Patterson finished the careful adjustment to his starched shirt cuffs, lining them up half an inch beyond the end of his jacket sleeves, before running his gaze over the group of short and stocky individuals standing before him; a slight furrow grazed his forehead, ‘there are five of you now and still he eluded you?’
Louis shuffled forward as if to offer an apology, feigning a sad expression, ‘the lad might’ve got away, but we’ll find him,’ he looked up, holding something out to Patterson with a triumphant grin, ‘look, he dropped this!’
Patterson held the grubby piece of cardboard between his thumb and forefinger, a look of distaste on his face as he examined it, ‘his Unemployment Benefit Card, there’s no address, how is it supposed to help?
Jimmy stepped forward, ‘allow me to introduce the newest member of our team,’ he indicated a fresh-faced young man, ‘this is Ron’s baby brother, Sam,’ Ron nodded, pushing his sibling forward, Jimmy continued, ‘he doesn’t say much either, but he has special skills.’
Patterson inclined an eyebrow.
‘Sam also has a job at the DHSS*,’ Shacker added; ‘don’t worry, Mr Patterson, you can count on us to catch up with Joey.’
*Department of Health and Social Security, responsible at the time (among other things) for the administration of Unemployment Benefits. The card which Joey dropped is a UB40**, the card you had to take when you went to ‘sign on’ at the ‘dole office’. It has the claimant’s National Insurance number from which Sam will be able to trace Joey’s address.
**From where UK band, UB40, took their name. The title of their song ‘One in Ten’ refers to the number 9.6, being the percentage of the local workforce claiming unemployment benefit in the West Midlands in the summer of 1981 when the song was released – the figure was double that in Liverpool by 1985.
Written in response to two challenges:
Photo credit: illustration from a book somewhere on my bookshelves which has mysteriously disappeared🐪