The speed is all you imagined it would be. You’re flying — back arched, arms and legs spread, hurtling towards the earth at terminal velocity. The town below looks like a model. After identifying the landing zone near the aerodrome, you pick out your house two blocks to the west.
I thought you said you were going to your sister’s today? And why is Jimmy’s car outside?
Despite falling at 195 kph, your heart drops further when you see two naked bodies entwined by the pool. You jettison your parachute, and pull out your cell phone.
“What is the nature of your emergency?”
“Murder, 102 Main Street!” you scream, arrowing towards them.
It sounds like the world has come to a growling, rumbling end. Like a storm has erupted from the ground. It looks like the world has come to an end. Up on the foothills I watch as the ground splits in two and buildings down below in the city collapse as if made of paper.
And then silence apart from hundreds of car alarms screaming in unison.
I need to feel safe. Like there is someone left on this earth.
I reach for my cell phone. A tree cracks and falls next to me, late in coming to the party.
I dial 111, but I am greeted with silence.
I had burnt the dinner again. There was no time for a cover up as the acrid smell of burnt meat wove its way through the kitchen and into the lounge, desperate to tell tales on me.
He marched into the kitchen and looked from the scalded pan in the sink, to me. Old injuries started to throb, his gaze making them remember. Aching ribs and bruised eyes.
I reached for the phone on the wall.
With shaking hands I dialled 111 and asked for the police.
“No,” he growls.
“No,” I say. Stronger this time. It had only been seconds, but I willed the wail of sirens to surround me.
As I approached, I noticed the door was open. I stepped into the kitchen. The table was off to one side with a chair over on the floor and another chair tipped against a counter. In the front room, I saw a couch tipped on its back, a lamp shattered on the floor, and an end table toppled over with two of its legs broken. There was a small smear, possibly blood, on the wall by the bedroom door, which was open.
From the bedroom came a woman’s sigh, “God that was wonderful! We’ve got to leave the kids with your parents more often!”
I holstered my gun and left quietly.
You can’t help but look. A stockinged leg invites a gaze. Her voice has more honey than it should given the hard face and comatose eyes. You watch her lips. She’s all teeth and angles. She says he’s been a dick. He hit the window cos who the fuck knows why. You watch the cop flinch when she swears. A young, soft, upper middle-class scion who will never let go of those values, no matter how many tattoos cover his arms. You pass the ambulance, guessing the boyfriend is bleeding in there. You think: she had nice legs. The face wouldn’t win a prize, but those legs could hold their own.
“My pager’s beeped.”
“No! Not today.” Anika turned to face him, the toddler’s fat ankles caught in her left hand. “Pass the wipes?” The room was airless, her body too heavy for kneeling, and the baby inside her kicked in protest. “Can’t someone else?”
“I’ve checked; they need negotiators.”
“Please, not you. The baby’s low — I’m scared it’ll be today.”
“I have to; they need me.”
She finished the nappy change and stood her son on his feet. “What is it?”
“A guy threatening to harm his child.” Her husband juggled his keys. “Could your Mum help?”
“Yes.” Anika touched his arm. “My family’s here, you go and help. Be safe.”
The Eketahuna Serious Crime Squad responded quickly to the 111 call. They were excited. The first decent incident since the town long-drop explosion. The false leg found alongside the body, with dints, scratches and congealed blood, was immediately considered the murder weapon.
“Nothing to the press,” the chief warned. “We need to act fast, before the offender notices it’s missing…wait…hang on! Look, she’s an amputee! This is the deceased’s own appendage! Plus there’s no sign of a break-in! Gentlemen, this head trauma must be self inflicted! She has battered herself to death. This is obviously suicide!”
The high-fives were, however, somewhat restrained. They knew they weren’t always this easy.
Juliet counts the rain-tears running down the glass cheeks of her bedroom window.
Holding Samson close, she murmurs.
She knows what he’s thinking.
Brad breaks in again. High, brandishing a hunting knife, threats like his
t-shirt, worn thin.
Once, she called the cops. They reached her boohai cottage too late.
Brad? Done a runner.
Finally Samson speaks. Now.
She fires a lightning-white arc. Electrodes deliver two minutes and
thirty-nine seconds of continuous, barbed justice to Brad’s chest.
Her cheating, junkie ex falls, writhing, then still. Silent.
Juliet kisses Samson, polymer mingling with sweat-salt.
The rain has stopped.
The macrocarpa magpie roosts quiet. The dark driveway is still.
The client is still on the line when my hands start shaking uncontrollably.
We are very close, I repeat.
No response, just the sound of sobbing. It takes a long time to get to these rural areas.
I can almost see her lying on the cupboard floor, lit by the blue of her phone, listening.
I sit on my hands and vow to stop drinking coffee. My face is hot. My heart is pounding.
I ask the client to breathe with me. She does — in, out.
I pause, wiggle one headphone away from my head and lean forward.
Something drips onto the keyboard, warm and clear. These are not my tears.
I’ve been doing this job two years. That’s a long time.
I like my job. I like catching criminals. Sometimes I find lost people. Sometimes I find evidence. But I like catching criminals most.
That’s my partner, Gav. He’s my best mate. I’m his best mate.
Gav taught me some Māori. I know ‘haere mai’ and ‘e noho rā’. And there’s my favourite, ‘ka pai’. I like ‘kai’ too but I like ‘ka pai’ most.
Gav says I’m the best at my job. Gav says we’re the dream team. Gav says I’m top dog.
Here’s Gav now.
“Ready to go to work, Peach?”
“E noho rā. Good boy, Peach.”