Section 143 is clutching at an emotional lifeline
The following day Vernon got dressed with a heightened sense of his usual self-consciousness. It was not just a matter of ‘what should he wear?’ but how what he wore, would be perceived. He wanted to be taken seriously without appearing out of touch; he wanted to look relaxed and comfortable without appearing cavalier. He needed something that would help his mood.
A myriad recurring thoughts assailed him, his appointment that morning, his return to work tomorrow. He now had his visas and the removal of these obstacles had merely enabled clearer sight of the next. Just as Schopenhauer claimed, acquisition of something registered as the ending of one’s need for it rather than any exultant sense of gain. True as this was, each time he donned his Harris Tweed he was transfixed by its colours, each thread drew him in, evocative as it was of the highland landscape that had inspired it. Its colours conjured up the texture of wild heather, icy streams and slate. He put it on for the sake of this emotional lifeline. At least acquiring it had meant something that was not entirely negative.
Because he did not have to return to work until tomorrow, a formality to finalise a strategy for replacing him, something to his delight that the school was struggling to achieve, Vernon decided to walk into town. A footpath led directly from his home into the centre and a convenient branch led off to the green where the Police Station was now situated. Its many-windowed façade conveyed sober efficiency; he wondered to what extent its officers did.
A little out of breath, and warm from the exertion thanks to his substantial jacket and Oxford shirt, he mounted the marble steps to the municipal building and pushed open the heavy glass door. The duty sergeant, he presumed, was leaning over the desk engrossed in paperwork. Vernon approached unsure of himself.
“Excuse me. I have an appointment with Detective Constable Constable.”
The duty sergeant did not look up but merely continued with his writing.
“Excuse me. I…”
The policeman raised a hand, flat-palmed, towards him, like a traffic policeman from a ladybird book.
“Now then.” He said at last. What’s the problem?
“I have an appointment with…”
“So you said. What’s the problem?” The policeman spoke with a world weariness suggestive of an eternity marshalling imbeciles and delinquents from one problem of their own making to another.
Vernon shrugged, reluctant to give anything away. He felt the same resistance as when a doctor’s receptionist or counter staff at the bank invite you to broadcast your private matters in the public foyer.
“That’s what I’m here to find out officer.”
In response to the bell activated in consequence of this exchange nothing happened.
“Wait there. While you’re waiting, fill out this form.”
It was hard to comply with this instruction given that the only pen was attached to a ledge some distance from the chairs for waiting he’d indicated. By the time Vernon had filled out the form DC Constable had at last arrived.
“Ah hahrr. We meet again as I thought we might. Do you follow me sir.”
With a Suffolk accent sufficiently broad as to impede his progress through the corridors of power perhaps, DC Constable strode unchallenged and purposefully enough here until he eventually paused at a solid black internal door. The door of what Vernon assumed would be an interview room and hoped would not be a cell.
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