Monday, March 14, 2011

CSI: Ards (Crime Scene Investigation: Newtownards)

It's Sunday night. Newtownards looks like a town swallowed up in quicksand. A place full of cold resentment: empty of people, church towers and statues. Even the homeless have gone home. Without looking at each other, CSI Detective 51st Grade, O. Bluebottom, and CSI Detective 52nd Grade, A. Pinkbottom - both rookies in the PSNI - walk towards the crime scene. Their police car has been stolen as they guzzled food in a local hamburger joint. The vehicle resides a short distance away on a petrol station forecourt.

Both officers string up yellow tape. Their job now is to keep spectators and the media back from the crime scene. Not an easy task when there is no one about. Bluebottom and Pinkbottom turn away from the police car, spread their feet wide apart, and place their hands in each other's utility belt.

The Mobile Crime Team arrive. On sighting Bluebottom and Pinkbottom the flashing strobe lights bars immediately cease and the vehicle speeds towards Belfast. Chortling and catcalls flow from the disappearing car. 'They don't look like Dempsey and Makepeace, that's for sure! If I were married to Pinkbottom I'd start divorce proceedings, pronto. Do you think Bluebottom pees standing up or sitting down? Looks like he's fixing to cry.'

'See!' says Pinkbottom. 'Now, no one's talking to us.'

'Don't talk to me! It was you who was hungry and wanted to shave.' cries Bluebottom. 'Didn't we suffer enough yesterday? Arresting a mother because she called her kids Crystal and Coke. Asking who her suppliers and the producers were? What the hell were you thinking? On Monday you arrested a male for wearing one-legged shorts. HE ONLY HAD ONE LEG! He was wearing two-legged shorts, for Christ's sake! Couldn't you recognise the man's physical condition?'

Pinkbottom looks at Bluebottom. 'Has anyone said you look like the devil? Those bushy eyebrows, horns and long tail. No wonder your uniform doesn't fit right.' As the officers talk a monkey wanders under the yellow tape, jumps into the police car and drives off. The roar of the engine makes Bluebottom's mouth fall open, hit the ground, and swing back to hit Pinkbottom on the nose. Her eyes flare as she wipes blood from her chin. Their radios crackle: it's Det. Sgt. F. Blackbottom.

'You dare to call yourselves crime investigators! Your butts are in your heads. Just like mine. A monkey was seen driving a police car down East Street a few minutes ago at 5 mph. I 'd be obliged if you two monkeys would run along, apprehend the monkey, and take possession of the police car. And forget about commendations, medals, or promotions. I've arranged for both of you to be transferred to Belfast Zoo tomorrow. Permanently! I feel sorry for the poor animals. However, it must be done.'

The radio goes silent. It starts to rain as Bluebottom and Pinkbottom begin their frenzied run towards East Street. Some residents, aroused from their sleep by the collective cry of 'Ooh ooh ooh, ah ah ah', believe a Rave Party is taking place in local playing fields. Others conclude it is the rhythm of the rain, and placidly return to their dreams.

Reflection: The death of a check-out operator is more meaningful to his, or her, family than the death of a visionary, a genius, a zealot, or a winner of a Nobel Peace Prize.