The McBurr Series: Kidnap
Story by Bob Little (UK)
Published in Issue 32 of The Ofi Press.
‘McBurr, two kids have disappeared on their way home from school, I want you to head up the investigation’ ordered DSC Redpath, his voice loud and irritable on the phone.
‘Hello to you as well,’ I answered. ‘I’m at a poolside café having tea with my daughter.’
‘Is that Sammy or Grace?’
‘It’s the bairn, she’s currently spitting out apple puree all over me.’ I laughed at Grace and pushed some more pudding into her mouth. She thought that it was a great game, and giggled and spat some more out.
‘Well that’s no bloody good. Look these two have been reported missing for about an hour. I want you to head up the team.’
I didn’t say anything.
‘Never mind, I’ll get somebody else to do it.’
‘I’m at Cramlington baths… Boss, I'm with my kid in a swimming lesson. I’ve still got four days of my holiday to go.’
‘I’d prefer it if you headed up the team, that’s if you can make it?’ he sounded a bit less combative.
‘I’ll do it sir, but I’d better ring Barbara to come and pick up the bairn.’ I almost added that she wouldn’t be pleased, I’d insisted on taking Grace out, and then she was due to stay at my place overnight which after six months was a complete breakthrough.
Redpath cleared his throat. ‘I’ve already rung Barbara; she’s on her way to Cramlington.’ He coughed again. ‘She will act as the outside consultant on the investigating team. That’s presuming you’ve got no objections to it.’
I knew that I was cornered.
‘Barbara is as good an outside expert as you’ll get. But you know that we don’t have a particularly close relationship….’
‘She says something similar about you and that she’ll be in Cramlington in half an hour, that’s if she can get through the floods.’
‘Who’s looking -’
‘Her mum is going to look after the bairn. Your core team will be Whizz as your acting DI, Bill your sergeant , Swampy and Dench as your DC’s and we can eventually give you another 10 officers to do door to door, answer phones and the like. I want you there as quick as possible. We are going to issue a press statement to try to catch the 6:30 local television news, but this rain is affecting everything.’
‘Is an incident room being set up?’
‘Whizz is doing it as we speak. Swampy has gone down to see the mother at High Pit.’
‘I’m on my way. I’ll just be a few minutes as the Nick is just around the corner.’
The pathways were streaming with water and rain was lashing down as we left the sports hall and got into the car. The radio said that over three inches of rain had fallen in the last two hours and that there was major disruption though the NE on road, rail and air networks. The traffic was gridlocked, and it took us over twenty minutes to drive there. Storming Norman as desk sergeant buzzed us in.
‘I hadn’t realised that we were recruiting them so young,’ said Norman smiling at the bairn.
‘Norman, this is my daughter Grace, Grace this is Norman, who if you treat him right will make your life a hell of a lot easier.’ I winked.
‘Nasty business with the two lassies,’ said Norman shaking his head.
‘They live at High Pit don’t they?’
‘Yes. Well the two underpasses that the bairns would normally go through on their way home are both flooded, about a foot of water in one, three feet in the other. The kids would need to cross the main road.’
‘There’s no one drowned in the pools?’ I asked.
‘No, I’ve already had both checked. I tried to get officers there to make sure the kids were safe, but by the time they got to the schools all the kids had gone.’
‘I’m told that the teachers helped them across the road and Dudley Lane, but no-one was there on the avenue. I’ve rung both schools to ask staff to stay back but I’m having real trouble getting anyone down there to interview them.’
‘Is it that bad?’
‘I’ve seen nowt like it in twenty years on the force: the good thing is though no one could have got very far with the kids if the roads are so bad.’
I nodded and smiled, ‘Thanks again Norman.’
‘It’s good to see your lassie doing so well.’
I beamed at him. ‘Her mam and her Grandma will be here, I was going to say shortly.’
‘Aye, I’d heard that there was a meeting of the clans McBurr-Flynn. I’d better get that present out that my Mrs got for the bairn. It’s in my locker.’ He winked at me.
The operation room was deserted except for Whizz and Dench. I smiled at both of them, putting the push-chair out of harm’s way.
‘Well let’s see the bairn then?’ said Whizz, going to make a fuss of Grace. ‘Hasn’t she grown? What does she weigh now Boss?’
‘Eleven pounds and 14 ounces, whatever that is in new money I don’t know. She’s eating like a horse.’
‘She’s still tiny though. Isn’t she? said Dench.
‘Better than the two pound she was when she was born,’ Whizz replied, coming to the defence of my bairn.
‘Her Grandma is on her way from Whitley Bay to pick her up,’ I announced ‘and Barbara is joining the team as an outside consultant.’
‘Isn’t that Grace’s mam?’ asked Dench, sensing gossip.
I nodded my head. Whizz tensed.
‘But I didn’t think you two….’ Judi let her voice trail off but she glanced at Whizz and closed her mouth quickly.
‘I spoke to Norman on the way in: he said that the underpasses are flooded which the lassies would have to take to get home. Have we got anybody at all to help?’
‘Everyone’s out with the flooding. Seaton Delaval is under two feet of water. There’s at least five local roads closed and the rest are almost impassable. There’s us three and Swampy, and Norman who is downstairs manning the desk, and it’s going to be like that for another two or three hours at least.’
‘Any leads?’ I asked hopefully...
Bob Little is a British author based in the north east of England.
Image: "Flooded Underpass" by Shirokazan.