Bewildered By a Bombay Sapphire

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Mystery and Crime  |  House: Booksie Classic
A man gets bitten by a dog.

Submitted: January 30, 2012

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Submitted: January 30, 2012




Paul was sat in the kitchen of the station reading Josephine Tey’s Daughter of Time.  He was completely alone, apart from the drip-drip of the hot water tap, which according to the sign above it was ‘disigned to run for a minute after being turned off’.  Designed spelt with an ‘I’ after the ‘D’.  Paul was surprised that he had not noticed this before: he’d worked there for almost a year, for two days each month – 24 sessions of 2 hours: 48 hours, at least.  The sign had been there for all that time.


Two days before, when he there was last there, it had been busier than this: the local Reverend had come in for a meeting with the Manager, who was away.  As Paul explained the situation, the Reverend became increasingly angry-looking and ungodly.  In fact, he became curt and brusque, and Paul felt like saying, “God bless you” in a really facetious voice to remind the Reverend of his clerical office and then when he was leaving, Paul felt like shouting out, “God speed.”  The Reverend did not wish to leave a message because his information was too important to be transmitted by a lowly volunteer. 


When the attention bell sounded (there was a large panel to the right of the desk, as you came in, which if pushed alerted the volunteers to the presence of punters), Paul jumped from his seat in alarm, disconcerted to have his concentration flow broken, but he remembered why he was there and walked up across the empty, dark-ish building to the desk where there was a man waiting.  He looked to be in his early to mid thirties, with facial hair (a moustache and a small, central growth under his chin), wearing a t-shirt and tracksuit bottoms.  All of this became noticeable only when Paul got closer. 


Opening the window of the desk to allow him to hear what the man was going to say, Paul wondered if it would be something silly (like a complaint about a telephone box or a cable, which has nothing to do with the police) or something beyond Paul’s abilities or experience, like a murder or robbery.  The man opened his mouth and the words that Paul heard sounded hostile, slightly aggressive.  He had been bitten by a dog, and wanted to report it as fact.  Paul asked him if he’d like to make an official report or not (with an emphasis on the not, explaining that he would be contacted by an officer and it would create a lot of bother for the man), and the man curtly replied, “Well it could have been a child.”  Paul agreed that it could have been and fetched a piece of paper and took down all the details, ready to forward them to the relevant police constable who deals with animals: PC Mike Wotton, in fact.  He left the man to write everything he could remember and he could remember a lot, and had photographic evidence and the name of the dog’s owner, while he drank some of his tea which he’d made twenty minutes earlier but was still too hot to be pleasurable. 


Paul took the sheet and the man left without fuss, and he relayed the message, via email, finding out later than the dog had been put down.  He had even gone so far as to thank the man for using the threatened-with-closure station.


Time passed and Paul forgot about the report.  He knew that he was depressed but could not work out what had triggered his melancholy.  In Spike: An Intimate Memoir, the author, Milligan’s secretary, wrote that a tree that had been slightly, almost-imperceptibly, vandalised could cause one of her boss’s and friend’s depressions, which could last for weeks and involve him barely eating and sitting in a cupboard.  Paul on the other hand carried on with his simple, little, life and ate his meals, without any conscience of what he had been a party to.  For you see his report had signed the death warrant of that dog.  He had written so eloquently and concisely (which was what his expensive and largely miserable education had taught him to do) that the officer had written to thank him for making his job so much easier and to inform him that the offending animal had been destroyed.


When Paul saw the man who had given him the report he was in Paul’s local and had clearly had too much to drink.  A large sum of money must have been spent because pints of London Pride were not cheap in this gastropub, just off the Main Road and in a building so ancient, it’s probably in the Domesday Book.  He was oozing ale and nicotine from every pore.  Paul tried to ignore him and started heading to the other end of the bar, but the man accosted him and said, “I have never been so happy as when I was bitten by that dog.”  Paul winced at the words.  The inebriated man went on to explain.  “It used to bark at me every time it saw me walking down the alley.  And I just looked at it, I did, and knew it had to be destroyed.  I hated it.  The ugly mutt.  IT HAD TO GO.  And when it bit me, I could have cried out for joy.  I had the excuse now to have it done in.  I had been tempted to take a brick to its skull before, but that was far too dangerous.  The RSPCA would have got me prosecuted.  I might have gone to prison.  And you helped me… You wrote up that beautiful report.  Would you like a drink?”  Paul said that he’d prefer a cigarette and asked the drunken man if he’d join him outside, and he assented, carrying his pint glass with him. 


As they walked towards the smoking area, Paul saw his opportunity and caught one of the man’s legs with his right leg.  The man came crashing down and landed on his pint glass, which smashed and the shards went into the man’s chest.  Paul could see blood seeping out onto the ground and he laughed.  The bastard.  And he walked back into the pub by a side door and mingled with the crowd, chatting to a few regulars and laughing heartily with them.  Suddenly there appeared to be some commotion at the bar.  The manager and the barmaid went outside, leaving the new recruit on the bar, looking bewildered as somebody ordered a Bombay Sapphire.  An ambulance was apparently called.  A man had drunkenly collapsed on his pint glass and severely cut himself and was being taken to the local hospital.Apparently he’d been drinking all afternoon and was planning to drive home.  The police confirmed this later on, nodding at Paul as he sat at the bar drinking his habitual decaffeinated coffee.

© Copyright 2019 Hugo Beaumont. All rights reserved.

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