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Elrithral

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Jamie Roberts was an average 10 year old boy, average height, average weight, average looks and an average life. The only thing about Jamie that wasn’t average was his ability with a football at his feet.

Like most boys his age, growing up in the Govan area of Glasgow, he loved nothing better than getting a group of friends together and heading down to Elder Park, anticipating hours wasted playing the game he loved. He was noticeably better than the other boys, the first to be picked when they lined up to sort teams and there was a rumour circulating that he was destined for great things, supposedly Celtic had been interested at one point.

Celtic had been interested in Jamie and Jamie had been interested in Celtic, but Jamie’s father, a staunch Rangers fan had given the scouts short shrift when they came calling. Jamie would sometimes think about what his father had said when the scout had left, “No son of mine will wear the hoops of them Tim bastards”, his father rarely swore, yet always swore when talking about Celtic.

Jamie wasn’t bothered by his father’s attitude or the fact that he hadn’t been allowed to join Celtic, he knew that his father had his best interests at heart. He never missed a game and always watched Jamie’s every move, he adored watching his boy play and as long as that was the case Jamie would follow his lead.

I say never missed a game and I suppose the damp Sunday afternoon in question was no different, Jamie’s father stood by the pitch his eyes locked on his boy, but for the first time in as long as Jamie could remember his father wouldn’t finish then game.

Jamie’s mother was two weeks overdue, the arrival of the little brother that Jamie had been promised for the past five years was imminent and both Jamie and his father had been set to miss the game for fear of his mother going into labour. However, two nights earlier Jamie’s dad had received a call from his coach, scouts from Rangers would be at the game, this was Jamie’s big chance.

For a majority of the game it looked like they had got away with it, no mobile phone calls and Jamie played as his father watched on, but midway through the second half the call came and Jamie’s dad called him to the side of the pitch.

“That was you’re Gran, son. It’s time, we’ll need to go, sure you’ve got two in the bag, that’ll do ya.”

Jamie looked towards the ground, his disappointment painfully obvious and his father smiled.

“I tell you what, I’ll tell your Grandad to stay behind and wait for you, there’s not long left and his house is five minutes away.”

Jamie’s eye lit up and he nodded.

“Straight to your Grandad’s, ok. No talking to strangers and no getting a lift off anyone I don’t know.”

For as long as he lived Jamie’s father would regret the final part of that sentence.

Jamie was offered a lift, the Rangers scout offered to drive him to his Grandad’s so that he could have a word with him about meeting with Jamie’s father, but Jamie declined the offer, his dad didn’t know this man.

If Jamie had accepted the lift he would have avoided a shortcut. If he had accepted the lift he wouldn’t have been walking through a deserted Govan Health Centre carpark. If he had accepted the lift he wouldn’t have noticed the flashy car sat in the car park. If he had accepted the lift he wouldn’t have noticed that the car was running and filled with what looked like smoke. If he had accepted the lift he wouldn’t have had a closer look and pressed his nose up against the passenger window to see inside.

If his father had been there Jamie would have ran into his arms as he screamed.

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Author's Note: This will be a slowly paced story and will run alongside Il Mago. I've put a lot of time into thinking this through and i'm extremely pleased with the outcome, so i'm hoping that you enjoy it.

Throughout the story I will be touching on a number of very sensitive issues, I apologise in advance if anyone is offended by this and encourage you to pm me if you think i've gone too far, though I also encourage you to remember that it is a work of fiction. Given the nature of the subjects covered I have used newgen players (only the club names will be real), but still feel the need to stress that none of the characters in this story are based on real people and any similarities come as a result of an unfortunate coincidence.

Played on 10.3 with a large database and only the SPL loaded.

Thanks for reading.

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  • 5 weeks later...

*Thanks for the comments lads, I told you posting would be slow :p*

Stevie McQuillan felt like death warmed up, his head pounded and his throat ached, he was in no fit state to be driving and he cursed his boss as he pulled up alongside a row of other unmarked police cars. He moved to open his door, but someone was doing it for him and bending down to talk to him.

“I thought you were supposed to be sick?” Stevie’s partner Ross was giving him the raised eyebrow treatment.

“I am sick, Hooper insisted that I come in.” Stevie steadied himself as he stepped out of his car.

“Bollocks, you look fine to me. Taking a while for your poor wee Edinburgh body to get used to Glasgow?”

“Aye, Ross, it’s a smog cold.” They looked at each other and laughed.

Stevie hadn’t been in Glasgow long, 6 months or so and despite the relatively short distance between the two cities he was finding it difficult to get used to life outside his comfort zone.

The promotion and move had come at just the right time, the end of a tricky divorce and a son who wanted to be as far away from his mother as possible had made the decision to up sticks easy. So far everything had gone to plan, William had been accepted to Glasgow Uni and started in a few weeks time and the staff Stevie had been assigned had made him feel right at home. There was even a love interest in the form of Colleen, a reporter with the Evening Times. Actually, everything seemed to be going fine and if it wasn’t for the fact that Hibs didn’t play in Glasgow Stevie would have been perfectly happy.

“See the games at the weekend?” Ross asked as they walked towards the tent erected in the middle of the Health Centre carpark.

“Just on the telly.”

“Good win wasn’t it?”

“Aye, nice start to the season, but there’ll be tougher teams to beat than Caley.”

“Caley?” Ross flinched indignantly. “I’m not talking about some ***** like Hibs, I’m talking about the Bhoys.” His grin showed that he knew exactly what he was doing.

“**** off, Ross.” Stevie couldn’t help biting. “So what have we got here then?” He nodded towards the tent, “What did Hooper drag me out of my sick bed for?” Ross stopped in his tracks.

“He didn’t tell you?”

“Nope, just told me get my arse down here asap. Why, what’s wrong?”

Ross started to shake his head slowly as he let out a long whistle, “Who’s the most hated, horrible, runty wee man in Scottish football.”

“John Bolger.” Stevie replied without hesitating, the Celtic captain was one of those players that divided even his own fans.

Ross stepped forward and held out his hands in a grand gesture in the direction of the forensics tent, “Stevie McQuillan, meet, two time SPL Player of the Year, current, excuse me, former captain and top earner of Glasgow Celtic Football Club, the late John Bolger.”

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  • 2 weeks later...

*Many, many thanks SCIAG. Probably the best comment i've ever had :)*

There was no reason for Ross to lie even he didn’t have a sense of humour as dark as that, but Stevie still found himself approaching the tent expecting to find his team inside pointing and laughing.

“Looks like suicide.” Offered Ross as he kicked an empty Red Stripe can to one side.

“Why are we here then? Why all the fuss over a suicide?” Stevie knew the answer, bring in the murder guys and it’ll look like the case is getting priority.

