By the late Cathy Lynn Goodwin
Set within Sun Hill, mid-1990s: Featuring Cathy Marshall, with June, Norika, Sue Ford, Boyden, etc.
[The Bill is (C) Thames-Carlton TV. This is a fan-written story and no infringement of character copyrights is intended.]
It wasn't exactly a cold, not quite the flu either for that matter, but whatever had taken hold of Cathy Marshall, it was quite debilitating enough to make her seriously consider going home sick, and this after just arriving at work. Getting dressed was even an effort and she kept pretty much to herself in the locker room. Norika and June chatted on and compared notes about dinner dates that previous night, and Cathy skillfully sidetracked Norika when she asked if anything was wrong. She appreciated Norika's concern; she just didn't feel up to explaining when she wasn't sure how she felt herself.
Cathy couldn't decide which was worse: the pain behind her eyes, the accompanying headache, the congestion, the dull throb in her back, or the fact that her ears were blocked and constantly ringing. During parade, finding it difficult to concentrate, she was in two minds but the Relief were short handed already what with Tony Stamp on leave and Dave Quinnan on a course. When Sgt. Boyden assigned her front desk duty, she decided that she could soldier on. It was probably one of those twenty four-hour things anyway.
Indeed, the front desk was proving to be fairly quiet, with one or two inquiries easily dealt with and mostly paperwork, keeping property lost and found books and other daily registers up to date, and Cathy got to refs thinking that she'd make it through to booking off okay. It was in the canteen that Sgt. Boyden found her.
Norika had twisted her ankle during a pursuit that morning apparently, not serious, but enough to prevent her from continuing on patrol. As Skipper, Sgt. Boyden told her he would have readily taken over for the rest of the shift, but he was due to step in for Sgt. Cryer as custody sergeant for about an hour and a half while Bob attended a dentist appointment. It boiled down to would she be willing to relieve Norika on 6 Beat for the remainder of the shift?
Cathy groaned inwardly but kept her expression neutral. If she'd known this was going to happen she would have taken sick leave when she actively considered it earlier. Then again, she probably wouldn't. She did her best to force a cheery smile and nodded.
"All right, sarge."
So Cathy found herself pounding 6 Beat, and soon discovered that putting one foot in front of the other was a draining task. The thought that she should have bottled out and owned up to Boyden came to mind, that she should have suggestion a reshuffle with an able-bodied June Ackland in the CAD room. She was certain June wouldn't have minded.
Engaged in these thoughts, Cathy practically came on top of a disturbance attracting a small, partly bored, and half-amused crowd, before she realised it.
Two young men, one an IC 2, the other an IC 3, were arguing in the street following a minor collision at a set of traffic lights. Cathy ignored the men to examine the damage, which turned out to be small dent in the Astra's rear bumper - a simple shunt. The two blokes were merely venting their spleens over the other's driving abilities - or lack of them. It was creating a nuisance nevertheless.
"All right you two, pack it in," she held up her hands for silence. No immediate response however, so she told them to shut up at the top of her voice, and they fortunately, finally, responded to the authority in her tone and her uniform. She got them to move the cars out of the way and supervised as they exchanged insurance details, and Cathy was very glad that the situation hadn't deteriorated into something ugly, which is so often the case. Her headache as a result suddenly increased to the point where she decided to hell with it, and fumbled in her handbag for her tablets, intending to check it in, to call the situation to tell them that she couldn't carry on. Perhaps even organise a swap with June. CAD room duty she thought she could manage. Just as she bent to speak into the storno the PR set itself squelched and June came on the line.
"487 from Sierra Oscar. Receiving, over."
"487." She knew she wasn't going to like this.
"Cathy, we've got a neighbour reporting loud abusive shouting from the house next door. 23 Shepherd Street. Sounds like a domestic. Can you deal?"
Cathy kept her expression of dismay carefully untransmitted, but she couldn't very well say no, the address was at the end of the street she was currently in. Running out of the sinus tablets hadn't helped her plight, and Cathy looked ruefully at the chemists fifty yards down the road, but you couldn't delay on a domestic shout, she knew that only too well. She abandoned her thoughts on replenishing her supply, and thumbed the transmit button.
"On my way."
The house was very neat, lush, well-kept garden, sparkling clean windows, brass ornamental doorknob highly polished. Her knock immediately ceased the argument that had been raging, and on opening the door the elderly, though spry, gentleman, looked quite shocked to see her there.
In the end it was as easy as a cup of tea and her presence as an intermediately that resolved the disagreement between Mr and Mrs East. Mr East wanted to play golf instead of mowing the lawn as promised. It was amazing how such blazing rows could start over something so trivial. Cathy suggestion that Mr East could run the mower over the front yard before going to golf and do the backyard tomorrow, Mrs East agreed to this as an acceptable solution and Mr East relented and said that he would. Cathy was glad in any event for the chance of the cup of tea and a sit down and it was with real reluctance she continued her patrol. Now, for the tablets.
