This story is now part of TRUST and SLIGHTLY SPOOKY STORIES
Until recently, Thursday was my favourite day of the week.
When I was a kid, it was Friday.
Only half a day in a classroom and sport all afternoon with the sweet promise of the two-day weekend stretching out into the delicious distance.
Then, I grew up, and Saturday was my day to love and be loved. The movies, a romantic dinner, and maybe, just maybe, a long night with a willing warm body.
I’m losing my love of Thursdays — it may come back, but today the aura is ruined.
“Senior Sergeant, you mentioned that the victim was aged 50, worked as a Real Estate agent and was found on the side of the road. Is that correct?”
“Yes sir, exactly as it says in my report.” The bloke asking the blindingly obvious questions, and ruining my Thursday was Inspector Verago. Or ‘Verago the Impaler’ as he was lovingly known to all those who loathed Internal Affairs.
“The Lexus was located, but not for several days.”
“We were operating under the assumption that the victim was struck by an angry husband and it took a while to eliminate him from our enquiries.” I hate the jargon, but when you are speaking to a duck, it is best to quack so that you know you are being understood.
“Why did it take so long to track down the car?”
“It took three days because we are a small country station and all our forensics are handled by Melbourne Central, and the case was not considered to be a high priority at that stage.”
“Why didn’t you consider it to be a high priority Senior Sergeant? More important things to be getting on with?” The sarcasm was to be expected. The Police force runs on sarcasm in the same way that politicians run on bullshit — and besides, he wasn’t here for a friendly chat, he was here to see if he could hang this cluster-fuck on me, and thereby take some of the heat off his masters.
“It was our number one priority sir. I was referring to senior management in Melbourne.”
“It doesn’t say that anywhere here, Senior Sergeant.” He pronounced ‘Senior Sergeant’ as though he felt my rank was honorary, or at least temporary. If I didn’t find a way to get out from under this mess, he was going to be right.
“Your report doesn’t say where the victim was heading, were you able to ascertain that?”
“Away from where?”
“From what we can piece together, mostly from Mrs Simpson. He thought her husband had come home unexpectedly, and he legged out the back door and over a neighbour’s fence where he ‘commandeered’ a bicycle. He proceeded to peddle in an easterly direction for approximately 10 kilometres before being struck from behind by a Lexus four-wheel drive. So, in answer to your question — away.” There was that jargon again — quack, quack.
“All of this should have been in your report Senior Sergeant.”
“Most of it is sir — just not all in the one place.”
Precious minutes of my beloved Thursday were ticking away, and I was no closer to working out if this half-wit had already decided that I was to be the fall-guy.
“I noticed that you included in your report that the victim’s dog howled at the precise moment that he was killed. How did you know that, and why did you include it in your report?”
“The victim was a real person. A flawed one to be sure, but a real one nonetheless. He had a wife and kids and a dog, all of whom, presumably, loved him. The detail about the dog came from his wife, and I thought that it was unusual enough to include in the report.” The truth was that the dog was the only creature on the planet who loved this bozo, so I thought it deserved a mention. When the facts were printed in the newspapers, it was evident that the victim was a self-interested arsehole who made a speciality out of servicing lonely wives, but rarely did the same for his own. His kids thought he was a loser, and the community felt that he was a typical Estate Agent, always out to do his clients out of their money. On the other hand, his dog loved him unconditionally, and to his credit, he treated the dog well. Any bloke who was kind to his dog deserved to get one positive mention in a cold Police document.
The inane questions continued on for about two hours.
I made a pretty good job of answering them, and I knew that my report was thorough and there was little room to accuse me or my team of negligence. But only time would tell.
If his job was to fit me for the role of scapegoat, then that is what I will be. If he has any integrity left he will know that time will show that I did my job well and I’m hoping that he won’t want to put his signature to a lie.
Early in the afternoon, he buggered off in his shiny official car, and everyone in our tiny country station breathed out.
I told the team that we were meeting, after shift, at The Royal — the only decent pub in town. The drinks were on me which meant that everyone would be there.
We knew that the future of our tiny country station was tenuous before the slightly balding, philandering Real Estate agent got knocked off his bike. Now it was positively precarious. There was only one thing for it — enjoy the days we had remaining. Heaven, and a bunch of brass hats, only knew where we would end up, but we knew we had done our duty, and no one can do more than that.
I proposed the toast.
“May the black dog who howled when his master left this world find a warm bed and a happy home, and may the bastards who are splitting us up find cold comfort and a broomstick up their arse.”
There was that jargon again — quack, quack.