I didn't really know Sharkey
He was my snout, my coppers Nark as they used to say! The best informant a detective ever had. Sharkey knew stuff and he was never wrong.
If there was something going on in the criminal world Sharkey was the first to hear about it, and he came to tell me there was something in the air.
I'm not sure where he got his information from but it was solid gold. I owe my rise through the ranks to him.
From Constable Joseph Browning just out of training school, as green as grass and still wet behind the ears, to Detective Chief Inspector Joe Browning. Top villain catcher and absolutely nobody's fool.
Sharkey was funny, both ha ha and peculiar. I think he must have been Irish originally. He still had a little trace of an accent, but many years of living in the London slums had almost killed it. I think he was called Sharkey because he didn't so much walk as weave.
He had this funny sideways gait a bit like a swimming shark. He put it down to his "Poor ole knees".
He always wore a raincoat and a battered trilby hat like an old style reporter. He carried a bag, a brown leather satchel that had seen better days. I suspected that everything he owned was in that bag.
You didn't ask Sharkey for information, he found you. If he had something I would get a message. We always met in the same place. The back of the cinema, under the third street light.
He would appear from the fog or the darkness to say what he had to say and then go again. I paid him well, he was worth it.
In those days villains still did bank robberies and held up shops, but that was then. Now it's all cyber crime and fraud. Sharkey really came through with the goods on one particular job. A bank robbery scheduled for next Tuesday he told me.
We had been after this gang for years, nasty they were. They were always tooled up and had left a graveyard full of corpses behind them. With Sharkey's information we were ready.
We had coppers everywhere, poised to pounce the moment they appeared and screeched to a halt outside the bank. It went beautifully. We nabbed the lot. I got a shed load of praise and a promotion, but it was Sharkey who deserved a medal.
I stopped seeing him after that. I missed him in a way. He was never greedy like some I could mention. He just took his fiver or whatever I gave him and wandered off back to where he came from.
I am retired now, my wife and I moved to the coast. We have a little holiday place in Spain where we spend the winter.
I think about Sharkey sometimes, but I don't ever wonder what happened to the old boy. I know the answer to that one already.
On my last day in the job, I got a call out. It was just for interest really as I didn't have much else to do besides clear my desk. I accompanied this young police officer to the old cinema. They were tearing it down to make way for a new police station.
The young officer was obviously nervous being out with the boss but he seemed to know what he was doing. He told me they had found a body in the rubble. As soon as I saw it I knew.
A battered trilby hat and a leather satchel were laying beside the skeleton. I told the doctor I knew who he was, "an informant, name of Sharkey" I said.
The doc who is an old friend gave me a funny look. "I don't think so Joe, this old lad has been here for a very long time. Probably since the cinema was built in the twenties he said. We found a bullet in each knee, probably First World War issue."
It was odd, nobody could explain it. But I knew for certain. When they opened up that old satchel it was full of modern fivers!