The old police officer’s morning had been, he could safely say, pretty poor.
He’d not slept well the previous night and had awoken in a cold house with ice on the insides of the window to see his frosty breath in front of him. The previous day had been stressful, the temperature plunging as snow fell and one by one minor disasters occurred.
Cars colliding leading to angry confrontations over braking and accusations of gender related incompetence mediated by him, stepping between lions ready to rip each other’s throats out for minor damage to elderly looking vehicles. Water mains had iced up, blockages causing leaks, leaks causing floods, floods causing black ice sheets and black ice sheets causing more of the public to lose their head and develop a fury rarely seen. Later, in middle-of-the-road suburbia a tree had fallen cutting electricity supplies for the day, the unfortunate inhabitants of three streets left without electricity, in torturous cold.
The cold had claimed a casualty that day, though it would be never attributed that way, a victim of chance and an unfortunate chain of events. The call had come through, an old woman, passed away in her chair clutching the photo of a loved one, could they come quickly. There had been no need for speed, she’d passed away hours earlier, a combination of extreme cold, sleep and old age. The heating was on again when they arrived, shown through the door by an elderly man whose voice cracked and crumbled, pain spread through his face.
The clocks had been the giveaway, digital readouts reset to 12am, flashing. She’d gone to sleep, an afternoon nap, while her husband, in three piece suit, went to work for the final time. He was to retire that very day, over forty years working for the same corporation, every day the same routine, every day moving towards that retirement when he would come home and stay home. She’d been a teacher and had retired first, afflicted by bouts of arthritis rarely seen in a woman her age, and had concentrated on happiness, her own and that of her husband. Each morning he’d kiss her on the cheek and leave for the day, she’d pick up a book and read on the porch in summer and by the electric fire in winter. At noon she would rise and, as was customary for her on a Monday, eat soup. She ate soup on a Monday because it was soup day, she felt no need for change as change to her when you’re already blissfully happy seemed quite unnecessary. After lunch she’d settle in her favorite chair and nap, just for an hour, or perhaps two, waking up to see crystals of snow on the window sill, dressing warmly, taking her stick and walking the ten minutes to meet her husband from the train. That Monday though she was not to wake.
The body had been taken away and the officer had left the elderly man with a cup of tea, sat contemplating what would happen next. The police officer had wanted to stay, be supportive, offer a listening ear, but well, that wasn’t what the police were for, and besides, he was sure the man would prefer his own company. Instead he had passed the man his business card and told him to pop it in his wallet and that if he needed anything just to give a call, although ideally in business hours. That would help surely.
He’d returned home to find his home too without power, and mindful of the death he’d seen piled spare duvets, blankets and throws on top of himself to prevent a similar fate. It had, however, had an unfortunate side effect, around three in the morning, drowning in sweat, he’d woken up with a body akin to being in a sauna and an errant hand that had got free turning blue in the cold. He woke, therefore when his alarm chimed at 6am, some three hours after he had managed to get to sleep, in not the best spirits. His spirits had been further eroded when, arriving to the police station he’d been informed of a suicide at the local station and he was to supervise the cleanup.
As he strode down the platform a junior officer approached him, pushing past a large woman with a dog, and three business men who, he noticed, smelled decidedly of urine.
“We keep finding bits of him” the junior officer panted, clearly overjoyed to be working on a case that didn’t involve lecturing schoolchildren on the dangers of throwing snowballs at oncoming traffic and running cycling proficiency.
“Pretty cut and shut if you ask me” he continued, “Suicidal, someone must have driven him to it.”
The old police officer often wondered what was taught at policing academy now, cycling proficiency certainly, interview techniques definitely but not tact.
“Did anyone see the incident?” he enquired.
“Just two people sir, the tall man and, her, the woman in the hat. Everyone else looked away it seems, didn’t quite have the right angle to see everything unfold. They were pretty clear, he stepped out in front of the train on purpose, wanted it over I guess.”
The old police officer sighed, looking around from the dispursing people to the stack of paperwork in the officer’s hand, terrible at tact yet brilliant at paperwork, statements signed and dated, an incident noted.
“Oh there was one other thing” the junior officer paused before continuing, “he had one of your business cards in his wallet.”
It would be no ordinary Tuesday.