Disclaimer:I do not own the original characters or situational plot of the TV series "Inspector Lewis". I own only this fictional creation based on that series. I do this only for personal joy and because when I see or read something that makes me happy, I can't not write about it.
The first 45 minutes of the day had been wonderful. James had woken up, a warm body pressed against him, urging him to a repeat of last night's pleasure. It wasn't even 6:30 though before the day started to fall apart.
At 6:22 his mobile rang and the ring tone told him it was the station dispatcher calling. James valiantly shut any thought of work out of his mind to focus on the more pleasant face in bed with him, but he couldn't put it off indefinitely, and reluctantly he had to accept that his morning pleasure would have to end sooner than he would have liked. If he didn't call back, but quick, they might call Lewis, and that would lead to a very unhappy day for James, and the rest of the team. Inspectors don't like it when they have to field the call their sergeant is supposed to get.
Fortunately, his bed partner was a copper herself and so understood the change in mood and knew that James' work wouldn't be calling this early only to let it go, so laying back, she just appreciated the view as he got out of bed and picked up his mobile.
"This is Hathaway," he said when the dispatch sergeant answered. "It's not even 6:30," he added grumpily, knowing Kevin would take it in good humour.
"Sorry mate," Kevin chuckled. "Suspicious in the alley behind the bakery on Willows. You got back just in time, I was about 30 seconds from calling Lewis."
"Liar," James chuckled. "I wasn't even 5 minutes and you don't want him in a snit any more than I do. Have you got the morgue and SOCO already on the way?"
"Yeah, called them after you," Kevin said. "Uniform are still there too."
"Who?" James asked, pulling clothes out of his closet for the day and smirking at his companion's appreciative gaze.
"Walker and Matthews," Kevin answered, knowing James was formulating who else to wake up to go to the scene and needed to know which constables were already there.
"That new guy's starting today isn't he? Or is it tomorrow?"
"Uh," Kevin paused, flipping through the roster. "No, he actually started yesterday: getting all his paperwork in order."
"Ok, may as well get him used to the more fun aspects of the job," James said, moving out of the room and heading for the bathroom. "Have Hooper pick him up and meet us on site by 7."
"Will do," Kevin said, sounding amused. "You didn't meet him yet did you?"
"He's graduate entry you know…"
"And…" he said, getting suspicious. He and Kevin had always gotten on, even when James had first come to the station - as a graduate entry constable - not long before he was promoted to sergeant and he hoped he wasn't going to now hear Kevin mocking the kid just because he was graduate entry.
"Yeah, redbrick... but unlike you, James, this kid tells everyone he meets and is a bit… well, arrogant."
"Christ," James swore. "Just what I need." An arrogant snot reinforcing the stereotype James had worked so hard to make those at the station not apply to him without getting to know him.
"Good luck," Kevin said with a chuckle, "I'll call Hooper and have him call the kid."
After a quick call to Lewis to outline the situation and arrange to meet him at the scene James jumped into the shower.
"Sorry about this," James said not even ten minutes later as he hurriedly got dressed and combed down his hair. "What train are you on?"
"Well, I'm not due at work until 4, but I think I'll aim to catch the 8:05 so I'll have time for errands or maybe a nap since we didn't sleep much last night."
"Do you want me to call for a taxi?"
"James," she said straightening his tie. "I am perfectly capable of calling myself - or maybe I'll walk."
"You'd never!" he said with a snort.
"Well, I might if I had you to carry my bag, but no, you're right. I'm hardly going to walk to the station lugging my overnight bag like some tourist." She gave him a heated kiss then smoothed out imaginary creases in his jacket and shooed him toward the stairs. "Talk to you soon though, yeah?"
Smiling, he waggled his mobile as he jogged down the stairs indicating that they would indeed be in touch.
With his mobile on speaker, James had managed to get a preliminary report from Walker and Matthews, the uniforms who'd been the first responders and was glad the did as he drove up just as Lewis was closing his car door.
"Sorry sir," he said, rushing over. Whenever possible, the sergeant was to be at the scene ready to report to his inspector.
"No worries, James," Lewis said though as he stretched and rubbed his hands together to warm them. "I live a fair bit closer to the scene than you, I'm impressed you managed to get here as quick as you did." Lewis smiled as his thin sergeant pulled his woollen overcoat tighter around himself, shoving his hands in the pockets for warmth.
"Come on then sergeant," he said, beckoning him toward the caution tape down the other end of the alley. "We'll get the report from uniform at the same time."
