Angel 21 (making a hash of it)
The tall cop kept a hold of Angel’s arm. Clean shaven with a bony boyish face it was difficult to tell what age he was, but with a dimple on his chin, she thought he looked kind.
‘Whit were you two fighting about?’ he asked, as he escorted her to the Black Maria, parked at the kerb with the hazard lights flashing.
‘Cannae remember,’ said Angel.
He laughed without humour through his nose. Kimmie was sitting at the front with the other policeman and she twisted her neck to look in the back seats of the police wagon at Angel.
‘Sorry!’ Kimmie mouthed. Purple bruising was around her eye and the blood from her nose had crusted.
Angel nodded back and stared out the blacked-out windows at the backed up traffic and pedestrians hurrying through the rain. Her ribs were sore. Shallow breaths were like drinking from superheated air. When the police van cut into the road, Angel felt the jolt through her whole body and she grimaced.
‘We’ve no far to go,’ said the tall cop, joking. ‘We’d be quicker walking.’
Angel sucked blood from the crest of knuckles on her right hand as she stood at the desk in Partick Police Station waiting to be booked in and processed. Kimme was nowhere to be seen. She hadn’t really being paying attention, mumbling monosyllables that she understood as they cautioned her, but concentrating on the loose wattle of skin of the desk sergeant’s throat when he spoke.
She gave the desk sergeant her name and date of birth, which he noted down.
‘Where do you stay?’ asked the desk sergeant.
Angel stuttered a bit. ‘I stay wae my boyfriend at Apsley Steet…’
The desk sergeant looked up from his papers, pen in his hand. ‘Whit number Apsley Street?’
‘Twelve, I think.’
‘You don’t know where you stay?’ The desk sergeant, pen poised and in a practiced way he shook his head, the bemused expression of a martyr to stupidity on his face.
‘Whit flat number?’
‘3/1, I think.’
‘Right, this boyfriend of yours, whit’s his name and is he likely to be in?’ The desk sergeant stood up straight for the first time, and he seemed broader than he was taller.
‘It’s Graham Grimley, and no, he’s no likely to be in. He’s at work.’
‘That’s a familiar name,’ said the desk sergeant, his eyes narrowing and looking at Angel more closely. ‘Whit does he work as?’
‘He drives a bin lorry and works in the Boulie, as a bouncer.’
‘Aye,’ said the desk sergeant, snorting. ‘He’s a well-known face around here.’
‘It’s just,’ said the tall cop, in a less aggrieved tone, ‘that if the cells get too busy at the weekend, with the fitba or something, then we’re more likely to book you a court date and let you oot, but we need to know that you stay where you actually say that you stay. And we’ll need to send somebody oot to check.’
‘Right,’ said Angel. ‘I could gie you my mum’s address, instead?’
‘Right,’ the desk sergeant tugged at his sleeve and picked up his pen.
‘It’s Karen Orr, 102 Shakespeare Avenue, Clydebank.’
The desk sergeant looked up and leaned over the bar at the desk, gawping at her. ‘That name rings a bell too. It wouldnae be—and I remember the case well because I was working on it—the same Karen Boyd Orr that got done with the murder of a Jaz Grimley, a good few years ago…now would it?’
Angel pinched her lips together and nodded.
‘Jesus,’ the desk sergeant exhaled and it was like a door whooshing shut. ‘I’ll give you that, you’re quite a pretty wee girl, but you fair move in some right, queer, circles. But an apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.’
A man weaved through the doors and up to the desk, bright red hair merging with a blue jumper heavy with the smell of rain in the grey room. The tall cop and Angel shuffled along a bit as he approached the desk.
‘Just take a seat, sir,’ the desk sergeant directed the drunk man towards the polyester chairs bolted to the floor at the side of his workstation. ‘While we deal with this other matter.’
‘Skedaddle, take her through the other side,’ the desk sergeant told the tall cop, brushing them off. ‘Fingerprints and a nice wee photograph and put her in the cells.’
‘We need to empty your pockets first of any valuables,’ said the tall cop, taking her arm and through a door, which he locked. ‘We’ll keep them here safe for yeh, but you’ll need to sign for them.
And if you’ve got belt, we’ll need to take that as well.’ He looked at her feet. She wore slip on shoes. ‘No laces, that’s good.’
Another female cop with sleepy eyes and curly hair appeared on the other side of the counter, rubbing her chin and mouth. She opened the hatch and came through to frisk her as the tall cop emptied the contents of her purse on to the counter.
‘You putting her in a holding cell?’ the tall cop asked his colleague.’
‘Depends how busy we get. It’s still early, need to wait until the dancing, Clatty Pat’s empties. That’s about three in the morning. Then we’ll clear our feet.’
‘Can you take your earring out?’ she waved a finger at Angel and pulled on her own earlobe to show what she meant.
Angel cocked her head to take her earrings out. It was she imagined being like the inside of a submarine. The subterranean stink of sweat, fag smoke, shit and perfume of toilets stuck to her clothes, the clink of metal doors in the corridor echoing with the sound of ‘Turnkey, Turnkey’ and the dark blue almost black institutional paint.
The women cop kept her eyes fixed on Angel’s face and hands. ‘Any other sharp objects or jewellery?’
‘House or car keys?’
‘Eh, aye,’ Angel went to dip her hand into the side pocket of Pizza Face’s Wrangler jacket she’d been wearing, but the women cop grabbed at her wrist.
‘Can you take your jacket off please?’ she asked.
When Angel handed her the jacket she shook it like a blanket, watching to see if anything fell out. She plunked her hand in the side pocket and rattled the set of house keys down on the counter and checked the other side pocket. She held the Wrangler by the collar, unbuttoning the breast pocket and the jacket following sideways towards the stone floor as her fingers wiggled inside. Her hand came out clutching a silver piece of tinfoil. She held it out in the palm of her hand.
‘Whit’s this?’ she asked.
Angel staggered and felt her legs go from under her and the tall cop grabbed her arm to keep her upright. ‘I don’t know,’ she said, eventually.
The woman cop’s laugh turned into a sneer. She placed the silver wrapper on the counter and checked the other pocket, bringing out another silver wrapper and placing that on the counter beside it.
‘Keep an eye on her,’ she told the tall cop. ‘I’ll get onto forensics and get it tested.’
‘Do yourself a favour here,’ she said to Angel. ‘If it is what I think it is, just tell us whit it is. If you’re dealing you’re looking at five to ten years, but if it’s for your ain personal use, we’re better knowing that now. Just tell us whit it is?’
‘I don’t know,’ Angel sobbed, clutching at her ribs.