The Funeral: A Roseman Tale

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It looked like every Watchman in the capital was on duty on the day.  It was four days since the explosion at The Anvil, and Spellman and Goodfellow were going to be laid to rest.  Notice had been made that the families wished that the funerals only be attended by the near and dear, and the appropriate representation from The Service.  To insure this, the funeral route was lined with Rosemen, and a cordon was established at the cemetery as the Watch was honouring their own.

Andy Binman stood at attention as part of the Ninth’s delegation.  As his fellow Rosies stood at parade in their freshly oiled jerkins, and black crepe tied around their arms, he noticed the evidence of the risks taken daily by a Watchman.  There stood Sergeant Lifson with a golden rose, and two bronze hearts upon his breast.  Next to him was Senior Constable Fuller with his bronze heart.  Gus Gates, the custody sergeant, and Sergeant Schribner each bore the old bronze dragon decoration for wounds received in their time on the streets in the Crestmen days.

At the grave sides, a lone hurdy gurdy-man, in his traditional harlequin pantaloons, played a sorrowful rendition of Amazing Grace.   Superintendent Magononni then presented Rob Goodfellow’s widow Sprite, and Tom Spellman’s mother folded purple rose flags.

Attached to each flag was a letter of condolence and a personal apology from King Hector.  While there should be no surprise as to the reason of condolences, the apology had to do with conduct of the memorial itself.   In order to preserve the fiction that the catastrophe was the result of a still explosion, The Service could not give the two officer’s the appropriate recognition at this time.  Therefore, it was Magononni rather than Lord Oldbridge that presented the flags.  The women would also find folded within the flags, hidden from view by prying eyes, a silver heart medal.  The king again apologised for this deception, and promised that their loss and sacrifice would be publicly acknowledged one the case was concluded.

The concerns and precautions on the part of the Service were well founded.  Two journalists had been detained, one wearing a dated Crestman’s jerkin with a hastily stitched “Rose Crest” upon it.  He was subsequently charged with “impersonating a watchmen” to set an example.  The other had been found in a tree canopy, notebook in hand, during a pre-funeral sweep by members of the Third.

These were far from the most worrying breeches, however.  To the south of the cemetery there was a black coach which loitered just beyond the line of watchmen.  It was drawn by four black horses, and had smoked windows.  When members of the watch went to move the coachman on, the vehicle sped off at speed nearly trampling two members of the “Roadies.”  Reports suggested that the same coach was seen twenty minutes later on the north of the memorial gardens.

Interestingly, no two Rosies gave the same description of the driver.  Even details of his dress varied widely among the nine watchmen that filed reports.

Padre

 

 

Trixner: A Roseman Tail

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Hugh Trixner was the only son of the famous Hans Trixner.  The elder Trixner had made a name for himself as a theatrical magician. Many of his feats were spectacular, including the public disappearance of an elephant in the Great Market. He was best known, however, for dispersing the threatening clouds on the day of Princess Adriana’s wedding day.

Hugh on the other hand was far from spectacular.  He had been released from at least two of the magical orders as “inadequate” after only brief enrollments.  In fact, he managed for all of his efforts, to only acquire the ability to make his index finger glow, and the ability to tell people what card they had chosen (as long as it wasn’t the eight of clubs).

After searching for a suitable placement for his son, Hans was finally able to call in some favours, and persuaded Detective Inspector Alfredo Magononni of the Magical Detection Branch to take on Hugh in a probationary status.

His duties largely centered on maintaining detection equipment, filing,  and the making of the tea.  He actually excelled in these, but fate did not have in in the cards (eight of clubs, or otherwise), for him to remain in this role.

Trixner was just locking up the equipment stores at the small office near the High Guilds used by the Discovery Branch, when the windows rattled and a gust of dust and swept down the street outside.  There was also a distant rumble of a muffled bang, and then there was quite an amount of confusion as people began to run past.

A few minutes passed, and he was just wondering what he should do when Magonnoni burst in.  The man was obviously shaken, and was said in a broken voice, “Trixner, get you kit.”

