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The Short Arm of the Law by I J Noble

© I J Noble

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The Short Arm of the Law

Better make out that bloody report for the Sargent, or he’ll have my guts for garters – because he wasn’t very pleased with me last night.

“You were supposed to have been off duty over two hours ago,” he had said, “and don’t think you’re going to get any overtime Evans, because you’ve got no chance. We were just about to send a bloody search party out to look for you. Two more minutes and I was going to ring the inspector. So think yourself lucky my lad. You know he hates me ringing him in the middle of the night. And how the bloody hell did you get into that state? You’re stinking the bloody station out. Get out the back and hose yourself down man, at the double.”

He’s had it in for me from the start, and yes I do know the inspector hates the sergeant ringing him, and the sergeant’s going to know why at the next Christmas party. Serve him right he’s always picking on me.

I’ve heard them talking about me; I know what they call me behind my back, P.C. five and a half. not forgetting, “Evans of the inch, not of the yard. They all laugh at that one - bloody morons. They forget that little people can get into small places; and P.C. John Evans sees and hears everything; and everything he sees and hears, is put down in his little black book - and will be used against them at the Christmas party. That will be a party they won’t forget in a hurry - we’ll see who’s laughing then.
Well, jotting things down and using it against people, it’s a copper’s job: that’s what we do. They won’t be laughing when I make it to the C.I.D., they’ll be taking orders from me then. I’ll show them all just like I showed my brother-in-law.
“A copper you! You’ve got to be six foot to be a copper,” he had said, as he patted me on the top of my head. “What are they going to call you then, Charlie Chaplin of dock green,” his lip had curling up at the corner, on his smug long face. Ha, bloody ha, he’d made a joke and wasn’t he pleased with himself.

He’s not saying much now after getting done for drink driving.
I never asked him to run us home after the Christening. I told Mary straight, it’s my job, and what sort of police officer would I be turning a blind eye to your brother’s drink driving.

That was five months ago now, and she’s still not talking to me, and that bed in the spare room’s doing my back in. And what man wouldn’t miss his conjugal rights? One good thing though - the mother-in-law refuses to be in the same room as me. Before it was “Titch do this,” and “Titch do that.” Can’t say I miss that one little bit. I do miss her dinners though. I’ve had beans on toast for six days on the trot now; I suppose it’s better than the bread and water I had for the week after he’d been arrested.

“If bread and water is what my son is getting,” she said, “then bread and water is good enough for you.”

I tried to tell her that prisoners don’t get bread and water these days. And that he was only banged up for a few hours anyway. I knew exactly what he had for breakfast, a big mug of tea and a sausage butty - because I cooked it for him, and he complained the bread was dry. Perhaps I should have given him bread and water. If it was good enough for me then it was good enough for him.
Talking about sausage sandwiches, I’d kill for one of them right now, or a nice bacon roll dripping in butter. Who knows, things might pick up; I might get an egg with the beans next week. I’ll just have to wait and see what next week brings. One thing's for sure I’ll still be in this bloody spare room.
Come on John, think report or the Searg’s going to give you hell.

“I can’t wait to see your report tomorrow,” he had said, “should be a laugh. Go on then, get yourself home, before I book you for loitering with intent to stink up the station.”

As pleased as punch with his little joke he was, had a big grin all over his ugly face. Very funny, I thought; as funny as the time he asked me if I’d got my uniform from Mothercare. I’ll wipe that grin off his face at the Christmas do. They think I don’t know that they have another piss take planned for me at the party. I don’t know what it is yet - investigations are at an early stage. When I find out, and I will find out, it will show them that I am destined for-the C.I.D.

Now then Chief Inspector Evans of the C.I.D., think report:

‘At about twelve thirty on the third of November, I was on a section of my beat that takes me down by the old disused railway track, as I crossed the bridge I heard a faint and suspicious sound. Although there was a full moon at that time, I was too far away to see anything. So I decided to investigate further, and in doing so ripped my pants on the barbed wire fence …
No, no, I’ll scrap that. No need to bore the Searg with slipping and being hung upside down by the seat of my pants for half-an-hour. And what are the bloody chances of a dog pooing at the spot where my helmet landed. All my money and things slipped out of my pocket. And by the time I’d found everything the batteries of my torch had run down. Christ you see people jumping over fences all the time – it’s just a hand on the post, a sort of hop and you’re over, but no, I got my feet caught up in a plastic bag. The next time I see someone dropping a plastic bag they’ll wish they hadn’t been born, or is it; rue the day they were born? O, well. I haven’t got all day to ponder that one. Whatever it is, they’re going to be in the shit, just like my helmet was.
Right, back to the job in hand.

