Hyde and Sikh
It was not a good time to be alive. Hyde would stare at the moon, kick an imaginary can in frustration and rail against the world's injustice as the wind blew gently, indifferent to his torment. Once a few months back when particularly agitated, he missed the imaginary can and kicked the curb. That hurt pretty bad and in frustration Hyde pulled out his gun and tried to shoot the guilty leg. Failing to get a clean shot he arrested his leg and dragged it back to the station to throw it in a cell.
The times they were a changing, and Hyde was not willing to reset his Swatch. Even though his escapades with his own body had earned him a transfer from his home in New York to Rotherhithe, a residential district in inner southeast London (Google), he was literally five hours late for work everyday. As I say, he was not willing to reset his Swatch. Or accept the fact that he was in Rotherhithe. No one could tell Hyde what to do, he was a cop like they don’t make anymore. Ignorant, arrogant, misogynistic, he was all those things like the best of them, but Hyde wore a moustache too. It was a big one; it looked as if he had stapled a cat to his face. Somehow this didn’t deter the woman in bars who would swarm to him like flies to shit. Sensitive souls looking for a woman to share their lives with would sit in silent awe and watch as Hyde told woman after woman night after night that they meant less to him than a Hot Dog. And they cried into their ales as every night Hyde vacated the premises armed with ladies. His self-assurance served him well. This was a man who was angry at a world which was making the printed word redundant, whilst gleefully admitting that he had not once wasted his time reading a book.
The minute hand on the clock hit the hour mark. “Right boys, it’s lunch” said the Constable without missing a beat. A gentle breeze filled the room as the policemen started shuffling their papers in unison. The waft from the papers suddenly blew back the other way as the doors swung open aggressively. "What’s up with you fuckers, you always start the day with lunch?” Hyde was in the building. “ It’s one o’clock Hyde, you’re five hours late…again!” retorted the Constable. “Anyone ever tell you lunch is for wimps?” Hyde snapped back while deliberately looking at a person he wasn’t talking to. “You told us that yesterday when you came in late …again!” said one of the officers, patting the Constable on the back. The chief wanted to give him a high five, but he was scared to attempt one in front of an American. Especially such an intensely angry and unreasonable one. “ You have to accept it Hyde, this isn't New York anymore, you’re in Rotherhithe”. As the Constable spoke, Hyde placed a cigarette in each of his two ears and screamed “aaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh”
“ I want you to meet Baljinder Singh, he’s going to be your partner for the rest of your stay.” The Constable pointed at an unassuming man sitting at a desk in a far corner of the suddenly empty room. “Now you'll have to excuse me. There’s a ham sandwich with my name on it”.
“Hold up! Ball Digger who?” Hyde pulled out the cigarettes from his ears and pointed one of them at Baljinder. “What is that?”
“That is your new partner, I want you to introduce yourself.”
“Now chief, you know I’m a plain talking guy, I just say what I see. No beating about the bush.”
“Yes I’ve noticed,” said the Constable, taking one step closer to his ham sandwich.
“Well, that’s a coloured guy, and he’s not even black. Do you know how confusing this is for a white American stereotype?”
While looking into Hyde’s perplexed face, the Constable began to slowly slide his feet towards the door. He didn’t respond to Hyde’s question, he wasn’t sure how to. Hyde looked more and more perplexed as he watched the Constable try to leave the office without actually taking any steps. Who did he think he was dealing with here? He was a cop from New York! At the bare minimum he was trained to tell when somebody was getting further away, even if they were doing it slowly and without walking. In New York, a sense of perspective was one of the first things they taught you at Cop School, and Hyde’s senses were telling him that the Constable had a ham sandwich with his name on it.
Hyde walked towards the desk the silent man was sitting at and kicked away the empty chair in front of him. He faced his new partner, and made the speech mark gesture with his fingers, even though he said the word partner in his head. “Let’s get one thing straight, I don’t like you, never will.”
“Hi, I’m Baljinder.”
“Listen Ball digger, we have to learn to live with each other and I don’t like learning so this won’t be easy”. Baljinder nodded warily. “I understand,” he said.
“Whaddya hiding under there?” Hyde pointed at Baljinder’s turban. “Is it crack? You asshole!”
“Hey come on! I’m a policeman.”
“It’s a shame,” said Hyde. “Because you look more like a pineapple."