Young Trixner grabbed several detectors and followed after his superior towards the ruins of The Anvil.  A cordon had already been established by members of The Third, and Hugh was waved through.  He passed a fairly large debris field and about a dozen blanket shrouded bodies.

On reaching the remnants of what had been the inn’s front door he set up his first monitor.   He labelled the fragments with a card bearing the readings, and then searched for a window frame.  On finding one, he repeated the process.  After jotting his data into a notebook, he got two searchers from The Third to help him uncover the bar.  The readings here were higher, as were those from the library debris.  Unfortunately, the magical residue of all of these findings were expected, owing to the nature of the establishment.  There was, so to say, “no smoking cauldron.”

Trixner spent the rest of the evening taking readings, and then worked into the wee hours writing his report.  He may have been a rather inadequate magician, but as an operator of magical apparatus, he was second to none.

His diligence impressed Magonnoni, he after reading his report gave a rare, “Well done, Hugh.”

Padre

 

 

 

 

 

The Anvil: A Roseman Tale

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The Silent Anvil was a drinking establishment favoured by gentlemen of the magical persuasion.  Its location in the High Guilds made it convenient to both the university, and to the “houses” of some of the more prominent orders of wizardry.

It was not only a pub however, as it housed its own library which held some volumes considered to salacious or disreputable to grace the university’s collection, and a small magical laboratory.

It sitting rooms featured the type of over upholstered furnishings associated with Gentlemen’s Clubs in the Palace District, and the Anvil also boasted some of the finest spirits in the kingdom.

Detective Spellman was propped up against the bar, when his associate Goodfellow came in.  After a little exchange of pleasantries, Spellman could tell something was on his partner’s mind.

“What’s up, Rob?” he asked. “You don’t seem to with it tonight.”

“I don’t know, there’s just something about that damned rock collection that’s eating at me,” Goodfellow replied.

“Like what?  It seemed kind of straight forward to me,” Spellmen mused.

“It’s the .  .  . ” Goodfellow began.

Suddenly a huge fireball engulfed the entire bar area, blowing out windows throughout the building, and actually raising the roof off the structure before the entire pub collapsed in a fiery mass of confused timbers.

Detective Inspector Magononni had just rounded the corner from the direction of the Parliament Square, when he witnessed the destruction of the Anvil.  Like any veteran copper, he ran towards the devastation, and found Goodfellow severely burned lying in the street.

“Rob, Rob, What happened?” he said said urgently as he knelled down before the stricken officer.

“It (cough), it was on iz . . .” Goodfellow trailed off.

“On his what?” the detective urged, but it was too late.  Goodfellow had breathed his last.

Further investigation soon showed that Detective Constable Spellman had similarly died in the conflagration.

The next morning the news sheets were full of story of the pubs explosion.  The preliminary cause was cited as an explosion of a still in the basement of the building which was used in the production of the Anvil’s famed Three Hammers Gin.

*          *           *

It was a doleful briefing at the Moorland incident room the next morning.  Several of the watchmen were visibly shaken by the events of the night before.  Chief Superintendent Montoya was present, and Superintendent Blessed had to clear his throat several times before he could speak.

“Gentlemen, please settle down.  I know most of you are aware of the terrible events of last night.  Let me assure you we are doing everything we can to aid Mrs. Goodfellow, and young Spellman’s parents,”  Blessed began.

“We have released a statement suggesting that the explosion was an unfortunate accident involving one of the inn’s stills.  Let me at this point say that what follows is confidential.  Our preliminary analysis is that the explosion did not, in fact, begin in the cellars, but on the upper floors above the central bar.  At first we thought that it might have originated in the magical laboratory, but it is now clear that it began in the library.  The angle of the explosion further indicates that this was focused blast, with Watchmen Spellman and Goodfellow the intended targets.  In short, Gentlemen, this was murder,”  the superintendent  concluded.

The room was in total silence.

A moment or two later Detective Inspector Magononni stepped up to the podium.  “I know this may seem a little soon to some of you, but we need to continue with our work on the Moorland case.  In fact, I personally am now tentatively linking the two cases.   But, as the work needs to go on, I would like to introduce you to Probationary Detective Hugh Trixner.  He will be taking on Spellman’s duties, and I hope that Senior Detective Evoquer will be joining us in a couple of days.”