Ross raised an eyebrow and grinned, “Nevermind why we’re here, why’s he here?” He flicked his head towards the tent, “Why would the Celtic captain top himself in Bears territory?” Stevie nodded, he was wondering the exact same thing.

The smell of fumes tickled their nostrils even before the young PC had pulled the entrance to the tent open for them, they both cleared their throats and moved inside. A bright white BMW X5 stood in front of them, doors wide open, surrounded by the forensics team who blended perfectly with the car in their white overalls. The tinted windows meant that Stevie couldn’t see anything inside the vehicle, for all he knew it might still be the most elaborate practical joke in Strathclyde history. It wasn’t.

He shifted past two forensics officers who were spending more time than seemed necessary going through the contents of his boot, and came up alongside the driver’s door. The grey lifeless body of John Bolger was sat in the driving seat, mouth open, eyes closed, arms by his sides, Stevie tutted into himself as the relief of not being made fun of flashed over him.

He was so engrossed with what was in front of him that he didn’t notice the pathologist, Billy Redpath, come up alongside him, “He’s smaller than I imagined.”

Stevie jumped, “Jesus, Bill. You scared the life out of me.”

Dr Redpath grinned and nodded towards the body, “You guys think I have nothing better to do than tick boxes on an obvious cause of death in a suicide case, regardless of who the vic is?”

“I don’t think, Bill, I know you’ve got nothing better to do.” Stevie moved in towards the car, squinting as he looked towards Bolger’s head, something had caught his eye. “Time of death?”

Redpath sighed and looked towards Ross who rolled his eyes, “I can’t say for certain yet, but it was the early hours of this morning.”

Stevie pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and rubbed it against Bolger’s nostrils, the other two watched on, “And you’re sure about the cause of death?”

Redpath sighed even louder, “Look around, Stevie, we’ve got a vic, a car, a pipe from the exhaust to the passenger window and enough fumes to knock a majority of your team out. Yes, I’m pretty sure about cause of death.”

Stevie pulled the handkerchief away from Bolger’s nose and examined it, he looked out of the side of his eyes at Redpath and Ross, “You get many broken noses in cases where the vic has gassed themselves?” Redpath’s brow furrowed as Stevie held up his handkerchief, which was covered in dry blood.

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  • 3 weeks later...

*Many thanks, guys. Glad you're enjoying it and I hope I can keep things interesting for a while longer ;)*

There wasn’t much more that Stevie or Ross could do at the crime scene, forensics would take care of that and it would take them a while to clear everything up so that Redpath could get the body transferred and the autopsy started. The only witness was a child who was still recovering from the fright of his life and according to Ross the family had enough on their plate without more Polis asking the same questions they had already been asked.

As they walked through the carpark towards their cars a thought suddenly occurred to Stevie, “Hooper gets me out of my sick bed for a dead celebrity and doesn’t even bother to show his face?” he raised a mocking eyebrow towards Ross.

“Hooper in the thick of it, you’re having a laugh, son. I’ll give you two guesses where he is and what he’s doing.”

Stevie raised his head towards the sky and rolled his eyes, “Parkhead?”

“Bingo. He doesn’t mind being the bearer of bad news if it’s to someone worth talking to and McGleady is definitely someone worth talking to.”

Eugene McGleady, the chairman of Glasgow Celtic Football Club was like royalty in at least half of Glasgow and had enough money to act like royalty in the rest. This was typical Hooper, brown nosing the bigwigs regardless of the circumstances and doing the jobs that were normally beneath him as long as there was the possibility of him making another powerful friend.

Stevie turned and jogged over to one of the young PCs manning the access barrier, he grabbed his hand and pushed a set of keys into his palm, “See that red Vectra,” he said pointing towards his car, the PC nodded, “take it back to the station for me when you’re done, cheers.” Before the PC had a chance to reply Stevie was jogging back over to Ross, “You’re driving.”

###

“Suck it up Stevie, this is a proper stadium.” Ross slapped him on the back as they walked towards the staff entrance and reception of Celtic Park. Stevie kept walking, he wasn’t in the mood for more Hibs bashing, instead he pointed towards the waiting area, which was visible through the glass reception doors, “Looks like we have a welcoming committee.” Shaking hands and patting shoulders in front of them were Hooper and McGleady.

Hooper had his back to them and didn’t see them enter; he turned sharply when he heard Stevie assure the receptionist that he didn’t need any assistance as he was “with Mr Hooper.”

“Stevie, what are you doing here?” There was a painful expression on Hooper’s face, a scowl that he was trying his best to hide.

“I’m here to have a word with Mr McGleady, Sir.” Stevie reached forward and offered his hand to the Celtic chairman.

“Ah right yes,” Hooper stammered, “Eugene, this is DCI McQuillan and Sergeant Gillen, they’ll be dealing with this terrible tragedy.”

“I wish we could have met under different circumstances gentlemen,” McGleady said as he shook Stevie’s hand, “he was a fantastic lad and everyone at the club is absolutely devastated.”

“Any sign as to why he might have done it, Stevie?” Asked Hooper.

“Done what, Sir?” Stevie feigned ignorance as he asked it, his lips pouted and his eyebrows lowered.

Hooper ground his teeth together and flashed a smile at McGleady, “Taken his own life of course.”

“Suicide is just one line of enquiry we’ll be following, Sir. There have been one or two developments since you left the scene.” Hooper’s eyes widened and his mouth opened ever so slightly.

“One line of enquiry? You mean it might not be suicide?” McGleady turned towards Hooper, “But you said…”

“If we can move to your office Mr McGleady, we’ll need to ask you a few questions in private and I’m sure Chief Superintendent Hooper will want to back to the station to catch up with the goings on.”

Hooper’s face burnt red as McGleady led Stevie and Ross towards the stairs up to his office.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The conversation with McGleady was short and sweet, not because he didn’t want to answer Ross and Stevie’s questions, but because he was too eager to tick boxes with his answers. “An absolute delight to work with”, “a model professional”, “sorely missed”, “a great loss to the footballing world”, the platitudes rolled off McGleady’s tongue as the pr machine roared into gear.

Despite his cool, calm exterior and scripted replies McGleady did let his act slip once, when challenged by Ross about Bolger’s reputation.

“Aye, we all know he was a cracking footballer, Mr McGleady, but he didn’t seem to have many friends in the footballing world. Take yourself for example, what was it he called you? A sour faced arsehole from Paisley? Am I right?” The muscles in Stevie’s face strained as he stifled a laugh.

McGleady’s smile sank and his eyes raged as he focussed on Ross, but he seemed to realise his mistake almost immediately and the smile reformed as he assured Stevie and Ross that “personal differences did not detract form John’s ability on and off the field”.

