As Good As A Holiday

Thought I would give you one of my very short stories.  Enjoy (I hope).

Carefully and silently the kayak slipped into the river in the small hours of the morning.  With no moon, the paddler looked up to the billions of stars, smiled and felt a little insignificant.  It gave a kind of perspective to the work. After all, humans were just so trivial and irrelevant in such an immense universe.

The kayak sat low in the water; several oddly shaped, tightly taped up and weighted bags provided more ballast that was probably safe.  Checking that the car was parked under the overhang of bushes and couldn’t be seen, the paddler set off toward the open sea.  It was quite a distance to the breakwater but the outgoing tide made it a lot easier.  The sea was calm at this hour.  The paddler always knew the tides and water conditions before taking action.  Caught out only once by a strong north easterly wind blowing up the river, the kayak had almost capsized twice on the two nautical mile return trip. It had left the paddler almost too exhausted for the 5 hour drive back to Sydney in time for the afternoon shift. A near miss after a micro-sleep near Lake Bathurst required open windows, freezing cold wind and singing loudly with the CD to get home.

But not this morning.  Conditions were near perfect.  It would be an easy paddle out and a lighter paddle in on the tide change.  Then a relatively quick drive home.


 ‘Afternoon, Cynthia,’ said the guard at the security gate.

‘G’Day Phil.’

‘Have a good day,’ he said smiling as he placed my firearm in a numbered locker and handed me back my backpack, mobile phone and computer.  I gave him a raised eyebrow and went through to the lifts. He was suddenly a bit too nice to me.

‘Hold the lift,’ called a voice I recognised and I lunged past two people in front of me for the ‘open’ button, managing to hit the right one for a change. ‘Thanks Cynthia,’ said Elaine, my work partner as she scrunched up next to me in the full lift.  ‘You been out last night?’

I shook my head. ‘Nah, couldn’t sleep.  That Guyen case got to me.  I thought we had it in the bag.  Bloody prosecutors not getting their act together.’ I noted a few nods amongst the other passengers of the lift.

‘No use loosing sleep over it.  We’ll get him next time he stuffs up.’

‘You’re too much of an optimist for a copper, Elaine,’ I said smiling at her.  ‘Hope it’s a quiet day, I need a rest.’

‘Petterson, Vellios, in here,’ called Superintendent Allen as we got to our cubicles.

‘Oh god, what now,’ I mumbled tiredly.

‘See you didn’t get much sleep last night Petterson,’ said the Super as I slumped in behind Elaine.  I smiled and said nothing.

‘Right,’ he began. ‘I know you had a loss in court but don’t let it get you down.  Now, a guy by the name of William ‘Bilby’ Phelps came in early this morning with a strange story.  He’s a private investigator who works for the people we try to put away.  Makes money by helping the thugs keep an eye on each other. Problem is, he’s going broke.  Apparently, several of his clients have gone missing.’

‘So do we care?’ asked Elaine.

‘We do when they were our cases as well.’

‘What..?’ I began.

‘Hold on ’till I finish,’ said the Super holding up his hand like a traffic cop. ‘Apparently Phelps went to see his client Alan Arthur Volt to get his money for finding stuff to keep him out of gaol.  That was two months ago and no-one’s seen him since.  And this morning he went to see Guyen for the same reason.  No-one’s seen him since he left the courthouse day before yesterday.  I need you two to follow it up.’

‘But who cares if these pieces of shit disappear?  Good riddance,’ said Elaine vehemently.

‘We have to look like we do our job for everyone.  Do your best.  I want them found.’  He looked at the papers in front of him and we were dismissed.

‘So, where do we start,’ asked Elaine as we headed for our desks.

‘The case files I guess.  I think we’ve got a lot of slog work ahead of us.’

‘Yeah,’ she said sulkily.

For the next few weeks Elaine and I trudged all over town and interviewed some of its shadier characters.  At night I slept like a baby and on weekends I went out kayaking with friends.  After all, I had to stay fit.  A few months of unproductive work would be like a holiday.  And it would let me make sure I’d left no clues, or mess with ones I could have left.

Sometimes it nice to do ones duty.



  1. Kristine · September 20, 2013

    Love this one, nice twist with the female cops and at the end. Just read it again and enjoyed it all over again.

    • Cat Sheely · September 21, 2013

      Glad you liked it 🙂

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