Probation Officer #120: An afternoon with the police

I’d expected that Jock would call me into his office a couple of hours before the meeting, to discuss strategy and to warn me off doing the things that I intended to do. But he didn’t communicate with me until half an hour before the meeting. If he’d intended to get me nervous, that part had worked. But at three-thirty he’d turned up at my office door, thrown a set of keys at me and indicated with his head that we were going to the carpark.

The keys were for the only car the probation service owned that was less than two years old. Most of my colleagues smoked, and so did their cars.

It’s a job that involves a lot of waiting for other people to arrive, followed by intense work. Nurses, cops and actors tend to smoke, for much the same reason. The probation service’s cars smoke because all the public funding goes into building more jails. Anyway, Jock got in the passenger door. Usually the man who drives has some power deriving from that. Jock wanted me to see myself as the chauffeur.

I drove silently while Jock glared at me. He was trying to keep me ill at ease. I was, so I leaned my arm on the open window and projected utter nonchalance and relaxation.

I said, “We haven’t had time to discuss the meeting. So, you should maybe do the general stuff, about communication and cooperation between the police and us. Those issues. But I’ll talk about the specific cases, Lance Holder, Dwane, Ana and so on, myself. Since I, uh, haven’t had time to brief you. Yeah?”

Jock kept staring.

twofistHe was, as I’ve said before, a physically imposing figure. He had arms like hardwood logs. He’d let the workouts and the boxing go a little since he’d remarried, but he still looked unnatural, his body tapering sharply down to a boxer’s narrow waist. He looked like a cartoon hero, a sketch with every line emphasising strength.

He had a set of white puckers in the skin above his left eye, from when he’d faced down a prison escapee who’d armed himself with an axe. Jock had guessed wrong about the axe-man – he’d thought the guy would back down – but after taking an axe swing to the face, half concussed and nearly blinded with his own blood, he’d broken the guy’s arm, punched him unconscious, and sat on his chest, bleeding onto him, while he called the cops. It was the cops who called him an ambulance.

Probation Officer #68: Call of the wild

He left a pause. Eventually I said, “Yeah okay, that was funny too.”

“Damn right. Well, I put her on your caseload because I thought you probably would get close to her. Having someone half smart in her corner would do her no harm. And because every young man needs to learn that, no matter what, there are times he just has to keep his dick in his pants.”

There was another pause while we considered what Jock had just said. I said, “And that brings us back to Lance.”

“We should go on television. All right, keep your dick out of Ana, and see if you can keep Lance out of jail. I’ll see you tomorrow afternoon. Now piss off. Go home.”

tableI went back to my desk, intending to take his advice. I just had time to get home, shower and collect tonight’s condoms, for Sa’afia, and tomorrow’s clothes, for me, before six o’clock. My rendezvous with Sa’afia, her table and a stick. I was going to apply that stick across her bum no matter what, but she’d better be naked when I arrived.

I thought about dealing with a disobedient Sa’afia, and I was definitely thinking with my cock.

The phone rang. It was Ana.

Probation Officer #67: Frank sex talk for men

I said, “No, I haven’t fucked Ana. Why do you ask? I didn’t know it was an option.” 

Jock stared at me, furious. I glared back at him. He made a gesture, dropping the flat of his palm towards the desk as if he was pushing a kitten’s head down. “Yeah, all right, all right. You think you’re funny, but that was a bit funny. No, It’s not an option. If you’d said ‘yes’, you’d already be fired. How’s she going?”

“She’s back at school. She’s got a job. She hasn’t been arrested in months.” 

“Yeah. She’s got you as her defence lawyer. It’s okay: the cops don’t like you for it, but they’ll never like someone like you anyway. That’s all right. It’s your style.”

I said, “There’s more to life than likability.” 

“That’s true, but I thought you were too weak to know it. Anyway, there are people here who didn’t think I should put a pretty girl on your caseload.”

“Oh? Can I ask why?”

“Nothing personal. Just you’re a young man, and young men do tend to think with their dicks. I’m sure I shouldn’t say so, any more. But you wanna argue that it’s not true?”

“Not particularly.”

bum“Thought not. Well, look out for Ana. She definitely wants to fuck you. And someone half clever, like you, could easily come up with reasons why she should maybe succeed. For her sake, for her good. You thought of any?”