As they left the stadium Stevie received a call from Colleen, she wanted to meet for lunch in the city centre, he knew lunch actually meant a heads up on the case a purely professional meeting, but he also knew that there was no way he was passing up the opportunity to see her. Ross dropped him off and promised to call him as soon as he heard anything.

“Meet me at YoYo”, Colleen hadn’t told Stevie what they were having for lunch and he rolled his eyes as he approached the restaurant and discovered it was a sushi bar, he still felt awful and cold fish was the exact opposite of what he wanted to eat. Nevertheless he strode inside and scanned the tables, his chest heaved when he caught sight of Colleen sitting with her back to him, it felt good to know that she had that effect on him.

“I hope you’re paying for this crap.” He said as he moved alongside her and took his seat.

“I’m paying in kind, Stevie. I’m going to pretend that your dose of man flu is actually as bad as you’re making it out to be.” She raised an eyebrow as Stevie smiled.

General conversation ensued, dates were arranged, dinner was confirmed for her place that evening, work permitting and a sickening dose of flirtatious compliments were passed from side to side. Lunch was tolerated and as they waited for coffees Colleen asked what she had been waiting to ask.

“So what can you tell me about John Bolger?”

“What’s this? You buy me lunch and expect me to dish the dirt on my high profile cases?” Stevie laughed a little as he said it and Colleen smiled.

“No, I promise you can stay the night tonight and expect you to dish the dirt on your high profile cases.”

“Are you attempting to bribe a Police Officer? Tut tut tut”

“Och Stevie, we both know that if it wasn’t for me bribing you you’d never get laid.” The comment coincided with the arrival of the coffees and Colleen flashed a devilish smile at Stevie as he nodded an embarrassed thank you at a shocked waitress.

“Suicide is just one line of enquiry.” Stevie leant forward as he whispered it across the table and Colleen’s eyes widened.

“What’s the other line of enquiry?” She pulled a notebook from her bag.

“I’ll let you speculate on that.” He stood and fidgeted in his pockets for cash in order to pay the bill.

Colleen’s eyes opened even further, “Murder?” she whispered. Stevie smiled and bent down, kissing her on the lips before pulling back and smiling.

“I’ll see you tonight.”

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  • 1 month later...

*Cheers, chester, it's just a shame that I don't have enough time to update it on a more regular basis because I really enjoy writing it. Glad to have you on board.*

Hooper frowned upon his staff using taxis to travel to the station, he didn’t want “the world and it’s mother” knowing who his officers were and by “the world and it’s mother” he meant dodgy, gossipy taxi drivers. However, Stevie was still feeling more than sorry for himself and his flu, there was no chance he was going to brave a drafty Glaswegian bus across town followed by a couple of hundred yards walk from stop to station in miserable weather. He hailed the first taxi he saw, got in, gave his destination and laid his head against the headrest, closing his eyes in the hope that it would put the driver off trying to start a conversation. It worked and ten minutes later the taxi pulled up outside the station, Stevie flinched from a semi sleeping state when the driver barked “Six quid, pal.”

He rubbed his eyes as he got out of the taxi and made his way up the steps towards the revolving front door of the station. As he climbed the final step he spotted Ross a cigarette hanging out of his mouth and staring down at his phone as he made hard work of what looked like a text message.

“We’ll have to send you on a training course for that thing.” Stevie laughed as he moved alongside Ross. “Spare a tab?”

Ross fumbled in his pockets and pulled out his packet of cigarettes, pushing one higher than the rest and offering it to Stevie. “What the **** would I use a blackberry for? Eh? What’s wrong with one of those phones that just rings people, that’s all it does, ring people?” Stevie rolled his eyes as he raised his lighter towards his cigarette and lit it, his eyes widened as he inhaled, the warm smoke burning his raw throat and he spat the cigarette onto the ground coughing a cloud of smoke into the air and lurching forward. He continued to cough, his face red as Ross slapped a heavy hand between his shoulders. “We’ll have to send you on a training course for those things”, he smirked, “probably best to lay off the fags when you’ve got the cold.”

Stevie straightened and pulled a tissue from his pocket, raising it to wipe away the tears in his eyes, “Who were you texting?”

“I wasn’t texting, I was trying to phone you. Redpath’s ready for us downstairs.”

Stevie waited for Ross to finish his cigarette before they both moved inside and headed straight for the morgue. Redpath was sat reading the paper when they arrived; “Ah gentlemen, quick one today.”

“I suppose it helps when you’ve got your DCIs pointing you in the right direction.” Redpath stopped in his tracks for a second as Stevie’s words registered, but he decided to ignore them and continued on towards the body on the table in the middle of the room.

“Cause of death is asphyxiation, a pillow or cushion was held over his mouth and nose to stop him breathing. That’s probably how his nose was broken, his killer didn’t know their own strength and pushed down too hard, or else they were trying to make sure that he couldn’t breath and pushing down harder on purpose.”

“So it’s definitely murder then?”

“Definitely. In fact there were one or two less visible injuries, which point towards a bit of a struggle and leave us in no doubt. Both hands are broken, probably as a result of trying to punch the assailant as the pillow was held over his face. There is also some bruising around the elbows on either arm, putting two and two together I would think this is as a result of his assailant gaining control and kneeling over him, a knee on either elbow, to stop the punches.” Redpath stepped back, folded his arms and looked at them both with a smug smile on his face.

“Good work, Doc.”

Redpath unfolded his arms, “I still have one or two more tests to go through and I haven’t given the body a proper examination, I thought I had better let you know these early findings as soon as possible, given the situation.”

“That’s great, we appreciate it.” Ross and Stevie turned to leave.

“There was one thing.” They stopped and turned back towards Redpath. “Bolger was a fit guy, in prime physical condition, it would have taken a man to commit this crime.”

“Uh yeah, I think we worked that one out.” Ross rolled his eyes towards me.

“A man in similar physical condition who could cope with the strength and fitness of a professional footballer.” Redpath paused for effect, “I wouldn’t be surprised if John Bolger’s murderer was a fellow pro.”

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  • 1 month later...

*I think i've kept you hanging on long enough, Mark. Cheers for the comment. I said this was going to be slower paced, but come on!:D*

“I don’t believe it, it’s too risky, they’ve got too much to lose.” Ross shook his head as he said it and Stevie couldn’t help agreeing with him. It seemed preposterous that a professional footballer, earning a fortune doing what he loved would risk everything, including his freedom. However, Redpath was right, Bolger was as fit as they came, muscular, tall, quick and agile, his killer must have been someone of a similar build.

“What if there were two killers, one was holding his arms behind his back and that’s where the bruises came from?” Ross drew his arms backwards imitating his theory.

“If there were two killers they wouldn’t have used a pillow, they would have used a rope or their hands.” Ross looked disappointed, “It’s the first thing I thought of as well though. This murder was personal and it’s someone that knew Bolger well.”

