I lay there motionless for a few seconds while my eyes tried to readjust to the light. A nights worth of mucus gluing their lids together.
The alarm was still blaring some half remembered song I'd selected as my wake up call. It was annoyingly catchy and annoyingly loud to boot. I stabbed at the phone-come-alarm-clock with my finger furiously, still half asleep. All shots were off target except the last, well aimed one I actually managed to open one eye for, like some dying sniper with one last, desperate kill shot to make. My finger caught the snooze button and the obnoxiously loud music was mercifully silenced.
I rolled over and pulled the duvet closer over me; the 'five more
minuets' manoeuvre, and lay there still and quiet. I could hear
the birds chirping outside and the sound of rubber on wet Tarmac
going by in the near distance.
I toyed with the thought of calling in sick, but just as quickly dismissed the idea. I had been in enough trouble at work already and really didn't need another meeting with management to see if I was fit for work. Besides I'd been off work for months on compassionate grounds and welcomed the distractions of other people's problems.
I make it one, maybe two minuets before she came in. Not into my room mind, but into my mind itself, swimming through the random thoughts and haze of my groggy brain. Unbidden and uninvited, she surged on into my conscious thought, but then again it's where she's been living for the past few years, I bet she knows my thoughts better I do.
Her main residence, however, was in my wreck of a heart, I'm sure
the shape of it had warped to spell out her name in neat, joined
up handwriting. Like a gory neon sigh on a backstreet vendor.
So I lay there in bed, half asleep, knowing I had to get my arse into the shower but enjoying the memory of her soft, silken touch, the smell of her hair, and the warmth of the bed if I'm being honest.
If I concentrated really hard I could even feel the hot pulse of her breath on my skin.
It was like an addiction, a ritual I followed every morning of every day since we had gone our separate ways.
"I have to go to work honey" I whispered to her softly.
"I wish you could stay" she cooed in my ear.
"So do I"
I ripped the duvet off from myself in one sudden motion, as if to dispel the spectre of her presence as much as to wake myself up as the cold air of my room rushed to my naked skin and made my hairs stand on end. I hate winter.
As I drove to work, freezing my testicles off waiting for the
decrepit heating system in my old car to fire up, I hooked my
phone up to the car's stereo so I could listen to the music
stored on it. Knees controlling the wheel while I fiddled with
the cable and phone, looking up at the road every few seconds to
make sure I wasn't about to run into a car or tree or car that'd
crashed into a tree because the stupid driver was fiddling around
with their phone. It's times like these I wish I had a lazy eye.
These days my playlists were mainly upbeat dance tracks
interspaced with some soppy lovelorn ballads. I often skipped
these tracks if I wasn't in the mood to be clinically depressed
by the time I rocked up to work.
I drove a tad too fast and had a nasty habit of slamming the gears in, like I was some under dog NASCAR champion in waiting running in a winner-takes-all, must-win race for glory. Not good practice or good for the car, but old habits die hard they tell me. I wasn't angry, it's just how I drive; like a prat.
"You're making me feel ill" she moaned.
I looked over to the passenger seat. She sat there impassively with a worried look on her beautiful round face, her short black hair framing her tight jaw line. Her eyes were large and always looked like they were wet and sparkling. I loved her eyes. They had the annoying habit of making me forget what I was saying. This was such a time.
"Huh?" Was all I could manage to blurt out.
"Please change gears a bit smoother, the jerky turkey is making me feel sick" She breathed. She did look a bit pale, I knew she hated the sudden gear shifts and the accompanying jerk the car would make as it lurched forward. I just forgot sometimes. Reason number 10 she left me.
I rolled into the car park of my office building through the key
card controlled security gates and plethora of CCTV cameras that
prevented uninvited souls from coming into its hallowed grounds.
The main office building was old, built back in the 70s when
shades of brown were all the rage and asbestos was a much used
Built much later, as could be told by the newer brick work and utilitarian architecture, was the cell block which housed the 'customers' who were brought in. Often solemnly, sometimes kicking and screaming.
Above that, lived the detectives who investigated whatever crime(s) the villains in the cells below them had decided to commit.
Dregs of society at the bottom, middle class working men and women above them taking orders from some higher up with a fat paycheque and some crowns on his or her shoulder epaulettes. If you were philosophically minded you might say that was a micro cross section on societies' still existent class division. I didn't have time to muse this though.
