Showcase // The Forgotten Ones by Brian McGilloway
The bruising extended from his temple, around the curve of the eye socket and down almost to where the fold of his laughter line curled round to meet his lip.
Lucy gently touched the purpled skin with the tips of her fingers, afraid that too much pressure might cause him to wake. She moved back slightly and traced down along his neck to where she saw a second shadow on the skin, this time the injury aged and yellowed around the edges, just visible above the collar of his vest. Wisps of gray hair curled over the material, rising and falling lightly with each breath.
She drew back the blanket from him, seeing for the first time the leather strap that encircled the safety bar at the side of his bed, its other end fastened around her father’s wrist.
“Dad?” she whispered, tapping him lightly on the arm in an attempt to rouse him. “Dad, what happened?”
For a moment, his eyelids fluttered, his face inclining toward hers. Then he settled back on the bed again, his head barely denting the pillow. His brow shone with perspiration, despite the presence of a portable fan in the room.
She pushed back from the bed, opened the door, and went out into the corridor. Seeing no staff, she moved up toward the main workstation on the ward. Just as she approached, an orderly came around the corner.
“DS Black? Just the person.”
“What happened to my father?” Lucy demanded. “His face? What happened?”
The man raised his hands in placation. “I’m sorry, Miss Black. I thought you’d been … He became aggressive with some of the other patients and took a fall,” he said.
“He’s chained to the bed,” Lucy said.
“He’s not chain—” he said, seemingly swallowing back his protest at her comment. “We had to restrain him to stop it happening again; he was uncontrollable.”
“He has a bruise on his chest, too.”
“I don’t know—it … it may have been when he was being subdued. Look, I understand you’re annoyed. And I know you’re off duty, but … well, we think there’s a body in the river.”
Gransha Hospital, in whose secure unit her father had been placed, sat on the outskirts of Derry city, alongside the River Foyle, nestled in the shadow of the Foyle Bridge. The bridge, a kilometer-long structure, had been designed with an arch high enough over the river to allow access for ships to pass under in order to reach the city docks. However, soon after completion, the docks were then moved north of the bridge, and the majestic arch’s function became purely aesthetic.
The height of the bridge made it a frequent spot for suicide attempts in the city. In the previous decades, over five hundred people had already lost their lives to the river, more than ninety from the Foyle Bridge alone. If there was a body in the water so close to the bridge, Lucy felt fairly certain that it was as a result of a suicide jump.
She went with the orderly, down from the block in which her father was being held, cutting across the grounds, onto the field running down to the train tracks along the river’s edge. She pulled out her mobile and called the sighting in to the Strand Road station as she ran. Doing so would not only alert the Police Service of Northern Ireland, but, more importantly, also Foyle Search and Rescue, a charity group in the city, made up of volunteers who patrolled the river and assisted in recovery operations. That the city needed such an organization was a reflection of the frequency with which people went in the river.
As they approached the river’s edge, she could see a group had already gathered, most dressed in either blue or white scrubs, suggesting that they were staff from the hospital. The air was heavy with the stench from the water, the odor of the exposed sediment banks along the river’s edge having built all day, ballooning in the intense heat. Even now, despite the fact it was past nine, the evening was still humid enough that the effort of jogging down through the field had caused Lucy to sweat.
The orderly led her through, pushing those gathered aside, announcing that she was “the police.”
Lucy scanned the water, the glare of the evening light shattering on its surface, forcing her to shield her eyes with her hand.
“There,” the orderly said, pointing up to her left.
She followed the line of his arm and finally saw the arm and head of a man breaching the river.
“Hello. Can you hear me?” she called, but there was no response save the rhythmic rise and fall of the man’s arm on the water, as if the river itself were drawing breath.
Brian McGilloway was born in Derry, Northern Ireland. After studying English at Queen’s University, Belfast, he took up a teaching position in St Columb’s College in Derry, where he was Head of English. His first novel, Borderlands, published by Macmillan New Writing, was shortlisted for the CWA New Blood Dagger 2007 and was hailed by The Times as “one of (2007’s) most impressive debuts.” The second novel in the series, Gallows Lane, was shortlisted for the 2009 Irish Book Awards/Ireland AM Crime Novel of the Year. The third Devlin, Bleed a River Deep, was selected by Publishers Weekly as one of their Best Books of 2010. He is the author of the New York Times bestselling Lucy Black series, all to be published by Witness. Brian lives near the Irish borderlands with his wife and their four children.