Summary: The day is all ups and downs for our heroes!
In this chapter I begin, in the grand tradition of our founder Colin Dexter, to make some stuff up. From here you start to see places that don't really exist, people and positions that don't exist and all manner, no doubt, of police and 'high muck' procedures that are completely made up for how they aid in the storytelling.
After their coffee break, James and Lewis worked convivially on outstanding reports and other open cases for the rest of the morning, and while people were not daring to interrupt them unless absolutely necessary to quickly drop off a report or file, the mood of the rest of the office was definitely more relaxed. There was even the sound of people talking and laughing (though quietly) amongst themselves as they worked.
"I'll bet we won't cause an exodus this time if we head across the street for a bite to eat now, sir," James said, stretching back in his chair around noon.
"Yeah," Robbie agreed, feeling his stomach rumble at the thought of something to eat. "I could do with a bite. Give me five minutes to finish this?"
"Perfect," James said, standing and putting his jacket and coat on. "Meet you out front? I'm just going to check on Jones and see how much headway Hooper and Johnson have made with the Randalson files."
As he approached workroom 2, Hathaway noticed quite a lot more activity and noise than was expected when to the best of his knowledge, only 3 or maybe 4 constables should be working in there this morning. Slowing his pace, he looked between the slats of the blinds and spied 7 or 8 uniforms and DCs loitering in the room, all snickering amongst themselves, and making no secret as to who they were laughing about.
"Are you all 12 years old or what?" Hathaway demanded, standing in the doorway and causing nearly everyone in the room to spin to face him, to a one looking like deer caught in headlights. "If there's any one of you lacking in something productive to do at the moment, by all means, let me know and I'm sure I can come up with something."
A chorus of "No, Sarge, just dropping off..."; "Sorry, Sarge,"; and "I was just on my way to…" comments rushed past him as all but Jones and Hooper cleared the room.
"Lewis and I are going to lunch," James said to Hooper, not bothering to hide his annoyance. "Jones," he added to the trainee in the corner. "You've had your long break for the day going home to change, but feel free to bring a sandwich up from the canteen or machines to eat while you work. Hooper will show you where they are if you didn't get a tour yesterday."
"I miss anything?" Lewis asked from behind James causing Hooper to focus intently on the file in front of him and Jones to inch nonchalantly further behind his monitor.
Turning to see his boss looking down the hall at the quickly dispersing crowd who'd vacated the workroom James smiled, knowing that Lewis already knew exactly what had been going on and trusting him to involve him only as much as was necessary.
"Only that Hooper and Johnson are making excellent progress organising the Randalson files - should have them sorted by the end of the day!" he said brightly.
"That is good news," Lewis replied with a smile as he walked away. Following close behind him James noticed Hooper scowling as he pulled out his mobile, not doubt to call the traitorous Johnson and tell him to get back there quick and help him finish those files.
"You sure you want to bother with all this extra hassle with this kid?" Lewis asked as he finished his soup and pulled his second chocolate covered rice-krispee treat of the day forward.
"They'll get over it," James said, scraping the last of his chicken pie from the plate. "Everyone's in a funny mood this time of year. February fibblies."
"February fibblies?" Lewis demanded, bemused.
"One of my sister's gems," James answered, blushing as he hid behind a gulp of his beer.
"How's she doing anyway? Sixth former right?" Robbie asked trying to sound casual. James rarely talked about his family and was always very uncomfortable about the subject, even with Robbie. He knew that he'd heard more about them than anyone else at the station, which made him feel somewhat better about the lack of information, and made him accept not pushing the lad for more usually.
"Year 12. Working on her A-levels. She's doing alright. Eager to be done and already changing her mind every other week between Oxford and Cambridge with occasional detours to wanting to go to Dublin or Toronto or Harvard." He rolled his eyes, smiling ironically at the folly of youth.
"Did you always want Cambridge, or did you think about going overseas too?" Robbie pushed gently, taking advantage of James' open mood as he enjoyed his cobbler pudding.
