Bradford Middleton, 4/16/2018

Current Occupation:  Low-grade sales assistant for big supermarket company.
Former Occupation: Student, Music PR, writer, admin serf.
Contact Information: Bradford Middleton lives in Brighton on England's south coast.  When he isn't writing stories and poems he can often be found on the check-out at a local supermarket.  For more from him follow @beatnikbraduk on Twitter.


Scotty is stood on the checkouts, it's another day at work, another long four hours that will drag like a bug through treacle, bored, alone and with his pre-work joint buzz wearing off rapidly he is desperate for something, anything interesting to happen.  But it never does, not here, not in this palace of doom, depression and occasional real insanity.  Just as he is contemplating life outside this place, this place that continues to bring him down, continues to leave him worried about the state of life and his mind, the possibility of a drink later that evening, a police car pulls up outside the store.  This doesn't always immediately get his attention as the sandwich store up a couple of doors seems popular with the police and whilst he never saw any of them on the streets their cars, with their ubiquitous sirens wailing, were a common sight indeed.  A far too common sight unfortunately but never coming to arrest the shoplifters who persist to target Scotty's shop, not that it bothers him as they are generally homeless with no money and desperate for something to eat and it ain't his store, just another generic supermarket chain.  Moments later though the impossible happens.

"You!" One of the officers shouts, sounding quietly scared of what he is about to do, "Don't move, stay right where you are!"

The other pulls a tazer off his belt and points it, with a huge noticeboard and pillar blocking his view Jack isn't immediately sure but it could only be one person.  It has to be the shops' security guard or else he has apprehended a minor convict and that kind of thing never happens.  Scotty realizing what is going on maybe of interest to some of his colleagues he gets on the in-store tannoy and sends a call-out to all staff.

"All staff to check-outs please" he intones knowing there will be groans downstairs in the warehouse but he knows this will most certainly be more interesting.  As Scotty moves front and center of the checkouts he witnesses a scene he thought he'd never see, not here anywhere, something so surreal it is still a struggle to realise even whilst looking at it.  The stores' security guard has his right arm up behind his back with a police officer pushing him up against the newspaper rack, the other still poised, tazer at the ready.  A bag drops from under Fred's jacket, a carrier bag that splits wide open, revealing a hundred more bags, a much smaller variety of bag, inside of which appears to be a huge quantity of hashish.  Scotty stands back, astonished at the scene, whilst also trying to work out exactly just how much smoke there is on the floor.

Alan, the shops manager, finally gets his weighty presence onto the shop floor and upon hearing the voices at the end of the aisle starts talking in his bumbling style.

"What, well look here, what is going on here?  What are you doing with Fred?"

As the policeman with Fred in the arm-lock fixes the cuffs around his wrists the other, having secured his tazer back on to his belt, turns to Alan.

"Are you the shops manager?"

"Yes, well yes I am, I'm Alan Salter and you will need to explain yourself, what is going on?"

"This man has been selling narcotics from under your very nose, a very smart operation that has taken us a while to piece together.  He's been selling out of your shop for a good few months now, we reckon six but it didn't come to our attention for a while.  We are placing him under arrest for possession with intent to supply and with all this evidence I think that shouldn't be too difficult," he says finally reaching down and piling the whole lot into an evidence bag, "with all this material.  I would recommend you need a new security guard as Fred here isn't going to be available for work for a fair while, potentially a very long while."

"Well, OK, you can understand my astonishment at this situation though, I had no idea, I'm sure none of my staff knew anything either."

"Your astonishment is easily understood, I did tell you it was a very smart operation and we will obviously need to talk to you and all your staff at some point in the next forty-eight hours."

"OK," Alan announces as a community support officer enters the shop, pen and pad poised. 

"This officer will take down all details and we look forward to speaking with each one of you shortly."  The two officers return to their car through a throng of people looking on aghast at the unfolding scene as inside the community support officer begins to take down details.

It is all the staff can talk about for the rest of the shift, even occasionally with a customer despite express instructions from Alan not to mention it to anyone outside the company.  Scotty hates Alan and never pays any attention to his instructions anyway and best of all it doesn't seem to matter.  If only Scotty had known about Fred's inventive little scheme he would, almost certainly, have tried to buy some of the good stuff off him but as it is the moment he walks from the shop at the end of his shift all he can think about is what he is going to say to the police when they call.  Eventually after smoking a forest of weed he finally calms himself enough to sleep that night only to be so rudely interrupted the next morning at seven a.m.  He knows immediately who it is.

'Bastards' he thinks, deciding that he needs a big mug of coffee, to help him cope with what the morning has to throw at him. 

"Hello," he says.  The officer at the end of the line begins talking, confirming details and then asking, as if a question, if he is available to be at the station by eight a.m.

"Sure," Scotty says before hanging up the phone moving back to his armchair and drinking his coffee and smoking a cozy little joint to help him ease into the day.  About ten before eight Scotty climbs from his chair, pulls on a jacket, something vaguely traditional, and leaves.  Arriving just in time he is escorted through the inner corridors to a room where the officers he saw yesterday wait for him along with, he guesses by the appearance of a non-uniform type, their direct superior.

The officer who yesterday appeared to be in charge is walking the room, pacing around, looking at how Scotty is behaving, taking mental notes whilst the actual arresting officer sits hunched over a notepad at the table which is nailed to the floor.

"So," yesterdays' leader begins, "we are currently developing a theory, a theory that implicates you.  We've seen your record, the life you lead before you got down here and we can even piece together some of the details connecting you."

Scotty sits, shocked and all at once terrified.  Anytime he'd been sat in a police station before it had always been because he was guilty and it wasn't that big a deal, a minor bust for possession, one for criminal damage, that was all, nothing like this. 

The officer in plain clothes coughs loudly before slowly beginning to outline the links they are investigating.

"We see you have some educational background that should perhaps place you higher on the food-chain, a Masters degree is it?"

'How deep have they dug?' Scotty worries but remains silent.

"What would make you want to stay in that kind of job for ten years, a whole decade in fact?"

Scotty knows if he remains silent there is nothing they can do, they are trapped unless they find an invisible connection between him and the person they currently have under arrest.  There is nothing to it, they have no evidence but they attempt to make him squirm in his seat for at least six hours, six hours that made any day at work, any length of shift he had endured before, appear like a walk on a beach on a sunny day.

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