Author : Oisin Hurley

On my first day on the incident desk, a distraught little man well into his second century burst in through the door of the station. “I’ve killed her!,” he shrieked at me, “Killed her!” He punctuated each bespittled utterance with a spastic wave of a cricket bat, spattering blood over me and my day book. Clumps of brownish hair were stuck to the edges of the bat. I stared at him while his initial excitement receded, then asked for his details. He gazed at me wide-eyed for a moment, then jerked his head to one side to look at something behind me. A smile of apparent relief broke out on his blotchy face, and I heard slow applause coming from the break room. I turned around and saw Sergeant McGrath approaching, clapping his swollen hands in front of his big purple face. McGrath had earned the station’s Officer Most Likely To Experience Congestive Heart Failure Within The Decade Award nine years previously. There was a busy book open on whether he would make the ten. Clapping me on the shoulder with a handful of baby eggplants, he roared, “Well done, Mack!” Then he nodded to the nerd with the cricket bat. “Many happy returns, Doctor! Let’s go in back and have a coffee. Here, I’ll take that bat.” As McGrath headed back to the break room, one meaty arm around Mitchell’s slim shoulders, the other twirling the bloody bat, I heard him shout. “Dicky, get Mack a coffee and some sero-wipes!”

Dicky wandered over with a mug and a bag of wipes. “Well done, Mack,” he said, “a fine performance, I’m up ten bucks.” That was too much for my patience. “What the fuck is going on?” I demanded. “That guy got blood all over me, admitted doing a job on his old lady, and now he’s getting coffee from the Sarge?” Dicky handed me the mug and the wipes and I started cleaning off the spatters. “All new starts get Doctor Mitchell on his birthday, McGrath loves to rattle you noobs. His wife isn’t dead. She lit out to Proxima years ago and is living the high life at a fancy resort.” I blinked at him to continue. “Anyway, Mitchell’s loaded, made a pile from biotech patents. He gets to pick up her resort tab. While she’s off having fun, he’s here with a barring order not to get within three systems of her and no divorce in sight. You can see he’s a bit pissed. So, every year he orders himself a meat puppet, made from her DNA. It gets delivered on his birthday about nine in the morning and then we see him in here about ten, usually with some kind of blunt instrument. It was a seven-iron last year. Carthy swears he saw him bring in a unicycle once. It’s a bit sick, if you ask me, but there’s no law against it. Meat puppets aren’t people.”

The next year, McGrath’s luck broke at last and he succumbed to a succession of heart-rupturing myocardial infarctions. Dicky cashed in about a grand on the event and I made sure I was at the front desk on the Doctor’s birthday. There was no sign of him at ten, and when it got to twelve, we were wondering if he’d given up on his proxy revenge habit. Just before one, a little mousey woman turned up in the office and looked around nervously. I called her over to my desk, asked her if I could help. “I’m sorry,” she said, “I think I’ve just killed my husband.”

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