“Umm, I could tell myself it could be good for her self-esteem. A more intimate relationship would help us to work more closely on her education and employment ambitions. I’d be able to give better protection from cops and such. It would do no harm, and we’re already friends. I’ve thought that kind of thing.”

“Yeah, I’ve seen her in those little shorts too.”

Probation Officer #66: The atheist Pat O’Brien

“All right. You come back with a report that recommends something instead of jail but doesn’t sound like wet liberal bullshit. And we’ll work out how to sell it to the judge. And the cops. Come and see me with what you’ve got at one o’clock, and we’ll go and talk to the cops around four. Ok?”

boxWhen Jock had finished punching his juvenile crims bloody, he’d trust them with $50, maybe more, to use to get back to their mothers, or aunts, or whoever was most likely to look after them. Jock couldn’t afford to lose the money he lent those kids – they knew that, because he’d become a bit of a legend – and being trusted scared the hell out of them. Most of them wanted to earn that trust, and most of them paid the money back.

In a movie he’d have been played by Pat O’Brien, except that Jock was an atheist. He was, as they say, a better man than I was, or am. We had nothing in common. We faced each other, each time we met, completely baffled.  

“Ok. Thank you.”

“Yeah. I should think so. How’s that Ana girl?”

“What? Ana?”

“Well of course Ana. Have you fucked her?” 

Probation Officer #65: The timid sex offender

I picked up my afternoon’s work. “There still has to be a report.”

“Do you think Lance should go to jail?”

“No. He’s still not a risk to the community. Public safety.”

“He thumped someone.” 

“Yeah. Farm guy. But he was resisting unlawful imprisonment. And he didn’t thump farm guy very hard. Anyway, he needs to have to come in on the weekends and do a bit of work scrubbing graffiti and so on, to keep him tired. He needs someone who knows more about this than I do to get him to stay in his bedroom when he feels like having a wank. And he needs to stay out of jail, because that would fuck him up beyond repair.”

obrienJock looked at me. Blankly. “I’m not so sure he’s not beyond repair anyway. But I’d agree that jail will fuck him up. He’s a sex offender and he’s timid. He’s got victim written all over him. And if there was a dangerous idiot out on that farm, it was the farm manager. If he’d tried to lock me in his goddamn barn, I’d have thumped him too. All right.” 

I waited. 

Probation Officer #64: Jock the director

Jock, the director, said, “You’ve written a report? That’s something. Give it here.”

Jock took my report and turned away to skim it. I hate it when people do that with anything I’ve written. I like to read their faces while they read me. Jock was a terrifying bastard, with a big red face, a gorilla’s arm muscles and a pigeon’s chest. He’d passed the mandatory age but no-one had the nerve to tell him to retire.

He spun his chair back to face me. “It’s good in a way. And it’s bullshit.”

“Bullshit?” I was more surprised than offended. I thought I’d written something honest. 

“Yes. Read that and it’s clear that you’re to blame. You probably think writing that’s a noble … gesture or something.” 

“It’s just what I think was happening.” 

obrien boxes“Ah, bullshit, Jaime. Actually, I expected you to produce some bullshit. Just, I thought it’d be something that covers your arse. Since you’re a clever bastard. But this isn’t even clever.” Jock was known to take some of the cockier young offenders to the Police and Citizens boxing ring, to show them that a man in his sixties could beat them. He said he was demonstrating that violence is meaningless. Really, he thought it got their attention.

I was getting annoyed. “I was trying to protect my colleagues.”

“Y’arrogant little weasel, you think the people here need your protection? We’ve been doing this longer than you’ve known how to tie your own laces. You thought it’d be romantic to throw your career away. Make a big gesture, take all the blame and walk. That’s no use to us. We’d rather you turn up to work every day. Do your share.”   

“Well, Lance is going to jail. He’s not going to do very well there. That’s down to me.”

“Well, Jaime, it aint. Guess who’s fault it is? It’s Lance’s. You can’t mind him every minute of his life. You couldn’t stop him from fucking his life up when you weren’t around, because you’re not god. Contrary to what you seem to think. Here, take this report back. Keep it somewhere, and have a look at it if you ever start thinking you’re clever again.”