At that a rather slightly built young man in the “Discovery Branch” robes sheepishly raised a hand in greeting.

“That will be all for now, Gentlemen,” Chief Superintendent Montoya said.

Padre

 

 

Briefs and Debriefs

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Superintendent Benedict Blessed of the Firsts had just taken the podium.  “Gentlemen, let’s make a start.  I would first like to welcome our colleagues from the Ninth who will now be read in on this case, and we will need a little bit of recap to make sure everyone is on the same page.”

The now celebrated Fuller and Binman sat in the first row.  Cruikshank and Lifson stood in the aisle next to them, and Wizakowski and Barns rounded out the Ninth’s “Team.”

Two detectives, Spellman and Goodfellow of the “Discovery Branch” sat nearby, and about a dozen other watchmen of the First, were preparing their notebooks.

“As you know, Speaker Moorland was killed in his residence last week.  He suffered a blow to the head, though there is no evidence as to who wielded the murder weapon,” Blessed began.

“A candlestick?” Binman asked eagerly.

“Yes, a candlestick,” the superintendent continued. “It was found next to the body, and seems to have been wiped and carefully positioned.  At first it seemed that murder was the motive, but we are now leaning towards a burglary gone wrong scenario.  Spellman here, picked up on that when he examined Sir Hillary’s collection.  It was very well organised and all of the exhibits were labelled in the victim’s own hand.  Spellman noticed that three of these items were unaccounted for.  Binman has given more credence to this line of inquiry with his discovery of two of the items outside the residence.”

A burly sergeant from the Firsts placed a series of sketches and diagrams on the wall behind Blessed.

“What we haven’t reported to the public is that a fourth stone had also been handled.  It was at first missed, but Goodfellow picked up the clue.  A black stone had been placed in the jasper’s position leaving its place open, and taking us off the trail for a moment.  But it is indeed the jasper that is missing.  In fact its all that is unaccounted for now that the pumice and sandstone have been found,” the superintendent concluded.

Sir Orlando then took the podium, “This is a priority case.  Inspector Cruikshank your team will further examine the grounds, and the Firsts will reinspect the house.” Detective Goodfellow what did you find on your sweep?”

“We carried out a magical residue sample, sir, and it showed nothing unusual on the keyholes, windows or mirrors.”

“Mirrors?”  Montoya questioned.

“Yes sir,” the detective responded.  “Mirrors are sometimes used as portals, so we give them a check in these locked room cases.”

“Anything else?”  Sir Orlando led.

“Nothing unexpected, there was a little residual around some of Sir Hillary’s statuary, and a really low reading on the gems in his collection, but that’s pretty normal, especially for anything Dwarf or Elven-made.”

“Okay, men get out there, and let’s close this case,” the chief concluded.

The room came to attention, and they headed for their duties.

      *           *           *

“Binman,” Goodfellow called.

“Sir?” The rookie started.

“What made you search the topiary?”  The wizard asked.

Embarrassed the watchman replied, “It’s in the Binmans’ blood.  I just couldn’t let the piece of rubbish detract from beautiful shrubbery.”

“And the envelope?” Goodfellow inquired.

“I’ve got an eye for such things.  Little bits of paper and such.”

“Okay then, off to your duties,” the detective said shaking his head in disbelief.

Padre

Lifson and Fuller

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Lif Lifson and Bryan Fuller had been partners since the old “Crestmen” days.  Lifson had been at “The Alleys Barracks,” as it had been called then, when Fuller joined the squad.  The two hit it off and came to trust and rely on each other in the gritty back streets which were their domain.

Lifson, a tall broad-shouldered blonde, was from a fishing village near Harbourhead.  The sea wasn’t for him, however, and he drifted inland until he found his feet in the capital.  He liked the anonymity of the Alleys, where his strength and unassuming ways made him an ideal recruit for the Watch.  He enjoyed the excitement of a chase, but also the solitude of solo patrols through the narrow streets.  In short, he was a born watchman.

