SMOKE: Claremont CSI
Originally published: 19 September 2006
No, no - let me hasten to assure you that you're wrong. I'm no hero deserving of medals and tea, although if there's tea going I don't half fancy a cuppa.
No, no - just an ordinary bloke in extraordinary times, fighting the scum of Claremont just like the rest of you.
You may be familiar with my various crimefighting experiences - if not take some time to browse these stories first (or later):Chasing A ThiefTrouble At The QuickshopThe Hysterical ThiefCaught Me Some Criminals
You may wonder why I'm always in the thick of it - join the fucking club. I don't ask for trouble - it just has a knack of finding me.
My latest brush with criminal elements beyond my close circle of friends, relatives and dealers was my most thrilling yet, as I got to open a case of attempted murder.
I'm always on the lookout for new things to do, and opening attempted murder dockets are as good a place to start as any.
It happened two weeks ago, on a Friday.
It was around 14h00 and I was working in my study at the back of the house. Tashi was in the front of the house, in our lounge, having tea with her mother who was visiting. Chicks do that - they "visit". It's insane, I know, but there you have it. That's what they were doing.
Our study has French doors (with appalling, pretentious accents), and wooden blinds that hang down to the floor. The blinds were hanging about three quarters of the way to the floor, leaving a gap for TBD to run under if she needed to get outside.
TBD was nowhere to be found - as I later heard she was in the lounge with the ladies, trying desperately to persuade them to give her cake through the suggestive power of her mind alone.
It wasn't working, but that's irrelevant.
I was viciously working on the TV schedule highlights for Saturday, muttering to myself in disbelieving disgust at the rubbish fare on the free channels, when I heard a noise outside.
I looked down at the gap between floor and blind and almost shat - someone was crawling under the blind and into my fucking study! On his frakking belly! The sheer flipping horror of it!
It's not the first time I've had to deal with a bastard-ass criminal on my property, but it was the first time I'd had one crawling under my blinds and into the very room I was working.
He obviously hadn't even seen me sitting there - his bad. My response was my old tried-and-tested Roar Of Death:
You can't write a roar in words - there aren't enough exclamation marks or capitalisations to even begin to do one of my roars justice.
Trust me - it was so loud people in the next block heard it. I know because they told me so.
The poor bastard got the shock of his life. You would too if you were just some ordinary criminal trying to steal his day's wage when suddenly confronted by an almost identical replica of Satan himself.
I almost shed a tear for him. Almost.
Instead he bolted and I went roaring after him. By "roaring after him" I mean running after him and roaring - once I get my Roar Of Death on it feels too damn good to stop, so I just keep roaring the most explicit stream of filthy invective until my throat packs in.
I invent at least 10 new swear words in times like these - garbled, disjointed fragments of swear words stitched together to make imposing, unprintable new ones.
As soon as I hd the blind rolled up and ran outside I spotted him - a teenager of around 16 years old, carrying a big black canvas bag over his shoulder. He was scrabbling desperately at the wall that divides my neighbour's back garden from mine, trying to drag himself up.
I roared my way across the short stretch of garden just as he succeeded in pulling himself up, and I lunged at him, grabbing him by the jacket.
It was a red and white hoodie - filthy - and the guy simply shrugged out of it and left me standing there holding it. What was weird was that it was still zipped up - how on Earth he shrugged out of it is still beyond me.
He'd thrown the bag over the wall and jumped down after it. I pulled myself to the top of the wall and saw him running across my neighbour's garden, to the opposite wall.
I roared over the top of the wall that I was coming to get him, and turning on my heel I ran back inside the house to make good on my promise.
I knew where he was going - on the route he'd taken he had to come out in the road behind us, and I knew just where he'd emerge.
I went flying through the house, yelling at Tashi to phone the police (turns out she already had), and caught a glimpse of TBD sitting on Gran's lap, both of them white as ghosts and trembling like leaves.
TBD hadn't seen any criminals - she'd merely heard my roar. That roar is normally reserved for her so naturally she was under the impression she'd done something wrong.
Same with Tashi's mother. You've never seen two such guilty faces in your life. They were one moment away from putting their hands/paws in front of them to be cuffed and led away.
I went straight through the house and into the road, then ran hell-for-leather down our road, around the corner at the bottom and up the street behind us.
As I got to the third house from the bottom I saw our pal emerging exactly where I thought he would, and all I had to do was wait for him. He had nowhere else to go - he had to come out right in front of me.
He spotted me and dropped back into the yard, but realised he had nowhere else to go. I was still roaring at him and he took the best form of defence - he attacked.
In my haste to cut him off I had no weapon. He climbed onto the wall and clung there with one hand, fishing for something. When he got to the top of the wall he shouted at me "I'm going to fucking kill you", and then he leapt off the wall straight at me - with a knife in his hand.
He lunged at me with the knife and I recoiled, losing my balance. He missed cutting my chest open my centimetres. As I rocked back he decided he was better off scramming before the police got there, and before I could even get my balance back he was off and running, heading in the direction of the Kenilworth Centre.
I didn't chase him - I was unarmed, he had a knife and had shown he was willing to use it, and he was running so fast I knew I had no chance of catching him. The odds were against me. Nobody has ever even jokingly referred to me as "that young gazelle".
But I watched where he ran - he went past the KC towards the main arterial road, Chichester Road. Chichester is filled with a steady stream of taxis and buses and I knew he's be on one of those and out of there in minutes.
I did notice however that he no longer had the black canvas bag, and I knew he must have dropped it somewhere in one of the houses he'd passed through.
