Dept 17


I ignored them. I saw them but I ignored them. I could see the back of Tan’s head. He was so relaxed in his swivel chair he was nearly falling off the side of it. He spun slightly so his face was further away from me. I saw from the back of his head he was looking over at Firelighter who I knew was rolling her eyes. I just kept walking across the office until I got to the blackboard. I put the equipment on the desk. The equipment consisted of a clipboard, some small cones and a doll. The cones had come with a small football goal, which we had no use for, but it actually worked out cheaper to get the goal too. Yeah, I don’t know how that works.

Around my neck hung a stopwatch and a whistle. The whistle had a red strap and and the stopwatch had a black one. I’m just setting the scene here, so you can visualize it. I had my black Puma tracksuit on. It’s shiny and Firelighter said it makes me look Romanian. Well, she’d said it makes me look like a member of a gang who installs skimming devices on cash point machines. Now when they saw me wearing it they know it means training.

“Where’s Sub?” I asked the room which, apart from me, contained two people who were sat like cool kids in an American film about high school students.

“He’s doing a poo,” said Firelighter who is twenty-three and has curly hair. I closed my eyes gently for a moment.

“Go and get him,” I said.

“No way!” she replied and I sighed and scratched my eyebrow for a while. Tan was deep in thought about something.

“Has he just gone in?” I asked. Give me something to work with here, people!

“Dunno,” said Firelighter.

“Tan!” I shouted and he jerked. “Has Sub just gone in?”

“Gone on where?”

“To the… to the toilet?”

“How I know?” he replied, looking slightly hurt. I looked at them both. I turned to the blackboard and picked up a piece of chalk from the small shelf that ran along the bottom of it. I held the chalk up to the board. I tapped the chalk on the board. Then I lent forward and rested my forehead on the board and it was flat and cool and felt nice. I could have gone to sleep, I reckon, if I’d stayed like that for five minutes. Using my neck I pressed my forehead into the board so it propelled me backwards and I was standing up straight and I walked over to the door which lead to the corridor which led to the toilet, and also the small kitchen. Before I got there it opened.

“Finally!” I said.

“What?” asked Sub, looking around.

“Come on, training.”

“Nice poo?” asked Firelighter

“What?” replied Sub.

“Shut up,” I said and went back over to the blackboard. When I got there I noticed the hand that was holding the chalk had been rubbing against my thigh.

“I wasn’t doing a poo,” said Sub.

“It doesn’t matter,” I said, wiping at my thigh. Fuck. I’d need a wet cloth.

“Why are you always lying about me?” Sub was saying to Firelighter.

“What were you doing then?”

“Shut up you two,” I said.

“What business is it of yours?” Sub said, ignoring me.

“He asked me if you were doing a poo.”

“I didn’t, I asked where you were.” I said. You following the conversation? It’s complicated when three people are talking. Luckily Tan was just silent, otherwise this would be a fucking mess.

“I wasn’t even doing a poo.”

“I don’t care. Shut up. Here’s a scenario.”

“I’d say if I was doing a poo.”

“Okay, it doesn’t matter,” I said. “Here’s a scenario. And we’ll go outside. But here’s the set up.” I drew a wiggly circle on the board, near the top. Lower down a drew a wiggly line. Between the wiggly line and the wiggly circle I drew smaller wiggly lines which I spaced out randomly.

“Throw Momma from Train!” shouted Firelighter but I ignored her and the giggling. I prefer Firelighter when she’s all depressed, to be honest. When she’s all morose and quiet. “My Cousin Vinny!”

“This is an island, obviously,” I said pointing to the circle. “Water and land,” I continued as my pointing finger swept down the board. “Now-“

“Star Wars!” said Tan.

“See what you’ve done?” I said, glaring at Firelighter. Out of the corner of my eye I could see Tan was sort of bouncing in his chair, a bit animated. “You’re getting them all giddy.” I held her gaze. She didn’t hold mine. Her eyes darted from side to side. I turned back to the blackboard and drew a small figure on the island. The chalk was blunt and the figure lacked definition. “That’s a baby.”

“Looks like a-“

“Doesn’t matter, it’s a baby and it’s in danger.”

“What kind of danger?” asked Sub.

“Dogs.” On the edge of island I drew a small line with four small lines going down underneath it

“Looks like a capatillar,” said Tan.

“A what?” That was Firelighter, amused.

“A capatillar.”

“Caterpillar,” I said.


I drew an angled line for a neck and a curved line at the other end for a tail. Then I drew another line off the dog’s neck. Its face.

“Oh yeah is dog,” said Tan.

“We’re going to go outside in a minute, but how are we going to rescue the child?” I looked at all three of them in turn. “We’re down here.” I tapped the land at the bottom.

“That’s easy,” said Sub. “I’ll fly over and drop some meat to distract the dogs.”

“Okay, there’s no meat and one last thing. The baby’s leg is frozen in an ice block.” I drew a square overlapping the baby.


“Doesn’t matter how. This is just a scenario,” I said. “Think fast, what do we do? The dogs are closing in.”

“It’s fucking stupid,” said Firelighter.

“Well that’s brilliant, Firelighter, you can go speak to the child’s mother. Tell her Sarah died because you thought it was stupid.”

“She’s the one who left her baby in an iceblock.”

“It’s just a scenario.”

“With dogs.”

“Yep,” I said.

“On an island.”

“Okay, got that out of your system?”

“It’s just stupid.”

“Just because you can’t get to the island,” said Sub.

“Shut up, shut up, shut up,” I said. “It’s teamwork. It’s about teamwork. Think about how you can all work together. We’ve got a guy who can fly but hates dogs. We’ve got a guy who can cross a small body of water without getting wet, who hates dogs and we’ve got a firelighter who really likes dogs. How are we going to do this? When we’re called we can’t have a debate, it’s got to be automatic.” I clicked my fingers three times.

Firelighter stood up and walked over. “Can I?” she asked. You should see her Facebook. It’s all dogs.

“Go for it,” I said, handing her the chalk and standing back. Then she picked up the cloth rubber thing and before I could think about stopping her she’d wiped off my picture.

“Oh, nice one,” I said. I watched as she drew a large circle. In that circle she drew a smaller circle, and then she stood aside. “What’s that?” I asked.

“A wheel?” said Tan.

“An egg?” said Sub. Firelighter looked at me.

“What’s going on?”

“It’s a Mexican in a sombrero?”


“From above.”

“I see it!” shouted Tan. “For sure!”

“Because they’re under the hat,” said Firelighter. She then drew a line coming from the front of the circle and one out of the back. “What’s that?”

“Is it a plane? The circle is the propeller?” asked Sub.


“Is it… I don’t know,” It reminded me of, like, a power tool. An electric saw. “Is it a power tool?”

“No, do you give up?”

“What is it?”

“It’s a Mexican on a bike.”

“Eh?” I said and then I saw it. “Oh yeah!”

“I don’t…” said Sub.

“They’re the wheels,” I said, pointing to the lines. “It’s hat and the wheels, from above.”

“Oh yeah!” said Sub, but judging from his reaction I’m not sure if he really understood.

“Got anymore Mexicans?” I asked.

“That’s it,” she said. She sat back down. I wiped off the lines but left the sombrero and for the next two hours we tried to make more Mexicans under big hats doing things, and you know what? At the end we were closer than ever. Now that was teamwork.