Probation Officer #199: Endgames 8

Curnow stood up, but he walked away from me. He muttered, “shit.”

“Well, I didn’t have any coke to plant. I never have coke around. It’s boring. So there’s that.”

nightwindow“Oh, fuck off.” Curnow was staring out my window. 

“Still, I s’pose I could have gone out and got some. If none of you guys were watching me. And I could’ve put it under the floorboard after Jane had taken her photo. She probably wouldn’t have noticed.”

“You really got nothing? You didn’t even prepare a story?” There was nothing out my window, just a porch, a hedge, and the sides of the neighbours’ houses. You could hardly see the street. Curnow didn’t want me to see that I’d scared him. That only made sense if he was telling the truth. 

“If it wasn’t me and it wasn’t you … You’re in the shit, aren’t you?” I was still puzzled. Curnow wasn’t.

He didn’t look at me. “Thanks for the whisky.” He was already leaving, walking fast. He closed the front door quietly. 

Probation Officer #198: Endgames 7

“What, you’re saying you didn’t plant that dope on Ana? Bullshit.”

“And you think that if you act me some disbelief, that’s going to make me think you didn’t? That’s bullshit.”

“Oh, come on. It was you. I know it and you have to know it. But if it wasn’t you, that’d at least make it interesting. So we’ll pretend it wasn’t you and see where it goes. Well, it wasn’t Ana. Jane Siebel and I both saw that gap in the floorboards and there was nothing in there. The same day you found it there. Ana couldn’t have put anything there because she was at Kempff, Hsang and Cowper before Jane and I went to Ana’s place. There were people at Kempff’s watching her all afternoon.”

“Yeah. But she could’ve called someone, got them to do it for her.” 

cellphone“I thought you might be monitoring her phone. So I made her take the battery out straight after she called me. So you couldn’t track her. And when she got to Kempff’s they took her phone off her. She couldn’t use her phone, and she never used theirs.”

Curnow nodded. “Yeah. Okay. Yeah, that figures. That leaves you, then.” 

“Crap. It leaves you. I’m glad we’re getting on and all, but, you know, you’re a crook. Right? You’ve planted drugs on people before. You threatened to rape Ana. And you needed to get leverage on her Dad. Of course you planted the dope. What’s this even about?”

“I found those fucking drugs in that bitch’s floor. I know I didn’t put them there. Look, I said tidying up after killing you would be too much like work, because you’ve got stuff that points to me stashed all over the place.”

“With different people. You’d never get all of it before they started looking for you.” I hadn’t done anything like that. So long as he thought I would have, it didn’t matter.

“Let’s say. But d’you think you could protect Ana from me, if you piss me off more than you’re doing right now? Jane Siebel? Your Mom?”

Cops and probation officers often deal with the aftermath, when someone insults someone’s mother. It’s a matter of honour to go insane with rage. It always seemed a bit silly. “Ah, you don’t want to kill my Mom. It’d just be embarrassing, know what I mean?”

“Huhn.” He looked at me, not liking what he saw. “Horseshit. It wouldn’t be embarrassing. You want me to explain death to you? You want to have to explain it to your family? Stop pretending you’re not scared; you’re shit at it. Convince me that you didn’t put that dope there. Or else admit that you did.” 

“Okay. Well, I can’t admit that I put it there, because I didn’t.” Then I thought about it. “Actually, I don’t think I can prove that, though. I’ve got nothing.”

Probation Officer #197: Endgames 6

Curnow stretched and then relaxed, slouched on the couch while I sat in an armchair on the other side of the coffee table.

He said, “I wasn’t going to fuck that bitch, you know. I was just putting a scare into her.”

I said, “yeah,” as neutrally as I could. If I let it go too easily, or pretended I believed him, he’d get suspicious. I didn’t want to get him angry, either. I’d be a fool if I wasn’t scared of him. But also, I didn’t want him to leave. I wanted him to talk.

“You fuck her?”

“Not even going to answer that.” But I couldn’t stop myself from shaking my head.

 “Yeah, yeah. You know, the boys thought you were fucking her. You were being such a white knight. But I knew you weren’t. You’re a faggot.”

I sighed. That wasn’t worth an answer either.

“Oh, now you’re feeling all righteous because I said faggot. Faggot. Faggot. Faggot. But I got nothing against faggots. Usually. But you, you’re just a faggot in every damn way. Course you wouldn’t fuck her. Your client.”

