S IS FOR SQUIRREL

The temperature in Bergen was a couple of degrees colder than Oslo, and situated on the west coast of Norway it was exposed to a biting wind blowing in from the Norwegian Sea. Sand stepped out of the airport terminal building and walked over to the man leaning against the car.

‘Bakke?’ Sand asked.

Bakke nodded. He was wrapped in a parka and hat pulled down low over his forehead. He looked at Sand, wearing his thin windcheater. ‘Never been to Bergen before, Sand?’

‘First time.’

They got into the car and drove round the one way system to get out of the airport and were soon on the highway, leaving the coast behind them.

‘You think your man Dag Moen is here in Bergen?’ Bakke asked as they crossed the bridge that straddled the fjord.

‘A hunch,’ Sand answered. ‘If I wanted to find out about a case from twenty years ago, who would I ask?’

Bakke laughed. ‘There aren’t many detectives left from that long ago. You’ll have to ask the Squirrel.’

‘The Squirrel?’ Sand repeated.

‘I’ll take you there first.’

Half an hour later they parked at Bergen‘s main police station. Bakke led Sand down to the basement. In the corner of a large, dark storage room was a small cubbyhole office. It was occupied by an elderly man, bald with thick glasses and a hearing aid.

‘Herb Ekorn, this is Anders Sand. Sand, meet The Squirrel, the keeper of our archives and old cases. If you need information, Herb here is the one who will have squirreled it away somewhere in here.’

‘What do you want to know?’ Ekorn asked, peering at Sand.

‘An unsolved homicide from twenty years ago. Victim was found in the harbour, sliced open. Name of Karlstad, working off of a whaler called ‘The Queen of Bergen.’

Ekorn nodded. ‘I remember that one. Never had a suspect. Or rather, there were too many suspects to identify who had done it.’ He stood up and shuffled out the office passed Sand and Bakke. He pulled a cord hanging from the ceiling and fluorescent bulbs flickered into life, stretching back into the distance. ‘Organised by date,’ he said over his shoulder and gestured for them to follow.

He stopped when he reached the shelves marked ‘1997.’ He clambered up a footstool and reached a dusty cardboard box. He pulled it down, dropping it with a heavy thud.

‘This one and the two next to it. All the files on the case.’

‘What do you mean too many suspects?’ Sand asked, as he took the lid off the box and leafed through the documents. There were handwritten reports, witness statements, interrogation transcripts.

‘Rolf Karlstad was a fisherman. He worked on the big factory ships out of Bergen. He was also a street kid, a male prostitute and a drug addict. The list of possible killers and unsavoury characters he came into contact with was a long one. There was no hard evidence on anyone. Just lots of theories.’

‘Does the name Jules Eckberg ring a bell in connection with the case?’

Ekorn shook his head. ‘Can’t say it does, but like I said, it was a long list. He might be in there somewhere.’

‘Is there a crew list for ‘The Queen of Bergen’ at the time of the murder?’

‘Should be in there.’ Ekorn shuffled off back towards his office.

Sand pulled the other two boxes and picked them up. Bakke carried the other one.

‘You have a desk somewhere I can look at these?’

‘Follow me,’ Bakke said. ‘Why Jules Eckberg?’

‘He’s Dag Moen’s father. I arrested him for murder twenty years ago in Oslo.’

For the rest of the afternoon Sand poured over the files on the Karlstad case. Crime scene photographs showed a pale, bloated body being fished out of the water. The gaping hole from abdomen to chin. The coroner’s report confirmed the intestines had been removed. They were never found.

Too much of a coincidence, Sand thought. The body was found two weeks before the body of Bjarne Johansen was found gutted and strung out in Frogner Park in Oslo. It had to be Jules Eckberg.

Sand checked the crew list from ‘The Queen of Bergen’ in 1997. There was no sign of Jules Eckberg on the list. It had to be him. He checked the list again, looking for possible aliases.

He stopped when he saw the name. ‘Son of a bitch,’ he muttered. Bakke looked up. The name was Verne Schloss. Verne as in Jules Verne. Schloss was German for ‘castle’ – the Schloss-Eckberg was in Dresden, now a five-star hotel. Verne Schloss had to be Jules Eckberg.


N.B. **The Norwegian word for ‘squirrel’ is ‘ekorn’.**


A2Z-BADGE-100 [2017]

This is part nineteen of my A to Z Challenge 2017. More information on the challenge, and other stories and blogs taking part in it, can be found HERE.

