Police and Thieves

Artwork by James Grover

After fastening herself back into the passenger seat of the police car the female officer removes her hat, which she places on to her lap, and rubs her tired eyes. Her partner, a thin man with a large aquiline nose, drives. His traits annoy her, despite his intentions always being in the right place. “Dear oh dear,” he mundanely announces. There’s the first trademark catchphrase. She narrows her eyes as she looks out the rain-glassed window. “What is the world coming to?” There’s the second. She grits her teeth. Wait for it. She knows it’s coming. “What is the world coming to eh?” He always repeats his questioning catchphrase and always signs it off with a prompt in a pathetic effort to coax her into engaging in an unwanted conversation. Repetitive conversations they’ve shared many times before. Nowadays she pretends not to listen. He has learned to accept this, at least. The night is settling. Streetlights are on. An orange glow descends from them onto the pavement. The wet roads have an oily sheen. Her partner’s unique nose whistles when he breathes. She grits her teeth even harder. Closes her eyes from the world. Desperately tries to find her inner peace. Only four hours left of this shift.

The police radio crackles. A colleague at HQ mumbles about a disturbance at an address. Domestics. They pull up at traffic lights. “We could pick up that call?” Why does he ask so many questions? Why has she been paired with the most indecisive officer on the force? Why doesn’t he just answer the call? She sighs. Reaches for the radio in response, but is stopped by a scream coming from the street. She looks in the direction it came from. Two hooded shadows attacking a woman. One’s grabbed her by the neck from behind. The second is roughly yanking the handbag from her arm. With no hesitation the officer unbuckles herself and bursts out into the night. Her partner has seen it too. Before he exits the vehicle, for a reason unknown to her, he flicks the siren. Alerting them. She curses him to herself for his imbecility. Why would he do that?

She sprints towards them. Her colleague is also running. She hears his heavy shoes slapping the wet road. He calls out to them. The victim is on the ground. The thieves tear away in opposite directions. The nearest panics, momentarily freezes on the spot, cat’s eyes in headlights, then he darts away from the oncoming female officer. She leaves him though for her partner, whose body she hears slam into the young criminal who yelp’s as he’s rugby tackled heavily to the wet pavement.

She doesn’t look back. Only hears her colleague restraining the thief. She doesn’t stop moving. She gives chase. The strap of the handbag flails maniacally, as if desperately trying to reach out to the pursuing officer. She remains silent. Focused. This thief is young, just a kid. He’s skinny. And quick. But she’s athletic. She chases.

He fleets in and out of the streetlights’ orange glow. Grey coloured cotton tracksuit bottoms. Darkness. White chunky Nike trainers. Darkness. A blue hooded top. Darkness. As he accelerates at a fast pace the hood drops back revealing his shaven head. Under the orange glow the officer notices a menacing swollen scar snaking its way across the back of his head.

He cuts across a small patch of green, almost slipping on the wet grass. The officer manages to gain some extra ground, though he is still some distance ahead. He races into an alley. The entrance is illuminated under the dirty urban radiance of another streetlight. Grim graffiti tags are plastered on the flaking brickwork. Faeces (human or animal?) stand guard to the right. The deeper into the alley they run, the darker it gets. Aside from their synchronised panting and the pounding of their feet, there has been muteness between them. The predator has become the prey. But what if the hunted were to suddenly turn on the hunter? Especially in the cover of darkness, in surroundings more suited to him? With a professional slickness the officer detaches her police cosh whilst in full motion. With no light invading the alley whatsoever it takes her eyes longer to adjust under the blanket of night. She brakes the silence, “Why are you still running?” Breathy. She tries to steady it. “We already have your friend.” He doesn’t respond.

His fast feet suddenly patter to a very sharp halt, splashes in puddles. Dead end? He takes off again. The sound of his escape rushes off to the left. The alley has a turn in it. Her sixth sense triggers to slow down and sure enough she meets a wall. Somehow the boy has reached the end already. He flings the stolen handbag over the wire fence that bars the exit, grips it in his young thieving hands, pulls himself up and begins his ascension. Suddenly realising that she’s momentarily stopped to catch her breath the police officer propels herself forward again towards the escapist.

 

James Massoud

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