Detective Sergeant George Corduroy tugged at his creases, trying to sharpen them. He felt wretched and that made him feel angry. He shouldn’t be made to suffer. It wasn’t fair. It was… yes, he was being bullied. Passive aggressively. The looks, those top-to-toe assessments everyone made. They didn’t like his hair, asked about his moisturising regime as if he even knew what that meant and then they reached his neck. Or more particularly his collar. After that it was metaphorically and geographically downhill as they critiqued everything, interspersing their comments with ‘brave’ and ‘challenging’.
He sniffed and leant forward to read the email. Headed ‘Another’ and cc’ed to the whole team, it gave a brief description of the call in, the location and directed Detective Sergeant Sharon Gomez and Detective Constable Veronique LaPaz and him to get ‘their pretty little glutes’ to the crime scene pdq.
He rubbed his eyes. How many years had he ground his teeth through sensitivity training to avoid even thinking let alone saying something so patently sexist and demeaning and yet here was a Detective Inspector – and a man to boot (though back in the day George might have debated that categorisation) – with the chutzpah to included it in a mail.
George shuddered. And now even he was using expressions like chutzpah, instead of what he’d have said six moths ago – ‘the balls’.
‘It’s about diversity, George’ and ‘you need to be able to work across the spectrum of modern policing requirements ’ were just two of the seductive phrases the Chief had used when persuading him that this secondment was essential to his hopes of making Detective Inspector. ‘You’re male, middle class, white with a private education. You’re going to have to overcome those limitations if you want promotion.’
He grabbed his jacket, grimaced at the herringbone pattern and the single breast styling and slipped it on, while the mail printed out. He also grabbed the car keys. If the dream team was him, Shaz and Vinnay he could be sure he’d be driving.
Forcing back his shoulders, more to make sure the jacket sat smoothly across his newly muscled torso rather than from a lack of confidence, he walked slowly towards the reception where he knew he’d find the two women. Inevitably they would be checking they had the necessary standard issue equipment. He caught Shaz’s anxious questioning ‘Jimmy or Christian?’ and Vinnay’s sneery ‘Jimmy, sweetness’ before he turned the corner and saw them, staring at him. Shit. Cutoffs. He hated when it was cutoffs, even more than he hated being a lowly and contemptible member of the Metropolitan Police’s Fashion Division.
George had learnt a few things since he started wide eyed and frankly overwhelmed and instantly intimidated. He drove so his colleagues could get kitted out. In Serious Crime that meant putting on a stab proof jacket and ensuring you had your handcuffs; now it meant putting on makeup and ensuring you had the right handcuffs and not the ones with the fur trim. He also opened the window a fraction because at some point the atmosphere would become Poisonous or whatever the latest parfum de jour happened to be. And, of course, if there was any lull in the conversation, their attention would turn to whatever crime of fashion he had committed that day.
This time, however, the mood was sombre, the hushed voices and anxious glances between the two women enough to put him on edge. ‘Okay, so are you going to tell me what’s starched your sarongs?’
While Shaz glared, Vinnay scoffed something about sarongs being beyond criminal. The senior woman said, ‘I know you saw the mail so surely you understand by now.’
‘I get that this looks like it might have the same perp. Though bunting is new, isn’t it?’
Shaz grimaced. ‘The Boss has seen some pictures. We can’t be sure until we’ve seen it for ourselves, but he said it’s got all the hallmarks. And if that’s so then, we’ll this would be the fourth one. The Houses are getting nervous. Fashion Week is three days away and the last thing anyone needs is a spectacular even McQueen wouldn’t have imagined.’
George couldn’t understand the fuss. He stewed quietly until they were waved into a small car park on the edge of a wood. The SOCOs were already present dressed in matching cerise and vermillion diamanté encrusted onesies finished with snappy pixie booties and latex biker gloves. They offered outfits to the three detectives, tutted that George’s newly acquired bulk – a deliberate attempt to ensure no size zero outfit fitted so he could wear a bog-ordinary white paper suit and held up the scarlet knotted rope.
George let the others go first, inwardly speculating that they would find Gucci or Tommy H given the previous two cases had been Versace and Prada. Whoever was systematically destroying the hopes of an industry and its supporters was at least doing so in accordance with the catalogue. He slowed. Vinnay’s complexion matched her onesie while Shaz dabbed at her eyes, elegantly avoiding the carefully constructed detailing. She had detached an asymmetric triangle of material and held it out to George. ‘Now do you see what this means? This was worn by Naomi back in 2002. This is part of our history that’s been eviscerated. Whoever’s doing this isn’t your common or garden vandal. See how these have been systematically torn? Oh no…’ she seemed to lose her thread and she looked at Vinnay for help.
Through her emotionally compromised vocal chords, she managed in a hoarse whisper, ‘We’re dealing with a serial rippist.’
This was written in response to this month’s #blogbattle prompt ‘wretched’