GOING TO THE DOGS
Next time he would do it.
Next time he wouldn’t stand before his barrel of a Security Manager a silent, sorrowful inadequate. Next time he would pull out his Magnum torch, bludgeon the fatty fool to a pulp and resign.
It was with these dark thoughts of natural justice that Saul Blanchette squelched his way around Rubbley Greyhound Stadium’s parameter towards the isolated ‘B’ Car Park. What little he could see of the sky through the horizontal sheet rain sagged with the prospect of even more rain, and the hard northeast wind that whipped up both trouser legs to freeze dry Saul’s entire groin only added to his misery. Saul consoled himself with the thought that it couldn’t get any worse.
The walkie-talkie crackled into life on his sodden hip.
‘Delta Base to Handset 9, are you receiving over?’
Saul looked down at the antique handset in horror.
‘Base to Handset 9, please respond over.’
Betrayal. He decided to ignore it. His handset never worked, he’d deny it worked tonight. No one would ever know.
‘Base to Handset 9, your handset was repaired and tested this afternoon…over.’
Prove it. The chubby little git could find someone else to do his dirty work.
‘Base to Handset 9, you’re in frame, over.’
Saul’s eyes ignored his brains urgent instruction not to look up and looked up.
The carpark's CC camera bore down on him and appeared to wink.
‘H9 to Base.’
‘H9, H5 requires your assistance at the Main Bar.’
‘Received, Base. What’s happening there?’
‘That’s all. Base out.’
By the time he careered his way to the bar, a red-faced man in his forties with a sagging stomach and a head full of throbbing veins was hurling abuse at H5, or Basher as he was more accurately known.
Basher stared unblinking down into the grizzled man’s alcoholic eyes until the overhead lights finally flickered to full strength, signalling the successful conclusion of race 11. He then successfully concluded the one-way conversation with a single trademark hammer blow to the top of the man’s head.
Saul watched the fearsome guard amble off toward the exit stairway with the unconscious customer bobbing over a shoulder and reflected that no matter how much space Basher took when he was here it was nothing compared to the space he left behind.
‘Everyone all right?’ He smiled lamely at a crowd that seemed to have swelled dramatically in numbers since Basher left. Their faces crinkled with displeasure back at him.
Saul felt the sticky warmth of fear beneath his cap and smiled sagely at an elderly man with ill-fitting teeth and an unfortunate turn in his left eye.
‘You’ff all got bollockff for brainff!’ The old man’s lips fought to contain his dentures.
‘Indeedy.’ Saul nodded affectionately for a second time and moved on with what he hoped appeared to be an air of dignified tolerance. The blow to the base of his neck never came and he reached the outside stairway intact.
‘H9 to Delta Base, are you receiving?’
‘All clear up here. H5 has the customer with him now and is escorting him off the premises.’
Saul slipped the bastard radio back into his waist clip and leaned out over the trackside terraces. Countless polished heads shone back up at him.
In the security office, Delta Base studied the bank of crusty closed circuit monitors and frowned as the bulk of Basher passed from one screen to another until he disappeared completely.
‘He’s coming up now. Do you want me to call him in here?’ Pauline, Rubbley Stadium’s official receptionist and unofficial Delta Base secretary ventured.
Delta Base fidgeted with his walkie-talkie, ‘No, no. Let him take him out.’
She sat back down again. ‘What about the Police?’
‘Nothing they can do. No, least said soonest mended.’ Henry Miles sat opposite Pauline and rubbed his eyes.
‘I’m getting too old for all this really. I should have stayed retired when I came out of the force.’
Pauline smiled weakly and prayed for an act of God.
‘I’m still capable physically of course.’ He patted his paunch self consciously.
‘For someone of my age I mean.’ Pauline tried to ignore the pregnant pause. And failed.
‘You’re in very good shape Henry.’ She wondered if Basher would stop off on his way back from ejecting the drunk.
Henry Miles, aged sixty-two, five foot nine and every inch the stadium’s security manager studied his fingernails for traces of greyhound urine. ‘I had to take the samples again this evening. Bloody boy!’
Pauline smiled and looked sympathetic.
‘I’ve told Morris to give him another warning. If it happens again he’s out. Simple as that.’ He waved a thumb under his nose and sniffed noisily. Ethyl smells it on me if I spill any. She says it reminds her of her father.’
Henry’s train of thought was abruptly derailed by Basher’s entrance.
‘Is he out?’ Henry snapped.
Basher’s smooth pink head bobbed up and down in response.
‘Right. Good work Basher. Good work.’
Basher didn’t like questions.
‘What?’ Henry stood up.
The few organised thoughts Basher had when he walked into the room broke ranks and made for the nearest exit. He crinkled his brow and shifted his weight from leg to leg.
‘I’m asking you why you came in – is there a problem you would like to share with me?’
‘Maybe he wants a coffee’ Pauline offered helpfully.
‘Not when he’s on duty – thank you Pauline.’
‘No thank you’ Basher muttered and turned.
‘That’s it lad – back to the rabble. You can have a coffee when we’re all done here.’ Henry watched Basher disappear through the door, narrowly missing his head as he did so, and silently congratulated himself on hiring the monster.
‘He’s a credit to the department you know Pauline. A real credit.’
‘HE’ didn’t want him you know?’ Henry pointed a stubby figure towards the ceiling.
‘Said he though he didn’t give the stadium the right image. I know what he means, but then he isn’t the one who has to get out and deal with some of the scum out there.’
No, and neither are you, Pauline thought.
The microphone cut-out as soon as the Traps and Mr. Boggalot’s mouth opened. It was a 1950’s Wilstheimer microphone, only the very best according to the stadium manager, a microphone with character he had said. Mr. Boggalot thought it was ancient, nasty, unreliable and judging by the box brimming over with spares next to him – cheap.
A sweaty faced punter jabbed a yellow finger on the commentary booth window and shouted something unpleasant. Mr. Boggalot tried to ignore him and the horrendous feedback that shrieked happily from the trackside speakers and flicked the microphone on and off and on again. Nothing. He tapped it with his pen. Nothing. Finally in an act of desperation he picked it up and smashed the microphone head against the table’s edge. Nothing. Boggalot watched the dogs flash across the finish a beaten man. He disconnected the Wilstheimer, flung it on top of the wreckage behind him and reached for another replacement.
He really was going to have to find another job soon.