THESE BOOTS WERE MADE FOR WALKING
The loud beep of the cheap battery alarm clock wailed out into the darkness, making my heart thud to a standstill. I slammed my hand out onto the bedside cabinet, smacked the off button and launched it across the room. It hit the footboard and judging by the howl from the bottom of the bed, it had bounced and landed on Cat. I fumbled for the lamp switch. He was sitting, less than impressed staring at me, swishing his tail backwards and forwards. Squinting at the flashing red numbers as it sat nestled on top of the quilt, I let out a steady groan. 5:15 a.m.
Whoever invented this time of the morning to get up for work must have seriously been a masochist.
“Sorry Cat.” I whispered, giving him a scratch under his chin. He carried on staring, probably plotting my imminent death. Throwing the duvet back, I leapt out of bed, hurdled the two black bin bags full of clothes for the local charity shop, skidded across the landing, vaulted Cat who had decided to follow me, hopped around the bathroom because the floor tiles were cold and finally jogged on the spot waiting for the shower to warm up. That was about as much as anyone would get from me that even remotely resembled and exercise regime.
Running my fingers through my bed-head hair, I grimaced, stuck out my tongue and checked myself in the mirror. I breathed in trying to reduce my wobbly belly and held a pose. Jeez, that looked even worse, not content with my muffin top becoming a full-blown sponge cake my eyeballs could have belonged to Marty Feldman! Defeated, I let it all hang.
Sometimes a girl’s just got to accept they’re a barrel rather than a fancy bottle, Mave!
A quick two minutes in the tepid shower was enough to wake me up, wrapping the towel around me, I ambled into the spare bedroom to get dressed so I wouldn’t disturb Joe. Working an afternoon shift, he’d locked up late for a burglary and had slithered into bed at 3 a.m, greeting me with a sloppy tongue in my ear and a very loud fart, so I’d punched him hard on the nose in disgust. He’d quickly fallen silent, which had left me wondering if he was actually asleep or I’d rendered him unconscious.
“Come on Cat, shift matey.” I gently nudged him off my Combat pants that were lying on the bed, next to my neatly ironed shirt, belt, fluffy black socks, pens, chewing gum, scribble pad and lipstick. My SWAT boots on the floor looked pretty good after finally seeing their first slither of polish in ages. I stood staring at the pile on the bed mentally ticking off my ensemble for the day.
My knickers were missing.
Picking up my combats, I gave them a shake. Nothing. Hunting around I kept tutting to myself as though that action would suddenly make them appear. I had definitely put them there last night. Glancing at my watch, there wasn’t time to crawl on all fours looking for them and I didn’t want to wake Joe by noisily rummaging in the wardrobe in our bedroom for another pair, so I attacked the nearby pile of old grundies that were earmarked for the duster box.
“Well, what do we think of these?” I swung a fade-to-grey pair from my finger and cocked my head only to be met with an air of indifference. “D’you know, one day you just might get excited about something, Cat!” He blinked lazily and returned to licking his nether regions, whilst I struggled to find the leg holes. I stretched the well-worn material over my curvy butt, snagging the polyester with my fingernail as I pulled.
A ladder began to appear the more I heaved them up. They were awful, but going commando at work wasn’t an option, they would just have to do.
“What type of biscuits this morning Mave?” Bernie’s head popped up from behind the counter in the Spar shop. I jiggled the milk into the basket, being careful not to crush the two packs of digestives in the bottom as I waved the third packet at him. He smirked. “Ah, don’t they deserve the chocolate ones then?” I turned into the end aisle, shouting back to him. “Not on earlies Bernie, they’re like kids with a sugar rush if they have anything too fancy, can’t take the chance they won’t end up swinging from the roof bars of the patrol cars!”
Surprisingly, for this time of the morning it was pretty busy in the shop, but everyone seemed to be in quite good spirits, happily smiling as I trundled up the aisle looking for the sugar whilst swinging my basket, thoughts of a consult with CPS and a crime report that needed writing off weighing heavily on my mind. Leaving the till area after paying for my goodies, I came face to face with Timmy their paperboy, who was so close I could see the remnants of his breakfast in the form of a single Rice Crispie, stuck to his right nostril. “Morning Timmy.”
“Morning Miss.” He shifted uncomfortably in his scuffed white trainers. “Err Miss, can I tell you something in private?” he whispered. I hesitated, changing the carrier bag from one hand to the other. “Is it very important Timmy, can it wait until later, I’m running a bit late for work this morning.” He opened his mouth, thought better of it, faltered and then finally spoke. “Well, its not like a crime or nuffink, it’s just it’s your boobs…..” he blushed.
I almost choked. My boobs, he’s 14 and wants to talk about my boobs!
“Err Timmy is this not something you should be discussing with your parents?” I spluttered. He grinned. “Not really Miss, they’re not here to see your boots, are they?”
