Continued from ‘The Fellowship of the Drink’
My research had been fruitless. People either knew nothing or, if they did, wouldn’t’ say anything.
One person warned me to not get involved, said he’d already told me too much and hastily put down the phone.
I walked towards the police station. People peeked from behind drawn curtains. The town was eerily quiet.
At the station’s steps, stood six coppers.
I stopped twenty yards from the steps and lit a cigarette. I studied the coppers one by one.
“God bless you, eez!” someone called from across the street and then hurriedly ran back into their house.
I approached the station.
The officers parted and allowed me up the steps to the entrance of the station. I stepped through the doors, with the six officers following.
I approached the desk sergeant. I recognised him, but he appeared to have aged markedly.
“Sergeant Dingle, your hospitality is somewhat lessened of late,” I suggested.
He stared at me.
A rather scruffy looking chap stepped from behind Sergeant Dingle and ordered me to empty my pockets.
“You can fuck off! I’m not under arrest!”
He looked at me for a moment and then hissed, “you will empty your pockets and extinguish that foul cigarette.”
One of the officers snatched the cigarette from my mouth and stubbed it out on the palm of his hand, staring me in the eye as he did so. He didn’t blink.
“You ought to be careful doing that. You can pick up nasty infections in burns.” I told him.
A baton whacked into the rear of my knees and I collapsed to the floor.
It felt as though my kneecaps had popped out, but I stood and turned to the officer that had hit me.
He was about my height.
I gave him a kiss and he staggered back with blood pouring from his nose.
His colleagues drew their batons.
I gave one of them a cracking kick in the cockles before I lost consciousness.
An hour later, I was escorted to the Chief’s office.
I stood in her office with a policeman either side of me.
She stood with her back to me, looking out the window.
I gave it a minute, and farted. I couldn’t think of anything to say.
One of the escorting officers went for his baton.
“If you touch that baton, pal, I will introduce you to the country’s largest vegetarian. His name’s Barty and he fucking hates coppers like you.”
“Officers! Leave us!” called the Chief.
“Yes ma’am!” they shouted and left the room.
With hands clasped behind her back, the chief continued to look out the window.
Another minute passed.
“Nice view?” I kindly enquired.
“So,” she said, rocking on her heels, “you are the one. You are the one they call eez.”
“Are you and your associates at the Dog and Donkey going to play like good little boys?” she asked, still without turning.
“Well, we considered it, but then we thought we’d rather sleep with our wives than be bullied by a split-arse bitch in a uniform.”
“Your manners haven’t changed.”
The Chief turned to look at me. “Hi dad!”
“How the fuck did you become a chief copper?”
“I screwed half a dozen male senior officers and then ruined their careers by telling their wives, and hospitalised a similar amount of female senior officers. You taught me everything I know.”
I searched for something to say.
“Take that stupid earring out of you ear!” I hollered.
“The earring’s mine! It’s precious and it’s mine!”
I returned to the Dog and Donkey. Outside stood Barty. In front of him, on the pavement, there was a heap of bodies.
“Barty,“ I asked, ”what are they doing here?”
Barty saluted and answered, “people in uniforms, sir! As requested, I have thumped everyone wearing a uniform, sir!”
I looked down: seven firefighters, four infantrymen (presumably off duty), three paramedics, two postmen and one body on top that was wearing a uniform I didn’t recognise.
“What’s the uniform on top?” I asked.
“I believe she said Salvation Army, sir!”
I walked into the pub. It was full.
Everyone looked at me. They gasped in shock as I walked, still caked in blood, towards the bar.
Bluto poured me a large whisky and asked for five pounds.
Before I could say anything, Biffy told him to shut up, grabbed his doctor’s bag, wrapped ten yards of bandages around my head and then fainted.
I called for Barty to come in from outside.
Barty strolled in.
“Barty, help me onto the bar.”
He picked me up and stood me on the bar.
Topped by my turban of bandages, I turned to address the crowd.
“Men. It’s worse than I thought. I shit you not, gentlemen, we are in the fight of our lives!”
They stared at me, waiting for my next words.
“Tonight, we face our darkest hour. At this very moment the forces of the Bogton constabulary are gathering, intent on our destruction. Within hours they will be in our street. They want nothing less than to see the Dog and Donkey wiped from the face of God’s Earth.”
“What’s the chief like, eez?” someone called from the other side of the pub.
I looked at the fear in their loyal eyes. I could not lie to them. They had years ahead of them. I could not face my final moments knowing that I had lied to these men.
I caught sight of Corky. With him there were several men I’d never seen before.
“Corky, who are those with you?”
“Old campaigners, eez. They’re here to help.”
I surveyed them.
“I like the cut of your men, Corky!”
“You’ll find none better, eez! The men behind me led the charge at the Birmingham Mothercare incident back in the eighties.”
“Good, Corky, for we will need such men tonight,” I paused. “The new chief is my daughter!”
Suddenly, the pub was half empty.
I needed men who would make the ultimate sacrifice without thinking twice: “If any of you that remain have young children, then this is not your fight. Your time will come. You are free to leave.”
More men shot out the doors. I was left with just thirty.
Suddenly, the front door of the pub was thrown open.
To be honest, the last person I’d expected to see was the previous landlord of the pub, but there he stood. The former Irish, transvestite catholic from Bombay, adorned in native dress complete with turban, looked around his former pub.
“Hey, Bhoppy!” I shouted, “What on earth brings you here?”
He walked towards me.
“Many years ago, Indian and English fought side by side. Now, we again honour that alliance forged so long ago.”
“Bhoppy, you are most very welcome…want a drink?”
“I have work to do, eez.”
Bhopinder Singh walked to the door.
As he reached the door, he paused, turned and said, “look for me at first light, eez. When the sun clears the gas works, then I will come.”
To be continued