Sunday, 16 September 2012

China shop bull

He's a bull in a china shop but he doesn't know that he's a bull and he doesn't know that he is presently located in china shop. I guess that it's my job to tell him, to pass on this message. To set things straight. I drove the police car across a few streets, the roof lights on but I kept the siren down. As I got nearer I crawled, past one shop front then another. On the pavement people were moving away, there was a sense of panic. Nobody seemed to react much to the car. I remember thinking that that was a little odd. I saw a girl and she was bleeding, another girl was helping her. Then there was a man holding his shin as if he'd just been kicked there. In the shin that is.

Then on my left I saw it. “Brewster's Fine China and Artifacts – Established 1974, Louis Brewster Proprietor”. At this point I didn't think there was much point in writing anything down, I'd commit these facts to memory and recount them at some later time. I did radio in my position however – that was the correct procedure. The control room just blipped affirmative.

I had stopped the car a few yards back, all was quiet but there seemed to a be a film of fine dust just hanging in the air as if some disturbance had occurred nearby. I checked my gun. I got out of the car and took a few steps across the pavement to the store front. Trucks were parked on both sides but by now nobody was about. The dust still hung. A few items in the window had clearly been disturbed, some porcelain was broken. The fine silver handles had been split from their cups, a cream jug sat on its side looking rather forlorn and the glass was cracked...from the inside. I moved over to the shop door, it was open. That was always a clear sign that not all was well.

I removed my gun from my holster and undid the safety. Under my feet there was the crunch of broken china. This wasn't looking good. Once through the door I caught the full vista of the shop's interior. It was in pretty poor shape. Shelves were dislodged, displays had crashed down, glass panels were splintered and all across the royal blue and golden carpet were fragments of white and silver crockery. Broken cups, teapots and sugar bowls, royal souvenirs and vases were just everywhere, hard to recognise and in pieces, all in the wrong place, all destroyed. The reports had been correct. Where was the culprit?

Then, towards the back of the shop I heard a tinkling and then a crashing sound. I moved forward gingerly, I was pointing the gun now, straight into that dark space at the rear of the shop where the source of these sounds seemed to originate. There was more noise, more breaking china and an animal snort. The snort had a wild and rather aggressive tone to it I thought. The snort was a bit of a warning to me but I moved forward, silently, my gun held out in front, clasped and locked in my two hands. It would have made a good photograph. Then I got to thinking, will one of my bullets really stop this animal if, just say, it turns out to be a real full sized bull, as the reports had suggested? This turn of thought made me uncomfortable. My pistol was a the regulation issue .38 calibre. OK to stop the average felon but maybe a little lightweight for dealing with a large cornered and angry farmyard beast. I thought about stepping back to the entrance way and calling up for some support. Maybe though (being a little too optimistic perhaps) there was more on the way but I hadn't had any more messages.

Then I heard more snorting and a stamping, like hooves on concrete, then hooves on carpet. It was an animal getting closer, there was no doubt. I peered through the shelves, across the bent racks and toppled display cabinets. There he was, about thirty feet away, two big bright eyes and white horn tips that defined the shape of a big black head. It was the bull all right, just where I'd expected to find him. I could see now that, despite whatever set of bizarre circumstances had led to this animal being in this place, that whatever else happened, for him to leave the shop (as I suspected was his intention) he would have to exit it via the route and entrance that I had used. He had to get past me, clearly I was in the way and blocking the acting out of whatever plan he was forming.

In keeping with the rules of engagement I steadied myself and called out in a loud and clear voice. “Stop! Police! I am armed and I will shoot!' I did this twice and indeed the animal did stop. There was silence from his quarter. I guess he didn't expect me to cry out like that. I presume that apart from the screams of shopping assistants and innocent bystanders he'd really been the source of most of the noise and carnage up until this point. Then there was more hoof stomping, that thing that bulls do just before they charge. A bit like a short countdown or a ready, steady, go, for bulls. I'd seen it on TV and in cartoons. Things were coming to a climax now.

The air around the back of the shop suddenly seemed to explode. The racks between the bull and I suddenly collapsing forwards towards me and his great black evil head and huge long horn horns were now headed into me like an oncoming freight train. I squeezed the gun and shot three times. The loud cracks of the gun in the confined space adding to the catastrophic chaos that was enveloping the room. I realised to, in the split second in which the action was taking place that, despite whatever effect my bullets might have, he already was moving quickly towards me and that his momentum wasn't going to be slowed by my bullets. I was by now however, automatically and instinctively moving backwards.

I threw myself to the side as my final coherent thought kicked in. His head and horns catching my legs and feet and propelling me into the air and across a broken counter. I sailed across the top and fell between the wall and the remains of the display. I was hurt somewhere but I was still conscious and alive. I also had my gun. I shot three more times into the dark ruined place where I thought he must be. As the gunshot reverberations ceased the dust began to settle and the smoke and fragments cleared, an eerie silence formed and I staggered to keep my feet. My hand was sore and quivering, I returned my hot gun to it's holster. Despite my fears I had a strong feeling it was all over.

Amongst the dust and acrid smoke there was now an animal smell, strong and unpleasant, almost overpowering. I looked down at the still carcass lying, covered in white flecks of wood and metal amongst the remains of the china shop interior. I looked at the head, it was odd, unreal, not a bull's head, not a living animal. Inside the head I heard a human sound, a groan.

In my short career as a policeman I'd never killed anyone, that was until today. Now two Hispanic men were dead inside of a theatrical bull costume. Drunk and silly I imagined, acting out an ill conceived prank for a few dollars for some cheap reality TV show. On the streets there were riots, cars were overturned and burned, shops looted but not by anybody in a bull suit. I was on TV and on the web, guilty of a murderous act of police violence they all said. How was I to know?

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