A Novel Taster – available for a few days only!

1: Old Haunts

Jack Daide clunked down a gear.  The patrol car wheezed in response, as if it knew it was a long way up to Angle Point.  The trees kept out the sunlight here, where Daide had done the interval training that had kept the odd winning pay arriving in his boot as a rugby league player in his youth.  Youth was such a lovely term in memory, utterly collapsing to lout in cop denotation.  The way up had been a lot longer then.  Now the car took the strain, in less exquisite form than the burn.  His flask and sandwiches loitered on the back seat and he caught a glimpse in the rear-view mirror.  He was looking forward to lunch overlooking the splendid panorama.

Pity he’d had to bring Kettle along for the next job.  ‘Panza’ Kettle was a good cop, something that barely made up for his lack of qualities as a human being, even in the eyes of his mother.  He still lived with her in the old village, the mortgage on the old tied-cottage eating away most of his pay.  The man was first in line for any ounce of overtime, regularly rolling drunks and twockers just before end of shift.  He craved another Miners’ Strike.  It was this event that had allowed him to raise the deposit on the cottage.  Today’s politicians lacked Thatcher’s balls and there was no civil unrest to cause payday jamborees for under-paid and under-appreciated coppers.  Maybe their was hope now they were shitting on the public sector, right, left and centre.  Panza’s ideal shift would include nicking a couple of queers in the town-centre lavatories, a blow-job from a motorist in exchange for an unfilled speeding ticket (diversity aware, Panza had no sexual preference) and the arrest of a couple of scrote dumb enough to do a smash and grab at the jeweller’s as he wandered down to the pub off-duty.  The latter kept the bosses sweet and rang the OT register, especially if the shits pleaded not guilty on a technicality mustered by some sleazy brief of the kind he nicked in toilets.  Inspector Daide tolerated Kettle because he was the only lucky fuck he knew who made crimes happen around him.  Panza liked to think he could charm women from the trees, but really, when he shook them, thieves fell out.

He was asleep when Daide parked up at the beauty spot.  Jack left him that way.  There was no way he was sharing the beef butties and coffee with this bastard.  He wandered to a big, flat stone, to sit and eat in peace and the gentle breeze and sun.  A fabulous vista spread in all directions below.  The river, reservoir and his Dad’s farm to the left, the old village spread hobbly-wobbly to the right.  The casual observer might miss Gear-box Gary’s old barn behind trees and piled straw in the middle.  The Council prevented anything new here, except the most tasteful double-glazing and the rich who replaced all but half-a-dozen of the yokels he’d grown up with.  It was now an offence for a tractor to leave mud on the small lanes and the pub, post office and bus service long gone.

The view made Jack let out a sigh.  It was a shame to have been away so long.  The Army had let him shoot at Irishmen and Argentineans, a matter of regret, yet great comradeship in memory.  Years in CID as SIO (senior investigating officer) on many drawn-out enquiries left him with an understanding of criminal intrigue he supposed could only fit him for a new career in politics.  Suffering fools ungladly, he had told too many people to fuck off to begin this in the police SMT (senior management team).   He realised there was nothing to return to, despite Dad’s farm.  His old mates and roots were gone, except for Kettle and Gear-box.  Of the two, he preferred the latter, a known villain gone quiet for twenty years.  A wry smile lit up as he remembered making the top of Angle Point Hill on a spluttering Greaves 250 lent to him as a kid by his mate Gear-box.  The actual owners would not have approved, but he hadn’t known then of the chop-shop run by Gary’s father in the old barn below.  Happily, local plod had been slow on the uptake and not found out before he was away with the Border Regiment.  He mused, briefly, that Gary had never blown him out and then on what the old barn was being used for now.  It was time to rouse Panza and go and find a good observation post.  The boy would cream himself at the thought of the OT potential.  It had taken months to get this agreed with Superintendent Strangeglove, the divisional bean-counter.  Strangeglove’s gloves were standard uniform issue.  What was strange was his habit of typing into the budget spreadsheets wearing them.  Rumour had it he unwrapped a new pair each morning.  This wasn’t quite accurate as he used a fresh pair after lunch too.  As he entered figures that would eventually reduce the size of canteen sausages in the microwave vending machine no one actually used, he dreamed of slapping villains, preferably female, with the soft, fresh leather.  Occasionally, he would weep, believing Mrs. Strangeglove was being shagged by a fireman.  It was the lecturer on her fine arts course actually, but he didn’t dare to ask and firemen fitted his own dreams better.  Kettle had caught him with one in the Town Hall toilets, making himself immune from disciplinary investigation.  Nothing on Division happened without Strangeglove’s say so, and nothing, always to what was left of his mind, was always the cheapest action.

