An Englishman’s home is his castle. It’s a phrase that’s overused to the point of driving me to fits of rage but there’s a kernel, a smidge, a chewy centre of truth to it. You don’t talk shit about a geezer’s home any more than you would dare raise your voice about the way a woman raises her kids. If you do either of these things, however deserved, you’re going to get a fucking slap. You’re also going to be ignored, so he whole bloody exercise is pointless from the get-go. You can only get away with either faux-pas if you’re a close friend or family and even then there’s going to be bitter resentment for months and a lot of hard, silent stares. The kind that can peel paint.
The thing about being a policeman, even a detective inspector, is that the money’s shit and everybody hates you. You can’t afford a good gaff which means you end up living around the scum that hate you the most. Most have more sense than to fuck with you, but they wouldn’t be scum if they had a lick of sense.
If you’ve got a shit house, or in my case a flat in a leftover, Stalinist, block of concrete you’ve got little motivation to keep it clean and tidy. If you’re single – and a lot of coppers are – you’ve got no extra income and even less inclination to keep the place tidy. Compound that with being a drunk and having a reputation for getting other officers killed and it goes some way to explaining the state of the place.
I’m not making excuses, I’m just offering an explanation. There’s no excuse I just, really, can’t be fucked keeping the place tidy and that’s nobody’s business but mine. That’s why there’s washing up up every flat surface and dirty laundry everywhere there isn’t washing up. That’s why there’s a clear foot of mould growing out of the mug on the kitchen windowsill – I call her Ermintrude – and why that stack of pizza boxes is arranged like a card house.
Hey, a bloke gets bored when he can’t afford Sky and there’s fuck all on the telly but ‘I’m A No-Talent Cunt, Get me a Career’.
So, to recap: Policeman, shitty house, no money.
Imagine my surprise, then, to wake up at 3:20 am to some fucking chav scumbag clambering in through my kitchen window. Ermintrude didn’t survive the experience I’m sad to say, joining a long line of partners and assistants to die around me and feeding the ‘legend’ of DI Stane. She didn’t die for nothing though, the smash woke me up from my slumber on the couch with a start.
The street light shines right in my kitchen window and without even pulling off the blanket and rolling out onto my pile of socks I could see what the twat had done. He’d tried to climb in through the kitchen window and gotten himself stuck. I could see his silhouette in black and orange against the wall. There was no rush.
I swung my legs off the couch and peeled my bare skin off the worn leather with a sound like tearing Velcro. There was a rattle and a clang as he tried to free himself, but I think his expensive trainers were stuck in the swampy sink. How the fuck do these kids afford them anyway? I fumbled for my cigs and tossed one into my mouth, snapping it out of the air and lighting it with a match, since my fucking lighter had gone walkabout again. I used to be a pack a day man, but these days I’m on two packs of Silk Cut. That doesn’t actually count as smoking, right?
I scratched my arse and wandered through to the kitchen and yep, there he was. A greasy little hoodie thug ticking all the boxes of the disadvantaged underclass who make it so fucking hard to feel sorry for them.
His head turned and he rattled and twisted in the window, desperately, knocking my Mr Men tea mug out of the sink to smash amongst the remains of dear departed Ermintrude.
“Christ bruv, at least put some fucking pants on, innit?”
I took a tug on the cigarette and plugged my kettle in, clicked it on to heat up and then I turned back to the little scrote. “You break into my house and tell me what to wear you little shit? I don’t fucking think so.”
I reached for my moby, which I keep in my bread-bin, obviously. I flipped open the lid and hauled it out, thumbing the keylock and squinting in the sudden light from the screen. “Fucking things. You’d think they’ make it come up slowly so you don’t get blinded.”
“Like I give a shit. What are you doing anyway?” He struggled again, rattling the window and dislodging a couple of forks coated in dried-on spaghetti hoops to clatter on the tiles.
“Calling the police. People still do that,” I fumbled with the screen, shitty fucking smart phones never work right but at least mine doesn’t talk to me. It rang before I could dial though. It figured. I rolled my eyes and hit the little green thing that lets you pick up a call. “Stane. It’s three in the fucking morning so his better not be about double glazing.”
“Stane, we need you on an MIT. We’ve got a murder that you’re uniquely suited to dealing with.”
I sighed and took out my frustration by stabbing the shithead in my sink with a fork.
“Fuck man, that’s my arse! You’re a mentalist!”
“That your boyfriend Stane?”
“Never you fucking mind. I’m on leave remember?” I gave the shithead an extra stab for squealing.
“Nobody else wants it and I know you. You’ve only got the work.”
“I don’t work alone DCI Baker, you know that.”
“No fucker will work with you. You’ll have to make do with the forensics people. Look, nobody gives two shits about this case, we just need to show willing for the press and the brass.”
Batman, wise but made-up geezer that he is, tells us that criminals are a cowardly and superstitious lot. They haven’t got anything on cops. Just because three people who’ve worked closely with me have ended up dying, none of these cowardly bastards will work with me any more. Baker must have been desperate to pull me in.
“Alright, alright, give me the fucking details.”
I tossed the fork back into the sink between the kids feet and wiped my hand over the whiteboard on the fridge, jotting down the address as Baker read it out over the line to me. “Right guv, I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
“Don’t call me guv you cheeky fuck,” he rang off and I put the phone back down on the counter.
The kettle was boiling now, rattling away in its cradle and giving a loud ‘snap’ as it automatically switched off. “It’s your lucky day shithead. I’m too busy to deal with you.”
“What do you mean?” He wiggled again, rattling the window, jostling the precarious pile of filthy pots, pans, plates and cutlery in the sink.
“Look. Just fuck off.”
“You’re not stuck shithead. You’re just lacking motivation,” I yanked the bubbling, rumbling kettle from its cradle and moved over to where he was hung, half in, half out of the kitchen.
“What? You wouldn’t man, that’s torture!” He rattled more, twisting and writhing and knocking another poor mug onto the floor.
“Hey, I’m the one with his John Thomas swinging in the breeze you little shit. If it splashes onto me I’m going to be in more pain than you are.” I lifted the kettle and tipped it slowly, pouring a slow stream of boiling, steaming water next to him.
“Fuck man! Fuck! Fuck!” He wormed around, desperately, and I let the boiling water touch his leg. He screamed at a pitch only dogs can hear and suddenly seemed to get his motivation, jack-knifing like a drunken truck driver and falling out of the window face first onto the balcony.
I watched him scramble up and run and found myself a clean(ish) mug to make a cup of tea. I was going to need it.
“Right then. Suppose I’d better get some fucking trousers on before I save the world.”
Tea, t-shirt, trousers, phone, coat, bugger the socks, shoes, fresh cig and out the door. Into the wee, small hours and the dark. Off to see some poor murdered cunt.
Oh the glamorous fucking life of the policeman.