“Pfft, we need more than what we have before we can be sure of that.”

“Where do people have pillows?”

“On the settee, living rooms, bedrooms, at home.” Ross’s expression changed as the penny dropped.

“Either Bolger was in someone else’s house, or they were in his. If he was in theirs then there’s no sign of him being taken there against his will or we’d be looking at more than a couple of bruises on his arms and if they were in his they were either invited or they broke in. If they had broken in we would have heard about it by now so we have to assume they were invited.”

“2-1 says it’s a Bear.” Ross smiled as he said it, Stevie rolled his eyes.

“10-1 says it was the SFA, it’s about time we spoke to Mrs Bolger.”

###

The drive to Bothwell took less than half an hour, especially at the speeds Ross liked to drive at. One of the most affluent areas in Glasgow and home to a majority of the Old Firm players, everything was in tip top condition from the lawns to the roads, especially compared to the areas Stevie was used to policing in.

“Argh,” Ross shifted in his seat and held a hand up towards the sunlight, “all this poshness is burning a hole through my working class soul.”

Stevie turned towards the passenger window, “I’ve read your file Ross, your old man was high up in the RAF, there isn’t a working class bone in your body.”

“You must feel right at home Stevie, the Edinburgh working class are the Glasgow middle class so you’re not far off Bothwell class, right?

“**** off Ross.” He knew he shouldn’t react, but he couldn’t help it. “This is us on right.”

Bolger’s house was surrounded by a high wall, security gates and cameras, outside the gates was a mass of journalists, cameramen and paparazzi the likes of which neither Ross or Stevie had ever seen. There was no way they would get through in the car so Ross pulled up alongside the wall, they exited the vehicle and made their way towards the gate. Within seconds they were surrounded, cameras flashing in their eyes and tape recorders shoved under their noses.

“I’ll make a short statement, but talk and walk people. No questions.” Stevie said as he slowly pushed his way through the crowd. “The body of Celtic captain John Bolger was found earlier this morning. At this point in time we are trying to piece together the circumstances surrounding his death and the media will be kept informed, as usual, as any updates surface. I would like to offer my sincere condolences to John’s family and friends and hope you can respect their privacy in this time of great distress. Thank you.” Questions were fired at him, but Stevie continued towards the gate until he heard the voice he was waiting for.

“Can you confirm the rumours that this is a murder investigation, DCI McQuillan?” There was silence from the crowd. Stevie smiled into himself, but maintained composure and turned towards Colleen, “No, Miss McKeown, I can neither confirm or dismiss that rumour at this moment in time” Her devilish smile sent a bolt of excitement rippling through his body.

The scrum erupted as Stevie and Ross pushed themselves through the gate and free of the mass of bodies. Stevie winked at Ross and they made their way up the lavish drive toward the even more lavish house.

Stevie recognised the young PC by the door, it was the same one he had left in charge of his car earlier in the day.

“I hope you looked after my car sunshine. Back at the station and in one piece?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“What’s your name? “

“Eccles, Sir.”

“Well Eccles, how’d she take it?”

“Who, Sir?” The young PC’s expression was as blank as they came.

“Bolger’s missus.” Ross pushed a cigarette into his mouth as he said it.

Eccle’s face pulled a puzzled expression, “I don’t know Sir.”

“Jesus Christ Eccles, can you at least point me in the direction of someone who does know?” Stevie was losing his patience with the gormless plod.

“No Sir I can’t.”

“Excuse me?”

“We don’t know where she is?” Eccles looked as though he was about to burst out crying.

“What do you mean we don’t know where she is, isn’t she inside?”

“No Sir, there’s nothing inside.”

Stevie raised his hands to his face placing his palms on either cheek and dragging them downwards, “No-one inside Eccles, no-one inside!”

“No Sir, nothing!” Eccles reached to his side and pushed the front door of the house open, Stevie and Ross’s mouths opened as they were greeted by the sight of a single PC standing in a completely empty foyer scratching his head.

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  • 2 weeks later...

*Cheers, cf2, delighted you’re enjoying it and hoping the following disclaimer doesn’t put you off.

Disclaimer: Having discussed it with 10-3 we decided it was probably a good idea at this point to add a disclaimer about the amount of actual football and FM that will be covered in this story. As it stands this story should approach 100 posts, however, given the nature of the storyline it feels unrealistic to try and drag it out over a considerable period of footballing time (i.e. it seems unrealistic that it would take the police a full season to solve this crime…..perhaps not, but anyway) and as such those 100 posts might only cover a handful of games and a couple of months play at most.

Hopefully this won’t put anyone off the story, but it’s probably best to let everyone know now in case someone is reading and hoping to hear about a full season of SPL football. Any queries or concerns drop me a pm.

Cheers

El*

***

The ground floor of Bolger’s mansion was completely empty, but for that one police constable scratching his head in the massive entrance hall. As Stevie and Ross moved from empty room to empty room they shared the glances of men that were spooked rather than worried. Eventually a circuit was complete and they arrived back in the hallway at the foot of the staircase and exchanged looks.

“You first.” Offered Stevie.

“No, no, boss. You lead the way.” It was the first time Ross had ever called Stevie boss, but Stevie didn’t notice and instead focussed on trying to hide the deep breath he took before mounting the first step.

Upstairs wasn’t all that different to downstairs, more empty rooms and more edging around in eerie silence. When they came to the bathroom and found a used towel lying on the floor they both felt a strange sense of relief; “A sign of life, at last.” Stevie almost smiled as he said it, “You keep going, I’ll take a closer look.”

Ross moved on towards the bedrooms as Stevie moved further into the bathroom. In the sink he found dried patches of toothpaste and an overly used toothbrush, on the side of the bath was one bottle of aftershave, one can of deodorant and one bottle of shower gel. As far as signs of life go it wasn’t much to go on.

“Stevie.” Ross’s voice broke the silence. “Come and see this.”

Stevie moved into the hall and saw Ross standing with his back to him in the doorway of one of the bedrooms.

“What is it?”

“What do you make of that?” Ross stepped aside as he said it and revealed the contents of the master bedroom.

Laid on the floor was a single mattress covered with a single duvet and no sheet, the makeshift bed was unmade, definitely slept in. Stevie moved into the room and found himself scratching his head just like the PC in the hallway.

“You reckon someone’s found the house empty and been squatting in it? A tramp maybe?”

Judging by the rubbish surrounding the mattress Ross probably wasn’t far off the mark, empty beer cans and crisp packets, but as Stevie bent down and looked closer he noticed an item that didn’t fit hidden underneath one of the empty packets. He pulled a pen from his pocket, pushed the wrapper to one side and flicked at the item so that it slid onto his pen before lifting it towards the light.

