A Public Service

Originally published at The Flash Fiction Offensive in September 2009.


When the black, tinted-windowed Subaru Impreza crept alongside Jerome Kingston with the barrel of a Smith and Wesson protruding from its rear window, there was no doubt Kingston should have died.

With gang warfare in Manchester being as bad as ever, we’d been tailing the Subaru from a safe distance for a couple of miles in our unmarked Astra. Johnny Boy and me, batons and pepper spray at the ready, and not even a Taser, admittedly not ideal versus real firepower, but if the situation dictated we’d have a damn good fuckin’ go.

After running a registration check we knew the Subaru was from the West Side. And once it had crossed the invisible divide into opposition territory, we knew we had to get close and call for Armed Response back up, as this tit-for-tat lark was getting out of hand, even for the gun capital of the North.

You see, we were just ordinary cops on the shift overlap, keeping our Sarge happy by ‘going for a mooch’ to see what was out and about.

‘Just give out the odd ticket and turn a couple of scrotes over and it’ll keep the boss happy,’ Sarge had said almost pleadingly, his rep constantly on the line at those awkward meetings with The Brass.

But we were proactive cops and persecuting innocent motorists was about as appealing to us as sniffing a tramp’s crotch. We knew who the bad boys were and that’s who the public feared. We also knew we were a public service and that’s who we served: the public, not some supervisor who wanted to look good in a meeting with a fat pile of stats to pass onto his bosses so they could look good in their next meeting while drinking tea and scoffing more scones than at a Granny’s convention. Then higher up the ladder another meeting and another game of ‘stat tennis,’ until it reached the very top whereby the Home Secretary impressed the PM himself so the latter could brag to the opposition in The House of Commons, even though they all knew the figures really meant shit.

Nah, me ’n Johnny Boy were here to repay the taxpayers hard-earned faith, to serve Joe Public and do our job.

As soon as we saw the barrel pop out of the Subaru’s rear window Johnny Boy bounced looks with me.

‘Shit!’ he exclaimed.

I agreed.

Then we sped up the arse of the Subaru with a screech. I jumped out like an uncoiled spring and lanced my baton at the Subaru’s back window causing it to smash. Kingston froze, akin to an escapee con caught in a searchlight. The Subaru did a wheel-spin and zoomed off. No shots were fired and no one was hurt, apart from the feelings of owner of the Subaru, of course.

The letter we received off Kingston’s mum was worth a thousand parking tickets.And we both felt we’d truly given the public a service and done our job. For a short while we’d even built a few bridges within the local community, which was great for The Brass in their meetings.

They’d really enjoyed their tea and scones recently.

The irony being, the day me and Johnny Boy were eating scones at one of those meetings where we received our commendations, Kingston went and shot two boys stone-dead. He’d smoked ’em good and proper with a spray of bullets from his Uzi. They were bad boys from the East Side so, after some debate – in one of our regular sub-meetings in the Crown and Anchor – me and Johnny Boy concluded that Kingston, too, had done a public service.


One Response to A Public Service

  1. A cracking wee tale with some insightful socio-political commentary thrown in -neat!

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