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Authors: Steven Clark

Just Another Day

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Just Another Day

 

 

By Steven Clark

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Text copyright © 2013 Steven Clark

All Rights reserved

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To my wonderful wife, Olwen and my children Paul and Christine

Thank you – for just being you

Just another day – Prologue

 

 

Dave Watkins was an ordinary copper. A family man with a gorgeous wife and a couple of boisterous ten year old girls.

He’d been in the police on the Docks at Liverpool for about eight years and even though the normal routine could be a bit boring, he enjoyed the excitement and thrill of the chase when things kicked off
every now and then.


Little bit of action Davey keeps the blood flowing; keeps you on your toes lad.’ He could hear the words of his old sergeant drifting through his mind as he had difficulty keeping his eyes open. Coming towards the end of another long night shift he was thankful that it had been a quiet night. He was knackered after twelve long hours and looking forward to the warmth of his bed.

The world could wake
up now, he didn’t give a toss if he was honest; he was off duty in a little while. Every one else could get up for work; he was off to bed.

The sound of the lorry revving its engine as it made i
ts way towards the gate made him look at his watch. 20 minutes left. He stepped out of his gate house to take the exit pass. He recognised Joe, the old timer driving the wagon. Time for a bit of banter before the off.


How’s that shite team of yours then?’

Dave was moving to the front of the wagon to check the registration details were correct on the pass. No problem. Got the right date? Yeah, everything ok with this one.

He saw the dark figure in the passenger seat. No one he recognised. Probably just another driver getting a lift home off Joe.


Mornin mate’ said Dave as he turned back to speak to Joe.

He was unusually quiet. No toothy grin or fag hanging out of his mouth. Dave stood transfixed as he stared up at the driver. It was a cold morning
, yet he could see a trickle of sweat running from under Joe’s dirty old cap running down his cheek.


OK Joe, just a quick look in the wagon before you go eh.’

Dave said no more and moved round the front of the wagon again to the passenger side.
He was looking up at the passenger trying to gauge a reaction. This bloke certainly wasn’t sweating. Calm as you like.


What’s the problem officer?’


No problem, just a routine check’ said Dave as he pulled the door open.

He didn’t know it yet, but he was about to become acquainted with Luke Johnson, a violent career criminal out of prison on licence. Violent criminal does
n’t cut it really; try sadistic, violent, evil bastard; and you might just get a flavour of Joe’s unwanted passenger. The door opened fully.


You just made the biggest fuckin mistake of your life mate.’

Dave followed the gaze of Johnson as his eyes lowered.
His knees began to sag as he stared into the barrels of the sawn off shotgun no more than three feet from his face. He saw the finger begin to tighten on the trigger.

This was definitely not just another day.

 

 

Chapter 1

 

Just another day. Another day, another dollar.

 

It’s quite strange; stupid really, the inane things that you say to yourself when you’re tired or bored or both.  Another day, another dock gate, another night shift nearly finished. Yes!


Thank you Lord, I’m absolutely knackered.’

Dave Watkins had been a Dock policeman for just over eight years having left the Army as a 26 year old father of two angelic cherubs, Susie and Sophie. Angelic was how the twins described themselves whenever they wanted their own way, which
, being kids, was most of the time anyway.

He fell for it every time when they double teamed him with their fluttering eyes and sparkling smile.

‘Dad, do you
really
love us; I mean,
really, really love us
’ was how it usually started and they would plonk themselves, one on each knee, quickly followed by their loving
request for new trainers, skirts, I-pads or whatever. Inevitably he grinned; shrugged his shoulders, looked at his gorgeous wife of twelve years, Mandy, who smiled that knowing smile, gently shook her head at how her hubby was about to be persuaded by her loving children. She’d seen this little scenario many times before and went off to make a fresh cup of tea.

She turned to see her girls sitting on dad’s knee. He was lapping it up and so was she.  They were a loving family who spent as much time together as Dave’s shifts would allow. They were good kids who were growing up far too fast. It never ceased to amaze her how a couple of ten year olds could be so worldly wise and manipulative. They could twist their father round their little fingers, no problem whatsoever, and she knew she was just as guilty of indulging them as their father.

She didn’t mind really, there was nothing more important in life than loving family and her family were
certainly
loving, just look at those two working him over!

Suddenly, the spell was broken with the shouts of
‘thanks Dad,’ and, ‘love you loads,’ as Susie bounded off his knee and up the stairs in a flash.


Yeah. Me too Dad; you’re the best,’ followed by a hug and a big sloppy kiss on the cheek as Sophie followed hot on the heels of her sister just in time to catch the next episode of whatever teenage show they were watching this week.

