Cyclist

The Job 41

CHAPTER 41
It got better and better as we counted down the days to the trial, and I ended up with statements from six more of the gang’s victims. Whatever the tariff said about their sentences after a guilty plea, it would end up in pieces once we were done.

Other things were better than I could ever have dreamt of, and no, I am not talking about me and a certain large man. It was Dad. He had really clicked with Blake, and I was almost feeling jealous, as the relationship was clearly mutual, and my own father seemed to be stealing time with Blake I wanted for myself.

Sod it! Life was good, not just bearable. I just wished Blake could have talked to me about the investigation.

The Job 40

CHAPTER 40
It got almost routine after a while popping round the various support groups and clubs to leave cards, leaflets, posters and so on. It was the evenings that got interesting, as I encountered more and more of a world I had never really understood or, if I was truthful, suspected actually existed, despite all the times I had dabbled in it with Bridget. She was gay, in the same sense, I assumed, as was Elaine, a sort-of-straight. Both women were absolutely not into men, but in every other way they were as conventional as my parents.

The Job 39

CHAPTER 39
I had texted her in advance, of course, so she was waiting in the little café down the street, still acting in that filtering, shielding role I had recognised. That said, there was real warmth in her greeting to me.

“You got news for us, girl?”

“Oh yes! Best sort. He got nicked on Friday, after we had finished the trials and stuff with the other lot”

“Oh, we saw that on the news. Not what I’m asking, is it?”

“What are you asking, Deb?”

The Job 38

CHAPTER 28
I had turned up at the Crown Court for that final day, all five having eventually folded at their Plea and Direction Hearing, and as the crimes were not just indictable to the higher court but appalling in their very nature, there was no messing about with magistrates and hierarchies. We walked in, dressed in our best civilian clothes, as befitted our new (for some of us) and officially recognised status as DC rather than PC. Sammy outlined the facts of the case, four men stood up behind their publicly-funded representative and said the G-word, and the reports that had already been prepared and read by the judge were properly taken into account as he delivered ten years to each of them.

The Job 37

CHAPTER 37
I must admit I have had many evenings a lot worse than that one, and very few better. By the time I got home (by way of the all-night shop for a tin of cocoa, of course) my laughter had toned itself down to smiles, but only just. Whatever Deb was doing was working. Only a few of the girls had given me any idea as to what had happened in their past, but they were all transgender and each one had been hurt,

The Job 36

CHAPTER 36
Deb stood up, pulling Charlie to her feet as well.

“Di, we just need to pop next door for a few minutes. Could you please wait here? No exploring?”

I nodded.

“Good. Oh, and what were you planning to do this evening? Do you have a cat to feed, anything like that?”

“No. I was just going to go home by way of the supermarket, pick up some drinking chocolate of my own, and slob in front of the telly”

“OK. Wait there, then, I won’t be long”

The Job 35

CHAPTER 35
She led the way back to the terrace, but instead of taking me to the front door she took me down the back alley between the two terraces, squeezing past a big white van, which she introduced, with a grin, as her ‘Tranny van’. I noticed that she used three keys to get through the door to the back yard, and the wall was topped with barbed wire, two cameras visible either side of an upstairs window. The actual back door was just as secure, and when we came through into the little lobby, I noticed a couple of steel bars ready to brace the door. There were also three fire extinguishers standing against the wall. I raised my eyebrows in query, and she shrugged.

“Some people don’t like us. What can you do but follow the Boy Scouts’ motto, and be prepared?”

The Job 34

CHAPTER 34
The Smugglers’ was busy even on a lunchtime. I had kept it simple, in a sweat shirt and jeans rather than office smart, and I didn’t look too much out of place. I made my way to the bar.

“Diet coke, please. Slice but no ice”

“Pint? I mean, it’s not a pint, but it’s a ‘large’, and it’s close enough”

“Ye please. Is the landlord about, bar manager, whatever you have?”

“Landlord’s out the back. You got a problem, love?”

I smiled. “No, not at all. It’s a business thing”

“I’ll give him a shout. MARLENE!”

The Job 33

CHAPTER 33
That was a phrase that had lived in my mind ever since two men had visited me in a hospital bed. I thought it through for a while, looking at Elaine. She didn’t let me down, and I knew then, if I hadn’t before, that she never would. The hint was taken.