Fuller was a husky brute of a man.  He had jet black hair which he wore cropped to the neck.  He had been reared in the Low Guilds, and very little of the city was unknown to him.  Fuller was no great fan of the outdoors, and preferred the shade of buildings to that of trees.  At the height of The Black Dune War, he therefore thought it a good idea to enter the “alternative service” of the Watch, rather than risk conscription into the army.  He proved to be a good Crestman, even if he did take some occasional short-cuts in procedure.

                          *                                *                              *

The pair had come together in the final months of the war, and not long before the reorganisation of “The Service.”  They continued on as partners in the new “Ninth,” with Lifson being promoted to senior constable.

Then came the incident.  The city Rosemen, had after six years started to come to grips with no longer being routinely armed.  It was in this ill-equipped state that Fuller and Lifson responded to a typical Alley’s street brawl.  As the watchmen approached the fray, most of the spectators and eggers-on disbursed.  The key participants from the Tumble-Down and Low-Eaves Gangs were more resistant to Rosies interfering with their affairs.

Lifson had just pulled two combatants apart, and Fuller was preparing to apply some wrist-shackles when a bolt from a crossbow struck him in the right breast.  The remaining crowd scattered, and Lifson knelt down over his stricken partner who had bubbly blood escaping from his mouth.  Lifson scooped up the heavy man, and ran seven blocks with him craddled in his arms.  On arriving at the infirmary on the Back Lane, he repeatedly kicked the door until it was opened by an attendant.

Pushing by the startled woman he shouted, “Go wake Miss Bright!”

Lifson had just laid his sputtering partner on large wooden table, when Breena Bright, the healer came in.

“He’s been shot,” Lifson said appealingly.

“Please, step aside,” Breena said calmly.  “Abigail, please get the constable some tea,” she instructed an elderly nurse.

Lif was led away, and the healer began her work.

A couple of stress filled hours later Lifson was led to Fuller’s bedside in the maze of ragtag cots that made up the ward.

Fuller was alive, and conscious; and something in the smelly liquid he had been given left him with no pain.

“How you doing, Bryan?” Lifson asked quietly.

“He’ll be fine,” Breena said encouragingly from behind him.  “He will need some weeks off,” she continued as she laid Fuller’s truncheon belt on a small table.  “I’m afraid his jerkin couldn’t be savaged though,” she said with a gentle smile.

Soon Inspector Cruikshank and Schribner, the desk sergeant, arrived to take statements from the two officers.

 *           *           *

Witnesses were unanimous in their verdict: Lifson was a hero.  He was later awarded The Order of The Rose by Lord Oldbridge and promoted to sergeant.  It was the kudos of his fellow watchmen that meant more to him however, even if they were accompanied by the new annoying nickname of “Lifter,” in reference to his feat of strength.

As for Fuller, he returned to duty a month after the incident.  An additional two-months of light duty at the watch house did nothing to alleviate his hatred of procedure and paperwork.  In fact, it was then that he began to use the phrase: “That’s a civil matter,” in response to any inquiry he would rather not deal with.

Padre

 

 

 

Meeting Rita: A Roseman Tale

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Rita Parker was one of the handful of women in the Watch.  As part of “the Roadies,” her duties largely consisted of making sure that market vendors’ carts and wagons did not block the side streets, and that those in violation would be ticketed and if need be clamped.

She was going about her rounds when she noticed that a coach she had ticketed three times previously,  and in as many days, was still straddling the pavement.  On closer examination, her previous citations had been removed, and this left her no recourse but to clamp the wheel.  She tried to edge the device under a rear wheel, but could not get a suitable angle on it to apply the lock.

She stood up and scanned the road towards the market in hope of finding some assistance.  In the distance she spied the jerkin of a Roseman.

“Excuse me, Constable,” she called.

Andy Binman was on his way back to the incident room at the First, when he heard a female voice calling to him.  Looking about, he saw Parker waving an arm to get his attention.   Though her black jerkin and leather haversack made her look a bit like a military man, she was in his mind the most lovely woman he had ever seen.

