Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Mary Huxley and The Truth #Unmasked @ WEP

There is no formal challenge in December, 2020. If it would have been then the theme was “unmasked”. Perhaps the irony that we could not be unmasked yet, from COVID-19 pandemic obviously, took the challenge away. 

Yet I was ready with my story. Hence, I am posting as the WEP ritual.

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Mary Huxley and The Truth

Mary Huxley pulled the gun from the holster. The peddler must surrender, or Huxley would pull the trigger.

Huxley has been chasing this ever since she had stepped in this area, on foot, in civil clothes, without gun, even before she received charges of the post officially. She strolled around the scene from midday to middle of the evening, until the end of the last begging shift of the day. She reversed her shirt, released her bun into a cascade of hair down to her waist, between the first two strolls, to avoid being noticed by the beggars or anyone working in the area. Before subsequent strolls, she changed her look respectively by putting on a jacket and plaiting her hair, and, by reversing the jacket and stuffing the plait into a beanie cap. She used various combinations of these style moves during her subsequent strolls.

The scene had several visual obstructions. It was bound by historic Dawson Hotel to East and another Pennines sandstone building to West. Adjacent to this building, to its North, stood Hurtshire railway station. A hundred feet long alley was stretched from the station at West along the northern boundaries of the hotel to East. There was another alley between the hotel and the building. The alleys were separated by the hotel building, an erstwhile garden turned ivy infested dirty patch and an elevation of almost six feet to their eastern end. The southern alley descended to the level of Northern alley and was abruptly truncated by the sandstone building. A viaduct ascended westward along the southern alley and went past the building’s southern end.

Two cameras were mounted on the eastern wall of the building, one camera viewing the hotel a hundred feet away, another viewing the northern alley emerging from the railway station, forty feet away. These were single view traffic signal cameras, not with three hundred sixty degrees view, hence, unable to record everything surrounding them.

Huxley noticed different beggars, appearing in shifts, sitting by the northern wall of this building, near the railway station, just out of respective lines of vision of the cameras. The beggars were exchanging tiny paper wraps, like candy wraps without candy, filled with white powder, if paid with bills as small as five squid. Otherwise they were asking meekly, “D’ya have ‘ny change? Change please.”, shaking the paper cup part full of changes.

Mary Huxley, the cop, concluded, “Narcotic peddlers, in disguise of beggars.”

She sat on the crest of the viaduct, beneath the cameras, to watch the effect of the entry of the patrolling Peace Officers on the peddler. The station was out of the visual frame. The peddler’s blanket corner was peeking from North-eastern corner of the building. The hotel was to her right. Around this time, her anxious mother called, “Can’t you quit policing? Pursue forensic technologies, instead. You’re a Chemistry major.”

Mary’s mother hung up knowing the futility of the suggestions with, “Can’t stop worrying…. the whole world’s sworn enmity with the police…”

Patrolling peace officers were appearing every half an hour alternatively from East and West ends of the visual frame. Whenever a uniform appeared at the hotel end, Huxley found that the beggar was missing at the begging post. She also noticed the beggars leaving their post and pretending to walk towards the hotel, minutes before a peace officer appeared from the station.

From her strolls she gathered that the begging peddlers could see police persons approaching from the shopping center lying north-west of the railway station. The visuals enabled them to feign being passersby before the officer. But the hotel end was visually obstructed by the ivies and the elevation.

Huxley realized that there must be a signal for the peddler on arrival of a peace officer at the hotel end. Within the following two hours, she figured out that the vocalist with a guitar busking under an arch of the viaduct was striking a distinct pitch viewing the police officer at the hotel end. It was the signal to the begging peddler.

In her inaugural shift on job, Mary approached along the northern alley to Hurtshire station, remaining invisible to the busking singer by the ivies. She surprised the begging drug peddler at the usual begging post by North-east corner of the building and made her first arrest.

She mentioned in her report the requirement of cameras with three hundred sixty degrees vision above the beggars’ post. Her peers were congratulatory but jealous. Yet she was relieved from pursuing the case further.

Months passed. A veteran among colleagues, Martha Bentley, told Mary, “The beggar you’ve arrested was an undercover.”

Huxley was disappointed that her enthusiasm spoiled the toils of someone else. To make up, she started spending more hours of her own in between Dawson Hotel and Hurtshire Station. She took photos of changing faces of the beggars, of their ringleader in rainbow hairband tied like a rag in false carelessness, in earrings and necklace of rainbow beads, in pink lipstick.

Some more months passed. No new camera was installed. Mary continued creating a dossier with clear identities of every peddler feigning beggar, their ringleaders, and customers with the photographs she took. She shared her findings with her commanding officer Bob Smith. Smith studied Huxley’s work for some time. Then he instructed Mary, “Make the arrest.”

Hence, Mary Huxley appeared at the obvious scene of crime, caught the peddling beggar by surprise, by the camera blind North-eastern corner of the sandstone building. The peddler pulled a gun from his shopping bag. So did Huxley.

Her team was around, was armed and was targeting the peddler and scanning the surroundings for peddler’s aides. Yet, dying Mary saw that her team was fumbling to shoot her killer, the peddler, who disappeared in the crowd. She realized on death the numbing effect of stigma for upholding the law on rigorously trained police reflex. Her last sigh was on just unmasked initiation of destruction of the criminal justice system.

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Word count: 1000 (one thousand, with hyphenated words, without hyphenated words, 996 [nine  hundred ninety six)]

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Looking forward to your critique….

 

 

 


14 comments:

  1. Such a sad tale - which continues to play out world wide.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

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  2. All that hard work! So sad is so true!

    Have a lovely holiday season and a glorious New Year!

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    1. Thank you Yolanda. Thanks for the wishes. Wish you all the same.

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  3. How sad. I'm sorry for that young and idealistic police officer.

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    1. It's nice to have you Olga. Hope you are fine now. Wish you Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2021.

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  4. WoW. Sad but true enough. Thank you for sharing.

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  5. As everyone so far has said Sanhita, so sad. The criminal justice system has lost a fine officer in Mary.

    Happy holidays Sanhita and the very best for the New Year!

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    1. Thank You Denise. You, too, have great holidays and a very Happy New Year.

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  6. This is a tragic tale and wonderfully told! Thank you so much for your contribution to this month's informal challenge.

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    1. You are welcome Laura. But pleasure is all mine that you have hosted the fest of flash fictions through all real challenges of life. Wish You a very happy new year.

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  7. Hi Sanhita - how often is this true ... well told and a tale of unmasking sadly discriminatory.

    All the best to you for the year ahead - Hilary

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Hilary for stopping by. Wish you, too, a very wonderful year ahead.

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