The beef and coffee had been good.  He turned back to the patrol car to wake Kettle.  Panza though, was already out on the loose.  Daide could see him over by a black Peugeot, the ‘noir’ version from one of those nice looking flirt-fuck adverts.  Panza probably thought the actress in the same was driving it and trying to get a screw out of the bitch on the basis of a burned-out tail light.  It was broad daylight, but such consideration wouldn’t stop the bastard.  He was at the driver’s window and things were clearly getting heated as Jack came on the vehicle up a slight rise over the grass.

Just as he was about to shout something like ‘fuck me, not now Panza’,  Daide was aware of a figure emerging from the passenger seat carrying an iron bar and making round the front of the car.  He broke to a run and hurled himself across the bonnet taking the guy out as he was in full swing at his fellow officer.  The bar took out the windscreen instead of Panza’s head.  Jack’s tackle caught the man’s head with full shoulder and both went crashing to the ground.  Kettle had the female driver halfway out of the open window and was slamming her head, holding her spiky, dyed-purple hair, into any convenient piece of bodywork.  Obscenities seemed to turn the sky dark and it started to rain.  The miserable rain of England’s Northwest.

The iron-bar man was out cold.  Glancing at Panza, Daide could see he was in no trouble.  He thought of shouting at him to stop as the woman’s face chewed again into the car door.  Nothing though could have made the slag any uglier, so he dragged her ferret-faced chum over to the car and handcuffed him to it.  Kettle let out a dire squeal and Jack found the woman attached to Panza’s arm like an attack dog.  He got the door open and ripped her off Panza’s arm and out of the car to the ground.  They got Panza’s handcuffs on her, chaining the screaming slag through the open window, moving back as she kicked-out in all directions.  Ferret-face began to chime in from the other side of the car.  The officers exchanged a glance that indicated they were both sorry he was alive.

Daide pulled out his mobile phone, knowing force radios never worked in this area.  Memos sent about this always returned with instructions of several  encouraging pages that ended ‘fuck off and stop bothering us’.  He asked for vans and CID.  The control room operator left him feeling response would only come after several triplicate forms were completed, but he managed not to tell the no doubt lovely civilian, clearly recruited during a diversity campaign, where to go for sexual gratification of an entirely perverse kind.  Turning to Panza, who was struggling to get a green plastic first aid box open to treat his snake bite, he asked in some hope, for a reason for the arrest other than the failure of Mr.and Mrs. Scumbag to exhibit correctly placed certificates from the charm school on the windscreen.

Kettle pulled a large hessian sack from the back seat.  He said, ‘Skunk, Boss’.  Daide was tempted to tell him he knew the bastards stunk, but a quick search of the vehicle produced more drugs, including brown smoking heroin and cocaine.  The Scumbags were now saying nothing, other than to threaten both officers with being well fucked over by their important associates.

Checking the prisoners were secure, Jack went to pick up his flask and finish his drink.  He’d offer Kettle a cup this time.  He found Panza eating the last sandwich he’d discarded on the grass and slurping the coffee straight from the flask.  It was hard to call the man who’d probably pulled-off the arrest of the year a cunt, but he did.  This guy would go on a farm bed and breakfast holiday with someone else’s wife and find the Great Train Robbers!  The empty plastic first aid box was strewn a hurl’s distance down the hillside.  Daide wondered for a moment whether Strangeglove bought them with no contents to reconcile his annual budget.