“Yuh. My client.” I held the tumbler to my mouth again, and tilted it. 

whiskyCurnow looked at me. “You’re not drinking. You had whisky on your breath when you answered the door but you weren’t drunk. You’ve only played with your drink since, while you’ve been pouring me glasses. There was a photo of me taken while I was outside on your porch. It would’ve gone to a security company, wouldn’t be hard to find which. You sneaked a pic of me with your cell phone when I was in the corridor and sent it to someone. I guessing that lawyer bitch, Siv, Silver, Siebel. Jane Siebel, right?”

I inclined my head, neither yes nor no.

“So someone’s got proof I been inside the house. And now you’re trying to get me drunk. For fuck’s sake. Faggot, I’ll say what I’ve come to say quicker if you don’t waste time insulting my intelligence.” 

I said nothing. We were both trained interviewers, so silence wasn’t going to be as powerful as it sometimes is. But I let it stretch on. Eventually he recognised the interrogator’s pause and chuckled. I laughed too. 

“All right. I’m going to go working in security. Damn near three times the pay. I don’t really care that I got fired; I was going to quit anyway. So I don’t need to do anything to you. Killing you’d be easy, but you’re half clever and the covering up afterwards’d be a pain in the ass. Understand where I’m coming from?” 

“No kill I.” 

“That’s Star Trek, isn’t it? The one with the acid pizza that eats rocks and kills people.” 

“‘Devil in the Dark’.”

“Jesus, you are a total fucking faggot.” 

“Yeah. You’re not really hear to tell me something. If you were you’d have told me by now. You want to ask me something, and you want me to think it’s safe to answer you. So what do you want to know?”

“Good. You know that dope in that bitch’s room. That baggie of coke. That I got set up with, so it looked like I’d planted it. That was a brilliant sting, that, and I walked straight into it. Now, I know Jane Siebel wouldn’t do that. She’s got a bigger stick up her ass than you have. So did you put it there, or did that bitch put it there herself?” 

Probation Officer #197: Endgames 5

I wouldn’t have surprised if it had been a neighbour come to complain about the Samoan log drums. Still, as I’ve mentioned, they’re deaf. 

There’s a moment in the Georg Solti recording of Siegfried where Siegfried strides through a wall of flames, and the Vienna Philharmonic is making a huge and wonderful racket about it, and you can still hear the Vienna Sophiensaal cat wandering amongst John Culshaw’s microphones and demanding to be fed. I’m wasting your time by mentioning this, I know, but my point is that the neighbours have stood for, or sat quietly knitting through, anything by way of noise. 

Alternatively it could be someone popping round on the off-chance of having sex with the host. That happened often enough for me to consider the possibility. I hoped it’d be Jane Siberry, who I should have been chasing harder, and I feared it’d be Ana. I didn’t want to talk to Ana. 

So I opened the door. It was Greg Curnow. He’d never been to my place before, but he was still a cop, even he was in the process of getting fired. Of course he’d know how to find me.  

His shirt was free of his pants. But not his belly. Unfortunately, he was the fit kind of crooked cop. By way of greeting he said, “Cunt.” 

van dykeHe swayed a bit, but even drunk he could still take me. But once a second had passed I relaxed a little. He’d been trained, and he knew that his best chance for inflicting total damage on me, without my getting in any retaliation before I starting bleeding onto my carpet, was immediately the door opened. It hadn’t already happened, so it wasn’t his intention. I said, “‘Allo, cock”, in my best Dick van Dyke cockney.

He looked at me, puzzled. I shrugged. “Yeah, it’s funnier if you’ve seen Mary Poppins.”

He stared at me. “Seen what.”

He didn’t want to hear about Mary Poppins. I said, “I’ve got whisky. Want one?”

“One? Fat chance.” 

Probation Officer #136: An afternoon with the police 17

I turned. “If the case against Ana had got into a court, it would have turned into a horrible mess. For the police.” 

“Yeah. So?”

“I did you a favour. Because of, you know, the cooperative relationship between the police and probation services.” Maynard rolled his eyes. “But I arranged for Jane to send you that email. Which saved you from a very nasty mess. I stopped it. Lance Holder.” 

“Jesus. The flasher?” 

