A Brush with the Law

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I think I’m a pretty average guy. You know, medium build, medium complexion, medium brown hair, average looks. When I say “average looks,” I mean I’m no Brad Pitt, but then nobody ever got me confused with Quasimodo, either. Kind of a happy medium, you could say.

Maybe I’m a little a taller than average, but that helped me get into the state police force, so that was a good thing, but generally speaking, I don’t think I stand out in a crowd. I joined the force at twenty, practically straight out of high school, and I love my job, but seven years later, I felt like I was in a rut. Not because of the job by any means, but because of the way my personal life was at the time.

I had met Stacey at work, when she was involved in a minor fender bender, and I was in the marked car dispatched to take a report of the prang. The other driver was getting aggressive with her when we got there, even though it was just a bit of bent metal, and the insurance company would happily fix everything, so I had a little discussion with him about his attitude. Problem solved, and then I looked at Stacey, and our eyes met over the crumpled front end of her Mitsubishi, and the rest was history. Or maybe, I was history, I’m not sure which, but anyway, Stacey and I became an item. Next thing, we were moved in together, and we started on our journey towards the whole catastrophe: marriage, mortgage, kids, family, responsibility. I wanted those things too, but my journey towards them wasn’t as fast as Stacey wanted it to be, and after two years, she broke it off with me, and moved back in with her parents.

People often say a change is as good as a holiday. I guess when Stacey dumped me, I didn’t really need a holiday, but I sure needed something, so I thought a change of scene might do me some good.

I’d worked at a couple of suburban stations in Sydney since I joined The Job, but newly single again, and feeling kind of bruised all over after losing Stacey, I confided in an old detective senior sergeant, called Bevan McManus, about how messed up things were for me at the time. Bevan had kind of taken me under his wing for some reason, back when I first arrived at his command, even though I worked in uniform and wasn’t even one of his detectives, and he told me we needed to go to a local boozer after work that day, to discuss things.

After work, Bevan and I had headed off to a little pub down the street from the police station, and we found ourselves a comfortable spot where we could sit and talk over a beer or two. “If I were you, Adam, I go to the country for a couple of years,” he said, “and spend some time out there with those big horizons.” He smiled his big, rough-hewn smile, took a swallow of beer, and went on with, “Country policing is a whole different kettle of fish from working here in Sydney. Trust me on that. The people are different, the work is different, it’s just a whole new experience. You’ll love it.”

“I never thought of that,” I answered, truthfully.

“Listen,” Bevan said, “Go and do a few years out in the west, while you’re still single, and you’ll come back a better policeman for it. Anywhere you like, as long as it’s over the Blue Mountains. It’ll do you good, son.” That beery discussion, after work that day, kind of settled it, and I started paying attention to the personnel notices to see what was on offer.

Before long, I put in for a transfer to a medium sized city in the middle of the state, a few hours west of Sydney, and I made the move. I was Sydney born and bred, and I saw this country posting as a kind of new beginning for me.

Three weeks after I started at my new command, I started work on a day shift, on a Friday morning, and the supervisor put me in a car crew with a young probationary constable called Paula. When you work with a rookie, you have to think for two people, and in addition to keeping a closer eye on your partner, you have to do everything one hundred and ten percent right, so they’re not picking up any bad habits from you right at the start of their career. That’s how I looked at it, anyway, but I can tell you, watching over Paula was no hardship, because she was pretty easy on the eye, even in her police uniform.

After we started driving around together, I thought I’d suss out if she had a man in her life, but when she told me her guy was an infantry lance corporal, I decided she was off limits. Nobody with any brains messes around with a girl whose boyfriend carries an assault rifle at work.

About an hour into our shift, we arrested a young guy in possession of a stolen laptop. We knew it was stolen when he tried to throw it over a fence and act invisible when he saw the police car, and while we were speaking to him, a lady ran around the corner, spotted us, and told us someone had just stolen her laptop from her car outside the city library. I guess we didn’t need a deerstalker hat and a magnifying glass to solve this particular crime, and we got some partial admissions bahis firmaları from our new friend at the scene, and took him back to the station to charge him.