Alarmed by Panza’s plan to take the handbrake off the car and push it over the edge, Jack sent him to draw up the patrol car so they could sit out of the rain.  Panza pulled up behind the Peugeot and gave it a gentle nudge, grinning from ear to ear.  The prisoners, now devoid of energy were both slumped on the floor, squealing a strange mix of human rights’ appeals and foul-mouthed threats.  Panza backed-off, screwing revs that had the patrol car squealing louder than the scrotes.  Both fainted and the officers took advantage of the quiet to take their sodden jackets off and sit in their car, after a cursory search for weapons.

Kettle got his fags out and offered his boss one, a rare gesture.  Jack took one and they lit up from his black Zippo, Panza producing it from his own pocket.  ‘Been meaning to give you this back for ages’, he said, ‘found it on the Parade Room table’.  Police stations were the last place to leave any personal property.  The inspector sighed, thinking of getting a better lock for his office door.  The wound on his colleague’s arm was bleeding.  There was some aftershave in the glovebox, probably to cover-up alcohol breath at some time or another.  He gave it to Kettle, intimating it might sting, but could help prevent rabies.  Kettle would need hepatitis tests.  ‘You do it Boss, I can’t inflict pain on myself’.  Cigarette smoke and Old Spice filled the air.  ‘I could cauterise the wound with the lighter’, Daide offered.  They laughed, Jack remembering an old friend who died of hepatitis C, long after a fight bite.  Even Panza was worth more than that.

Jack pondered why Panza had approached the car.  This was a favourite park-up for lovers and perhaps he had wanted to cop a view?  The vile thought of these two smelly rat-bags screwing clouded his head.  He was surprised as the story came out.  Kettle knew them; Slack Annie Wade and Dirty Danny Brown off the Everglades, a rough former Council estate split in two by railway tracks.    They had kids so he phoned in the address and instructions for a search and rescue of any children, thinking what it must be like being dragged up by swine like these.  What was eating Panza was that these were small-time scum.  They pissed-off neighbours using their house for drug and booze parties and prostituted the elder kids, fuck he hoped it was just the elder kids, but he’d never got them for more than minor assaults and possession.  He’d gone over to the car after catching a glimpse of Brown’s ugly profile through the tinted window.  Jack wanted to ask how the fuck he’d managed this asleep, but thought better of it as he hadn’t even noticed the Peugeot eyes wide open.   Panza wasn’t going to miss his chance though.  ‘I didn’t want to interrupt your lunch over a couple of scumbags like them Boss’, he said, matter of fact, with your secret is safe with me tone.  As his childhood friend had no clue on tact, the inspector’s spine felt there would be a bill to pay, yet impressed to be in the presence of a thief-taker’s mind.  Most of his response officers needed arse and elbow training.  They decided on a story that Daide had stayed with the patrol car in case the Peugeot made off on Kettle’s approach, running to the car when he realised his officer was in trouble.    The sleeping and quiet picnic would be forgotten, Kettle having eaten the evidence of the latter.  He headline ‘Sleeping and Picnicking Cops In Drugs’ Bust Fiasco’ could well be career counter-productive.

Two vans came chugging up the hill from town, followed by a CID car.  Danny and Annie were put in the back of separate vans, the start of the process of keeping them apart for interrogation.  Brown was threatening to make a fucking mess of ‘Copper Kettle’, his wit lost on all concerned, especially Annie, possibly the dumbest fuck of all time.  She and her sister, Dirty Mary who ran a brothel of that name in an end-terrace on the Everglades, were know as the Wit sisters, ‘Half’ and ‘Fuck’; Annie being ‘Fuck Wit’.  She made do with protesting undying love for the man that shagged her daughters to ‘train them right’.  Kettle followed Danny into the van, snapping on blue plastic disposables, loudly announcing ‘full body cavity’.  Annie was left to the charms of a policewoman and could be heard screaming, ‘I can take your whole fucking arm up there, bitch, your whole fucking arm’.

