Best Summer Ever

 

“Well it certainly ain’t this one”, said the tall policeman, rubbing the bruises on his arm so that his jacket sleeve moved like a puppet on strings. “Last summer we got a lot more villains, that’s a fact.”

“We got the Collie gang three summers ago, that were the best one ever, I’d say.” His companion, across the canteen table, wore a gray suit, seen better days. “That’s what got me made up to sergeant, didn’t it?” The detective sergeant sat sideways on his chair, as if a little bit a rebel. He talked out of one side of his mouth, making a tent that kept expanding then collapsing in folds of flesh.

“No way, Jose!” They all looked up to see their inspector, coat neatly folded over left arm, trilby, or whatever it was, balanced on top of the coat, like an eagle come half way down the mountain.

Who wears a trilby, or whatever it is, these days? They thought this but did not say it for he was the boss.

During his daily briefings they counted how many clichés the inspector put out, betting whether he would make a full sentence without one.

The odds were against it.

“We’re on stage” he said, extending the run, “last man or ‘woe-man’ to get back on the job buys the next round.”

Only there would not be a next round for the inspector. Sixteen and a half minutes after they scrambled, truncheons, hats and radios somehow marching alongside their respective owners, the inspector lay in a warm pool of his own rich blood.

Somewhere, probably Bexley or Crayford, or some such place, an elderly mother and even older father would be woken in the night and allowed to cry pitifully for their only child who had gone, against their advice, to be a policeman.

“And a damn fine policeman he was” said the chief superintendent. This was the boss of the boss of the boss. He gave the speech at the funeral, reading from notecards, stopping frequently to blow his large veined nose and wipe tears from his large veined face.

And the mother leant on the father who leant on the mother, while the inspector looked down from afar, from very far, and watched them with puzzled eyes.

He did not understand why they cried and shook with sadness. He did not understand why they talked of him and only him, nor why his parents were holed by grief and looked like they would never smile again. He wanted to go down and comfort them, to tell them it was all right.

“Don’t cry mother, don’t cry father” he called but his words danced away on a sudden wind.

“Don’t be sad, team”, he shouted louder, trying to penetrate the damp clouds. “We got the villains and I got my promotion as well. It has been the best summer ever.”

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