“Bev?”

“Yes, Elaine?”

“We do have another way into this one, one I am keen to follow rather than the usual way”

“You mean?”

The Job 32

CHAPTER 32
I looked at him, and there were no indications as to which way he was jumping. Police, professional, woman.

“I can personally tell you more about him than I would like to know, sir, but I can’t break confidence on what my team are doing”

“Not even on my direct order?”

Breathe, Calm. "No sir. Not even on your direct order, not without the authority of the people who may or may not own the information”

The Job 31

CHAPTER 31
I looked down at his hand, and then at his eyes, trying to hold my courage close and tight so that it couldn’t escape. Blake just nodded, and turned to my parents.

“Baby steps at the moment, Mark, Dot. Di’s the one in the driving seat”

That gave me something else to talk about, which I urgently needed.

The Job 30

CHAPTER 30
He sat unmoving for a few seconds before reaching across to take my right hand with his left.

“Are you sure, Di? Don’t want you thinking I’m putting pressure on you. I’m not, not at all”

My insides were melting with terror, but I had made my decision. Heart, he had said, heart and soul.

“Shut up and get on with it, Blake!”

The Job 29

CHAPTER 29
We settled down to sorting out more of the shitstorm of paperwork, and I caught Blake looking at me, which destroyed my concentration. I could remember everything from the night before, including the hand-holding, but I was sober now. Let it ride, DC Owens, let it slide, and he’ll do the same. Booze and stress, that’s all it was. Sammy ruined that plan.

“Di? Blake? Could you two do a run up to the greasy before we sort out the charging? I need cholesterol, and I need it now! Couple of dog rolls for me, and I’ll shout for whatever the others want”

The Job 28

CHAPTER 28
I didn’t have that bad a hangover, but there was a smell about me even I could detect, which meant my curry had left traces. I showered and brushed my teeth twice, before heading in to start the day’s work.

To my surprise, Chris was there again, moving very stiffly but actually on his feet.

“I have decent biscuits, my love! And milk!”

The Job 27

CHAPTER 27
“Good morning Mr Evans, I am DC Owens, and this is DC Sutton”

Evans jerked his head, and I realised he was trying to see out through the doorway, probably checking nobody else was there. When we sat down, he was clearly sitting as far back as the chair would allow, even though it was fixed to the floor. Not good.

The Job 25

CHAPTER 25
Another twenty minutes saw our prisoners separated and stuffed into the backs of a number of vehicles for the return to the nick, Chris long gone in the ambulance as a paramedic stayed with us to look after one of the five who had apparently met Elaine’s asp face-first.

She was a strange mixture of nerves and seething rage, and as we sat in the car I took the risk and squeezed her shoulder. She simply laid her hand on mine and squeezed back before taking her mobile out and once more switching it to speaker mode. As Blake finished calling out recovery for the other vehicles and the van, she rang Control.

“Hi Jan, Inspector Powell here. Can you call the duty Super out? I’ll need a word. And the on-call CID Inspector”

The Job 24

CHAPTER 24
Almost immediately my phone beeped at me, which saved me from talking to Blake.

CCTV 5 up bsbl bats.

Oh. Baseball bats. I showed the text to my companion, and he grunted.

“We’re on, then. Buckle in”

I caught his mood, and put my seat belt on.

Goat in Smugglers one tango obsing

“Chris is in the Smuggler’s, Blake. One of the targets has eyeballs on it”

The Job 23

CHAPTER 23
I wish I had known those people years before, or people like them, who could have brought my parents out of the pit along with me. What I was learning, in the end, was that it wasn’t about individuals as such but about a way of thinking. We had English, Welsh and French there, all together and smiling. It sort of flew in the face of so much of my experience of policing, and then another thought struck me, no doubt triggered by the kids in wheelchairs and leg braces we had just shared dinner with.

The Job 22

CHAPTER 22
It was drizzling the next morning, Christmas Day itself. The rain made a soft hiss on the fly sheet, sibilant underneath the semi-stifled giggles coming from the next ‘bedroom’ as three little people planned their day. Blake was warm beside me, as was the bedding around me, and the only thing that drove me up and out was Bill’s shout of “Kettle’s on, you lot!”