The crook was a guy named Jamie Jerritt, and it seemed luck just wasn’t on his side that day, because when the supervising sergeant checked him out on Criminal Records, he found he was already on bail for housebreaking offences, so he refused bail on our charge, and it looked like the guy was going to spend the weekend in the cells. Not long after that, the supervisor called me into his office, and said Jerritt was seeing his legal aid lawyer as we spoke, and his lawyer had been able to get a bail review squeezed in at two o’clock, at the courthouse next door. He told me to grab Paula, have an early lunch, and be ready to escort the prisoner to court for a 2pm appearance.

I left the supervisor’s office, to head down towards the muster room to get Paula, and I saw the door opening from the room that was set aside for lawyers to interview their clients in custody. After only three weeks in town, I didn’t know any of the local legal fraternity, but as the door opened, I saw a rather petite asian lady stepping out, with a look of solemn determination on her face. She looked around the station foyer, while I checked her out discretely from the doorway to the supervisor’s office.

The legal aid lawyer was small built, say about five feet two, and slim, but with a few nice curves just the same. She had shiny, medium length black hair, pulled into a ponytail, and a pretty, oval shaped, asian face, so I guessed she was probably Chinese, or of Chinese descent. She was wearing a conservative dark grey blouse, with long sleeves, and her grey checkered skirt was short, but not too short to be unprofessional at work. Her legs were shapely, and she was wearing low-heeled shoes.

The legal aid lawyer was carrying some charge papers in one hand, and a brief case in the other, and she walked across to me, and said, “I’m looking for Senior Constable,” and she paused to read from her charge papers, and said, “Brooks.” She looked at my name badge, and said, “Oh, that’s you.”

“Yes,” I said, meeting her gaze, “What can I do for you?”

“I need to speak to you about my client,” she said, with a serious tone, “I’m from the legal aid office, and I’m representing Mr Jerritt.”

I was about to ask if she wanted to come to an office to speak, but before I spoke, she added, “I’m a little concerned about some of the questioning of my client at the scene, and after you brought him back here.”

I told her I thought everything was in order, but she began to lecture me about admissibility, and the rules of evidence, and how, in her opinion, some parts of our interview were not admissible. I couldn’t believe she was lecturing me in the police station foyer like that, and I butted in and said, “Look, I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to discuss court procedure with you in the foyer like this. If you believe we haven’t acted correctly, you need to speak to the Commander, not me.”

“No,” she said, still looking serious, “I don’t think that will be necessary, but I’ll be bringing up at the bail review.”

“Well,” I said, trying to avoid further argument, “That’s the place, not here. Not with me, here, like this.” Then, I realised that I should inform the supervisor about the conversation with the offender’s lawyer, to cover myself, so I said, “Look, I have to make a record of this conversation with you. Can I have your name?”

Her response surprised me. “Monique,” she said, giving me a pretty smile, tilting her head, with a hint of a giggle, as though we were meeting at a party or something.

“I need your last name as well,” I said, keeping it professional, but still aware of the tone of her first answer.

“Monique Nguyen,” she replied, now a little more serious again.

I don’t know what made me say this, but I guess I was just thinking out loud, and I said, “That’s Vietnamese, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” she said, as though it was obvious, which of course it was.

I felt like I had to explain why I had said that, so I said, “Sorry, I thought you must have been Chinese,” but if anything, that made me look more like a tool.

“That’s okay,” Monique said, “We all look the same, anyway.” Her face was expressionless, as she held eye contact. In another time, people might have said she looked, “inscrutable,” but that was then, and this was now.

“I didn’t say that, you did,” I said, keeping my tone light. The last thing I wanted was to invite a complaint that I was racist, so I said, “That was pretty funny. Am I allowed to laugh?”

“That’s up to you,” Monique said, with just the faintest hint of a smile herself, “Anyway, I’ll see at two o’clock, constable.”

She walked briskly to the door, with her ponytail swishing with each step, and then out into the street, and as I watched her walking, from behind, I thought, That’s a neat little package.

Shortly kaçak iddaa before two o’clock, Paula and I escorted the prisoner through a tunnel that led from the station cell complex downstairs, to the courthouse holding cells, and then the courtroom, where I saw Miss Nguyen waiting to speak to him. Paula and I secured him in the dock, and stood back as far as practicable, to allow privacy, while Miss Nguyen whispered a few words to him, and the magistrate called on the prosecutor to make his submission on bail.

