Scent of a Bust
The car lurched over a hidden rise in the road. For the merest second, it felt like it defied gravity. Addie pulled back on the steering wheel, waiting for a crunch that never came. The car’s shock absorbers did their job and the car continued to speed down the narrow back road that meandered behind the slumbering suburbs. He looked at the speedometer, then back up at the road. He was doing a little under 120 kph but to his eyes he was travelling at light speed. The little snort he had at his dealer’s place had kicked in hard.
His dealer, a biker known to him only as Toad, had guaranteed the quality of the meth. Addie knew this guarantee was only worth the paper it was written on. He knew the meth was cooked up somewhere close on an old farm. He knew it was probably boys in the same gang as Toad who were the ‘chefs’, so quality was always going to be an issue. But the meth had proved to be very good, kicking in hard and dazzling him. And he had only snorted it. He could hardly wait to get back to his brother’s place and drop one of those crystal nuggets in his pipe. The anticipation made him push the accelerator down a little more. The speedo crept up to 125 kph.
Then he thought about the little package of meth. A momentary panic grabbed him as he tried to remember where he’d put it. He looked on the seat. A six pack of Coopers Red was sitting there, condensation wetting the seat cover. But no little foil pack. He shook his head, trying to clear away some of the buzz. He patted his pants then his shirt pockets. He felt the stash in his left breast pocket, in the fold of the little wallet where he kept his license. He let out the breath he’d being holding during his search. Another rush exploded in his body and he started frantically banging on the steering wheel to an unheard song. He nudged the car up to 130 kph.
Greerley didn’t much like the overnight shift. But he didn’t mind how much he was paid for doing it. It made the grief he copped from Shirley bearable even though she certainly didn’t mind spending the extra cash. He pulled the car up at a stop sign, indicated and then turned left. He thought he’d drop down on to Shepherds Road, which ran behind the suburbs. It used to be a link road between the centre of town, around some farms to a housing estate built 20 odd years ago. But then the suburbs grew and swallowed all the old farming and grazing land between. Shepard Road was never upgraded but became a favourite for local lads who liked to use it to hold illegal road races. Ever since a couple of kids killed themselves late last year, the local powers had made it a mission to ‘crack down on these menaces’. Hell, Greerley knew there was no way anyone was ever going to stop some young blokes from driving fast; there was an element of it in every generation. He’d even busted a few ‘known’ locals doing the same thing back when they were all young, dumb and full of themselves.
He slowed to go through a roundabout. Just after it, the road dipped down slightly and ran on to a junction. Yellow streetlights, designed to be seen in the heavy fogs that could drown this low-lying area, cast a jaundiced shade over the landscape. He indicated to turn right, slowed at the junction give way sign and continued through when he saw no traffic. He pushed the accelerator to the floor and allowed the car to open up a bit. When the car kicked into top gear, he eased off and let the car cruise. He figured he was doing about 90 kph. A glance at the speedo saw he was on about 93 kph. He still had it. He smiled to himself then jumped as something warm and wet mashed into his face.
“Dammit, dog, you’ll give a man a heart attack. And we don’t want that to happen, especially while I’m driving. I know you’re smart enough to drive but you don’t have the thumbs to grab the wheel.” The dog in question was Greerley’s partner, a broad-chested German Shepherd called Winston. Greerley called him Winny at home, but at work, he was Winston or, simply, ‘dog’. Winny knew if he was called either what his role would be. As Winston, he was sharp, alert and ready to take action. As Winny, he knew he could relax, play, chase his favourite ball or just sit and sniff the air, if he wanted. Hearing Greerley’s tone, Winston pulled his head back and let out a little whine of remorse.
“Hey, I’m not angry at you, dog. You just startled me. Come here, come on, come up the front.” Greerley patted the bench seat next to him. Winston placed his front paws on the top of the seat, let out a little yip then sprang over onto the front seat next to Greerley. He immediately sank down and put his head on Greerley’s lap, who looked down and smiled at his partner.
