The alarm clock on Gethin’s phone went off at 7.00am. He omitted several groans and grunts, hit the snooze button and went back to sleep. The alarm then preceded to go off every fifteen minutes. Each time, he would repeat the same procedure of rolling away from the bedside table and burying his head under the pillow. When the seemingly never ending, irritating sound became too much, he would emerge from beneath the folds of the duvet, wriggle over to the edge of the bed and silence the infernal device with a jab of his thumb. At quarter to eight, he unwisely made the decision to turn it off completely, his mind and body still intent on rest. Gethin pressed the side of his face into the doughy pillow and enjoyed a few seconds of blissful peace, before the door burst open and a large woman entered the room. Grasped in her meaty hand, was a chipped mug of steaming tea.
‘Gethin, time to get up.’ She announced in a matter of fact tone.
Gethin mumbled a series of inaudible moans and frowned, his eyes still tightly shut.
‘No funny business today boy, you got an important day ahead of you.’
She slammed down the mug on the bedside table, accidentally spilling some of the mud brown liquid in the process. Gethin flinched at the horrid noise and stuffed the corners of the duvet in his ears.
‘Go away.’ He sulked.
‘None of that now. I want you on your best behaviour, you hear?.’
‘Why? What is so important about today anyway?’ Came Gethin’s muffled voice from beneath the covers.
‘Oh, I don’t know, maybe the fact there is a murder to be solved.’ The woman continued, yanking the duvet off the bed.
Gethin made a noise similar to that of a disgruntled animal being woken from it’s nest.
‘Get up Gethin. Your nineteen years old for Christ’s sake.’
‘Alright.’ Gethin sighed and pushed himself up and off the bed.
His still asleep legs protested and he staggered back, the mattress sagging beneath his backside.
‘Now you make sure to give the right impression. Getting in the detective’s good books may pay off somewhere down the line.’
‘Really?’ Gethin questioned, in a tired tone. ‘ But he is such an arrogant prick.’
The large woman bent down to retrieve the duvet and began folding in in her arms.
‘Be that as it may, he is still a detective, so he must be doing something right.’
Gethin nodded and scratched the racing lines shaved into his hair, eager to avoid any more nagging. The rest of his hair was short and dark in colour. His right ear was pierced. He stared vacantly at a solitary sock, poking out of the corner of a chest draws. The large woman paused, mid fold and smiled at her sleepy son.
‘Drink your tea.’
‘Alright.’ Gethin replied and took a swig from the mug. It was still hot and burnt his tongue. He grimaced and replaced it on the bedside table.
‘It’s still hot’ His mum offered helpfully.
Gethin gave her a sardonic smile and rubbed the sleep from his eyes. His mum placed the folded duvet on a nearby chair and left the room.
‘I would jump in the shower now if I were you, your brothers are arguing over it.’
Seizing his window of opportunity, Gethin sprang from the bed and darted into the hallway. He rushed past his mum, sliding along the wall to avoid collision and made a dash for the bathroom. Shouts could be heard from behind and glancing over his shoulder, he saw his younger brothers shoulder barge each other along the corridor. Gethin slid across the bathroom tiles and slammed the door shut, hastily twisting the lock. A moment later, a series of loud bangs reverberated through the door. Gethin smiled as his mum silenced them in a shrill but authoritative manner. There was one last thud on the door, followed by his brother’s heavy footfalls down the corridor and their incessant bickering. Gethin smiled and turned on the shower.
Dressed in his black and white police uniform, Gethin thundered down the stairs, bouncing off the narrow walls on his way down. Rhys and Dylan, the two most irritating brothers in the world, were sitting either end of the kitchen table, throwing bits of cereal at one another. His mum was standing at the kitchen sink, finishing the washing up, whilst trying her best to listen to the radio over the troublesome duo’s racket. Rhys lent back nonchalantly on his chair and wolf whistled Gethin, as he entered the kitchen.
‘Suit you sir.’ Dylan added, his tracksuit top swishing, as he scooped up a piece of toast from the middle of the table.
‘Well, at least I don’t wear the same trackkies every day.’
‘Fuck you mun.’ Dylan retorted, puffing out his chest like a territorial pigeon.
‘Language.’ His mum shouted and gave him a clip round the ear.
‘Very nice dear.’ She said, turning to Gethin. ‘You look very smart indeed.’
Gethin gave a twirl, showing off his polished jacket buttons and immaculate shoes. His mum smiled proudly, even though she had been the one who had got up early and ironed his uniform and polished his shoes. Gethin moved over to her, avoiding an aimed kick from Rhys and gave her a kiss on the head.
‘Don’t wait up.’