"No need, sir," James said, following him into the alley. "I called and spoke with them while I was driving. It was on handsfree," he added quickly to ward off the glare. "Bakery owner, a Mr. Trust, was taking out the rubbish from this morning's baking when he spotted the body leaning against the wall," he reported, motioning toward the corpse they could now see up ahead as the uniforms lifted the tape for them. "Might end up not needing us after all though, Matthews recognises the deceased as an habitual drug user known to frequent alleys in this area. Can't say for certain of course, until after Hobson's examination and depending on what SOCO finds."
"Such a shame," Lewis said, looking over at the person whose life had been cut short, if not by an outside force, then by their own demons, and addictions. They didn't put on the full scene of crime suit owing to the fact that they didn't have to get too close, or touch the body, but after donning shoe covers they both moved to about 10 feet from the deceased.
"Gentlemen," Hobson said, walking over to them in her white scene suit and holding an evidence bag out to Lewis. "Probably going to be accident or misadventure. There's paraphernalia all over the place and obvious signs of frequent drugs use sadly. No picture ID, but bank and credit cards with 4 different names."
"Matthews thinks he recognises him as a regular named Don Rutt," James supplied.
"Ah," Laura said with a grim smile. "You'll let me know as soon as you're sure and I can pull any medical files for the forensic ID."
"'Course doctor," James said, pulling out his mobile and walking away to order up the files.
"Ahh," Robbie said when he noticed the doctor's scrutiny as he stared at the dead man. "It's just such a shame is all. I don't like to see this kind of waste of life any more than I do a murder."
Hathaway, standing several inches taller than both of the first response officers he was standing near, was easy for Hooper to spot as he pulled up and parked. As he turned off the car and took off his seat belt, he tried to gauge the sergeant's mood, knowing that if he was cranky, it would mean that Lewis was cranky and the whole unit would be cranky. Mind you, he couldn't blame anyone for being cranky what with being called out to a suspicious death in a back alley before 7 in the morning.
Dealing with the new graduate entry brat meant that Hooper was already cranky today seeing as how the little snot made him late. The dispatch message had been to meet the senior officers on scene by 7. It was now, 7:06 according to the clock on the car dash as he climbed out which made them at least 10 minutes late given the law enforcement mentality that meant that when you were supposed to be somewhere by 7, if you weren't there at least five minutes before that, you were late.
With a gruff "come on," to the kid, Hooper approached the sergeant who, with no more than a glance and a slight jerk of his head sent one of the uniforms off to move along some gawpers.
"Rutt, Don," Hathaway said into his phone, glaring meaningfully at Hooper and the kid as they walked up. "Nothing? Matthews?" he asked turning to the remaining uniform. "Is it Rutt: R-U-T-T?"
"R-U-D-T maybe, sir?" Matthews answered uncertainly. "I thought that was his real name, but maybe it's an alias…?"
"No, that's got it," Hathaway interrupted, responding to what he was hearing on the phone. "Brown hair, yeah. 1.7 metres…" As Hathaway traded physical features of the deceased with the person on the phone, Hooper started to move away, hoping to find something to do and avoid talking to the sergeant, but with a look and a raised finger, Hathaway kept him still. Grabbing the sleeve of the new kid to keep him wandering off earned him a glare from the trainee - which he ignored.
"He looks like he weighs a lot less than that to me, but the last arrest was a couple of months back - can you send me a picture? Thanks." Holding his phone away from his ear to receive the picture being sent, Hathaway turned to Hooper and his charge to issue instructions. "Check on the baker: Mr. Trust. He discovered the body. Lewis or I will be in to take his statement in a minute. And send Williams out to start the canvas."
Having received and viewed the picture while he spoke, Hathaway returned to his call without waiting for a reply so Hooper just nodded and started leading the kid toward the bakery as he heard the sergeant confirm it was the right man and ask for the file to be sent to the morgue right away.
"Who's the posho?"
Christ.The kid had timed that remark so that even though he probably meant it to be heard only by Hooper, he'd said it just after Hathaway had stopped talking so Hooper, Hathaway and Matthews all heard it clearly. Trying to relax his now tense shoulders, Hooper stopped, and pulling the kid with him, he turned back toward the sergeant.
Having worked with Hathaway for a few years now, Hooper felt he was well versed on the sergeant's facial expressions - what few he allowed were subtle, but Hooper felt he had at least his O-levels in Hathaway expressions by now and so relaxed a little to see the slight amusement in the look he got before the tall officer turned a solid glare on the kid. The uniform, Matthews, for his part, mumbled something about helping his partner with the looky-loos and scarpered.
"Uh, Sergeant Hathaway," Hooper started the introduction. "This is Training Detective Constable Jones. Jones, this is our sergeant: Sergeant Hathaway. Sorry we were a bit late, sir…" he added, tilting his head toward the kid to indicate he was the reason. As much as possible, without crossing over into disrespect for a superior officer, Hooper usually engaged in all variety of verbal gymnastics to avoid having to call the much younger Hathaway "sir", opting instead for Sarge, or Sergeant whenever he could get away with it. Hoping to worry the stupid twit of a trainee detective though, it was worth saying it now
"Was there a problem getting ready Jones?" Hathaway asked with just the right amount of imperiousness thought Hooper.
