Respect by Michael Keeble

Here’s Michael’s response to the trigger ‘respect’.
Respect by Michael Keeble

I woke up in a doorway at some time in the morning.  I had no idea what time it was as I seemed to have lost my watch together with my wallet.  I also seemed to have sustained some injuries to my ribs and I had a big lump on my head, and the headache from Hell.  I felt like shit.

I unwound my body from the doorway and tenderly stretched my limbs, checking for injuries.  My ribs hurt and my joints were stiff.  My hands were bruised and cut across the knuckles and I found that I couldn’t close my left hand.  I sat up and my head swam and my vision blurred.  Someone was beating a tattoo inside my head.  I leaned against the door and closed my eyes.  

I hate it when I get these blackouts.  

The drumbeats subsided a bit and I opened my eyes.  I wasn’t sure where I was.  It seemed like a small backstreet with old Victorian industrial units.  I gingerly pushed myself upright and tried to stand.  I wobbled a bit and my ribs and head screamed at me.  Eventually I managed to stand more or less upright and leaned against the wall.  A woman walking along the road crossed over to the other side and hurried past with an anxious glance backwards at me.  I took a look at myself and saw that my suit was torn and covered in filth.  I had lost my shoes somewhere.  

It was time for me to get myself out of this backstreet and home and into the shower and then think about getting myself off to hospital.  The tune she had been singing suddenly came into my head.
“R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me”
I started to walk out towards the main road to see if I could get my bearings.  As I rounded a corner I paused to look at my reflection in a shop window.  As well as my generally dishevelled look, my hair was matted and one side of my face was covered with what could only have been blood.  No wonder that woman crossed the road to avoid me.  I looked around and realised that I was only about a 30 minute walk from my home.  I tried to hail a cab, thinking I could pay when I got home but it was as if I was invisible.  Penniless and looking like a tramp I started for home.

I couldn’t get the tune out of my head.  I remembered now, she’d been singing it at me when I came in from the pub last night.  I don’t remember anything much after that except that I must have gone back out to the pub because I now remembered getting into a bit of a fight and being thrown out.  After that it’s all a blank.  Maybe that’s when I got all my injuries.  I hate it when I get these blackouts.

Shuffling along in stockinged feet it took a lot longer than 30 minutes for me to get back.  As I approached through the quiet suburbs where I lived with my wife, for once I was relieved that the neighbourhood was so quiet.  No one walked anywhere, so I staggered onwards without meeting anyone.  My wife would have gone to work by now so I wouldn’t have to explain anything to her.  I just needed to get home, call into work sick, get into the shower, lie down to rest and think about whether I needed to go to hospital.  I rounded the last corner and was met with the sight of a policeman standing by police tape stretched from one side of the road to the other.  The street seemed to be filled with police vehicles of all sorts, policemen and others in overalls, all wandering about.  The policeman behind the tape approached me.

“There’s nothing here for you mate.  I think you should get on your way.”

“But I live here” I said, then by way of explanation “I got mugged last night”

“I see sir.  Can you tell me which number you live at?”

“Number 23.”

The policeman paused for a second, then asked if I had any identification.  I explained that I had lost my wallet in the mugging and that had all my ID in it.  He seemed to come to a decision and lifted the tape.

“Would you come with me please sir?”

I ducked under the tape and with the policeman’s hand on my upper arm, allowed him to guide me to the nearest police car.  He spoke to the policeman in the driving seat and then opened the back door for me.

“Could you wait here for me please sir.  I’ll be back shortly”

He wandered off and I tried to find out what was going on from the driver, but he was totally uncommunicative.  A few minutes later the policeman returned with another man in plain clothes who opened the door to the car again and asked me if I could get out and talk to him.  He introduced himself as Detective Inspector Carpenter showed me some ID, and then explained that there had been an incident at number 23 that they were investigating.

“What sort of incident?” I asked “Is my wife all right?”

“A woman has been found dead in the house sir”

“Oh my God.  Is it my wife?”

“We don’t know sir.  We only have your word for it that you live at number 23.  We’d like you to come down to the police station with us to answer some questions”

This was asked in the sort of way that made it far more of a demand than a request, particularly as at the same time he opened the car door, and taking my arm guided me into the back seat while a uniformed colleague entered by the other side.

And just for fun – here’s that song.


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