Throughout April I  hope to publish a section a day, relating to a letter of the alphabet, which in the end will make up a continuous story, all based round the objects found in this children’s jigsaw:

3570513_R_Z001A_UC17690531

Other entries in the challenge, and a version of the final complete, joined up story can be found here: A TO Z CHALLENGE 2017.

45 responses to “S IS FOR SQUIRREL”

  1. Bravo!! Very clever and nicely written.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you – one of the trickiest ones out the way, a few more to come!

      Like

      1. You may have seen a 2010 film called “Red” starring Bruce Willis and Mary-Louise Parker about a retired CIA operative (RED stands for “Retired, Extremely Dangerous) who is being hunted by assassins for unknown reasons.

        In one sequence, the retired operative and the woman he has unwittingly dragged into this mess, have to break into CIA headquarters at Langley and look up an old case of his. The records archives (which officially don’t exist) are being administered by Henry, the records keeper.

        I believe this was actor Ernest Borgnine’s last role before he died. I’ll always picture the Squirrel as Borgnine.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Not a bad match, very much the sort of person I would have in mind too.

        Like

  2. Brilliant!! Who woulda thunk it – The Squirrel! And thanks for the little note there about the Norwegian word for it – good to know!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I figured most people wouldn’t know it, so wouldn’t get the connection to his name. Glad you liked it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You never fail to impress me! I am very curious to see how you incorporate the letter Z in this! Great post – I’m a huge fan 🙂

    S is for Social Media

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much. Yeah, Zebra is going to be tricky – can’t go back to the zoo again!

      Like

  4. This was fabulous, Iain. So very clever and well thought out. Can’t wait for the ending!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One week to go, Sand better get a move on!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t know how you keep it all straight!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Seamless!! I wondered how you were going to manage it but you pulled it off really well!! I’m excited for next weeks offerings 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Time for the final showdown 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. This gets better and better. Your style makes it so easy to visualise what’s happening. I guess tomorrow you will start to tie together the loose ends.

    Amble Bay’s fabulous shops!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. All set for the final week showdown! Thanks Keith

      Like

  7. Fantastic! Clever use of the word. For some reason it brings to mind “The Wolf” in Pulp Fiction.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha, a kind of older, office bound version 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Masterful. You make it seem like fun to write.

    Like

    1. Thank you, I have to admit I am enjoying writing this challenge 🙂

      Like

  9. Loving this series – very clever and intriguing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, glad you are enjoying it. One more week to go!

      Like

  10. Great name for the keeper of cases. I’m intrigued.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Every part of the story is on my blog page if you have the time and inclination to read how we got to this point. 🙂

      Like

  11. So creative! Great job!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. Couldn’t think of a way to get a real squirrel in there in any meaningful way!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Oooh… that was a fun one! Ekorn… does it sound like English “acorn?” Which — of course — squirrels eat. What’s the Norwegian word for acorn?
    I’m feeling a bit nutty today. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There must be some connection I’m sure. Take a day off to recover 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I loved it! That was a very clever plot twist. I’m glad Sand matched to figure it out. And that note at the end was really helpful. No wonder they call him the squirrel!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, glad you liked it! One week to catch the killer 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think I’ll be suffering from withdrawal after that! If you ever decide to continue the series, you have my support! 😊😊😊

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Very kind – I haven’t thought beyond the letter Z yet 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I love the series! Either way, you have my support. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Really like this sequence. There’s something ‘classic’ about it 🙂
    So, we’re getting near. I can’t figure anything out, at the moment. I’m just eager to read on.

    @JazzFeathers
    The Old Shelter – 1940s Film Noir

    Liked by 1 person

  15. The connection between Jules Verne and Schloss Eckberg was brilliant. Sand just became more intelligent in my mind. And thanks for the note on ekorn – my first Norwegian lesson 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s about all I know in Norwegian too! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Ha! What a way to introduce us to The Squirrel. You make it look so easy 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha, thank you. Cheated a little, couldn’t think of a reasonable way to get a real squirrel in!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Brilliant use for squirrel! Wow! And I love the twist with Jules name!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Oh my gosh, I love how you handled Squirrel. That was such a perfect nickname in my mind, even before you gave us the footnote at the end. Great job!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. mandibelle16 Avatar
    mandibelle16

    Nice lead to Sand’s revelation at the end there. Also, gruesome details with the connected murder 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Your crime writing style is excellent. Terse yet descriptive. To the point in a “just the facts, ma’am” way, but alive and real. I’m looking forward to the rest of my binge read. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Sue, very kind. Hope you enjoy the final parts of the story 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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