Starving, I was, after a horrendously long morning where every attempt at getting some food down my gullet was scuppered by chance. The timing was so bad, that I decided to do an experiment.
"Hey Kim," I said, turning to the officer in the passenger seat. "Watch this. I know there's a cafe just around the corner. If I stop outside it, there's going to be an I-grade coming in".
She laughed, but took the bet.
"Right, well, if we get a call in the next one minute, I'll buy you lunch when we finally get there today."
Of course, sod's law struck nearly immediately, and as soon as I pulled up outside the cafe, our radios crackled into life.
"We've just had a call from a neighbour stating that they heard shouting that a man was going to beat someone to death. The address is known for violent domestic incidents."
I looked over at Kim and raised an eyebrow. She looked back and shrugged.
"Lunch is on me", she said, and grabbed the radio. "Show two-four to your last", she said, and reached for the in-car computer display to read the details that were being beamed over to us.
It wasn't until four hours, and a pretty straight-forward domestic arrest later that I was able to sag down in a chair in the mess hall in the police station. Kim was finishing up the paperwork related to the arrest, but since I wasn't the arresting officer, my notes were far quicker. I did want to help her, but she waved me off and sent me to get us some food. Since the new shift had gone on duty, I finally sat with a fighting chance of actually being able to eat the sandwich I had purchased.
As I was musing whether I wanted the meat-and-cheese sandwich or the egg-and-cress sandwich first, I was struck with an utter inability to decide. Funny; not four hours before, it had taken me less than a fraction of a blink of an eye to decide to take a door down, but now, somehow, the eternal cress-or-ham question seemed unovercomeable. I was in full realisation that what I was doing was ludicrous, but decided to open both packages, smell both of them, and then decide which one to eat first.
Suddenly, something from the conversation behind me made my ears twitch. Were I a dog, my ears would be pointing backwards, without a doubt.
"I really like what he's doing, though," one voice said.
"What was his name, you said?" the other said.
"Dee-lito or something," said the first.
"Huh. Interesting. How often does he write?"
"I need to look it up, I guess. Gizmodo, you say?"
"Yeah, the UK one. You know what's even weirder, though? I googled him, to see if there was any more info about who he might be."
"Did you find anything?"
"Well, I do recognise a lot of the places, but the weird thing is, there was a story a while back. Do you remember I had to deal with that case with the mother, where the kid had died, and she refused to believe it?"
"What, the one where she was carrying the dead baby around?"
"Well, in one of the stories, he writes up that exact story, but as if it happened to him."
"Tell you what, though, it's better than I would have been able to tell it. The reason I realised it was what happened to me, is that he included Jake."
"Oh shit, yeah -- he got sliced in the arm, didn't he?"
"Wow. Do you think he works with us?"
I was chewing on my sandwich without tasting a thing. Here I was, hearing them talk about me, right behind me. I didn't recognise the voices, but I did, of course, know the officer whose story I had re-told. He is on a different team than me, but we had been on an Operation Blunt a few days after it happened, and he had told the story to all of us. It stuck with me as a perfect example of the kind of thing my readers should know about; the sort of thing that some police officers have to deal with, perhaps even struggle with mentally for a long time.
"Maybe. I guess I've told the story quite a few times now," said the first officer. "And quite a few of the details had changed, but there can't be that many instances of this happening -- especially with an officer getting jabbed in the arm as well, right?"
"Yeah, I think you're right. Ha, I really need to look him up now."
"Oh -- yes, that was what I was saying, so I googled him, and I found him on Amazon!"
"Yeah, he's got a book coming out in April, apparently!"
"Oh wow. That's mental. Definitely checking that out. Anyway, I need to get cracking, got to go see the governor about the job car I wrote off last week."
"Shit, I completely forgot," the officer said as they walked toward the door. "How's your leg?"
"Fine, fine. I think I might put on a bit of a limp for the guv though," the other officer laughed, and started dragging his leg behind him, The Usual Suspect- style. "Get some sympathy, you know?"
Their laughing echoed through the room for what seemed like days after they left.
Shit, I had been so ridiculously close to being outed. Perhaps it's time to lie low for a while.
The above story happened quite a while ago, and as it turned out, I wasn't outed as being who I was. Phew!
In the meantime, however, I have had a couple of rather interesting things happening in my life. One of them involves Kim, but I can't write about that quite yet. Another involves my work: Against all odds, I was chosen for a transfer to a different department of the Metropolitan police, where there is a tremendous opportunity. I will still be on the streets, but this time in unmarked cars, fighting a whole different kind of crime. The downside of this promotion and transfer is that my new job is a lot more sensitive (I had to go through another round of security clearance), and I won't be able to write anything about it, which obviously means that I can't keep writing as often as I have been.
There are still many, many stories to be told; many an anecdote I'd like to share, and there's the matter of Kim, of course... so I'll try to keep writing here on Giz UK on a monthly basis at least.
If you want to be notified when there's news about the book, I've set up one of these mailing list things, so feel free to do whatever people do with mailing list sign-up thingies these days.
Until next time,
Matt Delito is a pseudonym for a policeman working for the Metropolitan Police. All Notes from the Frontline are not entirely “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth,” due to the sensitive nature of the business, but are all based on actual events. These days, he’s on Facebook and Twitter as well.
Matt has a book based on his Notes from the Front Line column out now - you can get it from Amazon, in paperback or on Kindle.
If you missed his previous columns on Giz UK, check them out over here.