'It's international short story day so this is my thing for it. I've hawked it about and it's always come back with flat no's. It's a bit experimental and it may be that it just doesn't work but I think it does, maybe. Possibly the pacing is a little off towards the end but that's sort of the point. I think it gets what I want across. It's also one of those things I've written that I'm genuinely appalled by. The language and attitude of it are all so totally alien to me that it may be part of my doubts about it. Don't know. Anyway, I don't think enjoy is the right word but maybe it is. I really like the title but it probably makes more sense once you've finished.
And Then a Sudden Deterioration of the Situation.
8.48pm on the sort of hot summer Friday where the pissing down rain seems like gift. The rainbow scent of curry wafted over from a nearby restaurant as my partner, Detective Sergeant Milo Bonn give Agam Singh the kicking of his fucking life in an underpass. I stood out in the rain, showing the badge, moving people on.
'Police business love,' all that. Most people just wanted to get inside, quick and the Heckler and Kosch MP5 I held at port arms scared away all but the most drunk. The weight of the gun felt like a ghost from Afghanistan.
A couple of barely dressed girls; giddy with drink, too young and stupid to be anything more than curious about the sounds of violence, tried to peer behind me and into the darkness of the tunnel.
'Fuck off,' I whispered into blond hair rock-solid with cheap, eye-watering, hair-spray and they cackled as they moved away in quick, tottering steps. They probably wanted to get to the next pub before their hairdos were ruined. In the moment before the veil of rain obscured their features one of the girls gave me the finger.
Eyes screwed up in distrust behind the veil.
We'd just returned from the chippy when we got the call. I was relieved. Milo had been in full, ranting, flow about his divorce - again. You could never forget his voice; as acrid and coarse as the vinegar fumes that filled the car and heavy with threat no matter the subject. As he gestured and shouted he spilled chips and spat little gobs of food out to hit the inside of the windscreen where they stuck. Moist white dots spattered across the glass.
'Fucking witch! Talking about pressing fucking charges. Cunt.'
I mentally faded out Milo's harsh grate out as a report came in over the radio. A car matching the description of one used in a shooting up in Undercliffe had been found abandoned in the car park near the Inland Revenue building in the centre of the city, engine still warm. I threw my food out the window and hit the lights as Milo hit the accelerator. Ten minutes later we were doing an armed sweep of the city centre; just in case they were still there.
Which isn't as unlikely as it sounds. Most criminals are thick as fuck.
We'd been searching half an hour and it had become pretty obvious we weren't going to find anything. That's when we came across Agam.
Agam Singh was a career burglar and smalltime dealer who spent most of his cash on speed, cider and prozzies. A nothing. Always unlucky. Never the type to carry a gun. We came across him and Milo recognized him. Got in his face, got in his territory, dwarfing the wiry little man with his own bulk.
They had a quick, whispered conversation that ended in an explosive shout from Milo.
Milo grabbed Agam by the lapels of his dirty jacket and dragged him into the underpass. Shooting me a knowing look as he continued to scream abuse at the panicking man.
I didn’t know why Milo was giving him such a kicking. Grunting with each kick. Punctuating each blow with a curse. His voice rising and falling with effort.
'Kick. Your fucking. Face in. You fucking. Cunt. Bastard.' Echoed through the underpass.
Maybe he thought Agam knew something. Maybe he knew something about Agam. Maybe Ali Baba had said something to Milo. Maybe he’d spat at us.
That happens a lot in these small villages .
I didn't approve of what was going on and there was no way I was going to take part in it. But I knew Milo would have a good reason for it.
Even without a good reason. I wouldn’t try and stop Milo Bonn. I didn't need that sort of grief. We called him ‘The Neanderthal’ but never to his face.
He knew though.
He liked it.
I didn't mind partnering with him, we'd both gone from the police to the army and back again, both done tours so we shared a lot of experiences and, say what you want about him, Milo got things done. It also helped that I could call in a lot of favours from cops who wanted to swap out of working with Milo. Everything balanced out in the end.
When he’d finished pasting Agam, Milo sauntered out from the underpass, wiping his bald head with a hand before putting his riot helmet back on. Behind Milo Agam crawled sluggishly out the underpass; oozing blood from every hole, a blood-slime trial marking his progress over the tiny, dirty blue tiles that made up the floor of the underpass. The place smelt like the open sewers of Kabul.
Milo gave me a grin. He had a face like a baby, soft and round; though his blue eyes were colder than any kids. He showed his teeth again and shook his head as he held up a small baggie of marijuana.
'Spoils of war. Fucking little cunt…'
You learn to recognize the killers. Learn it at the checkpoints, the ones with nothing left in their eyes apart from the determination to do what it is they intend to do.
You have a split second to act. I knew what was in Agam's hand. There was no maybe about it. It wasn’t a toy, it wasn't a fake. There was a heaviness in the way he held it. A specific mechanical purpose in the way he moved. He was so badly damaged: he was so determined to strike back.
My reaction was instantaneous. I didn’t warn him that I was armed. I didn’t ask him to drop it. I didn’t even shout out that I was the police.
I shot the boy between the eyes.
Identify-yourself -- Run-forward-- do-not-take-the-barrel-of-the-gun-off-the-target -- kick-away-any-visible-weapon.
I shouted it.
'British Armed Forces! Drop your weapon!' and again. 'Armed Police! Drop. Your. Weapon.' I didn’t think he was alive. Training. I had to say it. Shoot it out.
Adrenalin powered through me. I pushed Agam with my foot. Small hole in his forehead. Slightly off centre.
Not a perfect shooting.
He rolled, moving like a doll filled with wet sand. Dead, you don’t do a tour without knowing dead. He’d pissed and shit himself.
