Part 11 - Join a Queue, Please

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THE HUA HIN police station was throbbing with officers and concerned residents shouting and arguing. Other people had spilt up the steps through the main doors.

"Where is my granddaughter?" an elderly lady cried, "Look at my daughter, she's sick with worry."

The young mother was being comforted by a policewoman and a bunch of her neighbours.

"You had better find her quickly. Instead of standing around here doing nothing!" shouted a middle-aged man, fighting back tears.

The overwhelmed policewoman needed help. Luckily for her, Gatts stormed into the melee with his arms raised. He clapped his hands, getting everyone's attention.

"Ladies and gentlemen, please calm down. We are doing everything we can. If you could answer our questions, it would make our job easier to find them."

He looked at them, picking the lady who had shouted earlier.

"Madam, please follow me into the interview room."

The woman shrugged off her wailing daughter and stalked after Gatts.

"Slowly and quietly, tell me what happened?" asked Gatts.

"She should never have married that man."

"Why do you say that? Did he beat her, was he cruel?"

"No, but he used to go off drinking with his mates," said the mother-in-law, tutting. "Yes, but did he ever harm his wife or daughter?"

"Not that I know of. I don't like him."

She huffed and looked around the room.

"Sorry, madam, that is not helping us find him. How about you tell me what happened?"

Gatts was dreading the rest of the day.

"He came in like always, covered in stinking paint. He had that stupid grin on his face, kissed my wonderful daughter on the forehead, picked the baby from my arms and left."

"He said nothing?" asked Gatts.

"I never listen to him, anyway. But, no, he didn't say a word. Got back in his truck and off they went," remembered the woman.

"What kind of vehicle was it?"

"Oh, I don't know, covered in paint!"

"Thank you. Please ask one of the male neighbours to come in."

The lady snorted and slammed the door. A few seconds later, a thirty-year-old man plonked himself down.

"Can you find my mate, we are supposed to be playing snooker tonight?" he asked.

"I think your match is off. What vehicle did he drive?" Gatts asked.

"It is a white Toyota truck, just two years old. He never cleaned it, you know?" he tut-tutted as he spoke as if it was against the law.

Eventually, Gatts had the registration number and a full description of the pickup. He passed this information to the traffic police commander.

"Getting somewhere at last," Gatts thought to himself.

The next people to be interviewed were the missing father's workmates.

"As usual, we were running late with a few jobs. Falangs have no patience, you know?" Gatts looked at the girl, "Do you think a foreigner had something to do with his disappearance?"

"Nah, he is just a grumpy old git," she said, pointing at her colleague. "But the smartly dressed guy may have," she said.

"And what well-dressed person is that? And why do you say that?" an interested Gatts asked.

"Dunno just had a weird feeling about him."

"In what way? Why?"

She described her uneasy feeling when the man neared her. As her workmate raised his eyes and tutted. She described the visit, almost word for word, as she had to Skylab and Kev, mentioning the small leather bag.

Gatts' junior officer interviewed the rest of the frustrated and panicky people in the station.

Captain Gatts needed a coffee. He bustled across the road just as his radio bleeped. "You've found it? Great, any clues?"

"No, sir, nothing at all, the fingerprints are the ones we expected."

They had already lifted the driver's prints from his home and his workplace.

Gatts struggled to lift his jacket to cover his head. The rain was hammering down, as the police officer entered the Coffee Investigation office, shaking water from his suit.

"Skylab, you know how I like it. I've got some news for you. Hold on, give me a minute just got to get the traffic guys working."

Gatts now shook the rain from his hair, he was gasping for refreshment; he busied himself with his radio.

Skylab placed a tray of the coffee mugs between the three of them.

"We've found his truck, they are towing it in now."

"Any sign of the baby?" asked Skylab.

"Sorry, no sign of either of them. The only clue was a motorbike skid mark in the mud near the driver's door. We are checking to see if the tracks are in any way unusual."

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