"Uh, no Sergeant," he replied, not quite managing the appropriate level of subservience after being caught being rude by a superior. "I just didn't expect to be called in so early on my first day and my mobile wasn't on, so Hooper had to just come to my flat and wake me and so once I got my gear all together - well, we got here as fast as can be expected."
Hooper cringed and looked away after that statement. Even with 20 years more on the job, as a DC, Hooper wouldn't even tell a sergeant what 'can be expected'! Whatever he thought, that's the kind of thing you keep to yourself if you know what's good for you.
Hathaway raised his eyebrows, giving the kid a disapproving glare. "I was told that you'd done your paperwork yesterday Constable, so it's not really your first day is it? If you're hoping to work and advance in the CID, Jones," he said in a tone of voice that suggested he thought the possibility remote. "You keep your mobile on and charged. And you haven't quite got all your gear together," he added. "Straighten your tie before you go in to see to the baker. Hooper," he added, nodding in a friendly dismissal to the DC and his charge, giving him a slight commiserating smile as he walked away when the kid looked down, frowning at his tie.
"Christ, kid," Hooper said, leading Jones toward the door into the bakery. "You sure know how to make a good first impression on the man who's going to be doing your training evaluations." As a training detective, the kid was in a uniform instead of suit, but in the rush, his shirt and trousers were rumpled and his tie was still slightly askew. Hooper doubted that the baker, who was likely traumatised, would notice the kid's state of disarray, but the sergeant and inspector sure would once they saw him in the full light of the bakery.
"When they come in to take the statement, I'd keep a low profile if I were you and maybe they won't notice the state of your uniform." Hooper suggested, shaking his head.
This was going to be a hell of a day, he could already tell - and it wasn't even half seven yet.
Chapter 2: Chapter 2
A day that starts out wonderful can go downhill fast. Our beloved Sergeant Hathaway deals with romance woes, family woes, case woes and an annoying and uppity new graduate-entry trainee detective constable. With a little help from his inspector, his friends and colleagues of course.
Disclaimer: I do not own the original characters or situational plot of the TV series “Inspector Lewis”. I own only this fictional creation based on that series. I do this only for personal joy and because when I see or read something that makes me happy, I can’t not write about it.
“Why do you hate me when I’ve always been good to you?” James demanded into his phone. Standing in the small semi-sheltered spot reserved for smokers in back of the station, he’d escaped the office after listening to, and agreeing with, Lewis’ rant about the new trainee’s lack of professionalism on his first Oxfordshire crime scene. All the DCs and even DSs from other units were keeping their heads down and straightening ties and blouses to avoid suffering the wrath of the now very cranky DI Lewis. The only movement other than answering phones and quietly shuffling papers were the desperate glances everyone kept sneaking at James in hopes that he could turn the inspector’s mood around before there was bloodshed.
“Hiya James,” Robin Straud replied sardonically to his colleague’s unusual greeting. “Nice to hear from you. How’s the weather in Oxford?”
“Haven’t I always helped you out?” James went on, ignoring his friend’s words. “Translated Latin and Greek and Catholics for you? Helped you get Rebecca’s number?”
“Then what the hell is the deal with Jones?!” James demanded.
“Uhhh, I’m going to need a little more information than that, mate.”
“Constable Jones. As of yesterday afternoon, ‘Trainee Detective Constable Jones’: graduate entry, here in Oxford and formerly of your bloody unit in Northumbria!”
“I’ve read his file and you gave him a positive recommendation, Rob. So I repeat, what the hell?!”
“Problem?” Straud asked, attempting innocence. Hearing James’ growl though he quickly continued. “Look, he’s a bit rough around the edges, I’ll grant you, but I honestly think he has the makings of a good cop. A good detective.” He sighed when James remained angrily silent, encouraging him to explain further. “What’d he do?”
“Well, he’s only offended nearly everyone he’s come in contact with since yesterday afternoon, arrived late and unkempt to his very first crime scene this morning, and irritated the inspector to such a degree with his poor professionalism on that scene that the whole office is practically hiding under their desks!”
“Ouch. Sorry about that… Look, James,” he went on quickly. “Yeah, I know, he’s a bit…”
“Arrogant? Annoying? A bit of a GREAT BIG GIANT PAIN IN MY ASS?!”
“Yeah… but I swear, I know that under all that - maybe somewhat deep under all that - is a potentially great copper. I couldn’t break through enough. I mean, by the end I had his grudging respect, which was progress for him, believe me, but if anyone can really get through to him, it’s you.”
