Chapter 22

As the cold autumn rain cannoned off the pub windows, Inspector Pigshit tucked into his ploughman’s lunch. He wasn’t entirely sure what qualified the bread as being ‘artisan’ or ‘rustic’, but it was good. It had bits in it, but not too many. The cheese was fresh and solid, with an agreeable, slightly crumbly texture. The pickle was commendable, and he appreciated the extra little flourishes like the chopped apple slices and the hard-boiled egg. He had three pickled onions on his plate. Neither too many nor too few. Optimum. Sitting opposite, Steve was busy filling his face with his burger. He had already polished off the potato wedges with great gusto, even though they were basically nothing more than thick chips. Morrison was still complaining about burning his mouth with molten goat’s cheese. Pigshit laughed.

He briefly thought about the murder investigation, but quickly put it out of his mind. It was lunchtime, after all, and Madonna was singing about getting into the groove, imploring her boyfriend to get up on his feet and step to the beat. He thought how much better life would be if people were all just nice to each other, if there wasn’t all these killings and murders and bad stuff involving surgical saws. Forget all this nasty shit and just get into the groove.

Morrison then started talking about his fucking squash league, as if anyone cared.

Pigshit ate a pickled onion and considered getting another pint.

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Chapter 21

In the end, Steve chose the burger with potato wedges and Morrison went for the goat’s cheese and chilli baguette. Pigshit noticed that particular menu item, but was suspicious of the fact the proprietors of the Village Inn had ducked the issue of whether it should be goat’s cheese or goats’ cheese by leaving out the apostrophe altogether.

They listened to Young Guns (Go for It!) while they waited for the food to arrive.

“So,” began Pigshit. “Jimbo tells me you’ve been to the stationery cupboard.”

“Yeah,” said Steve. “I had to get a ruler.”

“Did you find a good one?”

“Oh aye. A nice, clear plastic one.”

“Is it one of those with the stainless-steel cutting edge?” asked Morrison.

“No, it’s just plastic. A good one, mind. Lovely and straight.”

“Metric and imperial units?” asked Pigshit.

“Aye. I hate those ones that only have metric, or just centimetres and no millimetres.”

Pigshit was getting riled.

“Who the fuck wants a ruler that doesn’t have millimetres? What’s the point of that?”

“Don’t ask me,” replied Steve with a shrug.

“I like those metal rulers,” said Morrison, still thinking of his goat’s cheese baguette.

“They didn’t have any of them in the stationery cupboard.”

“Why do you need a ruler, anyway?” asked Morrison.

Steve looked at him like he was stupid.

“To draw straight lines, of course.”

“Aye, but … why?”

“Well … if you’re doing a report for Mitchell, she always insists on having your headings underlined.”

“But you type out reports, surely?” said Pigshit. “That’s why you have a computer on your desk.”

“Yeah, but I still have to underline the headings!” protested Steve.

Pigshit looked at him like he was stupid.

“So I type out the report,” said Steve earnestly. “Print it, then get a black pen and underline the headings wi’ a ruler.”

Morrison laughed.

“You fucking tart,” said Pigshit. “You do know there’s an option in Word to do underlining, don’t you? Even I know that, and I don’t even do reports.”

“What?”

“There’s a button.”

“A wee icon,” interjected Morrison.

“There’s a button that’s like a U with a line under it. You press that.”

“Oh.”

“There’s also a keyboard shortcut,” said Morrison, “where you highlight a piece of text and do ctrl-U.”

“See? Just listen to Bill fucking Gates over there,” smiled Pigshit. “He’ll keep you right.”

And just then, like an angel carrying a tray of food, Jill Harvey appeared with the food.

Chapter 20

Steve came back with the drinks: a pint for Pigshit, a diet Coke for Morrison and an Irn-Bru for himself. Pigshit borrowed a pound off him and went to use the jukebox before anyone else thought about getting up and putting Mumford & Sons back on.

He clicked through the selection of CDs and found a best of the 80s compilation. He studied the track listing carefully. Steve’s pound gave him seven songs. He chose Rio by Duran Duran (of course); Young Guns (Go for It!) by Wham!; Shattered Dreams by Johnny Hates Jazz; Madonna’s 1985 single Into the Groove; Life in a Northern Town by the Dream Academy – wow, he hadn’t heard that in a long time – and Karma Chameleon by Culture Club. For his final selection, he considered both Level 42’s Running in the Family and You Spin Me Round (Like a Record) by Dead or Alive. He opted for the latter because it is, quite simply, such a fucking great song.

Returning to his table, he sat down, took a sip of his foaming nut-brown ale, and told Steve and Morrison (who had by now returned from the gents) to hurry up and choose something off the menu.

“Hurry up and choose something,” he said. “I’m hungry.”

