Sunday 1 May 2022

Sixty Six


by Jay McKenzie

a hot, spicy, chilli chocolate chai


‘Licence, please.’

I groan, glance at my watch.

‘Officer, I..’

‘Licence, please.’ His mouth is a thin, tight line.

I sigh and slide the card from my wallet, holding it between my bent knuckles with a hundred dollar note folded on top.

‘Oh, sir. This is yours.’ He pushes the note back into my hand, eyes unwavering from mine.

I watch him walk back to the squad car, the dull buildings around us vaguely more appealing for the alternating red and blue. I wonder if I’m going to make it in time. Wonder if I will, in fact, get fired for this. Or do I have one get-out-of-jail-free pass? Chalk it up to experience.

I’ve only been doing the job a few weeks. It’s been a steep learning curve. And I’ve got massive shoes to fill. Huge. My predecessor was goooood. At the job, I mean. I chuckle lightly, imagining his pointy face hearing someone describe him as good.

I watch him in the rearview mirror making his way back to me. It doesn’t take a genius to work out what his vices are: fatty foods and tv marathons on his sagging couch. It’s written all over his pudgy little face. He waddles back to me with as much authority as a weeble in uniform can muster.

I try my hardest to look contrite.

‘You were doing sixty-six in a sixty zone.’

I nod. ‘Yes, So sorry. Won’t do it again.’ I attempt a sweet smile, but his gasp tells me that it's more menacing than pleasant.

‘Normally, I’d let you go for a minor indiscretion, but these plates are false and’ he glances at the passenger seat, ‘you appear to be carrying a weapon.’

Damnit! I should have put that in the boot.

‘So, I’m going to have to ask you to accompany me to the station.’

Don’t draw unnecessary attention to yourself, they told me in training. Don’t talk too much. Look like you’re complying with authorities.

I look at him and nod. ‘Okay.’

‘Step out of the car, sir.’ He pulls open my door. ‘And please, leave your fork-thing behind.’

I wasn’t supposed to let that out of my sight, but what am I to do? I follow him to the car and let him fold me into the back seat, cuffs digging into my wrists.

He catches my eye in the rearview mirror and he looks, what is that? Sad? Disappointed?

The desk sergeant peers at my licence, typing the details into his computer.

‘Mr S. Atan.’

He takes my fingerprints, and I wonder how long it’ll take him to notice that they’re grooveless. Smooth splodges bringing up no matches in his computer.

The officer accompanies me to my cell, hand hooking my elbow almost tenderly.

‘It’s for your own good,” he tells me as he closes the door. He grins through the grate. “Besides, the one you were after tonight? Not yours.’

And I see the tiny wings straining through his shirt as he turns away. 

About the author

Jay McKenzie is a British writer based in the Gold Coast Queensland. A former teacher, she has lived and worked in the UK, Greece, Indonesia, Singapore and Australia. She has once been shortlisted for and twice won The Australian Writers Centre’s Furious Fiction contest.

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