The Block: Part Ten

This is the tenth part of a fiction serial, in 790 words.

Luckily for me, Babs was sorting out her van as I got home from work one Friday afternoon. I stopped and chatted to her, studiously avoiding eyeing her up and down, and concentrating on her face. After the usual small talk, I said that she must be fed up of seeing burgers and breakfasts, and wondered if she would like to go to a nice Italian restaurant I knew, on the edge of Clerkenwell. She gave every indication of realising I was asking her out on a date, and smiled when she agreed that would be nice. I decided to strike while the iron was hot, and suggested the following evening at eight. She looked a little coy when she agreed, as if she hadn’t expected me to ask.

I booked a table for two, and arranged a taxi to collect us at seven-thirty. She met me in the entrance hall, and I had to admit she scrubbed up well. Her skirt was a little too short for her age, but I was’t complaining. And she hadn’t overdressed for an Italian meal either. Just the right combination of outfit and make-up. We chatted comfortably in the cab. She told me the rather bad news that she had an early start on Sunday. She had managed to get a pitch for her burger van at a big Boot Sale venue near Watford, so to get the most of the morning trade, she was determined to be set up just after six.

It went really well at first. She loved the old-fashioned atmosphere, and was happy with my suggested wine. When the starter arrived, she said she had never had one better, and she ate with gusto, showing no reserve. As we waited for the main course to arrive, she finally got around to asking me the one question I had dreaded. What did I do for a job. That left me with just two options. Lie about doing a job I knew sod-all about, or tell her the truth. I went for the truth, but even as I tried to play down my role by describing the local fraud squad as little more than being a Trading Standards official confiscating fake designer goods, her face was already falling like snow slipping down an avalanche.

The main course was eaten in silence, and I could tell from her face she was weighing up what to say. She said no to a dessert, but was happy with my suggestion of two glasses of Limoncello. Fingering the edge of the tiny glass, she hit me with both barrels. Her brother had done time. Her dad had done time, and the ex-boyfriend she had run the bar in Spain with had done nine years for smuggling cocaine. There was no way she was going to be a copper’s girlfriend, I knew that. She did’t actually say as much, but she was checking the time on her phone before I got uncomfortable enough to ask for the bill.

The ride home in a black cab was awkward, to say the least. Mind you, she did kiss me outside the door of her flat. All warm and soft, and tasting of her peachy lipstick, and that lemon liqueur. But I knew that was it. The job had killed any chance of another date. As if to drive a nail into my coffin of expectations, she smiled as she closed the door, saying, “See you around, I expect”.

The worst thing about being a policeman is that it makes you hate the general public. Maybe ‘despise’ would be a better word, as you spend your working life dealing with all the most horrible and disgusting aspects of human behaviour, and people who you soon regard to be little more that the proverbial ‘scum of the earth’. That is the main reason why cops stick together, and only socialise with other cops. They simply cannot abide to spend time with ‘civilians’. The people who don’t understand their job and never will, because they don’t have to deal with all the low-life shit that populates a city the size of London.

I sat out on the balcony that night with a bottle of Cognac. I was reflecting on what a shitty life I had chosen for myself. It had cost me three girlfriends, for one reason or another, and I spent my life avoiding the subject of my job at all costs. When the the bottle of good stuff was half empty, I called it a day and went to bed before twelve. I had a restless night, dreaming about being on my own for the rest of my natural.

More like a vision of the future, than a dream.

34 thoughts on “The Block: Part Ten

  1. (1) I leaned over the edge of Clerk’s Well, and spotted the slaughtered lamb that a moment before I’d seen in the butcher’s arms.
    (2) Babs may or may not have been “fed up” with “burgers and breakfasts,” but Jeff was consumed with the idea of “bed and breakfast” with Babs.
    (3) Jeff “decided to strike while the iron was hot…” No, Jeff, that iron of hers is hard and cold. Put your hot rod away. You just struck out!
    (4) Babs “had managed to get a pitch for her burger van at a big Boot Sale…” First, though, she had to hear Jeff pitch a date, sail through dinner, and then give that bugger the boot.
    (5a) “…her face was already falling like snow slipping down an avalanche.” Babs needs a face-lift.
    (5b) “…I could tell from her face she was weighing up what to say.” Babs needs to lighten up.
    (6) Jeff made a play for Babs at dinner. But revealing his occupation caused Babs to finger the edge of her glass of Limoncello as if it were a string instrument. This was a sign that Jeff’s admission was bitter music to Babs’ ears.
    (7) Although her brother, father, and ex-boyfriend had all done time, Babs merely checked the time on her phone.
    (8) After a warm and soft kiss that tasted of peachy lipstick and lemon liqueur, Babs drove a nail into the coffin of Jeff’s expectations. This is known as the two-step kiss of death.
    (9) Never look at your reflection in a bottle of Cognac.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I did a stint consulting with the Detroit Police–statistics and detective units back in the mid-1980s. Come to think of the scores of evenings I spent with them in restaurants and bars, the only other people they regularly interacted with were firemen. I had never wondered why until this posting. Warmest regards, Theo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That section was based on personal experience of course. It becomes hard to relate to people who don’t understand just how stressful it is to constantly work in the public eye, and under constant criticism from those you are trying to help. That’s why emergency services people get on well with each other as a rule, and why so many of them marry nurses.
      I remember geting to the stage once where I described all ‘normal’ people as ‘varying degrees of scum’. I suppose it’s a form of ‘silent PTSD’.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I did come to understand that most first responders did not expect people to react in ways they considered normal. I saw the PTS in the statistics bureau where detectives and patrol officers and a variety of others whose credentials to obtain that posting involved an officer-involved shooting. That bureau had, during the three years I worked with them had a high turnover rate and one fellow was reposted there. the posting was to give the sworn officer a chance to heal a bit before they had to go back out on the street. Contrary to what we see on television, both fictional stories and news stories, officer-involved shootings are rare and take one hell of a tole on the officer involved. Warmest regards, Theo

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Jeff needs someone who understands life in the emergency services. Maybe he’s a bit ‘creepy’? I hadn’t considered that. 🙂
      There are lifeboats on the Thames in London. They are very busy!
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

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