I decided to investigate further, after negotiating a barbed wire fence and a steep embankment,
Yes, I like that, makes me sound all sort of outward-bounds.
Then I made my way cautiously up the hedgerow. As I crept nearer…
No, scratch that out.

'As I got nearer, I could tell it was the sound of digging. There was a hole being dug at the side of a disused railway line in the dead of night. I grew more suspicious.'

Or should it be my suspicions were further aroused? No I know.

'I moved forward more cautiously now. As I drew nearer my suspicions were confirmed. I could tell who it was even though he was bent over digging. I asked myself how many villains do I know with red hair. I hadn’t seen him for quite a while, but there was no mistaking him. He looked much heavier than of old, I put that down to him having a new thick winter coat.
Just then the moon come out from behind the clouds, it was as if someone had turned on a light. He jumped up - his cold-blooded killer eyes shone in the moonlight; there was no mistaking him now. He seemed to be looking right at me. I froze in that moment not even daring to breathe. Time lingered. Thankfully the moon was at my back and I was in the shadow of the hedgerow. Eventually he returned to his gruesome work. I took the longest breathe, my heart raced back to life.’
Scratch that; don’t want the Searg to think I was crapping it.

'I had a good idea what he was burying or was it more gruesome than I thought. He could be digging it up again to feast on the rotting flesh. I watched mesmerised, until the moon faded behind a cloud for a minute or so. When it came out again he was gone – vanished. I looked about me nervously, …

No, definitely not, out with that - everyone knows I’ve got balls of steel.
Then I saw him again cutting over the rise, and knowing all the dangers I still decided to give chase, …
Yes I like the sound of that ‘give chase’, not bad, if I say so myself.
But in my haste I stumbled over the rusty old track and fell forward onto the small grave. The earth was warm and sticky with the victim’s blood –and that was one question answered - it was a fresh kill. And if my next guess was right, his intention was to kill again ...
No, that last bit was good, but I’ll change that first bit to,

'I quickly made my way over to where he had been digging, and felt the ground for tell tale signs. The earth was warm, …
Yes, that’s much more professional, sounds a bit Sherlock Holmes. Well, perhaps just a little bit - no, who am I kidding.
'There was no time even to clean the victim’s blood off my hands; every second could make the difference between life and death. I was puffing hard by the time I got to the top of the rise and had to stop to catch my breath...'

No, better not put that in, or the Searg might think I’m unfit for duty. I won’t mention slipping on the cowpat either or falling into the nettles, I could say that the cow that chased me over the gate was a bull. No need to mention any of that really. Best keep to the relevant points the sergeant’s not going to want to hear that nonsense.

'I got to the top of the rise and just got a glimpse of him running across the open field before the moon slipped back behind some thicker cloud. I knew at that moment there was only one place he could be heading for, Old Mister Tomas’s place, right on the very edge of the village, it was just him and his wife both in their eighties. A very soft target indeed! There was only one chance; I had to get to the farmhouse before he did …

Sherlock Homes couldn’t have read the signs better himself, look how long it took him to solve the riddle of The Hound of the Baskervilles. There’ll be no more deaths if I can help it, I said to myself. I wonder if Sherlock ever got his foot caught in a gate and landed headfirst in a puddle. If he did, I bet he never told anybody about it. I wonder how long it would have taken Sherlock to run half-a-mile, but then again he would have had a stunt man to do the actual running. Anyway you don’t have to do much running in the C.I.D. Come on now super sleuth Evans get on with your report.

'I raced across the field as fast as my legs would carry me. There was no time to open the large wooden gate; I leapt it with one stride. After a couple of minutes of running I could see a light in the old farmhouse, there was still hope. I was just about to raise the alarm, when I saw the killer sneaking along a wall. Then he slipped into an open out-building. This was my chance. With my heart in my mouth I crept to the door and slammed it shut and threw over the latch - he was trapped. I felt him throw himself at the door. When that didn’t move, he went wild. Tins clattering, bottles smashing, he was frantic, he was making so much noise that it woke up Old Mister Tomas. The old man started to come across the yard. He had in his hand what I took to be a walking stick - that was until he pointed it at me and pulled the trigger, there was a blinding flash and I had to dive for cover…'

Funny, in a situation like that, it doesn’t matter how fast you are, your bowels are always that little bit faster. Fortunately I landed in something very soft – unfortunately, not only was it soft, it was also extremely sticky and stank to high heaven. Doing the unthinkable in my pants - didn’t half make me walk funny. The old man was very apologetic - he thought he had shot me in the arse, because of the way i was walking.