“You’re full of shite,” James announced after a breath.
“Well, yeah, OK, but seriously, there’s something there I think. Don’t sack him after only one disastrous day.”
“Disastrous doesn’t quite cover it, mate.”
“I’ll owe you one?”
“You already owe me too many to count,” James reminded him then sighed. “Do you realise that I’ve got to put a written reprimand in his file? On his first bloody day!”
“Aww, do you have to? His first day? He’s not even settled in to the rhythm there yet. Can’t you let whatever it is slide this once? You’re not usually so hard nosed, James - especially given your propensity for cheek.”
“No longer up to me, Rob,” James said, his tone accusing. “Inspector Lewis went to interview a witness that Jones and a DC were supposed to be just babysitting and found him sitting on the bakery counter, looking like he’d slept in his uniform! That would have been one thing: a verbal warning and sent home to clean up, but when Lewis ordered him to wait outside, he went and argued with him! In front of the bloody witness!”
“Christ,” Robin exhaled. “I’m surprised by that, James. Sorry. You’re right, you’ve got to do it now, the dumb sod.”
“And he’s already called me a ‘Posho’. Oh, sod off!” he added when Straud snickered.
“James, I don’t know how to break it to you, mate, but you are sort of posh…”
“He’s a trainee,” James reminded him. “He can think what he wants, and if he’s an idiot and not much good as a detective he can jump to conclusions based on my accent - which isn’t even all that posh, believe me. But he said ‘who’s the Posho’ to a DC, five feet away from me, 30 seconds after he arrived, out loud, at a crime scene in front of a first response uniform.”
“Oh… yeah, bad form. Sorry.” Robin blew out his breath, trying to think of a way to make things up to James. “How about I send you a bottle of scotch? To make up for it?”
“Not a small bottle,” James said after a moment. “And none of the cheap junk. I want the good stuff.”
“Ok, that’ll make up for this morning. Now, tell me what’s not in the file about this idiot.”
Flicking away his third fag (one when he’d first escaped into the alley, one while talking with Robin and one while he formulated his plan), James was ready to go in and deal with the unfortunate Constable Jones. And he was unfortunate, even if he’d brought it on himself, he was by far, the most hated person in the building less than 2 hours into his first full day.
He liked Robin though, and wanted to trust his judgement. James and Robin had come through training together and had kept in touch, partly because even though they were from very different backgrounds, they still were able to enjoy each other’s company. Their friendship had been cemented though when James had introduced Robin to Rebecca. Rebecca was a good, middle class, catholic girl, and Robin, a young copper, who though he’d managed to put himself through university and earn his degree, was from a working class, non-catholic, non-religious family. Needless to say, her family were not best pleased when she fell hopelessly in love with Robin - who in turn was completely gone on the beautiful Rebecca. A compromise was reached when Robin had willingly, eagerly even, converted to catholicism.
“Ah, James,” he’d said more than once as James had helped him learn the religion. “Any God who could earn Rebecca’s devotion must be worthy of mine.” Having no brothers, Robin had even asked James to stand up with him for the wedding. Five years and three kids later and the two were still just as besotted with each other as ever.
So it was, on Robin’s recommendation, that he decided to try and find something worthy under the surface of the complete twit that was Training Detective Constable Jones.
“Can we please have the room?” James asked when he walked into the workroom, indicating that Hooper and Johnson leave he and Jones alone.
“Sarge?” Johnson asked, his tone begging Hathaway not to send them out into the dragon’s den of the main workspace - where Lewis had been terrorising everyone who crossed his path since they’d returned from the baker’s alley.
“Are those the Randalson files?” James asked, indicating the three boxes on the floor by one of the desks. “I want you to go down to records and double check that we’ve got all of them. There were a lot of files as I recall, this might not be all of them. You’d better both go in case there are several boxes more to bring up. Should take you about 10 minutes to be certain.” This request was met with “Yes, sirs” from both DCs, grateful that James had taken pity on them and given them something frivolous to do in the opposite direction from Lewis.
Closing the door behind them, this left James and the new trainee alone. Holding in a sigh at the lack of professionalism Jones continued to show by sitting, sulking in a chair, James started his campaign to save this dolt from himself.
“For God’s sake, man,” he said sternly. “Stand!”
With minimal insolence and only a small sigh, Jones did as he was told and stood still as James scrutinised his uniform. Approaching the door to the bakery earlier that morning, intent on joining Lewis in the interview of the witness, James had been surprised to be nearly bowled over by the same inspector dragging Jones out by his collar. In the growing morning light and with the aid of the light above the door, James could see instantly that the constable was… not neatly presented - and that Lewis was nearly apoplectic with rage.
