Any “Lock In” is good; it is 2001.
The ‘Lock In’ that was happening in the South Perth corner pub was no ordinary exception, specifically as no one could remember the last time the pub had actually had one. The bar and kitchen staff, plus the six hangeroners, were in what once had been a ‘Sportsman’s Bar’, but now could be termed as a ‘Front Bar’. One of the barmaid’s was pouring her fourth first staff drink of the night. Her offsider was drawing up a slate so everyone could drink on tick, knowing full well that it would never actually get paid, but it would look good in front of the Duty Bar Manager, who was, in one, a wanker.
As this was happening the late night chef was helping the put the stools up on the chest height tables near the bar. Bar games were won, lost, laughed over, and sworn at. Pants got dropped and tales got told. The bar staff, in premeditated cahoots, filled the Duty Bar Manager (wanker) with shots of vodka and Sambuca, chased with triple Bourbon and Coke’s. In the space of an hour the staff had laughingly poured him into a taxi, both he and the slate disappearing into the night.
Dawn in its reflection of the fires of Hades began to fill the sky, and the wobbly booted staff bidded the startled early morning cleaners a jolly good night. Sam, a 22 year uni student come barmaid and sporter of shoulder length flaxen hair, pulled herself up to her full height of five feet and six inches; heel of her slim yet comfortable Colorado work shoes included. A tag stitched to the back of a blouse stated that the vivid orange garment was a ‘size 10’,
Now, with wobbly boot turned to full and gyro set to half, Sam walked out through the rear pub door, gave a cheery wave to all, and headed for the foreshore bicycle path. In doing so, she would cut out Mill Point Road and its long hill, plus ‘the scary as crap’ animal calls from the Perth Zoo located beside it, on her passage home.
In rapidly increasing predawn light, a floppy brown haired thirty something year old male feigned drunken sleep on a foreshore bench. Unseen, his fingers moved deftly over the face of his mobile phone forming script that read –
Within seconds, a vibration from the same phone filled his hand, its screen lighting up to reveal a single word.
Police are no different to anyone else at the end of the day. They all go to work to do the job they are paid for, if they can find an easier way of doing things they will. Early mornings and the dead of night are to be avoided like the plague, unless there is a dollar in it. Bosses are generally considered a necessary evil; paperwork and in-house politics can be found at every turn. No one likes having to go to work on days off. Police, also, are just people that feel the cold and the heat. They feel sorrow and anger and elation and joy. Police Officers, no matter the rank or station, also feel very human when carrying out tasks that by the standards of the rest of society are far too horrible to even imagine, let alone contemplate. Lastly, the levels of courage that are required to carry those tasks out, plus the impact it has on every moral and human fibre of their being, is incalculable.
After doing his best to wash away the vomit, his vomit, the ‘gut wrenchingly horrid bundle of nerves’ vomit, he propped up against a fence around the corner from the house he would have to enter. Once he had caught his breath, he turned around, drank from the water bottle offered to him, swilled his mouth, and spat on the ground. From there he proceeded to scrub the mess on his shoes off under the neighbour’s tap. Hoping he had cleaned them enough to remove the stink and any detritus from them.
Wash face. Done. Hands. Done. Inspect shirt for the fifth time, ensure there are no mysterious bits of carrot have appeared after the last look. Done. Deep breaths. Job has now been drawn out five minutes longer than it should have. Bugger.
The white knee high wooden gate clicked behind them. A Jack Russell, probably named “Jack or Missy” started jumping and yapping excitedly behind the fly screen front door on the approach of the two Officers.
It was “too sunny”, he thought. “Too normal”; “too bloody beautiful”, “too blue skied, too cloud free, plus there were bloody butterflies, and something too familiar in the sound of some kid crying nearby; probably a fell over chasing a brother, or a bloody cousin, or something.” All happening as he, and another Police Officer, walked down the path in the front yard. “The lawn could use a mow” he thought; “shit I hope I don’t spew again, and I bet they’re having breakfast”, he thought; “why do the roses smell so bloody nice,” he thought, “shit I hope I don’t spew again”, he thought; “why does her last name have to be ‘Smith’? Bloody ‘Smith’?! How much more normal could this bloody morning be?!” he thought.
