- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
I guess they had come from the van that was parked up the street when I came on duty at midnight, working on my Academy Award for best performance as a no-hoper. I had been slump-shouldered and shabby, my Bonded Security uniform baggy, the tie knotted the wrong way so the narrow end lay in front. They had probably laughed when they saw me drain the mickey of rye I was carrying and drop the bottle down the sewer. They didn't know it was only cold tea. They were expecting a loser, not a policeman.
I stayed in character, flashing my light over them nervously, but beyond as well, checking they had no reinforcements waiting to join in the headkicking if they put me down.
"Hey, who's there?" I kept my voice tense. The short one chuckled and swung his four-foot length of timber, nice and easy. "You're not s'posed to be here." I said and straightened up, not dramatically enough to make them suspicious. My job was to hold them -- both if possible, one anyway.
The big one came out first. He had shoulder-length hair that looked gray in the bluish light on the pole in the middle of the site. "Hi Pop," he said, and then the little one charged me.
I paused one second to whistle a long clear note through my front teeth, then crouched to meet him. He was whirling his club, expecting me to cower or run. Instead Iducked under his swing, catching him on the wrong foot, gripping his right wrist and sticking out my left hip. His own momentum took him up and over, flat on his back like a flopped mattress, three yards beyond me. Then the second one charged and I dropped into the classic boxing crouch my father had taught me twenty-five years before and shot out a straight left, only with the hand up, flat against his chest.
He ran on to it and his feet flew from under him, leaving him on his back almost under me. I knee-dropped in his gut and the air went out of him with a whoomph. Behind me I heard Sam barking as he galloped over the broken ground and I shouted "Fight" without looking back. The big man lay working his legs and sucking for air that wouldn't come. I turned, keeping low, in time to see Sam grab the short guy by the arm that still held the two-by-four. "Good dog," I told him and he snarled and clamped his jaws tighter until the man yelled and dropped the board. I picked it up and swung it across his shins, not hard, just enough to remind him he had started all this. Then I told Sam "Easy," and he fell back, panting.
I stooped and rubbed his head with the ugly torn ear. "You're worth a whole platoon," I told him. "Good boy." He whined with pleasure and I patted him again and told the man, "Pick up your buddy and let's go."
He swore and I swung the two-by-four the way he had earlier. "Pick him up."
He did, cradling the limp body in his arms. "That's good," I told him. "Head for the shack."
He staggered, swearing but never letting go, over the forty yards to the trailer that the builder had placed beside the gate as an office. I ushered him up the three steps ahead of me and he stumbled up and lowered his friend to the floor inside. Sam was half a step behind me and I told him "Keep" and we both stood looking at the pair of them as they lolled on the floor, against the wall.
I reached the phone off the hook and dialled, then grabbed the knot of that lousy necktie and wriggled it free. Fullwell answered the phone, repeating the number I'd dialled.
"Hi, Simon. Reid Bennett. We had visitors."
"Did you stop them?" His voice ran halfway up the scale to an anxious yell.
"Yes. They're here in the shack with me, behaving like good boys."
"Nice work buddy. I'll be there in five."
He hung up and I followed suit. I flicked the tie a couple of times to get the creases out and retied it, properly. I've worn uniform enough years that I like to do it right. Not always as smartly as I once wore dress blues in the U.S. Marines, but as tidy as the copper I'd been in Toronto for nine years. Then I took my cap off and reached for my lunch pail. I had a thermos in there and I poured myself a cup of coffee and looked over the prisoners.
The small guy was watching me, puzzling. He had the thin, mean look of an underfed dog and the black tattoos on both arms that told me he had done time, probably heavy time, in the pen. He was in his late twenties, scrawny and angry.
The other one was the standard racetrack rough. You can see a dozen like him any night, making two-dollar bets and waiting for his luck to change. He was in his thirties and by the look of his check shirt and dirty green work pants, it hadn't changed yet.
The younger one spoke at last, a blurted question, almost embarrassed. "What happened to the old guy who came on at midnight?"
"I'm not that old," I told him.
"You? Christ! This guy was way shorter, a real rubbie."
I wanted to warn him not to judge books by their covers but he probably didn't read that much anyway, so I sat quietly, sipping coffee and waiting for Fullwell to arrive. I was looking forward to it. He'd asked me to do a job for him and I'd done it; I figured I could collect the cash he'd promised me and head back to Murphy's Harbour. Not a bad day's work.
Copyright © 1985 by Ted Wood