I’ve got a tip for you – Blood­print #5

I’ve got a tip for you – Blood­print #5

The final part of​‘Blood­print’, from the series of short sto­ries based on the case files of former DCI Aldous Milner.

The final part of​‘Blood­print’, from the series of short sto­ries based on the case files of former DCI Aldous Milner.


Today is the day’, Milner said as he locked his office. Patrick had just arrived and the two had wasted no time indoors. With news of the cops dis­cov­er­ing the victim’s iden­tity the pre­vi­ous day had come another bomb­shell: in the DA’s eyes, Camp­bell had the motive, the means and the oppor­tu­nity to kill Albert Brun­ner and the pre­lim­i­nary hear­ing had been moved back­wards con­sid­er­ably and was due in just another two days. Either Milner had to bring out a con­fes­sion or Patrick would have to watch in court as the DA related its per­fect story and his every attempt at explain­ing the truth would look like fic­tion.

I hope you’ve got it right.’ Patrick said as they took the lift down.

No time for that, Pat.’

Milner called his assis­tant, Jerry Bald­win, as soon as the lift door opened. Jerry, updates, now.’

So far it’s all gone accord­ing to your plan, but we may have a prob­lem.’

This is #4 of Blood­print. Be sure to read part #1, part #2, part #3 and part #4 as well to catch up with the story. 

Hold on.’ Milner said to the phone, then pulled Patrick aside towards a few iso­lated seats in the lobby of his build­ing and turned on the speaker. ‘OK, Jerry, this here is Patrick, he’s our client, the lawyer. Go over every­thing from the start so he’s updated on the sit­u­a­tion.’

Alright.’ Jerry said over the phone. Two days ago Mr Milner gave me a simple assign­ment. He had a pic­ture and some data about a fellow, Brian, and I was sup­posed to find his next of kin. Mr Milner had reason to believe that he had a brother.’

Go on.’ Patrick said, inter­ested.

I looked up the guy first, his las name was Reed. I tried to track his life down as far back as I could, even went all the way up to his school based on his social media accounts alone. It was evening by the time I got my assign­ment so I couldn’t do much. So far, though, it’d been a piece of cake. Turns out he did have a brother, so I got his name down. William Lane Reed.

Yes­ter­day I called up Mr Milner and we dis­cussed how we’d pro­ceed. Mr Milner sus­pected that William was likely deal­ing in drugs. He may have also been arrested before. I looked up the data and turns out he had. He’d done two years for pos­ses­sion and six months for theft a long time before that. He was out on parole, he was report­ing to his PO every single day — ’

Was?’ Patrick inter­rupted.

Exactly. Was. He stopped making appear­ances a week ago. His parole offi­cer didn’t sus­pect any­thing since he never had to make daily appear­ances, just weekly ones. As far as his PO is con­cerned, there­fore, everything’s square. He turned up last week, he has till the end of this week to turn up again.’

Patrick and Milner exchanged glances. Patrick looked blankly and Milner smiled.

His PO had a last known address that was not on public record,’ Jerry con­tin­ued, but I told him he was a person of inter­est to us and he agreed to slip us the details on con­di­tion that we keep things under wraps and never bring up his name on trial.’

How do we explain how we tracked him down in court then?’

Mr Milner said he’d take care of that.’

Milner nodded.

Well, that’s about it. I’d been stak­ing out the place since early evening yes­ter­day and there’d been no sign of unusual activ­ity. A little TV time, this and that. Around ten, though, he comes out for a walk, goes straight up the road, makes a turn towards a dead end and guess who he’s meet­ing.’

The brother?’

No, the guy in the photo.’ Jerry said.

Patrick’s eyes widened. Do you have pic­tures?’

Noth­ing usable, sorry, but I saw that they exchanged some­thing. Looked like tick­ets. Could be passes for the train so the guy can walk out any­time he likes or if things get heated. Our guy William walked back home so I decided to follow the other guy. He went straight back to the city, holed up in an apart­ment on the west end, two blocks from Tyrese bridge.’

You’re there now?’

Yes, Mr Milner asked me to keep an eye on him. I’ve given him William’s address. He said you two would get there this morn­ing.’ Jerry said. Oh, and Mr Wilson, I’m dead beat. I need a temp watch.’

Sure, Jerry.’ Milner said. Call in some­one to cover for you. You did good, kid.’

He cut the call, sat back and watched Patrick. The lawyer had eased up a bit know­ing that they had, at least, the name of a poten­tial killer. How Milner would con­front him Patrick had no idea. The lawyer’s eyes were fixed on the ground, deep in thought and he did not notice when Milner placed another call.

Hey, Hank.’ Milner said. It’s that shoddy detec­tive you wish you’d never met.’

What do you want?’

I’ve got a tip for you.’ Milner said. If things go as I hope, the Sky­scraper murder will be busted wide open today.’