I parked the car up, deftly avoiding other haphazardly parked cars, vans,
Motorcycles and wheelie bins, disconnected my phone, cutting short Bruno Mars singing about his lovely girlfriend and walked across the yard to the changing rooms.
The locker room was large but stuffy and packed with a maze of
lockers with kit bags left lying around here and there for an
unsuspecting officer to trip over and break their neck. The stink
of sweat and fart gas always hung in the air, punctuated with
cheap aftershave and deodorant spray. I walked through the
invisible smog committing actual bodily harm on my nostrils and
made my way to my own locker.
Opening it up was always a chore as they key didn't quite fit and the lock was knackered after one too many decades of misuse.
Inside of it was a jumble of bits of clothing, broken or replaced bits of kit, and official documents and fines ready to be issued. I expertly picked out my daily 'appointments' from the other detritus.
Putting all my gear on was a bit tedious, the rush of excitement
fastening my kit bet to my waist, pulling the holders and pouches
into place, strapping on my heavy duty stab vest and fiddling
around with the annoying plastic catch on the anti strangulation
tie had long since gone.
Several of my colleagues were also in various stages of dress or undress in the locker room, chatting about the previous nights boxing match or what they gotten up to during the preceding days off.
"I don't see any cakes Jon" I heard.
"Shit", I thought. I knew I'd forgotten something. Reason 4 she'd left me.
I turned to where the voice had come from. A portly man standing
in his pants and buttoning up his work shirt was the sight that
greeted me and I silently added another image to my much swollen
list of things I'd like to unsee but now couldn't.
I'd know the guy for years and the cheeky bastard never failed to notice a lack of confectionary where confectionary was due. His ample gut was proof positive of that.
"You were late last shift, that means cakes" he said.
His accent and dialect was an almost musical northern one that made him pronounce 'town' like 'toon' He was a Newcastle boy come south to London for the work and, apparently, the abundance of sweet pastries.
"Sorry Pete, it slipped my mind, I'll try and grab some at some point today" I offered sheepishly.
"Not good enough" He rebutted. "We should have 'em with the morning cuppa and you know it" Pete paused, as if letting the enormous gravity of my folly sink in, and followed up with; "schoolboy error" He grinned at me, in the accepted social norm that told me he was jesting.
"Shut up Pete you fat bastard" I thought to myself as I returned his grin and added a little chuckle.
I finished kitting up, checking myself in the en suite bathroom
to make sure I looked presentable and made sure my name badge was
on correctly. The management were hot on their officers being
readily identifiable to weary members of public that loved to
make spurious complaints against officer who didn't curtsy them
correctly. The badge itself isn't some metal shield like you
sometimes see in American cop movies, it was a simple dark navy
blue Velcro patch with "PC JON LAW" written in block capitals
embroidered onto it. The normally pearl white lettering had faded
and was dark with dirt and God knows what else soiling it's
purity. The philosopher inside me smiled at the metaphor.
Oh and I know, "PC Jon Law" ha-de-bloody-ha! If I had a penny for every time some "comedian" had pointed that out to me I could retire on the proceeds. My parents obviously had a sense of humour.
I leaned against the shelf inside the locker, the printed picture of a beautiful woman was taped on to the back of it. The woman in the picture was smiling at me and I couldn't help but smile back "See you in a little while love" I whispered to it. She was even in here with me, in spite of the semi dressed men and smells around me. Not in person mind you, she'd never set foot in male locker room, not for all the beer in Berlin.
I slowly closed the locker, not taking my eyes off her until the thin metal door was shut.
A brisk walk from the lockers and up a flight of stairs brought
me to the parade room where the rest of my team/shift/relief were
waiting for everyone to arrive before the daily briefing could
The room was covered in posters and charts and mug shots of prominent criminals who's names and descriptions we were expected to know by heart. It was a long room rather than big, with seats against the longer walls facing each other. At both ends of the room were tables, the one at the far end had a computer on it that was attached to an overhead projector that the briefing officer would use and the other one closer to the door had a radio battery charging station and boxes of unopened cakes and sweets from someone else who made some small faux par or gaff. I saw that PC Daljit Roy had volunteered to read the briefing this morning. Well I say 'volunteered' more than likely he had been press-ganged into it by some of the old sweats. 'Dally' as we all called him was the team's resident joker. His prank phone calls were the stuff of legend. He'd once called a colleague on their personal mobile from our writing room while they were speaking to the team Inspector purporting to be a Detective Chief Superintendent demanding to know where "Constable Dover" was. "Constable who?" The confused officer had asked. Dally went into overdrive, "Constable Dover. Ben Dover, ask your Inspector for me now" he'd furiously insisted, while the rest of us were rolling around on the floor trying not to laugh too loudly.