“I might go for the burger,” said Morrison.

“Yeah. I was thinking about that,” replied Steve, still examining the menu. “I quite fancy the steak and ale pie, though.”

“Hmmm,” agreed Morrison.

Pigshit sat back in his chair and pondered the incalculable genius of Duran Duran. Then he looked at his colleagues, engrossed in their deliberations about what to have for lunch. Talk about mystery and suspense. If his life was a TV series, perhaps one of those ones they turn into DVD box sets, this would make a fine fucking cliffhanger.

Chapter 19

The Village Inn was a rather strange name for an Edinburgh city centre pub. With its population of four-and-a-half million, Edinburgh obviously wasn’t a village, and the “inn” itself wasn’t an inn in the proper sense, as there wasn’t any accommodation on offer. Nonetheless, it was handy for the station, they served a good pint and the grub was pretty damn excellent. They certainly didn’t fuck about with side salads that no-one ever eats. Inspector Pigshit liked the Village Inn a lot. It wasn’t one of those grim, depressing pubs where old men go to sip beer, fart and read the Sun, and neither was it one of those loudy, trendy places full of students, tourists and Festival-goers.

Pigshit and Morrison met Steve on the way in. The place wasn’t too busy, just a few lunchtime drinkers and one table with a bunch of people talking and laughing. Pigshit recognised the guy with the lush blonde hair and the shiny white teeth. John fucking Rebus. Him and his coterie of hangers-on.

“Yo, Pigshit!” shouted Rebus, giving a big smile and a cheery wave.

“Twat,” muttered Pigshit. He looked around for a decent table. He froze momentarily, and nodded towards the jukebox.

“What’s that shite?”

Morrison and Steve took a moment to listen.

“Noah and the Whale?” suggested Morrison.

“No, it’s that other lot,” said Steve. “Mumford & Sons.”

“Bunch of fucking buskers,” said Pigshit. He knew it would have been Rebus who put that on.

Suddenly, the music cut out. Pigshit looked over towards the bar. The barmaid, Jill Harvey, smiled back at Pigshit.

“Oh dear,” she said to no-one in particular. “Looks like the circuit tripped again. Sorry, folks.”

Pigshit knew there was a switch behind the bar that turned off power to the jukebox. He had always admired and respected Jill. She had no time for phoneys and bullshitters and she was, unquestionably, one of the smartest people he knew.

“Get the drinks in, Steve,” said Pigshit.

“I’m away for a slash,” said Morrison, heading for the gents.

Pigshit sat down at table and picked up a menu. He considered the scampi and chips, but no: he definitely wanted a ploughman’s. It was going to be a rough afternoon.

Chapter 18

As he marched purposefully back to his office, Inspector Pigshit considered the possibility of the people who make Tipp-Ex also doing some sort of correction fluid that covers up bad memories and allows you to clean your mind properly so you can start again with clear space rather than a mess of scribbles and horrible stuff. Certainly he could use such a product after his meeting with DCI Mitchell. He never had to put up with that sort of thing when Sneddon was in charge.

DCI Davie Sneddon was a great bloke. A good, solid, honest copper who could tell you everything about the rugby. In all the years Pigshit worked with him (about three, give or take a couple of months), he never once saw Sneddon doing a Saturday afternoon shift. He’d always be over at Meggetland, watching his beloved Boroughmuir. If the first XV were playing away from home – certainly anywhere further afield than, say, Currie – he’d still be there watching the seconds or even the youth team. And of course, he loved the big games at Murrayfield. He always said it was better when it was the Five Nations – Sneddon was unwavering in his conviction that the Italians were a bunch of overweight piss artists who had no place in the great game of rugby union. DCI Sneddon would never haul you into his office to talk about ways to trim his pubic hair. No way.

It was getting on for lunchtime, and in lieu of any Mind Tipp-Ex, Pigshit decided a visit to the pub was necessary. He entered his office, took his coat off the coat peg and called over to Morrison.

“Jimbo! Get your feet off the furniture. It’s lunchtime.”

“I’ve got sandwiches,” replied Morrison, holding up a sandwich with a big bite out of it.

Pigshit took one look at Morrison’s packed lunch. White fucking bread, 20p a loaf from Aldi or that other place. Nutritional value: fuck all.

“Put your sandwiches in the fucking bin. You’re coming with me down the pub. Where’s Steve?”

“He’s gone to the stationery cupboard to get some pens and a ruler.”

“Text him. Tell him to meet us across the road.”

“Yes, boss.”

It had been a crap morning, but, ever the optimist, Pigshit was convinced a pint and a ploughman’s would put everything right.

