I was pretty sure that I was going to go down for this one, even though at this point they didn't have a single shred of evidence to fit me to the crime, and I would usually give myself a ninety nine percent chance of walking out of here had anyone else been on the case, just my rotten luck, I had the misfortune to be looking over the interview room table at Bugs.
Detective Inspector Bennett, aka Bugs, was a good cop, a very shrewd cop, his powers of deduction were legendary. Many a crim' had sat smugly in this room, giving him the runaround, only to be tripped up by something that they HADN'T said.
Bugs' thought processes were almost psychic, it was like watching an episode of Columbo.
There was no guesswork when he was on the case, he KNEW if you were guilty or not.
For him, then, it was just a case of using his extremely clever questioning technique to dig out the proof.
All the while we talked he was writing in his notebook, not writing notes, to be re-examined later, as he would like you to think. No, he was doodling, drawing to be more precise.
If you could sneak a look at his book, like 'Johnny The Dip' had once managed to, he would be sketching miniature cartoon characters, namely pictures of a grinning Bugs Bunny.
Of course this soon became common knowledge courtesy of Johnny, and the nickname was born.
No-one ever called D.I. Bennett Bugs to his face, not any more anyway.
The few people who had dared to had earned themselves a good slapping. He was a right hard nut he was, athletic, tough, his hobbies included rock climbing, pot-holing, sky diving, and he held a second dan black belt in karate too. Definitely not a man with whom you would want to bump heads with!
As I sat there I cast my mind back to earlier in the evening...
I had done the jewellers, a piece of cake it was too. After coming back outside I had cut straight across the old cobbled yard that ran alongside of it, and dropped the shoulder bag down the old dry well, I would recover it later when the heat was off.
It was pretty much laid on that I would get hauled in, every time a job like this was pulled I was in the top five names.
Just my luck! As I was coming out of the other side of the yard a police car cruised past.
Spinning on my heel I turned back into the yard, unzipped my flies, and pretended to be taking a leak. The boys in blue must have had a slow shift, they arrested me for possible indecent exposure.
Give me a break will you? There was no-one else around to look at the bloody thing apart from me.
Well, at least the ice was safe, and they'd have to release me after I'd spent several hours giving them nothing.
I would recover the loot in a few days, nice and quiet like.
Whilst I was in custody, news of the robbery came in. That was when it all went up a notch, and Bugs got onto my case. I would have been picked up for questioning on this one anyway, and there I was, all conveniently sitting in a cell, just ripe for the plucking.
“So!” Said Bugs. His tone soft, relaxed, “what were you doing in the yard?”
“You know what I was doing.” I replied, very casual. “I was taking a leak. Yeah I know, a bit naughty, but I got caught short on my way home from the Dog and Duck. I had a few pints in there, and when the cold hit me outside, well...”
Bugs scribbled in his notebook for a while.
He looked up from his doodling, and slowly looked me up and down, from my scalp, right down to the soles of my Italian leather shoes, and back again. His deadpan expression gave nothing away, but I felt like a laser had just burned its way up and down me.
“With anyone I might know?” He asked me.
“Johnny Preston, and Stumpy.”
I hadn't seen either of these two in more than a week, but they would spin Bugs a line for me.
“Put him back in the cell, I'm going to have a word with Stumpy and 'The Dip'”
He glanced at the clock on the wall, ten past one.
“Those two fine upstanding citizens'll most likely be in the Sugar Cane club at this time of night.”
About an hour later, I was sat in the cell, idly examining the moss stains on my nice shoes, I must've scuffed them against the well wall when I threw the bag down there. I'll give 'em a good polishing tomorrow, can't stand having dirty shoes. I mean, you can tell a lot about a man by the state of his footwear can't you?
The door clanked, then swung open to reveal Bugs filling the door frame.
“Out” He said “Looks like you're in the clear.”
“What about the bollocksy indecent exposure charge?”
“I can't be arsed with the paperwork. Now off you toddle before I change my mind.”
I hit the street feeling like a million dollars. I could hardly believe my luck! I had fronted it!
I don't know what steered Bugs away from me, maybe something Johnny or Stumpy had said to him, but lady luck was definitely smiling my way. This tale will go down in history, once I've got the lovely untraceable cash for the goodies.
Bugs had me, and for once in his exemplary career he had screwed up. Ha!
Maybe his legendary intuition was finally beginning to fade!
I wasn't waiting for later to get the sparklers, as far as I was concerned the heat was already off. I would go for them now, collecting a torch from home on my way past. There was still three or four hours of darkness left, and I intended to grab the stuff, visit Fat Freddy the fence, and get myself home with the cash whilst the luck was still with me.
Half an hour later I was winching the bucket down the well. I slithered down the rope, holding the torch in my mouth, before long I felt my feet touch the soft earth at the bottom of the well. The torch beam fell across the bag... lovely jubbly!
Five minutes later I was walking down the road on my way to Fat Freddy's, when a familiar figure came lurching drunkenly towards me.
“Hey Stumpy, you're in a right state, you are. Thanks for helping me out with Bugs earlier on. There'll be a drink in it for you later.”
Stumpy looked at me as though I was talking gibberish. “Wha' the fug're ya talkin' 'bout?” he slurred, muttered something under his breath, then lurched drunkenly on his way.
Fat Freddy was very pleased to see me.
“OK, lets see the gear.”
I took one of the velvet envelopes from the bag, and emptied it out onto the table. Smiling broadly at Freddy.
“Feast your eyes on them stones Freddy.”
“Is this some kind of a joke?” Said Freddy.
His two minders eased their shoulders from the wall and ambled over to stand behind me at the table.
I looked down at the stones, that's exactly what I was looking at, stones!
Well, gravel to be more precise.
I felt like I had just been slapped.
One by one I emptied the small black velvet bags onto the table...
And for each one I emptied, the pile of gravel grew bigger...
A few minutes later I was sitting on the pavement outside Freddy's, after unceremoniously being thrown down his staircase by the two very nice minders.
My shoulder bag followed me down, hitting me in the back of the head.
I picked up the bag, and started walking, still numb with disbelief...
I idly slid my hand inside the bag, half expecting that this was some kind of dream, and the diamonds were really still in there.
I didn't find any diamonds, but my hand brushed a scrap of paper...
I pulled it out and held it up under the glare of a street lamp...
It was a page torn from a notebook...
The note said simply. THANK YOU
I couldn't recognise the handwriting...
But I sure as hell recognised the grinning cartoon character drawn next to it!
- - - - - - - - - -
Continued in :-
Cops and robbers (Part 2)
©2011 Stephen. J. Green.