Title: Look, Cover, Write, Check

Author: Esme

Date: early 2000 - 11th Feb. 2001

Category: this doesn't quite fit anywhere in my opinion, but I suppose it is something like a vignette - just a short scene (or two) of life with the Sydney Water Police.

Disclaimer: The characters of Frank, Rachel, Helen and Tayler all belong to the writers and producers of a tv show called "Water Rats". I merely use these characters to write stories to fill in my spare time.

Author's notes: I haven't posted a Ratfic for rather a long time. Year 12 took over last year and all those stories started at the end of 1999 are still waiting to be finished. This one was inspired by a Legal Studies lesson or two - just a bit of whimsy.

Thanks to my beta-readers, especially the Chief Superintendent - your help is always appreciated. g

- - -
Look, Cover, Write, Check
- - -


As Frank walked in the door (almost on time - 17 minutes late was nearly a record) Rachel was on her way out.

"Hurry up Frank, we'll be late," growled Rachel. "I'll see you in the car."

"What's up her nose?" Frank asked Helen as he signed in. "Where are we going?"

"Youth justice conferencing Frank," replied Helen. "Get going."

"Conferencing?"

"Ask Rachel to explain, she's as thrilled about it as you will be."

* * * *

"Morning," said Frank as he got into the car. "How are we this beautiful day?"

"Yeah great," said Rachel as she drove aggressively out of the carpark.

"So what are we doing?" asked Frank.

"'Youth justice conferencing'," Rachel said sweetly.

"Oh good," said Frank. "Um, what is it?"

"Oh it's the latest idea trying to stop putting so many kids in jail. Remember whatsisname from last month?"

"Um Andy, Peter, Shaun?"

"Nah the other one."

"Oh Ben, Joel, Max?"

"Yeah Joel," said Rachel. "Well the convenor will sit down with Joel and with the Houghton's and talk all about it."

"What?"

Rachel sighed as she tried to explain. "We get the perpetrator and the victim and well Joel will talk about why he robbed them and the Houghtons will talk about how it made them feel. And together they negotiate some sort of punishment for him - like a simple apology or community work or reimbursement. And so Joel doesn't have to go into detention. You know, touchy-feely police work."

"So. . ." said Frank, "instead of him doing time, we just try to make him feel guilty and say sorry and he does a bit of community service - which all good little boys should be doing anyway."

"Oh and I suppose you were a good little boy Frank?"

"Of course! I used to help the old ladies across the road with their shopping."

"Oh, little Frances in his boy scouts uniform," cooed Rachel.

"Yeah," said Frank. "But really, what's the point with this whole conferencing thing? I mean what's happened to good old-fashioned police work? Where is the police *force*? All this touchy-feely police service stuff is pathetic."

"Get off your soapbox Frank, it's your job," said Rachel. "This program has an 80% success rate of preventing recidivism."

"Recidi-what?" said Frank.

"Re-ci-di-vism," Rachel said slowly. "Come on Frank, it was the first word on the spelling list at the academy. Right up with 'jurisdiction' and 'affidavit'."

"We had a spelling list?" Frank said. "I must have been away that day."

"Yeah, you know we had to do the whole 'look, cover, write, check' thing."

"Look, cover what?" said Frank.

"You're not really with it today are you Frank?" sighed Rachel. "Oh it's just what David used to have to do to learn his spelling words. You look at the word, you cover it up, you write it down, then you check it."

"Oh right," said Frank. "How is the little bloke anyway?"

"Yeah he's good, not so little anymore," said Rachel, the first smile of the day finally forming on her face. "It's that time of year again, so we're right back into soccer, soccer and more soccer."

"Ah the poor child is dellusioned," said Frank. "Whatever happened to good old footy?"

"Oh I don't think anything so uncouth as football would be allowed at David's school," Rachel said primly.

"Well I'm surprised they're not playing lawn-bowls then."

Rachel threw her trademark look in Frank's direction.

"Right, so how do we spell this recidi-whatever it was?"

"You really don't know?" asked Rachel.

