(N.B. This is a very rough first version.)
Two days out of the safe place and one day back in the job. Every time I walk through the office a low wave of sniggering follows me like a cloud. I make like I can't hear it but can't always stop the involuntary rush of embarrassment that reddens my cheeks.
Someone had left an X-files boxed set on my desk. Underneath it was a note, the Chief Inspector wanted to see me. Soon as. ASAP. Quick Sharpish.
I ran a finger, nail bitten to the quick, around my collar. It felt a little tight.
Disembodied chuckles followed me as I walked through the building and trotted up the concrete staircase. The low humming of the 'Addam's Family' theme tune echoed around me, the MC Hammer version, just to add injury to the insult.
Stopping outside the Chiefs office and rubbed my hand against the chest pocket I keep my badge in. Wondering how long it would remain there for.
I considered putting this off for a while by quoting the magic word, 'stress,' before walking in before sighing and waking in, hate the job anyway. Only in it for the pension.
The Chief Inspector once went on a jaunt with some beat officers, when he was new to the station, it scared him so much his hair ran off, leaving a silvery down on the top of his head. After that he went back to policing an office and detecting useful political contacts. His writing hand is the only bit of him that's seen any action. A paper policeman of the worst kind.
His office, like Hillwood Police Station, is a flimsy nineteen-sixties monstrosity: When I close the door behind me the wall of, thickly painted, wood and frosted glass shakes.
The chief sits behind a modern desk, a high end laptop open before him. His uniform is spotless and rank badges I no longer respect shine in the early morning sun. The Chief has a corner desk and behind him it's all huge pains of glass set in rusting metal frames, forty years worth of dirt ingrained into the corners. Seven hundred thousand people waking up to the day in the city outside.
'Ah,' he raised his head from his beloved forms as I stood in front of him. 'Detective Inspector York, I had forgotten you were back today.'
Notice that he didn't ask me to sit.
'Glad to be back, sir.'
He took off his reading glasses.
'And we are glad to have you back too,' he showed me his teeth. 'I trust you have had no trouble with your colleagues?'
'Not at all sir.'
He ran a hand through imaginary hair.
'Good, we will not tolerate bullying here, Sergeant. No one will say that the issues of mental health and the common decency to respect another's bereavement are lacking in our force,' another empty grin. 'Even if it is only the death of a dog.'
I clenched my fists.
'Yes sir, only a dog.'
Quiet momentarily descended while he decided on the quickest way of getting me out of his office.
'That's the spirit Sergeant York. It's good to see you're over the worst of it. I'm glad we had time for this chat.' he gave me a brief, false, smile. 'The disciplinary board will contact you at the end of the week.'
The Chief put his glasses back on.
'Thank you, Sir,' I said and turned to leave.
'Oh, one last thing, Sergeant. Could you tell me what is in the large bamboo parrot cage in the corner of the room?'
It's hard not to look at him like he's an idiot but if I want to make it through the disciplinary review I need to keep him on side.
'A large, green, winged monkey wearing a fez, Sir.'
He deflated as I said fez. The Chief's shiny bald dome caved in and his hollow cheekbones collapsed into his face. Shoulders followed until his body sank below the level of the desk leaving me stood in silence, my mouth open but saying nothing as I listened to the, faint, high whine of air escaping through a valve somewhere out of view.
There wasn't a form for this.