Street 37

A Crime novel based around Alfred Hurst, a former Royal Marine Commando who is still suffering from the after effects of war. Following his enrollment in the Police Force, he is faced with his harsh memories from the forces and the harsh reality of crime.

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2. Hurst: Wednesday Morning Blues

Alfie started awake. He rubbed his eyes drearily and turned his bedside lamp on. He turned to face himself in the mirror beside his bed and stared into his own cold, grey eyes. They were slightly bloodshot from a mixture of alcohol and lack of sleep. Looking away, Alfie popped the lid of a small tub and tipped a pair of Paracetamol into his open palm. Placing them into his mouth, he reflected on his dream. It wasn't hard to remember. It was always the same. A recollection of what had really happened. He had been back in Bosnia. Briefed and prepared, Alfies Royal Marines squadron had hopped into a jeep and set off. He had consulted his map, checking and double checking the street names and their corresponding numbers. His eyes had slid to their destination, Street 36. The Major's words still rung in his ears: "Whatever you do, stay off of Street 37, it's riddled with IEDs." That had been an understatement. They had pulled up at Street 38 and left the vehicle, preferring a silent approach. They had skirted round Street 37 and pulled up at the target building.

Voices inside had confirmed to Alfie that their intel had been spot on. The squaddie at the front opened the door and snuck inside. Alfie tried to warn him but it had been too late.

The soldier tripped the booby trap and the whole street shook. Two of the squad went down and Alfie had ran, under a hail of gunfire. He was hit by shrapnel in his right thigh and he could feel blood spurting from the wound. Ahead, he could just see the other remaining soldier and Alfie doubled his pace. They emerged onto the adjacent street and then everything was full of pain. There was pure heat and nothing felt in working condition anymore. He was vaguely aware of the other soldier landing on top of him, but Alfie knew nothing after that. He had woken up a week later in the field hospital, with the rest of his squad dead. That was always the end of the dream.

Alfie downed a glass of water and swallowed the pills. They didn't help. He still had a thumping headache. He  slid out of bed and slipped on a tee-shirt. Flicking off the light, he edged downstairs and turned the kitchen light on. He sidled over to a counter and pulled out a half empty bottle of Brandy. He took a swig and shuddered.

Hobbling into the sitting room, Alfie reflected on that day in the hospital. He had broken his right leg in three places and torn his hamstring. A bullet had also been recovered from his right knee. It would never fully heal. He didn't care about the leg. All he could think about were his dead crew. For years he hated himself for running, for not dying by their side. He took the cowards way out.

He had contemplated suicide, but wasn't that just as bad? He had been kept alive by the squaddie who landed on top of him. It would be a poor way to repay him. Dangling from the ceiling while he had died a hero's death. No, he would have to grin and bear it. Alfie was eventually discharged from the Marines because of his leg. He moped about his old house for a few years, watching Jeremy Kyle and eating. It was a whole three years before he had found work again. A thirty-five year old, driving around in an ice-cream van listening to Greensleeves until he couldn't stand it any more. He had renewed his local Gym membership and started going daily. On the dole for half a year but that didn't bother him. He had kept in shape and eventually found work at the local police station. Just a beat cop, dealing with petty thievery and the occasional drunken brawl. Then he got a promotion.

He worked his way through the ranks until he finally got the job as a D.I. That was four years ago. He was forty one and too old to be any good in the high speed chases. Now look at me, Hurst thought bitterly, forty five and still stuck with boot lickers like Cross. Hurst checked the clock on the wall. Six Thirty. He was due at the station at nine. That gave him two hours before he had to leave. He wasn't going to get back to sleep, not after the dream.

Alfie trudged to the T.V and turned it on. If he was lucky, there might be a decent show on. There wasn't. He read through the T.V guide. World's Craziest Police Videos, Top Gear, BBC Breakfast and an episode of Never Mind The Buzzcocks from two years ago.

He pulled a newspaper from the table and began trawling through it. The stabbing from two days ago was still front page news. "POLICE EXTEND QUESTIONING ON TWENTY-SIX YEAR OLD FOLLOWING GRUESOME STABBING." Gruesome. They didn't know anything about gruesome. Alfie threw the paper down and decided to head to work early. He limped upstairs and threw on a pair of Chinos. Grabbing his wallet from the bedside table, Alfie headed back down to the kitchen and extracted his keys from the side. He threw on a jacket and pulled open the door. A kid passed, holding a bunch of papers. He passed one to Alfie, who threw it inside before locking the door after him and opening the garage.

Inside was his red and grey Audi R8. Alfie jumped inside and settled into the leather seat, pressing the ignition and revving the engine. It purred softly as he eased it out of the garage. He turned out of the driveway and made for the station, stopping on the way to buy a bacon roll and a coffee. Feeling much more awake, Alfie pulled into the Police car park at ten past seven. He pulled out the car keys and shuffled out of the Audi, depositing his coffee cup in a nearby bin. Upon entry to the station, he was bombarded with questions. There weren't many occasions where Alfie Hurst was the quietest person in the room, but this was one of those times.

"In early again Alf?"

"Yeah, I thou-"

"Fancy a cup of coffee, Sir?"

"No, I'm O-"

"I've got the forensics report from Monday, Alfie."

"Great. I'll read it la-"

"They've got Barnes in Room 12 for questioning, mate."

"Tell them I'll be in there in fi-"

"Leave him alone! It's early!" Came the slow tones of a tall, dark skinned man with no hair and a sharp suit. The crowd dispersed and Alfie was left alone with this man, who was carrying a stack of official looking papers.

"Cheers, Dean." Alfie sighed. The men exchanged handshakes and the man called Dean looked Alfie up and down.

"You look a mess. When was the last time you shaved?"

"I don't know. A week, maybe." Alfie chuckled. He was glad to be having a regular conversation with a man who didn't seem to think that he would have an emotional breakdown whenever they spoke to him. Dean Sandsford was a decent bloke. He was about ten years younger than Alfie, but they joined the force at the same time, give or take a month. They had gone out for drinks a lot back then. Just two regular guys. Alfie had been less depressed. New job. Fresh start. He was happy. Dean was in the R.A.F, but left to pursue a career in law enforcement. He had done well for himself. He enjoyed desk work, so he was generally locked up in his office sifting through reports. It had been ages since they last went out together.

"They got that nutter from the stabbing in Room 12," Dean said, "Nathan Barnes."

"Cheers mate." Alfie gave him a tired smile and they went their separate ways. Alfie hung up his jacket and clocked in. An hour and forty five minutes early. He took the familiar path down to the interrogation rooms. He read the signs as he passed. Room 6: Detention Cell, Room 8: Psychiatric Analysis. He pressed his nose against the small window of room twelve and was annoyed to see Gordon Cross on the other side of the room, scowling and talking in an undertone to a woman Alfie knew all too well.

Penelope Shelldrake was tall, thin and old. She wore her greying hair in a pristine bow on the back of her head and was sporting an immaculate pinstriped suit and matching skirt. Her lips were pressed tightly together and she occasionally nodded curtly at something Cross was saying. Penelope Shelldrake despised Alfie nearly as much as Cross did. This would be a long interrogation. 

 

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