Detective Instinct

Just published is issue #9 of Martin Appleby’s gloriously unconformist Paper & Ink zine (available from @PaperAndInkZine ). I strongly advise you to get a copy, not just because I’ve got this short piece in there -:


It’s a new millennium in a Northern English City, where it has not stopped raining for three years. Every second, every minute, every hour for three years: incessant rain from darkened skies.


I got laid 4 times last night, says Detective Kate Payne as she sits down opposite and picks up the menu. We high-five each other, as we always do when she has a positive sexual experience. She watches a waiter walk past and I imagine semen is still leaking from her as she flicks her hair to attract his attention. She checks her pager as soon as he takes our order, before insisting on telling me the latest about her boyfriend and boss, Inspector Jeff “The Tornado” Coldwell, and what she wants from their relationship, both professionally and personally.


In the drenched streets beyond the restaurant glass, everyone is depressed, everyone has an analyst. Mood-elevators are being handed out willy-nilly. The pervasive gloom bonds like a virus to the city’s body politic.  It infects the sewers, lives in pipes, has a hook for a hand, no eyes, filed teeth. Sadness is the maniac who no longer lives in the woods. Amongst this madness and on these rain slick streets, Detective Kate Payne appraises the collective psychosis of a population which prays for the hour of destruction; we all belong in an asylum and the city should be certified.


When talk turns to love, Detective Kate Payne stumbles: oh I don’t know… he’s really into me.  Four times the previous night, apparently. She has been intimate with Inspector Jeff “The Tornado” Coldwell for 12 months. Once he had a significant other, Catherine who was slaughtered, or perhaps sacrificed, just as the rain began. And the rain and the slaughter have kept coming ever since.  Exiled from Catherine’s case because of his personal involvement, Kate helps “The Tornado” hunt Catherine’s killer down. It’s a multi-layered fight: against superiors who see him as a renegade, psychiatrists who believe her sociopathic, grown fat and greedy on other peoples’ misery.  As a result, Kate and Jeff don’t get away for weekends. Instead they work steamy night shifts and he sends her blurry Polaroid snaps of him orgasming. She shares a few snaps from the back pocket of her Filofax while we wait for our order.


Detective Kate Payne’s career is going nowhere, her relationship is going nowhere and malaise is everywhere. She just doesn’t know what she wants beyond attention. Kate and Jeff have the same conversation about moving forward at least once a week. Meanwhile she remains perplexed at her predicament and I, her only friend, patiently offer the same advice; Kate’s ultimate battle will be an examination of her own past and her own mistakes. A path that may lead to her own destruction amid the water of a drowned city.


Yesterday, in my own work, I took delivery of a fax message that presented the question do you prefer to stay within your comfort zone or have a goal to work towards? Professionally and personally, it’s a no-brainer, because I believe there is a format for every successful and happy relationship. Malaise and disrespect have no place in there. They are boils that must be lanced. Experience has taught me that unless a relationship is based my own values, I flounder like my ungrounded friend and my reaction is often unpredictable. I lack the sense of loyalty displayed by Detective Kate Payne.


Sex is great all by itself, but I insist on the presence of other components, like truth, honesty and, yes, fidelity. When they are, mind-blowing, fantastic sex with your latest soul mate is there for the taking. And that is what appeals to me. No longer will I cheat myself, like I did with Catherine. I just wish my friend Detective Kate Payne wouldn’t either, regardless of the weather.


She nods, finishes her coffee and pays the bill in cash as the Barclaycard machine has jammed.





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