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Homecountry: extract

Homecountry by T.W. Lawless

The public bar was a cacophony of sound and frantic activity by the time Max arrived. He stood in the doorway and surveyed the scene before him. Activity began to slow as the crowd started to notice Max’s presence. The hullabaloo emanating from the crying patrons on the footpath and the shouting police and ambulance officers quietened as Max walked through the bar, towards a body draped under a blood-soaked white sheet near the jukebox. The floor surrounding the body was slippery with blood. Max stood over the corpse and kicked at one of the shoeless feet that protruded. He leaned down and lifted the sheet, nodding as he inspected the body briefly, then casually dropped the sheet, leaving the top of the head visible. Looking around, Max threw a piercing stare at a fresh-faced constable standing in a state of inertia nearby. The constable drew to attention as Max stepped over the body and approached him.

‘Don’t just stand there like a stale bottle of piss, Constable,’ Max bellowed into the constable’s face. ‘Get these c..ns off the footpath.’

‘Yes, Sergeant,’ the constable quavered. Max looked the constable up and down.

‘Harden up, son. You might as well buy a bra now.’

‘The man’s wife is outside causing a scene. She wants to see the body,’ another constable remarked as he approached Max.

‘For God’s sake. Are we recruiting wet nurses now?’ Max roared at the constable. Shaking his head, he put his hand on the young man’s shoulder.

‘Arrest her! Disorderly conduct. Get it?’ Max stated quietly, tapping the constable’s face with an index finger.

‘Where’s Nipper? Max asked, looking at both constables. They looked at each other. ‘You don’t know where Nipper is?’

‘Sorry, Sergeant. In the office over there,’ the timid-voiced constable stammered, pointing to a door near the bar.

‘Grow some balls, son, or join a bloody convent,’ Max advised, slapping the constable on the cheek.

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