Brains had shown the way; and damn it, why not take a break; she’d been at Hillock’s beck and call for what seemed like a lifetime. This was indeed an opportunity.
She stopped off at reception and bought a giant bar of chocolate. Enough to keep Angers snuffling at his trough: enough to put him in a good mood and listen. It was and it wasn’t.
As soon as he saw her, he started to bemoan the fact that Sophie had been discharged and he hadn’t. But his eyes shone like headlights when she produced the chocolate bar and “get well” card.
‘Temporary relief’, he said, while tearing off the wrapper and stuffing a large chunk into his gob. ‘For god’s sake don’t tell the Gestapo.’ Half the bar vanished before he sighed in what seemed like rapturous pleasure, and opened his card. He pointed to one message. ‘What’s this, then?’
It was hers.
Come back soon, all is forgiven
She only had to mention the name. ‘Hillock.’
He stopped chomping. ‘I had a word with him. I thought it was all settled.’ He looked closely at her. ‘Seems not ... now what’s he done?’
‘Bastard convinced Personnel to stand me down off duty. Officially, it’s called “sick leave.”
He appeared puzzled. ‘Why?’
‘Guv, you know me better than anyone. Operation Venus ... I identified a suspect who served time at Leyhill. I wanted some background, personal details and the like. Then some prick of a prison officer stonewalled me at the gate, wouldn’t let me in, and refused to call anyone. I got arsed ... lost it, actually.’ She paused, he was nodding in thought. ‘Hillock must have taken the backlash ... last straw they called it...’
He kept quiet. Started to chew on his chocolate again, licked his lips, found his tongue. ‘I thought you were smarter than that ... seems I was wrong there, also.’
That’s what Brains said, guv.’
‘My psychiatrist. If I can prove I’m sane, he signs me back on as being fit for duty.’
‘And I’m taking a break: getting away from it all. It’s not just a matter of mutual dislike; it’s about me. Getting a proper balance, and being able to channel my energies in a more productive way.’
He snorted. ‘Jackie … what a load of twaddle. Is that what Brains said?’
‘Well … maybe … that’s my understanding…’
‘Take it from me … every long-serving cop … every long–serving good cop faced with a never-ending crime rate, a lack of convictions, a lack of justice ... and an asshole of a boss ... hits the wall; burns out, blames the system.’ He sucked on another piece of chocolate and pointed the soggy end at her. ‘You’ve reached the wall ... it’s up to you to break through.’
Bloody hell. Where did that come from?
But it made sense. Or did it?
That’s why she needed a break. To think it through.
Or to go it alone, and find Danny Boy.
She left Angers slurping happily away at his bar; he was in no danger, expected to be released in a few days, then R&R at his home until he felt fit enough to return to work. And by the look on his face, he was ready to lock horns with the Pillock.
She couldn’t wait.