Here it is! Laid out before you for your delectation is the very troublesome part 43 of “A Couple of Tenors Short”. This has been an absolute nightmare to get to this point, but I still don’t think it is right. There is going to be work needed on the edit I think, so any feedback will be most helpful.
There is another quiz question associated with the part number. Given that I think it is an easier one, the picture clue is more obscure. As always, I give you the answer.
OK, the quiz question out of the way, here is my mantra. This is a serial. Any new-joiners should start with the opener known as Part One.
The troublesome recap has now settled into its new home. You can find the recap here!
Now read on...
The revealing of the elephant that had been lurking in the room was never going to pleasant. Smithy had squirmed and fidgeted in his chair wringing his hands and steadfastly refusing any eye contact with Jones. There were long silences punctuated by Smithy making occasional false starts on his explanation. Each false start from Smithy made Jones twitch slightly and grip the arms of his chair even tighter.
Smithy eventually started by describing the accident to Rosa Constantine. Rosa was a young, vibrant and ambitious officer. They had been on a raid and one of the suspects had climbed out of a window and climbed up onto the roof of the small industrial unit. Jones and Rosa had spotted him. She had sprinted up a fire escape after him. Jones didn’t call her back.
As Rosa chased the suspect across the roof, Jones had directed things from below, he ran alongside the unit catching glimpses of the suspect and Rosa above. The suspect reached the edge of the roof and leapt across to the roof of the unit next door. Rosa paused, composed herself and then made the leap herself. Jones had run along the front of the unit and watched the suspect leap from that roof onto the roof of the next unit.
Rosa made the leap, but quickly re-appeared on the edge of the roof. For a few seconds, she had tried to regain her balance with flailing arms, but to no avail. Rosa fell and broke her back.
Inside his head, the memories slunk out from behind a heavy curtain. He’d been the first to reach Rosa. As soon as he got there, he realised she was in a bad way. He screamed for an ambulance as he tore off his jacket. It appeared she was sleeping, but the way she lay contorted on the concrete. It was clear she was in a bad way.
Jones alternately screamed for an ambulance and made Rosa promises. As she lay there, Jones promised that she was going to be OK and that he would get the man who pushed her from the roof.
Only, she didn’t make a full recovery. Her broken back meant she was consigned to a wheelchair. It didn’t help that the man on the roof got away. Worse still was the insistence of everyone that there was no evidence of a push, only of a fall.
As Jones continued to try and disturb the stubborn recollections that lurked behind the curtains in his fallible memory, he became aware that Smithy had paused and was looking at his ashen face.
“And?” Jones glared back at Smithy.
“Well...” Smithy looked back down at his hands in his lap. “You know...”
Jones continued to glare at Smithy while letting the silence build.
“It wasn’t your fault, everyone knows that.” Smithy spoke quietly when the silence became too heavy to hold. “But you wouldn’t listen to any of us. “
It took long applications of many heavy silences, but Jones managed to drag the rest of the story from his reluctant sergeant.
After the raid, catching the suspect on the roof became an obsession for Jones. He spent longer and longer in the office, sacrificing food and sleep in his quest to find him. The only breaks he took where to visit Rosa. After each visit he would return home and demolish a bottle of whisky. His behaviour and moods became increasingly erratic. If anyone tried to suggest he take a break, he would flare into an incandescent rage and become paranoid. He started sleeping under his desk. The tablets he took to keep himself awake served to exaggerate his moods.
Then the obsessions began. The need for Jones to wash his hands after touching any of the case files. The compulsion that everything on his desk was organised in an exact manner and the way even a misaligned pencil caused him to accuse his colleagues of sabotage and worse.
It all came to a head when Jones had become convinced he had his man. They had him in the interview room and Jones had been questioning him when he produced a cast iron alibi. Jones had erupted and flown at the suspect. It had taken three of them to restrain him. It required two more to get Jones into the ambulance. He had been admitted to St Michael’s Clinic. They’d all thought his career was over, that Jones would never be allowed to return, but he did, helped in no small measure by the way he handled his evidence when the Maryfield’s case came to trial.
It was like having an elderly relative recount their memories of a fondly remembered day at the seaside only ten time times worse. Your memories are of the sun, energetic games on the beach; ice-cream; noisy, bustling arcades; candy-floss and chips eaten out of the wrapper. The elderly relative recounts tales of sun-burn, children getting lost on the beach, exorbitant prices and projectile vomit on the car journey home. When you hear the alternative version, you realise that there is truth, but it is as if the version relates to somebody else.
“So, I went mad.” Jones broke the long silence that followed Smithy’s account.
“No, guv.” Smithy’s voice was a hoarse whisper. “You had a breakdown caused by stress, guilt, a lack of sleep, no food, booze and those damn tablets. Those tablets caused you to lose your grip on reality.”
“What is worse, you think it is happening again.”
“No!” Smithy glared at Jones. “Glynn, we just want to make sure it doesn’t.”