“Get him off my crime scene,” Lewis had growled. “Now!”
Taking the man by a loop in the back of his stab vest, James had done just that, dragging the kid past the crime scene tape and to the edge of the alley. Perhaps unnerved by Lewis’ temper, or the obvious anger radiating from the sergeant, Jones hadn’t complained as he was pulled along.
“Where do you live?” James demanded, his voice barely contained rage. “Is it close enough to walk to?”
“What?” Jones had asked, honestly perplexed by the question.
“Where - Do - You - Live?” James demanded, lowering his voice and leaning in threateningly.
After getting it out that he lived about a 20 minute walk away, James had told him he should probably jog it then because it was almost 7:15 now and he had better find a way to get home, change, or press his uniform and be back at the station by 8. Once at the station, he should check in, ask where the violent crimes workroom 2 was and sit in there and wait until James came to talk with him.
“Your epaulettes are crooked, your boots are scuffed and your creases aren’t as crisp as they could be, but it is an improvement,” James pronounced.
As Jones tried, not entirely successfully, not to scowl, James pulled a binder down from one of the higher shelves against the far wall of the office and dropped it on the desk next to the constable. “This is the uniform code guide. I want you to read it and see to it that in future, your uniform is always properly presented. Until further notice, you will present yourself along with all of the other uniform constables each morning to the response team sergeant for inspection.”
Breathing hard from the effort of not replying and with his jaw clenched, Jones nodded.
“Good,” James said, sitting down on one of the office chairs and glaring at the kid when he looked toward one of the other chairs. “Now, I know that you are a graduate entry constable and that you hope to advance as quickly as possible. This will not happen if you continue this sort of behaviour. Trouble flows downhill on any force, Jones. You anger the inspector, he makes the sergeant’s life difficult, and when the sergeant’s life is difficult, he makes the constables lives very difficult.
“Now,” James went on, leaning back in the chair and crossing his long legs in front of him. “You expect to advance. From where you are now, if you manage to get yourself together, you will first make DC. As a DC, you’ll still report to a sergeant, and follow the orders of sergeants and inspectors and superintendents. If all goes well and you continue to learn and prove yourself useful, next you might be promoted to DS. As a DS, you will follow the orders of inspectors and so on but you might also be responsible for supervising some constables, detective or otherwise. As the supervisor of these constables, you are responsible for their actions - both good and bad. Do you understand?”
Jaw still clenched, Jones nodded.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t hear you,” James said, he couldn’t let the man keep taking the easy way.
“Yes, sergeant,” Jones managed through his still clenched teeth.
“Good. Now, if, as a sergeant, a constable you are responsible for does something foolish and greatly annoys your inspector, said inspector might make your life difficult and said inspector might demand, if the foolish thing your constable did involved a gross breach of expected professional behaviour in the field, that you be required to write a formal reprimand to put in that constable’s file. Are you still following me Jones?” James asked the now slightly paler man.
“A reprimand, sir?”
“Yes,” James said, his tone that of a teacher to a wayward student. “Now, this is good practice for you, as I’ve heard that you expect to be made sergeant in short order. On the server, in the shared drive, there’s a folder called “forms”. I want you to go into that folder and find the form for formal written reprimand. Using that form I want you to imagine that you are a sergeant who has had a constable present himself and behave on a crime scene in front of a traumatised witness, two constables, his sergeant and an inspector the way that you did this morning. I want you to imagine what sort of reprimand that sergeant would be required to write.” Standing, James moved toward the door.
“Then I want you to write that reprimand and have it on my desk by the end of the day.” Opening the door, James looked back at the finally nervous constable. “We’ll talk more then.”
Walking back, James ignored the pleading looks of the various people he passed, and coming through the door next to his office he could hear the inspector shouting out to the open work area. “Sanders! Where the hell is… Oh, there you are Hathaway,” he said in a slightly more normal voice as James walked through the door and shut it. “Where the hell were you?”
“Talking with Training DC Jones,” James answered mildly as he sat in the chair in front of his boss’ desk instead of at his own desk.
“Oh,” Lewis allowed. “Well good. Could have killed him meself this morning! You get that reprimand written?”
“Something better. You’ll like it, I promise,” James added when Lewis glared at him. “Can we go across the street for a coffee and I’ll tell you what I found out from his sergeant in Northumbria and what I’ve got him doing?”
“There’s coffee here!” Lewis complained. “Why go across the street?!”
“Because half the office is on the verge of a nervous collapse and it’ll be easier to tell you about it where we’re not going to be interrupted.”