The prosecutor kept his submission short and simple, and then it was Miss Nguyen’s turn to speak. I watched her from behind again, as she stood up to address the magistrate, and I noticed that her checkered skirt was following the curve of her hips, and the shape of her thighs, and I thought to myself, She’s got a nice little body. I’ll bet she’s got a cute little arse under that skirt.

When Miss Nguyen spoke, I was a little surprised that, instead of just highlighting anything in favour of her client’s eligibility for bail, she went straight into attacking the admissibility of our evidence, even questioning whether we had grounds to arrest her client in the first place. Naturally, I found that laughable, and even after the magistrate tried to steer her back onto the issues of bail, she continued on with her views on the lack of admissible evidence. Then, I saw the magistrate do something I had never seen before, and I have never seen since, saying to her, “Miss Nguyen, you do have a law degree, don’t you?”

I felt almost embarrassed for her myself, hearing the beak asking her a question like that, but after saying, “I most certainly do, Your Honour,” Miss Nguyen started back on the same track. Then, after a further short discussion, the magistrate himself refused bail, and instructed us to return the prisoner to the cells. I saw Miss Nguyen turn from her place at the solicitor’s table, and walk towards the door, and as she looked over at me on the way out, I could have sworn that her pretty, Vietnamese face was giving me a dirty look.

Over the next couple of weeks, I saw Miss Nguyen at the station a few times, when she visited clients, and in time I got a notification of a hearing date for Jamie Jerritt’s case. I wondered idly what sort of cross-examination I was likely to get from Miss Nguyen, because I had found that legal aid lawyers were usually inexperienced, and generally only stayed there long enough to get some experience, before moving into private practice, where the money was, and of course, I had no idea how long she’d been practising law.

Life went on, as it does, and three weeks after I arrested Jerritt, I had my first four-day break since I started at my new station. My days off started on a Friday, giving me a free weekend for a change, but apart from the cops I had met so far, I didn’t really know anybody in town, so I thought it was time to get out and see if I could meet a few new people. I had found myself a small one-bedroom apartment, over a corner delicatessen in an older residential part of town, and I had also found that there was a tavern not far away from there. The tavern was known as a young person’s nightspot, and it was an easy fifteen-minute walk from my place, so I decided it was just the place to sample the social life in my new city.

That night, I dressed casually, in a polo shirt and jeans, thinking I’d eat in the bistro at the tavern. I headed downstairs a little before 7pm, and I walked down to the tavern, taking my time, but even then, it was les than a quarter of an hour later when I walked in the door. I saw that the place looked pretty promising, with a fair crowd of mostly young people, and I could hear music coming from the upstairs section.

I looked around, but I didn’t see anyone I knew, which was hardly unexpected, but I had thought I might have at least spotted another off-duty cop or two. I found the bistro, had a quick meal, and then headed out to one of the main bars, to sample the nightlife in my new town.

I bought a beer, and stood back from the service area, to suss the place out. Without even thinking about it, my cop instincts kicked in, and I found myself looking for exits, checking out groups of people, and noting the layout of the place, but when I realised what I was doing, I told myself, You’re here for a beer, dickhead, but old habits die hard.

Just then, I heard a female voice to my right, saying, “Hello, officer.” A cop can meet up to fifty or more people in a week’s work, with traffic stops, taking reports, counter inquiries, and stuff like that, but most people might only talk to half a dozen cops in a year. That means people often recognise us, when we don’t remember them, and if a cop meets someone off duty, after he’s met them at work, he often has think for a moment about how he met them. Did you issue them a ticket, perhaps, or maybe they just reported something to you. Obviously, the circumstances under kaçak bahis which you met them at work can affect the way they respond to you off duty.

I looked over to my right, and I saw Monique Nguyen, the pretty little Vietnamese legal aid lawyer, sitting at a table, along with another equally pretty girl on her left.