“Ah you’re nothing but a big sook, aren’t you?” Winny looked up at him, turning his head at Greerley’s inflection. The dog was so smart he knew he’d been asked a question but didn’t quite know how to respond. Seeing this, Greerley chuckled, rubbed Winny between the ears like he liked and said, “It’s alright mate, it was a purely rhetorical question.” Winny let out a little whine of acknowledgement and settled his head back into Greerley’s lap. As he looked back up, a set of headlights came into view over a rise about 500 metres down the road. The lights jumped and shuddered as the car took the bumps and dips in the road. Greerley moved across as close to the edge of the road as possible. The other car sped by him, not even slowing down. Greerley couldn’t believe it. The other car must have been doing at least 120 kph, if not more. He braked, indicated and turned the car around in one smooth motion. Winston picked his head up out of his partner’s warm lap. The dog could sense something was going on.
Greerley accelerated, pushing the car up to 130 plus. He was only just catching the car in front. “Man, oh, man, have we got a live one, dog.” Winston barked acknowledgement. Greerley pushed the accelerator down hard and flipped the lights on. The foreground ahead of his car suddenly became blue-washed. The car ahead didn’t slow at all.
“Bloody hell, this fella hasn’t even seen me. Hey, dog, get ready. It looks like we got a runner of some sort.” Winston, hearing his name and the tone his partner used, sat up and yipped. He then shook with anticipation. This is when Greerley most admired the dog; when it was time, nothing divided his attention. He was all business. Greerley couldn’t help snickering a little. The dog looked so bloody serious, it was almost funny.
Addie was day dreaming about the rush when he saw through the windscreen that the land he was speeding through was lit up like there was a full moon out. He shook his head, hoping to clear the obvious hallucinations he was having. The landscape remained lit up. Then he heard the siren. He looked in his rear-view mirror. A police patrol car was fast up behind him. He panicked, wondering how long the cop had been there. It couldn’t have been too long. He remembered passing a car travelling in the opposite direction a few minutes previously.
“Fuck that must have been him. Fuck, fuck, fuck, faaaarrrk…” He almost screamed the last expletive. He started slowing, making sure he didn’t slow too quickly and have the copper rear-end him. He indicated at the same time, dropping the car back a gear and tapping his brakes. The police car slowed as well.
He slowed, looking for somewhere to pull the car off the road. He slowed until he saw a dirt driveway, which he pulled into and stopped. The copper did the same thing, turning on a powerful spotlight and illuminating the back of the car. Addie looked in the rear-view mirror but only dazzled himself. Every time he blinked he saw a large white spot. He turned and looked over his shoulder, trying to see what the cop was doing. It was then he noticed the dog.
“Oh, shit, oh fuck, oh shit, oh…” His internal dialogue lost its coherency. He couldn’t think what to do. He knew he would go for speeding but the dog would almost certainly smell the meth and he would go for that too. He would go hard this time too, being his third arrest and, almost certainly, his third conviction. He almost started to cry thinking about the trouble he was in. He opened the door, got out of the car and started back towards the patrol car. Barking issued from inside it and the driver’s door opened. The policeman poked his head over the door.
“Please stay right where you are, sir. Just get back in you car and stay there. I won’t be long.” The voice was full of authority but not too unfriendly. Addie did as he was told. He still couldn’t see anything because of the spotlight and the blue flashers weren’t making it any easier either. At least the pig had turned his siren off.
Greerley pulled up behind the car. It was a mid-90s Holden Commodore, but not the tricked up rod he expected it to be. He ran the number plate and sat waiting for the results. All of a sudden, Winny started barking and growling. Greerley recognised the bark as his ‘danger approaching’ one. He looked up to see the driver walking towards him. He opened the door, leant out and told the driver to get back in his car. This guy was nervous about something otherwise he wouldn’t have moved.
The onboard computer screen lit up as new information came through. The car belonged to an Adam Coulter. The information continued, giving license and address details as well as a criminal record entry. The car owner had one misdemeanour, a criminal mischief charge and a drug offence against his name. No wonder he was nervous.
Greerley stepped out of the car and put his hat on. Winston bounced up and down on the seat. Greerley looked back at him. “Stay there, mate. I’ll suss this bloke out and if I need you, I’ll come get you.” The dog almost looked disappointed. Again, Greerley smiled to himself at how serious the dog looked.
He approached the car cautiously, one hand holding his torch and the other on the butt of his pistol, watching for any suspicious movements. He saw none. The driver had his window wound down but didn’t look at him. Greerley noticed a six-pack of beer on the seat next to the guy. “Evening, sir, you were in a big hurry. Do you know what speed you were doing?”
The driver shrugged, muttered something but didn’t look up at Greerley. “Sorry sir, I couldn’t make that out. Would you mind repeating yourself?”
