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Behind the Bars

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“Ah, and this, is Sidney Carter.” Inspector Valentine says, gesturing with his hand and the young man leaning against the car outside the jeweller's.

“Who’s this?” Sidney asks, exhaling cigarette smoke slowly as he looks the stranger beside Valentine up and down. He’s undoubtedly police, Sid reckons, taking in the blue waistcoat, trench coat, grey hat, polished black shoes, the small notebook clutched in his left hand. He makes up his mind that he already dislikes this guy and his tight set jaw very much.

“This is Inspector Sullivan.” Valentine introduces, “He’s taking over my position here in Kembleford.” 

“You’re leaving?” Sid straightens up at once. He’s not sure what to think of that: he felt that he and Inspector Valentine had come to some sort of unspoken agreement, and a mutual respect of one another. It isn’t often that Kembleford gets a decent Inspector, especially not in Sid’s opinion.

“I’m afraid so.” Valentine says, then turns to the new inspector, “You’ll have to keep an eye out for this one- Father Brown’s favourite pickpocket.”

Sidney narrows his eyes slightly.

“I see.” Sullivan says, and takes his turn to look Sidney Carter up and down. He’s wearing his chauffeur’s uniform, a glaring green with too large buttons. But there’s not much of him, really, Sullivan thinks, “Interesting company, for a priest.” 

“Oh tell me about it.” Valentine says, “His whole little group is full of ironies.” 

Sid narrows his eyes a little more. Perhaps he’d been imagining that mutual respect. 

“Well, nice to meet you, Mr Carter.” Sullivan holds out his hand. Sid stares at it for a moment a little too long, then shakes it tentatively. 

“Inspector.” 

Then Sullivan drops his hand, nods, and continues at Valentine’s side up the little street. Valentine gestures over to the bakery. Sid drops his cigarette to the floor and stubs it out with his foot, watching until they disappear around the corner.