Friday, 20 May 2011

The Barnsley Identity - Excerpt (Fiction)

 The Barnsley Identity
Barnsley Bear - Episode II

(This is an excerpt from a work-in-progress sequel to my short story, Barnsley Bear, which is in the November 2010 section of my blog. You may want to read that first, if you haven't already, or this excerpt will perhaps make no sense at all. However, even if you have read the original, this excerpt will perhaps make no sense at all...)

PC Polar extended his baton with a sharp flick and smashed it down on the spider that was gamboling towards him as he sat on the garden wall of 37 Honeydew Drive.

“Busted!” he said, triumphantly.

“It’s still moving!” said Detective Sergeant Panda. “Quick!”

PC Polar leapt up and ran away. Spiders creeped him out.

Panda pulled out his Taser and fired a shot, but the darts bounced off the brickwork and sizzled in a clump of flowers. Throwing the weapon aside, he jumped on the wall and stamped his heavy boot, grinding the assailant into nothing more than a stain and a memory.

He sat again and pressed a worried palm against his chest.

“Did you get him, sir?” shouted PC Polar, from down the street.

“Yes, lad! Justice has been served! You’re safe!”

Polar panted back and picked up his carton of sandwiches.

“I bloody hate spiders,” he grinned, a little embarrassed. “My brother put a tub of spiders down my underpants once.”

Panda raised a curious eyebrow as he chewed his sausage roll.

“It turned out they were just the top bits from tomatoes, but you try telling a cub to rationalise the difference in the heat of the moment? It’s a post-traumatic thing now.”

There was a knowing silence.

Polar sat and opened his sandwiches.

Panda sighed.

“What’s up, sir?” said Polar.

“This whole place – this village,” he said. “I’ve half a mind to put in for a transfer.”

“Transfer? Like a footballer? Can we do that?”

“I’m an intelligent bear,” continued Panda.

“You are, sir!”

“I didn’t sign up to the force to lecture cubs on road safety, break up matrimonial disputes, or herd cows from traffic. I took this… calling… to make a difference.”

“Difference to what, sir?” said Polar through a mouth of bread and ham.

“To crime!” said Panda. “And what crime is there here?”

“Crime is a bit sparse, yes.”

Detective Sergeant Panda swallowed the last of his pastry and stood up. He threw a wave of his arm to the removal men across the road. “I mean just look at this place? All I want to do is fight crime, and people are moving away. And the fewer people who live here, the less chance there is for crime to thrive.”

“You’re totally right, sir.”

“I’m getting depressed by it all, to be honest,” Panda said, sitting again.

Polar finished his sandwich and patted his mentor on the shoulder. “Don’t go getting yourself down about it, sir. Think of the positives!”

“Such as?” grumbled Panda.

“Well, the less crime there is, the less paperwork we have to do.”

“There is that.”

“Would you have such an excellent handicap in golf if you’d had to spend five hours a day filling in forms and babysitting prisoners?”

“Um… I suppose not…”

“And there are other advantages. We don’t have to stop at traffic lights; we get free food from the corner shop; free booze from the off-licence; free meals at the restaurant; free golf passes and club hire; we got that ‘consultation’ trip to Las Vegas paid for, with expenses…”

Panda snorted a laugh. “And those girls were bloody expensive!”

“But best of all… sir… best of all… we have power.”

“Power!” said Panda, with a faraway look in his eyes. He clenched his fist and held it before him. “Yes!”

“A policeman’s lot is not such an unhappy one, eh?”

“Perhaps you’re right,” said Panda, standing once again. “Perhaps I shouldn’t grumble so much. I could be in a much worst position.”

“Agreed! You’d be serving life in jail if they’d found the body of that bear you murdered.”

“I manslaughtered him! It’s not the same!”

“Regardless, it’s another perk to the job, eh? And you know what, sir? If it makes you feel better to do a bit of crime work now and again, maybe we can do something about that, too?”

“How?” said Panda.

“Lend me a tenner?”


“Lend me a tenner for five minutes?”

Panda shook his head, took out his wallet from his jacket pocket and passed across a crisp, ten pound note.

Polar smiled to himself.