The driver looked up, shielding his eyes from the torch Greerley had pointed at his face. “I don’t know. I guess I must’ve been doin’ about 120, but I wasn’t watching my speedo, sorry.” Greerley could see the driver’s eyes. Either the guy had been crying or he was pinned. Greerley bet it was the second.
“Sir, I have to ask have you been drinking or have taken any drugs tonight?” The driver looked surprised at the question.
“No,” he replied, a little nervously. He wouldn’t look Greerley in the eyes.
“Okay, sir, I’m going to have to ask you to step out of the car. Would you please do so slowly and keep your hands where I can see them.”
“Why? I haven’t done anything wrong, apart from speeding. Can’t you just give me a ticket and let me go. In case you hadn’t noticed I’m in a bit of a hurry.”
“Sir, I won’t ask you again. Please step out of the car.” Greerley stepped back from the door and waited for the driver to do as he was asked. The driver harrumphed before flinging the door open and getting out. “Thank you, sir. Are you the registered owner of this vehicle?”
“Yes, I am.”
“So you are…” Greerley broke off to look at his notepad, “…Adam Coulter, correct?”
“Yes, I am.”
“Okay, Mr. Coulter, now where were you going in such a hurry?”
“I was going back to my brother’s place. He’s waiting for me to give him a lift to work. He’s a shift worker and he will be late now. Man, is he going to be pissed at me.”
“Well, you should have been watching your speed. Do you have your licence on you, Mr. Coulter?”
Greerley watched as the driver fumbled around in his pockets, patting the front pockets of his pants, then the back pockets. “I think it might be in the car,” he said eventually.
“Where do you think it is?”
“Could be in me glove box, but I’m not sure. Oh wait a minute…” The driver patted his shirt pockets. At the same time, car lights appeared over a rise about 500 yards ahead of where the cars were pulled over. Greerley turned to the lights and watched as the car sped by. When he turned back to the driver, he noticed he was pale and looked like he was about to throw up. “Is there anything the matter Mr. Coulter? Are you not feeling well?”
“Ah, no, well, yes I’m feeling a bit nervous. You guys always make me nervous. But I found me license.” The driver handed over the little wallet. Greerley took it and looked at the photo then back at the driver.
“If you’ve done nothing wrong then you’ve got nothing to be nervous about. I’m going to have to ask you to wait by your car while I go back and run your license through the computer.”
The driver looked nervously back at the Greerley’s car. “Er, yeah, sure, whatever…” The driver slouched back against the door of his car and kept looking nervously over his shoulder. Greerley could just about taste the guy’s fear in the air. He turned and walked back to the car, feeling like the night had just taken a turn for the better.
The cop came up to the window of Addie’s car. He asked the same dumb question they all did when they pulled someone over for speeding. Addie made some half-arsed comment and then the copper was all over him, asking him to get out of the car. Addie felt like his heart was going to burst out of his chest. When the copper asked for his licence, he fumbled around, trying to pretend he didn’t have it on him. He pointed the cop to the glove box just as another car came over the rise and towards them. The copper turned to look at it, so Addie took the opportunity to pull the wallet out of his shirt pocket. As he did, the little foil packet flew up in the air and was carried by the turbulence of the passing car, which blew it back into his window. It landed on the dashboard and skated across the top of it before slipping down into the demister duct on the passenger side of the car.
Addie watched it disappear. His face was white with fear of being caught. The copper noticed straightaway and asked what was wrong. Addie blew him off claiming he was nervous. But he could see the copper didn’t believe him. Now the copper was coming back with the biggest damned dog Addie had ever seen.
Greerley whistled at Winston, who immediately went on alert. He opened the passenger door, grabbed the lead hanging just inside and snapped into onto Winston’s collar. The dog was all business.
He walked the dog back towards the other car. He could see Coulter’s eyes get larger as they came closer. The thing about a dog like Winston is that often times his size alone was enough to diffuse a situation. It was times like those he loved having Winston as a partner.
“Okay, sir, I’m just going to let my partner sniff around your car. If you would just like to step back over near the fence there sir, I won’t keep you much longer.”
Before Coulter could say anything, Greerley pulled the driver’s door open and signalled for Winston to go to work. The dog sniffed at the door, then at the seat. Once satisfied, he moved to the floor. Then he jumped up on the seat and sniffed over the back.