Smiling as he approached her, he asked “What can I do to assist you, Constable?”

“I need some help lifting this wheel,” she said.

Andy threw his shoulder into the coach’s side, just enough to lift the wheel slightly.  As he did Rita snapped the lock shut.

“Thank you,” she said.

“You are welcome,” he said, trying to control the blush that he could feel coming over his face.  “My name’s Andy, Andy Binman,” he said putting out a hand to shake hers.

“From the news sheets, Binman?” she asked.

“I guess,” he said humbly. “And you are?”

“Oh, sorry,” she replied, “Rita Parker of the Eighth.”

“Glad to meet you, Constable Parker.  Maybe we will run into each other again.”

“Maybe,” she said demurely, this time it being her who was trying to control a blush.

“Wait a minute.  Did you notice that piece of paper on the fender when you put the ticket on?”  Andy asked.

“What paper?” she asked confusedly.

Binman leaned forward and picked up what seemed to be half of a pawn ticket, wedged into the gap between the fender and the running board.

“Constable Parker, I think you just gave us a lead on the Moorland case.”

Padre

 

 

Something in the Wind: A Roseman Tale

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Binman and Fuller were standing guard outside Moorland’s house.  The spectators  had dispersed for the day, and as a stiff breeze had been whipping down the street, they decided that it might be more prudent to carry on their watch from the relative sanctuary of the portico.

While members of the Specials had spent several days coming and going; and some Firsts had stood watch in the portico itself during the day, none seem to have caught sight of the flaw in the otherwise perfect unicorn-shaped topiary.   This didn’t necessarily mean that Binman was any more observant than the other Rosemen, but rather that he was in the right place at the right time.

In a rather ironic act of fate, a copy of that morning’s news sheet bearing the head line: “Rosies’ Clueless,” sailed in on the wind and caught in the shrubbery’s irregular gap.

Constable Andy Binman went over to free the flapping piece of newsprint.  As he stepped up onto the masonry that surrounded the raised bed, he noticed that the stone was loose under his foot.   Closer examination revealed that an envelope had been crammed into the joint of the inner stonework.

“Senior Constable Fuller,” Andy called back towards the enclosed doorway. “I think I found something.”

Fuller, though reluctant to step back into the wind, went to see what the rookie was going on about.

“What do you have, Binman?” he said impatiently, wanting to get back into the shelter.

“Look, there is something stuck in the rocks,” the young watchman said, pointing to the overstuffed piece of stationery.

“Run down the Ninth and tell “Scribbles” what you found,” Fuller instructed him.

“But, the First Precinct house is just down the street,” Andy began to object.

“Don’t waste your time with those show-cops.  Just do what I said. Understand?”

“Yes, Senior Constable,” Binman replied and headed of at some pace towards the Alleys.

In the morning, Sergeant “Scribbles” Schribner led Chief Superintendent Montoya to the house where Inspector Lysander Cruikshank of  “The Lasts” was already holding up an evidence bag containing the envelope and two of the missing stones before a crowd of journalists.

“Chalk one up for the Ninth Precinct,” he said proudly as Sir Orlando arrived.

Padre

 

Secret Keeper #178

(5) Words: | ROCK | JOINT | INNER | SIGHT | SAIL |

Read All About It: A Roseman Tale

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Watch House

It was all over the news, the Speaker of the House was dead.   Parliament was suspended as a sign of respect, and King Hector had personally made a visit to his home.

Sir Hillary Moorland was a bachelor, an explorer, and an amateur geologist.  When he failed to arrive for some important meetings at the Parliament, some members of the Firsts were sent around to check on him.  They found the house securely locked, and no response from the Speaker could be gained.

Later in the day, with suspicions aroused, specialist watchmen were sent around to gain entry.

The athletically built intrepid explorer and politician was found dead in his study, a serious wound to his head.  A cleanly wiped candlestick was setting on the floor next to his body, and it was clear that it had been moved from the mantel.