Brains and bright blood splattered the turquoise wall of the subway.
I turned to Milo, adrenaline draining from me, to say, 'that was a close one.'
Milo slumped against the wall of the subway under the twitching shadows of a flickering neon. His legs splayed out in a 'v'. He looked uncomfortable, wrong. His riot helmet was about three and a half meters down the mosaic floor of the subway. It rocked slightly: noisily. His naked head: seeming jaundiced under the flashing sodium light.
I ran across the desert sand, keeping low and screaming into my radio. 'The Sergeant's down. Sarge is down.'
I thought he was dead. I turned him. Blood streaming from his mouth. Those cold blue eyes aware, alive. He didn't look like a baby any more. He had a face like a clenched fist as he bit down on the pain. I checked his body. A hole as big as my hand in the front of his vest. I’d not even seen the gun go off.
Mind racing. The hole was huge. For some reason it seemed incredibly important to find Agam's gun. So I knew the calibre of the bullet. Stupid. Stupid.
Combat can make your mind work in funny ways.
I pulled off my helmet, better to search for the gun without the narrowed view of the riot helmet. Found it.
Milo grabbed my arm. It felt like being cuffed. I thought that’s what he'd done. It was a joke. He'd set this up with Agam and now he’d got me near he'd slipped on the cuffs as proof that he’d outsmarted to me.
When he spoke I knew it wasn’t a joke; harsh, gurgling, chewing out the words.
'Did you get him?'
'What?' surprised he could speak. His hand felt cold through my wet jersey.
He started again. Even though he was shot, he was furious at having to ask the same question twice. I could see it in his eyes
'Yes, the towel head's dead, we’ll piss on his gr…'
He squeezed my arm so hard I thought something would break.
'Fucking look at me, Steve,' it came out as a hiss.
Those action-hero eyes locked with mine.
'You have my undying,' gasp, spit. 'Fucking,' rattling breath. 'Gratitude.' He passed out. According to the pathologists report his undying gratitude lasted another four minutes.
But the pathologist was wrong.
The first time I heard from Milo again was a week after my demotion.
Not mental things. Not his voice talking bollocks or telling me to worship the devil and kill students. It'd have been easy if it was that cos then I’d know I was a mental.
My arrest rate has shot up over the last two years.
Thanks to Milo.
Honest to fucking God.
The first big one was a week after the wife first mentioned divorce. Anonymous caller and we found a prozzie dead on the Lane, stabbed once. Clean kill.
A few suspects. We liked the husband for it but he had an alibi; he’d been fighting in the Crown and Crescent over Leeds way and got arrested the night of the murder. He could still have done it but it would have been tight timewise. Any good lawyer would destroy us on it without a confession. We were looking at johns and doing a canvass around the estate where she’d lived, just in case someone saw something.
I was on my seventh ‘fuck off’ when Milo started talking. Telling me he knew who’d done it. After the stress of the inquiry into Agam's death my own instincts had fled and I'd come to rely on Milo's hints. It’d been little nudges at first. Barely a bastard whisper, but always right. I carried on with the canvass while his voice told me we could solve this.
Another three ‘fuck off's’ from friendly housewives trying to peacefully shout at their kids and by then Milo wouldn't fucking shut up.
Those nudges though.
Always right before.
I binned my canvassing sheet and clipboard to follow the voice of a dead man. It wasn’t just the vague directions of a celebrity psychic. These were definitive. A rat-tat-tat in my head.
“Fucking bastard, she was only twenny-one. Fucking cunt. Left. Bastard. Fucking head kicked in, fucker. Left and first left. Fucking bastards. Twenny one. Fucking cunt. Needs a good fucking kicking. Twenty one! Left.”
Building. Hateful. Always right.
Nasty bastard murdering a twenty one year old. Little fucker. Milo’s voice swearing and giving directions. Animal rage building up. I just wanted to rip shit out of whoever answered the door.
Just like we thought.
He could see Milo in my eyes, knew what Milo was capable of. The fucker fell down to his knees. His face seemed to stretch and he let out a moan, started sniveling and crying. I hardly had to hit him at all before he coughed up. Just kept saying, 'I’m sorry,' and 'I didn’t mean it,' for about five minutes. I stared down at him, breathing heavily. My leg twitched; wanting to give out a kicking. Instead I hissed.
'You fucking cunt.'
I bent down, cuffed him and called it in.
The wife wanted counselling. Said she knew I'd been through a lot and we should try and make things work. Cunt.
Milo’s always with me. He won't leave
The other cops are so fucking stupid sometimes, I have to shout them down in case meetings. Such fucking stupid bastards. I know who's done it. I don't need to hear their words only Milo's.
Same at home.
Fucking them. Bastards.
The voice, the hints. He's always right.
He never shuts up. It’s fucking there from the head moment I get up to the bastard moment I drink myself cunt in to sleep.
It’s been getting harder to kick your fucking head in and harder to ignore.
And I lost it last week. Not even with a fucking bastard criminal.
With another cop.
Did my head in over a parking space.
Needed a fucking bastard kicking.
They had to drag me off him.
See the shrink.
Get away from the job for a while.
Sort things out at home Steve.
Milo can't quit the job, fucker.
He doesn’t go away just because I’m not at bastard work. And he doesn’t have the outlet I need anymore. She's taking about divorce again. Cunt. A fucking reminder here kicking and there to make sure the bastards tell it straight is all that's needed. Don't go, please. The tension in my neck. Kick fucking the head in cunt. What have I done?
Where do I begin?
Whose face in the mirror?
The sound of violence.
Eternally fucking grateful
I need help.
A specific mechanical purpose
Kick the fucking cunt in.
Blood splattering the wall.