Any “Lock In” was good.
The Lock In that was happening in the South Perth pub was no exception. Specifically as no one could remember the last time the pub had actually had one. The bar and security staff, plus the 6 hangeroners, were in what could be termed as a Sports Bar. One of the bar staff had turned the jukebox down a bit and set it to random. Another of the barmaid’s was pouring her fourth first staff drink of the evening. Her offsider was drawing up a slate so everyone could drink on tick, knowing full well that it would never actually get paid, but it would look good in front of the Duty Bar Manager, who was, in one, a wanker.
As this was happening the late night chef was unlocking the pool table nearest the bar. Games of pool were won, lost, laughed over, and sworn at. Pants got dropped and tales got told.
The bar staff in premeditated cahoots, filled the Duty Bar Manager (wanker) with shots of vodka and Sambuca, chased with triple Bourbon and Coke’s. In the space of an hour the staff had laughingly poured him into a taxi, both he and the slate disappearing into the night.
Dawn in its reflection of the fires of Hades began to fill the sky, and the wobbly booted staff locked up the pool table, juke box, and finally the bar.
Mika, a 22 year barmaid and sporter of shoulder length flaxen hair, pulled herself up to her full height of five feet and seven inches, including her slim yet comfortable Colorado work shoes. A tag stitched to the back of a blouse stated that the vivid orange garment was a ‘size 10’,
Now, with wobbly boot turned to full and gyro set to half, Mika walked out through the rear pub door, gave a cheery wave to all, and headed for the flat foreshore. In doing so, she cut out a long hill on her passage home.
In rapidly increasing predawn light, a floppy brown haired thirty something year old male feigned drunken sleep on a foreshore bench. Unseen, his fingers moved deftly over the face of his mobile phone forming script that read –
Within seconds, a vibration from the same phone filled his hand, its screen lighting up to reveal a single word.
Police are no different to anyone else at the end of the day. They all go to work to do the job they are paid for. If they can find an easier way of doing things they will. Early mornings and they dead of night are to be avoided like the plague unless there is a dollar in it. Bosses are generally considered a necessary evil. Paperwork and in-house politics can be found at every turn. No one likes having to go to work on days off.
Police, also, are just people that feel the cold and the heat. They feel sorrow and anger and elation and joy. Police Officers, no matter the rank or station, also feel very human when carrying out tasks that by the standards of the rest of society are far too horrible to even imagine, let alone contemplate. Lastly, the levels of courage that are required to carry those tasks out, plus the impact it has on every moral and human fibre of their being is incalculable.
Doing the best to wash away the vomit, his vomit, the ‘gut wrenchingly horrid bundle of nerves’ vomit. He propped up against a Cape Lilac tree around the corner from the house. Once he had caught his breath, he turned around, drank from the water bottle offered to him, swilled his mouth, and spat on the ground. From there he proceeded to scrub off the mess on his shoes under the neighbours tap. Hoping he had cleaned them enough to remove the stink and any detritus from them.
Wash face. Done. Hands. Done. Inspect shirt for the fifth time, ensuring there is no mysterious bits of carrot stuck had appeared after the last look. Deep breaths. Job has now been put five minutes longer than it should have.
The white knee high wooden Elisabeth St. gate clicked behind them. A Jack Russell, probably named “Jack or Missy” started jumping and yapping excitedly behind the fly screen front door on the two Officers approach.
It was “too sunny”, he thought. “Too normal”; “too bloody beautiful”, “too blue skied, too cloud free and spring like, and butterflies, and something too familiar in the sound of some kid crying nearby, probably from falling off a swing. All happening as he, and another Police Officer, walked down the path in the front yard. “The lawn could use a mow” he thought; “shit I hope I don’t spew again” he thought; “I bet they’re having breakfast”, he thought; “why do the roses smell so bloody nice,” he thought, “shit I hope I don’t spew again”, he thought; “why does her last name have to be ‘Smith’? Bloody ‘Smith’?! How much more normal could this bloody morning be?!” he thought.
“Shit I hope I don’t spew again” he thought.
Afraid his nerves would get the better of him, he planned on gently tapping on the front door. Secretly hoping there would be no one home, and that someone else on the next shift would have to do the job instead of him.
His nerves did get the better of him. His quiet tap turned out to be a solid bashing, loud enough to scare the dog away, tail between its legs.
Through the screen door the young copper could see a chap of possibly retirement age, dressed head to toe in white, and on his way down a carpeted passage toward them. His sporting whites those worn by people beyond the years of tennis or cricket. These were the whites of some who belonged to a bowls club or something similar. In this case, the chap now at the door played croquet, his hat telling him as much. He answered the door with a smile, to have “Shut the door Keith, you’re letting flies in again!” from somewhere inside, most likely the kitchen he suspected.
“Mr. Keith Smith?”
“Yes, I’m Keith Smith. This looks a bit ominous, has the dog been getting out again?” which he ends with a nervous laugh.
He knows! He knows! Screamed through the nauseous Police Officers mind.
“Mr. Keith Arthur Smith of 32 Elisabeth St, South Perth?”
“Yes.” a complete loss of facial expression accompanies the answer.
“Mr. Smith, I am Constable Wells and this is Constable Woods. Can we come inside please sir?” Said like a demand, not as the request it should be. Shit, I’m buggering it already. Christ I hope I don’t spew.
“Of course. Maaaauuuuuddddde, the cops are here. Come to the lounge.”
Once inside he took in the heights of the ceilings, which were easily three and a half metres from the floor. Only then did he realise the age of the house, and put it at around eighty years.
The lounge was adorned with pictures of kids, teenagers, university graduation photos, and a couple of the dog. There was an upright piano in the corner, with more photos, and junky trinkets that are completely useless for anything other than collecting dust, but they did prove that people in the act of kindness remembered someone whilst on holiday.
An obligatory ‘mum & dad’ wedding photo of what must have been Keith and Maude thirty years earlier, sat slightly to the left of centre, closer to the back than the front. Only a washed out photo of three slouch hat wearing young men dressed in green, was further back on the piano top.
Carpets covered the polished floors almost to the skirting boards. A recliner, that all but had “Keith’s Chair” painted over it sat directly in front of the television near the corner of the room. Today’s paper sat on a small table beside it on the right, and a dog basket containing half chewed toys sat on its left. Beyond the basket and to the left was a white flowery patterned, cloth covered, three seat lounge, and then another, marginally less sat in matching recliner. Foot stools had been placed strategically in front of both chairs.
Shit. This is like my Grandma’s lounge. At least I haven’t had to ask them to sit down.
“Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Do you have a daughter?” Don’t spew.
“Yes. Mika. Mika Lorraine Smith. Is she in trouble?” Why is Mrs. Smith talking and not him?! She knows already, shit.
“There has been a serious accident Mrs. Smith, in which we believe Mika, may have lost her life. I am so terribly sorry to have to tell you this.” God I hope I don’t spew.
A minutes worth of silence lasting three decades followed. Then Mr. Smith began to quietly sob, stood up, and went over to put his arms around his wife whose giant silent tears were covering her cheeks.
“When do I need to come in and identify the body?” Mr. Smith, composing himself.
“Soon sir. We just need to ask a few questions, and we will get you over there as soon as we can.”
They did, and it was Mika. She had not died well.
Mr. Smith began phoning people. Mrs. Smith made scones.
Constable Wells didn’t vomit.
Click on Puss in Boots, music vid. should follow.