A DEAD END JOB…….

image          A DEAD END JOB

                                                                                                       

“Right you little monkey, come and sit here for a cuddle, I’ve got crisps, Twiglets and Chocolate Buttons.”

Ella’s face lit up as she bounced down on the sofa next to me. Clicking the video remote I started the film. Our favourite. Mary Poppins.

She crunched a Twiglet and pointed the remaining bit at me.  “Mum have you ever seen a dead person yet, you know a real dead humung beening?” 

I tried not to laugh.  “It’s human being Ella, erm no, not yet….but that’s such a strange thing to want to know sweetheart.”

She shrugged her shoulders as her hand disappeared into the Twiglet tube.  I just wondered if they had wings when you found them or do they come later?”

Jeez, questions on Theology, I could spell the word, not have an in depth discussion on it.

 “Err I’m not sure I get what you mean Ella.” 

“Oh nuffink, I just thought it would make it hard to get them out of the front door if they were dead AND had a big pair of wings. Can I have another Twiglet?”

…and with that the conversation on dead people was over.

                                                     *******

“Neighbour from No. 32 is reporting he hasn’t seen the old lady next door for several days Mavis, voters show an Alice Creighton, 87 years.”  The ensuing silence from the other end of my police radio gave me time to think.

I groaned. Thanks Ella!

No sooner does she mention something, then it happens. I’d avoided the optional Post Mortem visit during my early probation as I didn’t quite fancy savouring my breakfast twice in one day. After all, I wasn’t going to be the one that had to bloody dissect them. I just needed to know how to deal with finding them.

Standing in front of the dull black door to No. 34, the abode of the unseen Mrs Creighton my heart sank. The backlog of newspapers and milk bottles could mean only one thing.

Grimacing, my stomach did a huge flip.  It’s more the anticipation of death that is so disturbing, so unless someone has ever taken the opportunity to actually keel over and expire in front of you, the chances of seeing a dead body are probably few and far between.

I lifted the letterbox and had a discreet sniff.  I baulked.  Yep, something smelt very dead inside the little terraced house.

“Here yer are love, it’s her spare key, use this.”

The kindly neighbour from 32 proffered the shiny bit of metal on a piece of string. I looked at it, looked at him and looked at the front door. It was at this exact moment I realised that I was the one wearing a uniform, and as such, I was probably expected to do something about the unseen Mrs Creighton.

Why on earth couldn’t I have worked at Sainsbury’s, they never have to find dead people do they?

I let that thought hover in the air before slipping the key into the lock, tentatively turning it and stepping through the door.  I glanced back to a sea of faces belonging to the concerned neighbours outside, watching in a medley of keen anticipation and sheer nosiness.

Just on the remote chance that there was anyone alive to hear it, although I did seriously doubt it judging by the stench, I loudly announced my arrival in a quivering voice.

Mrs Creighton, Mrs Creighton, it’s the Police Mrs Creighton…….”

No reply, nothing. Not even a whisper.

I carried on along the hallway, checking each room in turn with no sign of Mrs Creighton.  In the kitchen I found a pan of some foul smelling gunk on the old enamel gas stove. The furry growth on top had been fermenting for some considerable time.  I held my breath, this was going from bad to worse.  I tried again.

Mrs Creighton, don’t panic, it’s the Police, just need to know you’re okay”

Silence.

With my heart thumping in anticipation, I began to climb the staircase. Picking my feet through the threadbare runner, I swept my fingers along the dark brown bannister.  I was utterly convinced I was going to find the elusive Mrs Creighton rather deceased somewhere upstairs.

Oh please God don’t let her be all horribly….. well, you know what I mean… just make her sort of fresh…ish…!

The first bedroom was empty apart from an old 1930’s wardrobe, several dead flies on the ledge of the cast-iron fireplace and a commode. Motes of dust whipped up, catching in the muted sunlight from the window. Coughing I closed the door. Creeping out onto the landing, I put my very sweaty hand on the door handle to the second bedroom, pausing long enough to control my breathing as my heart threatened to explode through my shirt.

I turned and pushed.

The door creaked open….

…… and there, lying in bed amongst her pink rayon sheets and green polyester quilt, mouth wide open and eyes hooded was Mrs Creighton.

Very grey, very still, very cold and very, very smelly….
……and in my expert opinion…. just a little bit dead!

I froze.

Oh shit, I’ve got a dead body, a real life dead body.

My first.

Panic ensued. 

Think Mavis, think.  What did they teach you at Bruche? 

For a split second I didn’t care what they had told me at Police Training college, it didn’t matter.  All I wanted to do was to get the hell out of there…….

…..and then I remembered.  It all came flooding back,  I knew exactly what I had to do.

My priority was to confirm that there was no output from Mrs Creighton, no breath, no pulse, nothing that could be resuscitated, no signs of life.

Way to go Mavis.

I held my breath and walked gingerly over to the bed, jumping as the floorboards creaked. Oh blimey, facial hair! Mrs Creighton has facial hair. I hesitated, wondering if she still had her false teeth in, which in turn reminded me of Marj at our first aid classes. A quick glance at the bedside cabinet confirmed that her teeth were accounted for, they were floating in a glass of disgusting yellowy green…err…. something.