On his way out, he pinched Dylan’s piece of toast and took a large bite out of it.
‘Cheeky git.’ Dylan muttered as the front door slammed and received another smack around the head.
Gethin skidded round the corner and screeched to a halt in front of the pub. Thumping music was pumping out of the car speakers and Gethin remained in the car for a moment, nodding his head in time with the beat. He glanced up at the pub and spotted Bridge standing by one of the stone dragons, engaged in a conversation with the landlord. Gethin realized that they were both regarding the noise from his car with disapproving faces and quickly switched off the radio. He craned his neck to glance into the rearview mirror and adjust his hair and tie. When he felt his appearance was more then adequate, he took a deep breath and opened the door. A horn erupted out of nowhere and Gethin quickly yanked the door shut, narrowly avoiding contact with a large 4×4 that hurtled past, blasting the horn for a second time. Gethin stared straight ahead, his hands gripping the door handle tightly and exhaled very deeply and slowly. He could feel Bridge and the landlord looking at him from the pavement. Gethin reached for the handle a second time, checking the side door mirror twice and glancing over his shoulder to make extra certain before leaving the car.
‘Morning John.’ Gethin said brightly, his ears burning red from his embarrassment at the situation.
‘Gethin.’ John acknowledged and tried his best to conceal his amusement.
Gethin ignored it, not wanting to further make a fool of himself.
‘Sir.’ He said, addressing Bridge in a unusually formal tone.
Bridge coughed, choking on the smoke from his rollup, as he was caught unaware by the Welsh lad’s professionalism. Gethin smiled smugly and gave John a sly look of self satisfaction.
‘I see you’re late again.’ Bridge commented with a glance at his wristwatch. The time read 8.15. It was a simple offhand remark but it had the effect of totally cutting Gethin down to size.
‘Right…’ Gethin stammered and glanced around wildly for a plausible excuse.
‘Damn car wouldn’t start.’ He lied and clasped his hands together, in an effort to appear casual.
Bridge gave him a doubtful look but remained silent and instead turned to face John.
‘Pleasure to meet you John. I will have to buy you a drink sometime.’
John grinned and outstretched his hand. The two men shook hands and Bridge crushed out his butt with the toe of his loafer. Gethin was taken aback. On first meeting, he had presumed Bridge to be an uptight and regulated man, meticulous when pertaining to the rules of the law. However his behaviour possibly hinted at the fact that maybe he wasn’t as obedient as he had first thought. Still, it was a surprise to see him on such good speaking terms with John. Bridge didn’t seem like the social type and had remained pretty much silent the entirety of their journey the night before. Even when he did communicate, he was blunt and serious. Whilst Gethin was pondering these points, Bridge opened the passenger side door and climbed inside. John and Gethin exchanged nods and Gethin joined Bridge in the car.
‘You seem on good terms with our John.’ Gethin inquired, intrigued.
‘Hmmm, oh yes John, smashing fellow, grew up round the corner from where I live.’
That figures Gethin thought to himself and put his foot on the gas hard, brought up the clutch and thrust down the handbrake, lurching away from the pavement and venting some of his frustration. Bridge held on tightly to his briefcase, not looking forward to another frantic journey.
When they arrived at the station, Gethin swallowed his pride and took his time when parking. Bridge was highly relieved, grateful that the boy wasn’t a complete moron. Gethin had done a splendid job of ballsing up his first impression but he reasoned that he still had time to make amends, as long as he started now. As they made their way to the station entrance, he saw an opportunity and opened the door, standing aside to let Bridge past.
‘After you sir.’
‘…Thank you.’ A slightly perplexed Bridge replied, his long overcoat swishing out behind him, as he entered the building.
Inside was a small waiting room with a inquiry desk. A short, pug faced man with a curly perm of hair stood behind the desk, scribbling in a small leather bound journal. He glanced up as the two policeman entered and widened his eyes as he caught sight of Bridge’s overcoat and briefcase.
‘Morning Paul.’ Gethin said and rapped his knuckles on the desk. ‘She in yet?’
‘Aye, only just got in herself I believe.’
Bridge ignored the desk sergeant and moved passed the desk. A pair of double doors opened out into a small office, occupied by three or four tables. Francesca sat in front of one of them at the back of the room, chatting casually on the phone, a cup of coffee in her hand.
‘Fancy looking fella aint he?’ Paul whispered, leaning on the desk as he spoke.
Cheers Paul.’ Gethin said with a final rap of his hand and followed after the detective.
Paul was left looking bemused, unuse to the ‘to the point and matter of fact’ behaviour, Gethin was demonstrating. Very peculiar indeed.