The loud speaker on the office phone Dally was using picked up the conversation perfectly; "Guv I've got a Detective Chief Super on the phone, he's asking for Ben Dover" He asked. "I'll bet he is" we all heard the Inspector reply. The laugher couldn't be contained any longer and we all burst out simultaneously. Even Dally lost his composure and had to put the phone down. You need to laugh in the Job sometimes. Otherwise you'll go crazy.
All were accounted for on the briefing room, barring a few sickes and those that had been stitched up with last minuet operations or continuous observation of suicidal prisoners. I hated constant watches, you quickly run out of things to say to a psudo-suicidal burglar. More often than not the villains knew exactly what to say to the risk-averse Custody Sergeant get a unfortunate officer to sit outside their cell, just so they had someone to while away the hours with, boring you with the "injustice" of their incarceration and how, according to their vast knowledge of criminal law, they were being held illegally. Duty-of-care at its finest.
I sat down on a vacant seat, as aside from one that was already
being used, it's not polite to sit on a colleagues lap you see. I
pulled out my tatty red pocket notebook and Biro out of my
pocket. I looked up and there She was.
She was sitting on the table across the room from me, next to the cakes, looking at the far wall where the projector was splashing the briefing pages across the white washed wall. She was swinging her feet back and forth as they didn't quite reach the floor. I smiled to myself. She could be insanely cute sometimes.
"You're in a good mood today Jon?"
I looked around and saw my Sergeant sitting cross legged directly opposite from me, pocket notebook in hand and pen perched on her ear. She'd noticed my wry smile.
"I'm at work Sarge" I replied. "What's not to be happy about?"
Sarcasm was one of the best tools an officer had their disposal; "your neighbour has cut an inch off your hedge? I'll call Armed Response teams now sir!" Or "You say someone was intensely staring at you on the bus madam? That's awful! I shall circulate his e-fit and launch the force helicopter at once!" Sigh.
The skipper smiled back at me and gave a small chuckle. "Exactly Jon, what's not to be happy about?" She rolled her hazel eyes, and looked around the room. She must have been beautiful in her youth, as it stood now, she only had a few years until she could cash in her retirement cheque. Some of the more crass things I had heard said about her was that she was a definite MILF, Mother I'd Like to Fornicate (with). She had a mother hen like quality to her, fretting over her PCs and offering sage, if not very to-the-point, advice. She had always looked out for me and I liked her immensely. Her taciturn patience and razor wit stood her in good stead for managing the often rambunctious rabble that passed off as our Emergency Response Team. The other Sergeants on the team were also in attendance, sitting at the far end of the room amongst their 'cronies' or 'yes men' Brown nosers was a term bandied about when describing these officers too. Officers who were 'blessed' by a particular Sergeant's favour and patronage. Toss pots one and all.
Sergeant John 'Dolph' Warne sat at the far end of the room, 'the skippers corner' and six feet, eleven inches tall he dwarfed me and most other people he encountered. Ex army and built like a brick privy, his hands were the size of manhole covers, as were his cauliflower ears. He was a giant of a man with a soft, deep baritone voice. So soft that it was often hard to make out what he was saying. We called him 'Dolph' because he was the spitting image of the Swedish 80s action movie star. We never called it to his face though. No one fancied getting 'crushed' by him.