“How many tramps do you know that wear a £5,000 Tag Heuer and risk taking it off when they go to bed?”

It was Ross’s turn to wear the puzzled expression, “You don’t think its Bolger’s bed, do you?”

Stevie set the watch back on the ground and stood up straight, shrugging his shoulders, “I don’t know what to think, Ross. I do know that we need to speak to Bolger’s missus asap.”

Just as Stevie said it Eccles appeared behind Ross, “DCI McQuillan.”

“Yes Eccles.”

“Mr Bolger’s wife is at the station waiting for you.”

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Yeah, I am definitely not reading it for the SPL results :)

No one actually cares about the SPL anyway do they ?

I know a woman who might!

I really like this El, and the disclaimer hasn't put me off at all.

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  • 3 weeks later...

*Absolutely delighted with the response, lads. Thanks for all your support and hoping I can repay in suspense :p*

***

“How’s the cold now?” Asked Ross as he pulled into the station car park.

“You know something? I’d almost forgotten about it, but thanks for reminding me.” Stevie was serious, he had almost completely forgotten about how terrible he felt, he was too busy trying to get his head round Bolger’s wife’s statement, “What was it Eccles said she had told the duty officer?”

Ross brought the car to a stop and yanked the handbrake up, turning towards Stevie and raising an eyebrow as he did so, “She’s claiming that she hasn’t lived with Bolger for almost a year.”

“And when was it you said you saw them together?”

“I didn’t see them, I read about them and how happy they looked together at some SFA event. That was only three or four weeks ago.”

Stevie shook his head and puffed his cheeks, “What do you reckon she’s playing at?” Ross shrugged his shoulders, opened his door and pulled himself out of the car, Stevie followed suit and once out looked across the roof towards his partner, “I’m calling it a day after we interview her, I can’t take anymore of this bollocks today and I’ve a date tonight.”

“The lovely Colleen? What I wouldn’t give to….” Ross knew better than to finish his thought when Stevie flashed a look at him.

***

Elaine Bolger was your typical footballer’s wife, peroxide blonde, her chest as fake as her tan, it was a rookie mistake to judge a book by it’s cover and assume she was a dumb blonde, a rookie mistake both Stevie and Ross made. They struggled to hide their shock at her response to some light hearted probing;

“Cut the crap boys, I’m a busy woman and I came here off my own back so stop wasting my time and ask me what you want to ask.”

“Ok, Mrs Bolger, as you wish. How come you’re telling my duty officer that you haven’t been with Mr Bolger for almost a year when you’ve been out and about together and in the papers a month or so ago?”

“We didn’t want our dirty linen aired in public, there was no need for anyone to know we’d separated.”

“John Bolger didn’t want his dirty linen aired in public?” Ross snorted, “What was it? Five kids by four different women and he didn’t want the papers knowing he had separated from his wife?”

“I didn’t want our dirty linen aired in public, John was doing it for me.”

“And John was happy enough to pretend that you were still together? That seems strange.” Stevie tried to ham up his confusion as best he could, “A young fella, popular, rich and it’s well known that he had an eye for the ladies, but he was happy to pretend he was in a solid relationship.”

She shifted uneasily in her seat “It suited us.”

“How?”

Suddenly her confidence seemed to return, “John’s reputation preceded him, it was only a matter of time before it cost him, a lasting, loving relationship was just what the doctor ordered.”

“Need we ask what you got out of it?” Ross was right, there was no need to ask, the lifestyle and the money was enough to keep a woman like Elaine Bolger interested long enough to play along.

The interview continued in the same vein for some time, toing and froing from one side of the table to another, Stevie and Ross were pleasantly surprised by Elaine Bolger’s honesty and she was more than happy to talk them through the ups and downs of her marriage. Everything was going well until Stevie’s final question.

“One last thing, Mrs Bolger, have a look at this.” He pushed a photograph of the makeshift bed they had found earlier in the day, “No matter what way you look at it that seems like a strange way for a professional footballer live.”

She glanced at the photo briefly, no emotion crossed her face, “How John lived has nothing to do with me.”

“You weren’t concerned at all, you had no idea?”

“Mr McQuillan, I very much doubt John spent more than a couple of nights in that house after I left, he barely spent a moment in it when I was there.”

“Where would he have stayed then?”

Stevie and Ross jumped as she burst out laughing, “DCI McQuillan, if you find out the names of half the people John ‘stayed’ with you’ll be a far more talented detective than I could ever give you credit for.”

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  • 4 weeks later...

*I'm so thrilled by the response this is getting and the comments really are appreciated. I wish I had more time to update more often, but i'm hoping that the lack of update adds to the suspense :p Enjoy.*

***

Stevie pushed hard on the door to his flat, it shifted slightly, but something was definitely jammed behind it. He took a step back and threw himself into it opening it just enough to push his head in and see what was causing the obstruction, a jumper that had been thrown by the door was now jammed between the base of the door and the floor.

“For **** sake. WILLIAM!” He paused for a second, no sign of life; he took another step back and threw himself forward against the door again, this time it shifted just enough for him to squeeze through into his hallway. He shook his head as he bent down to pick the jumper up, paused, smiled to himself and then yanked the jumper from under the door at just the right angle to cause a terrible ripping noise.

“William?” He called again, this time from outside his son’s bedroom door, still no sign of life. Stevie sighed before pushing the door open gently and rolling his eyes when he saw his son clothed, and sprawled, motionless on his bed. “William.”

“What?” Came the muffled reply.

“I could have broken my neck on that jumper you left lying by the door.”

“Sorry.”

“I’m afraid I accidentally ripped it pushing the door open.”

“Ok.” The body on the bed hadn’t moved an inch.

“Study day?”

“Yeah.”

“Late night?”

“Yeah.”

“Colleen’s coming over for dinner.”

“Cool.”

“Will you be joining us?”

“No.”

“You’ve probably got a sore head.” No answer. “We should probably keep it down then.” No answer. “You know, keep it down in the be….”

“Goodnight Dad!” Stevie laughed to himself as he closed the door and made his way to the kitchen.

***

Stevie shifted a pea from side to side on his plate with his fork, chin resting in his other hand he stared at the tiny green blob rolling back and forth in front of him.

“The chef doesn’t seem too impressed with his own handywork.” Stevie looked up at Colleen who was pouring them both another glass of wine. He pushed himself upright and sighed.

“I’m sorry love, things on my mind.”

“I’ll say, you haven’t looked twice at my deliberately low cut top.”

“I’ve looked at least twice; I’m just not as brazen as your other admirers.” They both laughed and sipped from their glasses.

“So, what’s on your mind? The Bolger case?”

“Hmmm, you know I can’t talk about that with you.” Stevie raised an eyebrow at Colleen, “Well, most of the time.”

