writing

Retire

I’m still not good at updating this… I still have a backlog of about 3 weeks’ worth of one-hour writes to upload. This one was inspired by the word ‘retire’, and is, as usual, unfinished. I decided to write something I wouldn’t normally write, so this is first person, present tense. The experiment went well, but I think I’m always going to be a ‘third-person, past tense’ kinda gal. Anyway, here it is.

I am a good boy. I know I am, because they always say so. When I get a big drugs bust, they stroke me and call me good. I always wag my tail, but I don’t lick them, because that would be unprofessional. I am always professional. No one could accuse me of being soppy, or overly-affectionate. I like them, and we have a friendly relationship, but I am not a pet.

Until now.

PC Martin Burrows will be my owner. I’ll be his pet. I like Martin; we’ve had some adventures together, but everything has been strictly above board before. No licking, no snuggling. Like I say, I’m a professional. That said, I am looking forward to being part of a family. I know Martin is married, and I know his wife is pregnant with their first child. I will love this child. It will be like one of my pups. 

I look askance at Martin, his hands on the wheel, his face determined. Next to him sits PC Edward Burton. It took a while for them to warm up to each other, but now they’re quite friendly. That’s nice. I’m quite friendly with some of the dogs back at the station – Buster and Prince, especially. I’ll miss them when I’m gone. I’ll miss sniffing their bottoms and going to the toilet together. Still, things change. Their time will come. They’re still only 4, whereas I’m the very nearly the wrong side of 8. Retirement beckons. 

A call comes through on the radio. There’s to a be a raid on the warehouse by the docks. Big one, apparently. 

Martin turns his face towards me, sitting in the back.

“How about it, boy?” he says. “One last bust before you get to laze about all day?”

I’m there already, I tell him, through pants. (Barking is very frowned upon unless essential). Martin puts his foot on the accelerator, Edward turns the blue lights and siren on, and then we’re off, racing towards my last job.

It was a big one, all right. Heroin, with a street value of £3 million. Good thing we took that off the streets. I even got to bark a bit too, release a bit of energy. And now we’re back at the station and can you believe it? They’ve organised a little do for me. For me! I’m beyond touched.

The police are all eating chocolate cake and I’m eating a dog-friendly version, made with tripe and chicken livers. It’s delicious. They’ve put up some ‘happy retirement’ bunting and written me a card. That was sweet, but I can’t read, so Martin’s holding onto it for now. There’s a real party atmosphere and I’m going to miss this, I realise suddenly. Yes, I always knew I would miss it, but it hadn’t hit me before. This is the last time I’ll see DS Cooper and his 1998 World Cup mug, which he loves. The last time I’ll see Sergeant Wolfe, who is very fond of me, and used to give me pats on the head when she thought no one was looking. They’re a good crew. 

Do I really want this? Do I want to give all this in, just to chase my tail all day? Chasing my tail is fun, I’ll admit, and yes, I’ve had a few celebratory chases when we’ve done a good shift at the airport, but it’s not, well, it’s not fulfilling. You chase your tail, you catch it, then what? You’ve got a mouth full of tail. I’m not sure that would be the most efficient use of my time.

I’m milling this all over in my head, when Sergeant Wolfe comes over to me and Martin. She’s smiling, and Martin smiles back at her. 

“May I?” she says, indicating the empty chair next to Martin. 

“Of course!” he says. “Pull up a pew.”

She sits down, and for a minute, neither of them say anything. 

“I’m going to miss this little bugger,” says Sergeant Wolfe, breaking the silence. 

“I’ll bring him in every now and then,” says Martin. “It’s not like you’ll never see him again. And there’s all the other dogs.”

 “I know,” she sighs and scratches my ears in that spot she knows I love. “But Toto’s always been my favourite, haven’t you, Toto?” She scrunches up my fcae with her last words. I wag my tail involuntarily. I’ve always held Sergeant Wolfe in the highest esteem. Always referred to her as Sergeant Wolfe, despite all the other dogs calling her Sarah. It’s a sign of respect, always referring to her by her job title. But maybe I’ll call her Sarah, just for now. 

Sarah clears her throat. “How’s the wife coming along?” she asks.

“Good, good,” says Martin. 

“Not long now, is it?”

“Two months,” he grins. “Just time to get this one – “ he indicates me “ – settled and then yes, parenthood beckons.”

I thought she’d be pleased for him, but to my surprise, she bursts into tears. It is evidently to Martin’s surprise too, because he immediately starts flustering and isn’t sure what to do. 

“I’m sorry,” sobs Sarah into a tissue that she’s pulled out of her sleeve. “It’s just, I’m so lonely. You’ve got your wife, a child on the way, and now you’re getting my favourite dog…” She tails off. I feel a puff of pride. I was her favourite! I’ve always been fond of her, so I put my head in her lap, but this only makes her worse. I hastily retreat while she hiccups and apologises. 

“Why,” says Martin, treading very carefully, “don’t you come round for dinner one night? I make a mean mushroom risotto.”

She looks up at him, smiling through her tears.

“That would be nice,” she manages.