“What does the beach mean for me? I love heading to the beach for a nice long walk with Lucy Dog. We love to investigate the rock pools for fossils and wildlife. Paddling in the sea is always relaxing and wonderful. We rarely go on a sunny day though. Lucy dog has the worlds thickest black fur and gets too, hot too fast! I don’t like getting cooked either. So, you find us having a wonderful time by the sea on those cooler, cloudier days.”
Finger of Suspicion
Sally checked the pedometer on her wrist. She’d run three miles in twenty minutes and the best bit of the route was just beginning. Descending the concrete lifeboat slip-way, she ran down onto the sandy beach.
It was a bit of a grey day at the coast. The rains of last night had petered out leaving the beach wet and chilly. Not so pleasant by June’s usual standards.
The wind whipped Sally’s hair as she flexed her strong legs along the waterline. A sleek and soaked Labrador dog came to say ‘hi!’ And the ever-present gulls squawked as she disturbed their crab hunting at the rock pools.
Sally smiled as she filled her lungs with the salty sea air. She loved the smell of the seaweed, the feeling of breeze against her moist skin and the coarse texture of the sand beneath the trainers. The sound of the lapping waves ebbing and flowing; washed all the anxiety and tension from her body, leaving her perfectly calm as she enjoyed her run.
There were a good few people on the beach today. Many looking to the moody skies and praying for some warm sunshine.
Sally’s attention was taken by a late teenage boy and girl with and a much younger boy. All three were wearing Wellington boots. The little boy in a blue waterproof jumpsuit. They were stood in a circle staring at something in the sand between them.
Feeling sure they’d found an animal, Sally angled towards them. She was determined to save it if she could. Drawing nearer she could hear them.
“Eeew! Is it real?” said the girl.
“Looks it. Should we call the police?” replied the teenage boy.
“Haha, somebody lost a finger!” Teased the little boy not understanding the seriousness of what he was saying.
Sally heard the word ‘finger’ and felt a cold shiver of dread rattle her bones. “What have you got there?” she asked. Her voice breathy as she came to a stop beside them.
“A silly person lost their finger,” answered the little boy.
“Well, that’s not good.” Sally smiled at him. “I’m a private investigator. Mind if I have a look?”
“My brothers and I were just going to call the police. Will you deal with it for us? They won’t believe us kids,” said the girl smartly. She ushered her brothers away from the disarticulated digit.
“Yes. I’ll take it from here,” Sally crouched to examine the grim discovery. Only the top edge of the digit was visible in the sand. Sally took her credit card from a pouch at her waist. Using that she carefully dug the sand away. “This is the ring finger which used to belong to a man.”
“How do you know that?” asked the older boy
“It’s wearing a wedding ring. The state of the nail and the size of the finger tells me it’s a man’s.” Sally stood and straightened her back. The finger hadn’t been amputated long and yet it was devoid of blood; meaning it had been in the sea
Scanning the shoreline, Sally could see no sign of other body parts — which came as quite a relief.
“What are you going to do?” questioned the girl.
“The right thing, hopefully,” Sally winked and jogged over to a dog walker. She returned to the siblings with a small black plastic bag. It was typically used for cleaning up after dogs. Today, Sally had other plans for it. She photographed the finger in situ and used her phone’s GPS to mark the exact spot. Happy she slipped the finger into the bag and tied it shut.
“Isn’t that illegal? You just disturbed a crime scene?”
Sally looked girl and nodded. “Clever questions. I can see you like solving crimes and mysteries.”
“I love Nancy Drew.”
“Oh, me too!” Sally gazed about for a moment. “I don’t think this is the crime scene. I’m sure the tide just deposited the finger here. Which means, the best thing I can do is preserve the finger and get it to forensics at the police station as soon as possible.”
“You’re very clever,” said the older boy.
“Thank you, I —”
“Can we build sandcastles yet!” Shouted the little boy suddenly brandishing his plastic spade and bucket.
Sally chuckled and ruffled his wild blonde hair. “Yes, young man. You certainly can. You go off and have fun and I’ll deal with this. Stay safe, okay?”