"487 from Sierra Oscar. Receiving, over?"
"487, go ahead, June."
"Cathy can you meet WPC Ford at Sam's Grocery. Assist with the transport of a suspected female shoplifter. 242 Gordon Street, near the bootmaker's."
"Right. I'm on my way>"
Sam's Grocery was a dingy sort of place, old and literally stacked with stock, arranged without too much marketing skill or imagination. It reminded her of one of those old fashioned second-hand book shops in the city's backstreets with volumes stacked up to the rafters in no particular order, where it could take you the better part of the day to find the one you were looking for, if at all.
Entering the shop, seeing the panda parked at the curb, Cathy expected to find Sue Ford inside and did, out the back taking notes. Sam, a big West Indian with a wide bright smile, wasn't smiling on this occasion and he was genuinely sorry about the incident, but shop lifting had been going on too long, he told them, and he must be seen to be doing something about it or the rest of the locals would consider him a soft touch. The woman, a young mother, also of West Indian extraction, had tucked away cans of tomatoes and Irish stew when Sam detained her and she sat quietly enough, a little weepy, while she explained herself to Sue. The two PCs then escorted Dorothy Simpson to the panda and were just assisting her into the vehicle when the shout came.
"All units, all units, this is Sierra Oscar," it was Sgt. Maitland's even, unexcited call. "Serious disturbance outside The Green Man public house, Farquar Street. Units, attending, acknowledge."
"That's just around the corner," Cathy told Sue, probably unnecessarily. "Can you manage with this one?" she pointed to Mrs Simpson.
"No problem," Sue nodded, then added, "why don't you let the boys handle it? The Green Man's spit and sawdust."
Cathy seemed unperturbed. "This is my beat, Sue, my responsibility."
Sue smiled. "Well try not to get there ahead of the van, eh?" Cathy understood the sentiment, patted her on the arm and set off quickly.
In fact she did arrive ahead of the reinforcements, but only just. About ten youths all IC 1s and aged between 18 and 25 she guessed were brawling amongst themselves. The publican had waded in to separate two of the youths and had himself come under attack. As the burly forms of George Garfield, Barry Stringer and Sgt. Boyden surged past her to get to grips with the slags, Cathy stepped in to try and pry off one of the youths grappling with the publican. Steve Loxton and Reg Hollis also appeared, abandoning Sierra One half mounted on the footpath, and soon the scene resembled a free-for-all.
Her collar was proving to be more than a handful. He was only small but like most boys his age was strong and sinewy. He punched her in the arm in retaliation to her slamming down on his wrist to let the publican go, which he did, only to grab her in a bear hug doing her ribs no good at all. Finally she lost her temper, stamped her foot down onto the boy's thin trainer and fended off his grip. She then kneed him in the groin without reservation and pushed him to the ground as he tried to contend with the pain, then grabbed one arm, cuffed it and wrenched it behind his back while holding a knee, vice-like, on his other free arm. Just as she completed the process, Barry Stringer appeared by her side to give assistance. He looked at her with appreciation.
"Nice one, Cath."
With his help she hauled the youth to his feet. "You're in dead lumber, chummy," she glared at her prisoner. Barry pulled him away towards the van before he had a chance to retort.
The situation was virtually under control now, and Cathy climbed into the passenger's side of the van and looked across to Sgt. Boyden just getting in behind the wheel. He had sustained a small cut over his left eye but seemed otherwise unhurt. Behind them, in the rear of the van, the noise told them that the melee seemed to be continuing despite the presence of George and Barry. Cathy relaxed in the seat and rubbed a weary hand over her face. Boyden tossed his cap onto the seat and applied his handkerchief to the wound.
"Bloody lager louts, they're more trouble than the whole of the London criminal fraternity, I swear," he shook his head, then turned to her. "'ere, you're not hurt?" he asked in concern.
"No, it'd take a sight more than that little toerag to hurt me," she explained with a grin, and Boyden believed that to be the case. "Bit of a cold or sommit, that's all."
"Best cure for it, I reckon."
He folded the handkerchief and reapplied it. "Nothing like a ruck to get you goin' when you feel a bit iffy. Takes your mind of it, it does."
Oddly, Cathy found that she did feel less congested and her head was a lot clearer. It was a contradiction in terms when you thought about it but maybe it had something to do with starve a cold and feed a fever, or was that the other way round? She could never remember. One thing was certain; she did feel much better, no denying it.
"Reckon you might be right, sarge. Bit of a barney's just the thing when you're feeling under the weather."
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