TWO SIMON GRANT MYSTERIES
HIDING THE ELEPHANT – Chapter 39
Dancer is explaining. Earnestly. Objectively.
‘It’s the old instinct of self-preservation that takes over virtually immediately. You don’t control it, it controls you. You forget everything that’s been sacred to you because the most sacred has been desecrated. That’s when corruption sets in. Self-degradation. Before you know it you’re rolling down that slope so fast that it feels like winning. Like you’re getting somewhere. You forget what it was all about in the first place. The first rage is the sacred rage. It’s real aim is to preserve, not to destroy. But once you’ve destroyed all you remember is that it’s you who’s been fatally wounded and that you needed to kill the pain by killing its causes.’ Dancer stops, seemingly dissatisfied with the words used, looking for more, for better ones. ‘You forget because you’re already dead yourself; or maybe it’s that you die because you’ve forgotten.’
The last refresher course in handling hostage situations that Grant attended was held somewhere nearWarwickabout a year ago. The central theme was the Hostage Syndrome. Apparently, at some point, and there was no time limit on that, it all depended on the situation and the individuals involved, but almost invariably the hostage, or one or more of the hostages in group situations, will first go through the outrage stage, the hero act. Grant has already been there. Looking back on it now it’s obvious how hopelessly absurd that attempt really was. But, he survived. Rather predictably, according to the middle-aged, bushy eye-browed, cantankerous lecturer in purple corduroy jeans and grey cardigan with brown, leather covered buttons. They dubbed him BushEye. The hostage taker isn’t ready to kill immediately. No point in taking hostages if you kill them straight off, BushEye reasoned. Unless he or she are on drugs. Drug addicts are notoriously unpredictable.
The next stage was that of compliance and appeasement. If the hostage taker realises that I’m not the enemy, I’ll be allowed to go free. Or, at least, I won’t get killed. Grant takes his mental hat off to BushEye. He’s been there. Played it well, too.
It’s what comes after that’s a bit tricky. Usually, there’s a kind of a contract. Privileges for good behaviour. Punishment for any breach or insubordination. The hostage values the privilege and accepts the punishment as deserved. And from that, there’s just one small step to empathy.
‘Gradually, the hostage becomes receptive to his captor’s motives. He, the hostage, understands the problem, he commiserates, he’s outraged on his captor’s behalf,’ the BushEye was saying and it didn’t sound real. Only a short year ago and after thirteen years of hard edge policing, it was a backroom boys’ namby pamby, just so much hot air.
‘I’m in the empathy stage,’ Grant reminds himself. ‘It’s natural, it happens to everyone. I’m listening to Dancer and thinking yes, that’s me, I’ve been there, done that, bought the T-shirt. We’re all brothers and sisters under the skin. I’m in the empathy stage.’
‘You wouldn’t understand,’ says Dancer. ‘Not until it happens to you.’
‘That must make a difference,’ says Grant, friendlier than before. He’s found his way back from the dark caves of an hour ago. Two hours ago? Who knows? Who cares? ‘You mean Bowles?’
Dancer nods. ‘It seemed logical. Necessary. And it was ridiculously easy.’
LOCK UP YOUR DAUGHTERS – Chapter 39
Thursday 22. 07. 1993
According to a paramedic, it was less than an hour later that Grant fully came to in a half sitting position and on a stretcher to a gleeful ‘…and not a safety belt or an air cushion in sight,’ from Chief Superintendent Michaud who gave him thumbs up and hurried past.
There was a powerful light source somewhere at the back and a noise he couldn’t place. He tried turning his head but gave it up as a bad job. The medic was kneeling by the bottom end of the stretcher, fastening a belt around Grant’s ankles to match the one already in place around his bitterly painful chest. Straight in front of him, two people in orange overalls were loading another stretcher into the ambulance. The rescuers must have had a job getting him andPetraout of the horse carrier.
‘Is she…?’ Grant tried to lift his arm to point but it fell back with no muscle power to support it just as the young paramedic excused himself briefly and dashed off.
‘Dead? Afraid not,’ said Wandsworth, somewhere from the left.
‘I’m sure I heard her gun,’ Grant muttered to himself. There were no bullets in him. He was fairly certain of that.
‘Would you believe it,’ Wandsworth laughed, moving to the bottom of the stretcher and into full view, ‘she actually shot herself in the proverbial foot. Probably when the encounter with the dashboard knocked her out. The best joke I’ve heard tonight. While you, my friend,’ he pointed an accusing finger into the centre of Grant’s chest, precisely to the point where the pain was the worst, ‘if they hadn’t second-guessed you, you would have flattened three of my lads and two of my lasses. They were just getting in place when you tumbled 20 tons of steel on top of them.’
‘I …’ Grant started.
‘It’s okay. You’re the hero of the night. A night knight. You’ll come out of this smelling of roses once that lot has cleaned you up a bit,’ Wandsworth pointed to the medical team still busy inside the ambulance, then walked off.
Grant closed his eyes. A part of him wanted to ask questions, find out, the other part longed to opt out, fade out again. But the decision was taken out of his hands.
‘Nothing seems to be broken.’ Two pairs of orange coloured sleeves undid the straps fastened only five minutes ago, lifted him gently yet painfully into the full sitting position and expertly relieved him of his coat and shirt. ‘Something for the pain.’
One of the two paramedics, a man in his late fifties with a tuft of grey hair growing out of his right ear, wrapped a stretch of stiffly reinforced, flesh-coloured fabric around his ribs and was fastening it firmly at the back. A corset. Grant felt something move and lift inside him and some air returned to his lungs.
‘This won’t hurt,’ said another voice, a slip of a girl with long, brown hair clipped high at the back of her head. She giggled as she dabbed his skin with a wet, pungent smelling cotton pad. ‘Honest, it won’t. Trust me; I’m a trainee paramedic.’ The needle went smoothly into the vein in the crook of his elbow.
‘I don’t want to go to sleep,’ Grant protested half-heartedly, not sure if he really meant it.
‘You won’t,’ she quickly stuck a plaster where the needle had been, pulled his shirt and coat sleeve on and folded his arm upwards. ‘Keep it up for a few minutes.’ The man was already busy pulling the other side of both garments over his right arm and fastening his shirt.
‘There’s some broken glass in your coat pocket, Sir,’ he said. ‘I got most of it out but there could be a few slivers still left. Shall I …’
‘Leave it,’ Grant shook his head. Breathing was easier, and the pain was subsiding as if my magic. ‘Thank you,’ he added. ‘Thank you very much.’
Then he was alone. In the midst of the infernal noise and dozens of people moving about, he was alone. Gingerly, he swung his legs around and put both his feet on the ground. He was a little dizzy from the speed of the movement and possibly the jab, but otherwise in a remarkably good shape. His chest hurt on touch, but he could breathe and the corset held him upright.
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