Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes


Written for the Discovered Out of Context challenge on the discoveredinalj livejournal community

He called me 'George'.

"My city, George."

"You can cut through the red tape, George."

"You are here to watch me, aren't you, George?"


I watched. And listened.

That plump, unctuous voice, dripping servility and entitlement in equal measures. That mixture of resentment and moral superiority, dealt out with just enough flattery to shade the offence. Presumption and hypocrisy worthy of Uriah Heep himself.

A man whose grasp exceeded his reach, was Green. He wanted so bitterly to climb that greasy pole, to put his stamp on something much bigger than just one city. Yet a small man, for all his ambition, as eager to waste time and energy on managing people's dirty laundry as on real dangers.

I've seen his kind before, the kind who think that liberty is a fair exchange for order and that we have two classes of law: one for us and one for them. I carry a bullet in my leg as a reminder of how dangerous they can be, given their head. And like so many of his kind, he bullied when on top and grovelled when caught out. All too willing to wink at murder when he thought it was safe to do so, but when he got caught, well then, it was all, "I never gave any such orders." "I never knew about any of that." "All we wanted was peace and order."

Och, there's some who'll say the same of me, I've no doubt. I've a high hand, and a fine disregard for abstract rights when they conflict with matters of life and death. But in my defence, I'll say that at least I know the difference between large matters and small, between danger to the existence to the country and offence to my sensibilities.

Maybe Green said that, too, the day he put on the uniform.

Tomorrow, I'll dine with the Minister. He'll want to know what I think should be done with Gerald Green. If the decision were mine, I'd give him a quick walk through the prison yard and a bullet in the back of the head. I'll wager more than one poor devil in his damned "clean city" went that way, and none the wiser.

Perhaps it's just as well that temptation won't come my way.

Before I meet Sir William, I'll debrief Bodie and Doyle. We'll have a drop of malt, and I'll hear what they have to tell me--and what they won't say. Doyle will rage about the ones gone bad, and Bodie will wind him up about the inadvisability of trusting coppers. Bodie will bleat a bit about how close he came to being whipped--"Right there with a cat-o-nine-tails, and Doyle laughing his head off!"--and both of them will carefully not mention his bruised face.

I won't tell them about Green's pretensions of heading CI5; they'd laugh themselves into hysterics, and I need them fit for duty tomorrow. Command CI5? Any one of my A Squad would have shot him within a week. Doyle, probably in two days.

Bodie might have taken six hours.

There's few men I'll trust with my life, and fewer still I'll trust with my honour. I can count on one hand those I'll trust with the honour of CI5. Bodie and Doyle will obey my orders, but never without thinking, and more than once one of them's shouted me down across my own desk. If Green had had some like them, instead of Chives, he might have had a clean city and kept his hands clean as well. But water finds its own level, and men like Green and Chives find each other.

I don't believe in leaving things to chance, and I've never regretted making that teaming.

Who watches the watchers? Why, their best men, of course.

-- THE END --

June 2008

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