Copyright 2016 Kristi Milne
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“You’ve got some nerve, showing up here after all these years.”
“Maybe?” Tiffany shrugged.
June and Tiffany sat across from one another, on either side of the breakfast bar. Dressed in shorts and a white singlet, June tousled her blonde hair as she glared at Tiffany. Unperturbed, Tiffany studied the vast amount of family portraits that were scattered throughout the room.
“Don’t just sit there. You’re clearly here on business,” said June, with a pointed look to the blue police uniform Tiffany wore.
Tiffany ignored her. “I wasn’t aware you married Benjamin Scott.”
“Of course you weren’t,” June huffed. “We haven’t spoken in twelve years, remember?”
“And you’ve got a little one, too, I see,” Tiffany said, nodding towards a fair-haired little boy, no older than two, who was fast asleep in his playpen. “What’s his name?”
Teeth clenched, June answered. “Joe.”
“After Grandpa Joseph?”
“Alright, stop,” said June, brow furrowed. “Stop with the chit-chat, we’re not going there. You’re here for a professional purpose, yes?” Tiffany nodded stiffly. “Well get on with it, I don’t like pigs in my house.”
Tiffany’s optimism bled out like water down a drain. She had rarely allowed herself to entertain the notion of a family reunion, but when she had she’d always envisioned a warm embrace and happy tears. For the past to be forgotten and forgiven. A foolish fantasy. June, like the rest of their family, would never forget nor forgive.
“It’s about the Reapers.”
“What about them?” June shrugged, casually leaning back against her chair with an easy smile. “They’re just a bunch of bike enthusiasts.”
“Really?” Tiffany scoffed, folding her arms atop the breakfast bar as she leaned forward. “You’re going to try and feed me that? Do I look dense to you? June, I was brought up in that club alongside you, I know what it’s about.”
“Oh, yeah? Thought you’d have forgotten all about it, like you did us.”
Ignoring June, Tiffany slammed a manila folder onto the breakfast bar; several newspaper clippings spilled out. Tiffany picked one up and began to read: “The Reapers, suspected of drug dealing, extortion, murder and firearm trafficking, are a notorious outlawed motorcycle gang, which has terrorised the northern suburbs of Perth, Western Australia for the past three decades.”
June sat unfazed. “It’s legal now. Things have changed. You should know, you’ve changed. You used to be one of us, now you’re just a pig.”
“I’m a police officer, not a pig,” Tiffany snapped, glaring at her sister. “June, you and I both know the club hasn’t gone straight. Hell, it’s never going to go straight. But more importantly, my colleagues know it’s not straight.”
“So what if it’s not squeaky clean? The pigs have known for years, but where has that got them? Nowhere. The clubs untouchable,” June grinned.
“But Benjamin isn’t.”
“What are you on about?” June demanded, hands curled into fists as an angry flush began to seep up her neck.
“Last month the Reapers were caught trafficking illegal firearms in a warehouse out in Rockingham. The place was raided. No one was arrested, surprisingly, but the cops were able to get a pretty good glimpse of several individuals as they fled the scene; one of which was Benjamin Scott, your husband.”
“You can’t prove it,” June said immediately, as she jumped to her feet. “He was here with me that night,” she quickly amended, her nerves frayed.
Tiffany let out a sad sigh. “June, they’ve got good evidence.” June stood rooted to the floor, her eyes darting around the room at rapid speed. She looked as though she was ready to spring, to grab her son and her husband and take off into the night. Tiffany recognised that look, she’d seen it on their mothers face more times than she could count.
June’s anger returned swiftly, like the snap of an elastic band. “What are you doing here? Did you volunteer to be the arresting officer? To march in there with your brother-in-law in shackles, parading yourself as the good little piggy? Show how loyal and dedicated you are, like a prized mule?”
“June!” Tiffany cried, outraged. “No, of course not! What do you take me for?”
“A disloyal, selfish, no-good pig!”
“I’ve never been disloyal!” Tiffany sputtered.
“Really? Please, you betrayed us! You left us!”
“I didn’t want to leave. I didn’t have a choice!”
“Oh, don’t make out like you’re the victim here,” June scoffed.
Tiffany, infuriated, shouted: “I was disowned!”
“Cause you wanted to be a snitch.”
“A cop,” Tiffany corrected. “I wanted to be a cop, to make a difference, a good difference. Dad threw me out of the house and the family the mere second I entertained the idea.”
“Come off it, Tiff. You had a choice: your family or your career. Remind me again, who did you chose? Oh, that’s right, you chose those pigs in blue,” June bellowed, her eyes watery.
Tiffany and June’s argument came to a sudden halt as little Joe began to shriek. Across the room, Joe stood clutching the edge of his playpen, his face bright red as he cried. June was quick to cool her anger as she scooped up her son, rocking him back and forth as she shushed him and tried to calm him down.
