If you’ve read my new collection, ‘You Could Make a Killing‘ (and if you haven’t – why not check out that link at the bottom of the page – if you have Kindle Unlimited you can read the whole thing for free, and if not, it’s a measly £2.99 – go on, treat yourself...) the story below may seem a little familiar – see the note after this flash fiction for more explanation and a very special offer…
We were two hours into our patrol, and had just stopped for a take-out coffee before getting back into the squad car.
Getting into a police car wearing a full utility belt, as my son liked to call it when I came home wearing it, took some doing and I eased myself in carefully on the passenger side – as the relative Rookie, I had to bow to my partner Hicks’ demands, and on most occasions that meant him driving.
When we were both in and had the doors closed I reached into the glove compartment and pulled out my nightly treat- which Maria was restricting me to one of per shift, claiming she had no intention of letting me turn into a cop cliché before I even reached 30.
“You want a stick?” I asked Hicks.
He looked down at my offering, “Nah, don’t touch those things.”
I looked down at it myself, “What do you mean- you don’t like Kit-Kats? Everyone likes Kit-Kats”
Hicks shook his fuzzy jowly chin- if he hadn’t reached cop cliché by the time he was thirty he’d certainly passed it at some point in the twenty five or so years since, and all he did was count down the days to retirement…another cliché, and I wasn’t sure whether his cholesterol or belligerent manner with suspects would kill him first.
“I can’t eat them things anymore. Not after one case I worked on…”
I sighed inwardly.
Hicks’ favourite was to turn any utterance, any situation, into a ‘case he’d worked on’ and expand on great detail to me.
I’m not saying I wasn’t learning from him, and I wouldn’t play the cliche myself that he was the grizzled old shady cop and I was the gung-ho rookie who insisted on doing everything by the book…but it wasn’t a million miles from the truth.
Hicks eased himself back in his seat, opened his coffee and sighed expansively, “See, what had happened was there was this woman on a train, visiting her family or some such. She had to change train at Birmingham heading a couple of stops up North. While she’s there in the station, she’s got five minutes before the connection, and she grabs one of those from a machine on the platform…”
I nodded, taking a sip of coffee and snapping off one of the four fingers, biting half of it off and chewing it down.
“So anyway, she gets on the connecting train, all a bit of a flurry, it’s crowded, there’s only one seat left, and she sits down next to this guy…now I don’t want to say anything about his colour because I know how you are about those things…”
Oh yeah, Hicks had a touch of the ‘old traditional’ about him…
“..so, she’s sorting herself out; getting her stuff out her bag, trying to stuff it into the overhead, struggling with it, and off course no-body’s helping her with it. The train pulls out and she stumbles a bit, and falls onto matey-boy opposite, who’s looking none too pleased about it…”
I thought about asking Hicks where this evidence had all come from, but thought it easier to let him finish his bullshit, and ate the second half of my first finger.
“So, she’s sat there, sweating, and puffing away, and she starts to reach for her Kit-Kat in front of her, when your man there reaches out before she can get it and picks it up, opens it, and snaps off a finger, chomp, chomp, in his mouth in two bites.”
I sighed, “I’ve heard this one Hicks.”
He looked surprised, “I’ve told you this one before?”
I snapped off the second finger of my own literal not imaginary bar, and started to eat it, “She grabs the packet and takes the second stick…”
“You’re right.” Hicks said, “I have told you, have I?”
“It’s the oldest urban myth out there Hicks- I’m not falling for this one- however many sticks there are, they eat one each until it’s gone, each more furious than the other, and when she gets off the train she finds she has her Kit-Kat in her pocket all along.”
Hicks shrugged, “Don’t think she got the chance to check her pocket, son.”
“What do you mean?” I asked, snapping of the penultimate finger.
“Well, this fella, this student turns out he was, he takes the third finger and starts to eat it, and this young woman, she pulls out the knife in her pocket, a six inch switchblade it was, and she leans across and sticks it straight into his jugular, ripping it across and pretty much tearing out his windpipe. There’s arterial spray everywhere, and by the time the train stops, everyone across the four seats, and a row or two to the side and behind are covered in this young bloke’s blood…”
I looked down at the last stick in the packet.
“And by the time I get to her, she’s just dipping the last stick into the wound in his neck, like a chocolate flake in an ice-cream, then sits back and starts to eat it. Turns out she was fresh out of the local psych ward. Let her go out on day release. Probably not the best of ideas in retrospect.”
I put the packet down, last finger untouched.
Hicks took a sip of his coffee, and reaching down sighing, “Maybe I could manage one piece…” he took the last piece of Kit-Kat, “And you know, that’s only the second weirdest case I ever had involving food.”
He bit once and, with his mouth full of the last of my chocolate bar, smiled at me with chocolate covered teeth, “What happened was this…”
As I said at the beginning – there is a similarity between this and the story ‘Crime on the Rise’ from You Could Make a Killing. I had an idea at what point to do a series of shorts, each featuring Kael and Hicks, each one starting with Hicks relating a hoary old urban myth, before finishing with some ridiculously gruesome variation on it, before launching in to the story proper which would be vaguely related to the general subject matter of the previously highlighted myth. The idea was we’d discover more about the duo as each story went on.
I didn’t get around to writing any of those, so what I was left with were two examples – the lift/ elevator story featured in YCMaK, and this one. The one in the book is better, I think: it’s more detailed and gives more of a background, while still remaining short (it really doesn’t need any more words around it.) and there are some differences in this one I didn’t change – it’s distinctly more British than Crime on the Rise was in the book.
But rather than leave it sitting all alone on the shelf, I thought I’d give you something to read on your break this Tuesday: you know, have a break, have a…well, whatever.
If you want to read the alternative tale you can find it from the link below, along with many others – many of which are more than just framing devices…