The Job 21

CHAPTER 21
We made our way round the series of right turns Annie had advised, finally ducking down a back street behind the church we weren’t staying at, oh no, and in the dusk saw a small sea of canvas, a lot of which was glowing from within as people used torches or lamps to sort their bedding out. That had always been one of my favourite parts of camping with Dad, where I would walk back from the toilets or a shower, usually in rain, it being North Wales, and our tent would be glowing in just that way, a little jewel of warmth and shelter that was so much more than a bag of cloth hung on a framework of sticks.

The Job 20

CHAPTER 20
It turned into a busy pre-holiday session, just when most of us would normally have looked to start winding up our work ready for a few days of sloth. Rob in particular had us drilling with taser deployment, even those of us not licensed to carry them, while Blake refreshed our comms skills, if that is the word for hammering us into exhaustion.

The Job 18

CHAPTER 18
“Hello, Omar. I’m DC Owens. Diane, or Di, or whatever you feel comfy with. Blake being treating you well, or just boring you talking about sport?”

The slim young man was a mess, dressings everywhere I could see, and what were clearly his parents radiated a mixture of worry and anger. There were little touches by the mother to the father’s arm, and I stood for a couple of seconds trying to work out where the dominance lay, who had the lead in their family.

The Job 17

CHAPTER 17
She was straight off home after the shift, wife to unchain, dragon to feed, as Alun cheekily suggested. We had sat at our little tables all bloody day without budging, it seemed, as Chris bustled about with cups of tea and coffee, plates of biscuits and so on, at lunchtime taking everyone’s order for a run up to the canteen.

I could see what he was doing as a support worker, but it was more than that. I don’t think it was a cynical ploy on his part, but his comment about goats and arriving late came to mind. Get involved with us, become part of the team, and we’d feel more inclined to be punctual when it was needed. Whatever his reasons, he did help us markedly through the day.

The Job 16

CHAPTER 16
That one hit hard, and I remembered some of the things Dai Gould had stressed. Always look beyond the immediate, beyond those shouting the loudest. That advice on our first aid courses: the one screaming is the one who has the strength and the breath, the life, to be able to scream. Look to the quiet ones. Look at how the ripples spread.

I rang in to let the boss know where we were with the case, and she dropped the bombshell.

The Job 15

CHAPTER 15
I slept surprisingly well, despite a few sudden wakings as something unspecified but nasty crawled into the back of my mind. Mam, as usual, had a fuller-than-full breakfast waiting, and I wondered how she always managed to be up before me, even on the earliest of shifts. Some sort of Mam-radar, I suppose. She sat with me as I ate my sausages and swallowed my tea, with a Look on her face that warned of something being grilled besides the sausages.

“Di, love?”

“Yes, Mam?”

“It’s those two pieces of filth again, isn’t it?”

The Job 14

CHAPTER 14
We bit the bullet that evening, and the Inspector sent us all home after a wash-up followed by a lock-up. I got the impression she didn’t exactly trust all of her colleagues, at least not all of the ones outside our little group.

It had indeed been a long one, and she was in our faces from the off.

The Job 13

CHAPTER 13
I was lost in my own thoughts for the first part of the journey back, only returning to the world about me when Rhys nudged me at some lights.

“You OK, Di? Bit quiet there”

“Ah, mate, just thinking. That lad’s in a bad way”

I could read his mind as he stared at me while the red light sat before us. She’s talking rubbish, it’s not the lad, must be more, leave it for now.

I tried to fill his silence.

The Job 12

CHAPTER 12
I recognised a couple of the faces from news reports, articles in the local press and so on. Once more, Inspector Powell’s word of choice rose up: “local”. None of these, to my best recollection, had made anything more than the local news reports, certainly not the nationals, and the consistency was there in each picture, each black eye and fat lip. The boys had been attacked from the front, or at least after they had been grabbed. Pretty boys who had ceased to be so.

The Job 9

CHAPTER 9
I saw Adam quite regularly after that meeting. Not in a ‘seeing him’ sense, not over pasta with a cheeky little red or anything like that, just in passing. Once he had been pointed out to me, it seemed, my radar kept track of his whereabouts.

Alun was another whose face kept popping up in my line of sight as Dai and my other beat colleagues kept pushing me through more and more new experiences, some of which I wrapped up in my memory to giggle over later, some of which I am not ashamed to say came back a few times in the small hours to stand at the foot of my bed demanding my undivided attention.