Fantastic that was all I needed. I’d never get a good seal around her mouth for CPR if it was caving in through lack of teeth. The thought of shiny gums and spit made me feel sick.

Taking hold of her limp wrist, I bent over her to check for a pulse.  As I tentatively moved closer to her face, I paused waiting to see if any air was being expelled from her nose.  The hairs on her top lip remained static.  Oh dear, this seriously wasn’t looking good.

I moved in closer, my own breath barely perceptable.  At the exact moment my nose almost touched hers, her eyes shot wide open.  A low moan drifted from her mouth as she suddenly sat bolt upright in bed.   Every nerve in my body went into high alert as I stumbled backwards in fright, knocking into the mirrored wardrobe.  

Letting out an almighty screech akin to a banshee, she flailed her arms in the air.  “What the fuck are you doing in me bedroom……?”

I screamed.

Mrs Creighton screamed….

….and I legged it out of the bedroom in sheer terror, flying down the stairs, missing several steps as I went.

The neighbours, fearful of my findings and the wailing from inside the house, crossed themselves in godly reverence before disappearing back into their own houses as I fell over the door mat landing sprawled out on the pavement.

Standing alone outside, I gathered what was left of my dignity and quietly meditated my predicament before forcing myself to return inside the House of Horrors.

I made Mrs Creighton a cup of tea, washed her dishes and contacted a relative to advise them she had been suffering a rather awful bout of influenza, which had been aggravated by a Nightnurse induced coma.

Plumping the pillow behind her, I folded back the quilt and handed her a bowl of chicken soup the next door neighbour had brought round.   “Here you go, that’ll make you feel better Mrs Creighton.”

She grumbled, sniffed, tasted the soup and let the spoon rattle back into the bowl.   “D’ya know what would really make me feel better?”

I was mesmerised by the flake of chicken adhered to her top lip as her tongue snaked up trying to dislodge it.   “Anything, just say and I’ll see if I can sort it for you” I gently crooned.

She wiped away the chicken with the back of her hand, flicking it across the counterpane.  

“I’d feel a whole lot better if you’d just fuck right off……   and don’t let the door smack you on the arse on the way out…!”

*****

Back at the nick I filled in my report on Mrs Creighton before going off duty, still stinging from her ingratitude and gobsmacked that an 87-year-old lady could actually know, let alone use, the F-word.

“There you go Mave…” Bob dunked his biscuit in the chipped mug, brought it up to his mouth with seconds to spare before it drooped, “…it’s the four S’s, you should’ve known that.”

I closed my notebook, What on earth  has sun, sea, sand and sex got to do with an ungrateful old biddy with Tourette’s?”

He grinned, cramming the rest of the biscuit into his mouth.

“Nope, it stands for not all Shitty Smells Sniffed are Stiffs….”

 ******

Extract from Handcuffs, Truncheon & A Primark Thong (c) 2016

Gina Kirkham

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A PRIMARK THONG

 

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A PRIMARK THONG

I can see the light… it’s getting closer…. oh I’m fading fast…”  Bob swiped his hand over his forehead dramatically feigning a swoon.

“Very funny, you wouldn’t be laughing if it had happened to you….” I slammed the kettle down, slopping water over the sides. “…it was a near death experience, a real proper one, I thought I was going to die. I was distraught!”

I gave him my best hurt feelings look, hoping to elicit at least some sympathy.

“It was your disgustingly shabby underwear that gave the paramedics the best laugh Mave…” he spat crumbs across the table as he waved his bacon batch at me. “…where they actually grey when you bought them?”

Blushing, I peered down the front of my shirt. He had a point, my bra had definitely seen better days.  The underwire was poking through the middle and a runner on one strap had broken giving a rather quirky lopsided look to my nellies.   I couldn’t even begin to imagine how my knickers had stayed in place as the elastic had started to perish on them weeks ago.

“Oh all hail Bob, the expert on women’s lingerie.” I snapped more from embarrassment than anger.

“Ah you may jest my little plum pudding.”  He wiped his chin with the back of his hand.  “Now take for example Primark knickers. They’re always at least one size smaller than it says on the label AND they shrink in the wash too. I have it on good authority…”

I quickly cut him off mid-sentence, dreading what was going to come next.

“Jeez you perv, what the hell do you get up to on your days off?”

Smirking, with one hand on his hip, he sashayed around the table before ending with an over-exaggerated pout and a subtle slut drop.

“You’d be amazed at what some of us wear under our combat pants on a night shift darling!”
                                                                                                                                     *****
I ran my fingers along the rail, watching the bright colours sway on the hangers.

I was braving the Lingerie Department in Primark. Knickers, G-strings, thongs and tiny shorts littered the floor where excitable teenagers had stretched lace and elastic for fit, admired, coveted and then discarded them before moving on to the Nightwear section for all-day pyjamas.

Holding a nice size 10-12 thong up to the light I could see I was going to have to bow down to Bob’s superior knowledge of women’s underwear.

