You’ve seen police offices on television right? The jocularity, the shitty coffee, the philosophising around the water cooler or in the lift. It’s all bollocks. Modern policing is much like any modern office job. Most of the time seems to be spent sat in front of a computer filling out spreadsheets, or going to endless meetings. It sucks balls, especially since so many of the support staff were let go. I can’t type worth a shit and I can’t find my way around a database with a detailed map and two digital sherpas.
There’s no escaping it these days though. Targets and work assessment, meeting the needs and perceptions of the public, serving the politicians, anything but actually nailing crooks and putting them away. Unless they’re nice, dreddlocked middle class kids objecting to tuition fees. Then it’s time to put on the riot gear and break some fucking heads.
Early for me when I’m not at work is two in the afternoon. Eight or nine in the morning is another country and getting in to work by car – which for some fucking reason I thought seemed like a good idea – was a trial an a half. Congestion charge… it’s bollocks. It’s like the tax they slap on tabs every fucking budget, captive audience, dress it up as something socially progressive to justify sucking more cash out of your pockets. Not that I can smoke in the office any more either. Bastards.
My desk might as well have been in any number of cubicle farms from any number of firms in the city. Flat screen monitor, filthy keyboard. The bastard cleaners had taken the opportunity to clean my desk while I was on forced leave and without my filth layered over it, it was like it belonged to someone else.
Hunt and peck, that’s my typing style. Slow as buggery, but I’ve never gotten used to the damn things. Other than the office computer the last electronic device I spent any time with was a Nintendo 64 and typing’s not a big issue when you’re playing Goldeneye. I open the files and see what we have. Specs and his crew have been busy and have filled a load of hard-drive space with pictures, results, speculations and waffle. He hadn’t listened to my post-it note comment and I was forced to wade through all his crap to get to anything that was actually pertinent.
What we did have confirmed what I’d thought, four assailants, their approximate shoe sizes, the likelihood of the victim being brought in by car. Everything I’d seen and said but justified by pages of jargon. It was a snooze-fest, especially without a cig. At least someone had bought in some of the better instant coffee. It almost made it bearable.
Jones stopped by with bad news. There’s was bugger all on the CCTV cameras, nothing useful anyway. Nor were there any witnesses. Which was just fucking typical. It was a bullshit case and we all knew it. They’d just brought me in as a token, a sop, to make it look good on the reports that quarter.
When Jones left to go back to his desk there wasn’t anything else immediately pressing on me to do. So I sloped off out for a fag with the rest of the reprobates. Wouldn’t you know it though? Lost my fucking lighter. Again. Fortunately one of the girls had one and held it up to give me a light.
“Aren’t you Stane?” She asked, so I actually paid attention to her. Short, pretty strong looking woman. Red hair in a short bob that didn’t suit her, made her face look fat. A mess of freckles. Rumpled women’s suit and that same bright-eyed look specs had.
“DC Cord. I’m supposed to be on your MIT. I was just going to bring you something on your case after I finish up here.”
“Yeah?” If she put having a fag above work maybe she wasn’t so bad after all, even if she was young.
“We got an ID from the teeth the forensics guys managed to find,” she reached into her suit jacket an pulled out a crumpled few sheets of print out. “I’ll add it to the case data when I finish up, but you may as well have this.”
I took another long drag on my cig, staring lustily at her Marlboro and tucked the bits of paper into my trouser pocket, “Can you just give me the short version?”
“Samuel Penfold. Couple of convictions for indecent exposure. Suspected kiddie-fiddler and child pornographer. Nothing recent though.”
“Penfold? Ooh, eck!” I laughed a cloud of fag smoke and coughed. She looked at me like I’d fallen off the fucking Moon. “Before your time I suppose,” I sighed. Getting old is a shitty, shitty thing. “Well that explains the severe cock-stomping he got I guess. Some sort of revenge thing. Just got to find out who he pissed off. Nothing recent you said?”
“Not for a handful of years. Either he’s cured or he got careful.” That lipstick didn’t suit her either, but I’ll be damned if the smoke blowing from her mouth wasn’t holding my attention.
“Under investigation for anything?”
“Perpetually, but nothing’s stuck for a long, long time.”
“Anything serious?” I tossed the butt of my cig down on the ground with its fallen brothers and ground it out with my shoe.
“No, just a suspect in trading child porn online lately. I mean, that’s serious, but nothing ‘real’ if you see what I mean.”
“Alright, cheers Cord, guess we’ll get the word out and see what happens.”
I left her to finish her cig and went back to my desk. I made the calls I needed to and I suppose the information must have gone out on the radio or something, because by the time I went out to buy myself a chicken wrap from Marks’ for lunch there was a sweet little angry mob outside the station. A handful of men and women with hastily made placards. Turned out they were protesting us spending any police time or resources trying to find out who’d murdered a known nonce.
The Great British public, god love ’em, hang ’em and flog ’em and bugger the consequences of a miscarriage of justice. I tried not to let them put me off wrap but it did get me to thinking. Really, honestly, nobody gave a shit that this guy was dead. Nobody is as hated in the public eye, or even by other criminals, than a nonce. This case was smelling even more of bullshit than before.
I might be shit at computers, but I’m dogged where it counts. I was, literally, the only person who gave a shit about poor, peanut-headed Penfold, the kiddie fiddler. Nobody else working the case gave a tinker’s cuss. Jones’ wasn’t even a murder investigator. Specs and his team were well-meaning, but clueless. Even Cord, it turned out when I checked her record, had only been made a detective constable a week ago.
It wasn’t like I had anything better to do though. My brain was itching for a puzzle. No point wasting Jones’ or Cord’s time. They probably had other stuff going on. They’d probably appreciate a slow day anyway. I took it upon myself, then, to go over absolutely everything. Finger-pecking away on the keyboard and writing copious notes in my scribbled handwriting over the backs of the never-ending supply of memos and notices.
I read all of Penfold’s previous cases, even though his name made me snigger at my desk. I looked over the open case investigating him on child porn charges. They had nothing on him. It certainly seemed like he’d gone straight. I looked into Cord and Jones, it was obvious why a washed up fuck like me had been put on this case, it wasn’t so obvious when it came to them.
The last thing was to go back to the scene of the crime and check it out again for myself. To check Four-eyes’ work and do a follow up on Jones’ investigations. That’s when it all fell neatly into place and I figured out what the hell was going on.
That was also when I decided to get drunk off my tits.