Angel 51 (good cop, bad cop)
Angel quickly established a routine with Lisa and Adam. They quickly established their own counter-routine which included staying up all night and sleeping most of the day. The midwife told Angel that these things take time. By the end of the week Angel was punch-drunk with tiredness and prone to fall asleep as soon as she sat down. All her plans to get more exercise and cook healthy meals were overtaken by short walks to the kitchen and snacking on Pot Noodles.
When Church turned up at the door, with her usual dour expression, Angel was almost glad to see her. It was mid-afternoon and the twins were sleeping soundly. She was sitting on the couch with her bare feet curled under her. She joked with the prison guard, ‘Whit happened, somebody report a missing spoon?’
A Pot Noodle with a spoon wedged in it was sitting on the telly unit. The room stank of powdered curry and stale farts. Angel nodded her head in the direction of the ready-meal, a smile on her face, but Church looked back at her as if she was glaikit.
‘The police are here to interview you,’ she said.
Angel felt her throat closing and her stomach turning and she looked around the room for a place to hide, a place to fleet, she repeated what Church said, to let it sink in and to give her time, ‘The police are here to interview me?’
‘Aye, hurry up. We’ve not got all day.’ Church turned her head as Margo passed her in the lobby and looked over her shoulder at Angel. ‘We don’t want to keep them waiting.’
‘Whit dae they want me fer?’ She looked over at the Pot Noodle. ‘The place is a proper mess and I need to tidy up, get something to wear and get the twins ready.’
Church took a deep breath. ‘Fine.’
‘You should have phoned o’er to let me know.’
Church stepped into the room and stood over her beside the couch. ‘You’re forgetting who you are. What you are. Get your stuff together. We’ve got important people waiting.’
Angel glanced down at the sleeping twins, clenched her jaw, narrowed her eyes and made her face hard as a prison mask. ‘I’ll need to get another blanket and borrow a buggy.’
Church nodded and went to stand by the window, her hands behind her back, while Angel got herself and the twins ready.
It was raining outside the Mother and Baby Unit, but not hard enough to get soaked as they hurried between through the grounds and into the prison maze of long corridors and doors and jangling keys to the interview rooms used by external agencies cops and lawyers and social workers.
Church chapped, then pushed open the door. An ashtray was on the table which took up most of the room no bigger than a cell filled with blue haze of fag smoke. A balding cop in a uniform of dark suit and shirt and tie had a cigarette in his mouth, his chair dragged back from the table and made a screeching noise as he turned to look at them. He wore thick NHS glasses and a no-nonsense expression. He was saying something to the other cop with curly hair, but they both fell silent.
Adam and Lisa became fractious when they stood outside the door. Angel swooped down and lifted them from the buggy. ‘I’ll need to feed them.’
Church huffed. ‘Well, go ahead them.’
‘A cannae, wae them their?’ She shoogled the babies to her breasts and they wailed.
A lanky prisoner was mopping the floor at the far end of the corridor and the smell of disinfectant hung in the air. She kicked the mop bucket with a clang, edging it along the wall and the twins jumped in Angel’s arms and screamed louder. ‘I sometimes feel like that myself,’ the lanky prisoner leaned on the mop, laughed, joshing Angel.
‘Suppose I could ask them to wait out here,’ Church offered, ‘while you feed the wains?’
‘Have you no got anywhere else?’ Angel looked peeved. ‘That place is stinking of fag smoke.’
‘No,’ said Church. ‘Take it or leave it. I’m not got time to take you all the way back to The Unit and then come back here.’
‘Suppose,’ Angel stared in at the cops and they stared back.
They’d been listening and were already standing up, the older cop reaching for his cigarette packet, and lighter as they made ready to swap places with Angel in the corridor.
The seat was still warm when Angel sat down. A notepad was on the table with her name on it underlined three times, but the rest of the page was mostly doodles. There were other words but she couldn’t make out the writing. She quickly pulled open her blouse and Adam squirmed as he began to feed, kicking his wee feet. Lisa was her usual greedy self, which made Angel smile.
She’d swivelled her seat so her back was to the door, but when she turned her head and the older cop was gawping at her through the Perspex, a fag in his mouth.
‘Fucking pervert,’ she twisted her shoulder and hunched forward so that he could only see part of her head and back. Lisa and Adam, their mouths still pouched, sucking in air as they tried to feed, bawled in slant-eyed incomprehension when she pulled them from her breasts. Angel cupped her breasts and buttoned her blouse.
‘You all done?’ called Church from the door, frowning because the twins were howling and even nosier.
‘Am I fuck finished,’ said Angel. ‘He’s been ogling me, looking at my breasts. I need tae go back to The Unit to feed my wains in peace and I want to report it to the governor.’
‘Calm doon,’ Church gestured by patting the air in front of her, as if pressing it down. ‘I’m sure there’s been a misunderstanding.’
‘No, will I fuck calm doon. I’m going naewhere. And saying nothing till I speak to the governor.’
The cop with thick glasses rasped, ‘I wisnae looking at you. I was just checking to see if I were finished…We’re in a bit of a hurry, you know?’
Angel shook her head and sneered, ‘If you werenae looking, then how could you look to see in then? I know whit I seen…And I want to see the governor.’