Damn James and his smooth, sensible, calming voice. Lewis usually appreciated James’ ability to nearly hypnotise an upset witness to calm down simply by altering his voice. But he suddenly realised how much of a bear he must have been all morning if James was using that voice on him to talk about the nervous state of the rest of the office.
“Ahh,” he sighed, pushing back from his desk and grabbing his coat. “You’re right, you’re right. Let’s go, I could use the break.”
James stood up quickly and grabbed his own overcoat, surprised he’d gotten his angry boss to agree so easily.
As they approached the cafe James could see the moment one of the many policemen inside spotted them through the window because as if a wave went through the room, one after another grabbed whatever was portable and abandoned the rest to move quickly toward the side door and out.
“I’ve really been that bad?” Lewis clearly had noticed the mass self eviction and rightly attributed it to his impending arrival.
“Find us a table, sir?” James said, the look on his face enough to confirm Robbie’s suspicions. “I’ll get the coffees, yeah?”
Setting down two large coffees and tearing a rather large homemade rice krispee square drizzled in chocolate in two and pushing the larger half toward his boss, James took a sip from his mug before starting. “So, from the file we have we know that he’s graduate entry, did a degree in criminology at Leicester. He did his training and probationary post in Northumbria in dispatch.”
“I know that much, Hathaway,” Lewis said, some of his earlier irritation returning as he tore off a piece of the krispee treat. “How the hell did he get here? If he was half as bad there as he’s demonstrated himself to be in ten minutes on my crime scene this morning, he should have been sacked - not given a chance at detective!”
“Yeah,” James replied, remaining calm in spite of his boss’ agitation. “His sergeant in Northumbria is a friend of mine and I called and asked him about that. He said that up there, he was very closed off about himself personally, though he did talk a lot about having gone to university, especially around those who hadn’t.”
“So arrogant snot,” Lewis snorted, eating more of the treat.
“My friend, took him out for a talking to once and after a few drinks, Jones apparently revealed that he’d grown up with his grandmother after losing both parents quite young. No one in his family had ever amounted to anything, several in jail, or also died young. The fact that he managed the grades to go to university, and managed to work his way through is a bit of a point of pride for him.”
“Ah,” Lewis said, polishing off his half of the treat and eying James’ half which the younger man pushed over to him. “Still though, none of that excuses his behaviour this morning so tell me what ‘something better’ you’ve got planned than the reprimand I asked you to do?”
“Well, that,” James said, shifting slightly in his seat and stalling with a sip of his coffee. “So, he’s proud of his academic background right? He got a first…”
“At Leicester,” Lewis interrupted with a slight smirk to his colleague. “Not hardly Cambridge, that though, right?”
“No,” James allowed, but scowled slightly. “Though I will argue to the end that Cambridge is a better university than Oxford, sir, neither of them are for everyone, and just because someone went to a ‘redbrick’ university instead of Oxbridge doesn’t mean they can’t be just as brilliant, or sometimes even more brilliant than some of the stuffed heads that do. I’ve known some complete prats who got firsts from Oxbridge, sir, and I’ve known some bloody geniuses who didn’t.”
“‘Course, ‘course,” Robbie placated. “Meant no offence, lad. Just thought…”
“Everyone ‘just thinks’ that because I went to Cambridge, sir, that I must be a snob about any other university.” James looked down and broke the last of the krispee treat in half and ate one of the two pieces. “Sorry.”
“No, no. You’re right.”
“Anyway, the reprimand. He’s been bragging about being graduate entry and expecting to advance quickly because of that…”
“Not bloody likely with that attitude.”
“Which is what I told him,” James said, finishing off the last of his coffee. “I also told him that I’d heard that he expected to advance. Told him that when he annoys the inspector, the sergeant gets the sharp end of it, and when the sergeant is hearing it from the inspector, he passes it on ten-fold to the constable.
“I was inspired by Innocent’s lecture to you on that,” he added when Lewis looked slightly guilty. “When she said that if your actions caused the chief constable to make her life difficult, she would make yours screaming hell.”
Lewis shook his head, smiling at his sergeant’s wit.
“Anyway, I told him if he expected to be sergeant in short order, he could practice one aspect now - dealing with what happens when a constable he’s responsible for does something foolish to annoy his inspector and that inspector requires that he do a written reprimand.”
“You didn’t.” Robbie said, surprised by James’ cunning, and almost cruel - yet brilliant solution.
“He’s even now writing his own reprimand. Told him to have it to me by the end of the day and we’d talk more then. If what he writes isn’t accurate, I’ll make him do it again until it is. He’s also going to be presenting himself for inspection by Sergeant Singh each morning along with all the junior constables until further notice.”
“That’s… that’s… sodding brilliant man!”
“I’ll get a box of chocolates for Singh to make it up to her - she loves caramels. And to make it up to me, my friend up north is sending me a bottle of the good stuff.”
