’s niece. Well, that was a revelation. He’d never heard Ruby refer to her before. He thought he’d known all about Ruby’s family because she was open about her husband’s accidental boating death on the Churchill River seven years ago, and her son, Rory, owned the helicopter tour company in town. He’d better swing by the café to find out more about Morag.
He grabbed his cold coffee from Trudy’s desk and headed to the break room to nuke it in the microwave. Voices carried from the cell block as Adam set about releasing their two now sober individuals. Most of their drunken fights were harmless exchanges between transient workers up here doing construction on a government project. He heaved a sigh as the microwave beeped. It felt good to be back in familiar surroundings. He held out his right hand and stared at it. No tremors. Much better.
“Hey, new guy.” Zack stuck his head in the doorway. “You survived your first interview with Connolly. That’s good news.”
“I’m not the new guy. You’re the new guy,” Ben said before taking a scalding sip of coffee. “When did he post in, anyway?”
Zack came all the way into the room and closed the door. “He got sent here from D Division, Winnipeg two months ago. Got demoted from Sergeant for some reason. He’s bitter about it.”
“Gee, I couldn’t tell,” Ben quipped. The hot coffee was waking him up nicely.
“There’s someone at the counter. Can you take it?”
“You’re the new guy,” Ben said before taking another sip of coffee. “I’ve been up here nineteen months. Why don’t you take it?”
“Because she says she’ll only speak to you,” Zack said, leaning against the door frame. “Sorry, I’m Zack Lazar.” He stuck out his hand to shake Ben’s and gave it a solid grip. “Just got in from the academy. This is my first posting.”
Ben grinned. “Well, then, watch and learn, newbie.” He headed out the door, through the bullpen, and to the front counter where a woman paced, clutching her elbows.