He then moved across to the passenger seat, continually sniffing the upholstery. He sniffed at the centre console then at the passenger door. Greerley directed the dog to the glove box. Winston sniffed at it, looked back at his partner, sniffed again then sat down on the seat. He gave a little woof and looked back at Greerley.
Greerley looked over the roof of the car to where Coulter was nervously waiting. “Mr. Coulter, would you mind stepping over here for a minute.” Coulter slouched back to his car. Greerley called Winston out of the car.
“Mr. Coulter, I have to ask if you are hiding any illegal substances in your glove box. If you choose not to answer, I will be forced to call for back up and take you back to my station for further questioning.”
“Nah, I don’t have anything in the glove box.”
“Are you sure?”
“Then you won’t mind if I take a look, will you?”
Greerley sat in the driver’s seat and reached across to the glove box. It opened to reveal a bunch of old cassettes, a half-pack of cigarettes, various bits of paperwork and receipts and an open packet of cold and flu tablets. Greerley poked through the bits and pieces with his pen but didn’t see anything else. He stuck the pen in the open packet and lifted it out.
“Mr. Coulter, are these your tablets?”
Coulter came over closer to the car and leaned down to see what Greerley was holding. “Yeah, they’re mine. But they’re legal, man. I’m allowed to have them.”
Greerley backed out of the car, still holding the box. Winston jumped up, knocking the box off the end of the pen. Greerley signalled to the dog to sit and bent down to pick up the box. “Would you please come over here and open the box for me, Mr. Coulter? I need to see what is in it.”
Coulter shook his head but came around the car anyway. He snatched the box away from Greerley, opened one end and shook out the silver foil packaging. Greerley could see there were a few of the capsules left in their sealed bubbles and they looked like ordinary cold tablets.
Greerley sat back in the car and rifled through the rest of the glove box contents. He still couldn’t see anything. He put the packet back in the glove box and closed it. He got out of the car and had Winston jump back in to do a second scan. Again, the dog stopped at the glove box. Greerley opened the glove box again, took the packet out and closed it. He then signalled Winston to scan a third time. The dog turned and jumped out of the car, sat in front of Greerley and looked intently at the packet in his hands.
After checking the back seat and the boot of the car and turning up nothing, Greerley decided there was nothing to be had. “Okay, dog, it looks like we’ve got nothing here. Sorry, boy.” Greerley patted the dog on the head and looked up to see what Coulter was doing. He was standing near the front of the car, nervously shifting from one foot to the other. Greerley knew Coulter was hiding something or, at the very least, was on something. He decided he’d give a breath test to make sure he wasn’t drunk.
“Mr. Coulter, could you come with me, please?” Greerley walked back to his car, opened the passenger door and pulled out the little breath test kit. He dropped it on the bonnet of the patrol car, opened it, pulled out one of the sterile packets containing a disposable tube and connected it to the analyser. “Okay, Mr. Coulter, I’m going to ask you to blow in the tube for me. Take a big breath and keep blowing until I tell you to stop.”
Addie couldn’t believe how lucky he was. The big dog hopped in the car, sniffed around for a bit, then hit right on where the stuff had slipped down behind the dash. The cop found a packet of cold tabs in there and assumed the dog had hit on them. He had put them back in and had the dog do another scan. The dog hit on the glove box again. The cop took the box out and had the dog do a third scan. The stupid dog jumped out of the car and stood in front of the cop, looking at the box in his hands. Addie couldn’t believe his luck.
The cop had him blow in a breath tester. Addie hadn’t even had a sip of alcohol so he knew he was safe. The cop kept looking at him. Addie thought he should say something.
“Look, man, you know I’m an ex-con. I’m sorry I was speeding but I haven’t done anything else wrong. Can’t you just give me a ticket and I’ll get out of your hair.”
Just as he said this, another car came over the same rise. Addie could hear this car and it sounded like it was hauling serious arse. The cop looked up at the approaching vehicle. He ripped the ticket out of his book and virtually threw it at Addie. He jogged back to his car. In a matter of seconds, siren’s blaring, the car had u-turned and was chasing down the other sucker. Addie, who didn’t realise he’d been holding his breath; let it out in a whoop. He sat back in the driver’s seat, reached across the seat and grabbed a beer from the six pack. Even though the beer wasn’t as cold as he normally liked, Addie drank it anyway. He would make sure he paid the ticket quick smart.