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Gag Order – Installment 20 – An Outdated Vocation

Back in her small office, Tatyana flipped through the case file again. Looking up, she said, ‘What’s the worst case scenario?’

‘It would blow up in our faces only if we found something,’ said Peter.

‘What are the chances of finding something?’

‘If it’s there, we’ll find it,’ replied Peter.

‘Find something at this stage and we’ll look sloppy,’ said Tatyana, with a sigh. ‘Don’t do it and Bronn will make us look sloppy.’

‘I did warn you about Bronn.’

‘Yeah, yeah, I know. I hate this job.’ She leaned back, resigned, and studied the veteran inspector. She said, ‘What keeps you going, huh? The money is shitty, the hours demented. Where’s the silver lining?’

‘For you, this is just a job—’

‘Like hell it is!’

A silence fell over them. Then, Tatyana relented and spoke in a softer tone, ‘Ever wondered why after a pocketful of medals and a wall full of citations you remain an inspector, probably the oldest inspector in the force. You know why? Because you’re so bloody outspoken! Upstairs frown on it.’

‘This is not to fill my résumé, to maneuver for the next promotion. That’s for scholars like you, not me.’

‘Bloody hell, Peter, and for you it’s a vocation I suppose,’ said Tatyana.

‘Yes, a vocation, a calling if you like. We get to put away the bad guys.’

Tatyana scoffed.

‘Then occasionally,’ said Peter, continuing as if she had not interrupted, ‘we spring free a good guy, even if it means rotten eggs on our faces.’

‘You like the smell of rotten eggs?’

‘No, I doubt anyone does. But like you, I relish the idea of being on the winning side.’ And after a pause, he added, ‘No matter who wins.’

‘No matter who wins?’ said Tatyana. ‘And how does springing the accused free, gives us a medal?’

‘There you go again, medals and citations.’

‘Okay, okay.’ Tatyana held up her hand. ‘But how is it that you win, no matter who wins?’

‘It means with all the loose nuts and bolts in the works, our boss’ focus on statistics to make themselves look good to their political masters, the refusal to own responsibility, and the penchant for blaming junior officers when things turn turtle—the system works,’ said Peter, his voice having grown passionate. ‘The system works, the system wins, and we win!’

‘Your comments are dangerous and also naïve, and they’re not dishing out medals for that,’ said Tatyana. After a moment, she again raised her hand and said, ‘Okay, wrong choice of words!’

Peter snorted and smiled.

Tatyana leaned forward and said, ‘I might regret this, but, okay. Get the lab boys on it. Look for rotten eggs.’

Peter rose to leave but stopped when Tatyana said, ‘You’re a good man, Peter. It’s people like you who make us proud.’

‘Thank you, Ana. Your words are worth more than the plastic smile from the law minister when he handed me my last citation,’ said Peter. And with a tiny smile, he slowly eased out of the office.

Tatyana sighed and shook her head. “Peter, Peter, Peter!’

The bullpen in Damodar, Bronn and Associates was quiet and most of the lights doused, the staff having long left for the night.

Wilona was intent on case notes, referring to thick tomes and scribbling on a yellow pad. She sensed a movement and looked up, shocked.

Jeevan was standing over the cubicle and observing her. The dark office and low light above her head had kept him well hidden.

‘God, Jeevan! Stop doing that!’

‘Plastered in court, huh?’

‘I’ve had better days,’ said Wilona. She remained purposely fixated on her work. And her eyes spied the cellphone inside her opened drawer.

‘How did it go? That appointment?’

‘Oh, marvelous!’ said Wilona.

‘Want to tell me about it?’

‘Have you seen this,’ said Wilona and handed him a news report. After distracting him, her hand reached and surreptitiously hit a fast dial on the cellphone. Then, her knee pushed the drawer shut.

‘Yes, people moving from the Bench to the AG’s and from the AG’s to the Bench is quite common,’ said Jeevan.

‘Does this not pose a conflict of interest?’

‘It’s kinda late and perhaps for another time,’ said Jeevan. ‘So, that appointment, want to tell me about it?’

‘It’s kinda late and perhaps if it materializes.’

Jeevan started to say something but a ringing telephone jarred the silence.

‘Your land line,’ said Wilona quickly, and pointed to his office.

Jeevan, torn between ignoring and taking the call, reluctantly left, as the telephone continued to ring.

The ringing continued and fumbling fingers snatched the receiver off the hook.

‘ASP Lee!’

‘It’s late, what’re you doing in the office?’ said a familiar voice.

‘Get to it, Peter!’

“Sorry. I’m in the lab. You’re not going to believe what we found,’ said Peter.

*** Copyright @ Eric Alagan, 2017 ***

*** Join me Saturday, 19 August  for the Revelation ***