“That’s a shame, I heard some rather juicy gossip from a friend of mine today and now I can’t share.”

“You can share, I can’t.”

“Hmmm.” She lifted her glass and rolled the neck between her fingers, “What’s it worth.”

“What do you want?”

“I want to skip dessert.” She set her glass down and flicked her hair to the side.

Stevie laughed, “I think I can live with that. Now the sooner you tell me the sooner we can ‘skip dessert’.”

“John Bolger was gay.” She pushed herself back in her chair, crossed her arms and stared Stevie straight in the eyes. The statement was so deadpan that it took a moment to register with Stevie, but when it did he burst out laughing. Colleen’s face reddened and she shifted uneasily, “I’m not saying I believe it, you asked to know and I’ve told you what I had been told.”

“The man had children popping up left right and centre,” Stevie managed to say as he continued to laugh, “John Bolger was not gay!”

Colleen pushed her hair back over her shoulder and scowled, “I think I’ll take dessert after all.”

Stevie wiped the tears from his eyes and still smiling moved round the table alongside her. She turned away from him slightly, but he knelt down and took her hand in his, “Look at me.” She looked at him out of the corner of her eye, “How’s about we have dessert in bed?” He winked at her as she turned back towards him and smiled.

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...but i'm hoping that the lack of update adds to the suspense :p Enjoy.*

Or makes your readers want to hurt you. I'm siding with my option.

Good work with this, El. Something different is always well received by me as a reader.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The next morning Stevie woke and without opening his eyes rolled to the side throwing his arm out in an attempt to pull Colleen closer, he jumped as his hand landed on the empty mattress beside him. Opening his eyes he could see that Colleen had done what she usually did, left before him and left a note on the bedside table. Pulling himself upright he rubbed his eyes with the heel of his hands before lifting the letter from the table, he smiled as he read it, “Thanks for dessert, compliments to the chef!”

A shower and shave later he was pulling his coat around his shoulders and lifting his car keys from the hall table when William emerged from his room. “Ah, so you survived the night.” William continued his march towards the toilet like a zombie, without saying a word. “William?” Stevie’s son shuffled to a stop and slowly turned towards his father, his eyes barely open, “You know it’s your mum’s birthday on Sunday?” A glimmer of life as William’s eyes opened a little wider, “Have you got her a present?”

William snorted and his eyes opened fully, “When was the last time she remembered my birthday let alone bought me a present?”

Stevie tilted his head slightly, “Come on William, she’s your mother.”

William snorted again and continued his journey towards the bathroom, “You always forget to add the word ‘unfortunately’ to the end of that sentence, dad.”

***

Stevie had arranged to meet Ross at Celtic’s Lennoxtown Training Centre and as he pulled up beside the security gate he was greeted with the image of his partner leaning against the security hut talking to the guard. He pulled up alongside them and rolled down his window; “Don’t let this boy in, friggin’ Hibs fan.” Stevie rolled his eyes at Ross’s predictable jibe and slowly drove forward as the laughing guard raised the gate.

Stevie had to admit that the state of the art training centre was impressive, then again £8 million of facility should be impressive. There were dozens of people milling around, photographers, autograph hunters, fans and journalists, but only Stevie and Ross were allowed past the second security barrier and pitchside. They made their way along the touchline, the first team players just yards away taking part in a training match against the reserves.

“There’s Rab Kennedy he’s a cracking wee player, first team soon enough!” Ross was struggling to contain his excitement, “Bloody hell, look at the size of Rodrgio!”

Stevie stopped dead, “Do I need to remind you that we’re here to investigate a murder, Ross?” His partner’s face dropped, “Get your mind on the job or else **** off and keep those other autograph nerds company.” Ross moved as if ready to reply, but they were both interrupted before he had a chance;

“Can I help you gentlemen?” Roddy Smyth, Celtic Assistant Manager had wandered over to join them, they flashed their warrant cards and introduced themselves, “The gaffer’s a bit busy at the moment, pre match press conference and we’re just finishing up for the day out here so if you want to go on in to the canteen I’ll send him your direction as soon as possible.”

Stevie didn’t take kindly to being told what to do and where to go, especially in the middle of his own investigation; “No need to wait for the gaffer Mr Smyth, we’ll head on up to the canteen and you can send every single player up, one at a time, to see us, starting with the last person to see John Bolger.”

Smyth’s cheeks reddened, he obviously didn’t take kindly to being tod what to do on his own patch, “We have a game tomorrow you know! These lads need to be focussed 110%.”

“Mr Smyth, you send them up one at a time to the canteen or else I’ll question them one at a time in full view of the press.” Smyth’s face burnt redder than ever, but the bedrgudging nod came anyway. “Good, we’ll see you up there.” Stevie and Ross started to make their way towards the main path, suddenly their attention was grabbed by shouting in the middle of the pitch, both men turned.

“Watch my effin ribs ya wee ****.” A tall, swarthy player was doubled over in the centre circle holding his chest. “I hardly touched you!” A far smaller, youth teamer replied. The taller player remained doubled over as Stevie and Ross turned back and continued making their way towards the canteen.

“Who’s the big lad?” Stevie asked, knowing Ross would know the answer.

“Sean Carnwirth.” Replied Ross abruptly, still annoyed at the scolding he had received a few minutes earlier, he was forced to continue when he realised Stevie would stare at him until he got a proper answer, “Hmph, he’s not really first team, well he probably is now?”

“What do you mean?”

“He was backup for Bolger, but I imagine he’ll be first choice now.” Ross laughed out loud, “You don’t seriously think someone would top someone else just to get into the first team?!”

Stevie snorted, “For what it’s worth no, but I’ve heard of stranger reasons for murdering somebody.” He paused for a second, “It’s not that that interestes me though, it’s that rib injury.” Another pause, “Tell me this, if I was on top of you holding a pillow over your face and you were lashing out, where would you aim for?”

“You’re face.”

“Ah, but I’m at arms length and straining to keep my head away from your fists. So if you couldn’t connect with my head where would you aim for?”

“You’re kidneys.”

“And with a pillow over your face, unable to see where you’re hitting you would likely lay a few of those punches…..”

Ross smiled, “On the ribs.”

“Hmmm.” Stevie nodded.

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  • 1 month later...

*Mikey, thanks for your kind words, makes me even more annoyed at my lack of progress with this story (the same goes for the sign up, which will return soon). Various family and work commitments have taken up far too much of time recently. Thankfully now I should be able to get back on track and try to update at least monthly. I’m determined to see this through to the bitter end, no matter how long it takes.*

Security had agreed to keep the canteen clear as long as Stevie and Ross were interviewing, they were far more agreeable about the situation than Smyth had been and seemed to enjoy playing alongside real Police Officers.

