Framed: A Ryan Parish Short Story-scene three

I decided to visit the brothel to get a feel for Ellen Ford’s world. Well, I went to have a look at the building. It was ten in the morning when I parked in the street in front of the building housing the brothel and got out to have a look around.

The brothel was closed. A sign on the wall in the shade of the front veranda informed me the establishment opened nightly at six, and advised potential patrons to make an appointment online. I snapped a photo of the sign with my phone.

The place looked like it had once enjoyed a life as a pub. It was a two-storey bluestone building, with an impressive wrap around balcony, dating back to the early days of the twentieth century, when there was a pub on every corner that closed at six.

All of the ground floor windows were protected with iron bars. The main front door facing the street was locked. I counted four more doors as I walked around to the car park behind the building, where I spotted a staircase leading down from the balcony into the car park. The car park was deserted.

I looked for a security camera over the rear entrance. I couldn’t see one. I assumed, if they had one, it must be inside the building. I wondered which entrance Clive had used, and if every entrance was covered by a security camera during operating hours. A negative answer to that question would give a jury that little bit of wriggle room Maggie was looking for.

I knew from the police file that the room where Ellen’s body had been found was located on the second floor. I walked up the stairs and along the balcony past the rooms that opened onto it. There were no iron bars on the windows and glass-panelled doors. I peered through one of the doors and read a sign telling guests to use the outside stairs if there was a fire.

I tried one of the doors. It was locked.

A little voice in my head told me if they were using the balcony as a fire escape, those apparently locked glass-panelled doors would have to be easy to open from the inside to comply with fire regulations. That meant someone could easily let an accomplice into the building, if there were no security cameras covering the numerous doors that opened onto the balcony.

I peered into the recesses of the balcony’s ceiling. I couldn’t see any cameras covering the balcony and wondered how serious the owners were about securing the building.

As I walked back towards the stairs at the rear of the building, I noticed a sticker on a window. In bold letters, it alerted would-be intruders to the presence of an electronic security system monitored by Suburban Security Services. I stopped and snapped a photo of the sign with my phone.

To be continued…


Peter Mulraney is the author of the Inspector West and Stella Bruno Investigates crime series.

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