That’s already an open and shut case. What the hell are you talk­ing about?’

I can save your Depart­ment a lot of bad press. You’ve got the wrong guy and I’m going to make the real mur­derer con­fess. You can join me or you can rot in your office like you usu­ally do.’

Go to hell, Milner.’

Alright,’ Milner smiled, I know a hun­dred other cops wait­ing to catch a break.’

Milner waited as he heard the cop sigh. He counted: one-thou­sand-and-one, one-thou­sand-and-two, one-thou­sand-and-three… and Hank’s voice came back on the line.

When and where?’

Milner told him, asked him to bring backup if nec­es­sary and cut the call.

Patrick looked at Milner again. The cops?’

Always a good move to have them with us when things are going down the way they are.’

The lawyer could not hide his curios­ity any­more. How the hell are you going to make him con­fess, Milner?’

You know what’, Milner said, I have absolutely no idea.’


Milner knocked on the door quickly and con­fi­dently. Behind him, Patrick kept shuf­fling around. It was as if the man had never met a crim­i­nal out­side the safe con­fines of a court­room. He had always wanted to put crim­i­nals behind bars but not for­ever. He believed it was equally impor­tant to help them work their way back into soci­ety and make them want to live there safely, both for their own good and that of others. Of course, three strikes was still out and by all indi­ca­tion, the man he was about to stand face-to-face with had just had his third strike: thiev­ery, pos­ses­sion, and murder. A sin­is­ter climb up a dread­ful ladder.

Along with Milner and Patrick was Detec­tive Hank Sutton. On Milner’s insis­tence he had asked his team to stay hidden. He did not want to spook the perp into run­ning away or doing some­thing worse, like shut­ting down or lawyer­ing up or shoot­ing him­self. It had all hap­pened before.

What do you want?’ They heard a voice from inside the house.

We’re friends of Brian,’ Milner said, open up.’

Who’s Brian?’

Seri­ously?’

I don’t know any Brian.’

Alright, we get it, he told us you’d do this.’ Milner said. Now open up, we don’t want atten­tion.’

There was a long pause at the end of which the latch on the door clicked open and a large, bearded man opened the door. He looked like a bear. Milner, Patrick and Hank were all quite sure they could not fight him if it came to that, which left Patrick and Hank with one choice: play along with what­ever Milner does. And Milner him­self had no option either besides talk­ing this man into con­fess­ing or some­how vol­un­teer­ing infor­ma­tion.

William closed the door and turned to face the three men. He looked just like Brian, Milner thought. Brian some­how enlarged and stuffed with rocks, per­haps. They sat down by a table, but William did not.

OK, talk. I told Brian to stay away or the cops would link us.’

Sud­denly, Milner asked, Does idiocy run in the family?’

Patrick stiff­ened. He was white and out of breath and wished he had never walked in. This man was a career crim­i­nal. He had prob­a­bly met and beaten down guys twice the lawyer’s size (or the detective’s or the cop’s for that matter). It was not a good idea to pro­voke the guy and Milner was doing exactly that.

We are the cops.’ Milner con­tin­ued. And the build­ing is sur­rounded by cops. So if you know what’s good for your brother, sit down and talk.’

Patrick wanted to say some­thing but could not. Hank was watch­ing silent, trying his best to hide his fear. If this did not go well, he had a lot to answer for back at the precinct.

William’s expres­sion did not change. He sat down as calmly as he had been all this while.

How did you find me?’

Brian.’ Milner said. It was a lie.

It was a lie and Patrick knew it. Bad idea.

But Milner went on. Your parole records told us you’d been show­ing up daily at the Depart­ment for some reason and then, sud­denly, you van­ished. We talked to your brother, explained to him how things would go down­hill if we couldn’t track you down and he gave us this address.’

William smiled. You’re lying. Brian wouldn’t have given you this address.’

Why?’ Milner wasted no time in reply­ing. Do you sus­pect some­one else?’

OK, so you met me, I’m here, my parole record is per­fectly fine. Time for you to leave.’

Not yet.’ Milner said.

Nei­ther Patrick nor Hank could quite figure out how Milner was so calm.

I heard you’ve found a job.’

What job?’

Window clean­ing.’

The twitch in William’s eye was so slight that anyone who wasn’t watch­ing him intently would never have noticed. All three men on Milner’s side of the table, thank­fully, were look­ing at noth­ing but William.

I don’t know what you’re talk­ing about.’

The window cleaner on Campbell’s build­ing was your old buddy. The guy who lives near Tyrese bridge. You asked him to take the day off, went in his place, went up the Cambell’s office. You knew nobody could track you and you wouldn’t be on any cam­eras. If you’d gone inside the build­ing you’d draw sus­pi­cion, so you came up from out­side, to clean the win­dows.’

