Sunday, 16 September 2012


(Junior Murvin - Police & Thieves (bonus: Lee Scratch Perry dub mix))


I turned a corner in the road, and there they were. A man in jeans and hoodie carrying an incongruous briefcase, and a short-haired stocky man just behind him, moving fast. The man with the case started to turn around, but the stocky man kicked him hard in the knee, making him shout out and drop to a crouch. A woman on the other side of the road turned, took a step back. “Hey,” I shouted, and nobody took any notice. The stocky man grabbed for the briefcase, but the other man pulled back. I started to run, and the attacker took a step back, and kicked the man with the case hard in the pit of the stomach, sending him flat to the floor, but still clinging to the briefcase as if it was part of him.

“Hey!” I shouted again, and the stocky man looked up at me, but carried on the tug of war. As I ran down the street he won, and finally had the briefcase. He started to run, but I had built up a head of steam. I played rugby at school, and all through university, and turned out a few times for the local team before my knee gave out, and I put everything into it and hit him with all my weight, just above his waist. He went down hard, and I landed on top of him hard, and because I’ve not done as much exercise as I should since my knee went there was a lot of me to land.

The woman stood at the side of the road, hand up at her mouth like a parody of shock. “Call the police,” I shouted, and she turned and started to hurry away. “Call the damn police,” I shouted again, and she still walked away but she took her phone from her bag as she went. The man underneath me moved weakly, and said something, but I didn’t hear what. I pushed his head down into the pavement to make it clear that moving any more would be a bad idea. I heard the man whose case had been stolen retch somewhere behind me.

“Are you OK?” I asked. “I’ve got him, don’t worry.”

He started to say something, but then he retched again. “Get off me,” the man underneath me said, and I said, “No, the police are coming, you just wait there.” So he laughed, and he did, and a minute or two later they arrived. When they were close enough that it was safe, I stood up. “This one,” I said. “He attacked—” and I went to point to the man on the floor behind us, but he was off running, down the street and away around the corner.

The two policemen rushed towards me, and for a moment I was confused, thinking you’re running the wrong way, and then I wasn’t really thinking at all because my arm was bent up behind my back, and I was hitting the pavement, hard. I tried to protest but a knee pressed my face down into the concrete and I couldn’t speak.

“I am arresting you on suspicion of assaulting a police officer. You do not have to say anything, but anything you say—”

“Let him up, Lee.”

The knee came off my cheek. My arm was released, and the weight went from the small of my back. I got to my feet and glowered at them. “I’ll have your badge numbers--”

“Shut the fuck up or I’ll pepper spray you,” one of them said.

“Lee,” the man I had tackled said. “Enough.” He looked at me for a moment, then walked a few steps away and picked up the briefcase. He opened it away from me, so I couldn’t see what was inside, nodded, and closed it again. “Just go home,” he said. “Thank you for doing your bit sir, but this is all police business. Go home.”

“But I saw you,” I said. “You attacked that man from behind, and you stole his case. Look, there, you’ve got it.”

“I think you’re confused, sir.”

“I don’t think I am.”

“I think you are. Dangerously so. Are you on drugs, sir?” He came and stood very close to me, looking into my eyes. The two uniformed police stood close in a huddle.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” I said.

“Ridiculous?” he said, and he reached a hand into my jacket pocket. Took it out, held his hand up. Showed me a bag of white powder.

I looked around. No-one else was about. “You know that wasn’t in my pocket,” I said.

“Yes,” he said. “Yes, I do know that. Does that help you though?”

I stood there. He stared at me. The others pressed in close.

“Go home,” he said, and he turned away, not interested anymore, and picked the briefcase back up. “Thanks lads,” he said. “I’ll see you right.”

“Thanks boss,” one of them said.

I went home.  

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