Chapter 2. It all starts again.
Leaves had almost covered the body and his clothes blended in with the brown, yellow, gold of the natural debris. Lying in a foetal position, maybe he was squatting when he keeled over, or maybe he just lay down to die. Either way he was long dead.
Maeve still had Steve’s mobile number in her phone. It hadn’t been used for some time now. Not since their disastrous last encounter. Steve, officially Detective Inspector Stephen Maguire, came into Maeve’s life when she discovered that the dead or ‘those who had passed over’ could talk to her, and it turned out that those who were murdered wanted to talk.
Maeve and Steve almost had a thing going, but there had been too much pressure, too many things changing in her life, and a new relationship was the one that tipped over into being too many to handle. However she thought that now wasn’t the time to mull over her romantic life, now, she needed to talk to someone who would believe her, and that was Steve.
His voice was warm and confident, he let her know that he was happy to hear from her. They were both old enough to slide over any potential embarrassment and move on to the practicalities of Maeve’s discovery. Maeve said there was no rush, this person had been dead for some time.
She was surprised that she was so calm. Putting her phone back in her pocket, she stood there looking down at the body. She felt a sense of closure, peacefulness, this person was not sorry to leave this world. But something was niggling at her, something didn’t quite add up. The sense of sadness that had brought her here was still lingering in the air. She wasn’t sure if it was actually connected to the dead person.
Steve was there in minutes. He loved to jump on his motorbike whenever he could, and it was a short ride from the police station by the back roads towards the Council offices, and on up past the Courts. He called Maeve again and got her to ‘share location’ so that he could pinpoint her rather than describe tree types, he wasn’t a walker and so he didn’t know the layout of the area.
She was quite near what she thought must have been an old military communications tower, now a satellite mast, not far from the road. Steve found her easily.
Maeve hadn’t moved, she had stayed looking at the body waiting to see if the spirit wanted to talk to her. Nothing. She felt nothing that she thought came from this person. But...there was something else moving around.
Steve took photos to confirm the situation precisely as it had been discovered, in case there were any questions later on, and before anything was disturbed. They both thought that any evidence was long gone, but best to follow procedure.
Steve set the police machinery in motion. Maeve knew that this would take time. The forensic team would cordon off the area. The ambulance would be waiting to take the remains to the morgue. And Steve’s team plus the others would fill the site with activity so these few minutes were the best time to take in the whole picture, before the hubbub started. They stood side by side, but not too close together, in contemplation.
First impression was that this was a man, perhaps in his fifties, not young anyway, but hard to tell his age especially if he had been living rough, which was their first impression. It didn’t look like suicide. If it was an accidental drug overdose that would show up in the autopsy. Steve stepped to one side and squatted down for a closer look at the head, careful not to disturb the surrounding area. Nothing. Well nothing obvious.
He stood up, stepped back, and whilst keeping the appropriate two metre distance turned to Maeve, as if in the middle of a conversation and said,
“Maybe we are overthinking this. Sometimes people die. His hands and fingernails suggest someone who has had a hard life, so if he was a rough sleeper, it might be due to natural causes.”
He was right, Maeve had been feeling the same.
“I feel a sense of calm, as if he wasn’t holding on to life.” She didn’t mention the other emotion that she had been picking up moving around her, not the right time, she thought.
Now that they were just standing there waiting, Steve and Maeve became consciously aware of each other’s presence. ‘Oh God,’ thought Maeve, recognising that emotional attraction which was still there between them, ‘even if I wanted to have a relationship, how does anyone do that with social distancing in a pandemic?’ What she said was, “So, how are things with you?”