‘He’s walking funny. He’s got to be our man.’
‘I think he’s just drunk, Rae.’
‘Flash your lights.’
‘No. I honestly don’t think he’s the kiddie. If he is, why hasn’t he waved?’
‘Why not? Well – I don’t know – the golf ball stuck up his arse, for one.’
‘Who’s gonna know that?’
‘By the way he’s walking. D’uh.’
The front of the station is quiet, with a four in the morning, littery look to it. I slow down and give the man a meaningful stare, but he hobbles past without any sign, all his attention directed at staying upright, making progress.
‘Okay. So where’s our man, then?’
Rae gets back on the radio to tell them that we’ve made a couple of drive-bys of the area and not found any golfers in distress. Control says the man was a little vague and not terribly helpful, but they’ll ring him back to get a better location. I pull over and we wait.
‘So did they teach you much about fishing golf balls out of arses on the para course then, Rae?’
‘Yep. That was my most successful module. I got the golden plunger.’
‘Plunger? Too high spec for me. I like the old school, up to the elbow technique, like James Herriott.’
Control calls us back. Apparently our man is wandering up the road that runs along by the side of the station. He’ll flag us down.
I drive up that way, and half way along, opposite the great arched canopy of the station, we see a shadowy figure take a step into the road with one hand raised. I draw alongside. A curiously self-contained, drawn-out figure, with dark, razored stubble running unbroken from his head, round and down into a beard of the same length, he nods at us as we jump out of the cab, puts his mobile into his back pocket, then stands slightly stooped, perfectly still, studying the pavement.
‘So – what can we do for you?’
He looks up and to the side, and whispers something.
‘What? Sorry, I can’t quite hear.’
But instead of talking the man suddenly gives a little flap of his hand for us to follow him into the entrance of a block of flats. He pushes a button, and then smiles at us, raising his eyebrows with an awkward grimace, like we’re a group of strangers all waiting to use the same lift.
‘So – what’s been happening then?’ Rae asks him.
‘I – er – we were having sex tonight.’
‘And – er - we were using some golf balls, three – or…’ he looks up and to the right, moves his lips in a whispery little audit, then back down to the ground, then up again. ‘Yep, definitely three. Size 8s. And – er – only two came out.’
‘So it’s your partner who has a golf ball still inside?’
The intercom crackles, and an angry sounding voice blasts out: Who the hell is this?
‘It’s me,’ says the man, quietly, his face pressed to the door. And then, as if he were checking for rot, he raps lightly a couple of times on the wood with a knuckle.
The door buzzes, he pushes it open and we follow him into a bare hallway with four doors and some concrete stairs leading up. The lock on the door straight ahead of us clunks, the door gets thrown open, and a man of about sixty years and two hundred and sixty pounds presents himself to us, rearing up like a walrus on some wild shore, a walrus dressed in a Tweety Pie t-shirt and no underpants, his pendulously fat penis swinging like a grotesque beast in a nest of silver wire. The man’s yardbrush moustache seems actually to vibrate, as he stands there shooting holes into us with his eyes and chuffing air through his nostrils.
‘What the fuck are you doing back here? And who are these people?’
‘We’re the ambulance,’ says Rae. ‘Can we come inside and have a quick chat?’
‘A quick chat? Who are these people? And what the fuck have you come back for?’
In the time it has taken the Walrus to take in the scene before him, the thin man has stepped up to the open door and insinuated himself half-way in, slope shouldered, like a dog that knows the risks.
‘Get out of my flat!’, the Walrus roars, grabbing him by the corner of his leather jacket. And then to us ‘Get him out of my flat! I don’t want him here!’
‘We’re not the police, we’re the ambulance…’
The thin man lifts his chin and says: ‘You have a golf ball inside you,’ then tries to move deeper into the flat.
‘A – what? A golf ball? Are you insane? What are you doing back here? And who are these people?’
Before we can say or do anything else, the walrus has grabbed the thin man round the neck and tried to tip him out of the flat. But the thin man spreads his legs and puts his arms out to be as awkward as possible. They stand there, wrestling ineffectually, whilst Rae says: ‘We’re just going to go outside and call the police, guys.’
We step outside, and the door closes behind us on sounds of crashing and swearing and shouting.
Ten minutes later the police arrive. We tell them what has happened so far.
‘A golf ball?’ says one of them, a policemen so young he must surely be a teenager on his way to a fancy dress party. ‘A golf ball?’
‘Well what kind of ball do you use?’
‘But a golf ball?’
His colleague steps up to the front door and presses the Walrus’ door button. It takes four or five goes before the intercom crackles alive.
‘It’s the police. Could you open up for us, please?’
There is a pause, and then the door is buzzed open.
We all troop into the hallway. The Walrus is standing at his front door as before, but this time he has a smart blue dressing gown tied securely around his waist.
‘What can I do for you, officer?’ he says.
‘The ambulance crew here tell us that a man reported you as having a – an injury. To your person. And that when you opened the door to him, you ended up having a fight. Is that correct?’
‘So that didn’t happen?’
‘Well – a man did come here. A friend of mine. And we had a disagreement, and some things got knocked over. But it’s all okay now, and everything’s calm, and as it should be, thank you.’
‘Can we just come in and reassure ourselves that everything is okay? We’ve been called, so we’ll need some details before we walk away.’
The Walrus pokes at us with his eyes as if he still can’t figure out who we are, then smiles at the policewoman again.
‘Of course. Come in – but just you two.’
‘Not the ambulance crew?’
‘So you don’t need any medical attention?’
‘Of course not. I have diabetes. But it’s under control.’
‘Something about a golf ball?’
‘A what? No. No – balls.’
He turns and leads the two police officers into his flat.
Before they disappear, the young policeman turns and gives us a wink. ‘We’ll take it from here, guys,’ he says. Then he taps the side of his nose, and treats us to a tiny little mime: Fore!