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Union Candy (part 21)

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Early that evening, in his office, Inspector Crabbe continued to stare at the report on the Ambrose girl assault for quite some time after he had finished reading it. If he didn’t look up to where officers Dybbøl and Køjarsky stood patiently waiting for his instructions then he would have more time to think.

The officers’ investigation had come back with a pretty obvious chain of events which led to a pretty obvious conclusion. Bethany Ambrose was a bully and had picked on a little girl nearly half her age. As it turned out, absolutely the wrong little girl to pick on.

This particular nine-year-old had her own file at the NFPD. It was very thin for sure, and there was nothing in it that definitely implicated her in any criminal activity… yet. For now, she was what the police called a ‘known associate’. In this case, a known associate of one Joseph Spivey esquire. Which presented certain ‘difficulties’.

Crabbe was looking forward to his retirement. A retirement in no small way funded by the said Mr. Spivey, among others. So, what to do? The attack was obviously payback for the bullying incident. From the descriptions of the witnesses, Crabbe could hazard a guess as to who the attackers were. And, if it were them, then they led straight back to Joe Spivey. Coincidentally under who’s wing this girl ‘Finny’ currently resided. The inspector sighed, still not looking up, despite the polite coughs coming from Dybbøl.

If the attack had been on an adult then, well, that was just gang politics. But this was a teenage girl and an orphan to boot. An orphan, by the way, who was under the care of the Union, so there would have to be an investigation. Crabbe thanked the god he didn’t believe in, that at least it hadn’t been Kopcage who had been given the case. Kopcage would have had the four young thugs locked up and Spivey and the girl in for questioning by lunchtime. There was only one thing for it. Crabbe closed the folder.

Køjarsky? You take this. Take your time, no rush. Probably gang related.” He handed the folder to officer Køjarsky, probably the laziest, most useless policeman on the force. “No need to fetch the little girl in, I doubt she had anything to do with it. My guess is that the Ambrose girl…” Crabbe slowed down and spoke the next words very clearly. “… probably got involved with a jealous gang member.”

Not looking at the other officer, Crabbe found some papers to shuffle.

Dybbøl, you er… you er, get back on with that burglary over in… wherever it was. No point wasting manpower on jealous teenagers.”

Køjarsky took the folder, already writing up the chief’s conclusion in his mind and wondering how early he could get off his shift. Next to him, officer Dybbøl was looking up at the ceiling at the very interesting crack that looked a little bit like… well, a crack, but it was better than catching the eye of the chief.

When the inspector stopped talking, both officers came to attention.

“Yes Chief!”

After they had left, Crabbe helped himself to a whisky and went back to his other paperwork. Kaibab looked nice…

Back in the orphanage, it was that couple of hours between four ock-lockers and the evening meal. Finny had found Abigail and Tati in the back yard, smoking of course. She now stood in front of them, both hands on hips and all wound up into a tight ball of red-haired fury.

“I din’t have nothing to do with it! You better stop telling everyone that I did… Or else!”

What Finny meant by the ‘or else’ tagged on at the end was that she’d do something that she hadn’t thought of yet but would probably get them all in trouble.  

However, in their current state of shock,  what Abigail and Tati actually inferred from the ‘or else’ was that they would meet a similar fate to their leader, currently being spoon fed by a bored orderly in the Union Medical Centre.

It was more of a gasp than a whisper when it came.

“Yes Finny.”

Echoed immediately by Tati.

“Yes Finny.”

Finny, though, had been expecting a different reaction, probably something that she was already prepared to turn and run from. The fact that it wasn’t threw her for a moment.

Nonplussed then, she just looked at the two ladies in waiting. Then she half turned back towards the back door of the orphanage, before stopping again.

“Ok. Good.”

Still nothing from either teenager. Finny frowned, annoyed and puzzled.

“Fine then.” With that, she finally stomped off, past Casper who had been waiting in the doorway, and back into the orphanage.

Casper, though, lingered. Unlike Finny, he had definitely understood what had just happened. When he had first heard the details of what had happened to Queen Bee, he had felt sick. But now, watching the two very sheepish looking girls sitting together for mutual comfort and support… So different from the mean, arrogant girls he had watched in the stairwell, Casper realised that he had done that. And he hadn’t had to be big, or strong, or even brave. But still, he had made sure that these girls would never pick on or hurt Finny again. And knowing that Bethany Ambrose now had two broken arms seemed less important now.

Casper followed Finny back into the orphanage, the slightest of smiles twitching at the corner of his mouth.

Even later that evening Charlie Farley, the fourteen-year-old who, that morning, had deliberately and callously broken both the arms of a pretty sixteen-year-old girl, reported to his boss.

Joe kept the thought that maybe one arm would have been enough, or maybe even just a few fingers, very much to himself. Charly Farley was a cold little bastard who scared even grown-ups, and Joe recognised talent when he saw it. He passed the boy a fair-sized bag of chips.

“Divvy up with the others and make sure you keep a low profile for the next few days, just in case.”

The ‘just in case’ was until he’d had a word with Inspector Crabbe to make sure that oil was being spread on any troubled waters.

That night, Finny slept the sleep of the innocent. Unaware of what had really happened that day, a thing that Casper would come to learn was a useful little phrase called ‘plausible deniability’.

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