What Tyrese bridge? Camp­bell who? I don’t know what you’re talk­ing about.’

Then sit back and be a good lis­tener.’ Milner said sternly. Because you did end up clean­ing the win­dows. You tried to open them up from the out­side, push­ing through. Your friend had told you that Camp­bell keeps his win­dows opened just a crack. But the dumb guy that you are you ended up cut­ting your hand on the glass. Your blood sprayed all over. It sprayed on the window and you cleaned it up, but you did a hor­ri­ble job because you’d left little smudges there. But nobody would notice. What you didn’t know was that some of your blood had sprayed on Campbell’s blue­prints that were less than a foot away. Maybe some even dropped on the car­peted floor. We’ll know when we check.

The other day, I’d been to the restau­rant where your brother works. I broke a glass acci­den­tally.’ Milner paused. Or maybe I broke it on pur­pose. I broke the glass Brian drank from and picked up the pieces of the rim. His saliva was on it. His DNA. The records matched to those found on the window. You see, DNA is an inter­est­ing thing. You can wipe the blood, but even if you leave a smidgen behind, we can still pick up some DNA. It was a match, but not like I sus­pected. It was a fifty-per­cent match. Guess what that means? Iden­ti­cal twins. Brian had a brother. You.’

William remained silent, but more out of dis­be­lief than adamance.

Camp­bell was a reg­u­lar at the restau­rant. Your brother waited his table every­day. He saw the work he brought with him, he saw the deals he made, he saw the money. He got greedy. He told you about him. You got greedy. When I first vis­ited the scene of the murder, I noticed there were pic­tures of a wed­ding on Campbell’s desk. He’d worked on some archi­tec­ture, maybe inte­rior stuff, maybe decor, I don’t know. But it was a wed­ding. Guess who was Camp­bell and had got mar­ried recently? Brian Reed. I noticed your brother’s new ring at the restau­rant the day I met him and it was a doubt I had, noth­ing more. But I’m a detec­tive and when I have a doubt, I pursue it until I’m sat­is­fied, so I worked a plan to get his DNA.

What I’m not sure of is who planned the whole thing. Let’s get to that later, though. First, for your plan to work, you had to get Camp­bell to the wed­ding. You’d trick him there, black­mail him, then make money. The guy was rich, you’d have cut of his wealth. It all went accord­ing to plan, but you didn’t pre­dict that he’d hire an inves­ti­ga­tor. And you didn’t expect him to try to pull a quick one over you. So then it went to a whole new level. It was a ques­tion of your self-respect, I sup­pose. What­ever the case, that man double-crossed you and he had to pay for it. You had to bring him down some­how.

But then there was the inves­ti­ga­tor. What would you do about him? He could track you down, per­haps. He could point fin­gers, he could talk, you’d have been guilty of pos­ses­sion again. Life in prison. You had to take him out too, so, once again, I don’t know who planned it, but it was a good plan. Two birds. You kill the inves­ti­ga­tor and blame it on Camp­bell. That way the inves­ti­ga­tor would be dead and Camp­bell would be behind bars. As a plus, you could help your­self to what­ever money the archi­tect had lying around. The body would be found in Campbell’s office, the victim would have photos of Camp­bell look­ing like he was sell­ing drugs, and that’d give Camp­bell a reason to kill in the DA’s eyes. It was per­fect. More per­fect than you could’ve manip­u­lated it your­self.’

William said noth­ing. His face was slowly losing colour. Milner’s nar­ra­tion had ramped up the ten­sion in the room. Patrick sat stiff, not know­ing what to do or think, and Hank sat with one hand over his weapon beneath the table. The cop knew that Milner was play­ing a dan­ger­ous game and if William did not take a bite out of Milner’s story, all hell would break lose. He’d have to fire to inca­pac­i­tate William the bear, and he’d have a lot of explain­ing to do and paper­work to com­plete. That was the part he hated the most.

Go ahead,’ Milner con­tin­ued, call your brother. Ask him if a glass broke that day. But com­mend him too, he did a good job of cook­ing up that story trying to divert my atten­tion towards a non-exis­tent fellow who sup­pos­edly had a fight with Camp­bell. None of that hap­pened. Des­per­ate move, but a slick one too.’

You’re accus­ing me of things you cannot prove.’ It was the first time William had spoken since the detec­tive had started his nar­ra­tion.

Milner shrugged. That’s not what you should be wor­ried about.’ He stood up and looked down and William Reed. The fact that I don’t know who planned the con and who planned the murder means I can’t prove it and you can’t prove it with­out impli­cat­ing your­self. And that means I can blame that on anyone. On you, on your friend who’s in his flat right now, under the watch­ful eyes of my men. Or,’ he paused, I can blame it on your brother.’

Patrick remained still. Was Milner bluff­ing? But it was William’s turn to stiffen.

