As well as the mundane, I’d worked on some disturbing, some exciting and some downright sickening cases throughout my years on the force. It wasn’t until my sunset years and the drawing to a close of my career, however, that I came across something which was positively harrowing. Is that too strong a word? No, I don’t think so. Admittedly, I had to search a dictionary for the definition – words have never been my strong point, reticent to the core, that’s me – and when I discovered what harrowing actually meant I knew it was the correct expression.
Acutely distressing, that’s what it means. Those two words described this case extremely well. Succinct, to the point. Harrowing.
Though the case was eventually concluded to the satisfaction of all involved, and though various experts and analysts had purportedly shed light on the root cause, the case continues to haunt me to this day. I can still hear the Bowscar brother’s musical laughter as they climb ever higher. I can still see Paul’s eyes, filled with love, longing, confusion, sorrow, as he desperately tried to explain the why of it all. But most of all I can still see the tree. That damned, ancient oak crowning its hilltop kingdom. Many is the night I’ve woken from a restless sleep, feelings of vertigo washing through me. I’ll swipe blindly in front of my face, my hands trying to pull aside oak leaves which block out the sun, turning the bright summer brilliance into a dull and sickly venomous green. And even when I’m sure I’m fully awake, fully escaped from the dream’s malignant clutches, I swear I can still hear tree branches chattering and clattering to each other far above me.
But let me go back to the very beginning. Back to when I first pressed the play button on a video player in a cluttered police office. Back to when Paul Bowscar’s tired but handsome face appeared on the big wall-mounted television. Back to when that young, troubled man first began to tell me his long and emotional tale.
Back to when I first heard those two words – Negative Bind.
Excerpt from ‘A Life in the Blue: Memoirs of a Detective Constable’ by DC Bernard Hopkins, Retired [used with permission]
The above is a small extract from The Negative Bind, by yours truly, coming soon.
As always, that shallot.