My new boss, the Head of the Murder Squad, DS Church aka Abbey who was the dayshift supervising officer, was near pulling his hair out. He had been trying unsuccessful I might add, to pair me with a suitable partner. Whether it was just my abrasive personality or me coming from the undercover area where you had to think on your feet; where you worked alone usually with your nominated partner being your ‘catcher’. There in the background, hopefully watching your arse. Relying mainly on your quick thinking to keep you alive. Whether it was that no-one would tell me, but I reckon that I went through about half a dozen potential partners. Most throwing their hands in the air wanting nothing more to do with the Murder Squad.
Wrong people in the wrong hole was my determination of the problem. I wasn’t too sure if my Boss saw it that way…but whatever, Abbey persevered with the quest to find that one suitable soul to partner me, so far a negative quest!
One bright sunny morning Abbey took me by the arm as I came onto the floor.
“Joe? Let’s go for a little walk, huh?”
“Sure. Yeah, Boss. What’s up?”
“Let’s get a coffee each and sit downstairs in the Plaza, huh?”
I followed the Boss like a lost little puppy full of nerves. He volunteered the shout and as we sat in the dapple shade of several large spindly Gums waiting for our coffees, he kept looking at me nervously.
“Boss? Come straight out and say it, will you? It will be much better for both our stomachs if you do.”
He nodded his head vigorously and opened his mouth to start. He had to shut it again as the Waitress brought our coffees to the table.
“Anything else, gentlemen?” She asked friendly-like, thinking at this time of morning something to eat would be on the cards.
We both shook our heads giving her the wrong impression. She scampered away a little upset, I thought.
Abbey sugared his coffee after which he placed his arms either side of his coffee mug and lent into me.
‘This must be important if he wants to keep it quiet away from others’ I thought to myself.
“Joe? Look…I will defend you against most of your detractors…there were many when I first took you on, what about seven months ago. You knew that. The book is running hot and is not in your favour…twelve months is the outside bet…twelve months and no longer is your tenure in the Murder Squad before you are booted out. Not good, eh? As I said, I will defend you against all your detractors but I cannot defend you against yourself. I am sorry, but you are that far from being kicked out of the Murder Squad. You cannot pair off with anyone that I have selected to be your partner. You have had four different people trying to mesh with you. Remember Karen Carmichael? You had her in such a mess she offered her termination papers within eight days of being your partner. She left the Force!”
“So she should have! She wasn’t worthy of calling herself a Murder Detective. She didn’t have a clue!”
“Joe!?” He breathed in deeply trying to keep his rising anger in check. “You are a D2 who has no right or responsibility in offering who was a suitable candidate in becoming a Murder Dee or not. That is my job and why I am being paid the money I get. Last chance, Joe. This is your last chance. ‘Bull’ Winkle is going out very shortly so his young protégé will be looking to be paired with some-one else…”
“Come on, Boss! Not another woman. What, of the four miscreants that you have tried to partner me with, three have been women…I can tell you now, it isn’t going to work.”
He glared at me.
“If that is the case…if you cannot make a go of pairing with Marge Hendricks, then you are out of the Murder Squad. You need to take a long hard look at yourself and where you want to be in five, ten and twenty-year’s time. If it is here on the Squad floor, you better lift your game and accept Hendricks as your partner. Last chance, Joe. Definitely the last chance…and you will have beaten the Book…a bad look, eh?”
With that he stood, turned and walked to the building entrance. He had not touched his coffee at all.
I sat there sipping slowly on mine watching the passing parade. Right then, I did not know what I wanted to do.
I had worked undercover for close on seven years, half of that period straight out of the Police Academy, being partnered with Barry Holtz whom I had befriended early in the piece at the Academy. We spent most of our time cruising the surf breaks up and down the coast keeping an eye on Marijuana transportation from the north coast area into the Sydney and Newcastle areas. Then Bazza left to begin his climb up the promotion ladder.
Me? I was too dumb to get out, so for the next couple of years or so, I worked solo, both in Narcotics and a short term in Vice.
It was imperative during that time that you never got too close to anyone…male or female. You survived on your wits alone and accepted that in certain circumstances when push came to shove, you might have to eliminate a crud or two to remain alive.
Maybe that is where and why I could not accept a partner who I was rubbing shoulders with for most of the day. Having to rely on another person to help put the bad guy away…I was found wanting…in the extreme!
I must admit that my single bachelor life-style could also have a bearing on my outward persona with another person…mostly of the female variety. I had lost the taste for a female in my life after my wife of some ten years was shot to death and buried in a lonely outback grave in South Australia. That pushed me over the edge quite literally with that burning desire for females being doused somewhat. Also, over the time when a woman may have approached me during those rare moments where I had accompanied some other members of the Murder Squad on a celebration of some import, she would be totally turned off by my profession…so I usually would respond by saying I was in IT or something as boring.
Over the years it was obvious that Coppers usually mixed with their kind, a woman from the Forensic Sciences, a Nurse or similar. They knew of the lousy hours, the constant changing of shifts and nights out being held over for another time.
But to be truthful, I was not that keen in the whole ‘dating scene’ and its pitfalls. I was comfortable where I was at the moment…so I told myself.