“My client. He drops his pants but he’s not a violent offender. He only thumped that farm worker in self-defence.”

flashMaynard took a deep breath. “You get him to keep his dick out of sight, and we’ll drop the assault charge. I guess we could switch it to indecent exposure. Ah, all right. Not worth the time and the hell with it. Tell him to keep his pants on, except in his own home, and we’ll drop all charges.” 

“I’m sure he’ll be very happy. In the privacy of his own home. Thank you.” 

“So we don’t owe you anything. See you tomorrow.”

Probation Officer #135: An afternoon with the police 16

“I’m not withholding anything.”

“Except a couple of your sources. We can talk about that later. But all right. That’s enough jerking round. Let’s make a deal.”

So that was that. The deal we reached was that Maynard would suspend Curnow and the other two officers, with pay, once we’d left. Tomorrow morning, I’d take Maynard and Jock to meet Ana, at the Community Law Centre. Jane Siebel would be there. 

Ana would be watching Curnow's career with interest.

Ana would be watching Curnow’s future career with interest.

If Maynard decided Ana was a credible witness, and she was prepared to give evidence against Curnow, also Trebizon and Chang, then he’d move Curnow to suspension without pay, and start the process of firing him.

He thought Trebizon and Chang would probably be dropped back to the starting pay grade and required to re-train. They’d been assholes – Maynard said – but he thought they could possibly learn from it.

I’d thought they should probably be fired. Rape threats aren’t a “learning experience”. But I took a nudge from Jock on that point, and let the deal go down. 

Maynard would also review the charges that Ana had incurred through Curnow following her round: most of her obscene language and resisting arrest convictions. The police might apply to have those removed from her record. Maybe. 

Dwane James was still going back to jail. We’d run over time, so Jock got up to leave once we’d agreed that the police didn’t have any quarrel with any advice I’d given James. 

Maynard didn’t get up. When we were at the door, Jock putting his coat on, he said, “I’ll see you tomorrow. With this Ana. And Jane Siebel. I can’t wait.”

Probation Officer #134: An evening with the police 15

“Well, I’m not telling you what to do. I’m just telling you what I know. Okay? Now, no-one’s seen Happy Steve in the last six months. From what I’ve heard it sounds like he’s got sick, and he’s expecting to die. It sounds like it might be liver failure, maybe kidneys. He’s probably back in the village where he grew up. In Samoa. I’m guessing that bit. I don’t know where he is. But he’s gone. The point is that Curnow thinks Steve ran out on him, owing him money. About twenty, maybe thirty, thousand bucks.”

“So he puts pressure on the bastard’s daughter, hoping that’ll bring him back. Or get him to send some money so Curnow gets off her case. Yeah, that makes sense. It’s a story, anyway. So your client, Ana, what does she say about this?”

chicken“Nothing. Not a thing. She’s not involved, I’m sure of that. She wouldn’t be scraping chicken fryers for a living if she had any money. I’m told that Steve never involved any of his children in his business. That was probably wise in Ana’s case; she’d be a lousy crim. She isn’t what you’d call discrete.”


“She knows her dad’s a criminal, but she doesn’t know any details.”

“And you know that …?”

“I know it because she’s been my client for most of a year, so I know. I’ve tried to get her to talk about why Curnow”s been gunning for her, but she wants to be loyal to her family. So she’ll always make herself look suspicious by refusing to talk. But she actually doesn’t know anything anyway.” 

“So you say. And let’s say you’re right. But if we’re looking at Curnow, we’ll be looking at her too. She’d better come out clean.”

“Fair enough.” 

“So. You got any more surprises?”

Probation Officer #133: An evening with the police 14

Maynard reached for his desk phone. “Yeah. Excuse me.” He gave his instructions as though bored, tapping his fingers and staring at the ceiling. When he’d finished cancelling the warrant he said he wanted to see Curnow, Trabizon and Chang in an hour’s time.

It was the first time I heard the names of the two cops who’d been with Curnow. Trabizon and Chang. They must have been new. They’d fallen into bad company. Maynard looked at me when he’d hung up. “You happy now, what’s your name, Mortimer?”

“I’m sorry this has happened. But they threatened my client.”

“Yeah, I bet I bet you’re sorry.”

“Come on, Greg. We can stop fencing now. For fuck’s sake. Jaime, how about you stop with the games too, yeah? Just tell us what you know about this.” 

“Okay. I can’t prove most of what I’m about to say. But I know that my sources aren’t lying. I’m confident it’s basically true, but I’ve got no evidence.”

