Feb. 25th, 2011

sheenaghpugh: (Default)
Mike Thomas is a serving police officer in Cardiff. His debut novel, Pocket Notebook, was published by Heinemann in 2010. It tells the dark but often comic story of Jacob Smith, a troubled and unorthodox policeman who uses his police notebook for the unauthorised purpose of chronicling his spiralling breakdown. Pocket Notebook was named one of the nine ‘Hot Books’ to watch out for at the 2009 London Book Fair and was on the 2010 Wales Book of the Year Long List.

In this excerpt, Jake has been suspended, and has no business being on patrol. But he goes anyway, into streets which he no longer sees in quite the same way as anyone else...

"What you've done here is just the start," I say, moving closer. "It's just a few small steps to a life of crime, boy. Possibly worse. You could end up as a threat to the security of the country. It's lucky I got to you so quickly. To nip it in the bud."
       "It's just spraying a wall..." one of them mutters, eyeing me with an odd expression.
       "Right", I say. "You've asked for it." I whip out the old Fixed Penalties, ask their names, addresses, dates of birth. The boxes of the pro forma aren't big enough for all the details but I write them down anyway. Fill in three of them as best I can, flip the top copy off each, hand one to each of the artistes.
       "What's this for?" Carrier Bag asks, looking at the chitty with a mystified expression.
       "A fine," I tell them. "For criminal damage."
       "But it's a parking ticket," he says, wrinkling his nose.
       "Don't be clever with me!" I yell, then clench my jaw as they look at each other; look at me. Start giggling. Cheeky little bastards.
       "Come on," Carrier Bag says to his chums. "Let's chip. This dude's a freak."
       My fingers toy with the mouse gun through the fabric of my cargos. I feel the muzzle, the trigger guard. The handle with its magazine of nine-millie bullets. "Laugh all you want, boys," I tell them as they shuffle towards the main drag. "You won't be laughing when you've got to find eighty quid each for those fines, yeah? Ha! Yeah? Are you listening to me?"
       They disappear around the corner. I hear screams of laughter. [...] Another small incident taken care of for the greater good. I pull out my cigar tin, select the half-smoked reefer, light it and take a long drag. I hold my breath, lean against the wall. Exhale. Nice. Very, very nice. Just chill and smoke and work out what you need to do next, Jake. I finish the spliff, stumble out of the alleyway.
       My face hurts and it takes a minute for me to realise I'm grinning uncontrollably. I really can't relax my cheeks or lips. Not to worry. Adds to the agreeable air. The smiling, helpful policeman. I nod at a couple more pensioners. Wave back at a bus full of primary school children, forget to stop waving even after the bus has driven off and it's just me shuffling down the street with my arm in the air.


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