It was absolutely miniscule.

I held it against me, pulling the elastic to its full extent as I caught a fleeting glimpse of my own rear end in a nearby mirror. It certainly wouldn’t take a genius to know it definitely wouldn’t fit my curvy butt. Well not without an awful lot of huffing and puffing and several indentations left on my thighs at the end of the night. There was also the distinct possibility that a pair of scissors would be needed to remove them at bedtime.

Size 14-16 wasn’t much better, in fact it looked pretty much the same as the 10-12’s. I furtively looked around before allowing my fingers to settle on a hanger which bore a label that screamed SIZE 18-20. Sneaking them down in front of me to check for fit, I began to realise with unfolding horror that these not so little beauties would be the only ones that could respectfully accommodate my very ample posterior, survive a bit of shrinkage in a 40-degree wash and not give me a deep vein thrombosis in one or both of my legs.

I surreptitiously stuffed several pairs into my basket and wondered off to join the checkout queue.

Absent-mindedly turning each pair over, I folded them so the size labels couldn’t be seen. I couldn’t believe I’d been reduced to buying knickers that resembled a deflated parachute. The only thing worse than the paramedics seeing my shabby faded grey undies would be for them to know I was wearing size 20’s to cover my hippo ass.

I inwardly cringed imagining them laughing over a mug of tea and a garibaldi biscuit.

The label on the top pair refused to be hidden, peeping out from behind the lace edging, mocking me…. and that’s when I had another one of my wonderful epiphanies.

I’d cut the labels off when I got home then even if I had another near death experience, no one would ever be any the wiser as to what size grundies I was currently clad in.

Mentally patting myself on the back for such a stonkingly good idea, I was in the process of allowing myself a smug moment, when my thoughts were suddenly broken by the dulcet tones of the Cashier.

“Next…. drag yer basket down ‘ere will yer.”

Now it was at this point I suddenly got a tremendous urge to explain to Miss Cashier No.3 why I had seven pairs of lacy black thongs in my basket and an even bigger urge to explain away their size.

As I shoved the basket onto the counter, and before I could even concoct a plausible explanation, I watched Miss Cashier No.3 pick up the first pair from the basket and check the label.  Scratching at a rather large, make-up encrusted spot on her chin, she inspected her fingernail, stretched her arm out to its full extent and swung my black lace, size 18-20 thong around her head.

In a voice that was loud enough to wake the dead, she bellowed across the store.

“Code 2, Code 2 Maureen…how much fer polyester thongs size TWENTY….”

Every head in the queue seemed to swivel towards me. One or two ladies looked me up and down and tutted loudly, either in disgust that I was big enough to wear a size 20 or that I could actually wear something that looked like the gusset from a pair of tights with the legs cut off.   The only guy in the queue who was proudly holding a T-shirt with the slogan Cool Dude emblazoned on the front, began to tremble and clack his false teeth whilst wiping sweat from his top lip with a crusty, creased handkerchief.  I watched in utter embarrassment as his beady eyes went from the thong, which was still being ceremoniously waved in the air, to me, back to the thong and then back to me.

My eyes darted back and forth between the thong, the cashier and the queue, before I indignantly announced in my best plummy stage voice. “Actually they’re for my Nan, you can hang suet balls for the birds from them you know, it was in the Homes & Garden magazine, she’s got lots of trees for them to hang on!”

Miss Cashier No.3 was by now stuck in a mannequin pose, thong still pinched firmly between her fingers with a look of absolute disbelief on her orange tanned face. I knew I would have to expound as she definitely wasn’t going for it.

“Don’t you see, if they’re massive you can fit bigger balls in them….lots of balls, the more balls the merrier….”  I waited for her to give a nod of understanding.

Nothing was forthcoming, just a slight twitch of one of her pencilled in eyebrows.

Oh shit, I couldn’t believe I’d just said that!  What a pathetic excuse for wanting to purchase seven humongous pairs of black lace thongs.   What was more, her loud announcement had revealed to all and sundry that they weren’t even pure lace, they were the awful sweaty-gusset-polyester type.  As I rummaged in my purse, I had to quietly concede that for 50pence a pair there must be some trade off on quality somewhere along the line.

I grabbed my carrier bag and turned to leave, only to find Mr Cool Dude waiting for me. He licked his lips and made a final defiant clack of his false teeth as he leered out of the corner of his mouth,

“Tell yer what love, it’d be more than balls for the birds hanging off them if it were me.”   

Recoiling in horror, I had a sudden mental image of a set of dentures hanging from the gusset of my newly acquired knickers.  Hastily sidestepping Mr Cool Dude I burst through the doors and out into the street, my Primark bag slapping wildly against my left thigh as I ran to the car park.

Sitting in my car I had another little peek at my spoils.  Huge they may be, but they were rather pretty and VPL’s in my combats would definitely be a thing of the past….

……but more importantly….

……I could have as many near-death experiences as I wanted now, if I had to almost die, I would at least be wearing a decent set of frillies!

Handcuffs, Truncheon & A Primark Thong (c) 2015

Gina Kirkham