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Tell Me

a CSI Grace McColl short story

When the evidence speaks, she listens.
CSI Grace McColl’s empathy with the victims of violent crime makes her ideally suited to gathering vital clues others might easily overlook. Tell Me is the poignant tale of the meeting between Grace and a young girl attacked in a local park. The victim may be reluctant to tell the CSI who she is and what happened, but the evidence speaks for itself.

* * *

Zoë Sharp’s short stories have appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and Strand Magazine, as well as award-winning anthologies in the UK and USA. They have been used in school textbooks, turned into short films, included in many Best Of collections, and nominated twice for the Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) Short Story Dagger.

A great story for less than a dollar!

Tell Me

“So, where is she?”

Grace ducked under the taped cordon at the edge of the crime scene and showed her ID to the uniformed constable stationed there. “CSI McColl. I’m expected.”

The officer jerked his head in the direction of the band shelter as she signed the log. “You’ll have your work cut out with this one, though,” he said.

Grace frowned and moved on. She was already dressed from head to foot in her disposable Tyvek suit and she made sure she followed the designated pathway, picking her way carefully to avoid undue contamination.

The girl was on the stone steps in front of the band shelter, no more than sixteen years old but still a child, with dirty blonde hair. As Grace approached, she could see the girl had her thin arms folded, as though hugging herself against the cold. And she must have been cold, to be out in the park in this weather in just a mini skirt and a skimpy top. Unless, of course, he’d taken her coat with him when he’d left her…

Over to the right, the rhododendron bushes grew thick and concealing. It might have been Grace’s imagination, but she thought the girl’s eyes turned constantly in their direction, as though something might still lurk amongst the glossy foliage.

She squatted down on her haunches next to the girl and waited until she seemed to have her full attention.

“Hello,” she said quietly. “I’m Grace. I’m going to be taking care of you now. Can you tell me who you are?”

There was a long pause, then: “Does it matter?”

Grace eyed her for a moment. The girl might have been pretty, if she’d taken a little time, a little care. Or if someone had taken a little care over her. Her hair was badly cut and her fingernails were bitten short and painted purple, the varnish long since chipped and peeling.

“Of course it matters.” Grace kept her tone light. “Finding out about you will help us find out who did this to you—help us to catch him. You want that, don’t you?”

“S’pose.” The girl shrugged, darting a little glance from under her ragged fringe to see if her attitude achieved the desired level of sullen cool. The action revealed the livid bruise, like spilt ink on tissue, that had formed around her left eye.

Grace tilted her head, considering. “He caught you a belter, didn’t he?” she murmured.

“I bruise easy,” the girl said, suddenly defensive now. “And I’m clumsy.”

“Ah, don’t tell me.” Grace set down her bag and opened it. “You were always walking into doors at home, falling down the stairs.” She shook her head. “Did no-one stop to wonder?”

A great story for less than a dollar!