I stark contrast to him was Sergeant Craig 'Last Word' Petoiur. At five feet, 6 inches tall, with his thick beard accounting for at least a foot in of itself, he was the polar opposite of Dolph; short and wiry, like a rodent almost. He had a huge 'Napoleon complex' better known as 'Small Man Syndrome' He'd think nothing of acting like he was Goliath in front of a suspect or even colleagues, not so much throwing his weight around, as he lacked much of that particular commodity, but more so the three silver chevrons on each of his shoulder epaulettes. He loved the fact he was a sergeant. Police Officers are, wrongly or rightly, thought of as authoritarians without much people skills, give that cop a sergeancy as well and he'll think he's God almighty in black and white. We called him 'Last Word' because he simply hated to lose an argument and would hold on to technicalities like valued treasure. He was a nice enough fellow though, he knew his stuff and looked after his own. His sarcasm was slightly annoying at times as he never really wanted to give a straight answer about whatever you'd asked him about. "Is the Commander attending this training day Sarge" I'd asked him once. "No, Henry Bloody Kissinger is" was his curt reply, followed by his trademark ear to ear grin.
It was comical to see Dolph and Last Word sat next to each other.
A loud, screechy voice broke through the relative silence of the
room, it was Jade 'Barbie' Ball, she was leaning forward in her
chair to talk to Sgt Townsend past the half dozen PCs sat in
between them, even her one-size-fits-all work shirt couldn't
conceal the swell of her ample breasts, much to the appreciation
of the male officers sat opposite her. Her blouse was done up and
she was wearing her standard issue Battenburg cravat, but still
they leered at her. Like teenagers gawking at that one girl in
school who's boobs had gone through a growth spurt, but then I
guessed they knew all about growths and spurts.
"Sergeant Townsend, are you section skipper today?" She enquired chirpily. A Section Sergeant decided who would do what and buddies up drivers and operators into a marked patrol car.
They usually also made sure that conflicting personalities
weren't in the same car together or that those that need some
extra mentoring were put with one of the old sweats so that they
Barbie was fully dolled up, in true Essex girl fashion. Lipstick, subtle eye shadow, fake nails and even faker tan. A walking, talking contradiction to set uniform regulations, however she was one of those types that though she was 'special' and deserved privileged treatment. Most thought she was a liability and was more concerned with breaking a nail than detaining a shoplifter. The others didn't care so much as long as they could get into her Anne Summers knickers. I disliked her intensely as she had a habit of fluttering her eyelids or making a sexual innuendo to get her way. That and she didn't know when to shut up.
Fat chance of wooing Sgt Laura Townsend though, she was married and, sadly for Barbie, straight.
"Yes I am indeed Jade, and let me nip the question I know is coming in the bud, you're the reporting car today"
I had to suppress a chuckle, as did a fair few in the room. Good old Townsend. Barbie gave a weak smile and an even weaker "yay!" and settled back into her chair, the pall of bitter disappointment drowning out the artificial light of her spray on tan. The only person who laughed out loud was Ben Potomac, a young, cocksure officer who thought he was invincible and the sun shined out of his backside. 'Radio Ben' we called him as he loved the sound of his own voice, especially while he talked absolute cobblers on the main channel. He was sat next to Sgt Warne, and was very much a brown noser. He certainly didn't get coveted or 'Gucci' driving courses purely on his policing talents alone.
The reporting car Barbie had been lumbered with was essentially a traveling weariness machine, going from irate neighbours to reports of dog shit on the footpath and everything in between all day. I probably wouldn't see Barbie for the rest of the shift. Not a bad start so far.
She still sat on the table, still swinging her feet to and fro, giggling at Barbie's misfortune where I couldn't or wouldn't. My smile grew wider and I looked down at my tattered pocketbook to hide my teeth. I tried to take my mind of things by starting my notebook entry. A few seconds later the chicken scrawl of day, date, time, place in regulation black biro marked the beginning of a new policing day.
The premier 'old sweats' of the team then sauntered into parade with mere minuets to spare until a box of Mr Kipling's would be required, followed by the Inspector, a quiet, tall man whom I always addressed as 'sir' or if a wild fancy took me 'Guv'. Richard Sear had been the team Governor since well before I had joined the Job. The wore thick rimmed designer spectacles and had a habit of scrunching his face when he spoke to you. I think it was some kind of nervous twitch. He mostly sent weary emails and seldom spoke to us grunts in person unless we were Free Masons or whatever. He was also ginger.
They had obviously been sharing some private joke between
themselves as they all had half smiles or toothy grins on their
faces. First in was Dylan Rook, twenty years service under his
belt this one. He had the lines on his face and the greying hair
to prove it, along with quite a few 'war stories'
Tall, thin and forty years young, the job had prematurely aged him. I liked Dylan. He was the Sherlock to my Watson, the Vet to my comparative rookie, the Cox to my JD. He plunked himself down on the table across from me, one foot on the floor, the other leg resting on the table. He looked like John Wayne sitting there like that, minus the chewing tobacco and cowboy attire.
