My brother and I were taking a short cut through an alleyway and saw a copper coming towards us through the rain with a fishing rod in his hand. My brother is also a copper, though currently taking time off work for an intensive course of chemotherapy. He knows all the older coppers in the area and he immediately recognised this one and quickened his step to greet him. I too knew this copper, but not as a colleague. I pretended to panic at the sight of him and started climbing into a nearby skip.
My last conversation with him was on the phone four years ago about a woman I’d met online, and with whom I had had a physical relationship, lasting about a month, and I enjoyed it on the whole. She is the only woman to have poured syrup over me then coated me with Special K for breakfast. (Later that day I went to the World Speedway Championships with crumbs of Special K in my underwear, which made the racing an uncomfortable spectacle, as well as monotonous.) But on the rare occasions that we went out anywhere together, she would invariably and spectacularly lose her temper over a perceived slight from a stranger, real or imagined, and get into a fight. This was exciting at first, then stressful. Then I stayed for a weekend in a remote spot on Dartmoor without a phone signal. Unable to contact me, she reported me to the police as a missing person, precipitating a manhunt. After that I dissociated myself from her.
The level of retribution I received in return was, I felt, disproportionate. She knew that I had applied and been granted a US visa online for a stopover in Miami en route to Belize, about which I was going to write a travel piece.