Your brother saw Camp­bell every­day. Your brother had more than enough reason to be jeal­ous, to want some quick cash. It was your brother’s wed­ding to which he invited Camp­bell with intent to con him. Your brother was paid paper and your brother was infu­ri­ated. And your brother then came to you and asked you to talk to that window cleaner friend of yours. You, inno­cent as ever, agreed. Your brother then went into that room and mur­dered the pri­vate inves­ti­ga­tor. Your brother acci­den­tally cut his hand and left traces of his blood at the crime scene. Your brother’s DNA is a near-match to that blood. Enough to raise everyone’s sus­pi­cion because why would a waiter’s blood be found inside the office of one of his rich­est clients on the same day a murder occurred? You’ll be out here a free man and your brother will stand trial and even­tu­ally go to prison for life.’

William stared at Milner for what seemed like sev­eral min­utes.

It was Nick’s plan.’

Patrick took a sudden breath, shocked. Hank loos­ened his grip on his weapon.

Keep Brian out of this. He did noth­ing. I forced him to look for poten­tial vic­tims. I threat­ened him so he showed us your guy, the archi­tect.’

I’m not con­vinced.’ Milner walked to the door. Pat, Hank, let’s leave. This gen­tle­man clearly knows noth­ing about the crime. We got it wrong.’

The other two silently arose and fol­lowed Milner’s instruc­tions. The detec­tive held the door open for them and then shouted to the cops wait­ing out­side.

Have them mobilise the second unit by the restau­rant. He’s our guy. Name’s Brian Reed, he mas­ter­minded the whole thing. We have enough to take him to trial and put him away for a long time.’

Enough.’ William screamed from inside the house. I’ll con­fess. I write it down. But if you touch my brother, you get noth­ing.’

Milner’s plan was work­ing. It was as thin as ice on a warm lake but it was essen­tial that William believed he had the upper hand and that he was saving his brother’s life.

You lay a finger on Brian,’ William went on, and I’m going to make sure you all pay for it.’

Hank stepped for ward to say some­thing but Milner put a hand across and stopped him.

You want your brother to stay free, get a pad or a sheet of paper, and start writ­ing.’

Brian has always been the good guy.’

And you can keep it that way.’ Milner said. Here, use my pen.’


That evening, Milner and Patrick sat in the lawyer’s office along with Camp­bell and Hank. The state had decided to drop charges against Camp­bell in light of a sudden, unex­pected con­fes­sion from a former con­vict. It was all over the news: the murder, the con, the inno­cent, honest archi­tect who had been wrongly accused, first of deal­ing in drugs, then of murder. It was a warn­ing to all cit­i­zens to keep an eye out and not receive things strangers handed them; to go to the police if any­thing hap­pened and not try to fend off black­mail­ers. It was a good day for Camp­bell and it was just another case solved for Milner.

You took quite a gamble there.’ Patrick said. It was risky. I was scared half to death. You bluffed your way through it.’

Not at all.’ Milner said. Besides the fact that we had noth­ing more than cir­cum­stan­tial evi­dence against Brian at that point and that I made up that story about how Brian may have done it, every­thing was the truth. I did break that glass to get a sample of his saliva, I did get that DNA tested. In fact you went to Force labs to col­lect the reports, remem­ber? And you’re paying for it.’

Patrick smiled.

It was the only sequence of events that made sense if Camp­bell here was inno­cent. And I’ve met con­victs like William before. Poverty, sit­u­a­tion, friends, com­pany led them down the wrong path. And they seem­ingly got stuck there. But the one thing they value, the one thing they’d be will­ing to do any­thing for, is the others in their family. Their brother, sis­ters, par­ents. They’d do any­thing to keep them out of prison. It’s human nature, I sup­pose.’

As much as I hate to say it,’ Hank said, that was good. It was a stupid move, it was dan­ger­ous. But I don’t think he’d have cracked any other way.’

And you were ready to shoot if you had to and save us all.’ Milner said. You had your hand on your weapon the whole time, Hank. Thank you.’

The cop got up and walked to the door. Alright, then, see you around. Got a lot of paper­work. Not every­one cel­e­brates after a case like you do, Milner. Some of us fill in paper­work.’

The men laughed. A tear rolled down Campbell’s eyes.


Recommended articles

The assault on science

Pop­ulist poli­cies have begun to affect sci­ence adversely. The trou­ble is, they are hap­pen­ing slowly enough that nobody seems to notice.

Continue reading


A fresh restart

Dra­matic changes on this web­site, and the soft­ware pow­er­ing it, to cel­e­brate ten years since it came into exis­tence.

Continue reading


Must. Sleep. More.

Sleep is a tricky thing. When too little sleep is as bad as too much of it, how do you decide how much sleep is just right?

Continue reading