Stevie drummed his fingers on the table as they watched the players trudge up the path from the training pitch and into the main building, only a handful dared sneak a glance at the Polis sitting on the other side of the window.

“Do you think we’ll get much out of them?” asked Ross.

“To be honest, no. I doubt any of them know anything that might help the investigation, but Bolger was a colourful character and I’m sure we’ll get plenty of other info out of them.” Stevie stopped drumming his fingers and folded his arms in front of himself as the first bashful player entered the canteen.

One by one the players offered the usual spiel to tick the boxes, “a cracking player”, “a true leader”, “sorely missed”, Stevie wondered if any of them actually meant a word of it.

“I’m starting to think McGleady’s had a word with this lot, told them what was ok to say and what isn’t ok to say.” Offered Ross as the penultimate player left the room. “They’re like a bunch of bloody sheep.”

Stevie smiled, “You’re probably right, the main man wanting to make sure what goes on behind closed doors stays there. The problem with sheep is that there’s always one little bugger who doesn’t follow the flock and that’s when the main man ends up with more work to do than he bargained for.” As Stevie finished, Sean Carnwirth walked through the canteen doors.

The same answers came spilling out of Carnwirth’s mouth, just as they had with every other player and Stevie started to wonder if McGleady’s flock were easier to manage than he had expected. Sure, he didn’t seem particularly interested, but Carnwirth didn’t seem particularly annoyed by Bolger either, until Ross decided to shift the line of questioning.

“What happened to your ribs, Sean?”

Carnwirth shifted in his seat and instinctively wrapped his arms around his chest, covering his ribs with his hands, “Usual crap, opposition trying to rough you up with a few loose elbows to put you off.”

“Oh aye, had it happen to me plenty of times.” Ross started to chuckle lightly as he said it, “We were speculating that it might have been caused by Bolger when you were holding the pillow over his face.” Stevie shot a leg out, kicking Ross in the shin. He stopped short of intervening when he saw Carnwirth’s face drop and the colour drain from it.

Carnwirth realised that Ross and Stevie had noticed the change and started to laugh. “What’s so funny about that, Sean?” Ross pressed, but this time Stevie was happy for him to keep going.

“I wouldn’t do something like that?”

“Wouldn’t or couldn’t?” As soon as the words came out of Ross’s mouth the player’s jaw tensed and his stare turned to a glare.

“Wouldn’t.” He forced through gritted teeth.

“I dunno, Sean. John was a big man and you’re just a big boy.” Carnwirth’s face grew redder and redder, a vein had become visible on his temple and he lightly tapped him fist on the table repeatedly. Ross kept going, “Na, I reckon big John would have you sorted out in no time. What do you reckon Stevie?”

Stevie didn’t know why, but as Ross asked him the question his previous night’s conversation with Colleen sprung into his mind, he looked into Carnwirth’s eyes, “Aye, I think he’d take you no bother…..probably have his way with you too.” In Stevie’s mind he heard Ross say his name, shocked by what he had just heard, but Stevie was already pushing himself backwards, away from the table and as the chair gave way and he fell towards the floor he looked up at Carnwirth amashing his fist into the table in front of him.

“No ****ing queer like John Bolger would ****ing do me.”

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  • 2 weeks later...

*Kind words indeed, 10-3, the comments really do help me keep going.*

“That’s enough, Sean!” Came the shout from the doorway, Carnwirth’s eyes shot towards it, as did Ross’s. Stevie, still flat on the floor with his chair between his legs, had to strain to see who the other two were looking at. “Get out of my sight ya wee *****!” Stevie strained further and found that the words were coming from Paul Logan, the Celtic manager. Carnwirth flashed a glare at Stevie that told him the “conversation” wasn’t over, before turning and storming towards the door, barging past Logan.

Ross helped Stevie to his feet and Stevie dusted himself off as Logan approached them.

“I can’t apologise enough, gentlemen. I’m afraid Sean has one or two problems with his temper, but I’m sure he’ll grow out of them.”

“One or two problems with his temper?! He was an inch or so away from being charged with assaulting a Police Officer!” Ross shook his head as he said it.

“I know, I know. For what it’s worth, I don’t think he would have meant to do any damage, nevertheless I’ll be dealing with it. Are you ok DCI McQuillan?”

Stevie rubbed his neck as he rolled his head, “I’ll live. You know my name, but we haven’t been introduced.”

“Ah, yes, well, Roddy has already filled me in on your arrival, I probably owe you an apology for that as well. Paul Logan, manager of Glasgow Celtic.” He held his hand towards Stevie as he said it and Stevie shook it as hard as he could. “A good strong handshake, DCI McQuillan, that’s what I like to see.”

“This is Sergeant Gillen, he’s working alongside me on this case.” Logan shook Ross’s hand as well.

“Ah yes the case. I’m not sure I’ve taken it all in yet.”

“Everything seems to back to normal around here though.”

“No other choice, DCI McQullian, the SFA aren’t exactly renowned for their understanding when it comes to helping their own clubs. At the end of the day Glasgow Celtic puts the food on the table for everyone involved with the club, we have to keep going, no matter how much it hurts.” Logan looked towards the floor for a second and it seemed to Stevie that Bolger’s death might have affected him more than he cared to show. “Anyway, gentlemen, can we walk and talk? A tour is probably in order.”

Logan showed Stevie and Ross around the Lennoxtown Complex, he seemed genuinely proud of the facility and took great pleasure in telling them how far ahead of everyone else Celtic were when it came to developing the talent they already had on their books. As they walked Stevie attempted some light hearted questioning, he was shocked by the response he got.

“I’m not going to lie to either of you, John Bolger was a bastard.” He stopped dead as he said it and shrugged his shoulders.

“Don’t mince your words Mr Logan, tell us what you really think.” Laughed Ross.

“You’re both football fans, right?” They both nodded, “Then you know what sort of character he was, the kind of man you would want your daughter bringing home? I don’t think so. John Bolger was probably the most selfish and self obsessed man I ever met, but, and this is a big but, he was also one of the most committed and dedicated footballers I ever met.”

“Ability with a ball ahead of common decency.” Stevie tried his best to control his sneering tone.

“Exactly, DCI McQuillan. Afterall, ability with a ball is the name of the game isn’t it? And as you can see, John’s ability has helped us on the way to trophy after trophy in recent years.” Logan swept his arms in the direction of the walls either side of them, walls that held dozens of pictures of players with trophies and countless celebrations.

Ross took a greater interest in the pictures than Stevie and started to slowly make his way down the hallway studying each and ever photo. Stevie took the opportunity to ask the question he had been waiting to ask; “Mr Logan, Sean Carnwirth said something very strange just as he lost his temper earlier…”

“Yes,” Logan cut him off, “I heard what he said.”