The process of searching the Peugeot began in earnest and a lorry to carry it back to the force garage turned up, throbbing away.  Daide sent Kettle off to hospital, though he didn’t want to go.  Jack knew why.  He didn’t want one of the jacks stealing his arrest.  ‘I’ll make sure you go down as the AO Dennis’, he said, using the name last used at school together.  The detectives looked nearly as scurvy as the scrotes, having pulled the second double-shift of the week due to colleagues being away on diversity training and keyboard courses.  Geoff ‘Badger’ Betts, who screwed up metaphors so badly he described himself as ‘bald as a post ’and ‘deaf as a coot’ when he couldn’t be bothered, listening to you, was an old CID lag.  Like Kettle, he couldn’t pass the sergeants’ exam, hiding his illiteracy by palming-off paperwork like lubricated soap and getting his teacher wife to write up his statements at home.  No one and everyone knew this, a matter left unsaid owing to the enormous size of Badger’s fists.   ‘Penny’ Fairbrother was newly dumped into the job after an ‘affair’ in the lascivious Deputy Chief Constable’s office, presumably involving her refusing to carry a mattress on her back, the way he liked his women.  Those who discovered ‘Shagger’s’ magic wand usually went, promoted, to the mounted section, a little joke he confided at dinner parties to a series of unscrupulous business men he favoured with contracts from time to time.  This was the prime reason the force’s IT system couldn’t even communicate with itself, let alone work in case investigation and presentation.  There was money to be made buying obsolete crap, and the kind of discrete prostitution the DCC needed didn’t come cheap, not after that bitch wife of his insisted on private education for the kids.  Fuck they didn’t even look like him, but surely no one else would shag the ugly bitch.  Fairbrother was pretty enough, but wore a bland ‘up yours you sexist bastard’ face, widely misinterpreted by all colleagues as vapid and rendering her as incapable of thought.  Hence ‘a penny for them’ corrupted to ‘Penny’.  Her name was actually Jenny, but having fallen off a horse three-day eventing and caught her ear on an inconvenient rock, she was so hard of hearing she had only realised in the last month that her real name was not being spoken.  She was doomed to stay partnered with Badger.  Having ‘Mutt and Geoff’ on the job was just too tempting to turn down.  Before entering the DCC’s office, in which a portrait of himself, paid for through the shallow diving team’s budget, leered from the wall, Penny had been told this was the route to working with the horses she loved, though not its mechanism.  The force had approved her leave for the Olympic Eventing Team trials, though she had no idea skills in horsemanship were entirely irrelevant to getting into the Mounties.  Until recently, women stood no chance at all because a training sergeant felt female posteriors unsightly on horseback.   Slightly autistic, she took everything literally, and assumed the phrase ‘I’d like to saddle that’ demonstrated a keen interest in equine anatomy or riding.

Daide got more than the standard and cursory ‘fuck you Wally’ acknowledgement reserved by CID staff for ‘Woodentops’.  His cases had often made the papers and this meant he deserved respect.  He made it clear to Penny and Badger they could take the case as long as they ensured Kettle went down as the arresting officer.  They looked back in a strange mix of admiration and confusion as to why he would demean himself wearing uniform.  They assumed he had shagged the Detective Chief Superintendent’s wife, though Badger, who had once thought her children might grow up bald, doubted this.  The Old Man was a mason, and he couldn’t see Daide drinking with that kind of scum.  Perhaps he had been asked to join and turned it down, a distinct career mistake?    They got on with searching the car as Daide took its keys and went to open the boot.  They were surprised when Jack let out a shout of surprise and came, almost running, to take a look.  To them, there was an unimpressive, if large bag of fertiliser, marked ‘Ammonium Nitrate’.  Badger said maybe they used it  in hydroponics to grow the skunk.  ‘Not a bad guess son’, Jack said to a man older than he, ‘that is the first ingredient of what our now political cousins the IRA used to make bombs’.  The detectives, instinctively, took a step back.  ‘Not a threat in this state’, Jack assured, ‘but I don’t see those struggs having a salad garden’.  He kept his ideas about Gear-box Gary’s barn to himself.

There was nothing further found in the car and it was taken away for detailed forensic examination.  Strangeglove would shit himself in the morning when advised of the cost and would be through his fourth pair of gloves before tea and biscuits for elevenses.  Daide smiled at the thought and then in pity.  He wouldn’t touch Mrs. Strangeglove with someone else’s bargepole.  Wade and Brown were to be charged with possession with intent to supply at the very least.  The search of their house had produced three grand in cash, some wraps of heroin and two toddlers being looked after by a doped up fourteen year-old girl.  Jack gave Panza a bell and suggested a well-earned drink.  CID could get their statements in the morning.

