Monday, August 17, 2009

taking away the power

End of the day and the sky is a ringing, Wedgewood blue. There are two ambulance men standing outside the station, the younger one leaning back against the bonnet of an ambulance, smoking, left arm crooked under the right, the short sleeves of his green shirt rolled up an extra inch to emphasise his bicep, a Maori pattern tattoo stretching and shrinking with the regular backwards and forwards of the cigarette. The other guy, an older figure, a curious mix, peat-digger crossed with primary school teacher, stands with his legs planted shoulder-width apart and his lumpish hands linked together on top of his head.
The younger guy blows out a stream of smoke.
‘We had a hanging today.’
‘Oh yeah? What was that, then?’
‘Young girl. Dressed all in black. Strung herself up in the woods. There was a note in her bag, explaining everything. Why she’d done it. Addressed to her family. All very organised. She’d been there a few days. We heard the buzzing before we saw her.’
The older guy unlaces his fingers, moves his hands down from the top of his head to his forehead, gives it a rub, then folds his arms and looks off into the chestnut trees growing along the front of the station.
‘Pretty bad.’
‘A dog walker found her.’

There is a brief pause, and then a shift in the conversation, a distinctive lurch, like a handle being thrown on some battered old machine.
‘It’s always a dog walker.’
‘Always the same dog walker.’
‘Excuse me sir. I just need to ask you and your dog a few questions. How is it that you decided to go for a walk in this particular neck of the woods, pardon my French?’
‘We just had a feeling. Or rather, the dog did. He got the map out, put a paw on it and started whining.’
‘I see. And that’s the tenth time this week?’
‘And it’s only Monday.’
‘I know. Jeez! What d’ya gonna do?’
‘What sort of dog might this be, sir?’
‘He’s a Corpsehound. Part Bloodhound, part vulture.’
‘And what do we call it? Damien? Old Nick?’
‘Very nice, sir. Very nice. I especially like the red eyes. Glowing like coals, I see. Healthy.’
‘It’s all those walks. There’s a lot of ground to cover.’
‘What do you feed him on?’
‘Well, there’s a saving right there, officer. He’s been dead a thousand years.’
‘One last question sir – sir?’
‘But there was no-one there, nothing but a black cape lying on the ground and some cackling in the trees.’
‘You can’t beat a nice bit of cackling.’

The younger guy flicks his cigarette off towards the grass verge.
‘That’s me,’ he says, arching his back. ‘I hope you have a quiet one, mate.’
He picks up his kit, and slouches off towards his car.


Anonymous said...

Lovely change of pace! Nothing like black humor to lighten a tough job. At least that's what my husband, the psychiatric nurse, tells me.

lulu's missives said...

Who knew you could be humorous too??!!!
Really liked this one, but then I seem to really like all your posts.
Be safe.

lulu's missives said...

P.S. Are you the maori tattoo or the primary school teacher?

Unknown said...

If there was one thing guaranteed to put me off a dog, it's the depressing number of unfortunate people who find bodies whilst out walking their dog.

Poor girl, poor family, poor dog-walker. Very very unpleasant.

Spence Kennedy said...

kmkat - Black humour is so essential in our line of work. You'd go crazy without it. I suppose I've fought shy of trying to transcribe much of the kind of things we talk about, because out of context it can seem quite callous,even cruel sometimes.

Jo - Well ... I do have a tattoo, but it isn't the maori pattern (it's actually a celtic dog, eating its tail). But of the two guys in this post, I'm the peat digger/teacher guy. Big hands, rough looking...

dap38 - All pretty awful. There are more decorous ways of going, that's for sure.

But don't be put you off getting a dog. Great stress busters...

;) xx

lulu's missives said...

You did promise a description of yourself.
Thanks Spence.

Anonymous said...

Spence, been reading your posts a while now and I think I'm finally 'getting' them.

Your style is poetic to say the least. Great sense of humour too.


Spence Kennedy said...

Hey Jo! - not much of a self-description, I know, but mirrors freak me out - especially when they keep breaking when I look at them :/

Hey GID! Thanks v much for the comment, and for persevering with the blog.

Unknown said...

Got two cats and a goldfish - don't think the doggy would fit in. We had one when I was a child though but with both out at work all day, not fair on the poor mutt.

lulu's missives said...

Hey Spence,
I have that same problem with mirrors......they just don't make them the way they used to!!!!

petrolhead said...

Black humour, you gotta love it! But you do have to be careful what you say around certain people - I can be quite black-humoured around my mates, but around my parents and their friends I have to be more sensitive.

You have to introduce me to your friend, he sounds nice! ;) xx

loveinvienna said...

Nothing like a bit of graveyard humour :) I liked this one too (but then I tend to always like them)!

Liv xxx

Spence Kennedy said...

PH - I'm afraid he's just moved in with his girlfriend, so there's even less of a chance...

Liv - It is an aspect of the job that I haven't really covered yet, I suppose because often what's said could be taken the wrong way, out of context. It's an essential part of the job, though. You couldn't really do it without having a laugh at some of the things that happen, grim as they are sometimes. xx