It was odd that though it seemed to be a burglary gone wrong, there was no sign of entry.  The windows were securely fastened from the inside and all of the exterior doors had keys in place in the inside keyholes.  Furthermore, while many expensive items were available in the house, only three items seemed to be missing, and each of them from Sir Hillary’s geological collection:  a piece of  pumice stone from a volcanic bomb, a chunk of desert sandstone from the Dunes War, and a pebble of red jasper which wasn’t even polished.

Chief Superintendent Montoya stood before the reporters from the various news sheets.

“At the moment we are treating this unfortunate incident as a burglary.  It seems that Sir Hillary disturbed the culprit and was bludgeoned with a candlestick from the mantelpiece.  The First Precinct, and the Specials from the Eighth are working diligently to bring the perpetrator to justice.”

As he spoke,  two conjurers from “the Magical Discovery Branch” of the Eighth passed by carrying an array of detectors and other apparatus.  Their black wizard’s robes with embroidered purple roses stood out among the other leather jerkined watchmen.

“Sir Orlando, Sir Orlando” several journalists called out, “Why are ‘Discovery’ here?”

“Totally routine,” he responded.  “There will be no further statements at this time.  Thank you.”

Over the next couple of days crowd control became an issue outside the residence.  People were becoming even more curious over the continued presence of the “Specials.”

It was therefore necessary to maximise the Watch presence at the site, and against all usual custom (and some believed common sense) Inspector Cruikshank was ordered to dispatch officers of  “The Lasts” to Sir Hillary’s home.

Padre

Fandango’s Prompt: News

Haunted Wordsmith’s Challenge: bomb, desert, jasper

The Stakeout: A Roseman Tale

 

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It was the tenth night in a row that Wizakowski and Barns were on stake out.  They sat in the specially adapted wagon, with the words Alley’s Green Grocer painted on its sides, eating stale sandwiches and drinking cold tea.  They had positioned themselves behind the sliding panels which were fitted in the “e”s of the word Green, from which they diligently observed the suspect’s premises.

Barns especially had a lot to prove because of  The King’s Head Incident, and “Wizki” had just transferred in from Big Littleton or some such place.  Both of the watchmen knew their futures in the service were on the line.

Each night the man would arrive home at about 6 PM and light the lamp in his front room, remove his shoes, and then leaf through old copies of various news sheets.  For over a week he never altered his routine.  At 9, he would then put out his lamp and retire to bed.

Inspector Cruikshank was convinced the house was some kind of front, however.  After all the suspect had been heard in the tavern boasting how he was going to move stolen goods right under the Rosies’ noses.

Ever since then he had been shadowed by the boys in black, and his movements recorded.   He had been seen conversing with some shady characters near Old Market on a couple of occasions, but as of yet there was nothing they could pin on him.

So intently were the two Rosemen scrutinizing this fellow, that they never noticed some of his known associates carrying large sacks into the building across the street, directly next to their converted fruit wagon.

Padre

Secret Keeper’s Weekly Writing Challenge #177

(5) Words: | LEAF | HOME | ALTER | LIGHT |FRONT|

 

Watchman Binman: A Roseman Tale

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Andy Binman was a skinny redheaded lad of about twenty.  His wavy hair, and abundance of freckles, however made him look more like fifteen.  He came from a long line of municipal workers, whose steady salaries allowed them to afford meagre, but comfortable lodgings in the Old Guilds district between the Great Market and the Alleys.

Andy was the second child of Arthur and Alice (nee Mucker) Binman.  The elder Binman was a supervisor for the city’s “Streets Department,” a civil service tasked with the sweeping of roads, and the collection of the metropolis’ refuse.  The Binmans, in fact, were one of the three primary families of “the Streets;” and being born into a “Streets” family was tantamount to being born to the service.

The Binmans were a proud family.  Their homes well kept, and as a matter of principle they (like their colleagues the Muckers and Sweeps) always named their children with a name beginning with the letter “A.”   No one knew for sure where the tradition had began, but each “Streets” family was proud the have a brass plaque upon their front door which bore the legend, “A Binman,” or “A Sweep.”