Chapter 17

One of Inspector Pigshit’s all-time favourite films was X-Men 2 (or X2, as some people called it). That was the one with the blue guy, Nightshade or whatever you call him, the chap who could do all the backflips and jumps and who could teleport around the place like a pointy-tailed demon. Pigshit’s favourite character was of course Wolverine, because – much like Pigshit himself – he was a double-hard bastard who came out with some truly great lines.

However, if Pigshit had to choose a superpower, he often thought he’d like to be able to do all that stuff that Jean Grey did – moving objects just by thinking about it. There’d be so much he could do with a superpower like that. Fetch drinks from the fridge without getting out of his chair. Open and close the window in his office through the power of thought (and without getting out of his chair). Sadly, during his meeting with DCI Mitchell, Pigshit concluded that he really didn’t have this superhuman ability. While Mitchell discussed with increasing candour the intimate details of her sex life, he stared at a paperweight on her desk in the vain hope of being able to tune her out. Turn his attention to something else less excruciating and just make it through to lunchtime. The paperweight – a cheap-looking Eiffel Tower souvenir brought back from Paris – just wouldn’t budge. As hard as he concentrated, he couldn’t shift it at all. Perhaps Mitchell talking about finding more arousing ways to style her pubic hair caused him to lose his focus. In any case, he wouldn’t be transferring to the X-Men any time soon.

In the end, he was saved by a text from Sergeant Steve Norman. Pigshit felt his pocket buzz. Thank fuck. He took out his phone and read the message. It was about the owner of the car. The same name Maggie Watson gave him.

“I’m going to have to go – there’s been a breakthrough in the case,” said Pigshit.

“Oh, excellent,” said Mitchell. “But before you go, what do think about this technique?”

She showed him another page of the sex manual. There was, again, a graphic illustration of the naked couple, along with what seemed like a highly complicated set of instructions.

“I mean, it’d be easy enough to find a pair of handcuffs,” laughed Mitchell. “But do you think it would help Mr Mitchell delay his ejaculation?”

Pigshit winced.

“Yeah. Probably.”

He made his excuses and left.

Chapter 16

Reinvigorated by another bad 20p coffee from the machine in the corridor, Pigshit marched purposefully along to Mitchell’s office. He still had The Power to Forgive by Kajagoogoo echoing round his head. Nick Beggs at the absolute peak of his powers. Perhaps the meeting wouldn’t be that uncomfortable, he thought. With a bit of luck, she might want to discuss the case. He took a deep breath and knocked on the door. He walked in without waiting for a reply.

DCI Mitchell – an attractive woman in her early fifties with an odd, but nonetheless rather pleasant Aberdeenshire accent – was sitting behind her desk, reading a book.

“Ah, Pigshit. Excellent. Take a seat. How’s the investigation coming along?”

“We’ve made a start, ma’am.”

“Oh, for heaven’s sake, don’t call me ma’am. Juliet Bravo hasn’t been on TV since 1985.”

Champion!, thought Pigshit. She wants to talk about the investigation!

“But I didn’t drag you back here to grill you about some murder case you’ve only spent five minutes on.

Bollocks, thought Pigshit.

“Have a look at this.”

She passed the book to him over the desk. The first thing Pigshit noticed was a large illustration of a naked couple in flagrante.

He flipped the book over to see the cover. Successful Sexy Sex. Damn, he thought. Another awkward conversation about her sex life.

“What do you think of that, Pigshit?” asked Mitchell, pointing to the big photo of the naked couple.

“I don’t know.”

“Does Mrs Pigshit ever do that to you?”

“Well,” Pigshit hesitated. “Sometimes …

“And how stimulating would you say that is? On a scale of, say, 1-10, one being ‘not very arousing’, 10 being ‘absolute OMG’?”

“Don’t know. Six or seven?”

Mitchell stared at Pigshit.

“Well?” asked DCI Mitchell firmly.

“Well what?”

“Which is it: six or seven?”

“Oh. Seven.”

“Always seven?”

“Maybe an eight sometimes.”

“All right.”

Mitchell took the book back and flicked through some pages until she found the part she wanted. She pointed it out to Pigshit.

“Mr Mitchell hasn’t been giving it to me for a few months. I’m thinking we could maybe try this.”

Pigshit squinted at the photograph and tried to make sense of the accompanying text.

“Have you ever done it to Mrs Pigshit like that?”

“Er, no.”

“What about with an earlier sexual partner?”

“No. Afraid not.”

“Oh. You see, the problem is, Mr Mitchell, when I can get him interested, doesn’t spend enough time stimulating my breasts. I was thinking this might be worth a try, to encourage him to work on my erogenous zones a little bit more. Maybe start with my thighs, I don’t know.”

Pigshit found himself lost for words. He glanced up at the clock. He knew from bitter experience that it would be a long time until lunch.