'I settled the old man down and quickly explained the situation. He said there was only one solution for a situation like that, I should open the door and he would let it have two barrels worth. I told him that I was a police constable and it wasn’t my job to dish out punishment, and that would be murder. I asked if I could use the phone. He said I could, it was about a mile back down the lane in the village. I thought everyone was safe enough and began to make my way back down the lane.
I hadn’t gone twenty yards when I heard two loud booms. I knew instantly what had happened - the old bugger had opened the door and dished out his own form of justice. It must have been like shooting fish in a barrel - the poor bugger hadn’t stood a chance. I turned to run back my heart was in my mouth. I hadn’t got ten feet when I heard something coming at me out of the dark. I froze to the spot I would have shit myself if I hadn’t already done so - the first time the gun had gone off.
Then I saw him. He wasn’t looking at me; he was more concerned with what was happening behind him. I tried to get out of the way, but we collided and I ended up on top of him. I covered my throat with my hands to protect myself. We were so close; his foul breath was almost enough to knock me out. But after looking into his eyes, I didn’t know who was the more frightened. As we were scrambling to our feet, the old farmer let another cartridge off. I heard the shot whizz just over my head. In that split second I took the fox’s lead and ran for it – the clever little bugger never ran in a straight line, but zigzagged down the lane with me following his every move, with bullets zinging all around us. When we got to the end of the lane he went his way and I went mine’.
I can hear the Searg now.

“A bloody fox Evans, you were going to arrest a bloody fox, - you short-arsed little twit.”
As far as I’m concerned a villain is a villain and clues are clues, and I probably saved most of Old Tomas’ ducks and chickens. Sherlock didn’t have a problem with the hound of the Baskerville’s, it was just a big dog he had to track through the countryside. I can’t see it being too different myself. But it’s the bloody Searg; he’s had it in for me from the start.
No - bugger it! I’ll just say…

'I tried to stop a drunk driver, got carried on the bonnet down the farm lane, was thrown off, and landed in the dung heap – hence the smell. The car drove away. I went to ask Old Tomas, to see if I could use the telephone and he started taking pot shots at me…

Perfect. Couldn’t be better. Old Tomas will get a bit of a fine and they’ll take his gun away, and I’ll get a medal for bravery above and beyond the call of duty. I’ll be one step closer to the C.I.D. Everyone’s happy - until the Christmas party that is – the boot will be on the other foot then. He who laughs first, will be the last laugh, or is it, is the last laugh? Anyway the Searg won’t be laughing when I tell him about his wife and the inspector. He’ll find out why he gets so much night duty at the same time. I’ll ring the sergeant one night when he’s on duty - hanky over the phone, he’ll never know it’s me. I tell him something’s going down at his house, because there’s a lot of screaming coming from his wife’s bedroom, and I’ll be there with my camcorder filming from the usual place. Now that will be a laugh, I might even send a copy of the video to ‘You’ve Been Framed.’ After they’ve shown it at the party that is!

For Christmas, I’ll send the Searg some of the other recordings; they should make him laugh all right. Be a lot funnier than the one they’ve got of me on patrol with P.C. Six-Foot-Six and a quarter, which they called “The Long and the Short Legs of the Law.”
No a film like mine will be much more of a hoot at the Christmas party.

'But it’s not every day you get to see your wife on the T V - and other places around the house. The Searg’s going to love it. His wife the soap star – or the suds star is perhaps more the theme. Not forgetting the ‘Wet T Shirt”, now she really is a star in that tape. Didn’t think much of the schoolteacher tape though - if I’d had the cane in my hand, I’d have given the inspector a good whipping, he wouldn’t have been able to sit down for a week of Sundays. Or is that saying a month of Sundays?
I can’t wait- but I’ll have too, as they say patience is a virtue. Now there’s a thing the Searg’s wife’s name is Patience, but there is no way you could marry her up with a word like virtue. I’ve got to get the inspector to recommend me for the C.I.D. before the proverbial hits the fan. But I’m sure he’ll see my point of view (or should I say, he’ll view my point). I saw an email he sent about me, it read – “half the new man has arrived, please send other half as soon as possible.”

I’m not doing him because of what he said - it’s because it wasn’t even funny! It’s just me being a critic. I don’t know if the inspector’s going to like the films though, because he’s not very good in them, and I think he knows it, because he apologises for his performance in all of them.

Just one thing left to do, give the video a name, “Carry on Inspector. No, what about The Sergeant’s Wife Gets the Inspector In… No, what about? …

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