Andy, however, dreamed of greater things than municipal service.  This in part was the result of seeing his father returning home exhausted each evening, or suffering from long bouts of “sweeper’s elbow.”  No, Andy’s mind set on serving the kingdom, not the city.  He at first considered joining the army.  However, on learning that soldiers often slept on the ground, and ate meals comprised primarily of field biscuit, he decided that another avenue must await him.

The turning point occurred when he was accompanying his older sister Annabelle, and her friend Andrea Mucker on a shopping trip to the Great Market.  The two young women couldn’t take their eyes of a well groomed watchman standing his post near the stalls.  Both were expressing their admiration of the sharp black uniform, with its rose crest and shiny buckles.  Andy’s mind was made up.  He would become a “Rosie.”

*            *            *

Arthur would hear none of it.  It was total nonsense, and a betrayal of all the family stood for.  Alice sat quietly sobbing in front of her unfinished dinner, unable to even look up at the boy.  In the end, after a shouting match with his father, Andy stormed out of the house.

He really had no idea of what to do or where to go.  After wandering the Old Guilds for a while, the thought struck him to go to his Aunt Agnes’ house.  She welcomed him in, and after hearing the entire story said quite surprisingly, “Good for you.”

She made him up a bed on the couch for the night and on the next morning she accompanied him the Fourth Precinct Watch House.  He walked cautiously to the desk where a middle-aged sergeant was sorting some papers.

“Yes,” the watchmen said without looking up.

“I have come to enlist,” young Binman said quietly.

“Speak up, Son,” the Roseman said firmly.

“I have come to enlist.”

“Enlist? No, you have come to apply,” the sergeant corrected.

“Apply, then, please, um, Sir.”

“Sergeant, not sir,” the watchman again corrected.

“Yes, Sergeant, I have come to apply,” Andy said more boldly.

The man slide a couple of forms towards Binman.  “In duplicate,” the man said, again without looking up.

Andy took the papers and went to sit between his aunt and “a lady of easy virtue,” on a wooden bench near the door.

On completing the forms “in duplicate,”  he returned them to the sergeant.

“We will be in touch,” the man said.  And that was it.

  *                      *                        *

For the next three days Andy slept at his aunt’s.  Then a letter arrived which instructed him to report to the same watch house at 10 the next morning.

He arrived about ten minutes early and was directed to a room at the end of a short corridor.  When he arrived there were already four other young men sitting at desks, with a stack of papers turned face down before them.  Andy took the remaining desk.

At the stroke of 10, a rather tired looking senior constable came in and sat at a larger desk at the front of the room facing them.  He then said “You have one hour.  Turn the papers over and begin.”  He then flipped an hourglass over to start the sand, and proceeded to nod off and snore loudly for the next fifty minutes.

The man, without any indication of the time, sat up abruptly at exactly 10:58 and opening one eye said, “You have two minutes.”

At eleven the papers were collected, and the five candidates were again told, “We will be in touch.”

*                *                 *

Two more days passed, and Andy gave in and returned home.  His father was still not speaking to him, but mum seemed glad to see him back.  Another week passed and the entire episode was beginning to become just an unpleasant memory, when a letter was dropped off by Agnes.

Andy broke the seal, and looked at the brief instruction for him to report the the Main Watch House in Parliament Square at nine on Thursday.

With some anxiety, Binman arrived at the marble pillared home of “The Firsts.”  He reported to the desk sergeant, who read his letter twice before directing him to a chair outside of an inspector’s office.  Shortly afterwards he was called in.

“Andy Binman reporting,” he said a little uncertainly.

“Binman, Binman . . .” the man said as he shuffled some papers. “I knew a Binman once, Arnold, I think it was . . . Ah, here, ” he said picking up a folder.  “Andy Binman, quite impressive scores for an Old Guilds lad,” he continued.  “I am pleased to be able to offer you a position in the Ninth if you want it.”

“Yes, Sir.  I would very much like . . . ”

“Good, good,” the officer interrupted.  “Report to Inspector Cruikshank first thing on Monday morning at the Alleys House.  Welcome to the Rosemen.”

 

Padre