Jock snorted. “Get on with it.”

“So, the reason Curnow is after Ana, one way and another, is that Ana’s father is a drug importer. His name’s Apirana Sitiveni Matutumua. Though he’s got lots of names. People in LA mostly know him as Happy Steve. He was born in Samoa but he was living here. He’s got dual US-Samoan citizenship.”

“We’ve heard of Happy Steve.” 

customs“He mostly ships coke, opiates and synthetics through Tonga. Because corruption. There’s all sorts of stuff going past Tongan Customs officials and on to California, while they take the money and look the other way.”

“‘Watch the wall, my darling, while the Gentlemen go by,'” said Maynard, unexpectedly. “I know about Tonga. Go on.”

“Okay. Ana’s dad was paying money and supplying dope to various cops. Curnow was one of them. I don’t know whether he was dealing or using himself. But he was on the take.” 

“And you can’t prove that.” 

“No. I’ve been told it by people in the Samoan community. Whose names I can’t give you. But you could prove it, if you put the resources in.” 

“Not your business, Jackass.”

Probation Officer #132: An afternoon with the police 13

“Earlier this morning. Curnow and two others. At her workplace, towards the end of her shift. They said they were all going to quote fuck her unquote.” 

Maynard pulled a disgusted face. “Hell. Were there any witnesses?”

Maynard’s disgust had little to do with sympathy for Ana. It was mostly at the stupidity of his officers. I felt a surge of rage, high in my chest. But anger is cheap, an emotion people wallow in to convince themselves of their own virtue. I fought it down. “Ms Matatuma would be extremely impressive in a courtroom. Of course, there’d be a media storm. She’d be effective there too.”

Jock said, “Really you need to fix this quickly. So that it’s a story about the city finding and fixing a problem, not the city trying to stonewall.”

“Jock, don’t try to teach me media skills. Jackass, you dodged my question about witnesses. For that rape allegation. So you’ve got none, have you?”

“Ana’s the witness. Three cops will deny it, but they’re demonstrably guilty of fraud. So Ana’s got very strong credibility and they got none. I believe her. A jury will too, if it comes to that. So would the Times.” I meant the LA Times.

“Huh.” Maynard leaned forward and tapped the desk in front of him with his forefinger.

prohibitionSo did Jock. “Your officers must have gone to Ana’s place in the early afternoon, after they’d collected the baggie they brought to her place. What time did they come back to the precinct?”

“Yeah, I heard the question when your boy asked it. Curnow led the search, and he did have two other officers with him. Damn fools.” Maynard closed his eyes. “And they came back with the baggie at two-thirty.”

I nodded but said nothing.

The timing eliminated any possibility that the bag had been in the room at any time when Ana was there. It removed any ambiguity over whether she’d ever touched the dope or known it was there. It also meant that Curnow had acted faster than I’d expected. We’d been ahead of him, but we’d cut it fine. 

Jock made a volcanic rumbling in his throat. “Greg, I’ve got some staff issues.” His look at me wasn’t friendly. “But it seems you’ve got worse ones. In the meantime, though, it seems as though you might rescind that arrest warrant for our client.”

Probation Officer #131: An afternoon with the police 12

The expression is "white knight". But Maynard could imagine a colleague reporting it as a racist expression (which it is), and he was too mindful of his career to let that slip past him.

The expression is “white knight”. But Maynard could imagine a colleague reporting it as a racist expression (which it is), and he was too mindful of his career to allow that.

Maynard sighed. “Hell, Jock. I’ve got a problem with my officers. I’m probably going to have to fire at least one bright boy. But this is exactly what I was talking about. Your boy here seems to think he’s a defence lawyer, not a probation officer. He’s free-lancing. He’s got no business doing all this knight in shining armour crap. You teach him his job and what its limits are, or fire him.”   

I said, “I’m prepared to defend my actions in private, in front of any inquiry, or publicly.” I had to clear my throat before I could say that, and I still sounded prissy.

“Yeah, you think you can make yourself look good in the media, if we let you.”

“I never mentioned media.”

“You’d be yapping about a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.”


“Actually, you might not go over as well as you think. I’d be careful about going that route.”

“The media might not like me. But I know what they definitely won’t like. There’s been an attempt to frame one of my clients. By officers who had previously threatened to rape that client.”

“My officers what? What the hell?”