He
revelled in the fact that his two girls were inseparable and did everything together. They were both alike in lots of ways; but quite different in others. Sophie, when she grew up, was definitely going to be a politician as she had an opinion about all things and expressed it often; usually instantly and always loudly. Susie was no less determined and spirited, but tended to play the mediator. You could almost see the cogs whirring in her brain as she considered all the options before venturing her views. She was the one who would always pour ‘oil on troubled water’ in an effort to take things down a level; Sophie; well, she liked nothing more than to throw a gallon of petrol on the fire; really warmed up the debate she did. Chalk and cheese. Whoever had decided that little metaphor definitely had Sophie and Susie in mind.

They had an uncanny way of seeming to know what the other was thinking and it was quite frightening at times listening to them finishing each others sentences.
God help their boyfriends in years to come!

Dave laughed quietly to himself as Mandy approached with a hot cup of tea.
‘You just can’t resist them can you love. They do it every time.’

There was no anger or malice in her words. There hardly ever were. She was the best thing that had ever happened to him, as she constantly told him, and he didn’t need much reminding.

As he looked at her, he knew why he was such a happy man. If there ever was such a thing as soul mates or fate, then this was definitely it. No question. There was absolutely no doubt that his kids had inherited all the genes on their mothers’ side. All the good ones at any rate; the ones that go into making witty, clever, loving and understanding people.

He knew he had made the right decision to leave the Army and settle down in one place with his wife and children. He loved the banter with his mates, the drinking games, and moving round from base to base. Four countries in six years had been
brilliant, exciting for both of them in many ways but even though he had enjoyed being away on Operations and Exercises for weeks at a time, it had been difficult for Mandy. They were both twenty four when the twins arrived and she gave up work without hesitation to ensure the needs of her family.

She loved working in the Bank but she’d said from day one, in that matter of fact way that brooks no opposition,
‘our family needs are more important than material things Dave. I’ll go back to work later; plenty of time to pick things up again once they get a bit bigger’

‘Now then Mary.’
Dave affectionately called his wife ‘Mary’ after Mary Poppins who was, ‘practically perfect in every way’, shortly after they had first met. It was his sense of humour and laughing eyes that had first attracted her all those years ago and she gave him a playful slap on his leg with, ‘don’t you Mary me you big lump.’


How about, now that the kids are upstairs and will be engaged with whatever for some time, we do a little bit of engaging of our own.” He gently pulled her to his lap and she put her hand on his thigh. He loved kissing his wife, probably more so now than when they first met, and she responded eagerly.

Dave didn’t know who had first coined the phrase, life is good, but one thing
he was certain of; he couldn’t agree more. 

Chapter 2

 

 

Dave came back to the present, out of his dream like state, as he heard the engine of the Heavy Goods Vehicle coming towards him from deep inside the Port.

Sounds carried a long way at that hour of the morning. He looked at his watch. Half past six. Not long to go now
. Not long before he would be on his way home. Best part of the shift when he was on his way to bed at the end of his working day whilst the normal world was about to wake up to begin theirs.

He enjoyed the patrol work
; that’s what got him out of bed every day. He could do without all the crap that came from bureaucratic bosses who didn’t know their arse from their elbow: most of them only worked nine to five during the week so doing shift work was a good way of keeping out of their way. They didn’t work nights or weekends.

He liked being out and about, answering calls for assistance, dealing with the disorder and occasional fights that broke out on the ships. Sometimes it would be him making those calls for help. It was the togetherness and the camaraderie of his mates he loved the most.

Whenever a shout came over the radio of, ‘con requires’, every body on duty who was relatively close to the area would drop whatever routine stuff they were dealing with and make haste to assist their colleague in trouble. There was no more thankful sight from a mate confronting two or three drunken, violent assailants for the welcome blue lights in the distance and the sound of sirens coming to your aid. Dave had been duly thankful on a number of occasions for help and was more than happy to return the favour for his colleagues.

Usually, it was the various ferries that were the cause of the problems and nearly always drink related whereby some of the passengers had over indulged on the night crossings from Ireland.
The liberal licensing hours and cheap booze often contributing to the mayhem that would sometimes accompany the voyage.

Now and then, the call from the ship en route to Liverpool would turn out to be a false alarm. The Master of the vessel would ask for the police to attend as it neared the Port because of fighting or assaults by drunken passengers only for it to be all quiet on arrival, as the Command and Control log would show later.

Because you never knew what the outcome of the call was likely to be, it was always, ‘Better to turn up mob handed son.’ as his wiley old sergeant would often say.