Mrs Kodiak was shuffling along the pavement towards them, holding on to her flaking Zimmer frame for dear life.

“Watch this,” said Polar.

As she passed, he dropped the note behind her, then coughed.

“Excuse me, madam?” he said.

She carried on.

“Madam?” he shouted.

Mrs Kodiak looked around slowly and gave a toothless grin to the police constable, turning an ear and hearing aid towards him.

“Did you drop this?” he said, bending to pick up the note. He waved it in front of her straining eyes.

“I… I don’t…”

“This would probably buy you a lovely bottle of gin, and maybe you’d even have enough left for some boiled sweets, or a tin of meaty chunks for your cat?”


“Is it yours, or should I take it to the station and put it in lost property? Because that’s all that’s going to happen to it.”

“Well, I suppose it could be mine. Yes.”

Polar leapt and grappled the old dear to the ground, pushing her face into the dewy grass on the verge. He pulled out his Taser gun and jammed it into the back of her neck.

“I’m arresting you on the suspicion of littering in a public place. You have the right to remain silent, but it may harm your defence if you fail to mention anything that you later rely on in court.”

Detective Sergeant Panda grinned, then winked. “I’ll get a squad car!” 

* * * * *
Barnsley Bear pulled back his living-room curtains and opened the window. He smiled and breathed in the start of another beautiful day, then noticed that his prized rose bush was on fire.

“What on earth?”

He rushed to the kitchen and filled a mop bucket with water, then hurried out to the garden and emptied it over the burning bush. The flames were extinguished with a sharp hiss and a cloud of perfumed steam rose into the air.

Mrs Bear screamed from the front doorway. She must have seen everything.

“It’s not what you think, dear!”

“You killed God!”

“I promise it’s not the rapture, my love,” said Barnsley, moving carefully closer. “Some cubs must have set fire to my rose bush. That’s all!”

He put down the mop bucket and offered his hands to her. She gripped them tightly and fell into his arms, then began to sob. “When the Virgin Mary talked to me in the car, you told me the rapture wouldn’t come then, either…”

Barnsley had thrown their new GPS route-planner into the very first litter bin he saw.

“I promised you it wouldn’t, didn’t I? And I’m promising you now, my sweet.”

Looking to the sky with flitting, nervous eyes, she said: “He’s coming for us. That man at our wedding told me he’s everywhere!”

“The vicar should have known better than to give you silly ideas like that,” said Barnsley. “I told him what you were like after reading Harry Potter.”

She clenched him tight and looked up with a tearful smile. “I love you!” she said. “You’re my rock in dark places.”

“And I love you!”

Her eyes strayed to the smouldering stems on the other side of the lawn and she flopped her shoulders with sadness.

“Oh, Barnsley,” she said. “You loved those roses!”

“I did,” he said, turning. “And the judges at the village fair would have too.”

“The fair!” she said. A slug of drool dripped down her chin. “The ferrr...”

“Let’s get you back inside, shall we?” said Barnsley.

“The ferrr… ferrrrr… ferrrrrucking roses make me want to spew!” she yelled, shaking his hands off her. “You can stick your ferrucking flowers up your ferrucking crack and dance for me, but I still won’t make you any breakfast!” And with that, she stormed back into the house, slamming the door.

Barnsley rubbed his forehead and gave a heavy sigh, then went over to the remnants of his prize rose bush and knelt beside it. There wasn’t even a clipping salvageable. It was ruined.

He stood and stepped over the garden wall. The removal men across the road were busy carrying a heavy, steel box towards the back of their van, but there was nobody else on the street. Whoever did it was long gone… unless they were hiding nearby so they could gloat at the reaction to their crime?

“I ought to call the authorities!” shouted Barnsley to any concealed saboteurs.

There was a loud ‘clunk’ from across the road, and one of the removal men reached for something inside his jacket.

“Breakfast’s ready!” chirped Mrs Bear through the window. “Beans on toast okay?”

Barnsley winced. There hadn’t been beans in the house since the ‘vampire incident’. He felt a sudden, terrible sense of dread for the tadpoles he and his son, Barnaby, had collected in a jam jar the night before.

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