The Case of the Missing Leg

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic
A short story with a variation of Jim Fielding's accidental disability, written to explore the impact of amputation on him.

Submitted: December 02, 2011

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Submitted: December 02, 2011




Just an occupational hazard, mate


The shape of things under the hospital sheet was wrong. Either Id turned into a merman, both my legs having morphed into a single, fishy tail, or something down there was missing. I was intact in the middle leg department, the sore throb of a catheter tube told me that much. I was afraid to move to inspect more closely, besides feeling as weak as the tea in the police canteen.

Jim, you awake?Eddie Pearson, my mate, my partner in crime - or more properly, the fight against it - whispered in a voice so rough it could grate parmesan.

Mm-hmm,I croaked. My tongue was stuck to the roof of my mouth and tasted stale and grungy, like a morning after eight pints of lager, a suspicious-looking kebab and some apricot brandy I got three Christmases ago.

Ill get the nurse,he said, reaching for the button by my bedside. I suspected his eagerness wasn't entirely connected with concern for my welfare.

Come on, just tell me; how bad is it?

He shook his head, Do you want some water? I bet youre thirsty. Christ, you could do with some mouthwash too, mate! He tried a lost puppy look on me but I wasn't in the market for a mongrel.

Stop fucking around and tell me. Whats the damage?I tried to shout but my throat hurt; all I could produce was a low growling.

They had to amputate your right leg; it was too damaged to save. The left is fine, just some bruising and a broken femur, should have you up and about in no time,he said, pasting a false smile on his face.

Oh great, Im only one leg short, then? Thats a relief. Fuck. Ed, tell me we got the bastard, please?

Weve got more overtime than youd believe on this, well get him soon,' Eddie soothed.

'Don't give me that flannel. Some guy tenderises my legs with a lump hammer, I think reallocating a bit of the overtime budget is the least you could do. Where the fuck was my backup? You know, armed officers covering the ransom drop-off, that sort of thing? I know the kidnapper wanted me to go alone, but I thought wed all agreed it was a bad idea. With good cause, as it turns out.'

'They were still being briefed, it was a right cock-up. Be thankful they didnt shoot you like de Menezes. There'll be an enquiry, of course.'

'I'll hold my breath, then, shall I?' I tried to back up my sarcasm with a breath-holding demonstration until I discovered a couple of broken ribs and thought better of it.

'Are you sure you didn't see anything?' Eddie seemed personally affronted that I'd not taken time during the assault to get the bloke's vital statistics.

'No, Eddie, I didn't. I've told you, and three other bloody people, the guy knocked me out with a blow from behind. When I came to, I had duct tape around my eyes and mouth, which, by the way, was a joy to have removed.'

'Policemen are supposed to make good witnesses, you know,' Eddie said around a mouthful of grapes. The Chief Super had brought them; Id mercifully been unconscious when he visited.

'I hope those are sour,' I said, not without malice. I was tired, I felt like I'd had a house dropped on me, and I'd just woken up to find my right leg had been cut off. Excuse me for being tetchy.

'They're not bad, actually. Seedless. What do you get for lunch around here?'

'Nothing that you'd want. Haven't you got speeding drivers to torment, innocent civilians to fit up and hammer-wielding maniacs to catch?'

He held his hands up. 'Fine, fine, I'm going. Just don't accuse me of being unsympathetic,' he said.

He looked at me with what I could only describe as pity, grabbed another handful of grapes from my bedside cabinet then left.

I lay back on my pillows, glad to have a private room. Im not a man given to maudlin behaviour, but I admit I cried for my lost leg and my unavoidable future as a disabled man. The police find jobs for officers with disabilities, but I didnt imagine Id be going back in my former capacity as DI. I had the options of either restricted duties or retirement. My life as I knew it was over.

I had five minutes in which to wallow before the door opened and another colleague entered, looking apologetic. It didnt suit her.

Hi, Dianne,I said, trying to inject some enthusiasm into the greeting. DC Dianne Randall was ballsy, quick-witted, and observant enough to notice Id been crying.

Jim, how…

Dont ask. I didnt see a bloody thing. Its the closest weve been to this bastard, if Id been more careful we might have found Kirsty Sanderson before he kills her. I dont know, maybe I saw something before I was hit, heard something, smelled his aftershave. What about that hypnotist you used in the Carter rape case, reckon he could help?

Jim, you think hypnosis is a load of bollocks,Dianne said, edging closer to the grapes.

Ive got to do something, anything, to take my mind off this,I gestured towards my lower half.

What, your dick? I never knew women in uniform turned you on, or is it only nurses?She grinned and crossed her eyes, clearly so uncomfortable that I almost felt sorry for her. I could see it, like a big blinking neon sign above her head, ‘theboss has lost the plot’ in pulsing pink letters.

Just get whatsisname in here to see me a.s.a.p. As long as he doesnt leave me barking like a dog,I warned.

I promise no barking or subliminal suggestions to lavish praise on a certain female copper.

Out,I tried not to smile but it was irresistible, damn it.

Honestly, Jim, do you think its a good idea for you to jump straight back into the job? Shouldnt you be resting or something?

Why, is my leg likely to grow back if I lie down for long enough?

Ill go, then, shall I?

That would be best.

Come back with a hypnotist,she raised one eyebrow.

Bye, then,I said, trying to make it more of a command than a farewell.

Dianne left as noisily as possible, and once again, I was alone with my thoughts. An eight-year-old girl was out there, perhaps alive, more probably dead. I couldnt catch her kidnapper in the state I was in; what was I going to do, hop after him?

I closed my eyes, hoping to sleep. It was no use; the ghost of my leg itched more than the measles, chickenpox and crabs put together. Not that I’ve had crabs, of course. Well, once, but I was young, In Ibiza, and I’m sure it was from the hotel sheets. I try not to think about it, actually.

When I saw the case file that Dianne had left on my bedside table I almost wept with gratitude. The key to the case could be right here in this blue cardboard folder, I just needed to find it.

I spread the statements, pictures and interview transcripts across the bed, covering the space where my leg used to be.

And I began to read.






© Copyright 2018 Clare Hill. All rights reserved.

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