Bridge knocked lightly on the one of the doors and Francesca glanced round, gave him a warm smile and held up her finger. He nodded his acknowledgement and inched further inside the room, studying the various desks on his way past. The first one was unoccupied and all that sat on it was a pile of office paraphernalia. The second was in more in keeping with a standard police bureau and had a few folders piled in one corner, a large, rather ancient looking computer and what appeared to be half a takeaway burger, stagnating on greasy paper. Gethin saw Bridge wrinkle his nose and swooped in front of him, blocking the desk from view. Hastily, he scrunched it up into a ball and chucked it in a paper basket nearby.
‘Detective Nicholas Bridge I presume?’ Francesca queried, heaving herself out of her chair and extending her hand.
‘Detective Inspector.’ Bridge corrected, not liking his sudden demotion.
Francesca retracted her hand, sensing that Bridge wasn’t one for conversations. Gethin watched the two from his desk, gripping onto his desk chair anxiously.
‘I’m Sergeant Francesca Thomas. How was the journey down?’
‘It was sufficient, apart from a few delays here and there.’
Gethin swallowed hard, knowing Bridge was referring to his tardiness. Francesca pursed her lips and nodded her head. Definitely not much of a talker. A gulf of silence descended between them as the two authoritative figures sized each other up. Gethin bit his lip. This did not look good.
‘Can I offer you something to drink detective?’ Francesca said with a tight, albeit fake smile.
‘Please call me Bridge, a cup of coffee wouldn’t go a miss.’
Fran clenched her jaw at his sudden change in tone. It seemed to the ‘down to earth’ sergeant, that Bridge only bothered to be polite, when it suited him.
‘Gethin, fetch inspector Bridge a coffee would you love?’
‘Bu….’ He began, realizing that he had only made coffee twice and both attempts had been less than satisfactory.
‘Go on lad, don’t keep him waiting.’ Fran ordered irritatedly.
Not wanting to further inflame the already far too tense situation, Gethin trudged off to the small kitchen at the back of the building.
‘Black with two sugars mate.’ Bridge called after him.
Gethin replied with a thumbs up, more worried about the result of the coffee as opposed to Bridge’s preferences.
Things could have gone worse. He managed to successfully boil the kettle and fill up a small cafetiere with coffee. The spoonful he had added was a little light but would have to suffice. Unfortunately, his lack of experience in the art of coffee making resulted in him plunging the cafetiere almost straight away. Unaware that he hadn’t allowed the coffee time to brew, he scooped some sugar into the mug and gave it a stir. As he finished off the last step of the coffee preparation, he imagined returning to the room to find Bridge and Fran rutting at each other like enraged stags. What he discovered was far worst.
Bridge stood in front of Fran’s desk whilst she stood at the far end. They both appeared to be arguing over Fran’s computer but as Gethin entered the room, trying carefully not to spill the steaming coffee, he discerned that the conversation had turned to the condition of the Welsh roads.
‘Yes, well its all very well if you live in a thriving community with funding from the council.’ A red faced Fran said stubbornly.
This last comment left Bridge at a loss for what to say. He frowned hard, trying to think of appropriate comeback. Fran put her hands on her hips and gave a smug smile of victory. Refusing to be bested, Bridge jabbed a finger at her and was about to fire off a response when Gethin slid in front of him.
‘Your coffee sir.’ He announced, holding up the coffee mug.
‘Right.’ Bridge answered, the diversion making him lose his momentum.
Gethin watched him closely as he took a sip. Feeling both Gethin and Fran’s eyes upon him, he was careful with his response.
‘Lovely.’ He lied, motioning his thanks by raising his mug.
Gethin let out a deep sigh of relief and glanced at Fran. She gave him an encouraging nod. Bridge placed the mug on the table, taking a respite from the weak and watery beverage.
‘Okay, first things first, where is the body?’
Fran and Gethin exchanged sheepish glances.
…nothing. Come on I will show you.’ Fran said and grabbed her keys.
‘Make sure you drive slow though, what with all the potholes and ditches.’ Bridge advised.
‘hmm, be a terrible shame if you were to fall in one.’ Fran muttered quietly under her breath.’
‘Did you say something?’ Bridge asked, trying to conceal his paranoia.
‘Nothing.’ Fran lied and throwing on her coat, left the room.
Bridge massaged the top of his nose, his method of quelling moments of anger. Recomposing himself, he followed after Fran. Gethin was left alone, at a loss to do.
‘Come on Gethin.’ Fran shouted from outside.
Gethin groaned and reluctantly shuffled after them, not looking forward to the car journey. That was the least of his problems. This was not going be easy, he thought to himself.
© [Daniel Ashby] and [Ashby Tales], . Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to [Daniel Ashby] and [Ashby Tales] with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.