A sudden attack of conscience perhaps?
Constable Morris was afraid of alcohol. He didn’t drink if he could help it, much preferring a glass of milk to a pint of bitter. Unfortunately, after work trips to the pub were part of the territory when it came to being a copper. It got alright once you hit inspector, you could claim you were swamped with work or that it just wasn’t right to fraternise with the workforce, but Morris had been stuck as a constable for far too long.
He was nursing a pint when he noticed sergeant Haul slosh his way into the pub. Apparently it had started raining while Morris was entombed in the dreary pub, and Haul had been caught out in it. He was still in uniform, but that wasn’t unexpected. The Copper’s Arms was only across the street from the station, and many officers would drop by while still in uniform if they just couldn’t make it those last few feet.
Morris had probably stared a little too long. Haul had picked him out from the crowd and was walking over. The two men got on pretty well most of the time, but if Haul got himself into a bad mood he would have no problem pulling rank on Morris, it seemed to be his only way of cheering up.
‘Ah, constable!’ Haul said, in a tone that told Morris he was in for a long night.
‘Oh, hi sarge.’
‘Run these notes over to the inspector will you? Don’t worry about your drink, I’ll make sure it doesn’t go to waste.’
Morris had to fight off a smile. Yes, it was work, but it got him out of the damn pub, which was a turn up for the books. This wasn’t something to complain about. He practically jumped to his feet and snatched the notebook.
Without a word he was gone and across the road. On balance it may have come across as a little too enthusiastic, but he didn’t really care. He managed to avoid the puddles forming in the road and stepped happily into the reception area.
It was empty, which was less unusual than one would think. People preferred to contact the police by phone now, it made it easier to run away and you didn’t have to tell them your name, which seemed to be a big deal to the sort of people who report crimes. Occasionally the reception desk would ensnare a random passer-by, but it would let them go after they realised the police force didn’t employ receptionists.
Morris walked through the reception room with purpose and grasped the door at the far side. Then someone grabbed his shoulder. He froze. The hand turned him round ever so slowly, until he was face to face with a very tall man, all angular features and dark clothes. The man’s dark eyes seemed to suck all the light out of his surroundings, and they were quite carefully surveying Morris.
‘Do you work here?’ the man asked.
‘Erm, yes?’ Morris replied with more than a hint of fear.
‘My name is Eldred Fie, and I would like to report a murder.’