3. The Name
It had been troubling Baljinder since they first met that Hyde thought his name was Ball Digger. He had initially let it go, and put it down to difficulties in acclimatising to new cultures. But where is the cut off point after which your name has been changed for good? Surely when someone has called you Ball Digger five times without being corrected, then it’s your own fault for any confusion.
“Hey Ball Digger, whaddya doing?” That was number four.
“I am waiting for the phone to ring” Baljinder replied.
“Ball Digger, let’s go! We can’t just sit and wait for the phone to ring!” Hyde got up and kicked his chair across the room. That was number five.
“I would just like to say Hyde, that my name is in fact not Ball Digger. It is Baljinder, Baljinder Singh.”
“Sorry dude. I can’t say that”
“But that is my name, Baljinder”.
“Ba..a..ll…d.d.d.iiiig…Yeah sorry. I just can’t do it.”
“Look it’s easy, I’ll spell it out on this piece of paper for you,” Baljinder wrote his name in big capital letters and held the piece of paper up for Hyde.
“See it’s funny, cos if I take all those letters individually I can say them fine, but you put them in that weird jumbled order, and it’s Ball Digger”.
“Hyde, Ball Digger, we have a case for you!” The Constable walked in with an air of excitement and anxiety. “About fucking time chief,” Hyde said while playing a sweet air drum roll on a three hundred and sixty degree kit. When he was at one hundred and eighty degrees, Baljinder took the opportunity to speak. “Constable, my name is Baljinder. You know that!... I’m not 'Ball Digger'.”
“Can you believe this guy?” Hyde laughed, pointing directly at his turban. “Every one calls him Ball Digger and he just won’t accept it’s his name, what a dick.”
“Maybe it’s best if you just go with Ball Digger,” the Constable said in a soft reassuring voice. “I’m thinking there are people reading this and the guy writing it has to keep checking he got the spelling right, which is probably a hassle, and then no one knows how to say it properly and it becomes that annoying name they just mumble in their head every time. I mean you remember reading books right? ”
“Yeah.” Balljinder was being pummelled into submission. “So you’re saying this is going to be a book?” He questioned.
“It might be.”
“But the writer doesn’t have a clue what’s going to happen, he’s just writing as he goes, probably with his trousers down.”
“Look” the Constable agreed, “I know what you’re saying but we will just have to see. In the meantime there is a man in Rotherhithe and he’s fallen over. Do I have a team for this?” The Constable raised his voice to generate some enthusiasm for the task.
“I’ll get my keys…Let’s go” said Ball Digger.
4. On The Way To Finding The Man Who Fell Over.
Ball Digger drove at a leisurely pace. Whenever he got a chance to get out the office he would embrace it, soaking up Rotherhithe’s modern housing and commercial facilities with a nostalgia others were yet to feel. It was projected nostalgia. Gazing at the Brunel Engine House he could almost shed a tear. Though not today, not with Hyde in the passenger seat. Today Ball Digger hid his love for his surroundings so as to not show weakness. He was distracted enough however to fail to notice Hyde, not being one to take a back seat, reaching an arm over and placing one hand on the steering wheel. But it didn’t really bother Ball Digger. He would rather Hyde just felt comfortable.
“You know the name Rotherhithe derives from Anglo- Saxon times? Rother was for sailor and Hithe meant haven… A sailor's haven!” Ball Digger sighed as they drove past a TK Max. “Yeah.” Hyde did not sound very impressed. “Well I come from New York City, my friend. New stands for fucking and York stands for cool and city…that just stands for city…Fucking Cool City.”
“You miss your home don’t you?” said Ball Digger, as their hands touched almost intimately on the wheel.
“Fuck you Ball Digger, I’m Hyde. Hyde don’t miss anything …not even TV shows he doesn’t want to watch. You get me?”
“That’s a different kind of missing.”
Hyde let go of the wheel. “You know, if you drive any slower chances are the guy who fell over will probably have stood up.”
Abruptly, Ball Digger stopped the car. “What the fuck ya playing at Ball Digger???” barked Hyde.
“Look, there!” As he spoke, Ball Digger exited the car and ran across the road, picked up a discarded item and raced back towards the car. He took a moment to drink in the residential district's balmy air, and looked carefully to his left and right before crossing.
“Look at this, it’s a pair of trousers, why would there be a pair of trousers in the middle of the road?" he screamed to Hyde, hurtling towards the car.
“What’s the waist on those?” asked Hyde, like he had seen this all before.