9 thoughts on “A Novel Taster – available for a few days only!

  1. Interesting! But for myself personally, the pleasure of reading the post is spoilt a little, by the use of four letter swear words. But I suppose that’s just real life.

  2. I find myself split on ‘four letter words’. Much of our aversion to them is snobbery and about elite control through language. Shakespeare is full of them and has a knob gag on every other line, some slightly hidden in a code shared with the audience. Anything with ‘cun’ in it would raise a laugh. ‘The Thick of It’is at its funniest when the women outdo the men in swearing. Yet, especially mixed with aggression, there is foul language. What vile plots and injustice are concealed behind posh and legal language?
    I can do without them, yet the **** sell. An old mate compared his own academic text and the utterly foul stuff he wrote for money (which this is) and estimated each **** was worth £1000, wheras every 10,000 academic words about 4p.

  3. Well, I guess you won that argument, if it comes down to money making! However I have never ever considered myself to be a snob, and in the past on the occasions when I have been really angry, I have let rip myself, but always with regret afterwards. I guess that’s just my upbringing, as my parents never swore, apart from the occasional “b” words. I was always taught that the “f” and “c” words were the language of the gutter, and I perhaps that shaped my view on it, and we were not posh, nor upper class.

    Foul language is something I just don’t like to hear in normal everyday conversation, and probably wouldn’t buy nor read a book full it. But if a writer is writing for the masses, and that’s what they like, I can understand that the desire for money may well lower normally higher standards.

    I’m not too sure about the “elite control” through language concept though, except where perhaps a member of the underclass tells a cop to “f” off. No doubt the “control” would be in the form of the cop arresting the foul mouthed MoP……. But what control does a MoP have over a cop who tells them to “f” off? Not much…..

    RE: Vile plots and injustice concealed behind posh and legal language. Probably rather a lot, and they appear to get away with it too…..in this life, but not the next!

  4. The words themselves don’t offend me, but the context of use often does. I like Irving Welsh in some of his books (Filth), but can’t stand the vile stuff coming out of other people’s mouths in front of their kids. Wit covers a lot I guess,
    You’ve probably been spared the idiot academic focus on ‘postmodernism’ Mrs Magoo. This makes it difficult to find ‘superior ground’, so that we can’t really decide where the gutter is. Oscar Wilde once said we all live in the gutter, but some of us are gazing up at the stars.
    One of the things the novel is about is people not meaning what they say and having lost the plot on how they are being seen.
    My grandson is just at that point where he is starting to ‘get humour’ and asking why bits of Family Guy are funny. Perhaps more surprisingly, undergraduates at 18 often need to be shown why the Simpsons is funny – one of my precursors to teaching them how adverts work (amazing how many little boys think Cheryl Cole is aimed at them, not the female world.

  5. Communication between people is often prone to misunderstandings when either or both don’t mean what they say, or say what they really mean. A fly on the wall would be wetting itself laughing at some of the chaos that can cause! Of all the creatures in this creation, humans have the gift of speech and yet more often than not they fail to understand each other properly. That’s quite sad really, especially when their perceptions are the total opposite to reality.

    My strong point never has been “reading between the lines” to get the hidden meanings in what has been said. Probably because of my own preference for plain speaking to avoid misunderstandings, but the misunderstandings still happen as some just “read between the lines” that are simply not there!

    I think that it is very difficult to see ourselves as others see us.
    I would hazard a guess, that the tick box training and culture of the past decade or so would give many professionals a fixed opinion and expectations of someone they do not know and before they have even met them.

    I’m not sure what you are on about though, regarding Cheryl Cole. Wouldn’t she “appeal” or strike a chord with a cross section of society through her songs?

  6. AMASS??? Just to prove my academic ignorance, again I do not know what you are on about ACO!

    I had never watched “Family Guy” before, nor heard of it until channel hopping this evening to avoid the football.
    I watched it and came to the conclusion that it was dark humour for adults, not children. But hey, if you think that’s suitable for your grandson, that’s your business, but I wouldn’t be happy about mine watching it.

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