Short Friction

Writing to entertain and to stimulate thought

Help from the wall

with 2 comments


In all my years of policing, I had never come across this kind of punk before. The usual punk I come across is a wannabe-somebody graffiti vandal, less than 5’5″, hiding their spotty face behind a dark fleece hoody. Of course there are older punks, but I never come across them: Their greater age doesn’t just give them greater “skilz”, but greater invisibility. My usual punk makes a pretty poor effort at not being seen, but this pair were hopeless. They were trying so hard to be inconspicuous, but doing such an amateur job, that I felt embarrassed for them. To me it seemed like every passer-by must be staring at them. The bloke was wearing a pair of oversized black pants and a black wool coat so big on him that he looked like he’d had his head shrunk by New Guinean cannibals. He’d turned up the collar – I’m supposing because he was thinking he could hide behind it. The girl was wearing black parachute pants and a navy blue puffy jacket, too long in the arms, that was clearly slowing down her work with the paintbrush. Mind you, she was slow enough already – each time her brush neared the mortar between bricks she would slow her stroke right down, stop, breathe, talk to herself, then continue her stroke over the mortar and into the next brick.

This pair of punks was fascinating to watch. I suggested to my partner that we needed to keep an eye on them to collect evidence before charging them, and we moved to where we could watch them unseen.

While the girl worked with a paintbrush, the bloke was squatting down, watching her, glancing around nervously and checking his watch every couple of seconds. He also looked like he was reciting some kind of mantra to himself the whole time. He had a spray paint can on the ground next to him. I’d seen him shake it before she started her work, but then he just sat it there and did nothing with it. Maybe he was mentally working through the ethics of what they were doing. I would have assumed they were both flipped out on drugs except they both obviously lacked the street knowledge to even know how to ingest a drug, let alone source and purchase them.

Eventually the bloke took one last look at his watch, made one more visual survey of their surroundings and then grabbed his can, stood up and started making his mark on the wall. Predictably, his paint had already started to settle in the can and he couldn’t get an even finish out of it. He clearly wasn’t willing to give it another shake, and by the time he’d managed to tilt the can in such a way as to get a reasonable spread of colour, the girl had nearly finished her piece.

It was interesting contrast, his half-completed stick-man to her vignette of a grassy green hill and blue sky. She finished up by painting a “window” around her scene with another can of black spray-paint, and then adding some words.

The whole while they were doing this, the pair of them were quite obviously becoming increasingly agitated. Their glances around them became increasingly frequent and, at one point I got ready to give chase because they took one long look at each other and seemed to silently agree to abandon their little project. But, just as I was ready to leap out after them, they seemed to resolve to continue, and finished their work.

As soon as they started putting their equipment back into the black backpacks they had brought with them, my partner and I strode across the street and made our arrest. Having watched them all that time, it somehow didn’t surprise me that they didn’t even try to run. Instead they both looked dreadfully embarrassed and apologetic. I actually found myself feeling sorry for them. But, the law is the law, and my dedication to upholding it overrode my sense of pity.

We photographed their little piece of “art” to accompany the charges. They had added to a previously existing piece of vandalism, but were insistent that the original work was not their own and they couldn’t be charged for it. Given today’s performance, I had no trouble believing them, because I know they would have been caught the first time.

Help did come (Click image for actual location)

Help did come (Click image for story with original graffiti)

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Written by shortfriction

21/06/2009 at 14:55

2 Responses

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  1. […] 17:30 22 year old male brought in by police after being charged with vandalising public property. Police observed Wayne behaving oddly prior to his arrest and report that his unusual behaviour […]

  2. […] Wayne made his way to the nurse’s station to ask if he could make a phone call. He was hoping he would be able to contact Sandra – he still didn’t know if she’d been charged. […]


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