I think. this reboot of my Dead Dave novellas (pub 2003 and out of print as far as I know) will be the next project. A very rough start but if anyone is pootling by and wants to leave a comment that'd be a plus.
Six thirty on a rainy saturday morning and I caught a job just as I thought I'd escaped the station scot free.
'Oy, Dead Dave, you still RAO?'
The desk sergeant, Ridley, pronounced the acronym like an old tom cat's last mewl. R.A.O. Meant 'Resources Assigned Otherwhere.' Having officers in the station that he couldn't use irritated Ridley profoundly. Almost as much as the grammatical irregularity of the word 'otherwhere'.
For myself, I knew 'Otherwhere' to be grammatically perfect but if I tried to explain why he'd think I was a lunatic. Well, he'd think I was more of a Lunatic.
'It's Detective Sergeant York, Ridley' I said. 'And I am R.A.O.'
I'm not partial to the nickname, 'Dead Dave,' either.
'Fuck you very much then, D.S. York,' he hissed at me through clenched teeth as I turned and reached for the doorknob.
I knew they were overworked and understaffed at Hillcrest Police Station. That'd been me once at that desk and desperate for help.
'Bloody hell,' I sighed turning back to him. I was rewarded with his pale lips meeting in a thin smile, his face gaunt. 'What is it, Ridley?'
'Nice and easy, just the thing for you and the dog,' he held out a piece of paper. 'Shoplifters at the Lot-O-Faygi.' His smile became more genuine. 'Thanks Dave.'
I only had one job on at the moment; a lot of people had not been going missing recently and that was unusual in a city of seven hundred-thousand. Clues were sparse. I could look into the shoplifting while I waited for someone else not to vanish. Besides, it would be nice to do some real world policing again.
I should have known better, once you've walked the streets of Umbraville you can never leave.
That's just the way it is in the Big Shady.
I took the dog van, even though it's cramped with Gladys and Aloysus riding in it.
Gladys always sits next to me; a glossy, black, English Bull terrier with fathomless amber eyes. He's a police-dog because that's what the forms say he is. The forms that tell people he's a dead one have been conveniently lost in the police bureaucracy-pit. He's my landshark and the best partner any copper can have.
Dead or alive.
It would be better for the meagre upholstery if Gladys rode in the cage but he likes to stick his head out the passenger side window. Besides, the cage is full. That's where Aloysus rides.
Aloysus looks like tramp whose been left to mature in a hedgerow for a few hundred years. He's a vampire, I'm not quite sure how old he is. Last week he said he was twenty three, the week before he was six thousand years old and personally witnessed God make the world. Aloysus is a committed Christian, or so he firmly believes. He wears a ratty old cassock, a large wooden cross around his neck and looks like a man made out of old sticks. If he gets the chance he'll tell you all about Jesus, at great length and, in sometimes literally, excruciating detail.
Al says a lot of strange things and causes trouble wherever he goes. On the plus side; vampires are pretty OCD and Aloysus loves filling out forms in exacting detail. In today's modern police force that makes him, despite the deranged behaviour, priceless.
Roadworks forced me to take the north road, doubling back past the derelict, Cape Malea' nightspot as the call to prayer rang out from a nearby mosque. The wind driven rain battered out a tattoo on the thin sides of the dog van as I wove through treeless suburban streets.
'Lot-O-Faygi' squatted in the centre of the Rieman Centre on the edge of the sinkhole Rieman Estate; a nineteen sixties experiment in uncomfortable modernist architecture The centre consists of, supermarket aside, twelve boarded up shopfronts and four pound shops. Misery touched youths kicked a can about on Reimann park, more mud than grass, opposite. Hyena eyes sparkling under their hoods as they clocked the dog van and took off, vanishing into a maze of streets where cameras would track their every movement.
Those cameras aren't ours. They're a metaphor for the entire Rieman estate. You're always being watched by something unfriendly.