Smoke snaked from Dennis’ cigarette. Brushing ash from his tie, he congratulated himself on the number of manila folders he’d worked through since beginning his evening shift. Each Metropolitan Police file looked much the same, the only difference being the victim and the crime. RUSSELL, Mick: Murder. He stood and added the name to the chalk board. Only half way through 1976 and already the list was longer than last year. He stroked his Viva Zapata moustache.
‘Shut the door Mitchell.’ Sergeant O’Conner’s voice cut into Dennis’ concentration. Danny Mitchell, one of the ‘old and bolds’ of C.I.D. had been called to the boss’ office. Something in the sergeant’s tone heightened Dennis’ attention. A tone he tried to identify. ‘Conspiratorial’ Yes, that was it. He liked the word. A cop’s evidence kind of word.
Through the nicotine discoloured glass door of the Sergeant’s office, he watched Mitchell slump down opposite the D.S. No slick 70’s suit for him, he favoured the check sports jacket and slacks look, both of which had seen better days. O’Connor was doing the talking, Mitchell nodding. Dennis could hear nothing.
Drawing his next shot of nicotine slowly through his teeth, Dennis flicked his ash onto the discarded remains of his curry takeaway. Its plastic fork, smeared with Madras sauce, reminded him of a recent murder. He swallowed. He could kill a beer. Another hour and they’d be heading out. Soho was an invaluable source of information. Recently having joined the department from Uniform, at first it had felt strange mingling with the VIPs of the criminal underworld, but Dennis had to admit it had its perks. Being plied with booze, with girls on-tap, gave him an imagined new-found sophistication.
Back in the sergeant’s office, an attache case was open on the desk, its chrome clips catching the light from the angle poise lamp. The sergeant was taking out a weighty brown envelope and handing it to Mitchell. It immediately disappeared inside the older man’s jacket, the whole transaction so fast, Dennis could easily have imagined it. His chicken vindaloo churned ominously in his stomach
The door opened.
‘Den, Sarge wants you in his office.’
The queasiness in Dennis’ stomach escalated to nausea. He ran his fingers around the inside of his collar and stood up, his polyester trousers felt sweaty having been squashed against the plastic chair seat.
‘Close the door behind you, Den.’ O’Connor seemed in a good mood. He even made a couple of humorous remarks. Dennis laughed a little too enthusiastically. The sergeant was opening the attache case. He was taking out an identical brown envelope and before Dennis had time to refuse, it was in his hand. Controlling his shaking, he folded the envelope in half and tucked it inside his jacket, just as he had seen Mitchell do. Its bulk pressed against his heart like indigestion.
O’Connor was smiling in that conspiratorial manner,
‘Welcome to our little Overtime Fund, lad.’