Flying a pilot

blue end of the spectrum

INT. DAYTIME. A BRIEFING ROOM IN A POLICE STATION, SET UP WITH A BOARD AT THE FRONT OF THE ROOM AND THREE ROWS OF DESKS, AT WHICH SIT A MIXTURE OF PLAIN CLOTHES AND UNIFORM OFFICERS. THERE’S A GENERAL HUBBUB OF CONVERSATION, WHICH STOPS IMMEDIATELY WHEN INSPECTOR TENPENNY ENTERS, ACCOMPANIED BY SAB.

TENPENNY

Right, let’s get started! You’ll all remember Seb here…

SAB

Sab.

TENPENNY

What? Oh, yes, sorry…You’ll all remember Sab from his…

 SAB COUGHS AND TAPS HIS “MY PRONOUNS ARE:” BADGE

 TENPENNY

Sorry again. You’ll all remember Sab from xis inclusivity training course that he…

 SAB COUGHS AGAIN

 TENPENNY

…that xe ran last zeek. Week.

THERE’S A LOW MURMUR OF GREETING, WITHOUT ANY REAL ENTHUSIASM

 TENPENNY

Now, as you’ll have heard, a body was found shortly after 4am this morning and, from the wounds and the general MO we’re working with initial assumption that this is the work of the Dockland Knifer.

ONE OF THE DETECTIVES RAISES THEIR HAND SLIGHTLY AND SPEAKS

DETECTIVE

What information do we have on the latest victim, sir?

 TENPENNY

Not a lot. As with the other victims, all forms of ID had been removed from the body and we’re waiting for DNA and dental matches and keeping a close eye on all new misper reports. The victim is a female aged approximately…

SAB

Isn’t it a little early in the investigation to assume the victim’s gender identity, inspector?

TENPENNY

Thank you, Seb. Sab. Important to bear these things in mind. The victim is biologically female and aged…

SAB

No

TENPENNY

The victim has female primary and secondary sexual characteristics?

SAB SHAKES HIS HEAD

TENPENNY

From the victim’s appearance and manner of dress we’re assuming…

SAB

Getting worse, if anything.

TENPENNY

We have reason to believe the victim was in possession of a cervix at her…

SAB

Their

TENPENNY

…was in possession of a cervix at their time of death.

SAB SMILES AND GIVES A ‘THUMBS UP’

TENPENNY

She’s…

SAB

They’re!

TENPENNY

Yes, they’re aged 20-25 years old.

THERE’S A SMALL ROUND OF APPLAUSE FROM THE DETECTIVES

TENPENNY

As with the Knifer’s other victims, the body wasn’t moved post-mortem and pathology have put the time of death at no later than 3am. Given her place and time…

SAB

They’re!!!

TENPENNY

…given their place and time of death, and consistent with the Knifer’s MO, we’re assuming that this victim was also a prostitute, and we’ve circulated her photo to vice, to see if anybody recognises her.

SAB

Their photo, to see if anybody recognises them. Remember, inspector, good policework means not making any assumptions. Also, the term ‘prostitute’ has significant negative connotations, inspector. Didn’t you read the memo I sent around?

TENPENNY

Sorry, sorry, old habits. We’re assuming she…xe…they are a sex-worker.

DETECTIVE

Sorry, Terry, I’m a bit lost here. Did they or did they not have a dick, and is it still against the law to be a Tom?

SAB [ANGRY AND POINTING AT THE DETECTIVE]

Why wasn’t that officer on my course, inspector?

DETECTIVE

I was off sick.

SAB

Well, while you were lying at home with a poorly tummy all you missed was everything you need to know about how modern, inclusive policing works.

DETECTIVE

I was recovering after being shot by a suspect!

SAB

Does that make it OK for you to endanger other people’s lives by throwing around transphobic questions, and acting like you’re some sort of expert on the laws of the night-time economy?

TENPENNY

OK, Seb. Sab. Leave it! Susan, we’ll get you booked on the next course.

THE DETECTIVE NODS. SAB FOLDS XIS ARMS, CROSSLY.