Tiffany took a moment to catch her breath, as she pressed the heel of her hands into her eyes as though she could physically fight off her tears. June, with a slumbering Joe in her arms, slowly sat back down.
“You alright?” June asked.
“I didn’t want to leave,” Tiffany admitted softly, her eyes closed and her head bowed. “Never wanted to stop seeing you, or Marc, or dad. I just couldn’t deal with it anymore. This life. Family constantly in and out of jail, disputes with other charters and gangs, the violence.”
Emotions running high, June and Tiffany sat in silence for a while. When June returned from having placed Joe in his own room to sleep, she said: “What’s gonna happen to Ben?”
“It’s not looking good,” Tiffany admitted.
“He’s gonna go to jail, then?”
“Looks that way. They seem to have gotten a pretty good look at him when he was down in Rockingham.”
Hesitantly, June asked: “Is there nothing you can do?”
“What can I do?” Tiffany asked, confused.
“Put in a good word for him? A character reference? I don’t know, won’t they go a little easier on him because he’s your family?”
“June,” Tiffany said slowly, shifting uncomfortably. “The force doesn’t know that we’re related. That we’re family.”
“What? How’s that possible?”
“I’ve gone by Grandma Pearl’s maiden name since I left. As far as they’re concerned, I’ve got no connection to Ben or the Reapers.”
The pair fell into uneasy silence once again. “So there’s nothing you can do? At all?”
“I don’t know,” Tiffany hesitated before she shook her head. “No.”
“You don’t know? Or you don’t want to?” June asked, eyes narrowed.
“June, there’s nothing I can do,” Tiffany said, more firmly.
“Then why are you here? Forewarning misery to come?”
Tiffany had no answer to give. She’d volunteered at the station to check it out, sure, but she didn’t know why she’d done so. For the opportunity to see her sister again?
June stood slowly and cleared her throat. “Ben’s gonna be home soon. I think you’d best leave.”
“June, I wish I could,” Tiffany began, but June cut her off.
“Okay, stop. Please, just stop. We’re still on different sides. Nothing’s changed.”
Conflicted, Tiffany left quietly.
“I don’t have a choice,” she whispered. “Not this time. I’m a cop. They broke the law.” Even still, she could clearly hear June’s voice inside her head. You used to be one of us… You left us. Before she could turn tail and run, Tiffany knocked on the doorframe of Inspector Pollard’s office.
Inspector Pollard was a well-pressed man, always in a suit and tie. He had a long face and dark eyes, a receding hairline and an expanding waistline.
“Ah, Copland, just the gal I was looking for. Come in, come in.” Tiffany shuffled a few feet forward and stood before his desk. “So, what’s the verdict on the Reaper case?”
“It’s a no-go, Inspector. He’s innocent.” Tiffany stood eyes-wide, equally appalled as she was surprised by what she’d just said.
“Innocent? Couple of my guys swear they saw Benjamin Scott hightail it out of that warehouse during the trade off.”
“Benjamin Scott was at home in Yanchep that night, sir. Had a family dinner with his wife, kid and the in-laws.”
Inspector Pollard looked sceptical. “You believe it?”
Tiffany felt horrible as she lied. As she betrayed the institution she’d abided by for the past decade. “It’s an airtight alibi, sir. He wouldn’t have been able to drive from Yanchep to Rockingham in time to make the trade off.” Nauseous at her own actions, Tiffany hastily added: “The wife’s got pictures as well, sir. It seems to have been a big family gathering.”
Inspector Pollard hummed, staring down at a file on his desk. Tiffany began to sweat. He knows, she thought to herself, knows you’ve lied. Knows your connection. It’s all over now. The gigs up.
“Alright,” he sighed. “There goes that lead. Sure was hoping to strike a deal with Scott, get him to trade off some intel for a shorter sentence.”
Blue eyes wide with disbelief, Tiffany stuttered: “They’re a loyal bunch, sir. Doubt it would have panned out that way.”
“Aye, aye, you’re right. Well, thanks for looking into for us, Copland. Dismissed.”
Tiffany left Inspector Pollard’s office in a daze. Her hands felt damp, her skin clammy. When she arrived at her own office, she slammed the door shut and threw herself against it. She took deep breaths, trying to steady her heartbeat.
“What have you done?” She whispered to herself, closing her eyes.
Born in the north-east of Scotland in 1996, Kristi Milne immigrated to Perth, Western Australia with her family in 2001. She has been studying for a Bachelor of Arts in history and writing at Edith Cowan University since 2014. She writes fictional narratives that often incorporate themes of family, history, acceptance and identity. Caught at a Crossroad is her first published work.
"Come off it, Tiff. You had a choice: your family or your career. Remind me again, who did you chose? Oh, that's right, you chose those pigs in blue," June bellowed, her eyes watery. After twelve years apart, sisters June and Tiffany are reunited. Now face-to-face on opposite sides of the law, Tiffany must once again choose between her career and her family. It all comes down to this: lose her job or arrest her brother-in-law?