“Shit I hope I don’t spew again.” he thought.
Afraid his nerves would get the better of him, he planned on gently tapping on the front door. Secretly hoping there would be no one home, and that someone else on the next shift would have to do the job instead of him.
His nerves did get the better of him. His quiet tap turned out to be a solid bashing, loud enough to scare the dog away, tail between its legs. Through the screen door the young copper could see a chap of possibly retirement age, dressed head to toe in white, and on his way down a carpeted passage toward them. His sporting whites, of the variety worn by people beyond the years of tennis or cricket. These were the whites of some who belonged to a bowls club or something similar. In this case, the chap now at the door played bowls, his hat telling him as much. He answered the door with a smile, to have “Shut the door Keith, you’re letting flies in again!” from somewhere inside, most likely the kitchen he suspected.
“Mr. Keith Smith?”
“Yes, I’m Keith Smith. This looks a bit ominous, has the dog been getting out again?” all said with a nervous laugh.
‘He knows! He knows!’ Screamed through the nauseous Police Officers mind.
“Mr. Keith Arthur Smith of 32 Elizabeth St, South Perth?”
“Yes.” a complete loss of facial express accompanies the answer.
“Mr. Smith, I am Constable Wells and this is Constable Woods. Can we come inside please sir?” Said like a demand, not as the request it should be. Shit, I’m buggering it already. Christ I hope I don’t spew.
“Of course. Maaaauuuuuddddde, the cops are here!” Keith yelled over his shoulder, “Come into the lounge, do you blokes want a cuppa?”
Once inside he took in the heights of the ceilings, which were easily three and a half metres from the floor. Only then did he realise the age of the house, and put it at around eighty years.
The lounge walls were adorned with pictures of kids, teenagers, university graduation photos, and a couple of the dog. There was an upright piano in the corner, with more photos, and junky trinkets that were completely useless for anything other than collecting dust, but they did prove that people in an act of kindness remembered someone whilst on holiday. An obligatory ‘mum & dad’ wedding photo of what must have been Keith and Maude at least thirty five years earlier sat slightly to the left of centre, closer to the back than the front. Only a washed out black and white photo of a young bloke wearing jungle ‘green’s’ and carrying an SLR, was further back on the piano top.
Carpets covered the polished floors almost to the skirting boards. A recliner designed somewhere in the mid 1970’s, all but had “Keith’s Chair” painted over it, sat directly in front of the television near the corner of the room. Today’s paper sat on a small table beside it on the right, and a dog basket containing half chewed toys sat on its left. Beyond the basket and to the left was a white flowery patterned, cloth covered, three seater lounge, and then another, marginally less sat in matching recliner. Foot stools had been placed strategically in front of both chairs.
‘Shit. This is like my Grandma’s lounge. At least I haven’t had to ask them to sit down.’
“Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Do you have a daughter, Samantha Smith?”
“Yes. Sam. Samantha Lorraine Smith. Is she in trouble?” why is Mrs. Smith talking and not him?! She knows already, shit.
“Mr. and Mrs. Smith, we believe Samantha has been in a serious accident, and has been fatally injured. I am so terribly sorry to have to tell you this.” God I hope I don’t spew.
A minutes worth of silence lasting three decades followed. Mr. Smith, no longer ‘Keith’, began to quietly sob, stood up, and went over to put his arms around his wife whose giant silent tears were covering her cheeks.
“When do I need to come in and identify her?” Mr. Smith, composing himself.
“As soon as you feel ready enough Sir. We just need to ask a few questions, and we will get you over there as soon as we can.”
It was Sam.
She had not died well.
On his return home Mr. Smith began phoning people. Mrs. Smith made scones. Constable Wells didn’t vomit; Constable Woods made up for him, in spades.
To be continued.
This yarn is purely fictitious, I made the names up, and as far as I am aware, this sort of thing has never happened in Moora.
Click the picture at the top, and get up to get down. It’s a SERIOUSLY cool clip incidentally, and it brings home just how pathetic Aussie rules has become when compared to these blokes.
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