Half a dozen hairy arsed coppers will always sort the job out better than one on his own.’ Dave knew it made sense but it was sometimes embarrassing when the six hairy arsed coppers stood on the quayside only to be confronted by one little old man who had been a bit abusive to the crew who had then exaggerated the conflict to ensure a good police turnout. Still, ‘always better to have too many rather than too few sunshine,’ as Sergeant Chambers puffed on his pipe and quietly dismissed the other officers back to their normal patrols.

He would then go and have a quiet word with the skipper and give him a short reminder of the fable of the, boy who cried wolf. He never made a lot of fuss and he never used a dozen words when one or two would convey the message. He had much sympathy with the crew members on the ships who often had to put up with drunken abuse. He knew it was as much the fault of the shipping companies trying to increase their profits by attracting the punters onto their booze cruises and cheap fares.

It was the age old story of those bosses not being there at three in the morning when a member of the crew is trying to deal with the consequences of the companies’ policies of stack them up high and sell them off cheap. It is at best difficult, and mostly impossible to try and rationalise with someone who has had ten cans of strong export lager.


Don’t spend longer than necessary lad. If he’s a happy drunk, send him on his way as nicely as you can. If he’s fighting and aggressive, and believe you me son, you’ll very quickly determine which is which, deal with him quickly and forcefully. If you mess about and try and reason with him, either you or your mate will get hurt. One thing’s for certain, the bloke who’s fighting drunk will be nice as pie in the morning and won’t remember a thing.’

Dave often recalled this piece of advice he’d received very early on in his career and it had stood him in good stead up to now.

‘Trust your instincts lad and remember, it’s not always the loudest drunks who cause the most problems. Keep your distance and be aware of what’s around you. You can move closer when you have weighed up the situation, but if you get too close before you fully appreciate what you’re dealing with, you’ll be on your arse and in the brown mucky stuff before you know what’s hit you.’

Occasionally, it would be a couple of crew members from a cargo ship who would be arguing over the services of  ‘Scotch Betty’, one of our regular business ladies who attempt to frequent the ships most nights as a means of earning a crust
or two.

Betty looked considerably older than her 24 years. A mother of three, all boys, the oldest of which was eight years of age and all from different fath
ers and each in a different home; looked after by foster carers. She had been a prostitute on the docks for as long as Dave had known her and their paths first crossed when, as a probationary bobby, he had locked her up for being drunk and disorderly. She was just 16years of age; pregnant with her first kid and already a long term alcoholic, a mouth like a sewer with a temper to match.

Upon his first encounter, when she had calmed down after her initial foul mouthed and violent activities, and being a somewhat naïve young probationer, he was shocked to hear her say,
‘eh mate, will yeh let me go if I give yeh a wank. He knows I’m all right;’ pointing at Dave’s colleague. The older officer, who had heard it all before, started to laugh but Dave could only reply in what, at the time, was his sternest tone as he lowered his voice by an octave or so to make him sound more authoritarian, ‘sorry love. Not interested. You’re locked up, get in the van.’

There was no way she was getting in the van of her own accord and Dave was surprised that it took him and his mate considerable force to restrain her. He was puffing and panting like an old man after a few minutes and amazed at the strength of this young drunken girl. The top pocket on his tunic was torn as she fought to free herself, screaming, spitting and trying to bite them both.

‘Dave, stop fucking about. Just twat her and get the cuffs on,’ came the voice of his more experienced colleague. ‘She’ll bite your fucking fingers off if she gets the chance.’

He had never heard such abuse and aggression from any sixteen year old and he was genuinely shocked at her behaviour. She was a screaming wildcat and continued kicking and banging the side of the police van all the way to the custody suite. He had never encountered such vile abuse in his short career. She never let up even when being taken from the van inside the station and Dave just managed to avoid serious damage to his manhood when she aimed a vicious kick at his crotch.
He felt the toe of her shoe just catch the zip of his trousers and it wasn’t just the exertion of the lock up that had him sweating!

She was too aggressive to be dealt with by the custody sergeant and as is a normal requirement with violent prisoners, she was taken straight to the cells to be charged later when she sobered up.

‘So, would you take her home to meet mum and dad then,’ came the retort from the Sergeant as he looked down at the young officer over the top of the counter as he presented himself before the Custody Officer to explain the circumstances of the arrest. To an onlooker, it might seem somewhat of a waste of time to have to explain the reason for the arrest as it was obvious that she was extremely drunk and disorderly but it was a necessary part of the arrest process to explain to the sergeant who you were, what station you were attached to and the circumstances leading up to the arrest and the justification for the arrest itself and Dave, still struggling to get his breath back related the facts.