“Good friend,” Robbie said, raising his eyebrows.
“We trained together and he already owes me before this - I introduced him to his wife. He’s graduate entry too, sir. Went to Northumbria and got the placement he wanted as a sergeant up there.”
“You never cease to amaze me sergeant,” Robbie said, amazed.
“Thank you sir,” James said before leaning in, serious again. “I was thinking, sir. My friend really thinks there’s something to Jones, that he could be a good detective. He thinks, maybe he’s just nervous, or posturing, or trying to fit in here - meaning Oxford. Could we keep the reprimand in *our* copy of the file, but not put it in his official file?”
Lewis frowned at him. “I don’t know…”
“Just for a bit, and if he doesn’t straighten out we file it. It’s his first day…”
“Alright, but I want it clear to him that if he steps one toe out of line he’s done.”
“Alright,” Lewis said, downing the last of his coffee. “Let’s get back before Innocent thinks we’re shirking. It looks like the death this morning is going to be drugs and not a murder. We should talk to the guys in vice though to see if he was known to them and if they think there’s anything more we should do.”
Walking back through the station to their office, James tried not to enjoy the looks of open appreciation he was receiving as the much happier and calmer inspector walked in front of him. Still got it, Hathaway, he thought to himself. The day was taking a turn for the better.
Chapter 4: A turn for the worse
The day is all ups and downs for our heroes!
In this chapter I begin, in the grand tradition of our founder Colin Dexter, to make some stuff up. From here you start to see places that don't really exist, people and positions that don't exist and all manner, no doubt, of police and 'high muck' procedures that are completely made up for how they aid in the storytelling.
After their coffee break, James and Lewis worked convivially on outstanding reports and other open cases for the rest of the morning, and while people were not daring to interrupt them unless absolutely necessary to quickly drop off a report or file, the mood of the rest of the office was definitely more relaxed. There was even the sound of people talking and laughing (though quietly) amongst themselves as they worked.
“I’ll bet we won’t cause an exodus this time if we head across the street for a bite to eat now, sir,” James said, stretching back in his chair around noon.
“Yeah,” Robbie agreed, feeling his stomach rumble at the thought of something to eat. “I could do with a bite. Give me five minutes to finish this?”
“Perfect,” James said, standing and putting his jacket and coat on. “Meet you out front? I’m just going to check on Jones and see how much headway Hooper and Johnson have made with the Randalson files.”
As he approached workroom 2, Hathaway noticed quite a lot more activity and noise than was expected when to the best of his knowledge, only 3 or maybe 4 constables should be working in there this morning. Slowing his pace, he looked between the slats of the blinds and spied 7 or 8 uniforms and DCs loitering in the room, all snickering amongst themselves, and making no secret as to who they were laughing about.
“Are you all 12 years old or what?” Hathaway demanded, standing in the doorway and causing nearly everyone in the room to spin to face him, to a one looking like deer caught in headlights. “If there’s any one of you lacking in something productive to do at the moment, by all means, let me know and I’m sure I can come up with something.”
A chorus of “No, Sarge, just dropping off...”; “Sorry, Sarge,”; and “I was just on my way to…” comments rushed past him as all but Jones and Hooper cleared the room.
“Lewis and I are going to lunch,” James said to Hooper, not bothering to hide his annoyance. “Jones,” he added to the trainee in the corner. “You’ve had your long break for the day going home to change, but feel free to bring a sandwich up from the canteen or machines to eat while you work. Hooper will show you where they are if you didn’t get a tour yesterday.”
“I miss anything?” Lewis asked from behind James causing Hooper to focus intently on the file in front of him and Jones to inch nonchalantly further behind his monitor.
Turning to see his boss looking down the hall at the quickly dispersing crowd who’d vacated the workroom James smiled, knowing that Lewis already knew exactly what had been going on and trusting him to involve him only as much as was necessary.
“Only that Hooper and Johnson are making excellent progress organising the Randalson files - should have them sorted by the end of the day!” he said brightly.
“That is good news,” Lewis replied with a smile as he walked away. Following close behind him James noticed Hooper scowling as he pulled out his mobile, not doubt to call the traitorous Johnson and tell him to get back there quick and help him finish those files.
“You sure you want to bother with all this extra hassle with this kid?” Lewis asked as he finished his soup and pulled his second chocolate covered rice-krispee treat of the day forward.
“They’ll get over it,” James said, scraping the last of his chicken pie from the plate. “Everyone’s in a funny mood this time of year. February fibblies.”
“February fibblies??” Lewis demanded, bemused.
“One of my sister’s gems,” James answered, blushing as he hid behind a gulp of his beer.
