Day 17 Assignment
|As you enter the ladies loo at Riverside Police Station, Tidemouth, you are met with the smell of bleach. The harsh, fluorescent light reflects off of the cracked mirror hung over the wash basin. There are three cubicles, although at any one time there is a chance of one being out of action. The girls keep a sign, to hang on the offending toilet door, on the shelf at the side of the loosely named vanity unit. It is no more than a basin set in an old worktop, that looks like it came from a skip.
Look down as you walk, you may trip on one of the cracked ceramic floor tiles, heavily encrusted with filth in said cracks. The cubicles have the distinct aroma of toilet block, combined, on occasions, with that of unflushed contents. The seat is broken in cubicle three; only to be used if desperate.
Someone has set a whiteboard on the shelf beside the vanity. It has been roughly cleaned. There are still traces of words and numbers from the last case discussed in the girls' 'office'.
The CID office is just down the corridor. It is accessed by double wooden doors with narrow glass panels running vertically. It is decorated in institutional grey. There are six desks, some occupied, some just sat there, waiting for the day they would be fully staffed.
The Sergeant's desk is at the rear, beside the whiteboard, bearing information on the current case of interest. To the left of the room, a separate office, the door emblazoned 'Detective Inspector' with a slide in portion underneath, giving the name of the current incumbent.
Of the six fluorescent tubes lighting the room, you can gamble on at least one flickering as it is about to die. The room smells of sweaty bodies, egg sandwiches(at least I hope that's what it is), and fresh coffee, courtesy of the late John Fairfax and his bequeathed coffee machine.
The canteen is opposite the ladies' loo. It is entered through doors similar to those of CID, although somewhat cleaner. To your right is the counter. Take a tray from the stack and move along. The hot food area is filled with foil trays under heat lamps. If you have ever eaten hospital food you will be familiar with the contents of these heat and serve offerings. They give off an unappetising, institutional smell.
Move on past and you will find a rack of plastic wrapped sandwiches with unimaginative fillings, looking somewhat forlorn as they proclaim a date stamp several days past. Beneath these sit the cakes. At least that wasp finds them attractive.
If you want a drink, you have to go to the machines. Tea, coffee, chocolate, chicken soup, who cares, they all taste the same. Humming away next door is the cold drinks machine. Thanks to the Super's healthy eating ethos, it's how do you want your water, still or sparkling?
On the left, large, Formica topped tables each sit six people. One lone two-seater is reserved (unofficially) for senior officers. The one forgiving feature of the canteen is the view. The windows, which fill one wall, look out onto a street view of houses, the local pub, and yes, a couple of trees.
The wind blows upriver from the sea. The disused warehouses lining the bank stand as sentinels of a bygone age. The rails remind you that this was once a busy branch line. They are now rusted and overgrown. The roadway is potholed and weeds grow up through the cracks.
Old gas lamps stand to attention along the route, long since extinguished. There are floodlights mounted on some of the warehouses but most are smashed. Just the odd halo shines on the puddles. This is an area even the rats have deserted.
The non-descript two bed semi was one of those brick built boxes from the eighties. It is owned by a Housing Association and occupied by a family of three. The cramped hallway is littered with coats on hooks, shoes piled high, and various bags. The living area is open plan. A small, littered kitchen occupies an alcove and opens out into a room crammed with furniture.
A sofa faced the large screen TV hanging in the centre of one wall. A coffee table, shaped like a bear, balancing a sheet of glass, is littered with newspapers, used mugs, an overflowing ashtray and an ornament, an abstract vision of a couple embracing.
Jess's room is small but suitable for the young woman she is fast becoming. A single bed displays her love of everything pink. From the baby pink duvet to the cerise throw and the fluffy, heart shaped, pillow, this is home to a girlie girl.
The floor is littered with her 'I've got nothing to wear' indecision. The small desk is tidy. School work is less important than image.
Steph and Markie Cole's house is very similar to the Barnes' home. It is in a poorer neighbourhood. Instead of trees, there are rusting cars on the lawns. Inside, the layout is much the same. The place is tidier than the Barnes home but the furniture is second hand and well worn. Instead of the large screen TV, there is a 14 inch set with no remote. You have to twiddle with knobs to make adjustments. In the living room is a large cupboard, big enough for Markie to use as a den.
Markie's room is smaller than Jess's. Instead of a single bed, he has one of those toddler affairs, adapted from a cot. The room has a few toys scattered.
There is no door on the abandoned flat on the first floor. A sheet of board, once sealing the property, is now just propped. Squatters have been here before. The windows which look onto the walkway are still boarded. The windows on the other side let in the light.
The hallway smells of stale urine, the floor littered with junk mail. The first door leads to the kitchen. The sink is full of dirty dishes, with that smell of mold and grease. Old, long out of date, food litters the one remaining work top. Cupboards have had their doors wrenched off, or are attached by only one hinge. If you dared to touch, the whole room would be greasy and sticky.
On the opposite side of the hall is the bathroom, but there is no bath anymore. The basin has years' worth of grime. As to the toilet, it deserves a toxic sign. Moving into the light, you wish you couldn't see the stained mattress, the battered settee, the signs of drug use and the pervading smell of cannabis and worse smoked there in the not too distant past.
The school refuse shute
The first warehouse/office
The second warehouse
The chase route