“Have you any idea why he would refer to John Bolger in that way?” As Stevie said it Ross called out from down the hall, “Just a second Sergeant Gillen.” He wanted to hear what Logan had to say.

“I assume you’ve done your research DCI McQuillan, Sean was John’s understudy and I think the green eyed monster had quite a firm hold of him.”

“Stevie!” Came the call from Ross again, this time he ignored it.

“Still, seems a strange thing to call him, big difference between bastard and qu…”

“Stevie!”

“What, Ross?” Stevie struggled to hide his anger in front of Logan who didn’t even try to hide his smirk.

“These photos…”

“What about them?”

“John Bolger isn’t in a single one of them.”

Stevie turned from Ross back towards Logan, the smirk had disappeared.

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Just read through all of this, brilliantly written and a really good story, looking forward to the next one now!

Strange how the font of a normal post looks so much smaller compared to the writing in yours though, I thought something was wrong with my screen! :p

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Superb as always El. Must be a SOTY contender, no?

It should. Now El only needs to write 86 posts between now and the time of the award ceremony. Should be doable at the current rate :D.

I've also read this from start to finish today. My first reaction was "why the heck did I wait for so long?".

My second reaction? "Want more. Now".

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*Gents, your praise really does mean an awful lot to me and i'm delighted that people are enjoying a story that I am enjoying telling, long may it continue. As for SOTY, i'm humbled, but i'm also realistic, it's highly unlikely that this will be finished in time for the awards, but i'm embarrassingly giddy that anyone thinks it's worthy of an award. Thanks again and enjoy the latest update.*

Ross was right; Bolger didn’t appear to be present in any of the photographs, many of them taken during celebrations he would have been a part of. He wasn’t sure of the significance of such a find, but it raised questions that Stevie wanted answers to, whether they related to the case or not. He knew that the hallway wasn’t an appropriate place to quiz Logan, but Stevie was still shocked by the urgency with which the manager ushered them towards his office.

The office was smaller than Stevie had imagined, but still big. There were more photographs of players celebrating hung on the wall and still no sign of Bolger. Logan offered them both a drink, they refused, but it didn’t stop him pouring himself an overly large brandy before taking his place opposite them, behind his table.

“So what’s the craic with the photographs?” Ross was straight to the point eager to find out what was going on.

Logan took a lengthy sip of his drink before answering, “They are just a small sample of the pictures we have around the club, the fact that John isn’t in a small selection of them isn’t all that surprising, surely.”

“There were well over twenty photographs in that corridor, Mr Logan, “ Stevie wasn’t for being fobbed off, “Every single one was taken during celebrations surrounding Celtic’s success in recent years and John Bolger was captain for a significant majority of those years. You’ve got to see where we’re coming from here; it seems strange that he wouldn’t appear in a single photograph even if it is a small selection.”

Logan paused and took another long sip of his drink and looked towards the floor, “John was a very complex lad, DCI McQuillan.” Another pause. “He was taken from the small town his parents raised him in and dumped in Glasgow at a young age. When his friends were collecting Panini stickers of Celtic players he was cleaning the same players’ boots.” Another pause, Stevie and Ross remained silent. “It all took its toll and by the time John was making his debut he was a young and gifted footballer with a number of problems, problems that, for the most part, we helped him through.”

“Sorry, Mr Logan,” interrupted Ross, “but what has all this got to do with the photographs?”

Logan glared at Ross before draining the remainder of his glass, “John was terrified of having his picture taken.” He sat there, stoneyfaced and eyeballed the pair of them.

Stevie glanced towards Ross who looked like he had just been slapped in the face, “Are you taking the ****, Mr Logan?” Ross spat the words out as Stevie turned back towards Logan.

“No I am not taking the ****, Sergeant and I take issue with your attitude.” Logan’s face flared bright red, the anger bubbling inside him.

“I apologise for my colleague being so blunt, Mr Logan, but we’re talking about a man who played for one of the two biggest clubs in Scotland and took part in televised matches on a weekly basis. That same man was terrified of having his picture taken?” Stevie almost laughed as he said it.

Logan pushed himself out of his chair and moved towards the bar, ready to pour himself another drink. “I said he was terrified of having his photograph taken, not that he was terrified of being recorded or broadcast, DCI McQuillan.”

“With all due respect, what’s the difference?” Stevie was becoming impatient with Logan’s twaddle and wanted to know exactly what was going on.

“Football fans!” Logan said it as if it was a stunning revelation, before tipping his head back and downing his new drink in one gulp. He turned back towards Stevie and Ross, “Football fans watch football, John was happy for them to see him and recognise him. He wasn’t comfortable with everyone else recognising him simply because he didn’t trust them.” He threw himself back into his chair as Stevie and Ross squinted at him, still trying to understand what he was talking about. “Think about it gentlemen, all those lovely little honey traps waiting to happen, they would never happen if the women involved had no idea who he was.”

Stevie turned back towards Ross and they looked at each other, neither needed to speak to know what the other was thinking. “So John Bolger refused to have his photograph taken because he didn’t want women who were out for some quick cash to know who he was?!” Stevie’s expression was that of a man who couldn’t believe what he was hearing.

“I know it doesn’t make any sense, DCI McQuillan, but as I said, John was a very complex lad and sometimes you had to play along in order to keep him grounded.” Stevie puffed his cheeks out, lost for words. “I know, it’s a lot to take in and it’s totally unbelievable, but it really is the truth gentlemen.” They both remained silent, dumbstruck. “Well, I think now is as good a time as any to excuse myself, we have a game tomorrow and I really should be making sure everything is ready for it.”

Stevie and Ross were both happy for the conversation to end at that point; they already had plenty to think about and didn’t feel capable of taking any more of Logan’s stories on board. Something struck Stevie as they made their way towards the door to Logan’s office, he paused and turned back towards Logan.

“Avoiding the media is one thing, but what did Bolger do about fans? Surely they wanted to get a picture with him and they could have sold it to the media.”

Logan sighed, impatiently, “As far as the media are concerned they are not allowed to publish a photograph oh John, he refused to give them permission to do so. As far as fans are concerned, cameras are banned from both the stadium and training ground.”

“Surely the odd person managed to sneak one in?”

“One person did, not too long ago. John broke the boy’s arm ripping the camera out his hands.”

Stevie’s eyes widened, “I don’t remember reading about anything like that.”

“You wouldn’t, the chairman managed to catch it before it got out and gave the lad a little something to help him feel better. Now gentlemen, I really do need to crack on with my work. Perhaps we can continue this conversation tomorrow, after the game, to which you are both invited as my guests.”

Stevie rolled his eyes, it would have to be Celtic – Hibs, wouldn’t it?

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