(© 1987) by KAIN MASSIN
By the time we left Berri, Frank Garvey was beginning to grate on my nerves. Sergeant Garvey had hit it off with Wilson and the two of them were having a friendly conversation in the back seat. I, being a lowly constable, was relegated to sitting behind the wheel.
It's not that I mind driving; don't get me wrong. I quite like putting my foot down in the country and watching the scenery fly past. But, it's another matter when you're ordered to drive and to not say a word. When that order comes from a fellow officer you've been trying to help, then the situation leads to resentment. I was resenting Frank Garvey every kilometre of the way back.
Garvey had been one of the heroes of the STAR Force (Special Tactics And Rescue), a dynamo of action until he misjudged an abseiling drop and had fallen down a cliff face, losing the victim he was trying to rescue. The doctors said that it was only his superb physical condition which allowed him to regain use of his spine. His recovery had been quite a media event, as had his return to the STAR force. But rumours have a way of getting around the police "family", and we soon knew that his nerves were gone and that his courage was coming out of a bottle of 60% proof. The media kept very quiet about his "voluntary" transfer out of the star force.
His latest posting had been to Holden Hill police station, in Adelaide's north-east. My station. We all felt sorry for him; Who wouldn't? But his drinking turned most of us off. Well, you see, he drank on duty, in the police car, for heaven's sake! Mr. and Mrs. General Public began to complain and superior officers took to asking us questions in private. How long can you protect a sergeant who's on a binge of self-destruction?
Frank Garvey was on the way out. And he knew it...in his more sobre moments. But, those were rare.
So, there we were, Garvey sitting in the back with a suspect and having a great time, drinking and laughing and drinking some more, and having another drink. Garvey and I had driven up to Berri the day before to transport a suspect, Daryn Wilson, back to Adelaide: someone had decided that the riverland police needed help. From the time we had left Holden Hill station, the sergeant had been drinking constantly. He was continuing it even now, offering some to Wilson, not the least bit embarrassed by the clinking of four dozen wine bottles in the boot.
Eventually, my complaints had penetrated the vapour in his head. However, instead of coming to his senses, Garvey had nearly flown into a rage and used his stripes to shut me up. Which I did, biding my time. I considered that I no longer owed him anything and that he would hang himself. I wouldn't have to dob him in: the system would get him for breaking procedure.
Garvey vindicated my decision as soon as we reached Barmera. This town is fifteen minutes' drive from Berri, but he told me to stop at the hotel because he wanted "...to shout Daryn a drink. You stay with the car, constable." He took Wilson into the front bar.
Iit was 45 degrees Celsius that day. If looks could kill, the one I gave him would have put him straight into a plastic bag. I got a coke from a deli and drank it in some shade.
When they came out, it was like seeing two old drinking-buddies. Except that one was handcuffed and his right arm was bandaged up to his elbow. I seethed so much that the interior of the car seemed to be cool. We drove out of town much faster than I normally would. Naturally, they didn't notice.
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