Chapter 10

Xero and the Law (Part One)

.......and this is one of them. There is a mushy pea fog and a sheen on the road surface. Through the first signs of a fine drizzle, you can easily make out that this is no minor road. It is, in fact, a six lane motorway connecting Leeds and Bradford.

If you look carefully you can also make out, though rather more vaguely, a figure. It is a person crawling along on all fours in the middle of the overtaking lane at the speed of a heavily sedated geriatric tortoise.

The ox-like man has a vice grip on an empty bottle of vodka. Every so often he tries to pull himself upright, like homo habilis trying ever so hard to become homo erectus. He is clad in a black leather jacket and Trotsky cap, with a goatee that is slightly off-centre. The jeans are baggy, slightly tapered ones. An Untouchables-style case is slung over one shoulder. The fog, the streetlamps and the headlamps of each swerving car lend the scene a somewhat jaundiced air.

It is four in the morning, so fortunately the narrow misses are fairly few and far between. The next car to approach out of the veil of rain is a white Hillman Avenger sedan with POLICE plastered all over it. The patrol car pulls up alongside the oblivious figure who is still crawling along, occasionally struggling to stand up.

He looks up sideways at the two occupants of the Panda car. They peer back at him through the rain-spattered windscreen. They stop a short way beyond him, lights flashing. They step out into the wetness, coldness and darkness, wishing that they were already back at the nick having their tea break. They walk over to Slingsby, torches flashing, and they stand one on either side of him, readying themselves to lift his bulky dead weight to safety on the hard shoulder.

Just as they begin to lift, he slurs a question at them.

"d'ya think y'can help me look for my contact lens?"

A smile flickers between the two policemen as they drag him to their car. A huge juggernaut trundles by leaving a thunderous eddy in its wake.

Xero reckoned that the bit which puzzled him most was why they made him surrender his passport when they only charged him with "drunk and disorderly".

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