An Inspector Calls

Here’s a little story I wrote at Holmfirth Writers on Monday.  Hope you enjoy it!


“Are you done, then?”

The Inspector – a wiry, sharp-suited man in his late 30’s – finished writing and put his notebook in his pocket.

“Not yet. I need to look at your yard.”

The two men walked round the corner into an alley, which broadened out to form a yard behind the building, lit only by the pale glow that filtered through the window blinds.

The Inspector looked at his companion, a bearded, rotund man with indeterminate stains on his Motorhead T-shirt.

“This belongs to your establishment, yes?”

The other man grinned uneasily. “Well, yeah, but other people are always dumping their rubbish here. Bastards!” He moved towards the assortment of bin bags and dustbins occupying the far side of the yard.

“No! Don’t touch anything. This is all potential evidence relevant to my investigation.”

“Right you are, Inspector.”

The Inspector spotted a dark, viscous liquid dripping from a drainpipe attached to the corner of the wall. He opened his briefcase and produced a small plastic bottle, which he held under the pipe to collect a few drips, then sealed it and put it in a transparent bag.

“For testing later,” he said. “This pipe seems to emanate from your property. Neighbours been using your sink too, have they?”

The two men now moved towards the dustbins. The Inspector picked up the first loose bin bag and began to open it. Then he stopped dead in his tracks. Stretching out from behind the nearest dustbin was a human hand. Quickly, he moved aside the bins and bags surrounding it to reveal a prone male figure, its curly brown hair stained with blood. It was quite still. The Inspector examined it briefly, but it remained limp and motionless. He turned to the other man.

“Is this man known to you?”

“Never seen ‘im before in me life.”

“Really?” The Inspector pointed to the body’s left hand, in which sat a half-eaten burger wrapped in paper. “I believe that’s one of yours, isn’t it?” Sure enough, the logo on the paper matched the one above the door of the building.

He glared at the other man. “Stay where you are, and don’t touch anything. I need to collect more evidence.” With his phone, he took a couple of dozen photos of the body, the drainpipe and the rest of the yard. From his case he retrieved some more plastic bottles, into which he put samples from various bin bags and the ground around the body. His notebook reappeared, and he filled several pages with writing.

“This is nothing to do with me,” pleaded the other man, a look of desperation on his face, “people are always wandering in here and dumping things. Don’t blame it on me.” The Inspector studiously ignored him.

As he was working, a seagull flew into the yard and landed on the head of the prone figure. It began to peck at the remains of the burger.

“Oi!” The noise came from the hitherto motionless figure. Its right arm now flailed wildly at the gull, which flew away. The head now lifted itself from the ground and stared at the other two men. “Who are you?” said the man on the floor, then an expression of horror came over his face and he vomited copiously on the ground. He staggered to his feet, looked at the burger in his hand and threw it into the nearest bin. Then he stumbled away, groaning.

“Well, that’s all right, then,” said the bearded man, hopefully.

“I don’t think so,” replied the Inspector. “Judging by what I’ve seen on this inspection, I’m not surprised your customers are throwing up. Your food is a hazard to human life. I’m closing you down.”


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