19 Aug


                The radio squawked causing Chief Inspector Pinkney  to startle awake. The coffee he’d been nursing, in an attempt to stop himself from nodding-off, flew around the inside of the vehicle.

                “Bloody hell- fire, God damn it,buggeration, what the…!” Coming back to reality with a start, coffee dripping off the end of the nose and staining his crotch, he wasn’t a happy man. He grabbed the radio -mic and depressed the send button.

                “Bloody radio silence you idiots!  There is no go, until I say. Do you bloody well understand?” Nobody answered. Not exactly radio protocol, nor what they were teaching these days down at the police training college in Hendon, but it got his point across.

                 The radio blinked in silence and he felt in his pockets for a handkerchief. Retrieving the dripping rag, he gave it up as a bad job and resigned himself to the pleasure of luke-warm trousers and the sickly-sweet smell of latte that filled his nostrils. He hated stake-outs. He was getting too old and far too close to retirement to be messing around playing silly beggars at dark o’clock at night. This was something the younger officers should be doing, those who’d something to prove, them as thought they were going places.

                After nearly thirty years on the force he’d done and seen it all. As the youngest inspector ever on the East Yorkshire Constabulary he’d more than made his name. Wasn’t it him that’d cleaned up the gangs down Coney Street, wrapped up the prostitution ring on Lendel  Bridge and who’d busted the deviants and perverts down at the Kings Head. Although, he mused, times were different now and the pub’s clientele he’d chased through the shadows of York were now sitting at the bar enjoying the companionship of like-minded males. This was his last shout and probably the last collar he’d feel, before going to Bridlington to enjoy retirement with the wife, to live out his days on the static-caravan camp-site they’d chosen together. Sea-breeze and fish-and-chips, there was nothing like it, he could hardly wait. Didn’t he deserve it after all the crap they’d put him through?

                York wasn’t like it was. Times had changed and the liberalization of society hadn’t necessarily been for the better. Gone the days when couples courted and the uniform commanded respect. People didn’t give a damn about the police anymore and now it was hard to tell the difference between the working girls and the regular women out for a night on the town.  Bloody slappers with their skirts half way up their arses and the hooker heels they tottered on as they staggered from pub to pub. But apparently just ‘cos they dressed that way inferred nothing of their character whatsoever, didn’t mean a bloke could assume anything one way or the other. It was that kind of rubbish that made him glad he was off to the coast, leaving the bleeding heart liberals and their bloody politically correctness that blanketed all and comforted no one.

                The unmarked police vehicle sat on George Street outside The Slug and Lettuce public house. Part of what used to be the old warehouse district that catered to the river traffic and coal barges that used to ply its length.

                 All that was long gone now.

                 The only coal that was burnt in Yorkshire these days was either mined in Russia of shipped from South Africa of all places. Apparently it was cheaper to put on a boat and sail it half way round the world, than it was to mine it in Selby just down the road. Bloody unions had killed the country, he thought to himself.

                 He watched as the Friday night crowd, wandered up and down the street  – drunk  as monkeys the lot of them!  It wasn’t just the lads they were arresting for drunkenness and lewd behavior but the lasses as well. How often had seen women crouched between cars or in doorways with their knickers around their ankles, dark strains spreading across the pavement and puddling into the road. Lad-ettes was the term they were using. If they weren’t bloody peeing they were puking and fighting. The weekend drunk tank down at the station used to be full of blokes now it was mixed accommodation. They’d had to open another cell just for the women!

                As Pinkney looked through the windscreen, a white stretch limousine pulled up to the pavement outside the Slug – Minster Cabs. The door opened and a group of women fell out the back and spilled into the road. Women dressed in what passed for club attire, that as far as he could make out was more suitable as underwear. Screeching and laughing he could hear them through closed glass and grimaced. If that was his daughter he’d give her what for, but she lived down in Leeds these days with a husband and a couple of teenage daughters.

                 Society was going to the dogs. It didn’t matter how many coppers they put on the street there was no saving mankind. Civilization, far as he was concerned, was doomed. He watched the obviously drunk women mount the pavement and make their way to the pub. Music had started playing, and the heavy throb of guitars rattled the windows. The girls were wearing angel’s wings – probably part of a hen party that was doing the rounds – women of an age that should have known better, pub-crawling and carousing – as obnoxious as the louts he’d met, when he’d walked the beat himself back in the day.

