samedi 16 mai 2009

Poor List Ch.11 - Press Ganged

McCabe heard it first as an absence of something. Instead of the city’s subterranean throb there was a lightness where engine noise and traffic seethe should have been. They could hear the crackled voices on the radio. McCabe had slowly moved his hand down towards the seatbelt mechanism by his haunch. Further along the street, they heard percussion and music and a repeated megaphoned noise that gathered into echoing shouted phrases. Then actual voices, raw in the near suspended rain. How could this be happening? They slowed behind some matt black Trooper, its rear window reflecting shifting sunlight into their faces. The seat belt came undone quietly.
“The fuck’s this?” Tony says.
Up ahead some fluorescent and light-stripped jackets of herded police shine and glint. They had driven and plunged through London’s steeped narrow streets towards the river, past Georgian fronts, shame shaded hotel back entrances and boarded up shops and bars, revved past most of the city’s landmarks and splashed through grand, yet too small, streets. McCabe, had half slumped between the two Government Agents and stares from the back seat through the rear passenger window as they slow down. The suspension of freedoms happen in little ways.

He looks around, relaxes and picks at a morsel of dried cement on his jeans, coughs, grimaces, looks around. A radio is tuned in. He lunges clumsily over the woman to try to get to the inside passenger door handle. With a swift trained action, though, she leans forward catching McCabe’s face with a heavy shoulder blow to the left side of his chin and before he even gets within arm’s reach of escape, punches him hard in the groin. McCabe cries out in surprise and pain. Three mounted police canter by at odd angles and hooves clatter.
“…some semblance of order into this stricken country…”
Tony winces and McCabe tries to say something. Lisa turns to him then to Dermott,
“Sorry about that. Some march or other?” She says and scratches the slightly enflamed orbit of her nose stud.
A helicopter clatters overhead and McCabestares at swing swaying in a playground over the way.
They pull up behind the Trooper. Boyd the Driver reaches over to the radio and a procession of static, voices and music pass by.
“I did warn you. Mister McCabe.” Dermott says and, frowning, looks at his watch. “We’re going to be late. There must be another way round Boydy?”
“Might be. Sav a look on the satnav.”
Whistling the chorus of an Irish polka, the driver reaches over to the device on the windscreen front and pushes buttons with his thick set fingers.
“Time for a pick me up. Everyone?” Tony, the man on McCabe’s right, says.
He snaps open a seat compartment and extracts a small cloth bag. A flare amidst the march ahead of them shines incandescent green and smoke pours over the road.
"Long way round either way," the driver says.
“Take the flyover by Thodsby roundabout." He helps himself to Tony's illegal substance. "So Mister McCabe,” Dermott says sniffing over his shoulder, “How does it feel to be, back on the team again?”
The windscreen wipers whine a rubbery snigger. The man on McCabe’s right breathes in a line of twinkling dust in one smooth rasp.
“Painful. Actually.”
Dermott assesses at the figure in the back seat for a moment and raises his eye brows slightly.
"Try some of this."
There's a calll on his pda and then in a space in the conversation says,
“Look. Everyone has to do their bit in times like these though don’t you think, Lisa?”
“…in connection with the attacks…” the voice on the radio was saying. The engine gunned and a siren wailed from a side street behind them. Tony snorted in derision.
“Absolutely sir. Music Boydy. Music.” the woman says.
McCabe sits up from his crouch and leans slowly back into his seat.
“Be careful.” Says Dermott to them trying to catch their eye in the rear view mirror of the sun shield.
Yes. We're onto it Ma'am.”He replies into the phone. The cars move forward and McCabe watches up at the glinting towers of glass and metal ten blocks away as they drift by.
“He’s no going to throw up is he Tony?”
“…Regrettably, this involved involuntary human terrain and resource depletion, but ultim…”
“Lisa. Get me the rozzer in charge of this carnival." He hands Boyd the paraphernalia. "Hello. These two’ll do here now,” Dermott says.
“Er, hold on.”
Tony stretches himself and puts the little red bag in his pocket as Lisa presses a button on the car door. The window glides down and McCabe shouts for help. Lisa calls to the pair of police walking towards the demonstration. One of them turns and stops, looking annoyed. McCabe continues to shout. Lisa reaches into her coat and takes out her ID and holds up her cards to them. The other officer fishes out his ID-scan from its holder.
“What’s the hold up here?”
“A march, Madam. What seems to be the trouble?” KG 1654 asks walking over to the window.
There is a bright yellow padded jacket over his uniform and suppression devices hang from his belt and shoulder harness.
“How long is it going to take?”
“Be about an hour I should think. Difficult to say. What seems to be the problem here?”
Static voices crackle from their radios.
“But traffic can get through?”
Lisa turns to the struggling Tony and McCabe and whispers something loudly.
“I’m afraid not.”
The other officer leans towards the car and rests his arm on the roof.
“Look, we’re in a hurry here and we need to get across it?