"Well if I knew, would I be asking you?"

"Okay, r-e-c-i-d-i-v-i-s-m. Let's try simple words for simple people like you. Recidivism is um, re-offending. Nah 'offending' has too many syllables," said Rachel. "How about 'being bad again'. The youth justice conferencing program has an 80% success rate of preventing the kids from being bad again."

"Now simple words, I understand," said Frank. "But I still think it's easier to just chuck 'em in a cell."

"Oh you're all heart."

* * * *

"So how was youth justice conferencing?" asked Helen as the detectives walked through the door.

"Oh a waste of time," replied Rachel.

"Oh come on," said Frank, "we're doing our bit to prevent recidivism."

Helen looked suspicious at Frank using a five-syllable word. "I wouldn't have thought such a word was in your vocabulary Frank."

"He only learnt it today," said Rachel.

"Do I get a jellybean for remembering it?" Frank smiled sweetly.

"Holloway, don't you have paperwork to be doing?" Rachel said as she pointed him towards the stairs.

Frank turned back to Helen. "She's not being very nice to me today."

"And I'll be joining her if you don't stop distracting me from my work Frank."

"Message received."

"And understood?" asked Helen as Frank was still leaning over the counter.

"I'm going!"

* * * *

Tayler poked her head through the door of the detectives' office. "The Nemesis is just about to go out and we thought you might be interested. A Mr Kosmopolianos just phoned and said he's caught an intruder on his boat."

"And how would you be spelling that?" Frank asked.

"B-o-a-t?" said Rachel.

"Thankyou to Miss-I'm-so-funny over there in the corner, but I was actually referring to Mr Kosmowhatnot."

"Ah I believe it's K-o-s-m-o-p-o-l-i-a-n-o-s," said Tayler.

"Thanks Tayler," said Rachel, "we'll be with the Nemmy in a second."

* * * *

"So Joel," said Frank, "how does it feel to be a recidivist?"

"A what?" said the young teenage boy.

"This morning Detective Goldstein here and I, not to mention the counsellor and the Houghtons, gave up our valuable time so that you could do your bit for society and we could help prevent recidivism."

"Man, can someone get me a translator here? How about a lawyer?" asked Joel. "What's all this 'vism' crap man?"

"Look Joel, we've got a few problems here," Rachel said. "I mean you got a slap on the wrist only a few hours ago and already you're back to stealing off boats."

"Sweetheart I haven't stolen a thing."

"Joel," began Frank, "mate you've got bits of cruiser falling out of your pockets. Let's cut the crap, 'man'."

* * * *

"How's it going in there?" asked Helen as Frank and Rachel walked out of the interview room.

"Oh his mother just wants to belt him across the head and he wants a lawyer," Rachel said.

"Right, I'll get onto that one for you."

"Thanks Helen," said Rachel.

"Belting him across the head or the lawyer?" asked Frank.

"You'll get the belting if you're not careful Frank," said Helen.

"Promise?" he asked gleefully.

"I'm off to find a lawyer for your beloved recidivist," Helen said.

"Oh lawyers," grumbled Frank, "they're all sophistry and semantics."

Rachel leaned towards her partner. "Are you trying to impress me Frank?"

"Now why would I need to do that?" he replied.

"Well you've had five years and you haven't succeeded yet," said Rachel. "I don't think I've ever heard 'sophistry' or 'semantics' fall from your lips before."

"Oh they were just on our spelling list at the academy," replied Frank. "Along with 'circumstantial evidence' and 'subpoena', 'indictable offence', 'affidavit'. . ."

". . . 'jurisdiction' and 'recidivism'. Yeah yeah Frank."

"You know, I won the spelling-bee in grade four," said Frank. "'M-i-s-s-i-s-s-i-p-p-i'."

"Come on Boy Scout, our sophist will be here soon."

"Sophist, s-o-p-h-i-s-t, sophist."

"You know you might be able to find an old lady with some shopping on your way home tonight."

"You reckon?"

"You never know."

*The End*