                 A big man exited the pub and stood silhouetted in the pub doorway. Dressed in a tuxedo, the size of a brick shit-house, he was clearly the doorman. Pinkney smiled. That was his man. He was the reason they were here tonight, and if things didn’t go to plan, he’d be the one that bloody paid. The Chief-Inspector had approved overtime for the twenty constables who even now surrounded the building, sitting in cars ready to go soon as he gave the word. Soon as he got the signal from Harrison he’d give the go ahead and then they’d storm the place. A raid that would the end the nonsense and make him a bloody hero; plastered all over The Pickerington Times and The Evening Press for the last time – a final farewell.

                 He watched as the doorman stood aside and the group of fallen angels made their way into the pub. Nice set of legs on most of them and not too shabby from the back either. Admired a decent looking lass did Pinkney – not adverse to a little social intercourse himself. After nearly forty years of marriage he was allowed a little dalliance here and there – nothing the wife needed to know about. The silhouette disappeared back inside the doorway. He reached for the radio and pressed the button.

                 “Not yet lads. Wait for my word. Soon as I get the signal we’ll turn the bloody place over, until then sit tight.”

                Fellow policemen nodded in the darkness – waiting for the word – eager to break some heads and dish out some justice.

                Looking up from the radio he heard singing, and what looked like a rugby team coming down the street. A bunch of lads dressed in red and white hoops headed for The Slug and Lettuce. Drunker than they ought to be they’d fat chance of getting passed the bouncer. One of the blokes was being carried between two of his mates, his feet barely touching the ground. There was something odd about the man, something attached to his waist but Pinkney couldn’t make out what it was. He saw the lads stop at The Slug and saw the bouncer walk outside. Now they’d get what for, smiled the Inspector – a quick flee in their ear and before they knew it they’d be heading for kebabs and taxis. As he watched, he saw the doorman stand aside and the lads walk into the pub.

                Bugger me how did that just happen? The jammy sods, he thought. Nobody gets into a bar at this time of night when there that drunk.

                He watched as the bouncer glanced at his wrist and stared out into the darkness.

                Pinkney fingered the radio. Soon as Harrison gave him the nod they’d be in. He waited in the silence of the vehicle but there was nothing. Harrison deliberately shook his head and disappeared back inside the pub. What the bloody hell was going on?

                The coffee in his crotch turned cold – the thick material of his uniform trousers started to itch. He reached down and gave his bollocks a good scratch, trying to relieve the sugary stickiness that had spread about his thighs.

                His meeting with Harrison earlier that day was the reason for their nocturnal observations. Their investigations had led to The Slug and if it hadn’t been for Harrison’s arrest for affray they’d probably never have clicked that this was where the problem was emanating from. For months they’d been on the investigation and yet not a dicky-bird until Harrison had spilled the beans.

                Pinkney was excited, more so than this morning when he’d paid a visit to little miss you-know-who. A different kind of excitement of course but either way it put a big cheesy-grin on his face. He smiled his curly teeth into the night as he remembered the illicit pleasure he’d enjoyed and the professional pleasure he was about to. It was hard to say which gave him a stiffer dick, the soft touch of his latest squeeze or the bite of handcuffs on hardened criminals.

                Ten minutes passed and the music from the pub had gone quiet. Whatever’d been going on inside had obviously drawn to a conclusion. Probably some local skiffle band – a bunch of long haired lay- abouts that played music for a pittance and pints at the weekend.

                Harrison came back to the door, waved his arm in the air and disappeared.

                This was it, the moment he’d been waiting for.

                He grabbed the mic and screamed into the hand piece. “Jack rabbits are go! I say again, all cars, Jack Rabbit is go!”

                 He imagined radios squawking in other cars, the waiting officers coming to life. Within seconds of his broadcast he saw car doors opened and uniformed figures race towards The Slug and Cabbage. A canine unit holed up in a white painter’s van burst out of the back doors and headed for the doorway, the dogs barking as they ran ahead of their handlers. He sat back enjoying the chaos he’d created on an otherwise normal Friday night.

                Cry havoc and let loose the dogs of war, he mumbled remembering some random text from his prehistoric school days. Reaching into a pocket he felt for his cigarettes. He deserved one and  already knew how good it was going to taste. His fingers gripped the packet and he cursed once again.

                 “Bloody hell, not me fags!” The packet dripped liquid and the cigarettes were limp from the drowning they’d endured.  No coffee, no fags, now he was really pissed off.

                He opened the car door and stepped out into the night. Grabbing his hat and his night stick from the passenger seat he smoothed his hands down his uniform jacket and steadied himself for the moment.

                Pinkney was looking forward to this – this was going to be good.

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