“How’s she doing anyway? Sixth former right?” Robbie asked trying to sound casual. James rarely talked about his family and was always very uncomfortable about the subject, even with Robbie. He knew that he’d heard more about them than anyone else at the station, which made him feel somewhat better about the lack of information, and made him accept not pushing the lad for more usually.
“Year 12. Working on her A-levels. She’s doing alright. Eager to be done and already changing her mind every other week between Oxford and Cambridge with occasional detours to wanting to go to Dublin or Toronto or Harvard.” He rolled his eyes, smiling ironically at the folly of youth.
“Did you always want Cambridge, or did you think about going overseas too?” Robbie pushed gently, taking advantage of James’ open mood as he enjoyed his cobbler pudding.
“Pretty much,” James replied casually. “I was really into the rowing as well then and a relative had been to Cambridge and been in the rowing programme there and really made it sound good. I thought about Oxford for a bit, my mum went to Oxford, but in the end, Cambridge was closer to home and I’d met a couple of tutors from there I really liked, so…”
This was more than he’d gotten out of his colleague in a long time and Robbie was about to push his luck when both of their phones went off alerting to an incoming text from Innocent.
//I know your at lunch but I need you back now!//
Lewis was pretty certain that at least half of the reason behind the face Hathaway made after reading the text was more to do with the grammar mistake than with what new hell awaited them back at the office.
“If it’s Jones again,” Robbie said as they rushed out. “I’m calling your friend and making him send me a bottle too.”
“There’s been an incident at Lenthall Leigh,” Innocent announced, putting her coat on when James and Robbie entered her office. “At the golf estate up there. Word may have already gotten out to the press.”
“Isn’t it a bit cold for golf?” Robbie demanded, nonetheless following Innocent as she walked out of her office.
“They do business retreats up there too,” James supplied.
“I don’t have all the details yet, but apparently a group of wealthy - possibly business men and women were there for a meeting of some sort and seven of them are reported down. Still getting details, but some are dead, some being transported to hospital. This is a mess and the chief constable is in fits, obviously.”
“What happened?!” Lewis demanded, alarmed. That many dead or hurt could be weapons related or almost anything.
“Don’t know yet, first reports were that they just started keeling over! No reports of weapons or visible threats. I’ve got SOCO along with Singh and several of hers on their way to secure the scene and I want you to take the lead on this Lewis. James, that’s where you did that charity golf thing last year right? So you should be familiar with the grounds which will be a big help. I’m going to ride with you two so I can keep getting updates on the way. Damn,” she said, stopping in her tracks when her mobile started ringing. “That’s the chief constable. Gather however many of yours you think you’ll need for seven victims and probably at least twice that in witnesses counting staff up there. I’ll meet you out front in five minutes.”
“Right,” Lewis said, turning to James when Innocent walked away, answering her mobile. “Who do we have? Lockhart, Hooper, Johnson, Williams, Patterson, Bridewell... I don’t know about bringing Jones, but…”
“I don’t think we can leave him alone here either and we need all the bodies we can get out there. I’ll put him with Hooper and make it clear he’s not to leave his side, or say anything to anyone. He’s there to observe and be another body, nothing else.” James said, heading quickly to the workrooms to gather the troops while Robbie started issuing instructions to those in the main area outside their office.
“We’ve got a major incident out at the Lenthall Leigh golf estate,” James announced, once he’d pulled two constables from one workroom to join the three in the second. “Who knows the way? Right,” seeing enough positive responses to be assured that all present could make their way there he explained the situation and divvied up the jobs each would be doing. “Hooper, Jones, a word?” he said before Hooper left the room. Jones, for his part stepped forward cautiously, looking still a bit confused that he’d been named as one of those going to the scene. “Gerry, Trainee Jones is your responsibility,” he said seriously before turning a stern look to the trainee. “You’re there as an extra body and to observe and learn. Keep your mouth shut and your ears open. Do what Hooper tells you to do and do not leave his side. Understood?”
The quietly simmering “Yes, sir,” from Jones was almost drowned out by the plaintive “Sarge!?” from Hooper, the “Why me?!” clear in his voice.
“Hooper, how long have you been on the force?” Hathaway asked.
“Near enough 25 years,” Hooper answered, confused.
“Exactly. You’ve got the most experience of any of the DCs and there’s a lot he can learn from you. The inspector and I will be too busy to be of sufficient help to Trainee Jones on his first major scene like this. You’ll both do fine. See you there.”
“Right, let’s go then,” Hooper growled, ignoring the annoyed look on Jones’ face as well as the amused look on Johnson’s. “Don’t screw up Jones, or I’ll throw you from the car myself.”
“Jeez kid,” Johnson said as they rushed out. “I don’t know who the Sarge is being meaner to. You, or Gerry!”