Do I take it Constable Watkins, that this is your first encounter with young Elizabeth?’


Yes Sergeant, I’ve not come across her before’ came his reply.


Well, I can tell you now with some degree of certainty, you’ll see a lot more of her in the future. Just some words of advice son when dealing with her again; don’t try and be nice to her when she’s pissed. She’ll do you serious damage if she can. It would not surprise me in the least if we end up fishing her out of the dock on some cold and dark night.’

He saw her at court the next week where she looked entirely different. Clean and tidy,
nicely dressed in a pair of smart trousers and matching jacket; respectable to the authority of the court whereby she pleaded guilty and was fined twenty five pounds by the Stipendiary Magistrate who, whilst looking over the top of his half rimmed glasses, dismissed her from the court with the sternest of warnings, ‘And remember young lady to mend your ways and ensure you do not come before this court again or your sentence will be much more severe. Should you appear before me again, I will be minded to give you a custodial sentence,’ before looking at Dave and nodding, ‘thank you officer, you may leave.’

‘Yes Sir,’
said he, almost as sheepishly as the defendant. Having only attended court twice before, Betty was more experienced than him when it came to giving evidence.

Outside the court he was waiting for a lift back to the station when he heard a quiet voice from behind.

‘Excuse me officer.’ He turned and there she was. ‘Can I speak to you in private?’

They turned the corner out of the public eye and she began to cry softly.

‘It was you wasn’t it, you who locked me up? I saw the name PC Watkins on my arrest sheet but I couldn’t remember what you looked like until I saw the Magistrate nod at you in the court.’

She made good eye contact and beneath the tears there was a sadness that
he didn’t understand at first. Just for a second, he thought she was going to start sobbing, but she wiped away a small tear and raised her head and the steely glare had returned once more.

Dave looked at her closely; she was a very attractive young girl who looked older than her sixteen years. She could easily pass for an eighteen year old. With short blond hair, shapely figure and just a little makeup, it was easy to see why the punters would be very interested in her assets.

He waited for what he believed would be a tirade of abuse and began to regret being out of the public gaze for a minute. He shouldn’t have taken her round the corner he thought to himself. When she kicked off again, he wanted to ensure there were plenty of witnesses for when he had to lock her up once more for disorderly conduct.

The tirade never materialised.

‘I’m very sorry PC Watkins and I apologise for my behaviour last week. I know you were only doing your job.’ Her words were spoken clearly and politely and her strong Liverpool accent was no more.


Did I offer you anything, you know, anything, anything physical?’

Dave was struck dumb. This couldn’t be the same wildcat he had encountered the previous week
; the very same lass who was going to, ‘rip your fucking balls off and feed them to me fucking dog.’

After a few seconds he recovered his composure and said,
‘Yes. Yes you did actually.’


And did I, you know, did I do it.’

             
‘No you didn’t, I declined your offer.’


Oh, is that right then?’ She said with her head cocked to one side; chewing an imaginary piece of gum, hand on her hip. ‘You
declined
me fucking offer did yeh?’ spoken in her
best
Liverpool accent. The tension between them eased and they both laughed a little.

She folded her arms in a gentle, friendly way as she looked down at her shoes which had definitely seen better days.
‘I don’t remember things when I’m drunk. I don’t think I want to remember really. It’s better not too. That way, if I don’t remember, I’ve got nothing to worry about have I?’

As she looked at him, the sadness in her eyes returned again.

He said, ‘Are you OK?’  ‘Not really’ said Betty, ‘but I will be when I’m drunk.  See you later and thanks again.’


Thanks for what?’ said Dave, ‘Locking you up?’


Oh no’ said Betty. ‘I know you had to lock me up, thanks for
declining me offer
, there’s not many that do.’

She shrugged her shoulders as she turned and headed off to the pub round the corner. At that point, he understood some of the pain behind the eyes. She wa
s only a kid. He watched until she turned out of sight. What a waste, he thought; she was a spirited and intelligent girl who should have had a much better life. Although he had only been in the job for a few short months, that conversation struck him as extremely sad. Their paths would cross many times over the years and she was always violent and abusive when drunk; but, she never made him any ‘offers’ ever again.

They would talk many times over the coming years and Dave had taken a bit of a shine to her in a brotherly, protective kind of a way.
When she was sober, she was the funniest, quick witted girl he had ever met. A born mimic who could impersonate most celebrities. She often had him with tears running down his cheeks with laughter. When they talked seriously, Dave would sometimes shudder at her tales.

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