“Boots! Ah I see, you like my boots?” Relief washed over me, which in turn made me babble. “Well they are brilliant, very comfortable and although they’ve got laces, they actually zip up and Velcro at the sides saves me time putting them on.” I felt he would be delighted to know the little bit about the Velcro, after all, that’s what had enamoured me to them. He sighed and looked at me with an air of incredulity. I waited for an excited response from him, but when nothing was forthcoming, I closed our little conversation. “I’ll tell you what, if you like them that much I’ve got an old pair at home you can have, gotta rush though, I’ll catch you later, okay?”
Making my way back to my car, I turned to see Timmy watching me from the window. Poor lad, his old trainers were probably giving up the ghost, although he didn’t look the same size as me, in fact his plates look enormous whilst mine were tiny, so why on earth would he be interested in my boots?
Twenty minutes later, Timmy forgotten, I pulled into my usual parking space squashed between the industrial wheelie bins, two broken office chairs and the bicycle minus it’s saddle, and ran across the car park and into the station with minutes to spare. Slinging my belt across my shoulder, I slammed my locker door shut and came face to face with Petey as he completed his last little skip along the aisle.
“Gosh don’t you just hate earlies Mave, it’s so dark and horrible in the winter, me feet are freezing already and, oh dear…Mave you’ve got…” he coughed, bordering on choking.
I was late, I was exasperated, I just didn’t have time for a Petey-moment. “Yes, it is cold and it is dark, now please let’s get a move on or we’ll be late for Parade.” Running up the steps, I left him standing forlornly at the bottom of the stairs, pointing into space, whatever it was he was about to impart had been stonewalled for later.
“Hey Mave, can you do me a favour, Command Team has called an early Incident meeting, can you take Parade for me and I’ll fill you all in later? It’ll be good experience for you if you’re going to go for promotion.” Sergeant Mike Jennings who was covering for Beryl, handed me the clipboard and briefing sheet. Giving me an amused smirk and a wink, he cocked a finger at me. “In a rush this morning where you Mavis?”
I was baffled that he knew I’d been pushed for time. I touched my cheek with the back of my hand, feeling for a hot, rushed flush that would have given the game away. “Err yes, no problems Sarge, will do, yeah, just a little, didn’t know it was written all over my face though!” I laughed.
“It’s not your face I’d be looking at my dear.” he quickly retorted before disappearing into the Conference Room.
Clipboard under my arm, I pushed open the parade room door. Fifteen faces stared back at me, all eager to see what the day ahead would hold. Taking my place at the front of the room, I turned to face them, feeling very important. Leaning against the table I confidently swung my leg up, sort of in a half-lotus position, just like the Sarge always did. “Right lads, I’ve been trusted with parade this morning, anyone who gives me grief won’t get the bickies I’ve just bought, okay?”
Bob was the first to heckle. “Ooooh, Mavie’s going for her stripes and they’re not on a Dotty Perkins jumper!” he snorted, looking around for support. “I really thought we’d come a bit further down the Neanderthal line these days Bob, mind you, looking at the shape of your forehead and the length of our arms…” My retort beat his as laughter from the rest of the section filled the room.
“Okay, as Beryl would say, listen up; AR21, Bob, Martin refs at 1100hrs….” I adjusted my right leg, bouncing it over my left one to stave off cramp. The sound of sniggering stopped me in my tracks. I looked up to a sea of faces staring back at me, ripples of laughter snaking along the rows of seats. “What’s so funny?” I bristled, waiting for a response. I’d never known silence like it, not one of them spoke. Not Bob, not Degsy, not even Martin.
“Well?” I indignantly challenged.
Petey could hardly contain himself as he pointed animatedly at my feet, raucous laughter almost drowning out his words. “I tried to tell you Mave, I really did, but you just wouldn’t listen to me. Look…”
I glanced down, my eyes taking time to adjust to the darkness of my boots and trousers as they slowly picked out a small, well actually not that small, addition to my uniform. There for all to see was my missing, most elusive and most treasured size 18-20 black lace Primark thong, swinging in the gentle thermals emanating from the nearby radiator, whilst firmly adhered to the Velcro strap of my right SWAT boot.
Oh, for feck’s sake, you’re kidding me!
The sudden realisation that I was treating my workmates to a full-on eyeful of what I wore under my combats was only eclipsed by the added horror as it also hit me that half the customers in the SPAR had also seen me dragging these little beauts along the floor by the hot crusty Baps and French Fondant Fancies. They hadn’t been smiling, they’d been sniggering. I then thought of young Timmy and his fixation with my boots. That poor boy, I just hoped he hadn’t told his mum and dad that the local bobbies regularly wander around with their undies slithering along the ground behind them.
Ride it out, you can do it, blag it Mave.
I leant forward and trying not to break the flow of conversation, I grabbed the offending briefs from the end of my boot and shoved them into the pocket of my combats. “They’re my spare pair, just in…err…. case.” I mumbled, whilst willing the blue carpet tiles to peel back so the floor could open up and swallow me.
“In case of what?” laughed Bob. “In case of a fire? Mave, there’s not enough material in them bleeding things to put out a sodding Swan Vesta match girl!”
Gina kirkham © 2017
Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot – The Further Adventures of Constable Mavis Upton