She had to move off the table and stood at the back of the room,
straightening her blue dress as she got up. She looked over at me
and I at her. One of the old sweats was looking for an empty seat
and was quite crestfallen that there were
none. He was too fat to stand and had too much service to be ignored. "Take my seat Danno" I called out to him as I stood up.
He walked over beaming at me. "Can't teach that" he said to everyone and to no one in particular. I got up and walked to the back of the room and stood next to her. I could smell her sweet perfume and feel the warmth of her cheek as she rested her head on my shoulder. She linked her arm with mine and leaned on me, I resisted the urge to pull her close and hold her tight and instead just stood there in my own little world, intoxicated with her closeness. The briefing came and went and the only way I realised it was over was when everyone stood up abruptly and began filing out of the room.
I looked at her but she had left too.
"Shit" I thought to myself.
"What am I doing?"
The first call of the day was piped through the radio systems with all the fanfare and pomp of a drunk taking a piss against a lamp post; "unit to assist on the High Street for a person injured Road Traffic Collision" said the bored control room operator.
Tumbleweed drifted past and there was dead silence on the radio,
no one wanted to deal with a car crash first thing in the
morning, or more to the point; the old sweats in charge of their
cars were waiting for someone in a panda, (a slow time response
vehicle - not allowed to use the blue lights or sirens), to put
up for it. You see there are two main types of Police drivers;
Basics, those that have passed a basic check test and can drive a
patrol car but have no exemptions to use the disco light, and
Response drivers, those that can 'fire up the roof' and drive
like maniacs, legally. I was a Basic driver, not yet deemed
worthy of a much coveted response driving course. "Control, show
Papa eight one" I offered.
Judging from the general lack of enthusiasm from the controller it was a minor incident where one party was claiming whiplash, probably the idiot who had caused the crash in the first place. I checked to see if I had a Collision and Accident Report Book, or 'CARB' with me and set off out of the cast iron automatic gates of the nick and into the world of weariness that was modern policing.
Driving in rush hour traffic didn't bother me so much, not while
I was at work anyway, it's not like I was trying to get anywhere
in any particular hurry. The immediate responders were there for
that, blue lights flashing and sirens blaring as they weaved
through the traffic to whatever emergency call had come in.
So I plodded along in the start-stop gridlock. Watching what seemed like half the city going about their daily business, commuters speed walking to the train station, delivery drivers chancing the last few milliseconds of the amber light, school kids piling into a double decker bus to annoy the living crap out of everyone else. Ah the rat run.
The only people that were asleep were the junkies and jobless
dole monkeys. The lazy, doped up, good for nothing, lucky
The radio came to life every now and again, other officers and colleagues talking to each other or asking questions or giving instruction, inter spaced with the control room asking for units to attend this or that. Some asked one another to change to a different channel so as not to tie up the main one. Some nosey officers would always change to that channel to listen in, hoping for some tasty gossip.
"Where are we going?" She asked. I looked over to the passenger
seat, as I had so often done when driving her around in my own
car. I missed that and a cart load of other little things about
being with her. It never surprised me when she was suddenly
there, I always expected her, like the sun emerging from behind a
fast moving cloud.
She had her seat belt on. Safely first.
"I'm going to deal with a car crash honey" I replied.
She looked at me, her face changed from a sort of inquisitive excitement to a look of worry instantly. Her thin eyebrows were arched upwards and she squinted her eyes. Her mouth had opened into a small, aghast 'O'.
"Oh no!" She exclaimed softly.
I felt the need to assuage her fears and put my hand on her knee in empathy. Her cheeks had become flushed and her wet, sparkling eyes were wide.
"It's okay babe, it's not serious. I don't think anyone's hurt that much"
She didn't look much convinced and looked out straight ahead of the car.
"He's dead?" she whispered. The sound broken by her breath catching in her chest.
"What?" I asked her in puzzlement as I looked over. The empty passenger seat gave no reply.
Pulling up at the crash I informed the control room that I had
arrived on scene and got out of the warm car to face the arctic
chill. I flicked the cars rear red flashing lights on in case
some other half asleep twit hit my car. Visibility is key after
My keen detective skills had served me well and it was just the fender bender I had imagined it to be.
