I’ve set the scene in previous posts with bodily parts and functions and this is one that everybody does.
THE CASE OF THE FLATULENT FLATFOOT. Shift work is hard on the digestive system, full stop. You’re having breakfast at 6pm and lunch at 2am and none of what you are eating is usually any good for you. I was stationed in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane and performed my fair share of beat duty. I actually found it very enlightening, you came up against a huge variety of people and situations and were exposed to a wide variety of ethnic foods. The Valley, is Brisbane’s version of Sydney’s Kings Cross though not as wild. It still has its fair share of hookers, hoodlums, vagrants and drug dealers, etc. It just didn’t have the ‘glamour.’ It has a China town, brothels and when I was there (in the early 80’s) casinos and corruption.
I’m a man who’ll give anything a go when it comes to food, (except brains) there were always strange-looking things hanging in the windows of Chinese takeaways, some curry shops and of course, Italian food. There was a strong Italian presence in the Valley which added to the rich heritage of the place. Now there were four beat patrols in the Valley, they started and finished on the corner of Wickham and Brunswick streets. Which meant that you could always get a feed from within a fifty metre area. You weren’t supposed to deviate off your set beat, unless called.
Within this radius was a tiny upstairs Italian pizzeria, supposedly owned by a well-known crime gang member. You have to remember, I’m an equal opportunity eater, when it comes to a feed I don’t discriminate. We had the option of going back to the station for our meal break, or eating out. I was on the 3 till 11pm shift and my break came up about 8pm, I was starving. I logged off and went upstairs to have a REAL pizza. The café looked like every Italian café I’d seen in the movies, the décor was straight out of the Godfather. Dark, intimate and noisy until I walked in. You’ve seen the movies, everybody stops talking, waiters frozen in position, forks held to mouths, then it all starts up again. Only you feel like a guest of honour at a Klan meeting.
I have a thick skin and find a table, in due course the waiter brings a pizza that makes anything I’d eaten up till that point made out of play-dough. The crust is thick and cheesy, it has meat, peppers, mushrooms, pineapple, onions – I could go on. Along with a large cup of coffee, the likes of which I’d never tasted – it was like angels crying on your tongue. Good manners prevented me from licking my plate. I pushed myself from the table and paid the bill. (Didn’t want to be into the mob for anything) Continuing my patrolling I felt a tremble reverberate through my stomach, a couple of polite burps and I was fine.
At 10-55pm the duty sergeant made his rounds, dropping off the new crew and picking up the old. I ended up in the middle of the back seat. Sitting down must have started something. There is a moment when you think that you can hang on, that you don’t want to make a scene. That it is in fact impolite to break wind in public and you don’t want to subject a captive audience to your trombone like emissions. Now it has only been in the last decade that I’ve been diagnosed with an irritable bowel, although I’ve had it for many years. On that unforgettable Friday night it was more than irritable, it was: cross, snarling, petulant, ill-tempered a might tetchy and a tad crotchety.
The first sonorous rumblings seemed inoffensive at first, almost acceptable in polite male company but the beast had been unleashed. Now it broke forth, an unrestrained, malodorous, blitzkrieg attack on its innocent victims. The driver reacted first, bringing the patrol car to a screeching halt outside the Valley pool. He switched on the flashing lights and dashed to the footpath. The sergeant in the front seat had a minor problem, his seat-belt stuck for a moment. The men on either side couldn’t get out at first, they hadn’t undone the child safety locks. Eventually they all stood on the footpath, gagging. I on the other hand sat there laughing, I know, it was impolite and churlish but so bloody funny. The sight of four coppers who’d all come across the stench of death almost brought to their knees by a recycled Italian pizza. I had to drive the car to the station on my own, they refused to get back in.
ON BEING WALLOPED BY WOMEN. A quiet Saturday afternoon in the Valley could be boring and when you are patrolling in the Drunks Van you can’t get out of the way. The blasted thing stood out. One would get the odd call for assistance, pick up a beat copper and his pinch and transport them to the watch house. If you’re lucky you find your own and add another one to the kill sheet(not literal). Taking a turn down a quiet street can bring untold bounty, arrest wise, and there she stood – an Aboriginal woman, all 360 pounds of her.
I never discriminated as a policeman, you broke the law you got nicked, simple. Some people just made it easier for you. The reason we stopped wasn’t about her ethnicity or the fact she was drunk, it was because of the hold she had on her male companion. You’ve all heard the phrase, ‘Customs, doing a baggage check’ and someone grabs your cluster. Well this bloke was just a tad short of getting a cavity search. A drunken white chap who would’ve punched well below his weight with this one, didn’t seem overly concerned that she was stripping his pockets out with her free hand.
The look on his face reminded me of a Labrador eating treats, tongue out, drooling, eyes glazed. It was a fine summers day and we were wearing short-sleeved shirts, my off-sider hopped out and took hold of the bloke (smart move). I approached the woman and without missing a beat(she still held his cluster) she let fly with a straight right. This is reminiscent of the testicle story I know but this occurred a couple of years before that, a time when I was still naïve. My naivety disappeared along with the ability to breathe through my nose for a while. Thump, I staggered back and landed flat on my bum in the middle of the road. Dazed, I watched as this behemoth came at me. She’d let go of the little bloke’s todger and like a new-born duckling transferred her attentions to me. I felt like the new wrestler in the ring who knows he’s only there for the champ to hit on.
I managed to sit up halfway before she grabbed the front of my shirt, she almost lifted me to my feet before the fabric called it quits. Straight off it went to be flung to the road. My mate by this time had jumped on her back, followed by the little bloke who could see his romantic interest being taken away. By now the immortal words of Popeye the Sailor man came to me, ‘This is all I can stands, I can stands no more.’ Without the benefit of spinach or background music I tackled her to the footpath. It wasn’t pretty by any means, I’m shirtless, she’s on her back, legs up and skirt around her waist. My mate handcuffs the bloke, tosses him into the back of the van and comes to my aid, that is when he stops laughing. You’ve heard the term, ‘You can take a horse to water but you can’t make it drink, well you can take a drunk, over excited, 360lb woman to the back of the van but can’t make her get in.
Imagine this, the van is parked on a slope, rear pointing back. An obstinate woman with no intention of getting in and two coppers at the end of their tether. The theatrical gymnastics that were involved in trying to get her in there was reminiscent of the Kama Sutra on steroids. THIS WAS A LOT OF WOMAN. We had to call for assistance, two more coppers arrived and we took a limb each, finally getting her in. Some might comment and say, ‘Why bother arresting them in the first place?’ I say she was committing robbery while holding a deadly weapon. (sorry couldn’t resist) Seriously, who knows how many people she’d robbed, she could’ve worked this bloke over and hurt him. A lesson learned.
A quick one here, I went to inform a woman and her husband that their son had been killed in a car crash. It was two in the morning and when the coppers come at that time you know it’s never good news. The husband called out and I said, ‘Police.’ The poor woman started screaming that ….. was dead, she knew it, she’d dreamt it. The husband reached the door first and opened it, a huge woman made her way down the stairs screaming, ‘Go away, you’re lying, go away.” I hadn’t said a word. She stopped at the door, I said my bit and she up and punched me full in the face. I back-peddled and her husband, thankfully pushed her back inside. She made us a cuppa and I did my bit, talking, trying to help. The odd thing was she’d dreamt the whole accident an hour before it happened. Strange but true.