Detective Inspector Britwell was regretting the morning’s fry up as he hit the half mile mark. Double fried bread had been a mistake. The little scally he was chasing didn’t yet have twenty years of cholesterol, nicotine and alcohol in his veins. He was going to get away.
Rounding the corner, Britwell stopped. Panting by the side of the kerb, his heart and guts felt like they were about to explode. He ought to call the chase in. He should do, let someone younger on the force run his shoe leather off. Typically, he’d left both his radio and phone in the car.
He breathed deeply, trying to re-inflate lungs that’d slept for years before carrying on. The Davies Estate he was running through was like a maze. A rabbit warren of doll’s houses crammed full of the city’s poorest and most needy. He thought the lad he was chasing lived on the third floor of a block, near the chip shop. They were going the wrong way though.
The lad turned the corner at the top of the street. Britwell was now over four hundred yards behind. He’d give up when he got to the corner. There was no way he’d catch him now. It was only breaking and entering anyway. Not as if he’d killed or mugged an old lady. He’d caught him in the act too. Half in a window, he’d seen Britwell and legged it. His stitch grew as he got to the corner.
Wheezing, he turned into it. The street was a mess. He’d never been here
before. It looked like Beirut on a bad day. Every other house had either a
burnt out mattress or car in its overgrown garden.
Britwell stopped and looked round. No sign of the little runt. The street was deserted. He’d expect kids to be playing outside, kicking a ball or someone’s head about. But nothing. He walked slowly up the street, mindful of not having his radio. It just looked like the sort of street trouble emerged from. Almost untouchable, it was off the police radar. Looking at the houses, he saw nothing and was ready to give up. Some noise was coming from the second house. Two large and old motorbikes stood outside, not even chained up. The owners were very certain they’d be safe. The front door opened and a seven foot tall biker appeared in the doorway.
Folding his arms, he stared at Britwell. His greasy, long hair and beaten leather jacket flapping in the wind. Britwell walked towards the gate. He didn’t know
why. It was like a suicide mission being here with no means of getting back up.
The man stood sentinel at the door as the sounds from inside increased. Noises,
shouting, almost screaming.
“Police, mate,” said Britwell. He just stared back.
“Chasing a lad, about fifteen, sixteen. You haven’t seen him have you?” He knew the man would say no or shake his head. Britwell would give up then. Get out of this place. Leave it as he found it. Leave them to themselves.
“Help.” The shout from inside the house was clear.
Britwell opened the garden gate. A dog three doors down barked. It sounded like a wolf.
“Is he in there?”
The man shrugged his shoulders.
“I’ll take it from here.” Britwell wondered who was saying these words. They were coming from his mouth, but it wasn’t him. It couldn’t be.
The man stepped aside and waved him into the house.
Years of decay and non-decoration had left the place little more than a shell. Bare walls with punch marks nearly all the way through to next door’s room. Carpets that stank of urine, Britwell presumed and hoped it was animal not human. The ceilings dark yellow, almost brown from nicotine. Britwell thought of a makeover joke, but kept it to himself. Two bikers, big ugly brutes, were sat on a sunken settee drinking special brew. Another stood in the corner, his beefy
forearm locked round the teenagers neck. The teenager saw Britwell, his eyes
pleading for help.
“Thanks,” said Britwell, his voice crackling and high pitched. “I’ll arrest him now.” It was a question, no doubt about it. He was asking permission from them to arrest the lad. The biker let him go and went back to his armchair. Britwell, realising he was in the way of the television, walked forward to the young lad.
“I’m arresting you on suspicion of…”
“Fuck off pig,” the lad said. “You can’t arrest me. Arrest these lot. I want them done for assault.”
Britwell continued, “Suspicion of breaking and entering. Anything you say…”
“Arrest them you plank. You saw what they did. I’m having you. I’ll make a complaint.”
Britwell looked at the bikers, they shook their heads. The youth of today. No respect for anyone. Britwell had no doubt he’d just saved the lad from the kicking of his life, but the cocky little tyke was already mouthing off.
“Quit while you’re ahead, son. Anything you say may be taken down in…”
The lad’s scrawny arm shot out at Britwell. He’d been punched a thousand times before and they’d long stopped hurting. The lad’s puny arm would struggle to hurt anyone anyway.
“Right you bastard.” Britwell grabbed him by his collar and turned him around. His head clattered against the cracked wall, before Britwell pulled his arm up behind his back. He looked round at the bikers. Still sat, half watching the tele and half watching the live show. This was going to be one hell of a lot of paperwork. Witnesses that were drunk and unreliable, the lad’s claim of assault against them and no doubt Britwell himself. Questions asked as to why he didn’t ring it in. It was too much. This could take days in the office to get through. Meetings, disciplinary even. But he hadn’t rung this in, had he? No one knew.
He turned the lad round and threw him at the settee. “He’s all yours lads, all yours.” Britwell walked to the front door. As he left, he heard a noise. A crack. Bone, maybe an arm, being broken. The accompanying scream was almost demonic. He pulled a cigarette from his packet and offered one to the huge biker in the front garden. “Community policing, mate,” he said, walking away, “that’s where the future is.”
(C) Charlie Wade, 2011.
Charlie Wade is forty years old and lives in Derbyshire, England. He’s written three books and has had eight short stories published online.