"Pretty much," James replied casually. "I was really into the rowing as well then and a relative had been to Cambridge and been in the rowing programme there and really made it sound good. I thought about Oxford for a bit, my mum went to Oxford, but in the end, Cambridge was closer to home and I'd met a couple of tutors from there I really liked, so…"
This was more than he'd gotten out of his colleague in a long time and Robbie was about to push his luck when both of their phones went off alerting to an incoming text from Innocent.
/I know your at lunch but I need you back now!/
Lewis was pretty certain that at least half of the reason behind the face Hathaway made after reading the text was more to do with the grammar mistake than with what new hell awaited them back at the office.
"If it's Jones again," Robbie said as they rushed out. "I'm calling your friend and making him send me a bottle too."
"There's been an incident at Lenthall Leigh," Innocent announced, putting her coat on when James and Robbie entered her office. "At the golf estate up there. Word may have already gotten out to the press."
"Isn't it a bit cold for golf?" Robbie demanded, nonetheless following Innocent as she walked out of her office.
"They do business retreats up there too," James supplied.
"I don't have all the details yet, but apparently a group of wealthy - possibly business men and women were there for a meeting of some sort and seven of them are reported down. Still getting details, but some are dead, some being transported to hospital. This is a mess and the chief constable is in fits, obviously."
"What happened?!" Lewis demanded, alarmed. That many dead or hurt could be weapons related or almost anything.
"Don't know yet, first reports were that they just started keeling over! No reports of weapons or visible threats. I've got SOCO along with Singh and several of hers on their way to secure the scene and I want you to take the lead on this Lewis. James, that's where you did that charity golf thing last year right? So you should be familiar with the grounds which will be a big help. I'm going to ride with you two so I can keep getting updates on the way. Damn," she said, stopping in her tracks when her mobile started ringing. "That's the chief constable. Gather however many of yours you think you'll need for seven victims and probably at least twice that in witnesses counting staff up there. I'll meet you out front in five minutes."
"Right," Lewis said, turning to James when Innocent walked away, answering her mobile. "Who do we have? Lockhart, Hooper, Johnson, Williams, Patterson, Bridewell... I don't know about bringing Jones, but…"
"I don't think we can leave him alone here either and we need all the bodies we can get out there. I'll put him with Hooper and make it clear he's not to leave his side, or say anything to anyone. He's there to observe and be another body, nothing else." James said, heading quickly to the workrooms to gather the troops while Robbie started issuing instructions to those in the main area outside their office.
"We've got a major incident out at the Lenthall Leigh golf estate," James announced, once he'd pulled two constables from one workroom to join the three in the second. "Who knows the way? Right," seeing enough positive responses to be assured that all present could make their way there he explained the situation and divvied up the jobs each would be doing. "Hooper, Jones, a word?" he said before Hooper left the room. Jones, for his part stepped forward cautiously, looking still a bit confused that he'd been named as one of those going to the scene. "Gerry, Trainee Jones is your responsibility," he said seriously before turning a stern look to the trainee. "You're there as an extra body and to observe and learn. Keep your mouth shut and your ears open. Do what Hooper tells you to do and do not leave his side. Understood?"
The quietly simmering "Yes, sir," from Jones was almost drowned out by the plaintive "Sarge!?" from Hooper, the "Why me?!" clear in his voice.
"Hooper, how long have you been on the force?" Hathaway asked.
"Near enough 25 years," Hooper answered, confused.
"Exactly. You've got the most experience of any of the DCs and there's a lot he can learn from you. The inspector and I will be too busy to be of sufficient help to Trainee Jones on his first major scene like this. You'll both do fine. See you there."
"Right, let's go then," Hooper growled, ignoring the annoyed look on Jones' face as well as the amused look on Johnson's. "Don't screw up Jones, or I'll throw you from the car myself."
"Jeez kid," Johnson said as they rushed out. "I don't know who the Sarge is being meaner to. You, or Gerry!"