“We will. Thank you.” The girl took her brother’s hand and set off to find a good spot to make castles.
Sally looked at the little bag and grimaced. “Well, this put a gruesome spin on my morning run,” she sighed as she stuffed it in her pouch and set off running again.
She ran as far as the pier two miles along the beach. The whole way she scanned every inch of the sand and sea but could see no other signs of the body belonging to the finger.
It was as she ran along the promenade towards the nearest police station that things changed.
The problem began with the rattling of a shot exhaust pipe.
Sally ignored the annoying fixer-upper of the small black van as it headed into town.
Almost as quickly, the noise returned as the van passed in the opposite direction.
“Must be lost,” Sally assumed.
For the next mile along the promenade, the van continued to go back and forth along the North Coast Road.
With every passing minute, Sally grew more suspicious. Reaching a row of tall box hedges, she cut through a gate into a car park.
The van was there. Its lights came on and it accelerated straight at her.
Sally leapt through a gap in park cars, avoiding certain disaster.
The van rounded the parking line and came to a smoky stop cutting her off.
Sally gasped as she watched the door open. A hulking man wearing no shirt and black denim shorts stepped onto the tarmac. His coal-black hair was aggressively short and sharp like his thick, dark beard. ‘Holy crap! I’m about to be assaulted by the Spartan Leonidas.’ Sally thought while unable to tear her eyes from his washboard abs, and bowling ball biceps.
“I want the finger,” he said succinct and gruff.
Sally brandished her middle finger. “How’s that?”
“Don’t joke with me!” The man tore the wing mirror off the nearest car with ease. Flexing his steel cable like muscles, he sent it soaring out of the car park and down onto the beach. “Your head will suffer the same fate if you don’t give me that finger!”
“Where’s the rest of Fingerless Freddie, huh? Did you kill him?” Sally questioned, feeling reckless as she backed away.
“None of your damned business!” Muscles banged his hand down on the roof of the car. The passenger’s window crazed as the metal folded beneath his fist.
Though terrified of the large man, Sally folded her arms. “Destructive devil, aren’t you?”
“Give me the finger or I’ll tear you in half and show you how destructive I am!” Muscles lunged for her.
Sally skipped away. “What happened? Did he piss you off whilst training in the gym?”
“I didn’t break his face with the weight bar. He ran into it!”
Sally saw the colour drain from his face as he realised, he’d said too much. “So, you did kill him. That doesn’t explain why you need the finger. Oh, you’re afraid the ring —”
“Enough, give me the blasted finger!” Muscles burst forward and dove on Sally.
She crashed to the floor beneath his immense weight. She screamed as his hands seized her wrists like iron vices. “No, let me go!”
Muscles pulled her to her feet, “Now, you’ll pay for being a no —”
Sally drove a foot deep into his groin.
Muscles blinked for a couple of moments, barely registering any pain. His eyes almost bulged with the fury reddening his face.
“Oh great! You’ve got iron coconuts to go with a cannonball biceps!”
“Care to hit me again,” he seethed.
“Sure,” still locked in the man’s gorilla grip, Sally snapped forward and crushed his nose with a sickening head-butt.
“Aargh! My bloody nose!” he yelled.
Sally felt his grip loosen and kicked free.
He swung for her. Blinded by the pain from his broken face, he missed and drove his fist straight through the cars side window. Its lights began flashing as its alarm blared loud across the seafront.
Sally bolted. She had no intention of staying here for a moment longer. Running out of the car park. She was in time to see the parking warden and a police officer running toward her.
“Everything okay in there, madam?” asked the warden.
“I’m PI Sally Ayres. Muscles in there is a murderer. I have a finger in my pouch to prove it.” Sally said dropping to a knee to catch a breath.
A tense stand-off ensued as muscles wrecked half the cars in the car park in an attempt to avoid arrest. In the end, officers deployed stun guns to apprehend him.
Sally grinned as he was forced into a prison van. “Sally one, Muscles nil. Victory – Sally,” she said with a victorious fist bump. She never did learn why muscles wanted the finger so desperately.
Thanks for reading my friends.
Have a great day!