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«Snapshot», Craig Robertson

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‘Where the fuck have you been, Tony? Some of us have been here for almost an hour. And stop taking my fucking picture.’

Winter knew he didn’t really mean it. Addison was just as pissed off at being there in the rain as he was.

‘Ah piss off, Addy,’ he fired back. ‘Some of us don’t have a flashing light and a car that goes nee-naw. Sammy Ross, I presume?’

‘You been watching CSI again? Aye, Sherlock. One dead drug dealer with regulation stab wounds. Hurry up and take his photo. I’m starving.’

‘You’re always starving.’

Police photographers didn’t always talk to cops this way, especially not detective inspectors, but Winter had earned the right over countless pints and drunken nights. He knew where Addison’s bodies were buried.

The thought of food was doing nothing for Winter. His head throbbed from the effects of the night before and his body was rebelling at being hauled out of a warm bed to come to this shit-hole. He couldn’t help thinking that she was still in there, curled up soft, smooth and cosy where he’d left her. Every splash of teardrops from the Glasgow heavens was taunting him, reminding him how much he’d rather be tucked in behind her.

Instead he was in the rain with a dead man. And the worst of it? Nobody would give a toss. Short of maybe Sammy’s mammy – and even that was doubtful – no one would care that he was lying in a pool of his own blood.

No one had time to be bothered. Not about Sammy at any rate. The next body would be along any minute. There would only be time to roll Ross out of the gutter to make way for the next scumbag who had drawn a target on his own chest and had to be immortalized on digital.

Pick up a Sunday paper any week and you’ll likely find a couple of paragraphs on someone stabbed to death. Two paragraphs. That’s all it was worth. Somebody’s wean knifed into oblivion and all they could be arsed giving it was half a dozen lines. Said it all.

Winter could see on their faces that everyone else on site was as scunnered with stabbing forty-six as he was. Scumbag stabbed by scumbag. City is one scumbag less. Only another few thousand to go. Case closed.

Uniforms, fed up with it. The DI, fed up with it. Campbell ‘Two Soups’ Baxter, the crime scene manager, clearly fed up with it.

It didn’t mean that any of them wouldn’t do their job. Sammy Ross would get the same duty of care and attention as the rest. He would be measured up, dusted down, forensically examined and given a good wash before going to a hole in the ground or the burny fire.

In the unlikely event that there would be witnesses then they would be questioned; doors would be knocked on; known associates would be talked to. Maybe, just maybe, the cops would find out who shanked the dealer. Maybe, just maybe, the great Glasgow public would give a monkey’s if they did.

There were probably worse places to be early on a wet, miserable Sunday than a damp corner of Blochairn, but right at that moment Winter was buggered if he could think of any. The natives at the gate were getting restless and Winter imagined he could hear the sound of pitchforks being sharpened. Little splashes of rain were falling into the burgundy pool that Sammy had drowned in, making waves that screwed up any blood splatter calculations that Two Soups and his forensics would try to make. Not that it mattered much.

Winter had just seen it too many times.

You were more likely to be murdered in Glasgow than any other city in Western Europe. And when it came to stabbings, the ‘no mean city’ was a match for anywhere in the world. It kept you in work if your job was to photograph the leftovers.

He’d been doing just that for six years and this moment, the point where he was about to look at the body for the first time, was always the same. From day one to this, it hadn’t changed. Excited and scared, fifty-fifty. What he was scared of was also exactly what he wanted to see. And part of the reason he was scared was because he knew just how much he wanted to see it.

Tony could kid himself all he wanted about how dull another stabbing was but he was still interested in the business end. It was what got him out of bed whether he liked it or not.

Being there, in the moment before the flowers and the football tops mourn another victim, when blood still runs hot in a body that has given up its ghost, is a strange privilege. You can see much of what the person had been and some of what they might have been if the city hadn’t cut them down. It was a moment that messed with his head every time.

You saw them caught in the very moment that they were claimed. He was already feeling the ache to see and to photograph the expression on Sammy Ross’s face as much as the wound in his belly. He knew that made him a sick fucker but it was his itch.


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