The woman in the car that had been driven into jumped out of the drivers seat and stood next to her car with her arms crossed, the expression on her face said it all, "look what that prat has done" she communicated silently.
"White female, proportionate build, approximately thirty five to
forty years old, wearing a blue jacket and white blouse with blue
trousers and black heeled shoes" I noted in my head, no winter
jacket. She wasn't expecting to get out of the car until she got
to where she was going I surmised. I fancy myself as a bit of a
Sherlock, often times though I was dismally wrong.
Reason 37 she left me.
"Hello madam, are you alright?" I asked in ernest.
"Just a bit shaken up" she replied. "He's been wailing about his neck and back though" she added and gestured to the man sitting behind the drivers seat of a small hatch back. A hatchback that was growing a family saloon out of the front of it.
As I began to walk off the woman offered me her tidbit of mitigation;
"He was out if the car, marching about, shouting and screaming at me. As soon as I called the police he sat down in his car and began behaving like a baby" I turned to face her and nodded, acknowledging what she had told me.
Despite his apparent 'injury' my sympathy for chummy was almost non-existent. I didn't really have time for people who had hurt themselves through their own fault. Or ones who were hamming it up for sympathy.
Reason 12 she left me.
A small, slow moving crowd had gathered on the pavement next to
the crash, slow moving but not stationary, it wasn't worth trying
to explain to the boss you were late for work as you'd been
gawking at a minor car accident I guessed.
On the other side of the pavement was a crammed bus stop, the people waiting for their public transport were in no rush to go anywhere and stood staring at the "carnage". Some were filming the scene unfold. No doubt to put onto some trending social media website later. Other were on their phones telling their nearest and dearest about the accident. "No, no I didn't see it, but it looks bad, the police are here, he's so getting arrested" they must have known some obscure power of arrest I didn't I thought to myself sarcastically. Unless chummy had been drink driving I had no intention of arresting him.
I made a mental note not to let this turn into another "police brutality" video and walked to the second car and it's injured occupant.
Chummy was sitting in the drivers seat with his legs out of the
car, rubbing the back of his neck and trying to keep it up right.
His nose was slightly bloody and as he looked up at me walking
towards him I saw that his left eye was mostly red instead of
white. He'd hit it hard, causing the blood vessels in it to
burst, the darkening skin around his eye told me he'd also have a
heck of a shiner in a few hours.
He was a white guy, with short greying hair and blue eyes. I made him to be in his late thirties. He was wearing a green fishing jacket and jeans. Not your usual office attire.
"Hello mate, are you okay?" I asked as I got closer, so I didn't have to shout over the traffic driving past us.
"I'm fine officer, just shaken up a little" he replied.
I was going to ask him how he'd managed to plant his car into the back of another, but his open mouth told he wasn't finished.
"I hit my head against the steering wheel when the crash happened, my neck is very sore and it's hard to move" he complained.
"Do you want an ambulance sir?" I asked.
"No no, I'll be okay" he retorted "right you are then" I mumbled and left him there to nurse his neck while I updated my control room.
Over the course of the next half hour I pieced together what had
happened and it was abundantly apparent that the hatchback had
hit the saloon at medium speed. He'd been fumbling around with
something and failed to notice the stationary tonne of metal,
glass and rubber in front of him. It was Chummy's fault and it
was time to give him the bad news.
I walked over to him sitting in the car, I could see he was resting his head against the seat and his eyes were closed. He looked limp. I finished up a quick radio message to my control room to get both cars removed from the road side and broke into a jog.
I leant over the guy, and shook him gently, hoping he was just asleep. He didn't respond. Oh God, please wake up you mug!
"Open your eyes please, can you hear me? Open your eyes" I pleaded, panic raw in my voice.
There was nothing else for it, I jabbed a finger straight into
his mandibular muscle, enough pain compliance to make anyone do
anything you ask of them.
"Aahhhooowww!" He finally exclaimed.
Oh thank god, I thought to myself as he came to. I radioed for an ambulance to attend whilst chummy was still rubbing his aching jaw.
"Why'd you do that!" He asked.
"You were unresponsive"
"Of course I was unresponsive, I was asleep" he retorted.