The Job 8

CHAPTER 8
It didn’t last, of course, and I was back in uniform after only four weeks, but I learned an awful lot in that short time. Years later I was talking to an engineer about some car fiddle or other, and he told me that in his college they had a sign hanging in the workshop.

“I hear--- I forget.
I see--- I remember,
I DO--- I understand”

The Job 6

CHAPTER 6
It wasn’t easy. A simple thing to say, but emphatically true. I wasn’t just trying to read, inwardly digest and retain such things as a shedload of criminal law, statute, call it what you will, as well as the serried hierarchy of what felt like a cross between some sort of monastic order, but deal with all sorts of fitness testing and ‘safety’ training.

Cold Feet in Australia

Some years ago, I cycled through a remote part of Western Australia, meeting a lovely man, an ecologist called Gary. I put him into my book 'Cold Feet'. Tonight, by chance, I saw him again, in a wilderness programme on ITV. Enjoy, if you can see it. It really captures the land I wrote through, and Ray Mears, unlike the pillock and egomaniac Bear Ghrylls, comes across as a lovely man.
https://www.itv.com/hub/australian-wilderness-with-ray-mears...

The Job 5

CHAPTER 5
Mam and Dad were by my bedside when I woke again. I had clearly lost it once more, and as I tried to sit up straighter the room danced around me, the walls moving up and down and my stomach matching them. Mam noticed and passed me the bowl that had been left on the bedside locker.

“What happened, love?”

I thought of the two coppers, shuddered, and shook my head. Not now, Mam. Dad wouldn’t let it lie, though.

“What did he do, love? Did he…”

The Job 4

CHAPTER 4
He was a big man, and I thought I recognised him from somewhere, but my mind wasn’t working as he slid sideways in the car, pushing the door open and then reaching round it to take another handful of my hair.

I found myself almost spinning on the spot as he dragged me backwards through the now open car door. Something poked the back of my neck, and he was breathing hard, but his voice was under full control.

“Get your legs in and shut the fucking door. Do it now or I cut you”

The Job 3

CHAPTER 3
Blake was on early turn the next day, and after all the messing about in Merthyr I had the delight of a day off. I needed it, to be honest, but I didn’t exactly get a lie-in as my dear husband was never exactly light on his feet, nor subtly agile when climbing out of our nice, warm, snuggly bed. Just another hour… please…

“Mam!”

Deep joy. “Yes, Rhod?”

“Mam! No paper!”

“Hang on, love!”

The Job 2

CHAPTER 2
I had no quick, amusing comeback to that particular little hand-grenade. I didn’t know much about the disease, but I had seen more than enough of its victims, and my memories of them left me with no illusions as to Lynne’s future. Poor bloody Alun; my opinion of his morals had turned such a somersault it was probably being greeted by people holding up score cards.

Sisters

The latest offering is now up on Kindle. Search for Sisters, with the author name S.A.A. Calvert. It should also come up under 'Sussex Border Stories' in a couple of days.

The book reference number is ASIN: B076KB1C8H.

Please remember, if you can, to use the Amazon link on the BC home page/below, as Erin and her elves get commission..
https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3...

Sisters 69

CHAPTER 69
It was an even longer drive up this time, as our two charges needed extra special care. More stops, partly for them, but also because I seemed to tire more easily as my body adapted to being drained of its precious bodily fluids every few minutes, or at least one fluid. Siân was glowing, despite our interrupted sleep, and I am sure I must have looked insufferably smug.

Sisters 66

CHAPTER 66
We went through the same performance yet again, bobbing up and down as the judge entered and took his seat. I really missed my wife’s presence beside me, her strength being all that had kept me from screaming at the miserable old bigot, but I had boys and girls with me, and that meant I had my own responsibilities to face.

Sisters 65

CHAPTER 65
Once again, we trooped into the court, taking our little block of seats, and once again we got to see the unusual spectacle of a defence barrister doing precisely sod-all.

Angharad had delivered a whole salvo of bombshells, if bombs came in salvoes, rhat is, and I would have expected any honest lawyer to have picked it all apart, chewing away on everything from the fact that she seemed to have no evidence other than her memory to the vindictive nature she had demonstrated in her outbursts.

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