Monique was wearing a short, black linen skirt, and matching sleeveless vest, open at the front, over a cream coloured short-sleeve blouse. She was wearing black high-heels, and she looked smart and sophisticated in that outfit, but her shiny black hair in a ponytail added that little touch of girl-next-door.

“Hello,” I said, giving her a smile. I wasn’t sure what to say next, given our last encounter.

“So, they let you out for a night, did they?” Monique said, smiling up from her chair.

“Yeah,” answered, “I must have done something good, maybe scored some brownie points with the boss, or something.” I looked over at Monique’s companion, and back at her, and Monique said, “Oh, how rude of me! This is Eva Beresova. She works with me.”

“Pleased to meet you, Eva,” I said, “My name’s Adam. I met Miss Nguyen at work a few weeks back.” After I said that, it occurred to me that she might have thought I was one of Monique’s clients, but as I pondered whether to clarify, Eva said, “Yes, she told me about you when we saw you coming in.”

“Oh,” I said, in surprise, “I didn’t know I was being watched.” I wasn’t sure what to say next, considering the circumstances, but then after a moment or two, Monique said, “You don’t know anybody here, do you, Adam?” She gave me a slightly ironic smile.

“Not really,” I answered, “I’m pretty new in town.”

“Then, why don’t you join Eva and me?” she said, “Come and sit with us.” She was now smiling, welcoming me.

I thought for a moment about the fact that she was representing a person I had arrested, and the case was still before the courts, and about whether it was appropriate for me to socialise with her, but Monique said, “Come on, Adam, we’re not the enemy, just the opposition.”

“You realise we’ve still got a case pending, don’t you?” I said. I would have been more than happy to sit there with two pretty girls, but I had to think about the realities.

“Well,” Monique said, “To tell you the truth, we’re both leaving the legal aid office fairly soon.” I met her gaze, and she added, “So, Mr Jerritt will have a new lawyer by the time his case gets heard, anyway.”

“So, you may as well join us,” Eva added, “We’re having a drink to celebrate our new careers.”

“I see,” I said, sitting down, opposite the two girls at their table, “So where are you going, then?” I said, looking at Monique.

“I’ve got a position at Tattersall Comstock,” Monique said, “I start in three weeks.” She sounded pleased with herself, as she deserved to be. Tattersall Comstock was a Sydney firm, and they were well-regarded in legal circles. I had been rigorously cross-examined by a couple of their associates a few times in my career, and I knew they only took on lawyers with a degree of talent about them.

“You’ll be playing A-grade down there, with those guys,” I said, giving her a smile, and adding “Congratulations on getting in.”

Monique acknowledged my congratulations, and I looked at Eva, and said, “What about you?”

“I’m off to Melbourne next month,” she answered, “I got a spot with Duncan, Lomax and Tuckey. They’re corporate layers, so I’m starting at the bottom, but I’m ambitious, and corporate law is where I want to be.” She smiled, and it occurred to me that for such an ambitious young lawyer, she had such an incredibly girlish smile.

We had a little more conversation, mainly about the two ladies’ career ambitions, and then Eva got up to buy a round of drinks, so I had a good look at her for the first time. She was about average height, and slim built, moderately curvy, with boobs that were modestly-sized, but nicely-shaped, and she had long, wavy dark brown hair, that was almost black. She had big brown eyes, and slightly chiselled features, and a pretty, slightly pouting mouth. Her complexion had a mild tan, and she had long and very shapely legs. I guessed she was in about her late twenties, and she was wearing a pale lilac coloured tank top, with a short denim skirt, and sandals, so she looked casual, but sexy.

I watched Eva standing at the bar, waiting for service, and I have to say I was pretty impressed with what I was seeing, and I looked back at Monique, who was aware I was looking. Our eyes met, and she didn’t actually smile, but I could see she was amused that I was checking out her friend.

“So,” I said to Monique, “you two are good friends?”

“Not just friends,” Monique answered, “We’re flatmates as well.”

“I see,” I said, and I added, more to keep the conversation going than any other reason, “So I guess you must get on well together.”

“We get on very well,” she answered, and added, “Eva and I are really great friends.”

Eva came back with two Vodka Cruisers and a beer, and set them down on the table. She slid the beer across to me, giving me her pretty smile, and took a sip of her own drink.

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