Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Nurse In Charge

The nurse in charge sees us walking Martha into the department. 

"Stop right there!" She shouts. "She's not coming in here unless she's been searched!" 

Back at Martha's house, we had spent an hour negotiating with her, at first through a closed door, and then, finally, face to face after she agreed to let us in. She seemed pleased with her achievements, proudly listing the cocktail of drugs and alcohol that she'd ingested over the previous hour or two. If what she told us was accurate, or even close to it, she would need some serious medical attention, and quickly. 

"Of course she's been searched. The police even stopped her bringing a large kitchen knife with her." 

As we were about to leave, Martha asked if she could go back to the kitchen to get her packet of cigarettes. I waited by the front door as a police officer accompanied her back into the house. Suddenly, he shouted at her to "Put that down!" at which point I saw Martha return a knife to the kitchen drawer. Grinning manically, she put the cigarettes in her hand bag, and we all made our way to the ambulance.

"I don't care. She's not coming in here until she's searched again. Check everything and everywhere. Last time, she'd hidden a knife in her boot." I looked again. She was wearing knee-high boots over a pair of jeans. The two officers who had accompanied us looked at each other, and then at Martha. We all moved into a side room, the eagle-eyed nurse in charge watching every move. 

As she was searched again, Martha started a search of her own. 

"Where's my handbag?" 

I had a quick glance around the room and just outside too. The bag was nowhere to be seen. 

"Must still be in the ambulance. I'll go get it."

The handbag had been in the kitchen, the cigarettes were shoved inside, and Martha had turned her back to us for a second to pick up a lighter too. "No point having ciggies and no fire to light 'em with!" she'd said at the time. "You coppers need to lighten up a little!"

I think that all men struggle to know what to do when asked to hold a lady's handbag. We struggle to look at ease, for fear of looking, too, well, at ease, really. I walked back in to the department, looking and feeling a little uncomfortable, clutching the handbag at the top and letting the handles hang loose by the sides. Stepping back in to the side room, I attempt to hand the bag back to Martha.

"Oh. No. You. Don't... Not. Before. It's searched!" The emphasis of every word, every syllable did the trick, and I gave the bag to the officer. He opened it up, and blue-gloved hands rummaged through the contents. There were dozens of pieces of paper, chocolate wrappers, lipsticks, a packet of cigarettes and lighter. Right at the bottom, hidden by everything that had been thrown on top, was a serrated kitchen knife, with a six inch blade.

"And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I'm in charge, and Martha isn't."

And to think how close I was to that knife, all the way to hospital...


burned-out medic said...

"*I* will hold on to your purse, thank you."

Miriam said...

please excuse my innocence, what was the lady planning to do with the knife? who was bothering her? you the medical service aiming to save her life?
- Confused

TAZ THE AMBO said...

Were they new Cops or what, not searching what sounds like a very well known Psych's hand bag!