By the late Cathy Lynn Goodwin
Set within Sun Hill, mid-1990s: Featuring Reg and Tony.
[The Bill is (C) Thames-Carlton TV. This is a fan-written story and no infringement of character copyrights is intended.]
Been a good day, all in all, a nice warm Summer's day and Tony Stamp was thankful that it hadn't been a boring one, either. Having Reg Hollis as your oppo in the area car could be a taxing experience and he was just wondering yet again, what he had done to Sgt Maitland to deserve such a thing. The bloke could rabbit on for hours and after a shift with him you often felt you'd done a week of lectures at Hendon. They'd been busy enough, though, to keep Reg's mind on the task at hand and not off on some scheme to do a study on family relationships within the job, or worse still, AIDS. One of these days someone will come forward and challenge him for that precious job of Federation Rep and poor old Reg will come crashing to earth with a thud. Still, no one ever said he wasn't a good copper and that was true enough, insufferable at times though he could be.
Federation matters, for a change, were far from Reg's mind. He had been thinking about film stars. Hed always fancied himself as a man of action; funny that none of the others had ever noticed. Didn't he disarm that nutter with the shotgun in the benefits office that time? Or, that bloke Ramponi who'd taken him and that bird Wendy hostage? Murdered his wife, he did, though Reg didn't know it at the time. Didn't that prove he had the bottle, just like those fellers you saw on the screen?
"'Ere, Tone," he spoke up cheerily, "you seen any films lately? There's a gooden on at the moment."
Tony turned to glance at him briefly. "Yeah, whats that, then?"
"You know, one of them action adventure pictures, at the Odeon it is, with Arnold Whatsisname."
Tony nodded. "Seen it. Didnt fancy it much. 'Sides," he turned on one of his cheekiest grins, "not a patch on me, is he?"
They both laughed. Reg turned to the side window nearest and spotted it by chance really, a bag snatch pure and simple. The young toe-rag pushed an elderly woman to the ground, tore the bag from her hands and was away on his toes. Reg shouted for Tony to stop the car, and was out of the door immediately the wheels had stopped turning. He hit the ground running, hot in pursuit. Tony got off the brakes, kicked the accelerator and roared off, aiming to get to the car park one over, the direction hed seen the boy running, into the maze of car parks and access roads in the back area of the high street.
Reg quickly checked that the woman wasn't hurt, got one of the bystanders to stay with her, then bolted after the suspect, a clear mental picture of the latter already imprinted on his mind: IC One, male, five eight, slim build, sandy hair, wearing jeans, sweat shirt and trainers. He took the corner so hard he almost lost his footing, but recovered by throwing out a hand to steady himself. Reg could see the back of the youth about two hundred yards up ahead, and tried to lengthen his stride to make up ground. The suspect had a good start and Reg wasn't known for the beauty of his style, still, he was a stayer and felt confident that he could run him down provided he kept him in sight. He saw the youth look back at him then make a sharp left into the service way behind the shops.
Tony meanwhile had called it in, and switched on the blue light only as he weaved the area car through the customer parking of the hypermarket, looking left and right in the hope of picking them up again, worried that he may be in the wrong place after all.
Round the corner, Reg found himself in trouble. The kid had brought down some dustbins and empty boxes behind him as he raced by the rear-loading door of the greengrocers. Reg reacted too slowly to either leap over the mess or avoid it altogether. His only other option was to try and barge through it. He succeeded in doing none of these things and simply fell over the lot. By the time hed sorted himself out and got back onto his feet he was concerned that hed lost the suspect after all that. Hurt a bit from the fall, he set off at an easy trot and took the next right at a guess - nothing. A left almost immediately, beside Timson's junk shop, and he was rewarded with the sight of the youth heading for the lane behind the old cinema. Suddenly he hopped the dilapidated paling fence as soon as hed made the lane, and disappeared from view. Reg sprinted the rest of the way then slowed to follow suit and noticed that Tony had pulled in at the end of the lane, but he knew he wasn't going to get in that way.
When Tony found the alley blocked by two stripped and burnt-out cars, he swore. He could see Reg climbing the fence into the old cinema and quickly put the car into reverse. Straining in his seat to check that there was nothing behind him, he swore again as the wheels spun in the soft dry earth before gaining traction and dragging the car into the desired direction. Wrenching the steering wheel round with one hand, he threw the T-bar into drive with the other and banged his foot down onto the accelerator simultaneously. The area car burst from the self-made dust cloud and sped away.
Reg stepped down from a large packing crate lying against the fence and moved towards the building. The rear door lock had been smashed a while ago by the looks and the empty food containers and other human waste (and also a plastic sack smelling decidedly of something dead), probably needles if he looked hard enough, indicated that the place was being used as a doss-house and maybe even a shooting gallery. He carefully opened the door and a beam of dust-filled light streamed into the dark interior. Wondering where the hell Tony had gotten to, he searched for something to hold the door open and found a length of paling suitable to prop against it.
Reg slipped the truncheon from his trouser leg pocket and swung it into his hand just in case. A further door, off its hinges and ajar, led him into the stalls beside the damaged projection screen - part of the ceiling had fallen in and there was building rubbish; plastic, bricks and ornamental masonry everywhere, covering seats and the floor. The place smelled really awful, a mixture of damp, rotting carpet and upholstery, wood, and stale urine. Reg was extra careful where he stepped in case the floor gave way beneath him.
Tony succeeded in getting the car through a narrow gap between the buildings and turned into a tiny quadrangle where he abandoned it and ran to the entrance of the cinema.
Reg had made his way past the screen, up the centre aisle to the junction of what used to be the front and back stalls, but he wasnt quite sure what happened next. One moment he was checking the area, looking for the suspect, then he was on his hands and knees, blood running from his nose and mouth, and there were tears in his eyes. That hed taken a wallop in the face he didn't need to be told. He was stunned and couldn't seem to get to his feet. In fact, trying to, he fell over backwards in a heap and lay still.
Tony pulled off the loose planks boarding up the main door and put his shoulder into it, and it gave way fairly easily. He squeezed into the opening with a little effort and, with a hand on his PR to stop it from rattling, jogged through the old foyer to the theatre doors. The locking bar still worked and he pushed the door open and went in.
The young suspect practically ran into him, not looking where he was going in his flight. Tony literally grabbed the lad in a bear-hug and forced him to the floor, where he struggled with him before managing to extract his handcuffs. The youth kept yelling and screaming at Tony to let him go.
"Keep still or I'll break your arm," Tony warned him sharply hoping that the threat alone was enough to frighten him.
Realising the futility of further struggle, the boy stopped fighting and Tony got the cuffs on. He got up and hauled the youth to his feet.
"You're nicked, sunshine."
"Naff off!" was the reply.
"Shut it, right!" Tony turned to survey the room. "Reg?" he called out loudly. "Reg!"
He heard a moan and a strained voice. "Over 'ere."
Tony followed the voice, a secure grip on his suspect, who was sullen and glaring at him. Tony shoved him into one of the seats.
"Stay there!" Not far over, he reached down with a powerful arm and helped Reg's lighter frame up from between the seats. Reg was bleeding but seemed otherwise unhurt. Tony shook his head.
"Arnold Whatsisname, eh? You know, you bring a new meaning to the term Rated R, Reg me old son.
"Yeah, 'R, as in Reg. " He smiled sympathetically, sure that Reg didn't have a clue what he was on about, so he offered him his handkerchief. "Anyway, you know what they say, mate: There's too much violence in the cinema these days."
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