“I’m Afraid not madam." He frowns. "Regulations. You’ll have to go back the way you came. Is everything ok in here then?” the taller officer says.
“But this is a one way street.”
“Indeed it is madam.”
KG 1653 pulls a face at the struggle going on in the back seat.
“So we can’t. And look…hold on. Sir, this copper reckons we’ll be here in an hour or so.”
Dermott stabs a button on his pda and opens his window and says,
“Listen officer. I’m with Inland Security Division at the Home Office. Here’s my ID”.
The square faced police scrutinises the small heavy document opens it and scans the tiny spray of dots..
“The what? Inland Security…? Can’t say I’ve heard of it sir.” says KG 1653 and turns to his colleague. “Have you?”
“Inland Security Division?”
1654 purses his lips and shakes his head.
“New one on me squire.”
“I don’t want. To pull rank, officer, but I could get you sacked,” says Dermott.
“Right. And I could get transport down here and tow your car away for having what, three persons in the back?”
“And kidnapping! Officer I’m being kidnapped here…against my will.” Shouts McCabe.
“What’s that? Well, if you were being kidnapped sir than I suppose it would be against your will, wouldn’t you say Malcolm?” KG 1653 says to KG 1654 leaning in. He glances down at Lisa who stares back.
“I think you may well be right, Reg.”
Dermott is saying,
“He’s a suspect in an on-going operation officer. We’ve got to get him to HQ right away. Ring your chief if you don’t believe me.”
The officer stands back up and waves to other police down the road. Struggling, McCabe says as best he can,
“That’s not true officer.”
There is some more shouting.
“OK. OK. Calm down. Reg get hold of Dutton Street. See if this Inland bollocks actually exists. An’ hurry up.”
He leans into the car window frame again.
“Now then sir. What’s all this commotion?
Then, everyone is talking over everyone else. McCabe shouts that he is being taken, kidnapped and doesn’t know who these people are. Insulator Tony holds McCabe down by his arm and shouts at him to shut it, whilst Dermott and Lisa, the latter restraining and re-assaulting McCabe, convince the police officer that the person in the back is a dangerous suspect.
"Quiet Quiet or I'll have to freeze the lot of you."
The other police puts his radio back in his belt and says,
“Sir? Apparently this Internal Security Division is for real and they’re all accredited.”
1654 sighs deeply. The noise subsides. He checks Dermott’s ID again and hands it him back.
“There you go.”
Dermott looks up at the aged officer,
“Get me through this march, right? Where in a royal hurry here.”
“Well,” the officer sighs and combs his hand through his brushed back wood coloured rug, “the thing is it might be a bit tricky. Hold on.”
He puts his hat back on and talks into his phone. A surge in the noise and chanting of the march drown out McCabe’s muffled pleas.
1654 half shouts, “Apparently, you can get through up there on your right. Watch it though. The way things are..."
They both duck slightly as a mighty firework explodes up ahead somewhere.
“Thank you. You heard the man, Boydy. Let’s go.” He waves briefly at the now wide eyed officer and the windows close."
The two police watch the car speed off.
"You know Reg. Maybe that bloke was being kidnapped."
"What? Nah. Besides too much paperwork."
Boydy shoots the car into the road at an oblique angle and forces a gap in the parallel line of waiting traffic. High up a big plume of red smoke from the firework is swept towards the river. A horn blares then they hit the right hand kerb with a heavy thud. The security measures had seen to it that the last hundred yards of pavement before any march’s route are cleared of parked vehicles and so Boydy is able to speed the tilting car along the glistening pavement. Shop fronts and leaning pedestrians flash past. Boyd laughs,
“City Death Race three.”
“Lamp post Boydy.”
“… me out of this fucking car,” McCabe shouts
“Now, where was I?” Tony says and picks up his little bag from the floor. The muscles in Lisa’s jaw clench and turn rigid. Then hisses to McCabe,
“If you don’t shut it, McDuff or whatever your fucking name is, I’m going to really own you. I mean really. Fucking. Own you. Do you know what that means?
“Kind of.”
“It means I’ll punch you harder than that in your ugly pugly face and you’ll be waking up tomorrow fucking morning even uglier than you are now.”
She takes the small mirror off Tony. A cop on a horse by the junction raises his hand. They brake fifty metres behind some ragged police line.
“Fuck,” Lisa says “Fuck”. McCabe rubs his bruised thigh. To their left riot police run down the side of the road in tight formation.
“Mister McCabe.” Dermott leans back towards them. “You were well warned. Now if you utter one more word in front of his majesty’s finest up here about kidnapping, being detained or other such nonsense, I will authorise Lisa to turn distinctly Guantanamo on your sorry arse. Crystal?”
“Here.” Lisa says to McCabe and offers him the mirror. But he only replies,
"Oh. Drug surge." Tony says.
They brake behind the police lines and a constable moves towards them. She motions for the window and then orders them to wait. “This should be interesting.” she tells them. She shouts to a team of police to their right and waves them on. The ISD vehicle edges forward between rows of angry UAC police and into the midst of the crowded kettle of herded protesters.