TENPENNY

Consistent with the other attacks, this victim had more than a dozen frenzied stabs to her – to their – torso, from a single-edged blade, at least 18cm long. Almost certainly some sort of kitchen knife, so no leads there. She – they – also had bruising to their wrists, consistent with their arms being pinned down. No cuts to the arms, so we’re assuming that they were pinned down before they were stabbed.

SUSAN

Before the arms were stabbed?

TENPENNY

No, “they” the victim, not “they” the arms.

SAB

Although, of course, all of this may have been consensual.

SUSAN

Sorry, are you suggesting that she might have consented to being stabbed to death?

SAB

If you’d bothered to turn up last week, Karen, you’d know that good police officers don’t kink-shame.

SUSAN

My name’s Susan, not Karen.

SAB

Let’s see if we can get you booked on the ‘Understanding cultural references’ course as well, shall we? If you’ve got time between being off poorly. Would you like that? It would be nice to understand what people are talking to you about, wouldn’t it?

TENPENNY

Sit down, Susan! Anyway, as we’re linking this to the Dockland Knifer case, we can start with the profile that we have for them. The man we’re looking for is probably mid- to late-20s…

SAB

Why are you assuming that you’re looking for a man? Remember, “Assume makes an ass of U and me”. Do you remember that from my course?

TENPENNY

For this kind of pattern of violent crime against wom…against cervix-possessors, the statistics suggest that…

SAB

The old statistics, which were based on “biological sex”, which we now know to be bigoted, factually incorrect, and scientifically illiterate. When we do the analysis correctly, by self-assigned gender identity, you see that females are far more violent.

SUSAN

I can certainly see why

SAB IGNORES HER

 SAB

Let’s all look at the facts of this case. We have a victim who may well have identified as trans or non-binary, was a sex-worker and was kink-positive. That’s a very specific victim type, and means that our killer is almost certainly a far-right radical feminist. We should get a car round to J K Rowling’s house.

SUSAN

I’m not sure frenzied 3am dock stabbing are her style, really.

SAB

Ha. Ha. Obviously I’m not suggesting that she did it personally, although I’m sure she’d like to, but there’s no doubt in my mind that our murderer was inspired by her hate-filled messages. Find out who’s been reading her tweets and we’ll find our killer.

SUSAN

That shouldn’t take long, she’s only got about 12 million followers.

SAB

Actually, it’s a lot less now. Most people disagree with her and have unfollowed her.

SUSAN [LOOKING AT PHONE]

Twitter says 14.3 million. I’m sure we can eliminate most of them from our enquiries before the end of the decade.

SAB

I think you have to consider the large number of people who are following just to report hate speech and…

THE DOOR TO THE BRIEFING ROOM OPENS, AND A UNIFORMED OFFICER, SERGEANT WALKER, ENTERS

WALKER

You’re going to want to hear this, sir, we’ve had a breakthrough. We’ve got a preliminary ID on this morning’s victim, from her mum, who came in to report her missing.

TENPENNY

And?

WALKER

Not like the others, sir, she’s not on the ga…[HE LOOKS AT SAB] I Mean she’s not a sex-worker, sir, even though that’s Real Work and Nothing To Be Ashamed Of, sir. She’s an estate agent, but she has been getting threats from her ex-boyfriend. Who just happens to match the profile we’ve got for…

TENPENNY

THE DOCKLANDS KNIFER!

WALKER

Spot on, sir.

TENPENNY

Right, I want everything we’ve got on him, and I want uniform round to his home, his work, his known haunts. I want him picked up and I want him picked up now! [TO SAB] You want to come on a ride-along?

SAB

For a cis, heterosexual woman? Fuck her, I’ve got memos to write.

2 thoughts on “Flying a pilot

  1. Saw this posted on Twitter and was going to get arsey thinking it’s yet another attack on policing but I ended up laughing out loud. I know someone (who used to be a friend)
    that is *exactly* like Seb, constantly on my back correcting my language and the terms that I use, to such a degree that I actually avoid him now.

    Well done for capturing that type so accurately!

    Paul, if you somehow find your way to this page, if you recognise yourself in Seb then please stop it. Just let it go and go back to being the old Paul that we all liked.

    Liked by 1 person

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