You can't believe it when the call from the Commissioner comes through. Do you want to go and be a Detective Sargent on the picturesque island of Saint Marie? Of course. Who wouldn't? The flight is long, and your bags are heavy, but there wasn't anything you weren't excited about. This was a brand-new adventure. Touching down in Saint Marie, the wall of heat hits you like a tonne of bricks as you step off the plane onto the tarmac. You check your watch. It was early but you don't fancy hanging around the airport all day, so you hail a cab and head to the Honoré police station.
As you're being driven towards the main part of the island, the rest of Saint Marie is just starting to wake up. You get out of the cab, thank your driver, and then head up to the main entrance of the Honoré police station. The doors to the station are open when you arrive and inside sits a man, laying back in his chair, clicking the mouse next to his computer.
"Hi," you say, not wanting for him to wait to notice you.
He jumps a little. "Good morning, I'm Dwayne," he says, getting up to shake your hand. He looks down at your heavy bags and then back at you. "You must be the new Sargent?"
"Yes," you nod, stepping inside, looking around the station. It is exactly as you imagined it would be. You drop your bags in the middle of the room, feeling your arms spring back into their joints. You wander at first, then sit down at an empty desk, giddy with excitement, putting your feet up on the desk and opening up yesterday's newspaper that had been discarded on top of some paperwork. After a few moments, the sound of another man's footsteps echo through the station.
"Morning Dwayne," a voice says.
"Morning Chief," he replies.
At his address, you lower the newspaper. The man looks over at you. He is tall, blonde, with a kind face, wearing a linen suit.
"Errr…" he stumbles. "Sorry, don't mean to be rude but – who are you?"
"I'm the new Detective Sargent," you say with a smile.
"Pleased to meet you new Detective Sargent. But can you please be the new Detective Sargent over on that desk? This one is mine," he says.
"Oh," you reply, bringing your legs down immediately off the table. "Sorry."
You feel your face flush hot, but the man suppresses a smirk. "Don't worry," he says. "I fell out of a window on my first day. Can't be much worse than that."
You laugh. "That does sound like quite the impression."
"You can say that again," says Dwayne from across the room.
"I'm Detective Inspector Humphrey Goodman," he says, holding out his hand for you to shake. Your palm grips his as you shake it firmly. The feel of his hand in yours makes you feel hot, but you insist to yourself it's just the weather.
You move your bags to the desk and admire your new workstation. It's all becoming very real. You start to unpack your things – stationery, notebooks, pens, a picture from home.
Humphrey looks over to you, waiting for his computer to turn on. "You know we have pens in Saint Marie, don't you?" he smiles. Everything he says is entirely good-natured.
"I didn't know you knew that Chief," Dwayne pipes up. "In fact, everything suggests you didn't even know pens existed!"
"Yes, thank you, Dwayne," Humphrey responds dryly.
Just then another man enters the police station, a young boy in an Officer's uniform, similar to Dwayne's.
"Good morning, JP," says Humphrey.
"Good morning, Chief. Morning, Dwayne."
"You must be our new Detective Sargent," JP says, walking over to shake your hand. "I'm JP."
"Nice to meet you."
"You must be tired after your trip," he says, eyeing your bags. "Would you like one of us to drop you at your place so you can unpack?"
"That would be nice," you reply. "But where is my place?"
Humphrey, Dwayne, and JP all look at each other for a moment. "JP, didn't I ask you to book a villa for our new Detective Sargent?" asks Humphrey.
"I thought you asked Dwayne to do it?" says JP.
Everyone looked at Dwayne. "Don't look at me. I thought you were going to do it, Chief."
"It's fine. I'm sure I can just get a hotel for now," you say, trying to appease them all.
"It's quite unlikely at the moment. We're at the height of the tourist season. Most places will be booked," Humphrey explains.
"Not to worry. There's a bed in the cell, right?" you laugh.
"Nonsense. You'll come and stay with me," says Humphrey with a smile.
"Chief?" Dwayne questions.
"It'll be fine, Dwayne. I've got a very comfortable hammock. In fact, I fall asleep in it most nights," Humphrey shrugs.
"Are you sure, sir?" you ask. "I really don't want to put you out."
"Not at all. It would be my pleasure. Until we find you something more permanent of course."
You nod. "Thank you, sir. That's very kind of you."
"Shall we take the jeep and get you set up?" he asks.
"Yeah, that would be nice," you reply.
"Great," Humphrey says, clapping his hands together. "Dwayne, JP, hold the fort. We'll be back in an hour."
"Yes, Chief," they chorus.
Humphrey gets your bags and carries them out of the station. You wave goodbye to Dwayne and JP and follow him out. As you approach the jeep, Humphrey is already loading the bags into the back. He shuts the van door with a thud and then opens the passenger side door for you to get in. You slide into the seat but as Humphrey closes it, he gets his jacket caught in the door. He mumbles to himself. "Happens all the time," he says, opening the door again and retrieving the end of his jacket.
The drive to Humphrey's place is even better than the cab ride to the station. The sun, sea, sand, the trees, you drink it in, eyes wide with delight as you take it all in. You notice Humphrey looking over at you a few times and feel embarrassed by your childlike nature. It's the Caribbean, what do you expect? You sit back in your chair.
"It's great, isn't it?" Humphrey says after a few moments. He seems to be encouraging you. "I haven't been out here long, but I love it. I can't imagine being anywhere else."
"I really think I'm going to like it here," you say. "I think it's just what I need."
The jeep pulls up next to a small house. From the outside, it looks quaint but big enough for at least two.
"I call it The Shack," says Humphrey, as he gets out of the jeep. He walks around to open the passenger door for you and helps you out onto the sand. He takes your bags from the back of the van and heads towards the front door. With a wiggle of the lock, the front door is open, and Humphrey steps aside to let you in first.
You step into the kitchen, then walk through to the main area of the shack which is the bedroom… now your bedroom… There's a bathroom off to the side which you inspect as Humphrey puts your bags down on top of the bed.
"I'll change the sheets, obviously," he says nervously.
"I can do that," you shrug.
"Do you want to see the best part?" he asks, with a twinkle in his eyes.
Humphrey walks over to the back door and opens it up.
"Wow," you gasp, as he steps aside to let you look at the landscape. The Shack sits right on the beach, meters away from the shoreline.
"I know," says Humphrey, leaning on the door frame.
As you drink in the atmosphere, you realise that you are standing very close to Humphrey, perhaps too close. You can smell his aftershave, his gentle aroma, and the fabric softener of his clothes. You try not to look up at him, or breathe too deeply, lest you give yourself away.
"Its breath-taking isn't it?" he mutters.
"Yes, it is," you agree.
"I'll leave you to get acquainted with the place," he tells you, stepping out onto the veranda. "I'll be sitting outside when you're ready."
"Okay – Humphrey," you call after him. He turns to you, that playful, boyish smile on his face. "Thank you. This means the world."
"You're most welcome," he replies and heads out into the sun.