Blood on the Rocks Chapter 5
Brent Turnbull’s body was being kept in a small cold room, covered by a hospital sheet. He had been there four days, since Monday, waiting with the patience of the dead. An older man in shirt sleeves and a tie stood with his head bowed beside the body.
‘Hey Rebecca, sorry for your loss,’ he said, as she approached the raised stainless-steel trolley where Brent lay. Frank heard, but did not comment.
‘This is Detective Diamond,’ she said, not acknowledging the other man’s condolences, which was odd. ‘From Sydney. Come to sort this out for us. This is Mark Daniels.’
Frank stuck out his hand, but the older man shook his head.
‘We’re not shaking anymore. Covid and this is a hospital. There’s some sanitiser over there.’
‘Of course, sorry,’ said Frank. He squirted the sanitiser onto his hands and rubbed. ‘Good to meet you. You’re a doctor?’
‘No, a chaplain, but I help out when they’re short staffed, which is always.’
‘Did you know the deceased?’ asked Frank.
‘Here and there; mostly by reputation. Bit of a celebrity was Brent.’
‘So I’m told. You okay to start, Constable?’
Brent Turnbull did not look anything like glamorous, lying dead on a trolley. So much for celebrity, thought Frank. Turnbull was a big guy, at least six-two, starting to bulk-up round his middle, but still fit enough to be called buff. Of course, he sported the obligatory tattoos.
Frank peered closely at a head wound that ran from the side of Turnbull’s forehead down to his cheek, before fossicking about in his backpack for the surgical pack he carried. He opened the plastic zip-lock bag and pulled out a pair of surgical gloves, which he put on before taking out tweezers from their own smaller bag.
‘Constable McFadden, could you shine your torch on that wound, please?’
Mac did as he asked, watching as he pulled apart the wound with one hand, gently reaching in to retrieve something with the tweezers. He dropped whatever it was into his gloved palm.
‘Damn,’ he said out loud, then with a guilty look at the Chaplain quickly apologised.
‘For saying damn?’ asked Chaplain Daniels. ‘Yes, it really gives me the shits when people swear.’ He laughed at his own joke. ‘Takes more than that to shock either of us – me or him above. But why the swearing?’
‘Evidence bag – forgot to get one out – they’re in my back pocket. Would you mind?’ Frank turned his back to the Chaplain and nodded down at his butt.
Mark Daniels chuckled. ‘Might leave that job for Rebecca: Chaplain’s cannot be sticking their hands in strange men’s trousers anymore.’
Mac made a face and Frank apologised again. She grunted and stuck her hand into his pocket, pulling out a roll of bags secured with an elastic band. Frank caught the sweet hint of vanilla.
‘So much for social distancing,’ said the Chaplain with another laugh that didn’t help at all. He obviously enjoyed his job.
‘If you could open one of those, please,’ said Frank to Mac, who complied. Frank dropped in a sliver of something, then held it up to the light.
‘You have Haliotis, I would say,’ said the Chaplain, peering over his shoulder.
‘Do I? Oh, sorry,’ replied Frank, taken aback. ‘Um, I usually carry mints…’
‘No,’ said Chaplain Daniels, again with the laugh. ‘Haliotis, not halitosis. It’s a crustacean, found in the Solitary Islands area. That looks like a sliver – see the rounded protrusion?’
Frank peered at where the Chaplain was pointing. There were two slightly raised nobs, about one millimetre in diameter.
‘Sharp eyes,’ said Frank. ‘How did you pick that one?’
‘I wasn’t always a chaplain: ex-marine science teacher at the high school. That’s how I know young Rebecca here: one of my best students. Let’s hope policework is enough for you, hey Rebecca. You could have done medicine, you know. She was accepted into Newcastle, Detective – dux of the school. Anyway… That looks like a sliver of Haliotis shell to me, but I could be wrong.’
He stood back grinning like he knew he wasn’t and Frank immediately imagined Mr Daniels expounding at the front of a class. Then he imagined Constable McFadden in the front row, smiling eagerly, pen poised… Maybe not.
‘Well, thanks,’ Frank said, laying the specimen bag down beside the body and pulling out another pair of surgical gloves. ‘Constable, do you mind gloving up and helping me examine the back of the head?’
‘Sure.’ Mac reached into her own pocket and took out her own zip-locked bag with gloves, tweezers and evidence bags. Frank was impressed.
‘If you could roll the body towards you so I can see the back of the head…thanks. Now can you pull the head slightly towards you…thanks.’
Frank peered down at the smaller wound and swelling they had exposed. It was more of an abrasion, right at the base of the skull, but the swelling was significant. He pulled out his mobile and took a few snaps.
‘Chaplain could you help me with some extra light, please? Use the Constable’s torch.’
‘Of course,’ replied Daniels.
Frank peered in, tweezers poised. Among the browning blood and matted blond hair was a small chunk of something brown, which he gently eased away and placed in another bag.
‘We’re lucky these wounds are so deep,’ Frank said. ‘Usually a night in the water would have washed any evidence away.’
He checked the wound again and straightened up.
‘Okay, Constable, you can let him go.’
Frank placed the second bag alongside the first. He lifted up the side of the sheet on each side and examined the palms and forearms of the body, then did the same to the legs, peering closely at Turnbull’s knees, photographing each section. Then he took a few of the forehead wound and the scraping that ran down Turnbull’s face and shoulder, where a bruise had formed.
He straightened up and sighed. So far, his new boss had made his suspicion of him and his so-called city ways pretty clear. He was going to like him even less soon.