Wednesday, 29 April 2015
“And your punishment, Mr. Barkus,” intoned the Police Staff Sergeant. “For public intoxication, damages to public property, public disorder and general disrespect to officers of the law is an indefinite amount of community hours.”
“Indefinite amount of,” Barkus cried out, knees reflexively carrying him upwards, before the ham-like hand of the officer behind him, also acting on reflex, slammed onto the top of his shoulder, reseating him before the desk with a jolt. The staff sergeant looked over his glasses at Barkus before leaving down the judge's statement, faxed in from, Barkus didn't catch the name and frankly didn't care.
“ 'Indefinite community hours' means whatever length of time it takes you to re-do the flower beds in the public spaces,” the staff sergeant summarized, removing his half-moon glasses and carefully placing them into a case which immediately went into his shirt pocket. “Her honour prefers to put people working for the common good and in ways other than picking cans along the highway. For a start, we got darn few highways.” He said it like a joke but clearly expected no other response than a slight grin from his colleague. Barkus meanwhile, was glowering. “So she had a look into your background and, lo and behold, she finds a horticulturist hiding behind that suit. So you're gonna make the public gardens pretty again. Two birds, one stone, as they say.”
“And if I refuse?” Barkus growled. “I'll get my lawyer down here by the day after tomorrow. He'll tear that notion apart.” The officer looked at him, then put his feet up on the corner of the desk, put his hands behind his head and slid his hat down over his eyes.
“You know, it's a funny thing, timing,” he stated, just as Barkus was opening his mouth in fury. “The prison bus passes through here in about 2 hours. I say funny 'cause it also happens to stop here, top up the water for the chains and all of that. Gotta look after them now you know. Driver's my cousin's husband too, nice guy, doesn't do too much,” disapproving sniff, “handling, not like some of the others, you know. But the reason why I mention this is, as I said it passes through in about 2 hours,” here he paused to lift his hat and glance at the main clock in the office, and Barkus felt ice trickle down his spine despite the heat. “Beg your pardon Mr. Barkus, one and a half hours.” He put the hat back and slouched a bit lower in his chair to get comfortable. “I always have a little chat with my cousin's husband, he's from around here you know and sometimes, well sometimes we get a bad 'un in town, whether he came in on his own power or someone else's. And sometimes, not very often mind but sometimes, we just can't do anything with 'em and in cases like that, well, it's very handy having that prison bus passing through.”
“My lawyer,” Barkus began in a voice that didn't mean to sound so squeaky. The staff sergeant lifted his hat with one finger.
“You remember that guy don't you George?” he said to the other officer, seemingly ignoring Barkus. “Real city gent, nice, fancy suit. Said that helping out with the re-painting of the Community Hall was demeaning and he'd insisted on getting his lawyer in.”
“I remember,” George rumbled. “Took the lawyer two days to get here, just missed him by 6 hours. But with paperwork being the way it is, it took four days to get him out of there.” A meaningful glance passed between the two uniforms and Barkus felt the shadows get darker.
“Got his shiny suit ripped,” the staff sergeant continued. “But he didn't seem to mind painting after that.”
“So long as someone put the paint on a shelf for him,” George pointed out.
“Yes,” the senior officer replied, watching Barkus turn pale. “There was that.”
There was silence for a moment before John Barkus, Architect, owner of several homes, numerous luxury cars and one-time garden centre assistant for weekend money, cleared his throat.
“Has anyone thought of a colour scheme yet?”