Dec 18, 2018
Just a quick post to thank all of you for the support you have given in the past. I hope my American friends had a Happy Thanksgiving and my other followers are looking forwards to Christmas and Holiday celebrations over the next few weeks. I would like to send you all the first chapter of the second in the series following on from Louisiana Blood...BRUGES BLOOD. It’s a few minutes to read and I love first impressions if any of you have the time to give it a quick read. Enjoy!
Officer Ward Johansson slowly made his way down the dank stone stairs that led into the dusty catacombs beneath the police station. The large box of files in his arms threatening to slip free with every cautious step. The Kartuizerinnenstraat station was based in what had once been a convent back in the 16th century. Ward flicked the light on with his elbow and dumped the box onto an old steel table in the middle of the first room.
There had been a lot of rain as they headed towards Christmas, and the grey waters of the canal that ran past the convent lapped less than a meter below the dirt encrusted windows. The suns pale light filtered through the dust motes that swirled up as he dropped the files onto the table. Ward looked around the dank space and whirled his arms around to work up some heat and drive the chill from his bones. He had made the move from Brussels in the hope of becoming a big fish in the smaller pool afforded by the City of Bruges.
Newly married, and with the recent news that his wife Mari was pregnant, he needed to get on the promotion ladder to cover all the baby and school expenses headed his way. He looked at his watch. He’d promised Mari they would have an evening in, just the two of them while they still could. She’d promised to cook Stoofvlees, his favourite dish. A traditional Flemish stew made with beef broth and beer. He studied the watch. It was a big fat G-shock. Mari had bought it for him when he joined the force. She’d seen some Special forces guys wearing them when they were on duty at Brussels railway station shortly after the terrorist attacks. She told him he needed to look tough out on the streets, and fumbling for his mobile to tell the time wasn’t a good look. Mari was a sweet girl and he was looking forwards to getting home to be with her that evening.
He moved the files around, arranging them in chronological order along the surface of the table. During the Procession of the Holy blood extra officers had been drafted in and space in the main office had been at a premium. But that was months ago and now they were headed towards Christmas and there was more space available in the station. He’d been involved in the Holy Blood procession once when he was a child, and remembered his excitement at seeing the trumpets, the men waving fronds and the sight of a donkey.
He’d enjoyed the carnival atmosphere but had no idea of the significance of the parade until many years later. The belief that a reliquary containing a sample of Christs Blood became liquid on Ascension Day pulled in thousands of tourists each year. He could remember how annoyed his parents had got when, as a small child, he demanded proof of the miracle. Looking back, it was probably the first signs of what was to become his journey into the police force.
He heard a distant thumping from further down in the catacombs. His boss, Detective Inspector Jochum Hoog was practising on his drums. It seemed that anything with a rhythm was of interest to him. If he wasn’t out learning a new dance, he was banging away on his battered old drum kit.
He looked at the pile of files spread out in front of him. Chief Pieters had given him what he called ‘an opportunity’ that turned out to be a massive pile of old cases that had remained unsolved over the years.
The implication was that if he could clear up some of the backlog it would serve him in good stead when the next Detective attachment came up. Looking at the amount of cases Ward had a suspicion that the chief had given him the task just to keep him occupied. He went over to one of the leaded windows and wiped a circle of dust clear from one of the glass panes. Outside the streets were busy with tourists and queues for the canal boat tours. Ducks and swans bobbed along the water of the canal and the tour guides patter was audible across the water. He went back to the files on the table and began flicking through them.
They were mostly petty thefts, assaults, house burglaries, pickpocketing and the odd car-jacking. Ward sighed. None of the cases would produce a big enough splash to raise his profile and improve his chances of promotion, even if he could solve them.
He moved to the next row of files. Outside he could hear the low throb of an approaching canal boat. The boatman’s tourist patter barely audible above the water slapping against the ancient stone walls of the station. He flicked through another file, and something caught his eye. A tourist had reported that his son had been offered drugs in the Market at the skating rink. He skimmed through some more files and found three other reports, all logged during the Christmas season. There was no real evidence, other than the dealer wore a scarf and bobble hat and had long blonde hair. Ward smiled. This ticked the boxes. Drugs, children at risk and more than one complaint.
He moved the four files into a neat pile and rubbed his eyes. The flickering fluorescent combined with the deep throb of the approaching boat’s engine was giving him a headache.
He heard a dull thud and a woman’s scream. Seconds later something smashed through the window, sending bricks tumbling into the room. He just had time to register the prow of a canal boat before the water enveloped him, sweeping him across the floor, and slamming him into the stone wall. He lay there stunned as the water poured in. Heard the roar of the boat’s engine as the driver threw it into reverse… tearing free from the gaping hole. With the obstruction removed another surge of water slammed into him and he was swept under the surface. The lights went out and now he was pinned under something heavy, holding his breath as he fought to free himself. His air started to run out and his vision began to dim. As he began to black out he saw something that resembled a body drift past. Sodden sheets of paper swirled around past his face, clutching at him in a mocking embrace.And then it all went dark.