I ran back around the corner to my road and started up it, when I saw - up ahead, outside my house - an ADT security van parked outside and a security guy chatting to Tashi, who was waving about frantically with her arms as she explained the drama to him in unnecessarily theatrical terms.
I roared up the road at him to come - I could point out where the criminal had headed to. But he just shook his head and stood where he was. I yelled and yelled at him but he wouldn't come, and then I got pissed.
I stormed up the road, yelling obscenities at the ADT guy, and when I got to him I let him have it. The guy tried to eplain that he wasn't allowed to chase criminals but I wasn't having it - I told him to forget the fucking security company. I told him we were both men at the end of the day - why can one man not help another out? What kind of sick fucking world has this become?
He explained that he had a wife and kids to feed and asked if I was going to feed them if he lost his job chasing my criminal. I told him there was no way I'd feed his damn wife and kids, and I noticed his hand move nervously to his holstered gun.
I was being highly threatening in tone and body language and the guy's eyes were wide as saucers. You'd have sworn he was the criminal, not just some Joe trying to earn his day's wage.
I noticed his hand on his gun and told him not to bother but to go fuck himself instead, and stormed indoors to go investigate the back garden.
While there I looked over the wall but couldn't see the black bag anywhere, so I went back outside where the ADT guy was still talking to Tashi (she was trying to calm him down - apparently he was very upset. I tend to be upsetting sometimes).
At that moment another ADT van drove up and the guy's supervisor - a big ex-cop with a heavy chip on his shoulder - got out and asked me what the problem was.
I channeled my rage at him and he explained that his guy was right not to chase my criminal. He carefully explained how criminals have more rights than law-abiding folks do, and said if I'd harmed that thief when I caught him in the other road I'd have been the one in prison on assault charges.
I know all this of course - it's just in the moment that you simply can't believe it's actually true.
The guy told me that ADT can only arrest people if they're on your property and you're the complainant. I asked him why his guy couldn't have simply followed me to see where the criminal was going - he didn't have to arrest him, but surely he could have radioed the police while following the suspect?
The senior ADT guy admitted that his guy could have done that, and fortified with self-righteousness I suggested he do that in future.
Later on I went out to apologise to the first ADT guy. I looked him in the eye and said I was sorry for my abusive language and that I understood he was looking after his job.
He shrugged and turned his back on me, ignoring my outstretched hand.
I told the older ADT guy that the bag was somewhere in one of the back gardens down my road, but he wasn't inclined to go meddling in people's gardens.
Round about then a thin guy who looked for all the world like a student came bustling up, crazed with anxiety, yelling that he'd been robbed. No shit, Sherlock.
I grabbed his arm to stop him and he looked around wildly. I asked him what had been stolen and he said a computer monitor and a wallet and other stuff. I told him I'd seen a black bag that couldn't have carried a monitor unless it was a flat screen, and he told me it was a flat screen.
I was tempted to say "lucky bastard", but reckoned he probably wouldn't see it that way. I've never seen an oke look so stressed.
I told him to chill out - that I knew the bag was somewhere in one of the houses - and he started leaping over walls and inspecting the gardens.
Through all of this there was no sign of the police. About an hour after it all started a van drove leisurely up and two immensely phlegmatic cops got out, clearly unhappy at having to work on a Friday afternoon.
I explained the story to them and they started looking about in the front of a house. It took me about 10 minutes to explain that the bag could not be in a front garden - the thief had taken a route through the back gardens.
Then I led them into the road behind us and pointed out the spot where the thief had jumped over the wall and attacked me, and they parked their car up next to the wall and one of them jumped over.
A black dustbin was standing in the yeard and I told him to open it and check inside - and lo and behond, he pulled out the black canvas bag.
It did indeed have a flat screen monitor in it, as well as everything else that was missing. The student was crazed with delight, hugging everyone (police included) and calling his father up on his cellphone to tell him to halt with the insurance stuff.
The cops had a good chuckle, walked around a bit with their rifles drawn, then went back with the student to take his statement.
I went home to find TBD and Gran still sitting there, whiter than two sheets of new paper. I shot the dog a withering glare, and she hung her head in shame.
Later that night she would try and explain to anyone who would listen about how she caught 43 criminals that day, but we were past caring.
An hour after I got home the student rocked up at my door to tell me the thief had been caught. Turns out two traffic cops spotted him running down Chichester Road and casually yelled at him "Where are you going?"
He thought he'd been rumbled and bolted, and the cops chased him down based purely on his suscpicious behaviour.
The student told me he'd laid his charge at the Claremont police station and said I had to go do the same, so I went and laid the suggested charge of attempted murder.
Which simply added to a rapidly-growing list of charges - the thief apparently bust up his holding cell with rage, smashing windows and going berserk.
The charge officer referred to him as a "little hardegat", which was exactly what he was.
I didn't feel proud of myself for laying a charge - the kid was only 16. But he already had a record a mile long and was wanted for a number of other crimes in Claremont, and frankly I can't help the fact of someone else's crap life.
Prison is no place for a kid, not even one who's old enough to steal and kill. The kid has absolutely no future, and by that I mean he has none. I could see it in his face when he yelled at me from the wall that he was going to kill me - the look on his face was a mixture of fear and desperation.
There is no redemption for him - he will die in jail or out on the streets and will probably never know a day of love again in his life, if he ever has before.
So although victory was mine it was a bitter victory and one I took no joy in.
TBD tried to make me feel better by explaining that she hadn't been cowardly, she was merely protecting Gran and holding the fort and trying to catch criminals and-
I cut her off. I'd had enough.
I gave her a West's Ken-L biscuit for originality.
All Smoked Out,