"You shouldn't have been asleep, I think you're concussed, I've called an ambulance for you, don't fall asleep again"
"I don't need an ambulance, I feel fine, even the pain has gone" he looked at me and I saw his eyes were stark and blue, some would say piercingly so. It was as if he was looking straight through me.
I felt a hand on my shoulder and looked around. It was a
paramedic. "You guys turned up pretty quick?" I exclaimed, more
than a hint of surprise in my voice. The medic looked at me and
cocked an eye brow, "we were just around the corner" can I see
the patient please?
"Oh right, yes. Sorry" I moved out of the way while the medics lifted the driver out if the car and onto a gurney. I saw that the fire brigade were also in attendance. Good old Trumpton, always willing to attend if it meant using the heavy cutters to tear a car apart. Control must have called them as a precaution in case a 'rescue' was required. When the hell did they arrive though? I think I'd have noticed a great big fire truck rock up. I put it down to having to deal with a potential death as a distraction and thought no more of it.
I left the crews to do their work and got back into the warm confines of my patrol car. I had left the engine running, partly to keep the heating going but mainly because the on board computer would shut down if the engine turned off. Logging into a system several times a shift that used a touchscreen that was about as responsive as a drunken whale was mildly annoying to put it, uh, mildly.
"But I just saw him this morning" she gasped.
"Eh? Who?" I said, not a little taken aback.
She was sitting in the passenger seat again. God help me she had a look of total anguish on her beautiful face. It frightened me.
"Saw who babe, what's wrong?" I worriedly asked.
She just stared at me blankly. Tears falling down her eyes.
At this juncture of the narrative I would like to point out that she isn't really in my car, if you hadn't already figured that out for yourself. She was a figment of my love lorn imagination. She was my ex girlfriend, Nichola. We'd parted ways in, what I thought were, quite abrupt circumstances. I came home one night after work and she had up and left. Taken all her things and gone. Even her phone number was disconnected. I had no way to get in touch with her. Her family wouldn't answer the phone either. Nichola and I had had some problems in the relationship. It was getting very difficult, but our mutual love kept us together, the sense that we didn't want to be without each other. So it was all the more of a shock when she upped sticks and just vanished. I wasn't over her at all and that all happened over a year ago, so my obviously damaged heart petitioned my brain to construct Nichola inside itself. My brain took to this with much gusto and aplomb.
Hence the beautiful woman whom I knew intimately sitting beside me now.
"Honey please tell me what's wrong?" I pleaded with her. I hated it when she cried, it made me feel powerless.
"No" she sobbed.
I blinked and she was gone again.
I had been talking to the Nichola 'construct' for months now, and yes I should definitely go see a shrink about it all sometime soon.
I felt dumbfounded. Surely I controlled how Nichola behaved and what she said. It was like she'd taken control of herself now, like she had become self aware based on the sentience that I had given her. I never thought of her as a slave to my own will though, in fact that's one of the things I loved most about her; her independence and strength of character. For example if Nichola didn't like Marmite when we had been together, she sure as shit wouldn't like it now. This translated into how I perceived her construct to behave. This was bonkers though. I was lost again. What was going on?
I missed her absence painfully. Willing her back to me. But
nothing came, no matter how much I tried. Throughout the rest of
my long and shitty day I made facsimiles of her construct, but
they were hollow and pale imitations. I chuckled at myself a
little melancholically; I'd made up a girlfriend from a lost
girlfriend and now I'd lost her too and didn't like the copies of
the copy I had made. If I wasn't a case study in insanity I
didn't know what one was.
Reason 87 she left me.
I drove back to the station at the end of my shift. Tired and
weary and hungry. I finished up the reams of paperwork I had
accumulated during the day and retreated to the locker room,
dragging my discarded kit with me. I moped into the room, some
fellow stragglers were also in attendance, again in various
states of undress.
No one said a word to me and that suited me fine. I wasn't much in the talking mood. I drifted between lockers and colleagues until I got to mine.
"It's freezing in here" I heard someone say.
"Bloody heating. On full during the summer and off during the cold" came the terse reply.
I solemnly got changed into my civie clothes and tried not to look at the picture at the back of the shelf. I could help myself.
At least she was still there, I'd been afraid that the photo would be gone too, that all Nichola was, in flesh and thought, was the end result of an over active, lonely mind.
Her tangible smile restored some of my sanity.
Continued in Part 2.