He hadn’t intended on remembering the date on which they had been partnered together at work, it had just happened, implanted itself on the inside of his skull awaiting his perusal whenever he desired to peruse. If asked why he remembered it so clearly, he would answer with one of the three explanations he had crafted that he deemed nonsuspicious, the favourite of which was that there was a good game on that day that he had watched at the pub in the evening. This was the favourite story because it was true, and the safest way to tell a lie is to make it as true as possible, anyone could tell you that. He would just leave out the part where he remembered that trip to the pub so well because it was the first time he could convince his new shadow to come along with him.

He had flown through six months of training utilising the tough physical regime to put off the even tougher conversations he was going to have with himself about morals as soon as his thoughts weren’t all focused on the pain in his muscles. Gaining a partner’s back to watch at shy on every waking moment was not high on his list of priorities, not that he had a choice. It was like someone buying you a puppy for Christmas - many yellow stickers in car windows appeared in his mind -, he was not confident enough in his abilities to trust that he could look after this puppy, and he most certainly hadn’t asked for one. This one wasn’t even wrapped in bows, it was grumpy and on the defensive and most certainly not endearing. 

From what he had been told about him, he knew he had only been recruited a half a year before he himself had. Which meant he had a whole extra six months of working the streets under his belt, he had experience and he knew the rest of the team and he was well within his right to be standing next to him in that office with an air of distaste. As if he had much better places to be and he had to be there three minutes ago. He had been working alone so far, put on the back bench to wait for someone suitable to be identified and snapped up for the purpose of working with him. Now the time had come for the both of them to become the one thing they had been avoiding, a partnership. And neither were happy.

First on the list was a stakeout and they struggled to imagine a worse situation. They had left the building both deciding whether they should be the one to volunteer to drive or whether they should just follow their new partner. An almost inhuman understanding of each other was expected of them, they had to work together like two obscenely well-oiled cogs in an equally obscenely well-oiled machine. Perhaps it was best to start at it from the very beginning, following each other around without question, in a ‘fake it till you make it’ sense. So that he did, followed the other into a long, hot morning sat in a car together, trying to make conversation with a man he had met five minutes ago and whose life had been elegantly placed in his hands in a business-like manner. No returns and only to be relieved of when it died. A puppy for Christmas. 

Although a puppy was a great inconvenience, they had at least had time to prepare for this one rather than being lumped with it as a surprise from underneath a tree. Time had been had to metaphorically buy water bowls and stock up on dog toys and strange smelling food. Now was the time to introduce yourself, palms up to show you’re not a threat and let them sniff your ankles. Perhaps that was going a bit far. To compromise, he had tried to smile at the right moments, judging based off of his whole morning of experience as to whether the other man was really making a joke, or just commenting on what he could see. He figured it couldn’t hurt to smile at the wrong times too. Better than staring straight ahead and straight faced at a joke. That would not set them off on the right foot at all.

By lunchtime, which he discovered his new partner thought it always was, they had stopped resolutely looking at everything else, and now allowed themselves to glance with large intervals at the other man. Was he smiling right now? Was he actually frowning, did he just go to say something and then stop himself? What was he thinking? What he was thinking probably had something to do with the fact that it really was undeniably lunchtime now. And that meant talking to each other and making arrangements, who was going to do what. He decided he would break the silence, show that, contrary to his fake it till you make it technique of following him around like a scared lamb, he could also take initiative. He knew what he was doing. So he collected lunch orders and he made his way confidently and slowly towards a fish and chips van parked in a gravel car park on the corner of the road. Now was not the time to worry about placing food orders, now was the time to do it without thinking and to focus all his attention on making his body language the very definition of relaxed.

Expertly ordered fish and chips were eaten in a car that now smelt of grease and that was full of thoughts on how they should be eating, and then whether evaluating one's own eating habits to try to force some sort of comradery was going a bit too far again. But amongst the newspapers and sharing of chips, and although there was no relaxation yet, no letting down of the walls, there was acceptance. And now, years in the future, he can look back on that first summer with appreciation for what it really was. The introduction to his favourite song.

June 19, 2021 15:56

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RBE | We made a writing app for you (photo) | 2023-02

We made a writing app for you

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