The Officer’s Key Error

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

The Officer’s Key Error

Let us all be thankful for fools.   But for them the rest of us could not succeed.” –Mark Twain

Crccc-click.  Crrrccc-click.  The inner-workings of the handcuffs ratcheted noisily into place, becoming tighter and more confining with each bit of pressure that Hal put on them.  His knees ached from his crouched over perch.  Hal stood up, never taking his eyes away from his prey, and looked down with glee.

“Why don’t you just stay right there?  I mean, you’re comfortable, ain’tchya?”

The man sat there.  He didn’t say a word.  Instead, he smiled.

Officer Hal Donaldson couldn’t understand why the man would be feeling victorious.  The arrest had gone entirely Hal’s way.  The Lieutenant had given a description of the bank robber over the walkie talkie.  Donaldson’s partner had started to canvas the area.  He was sure that he had seen someone similar a few yards back.  The plan had been for Hal to call in their actions to the house, but then he saw the man that so perfectly fit the bulletin.

Hal had leapt out of the card, reached for his service weapon, and dashed up the road to catch the man.  That was when Phil Klen poured on the speed.  It had played out just as Hal had hoped it would.  The crook took off in a burst of swiftness.  Hal had been right on his tail.  Klen ran to the end of an alley, jumped for the top of a chain link fence, grabbed maniacally at it, and finally hoisted himself over.  Hal, eager and thrilled to be in an actual chase, had grabbed onto the fence, vaulted himself over, and landed quite smoothly on the other side.

Klen ran down the sidewalk throwing café tables and garbage cans behind him to block the officer’s pursuit.  Hal managed to jump over the tables, skirt around the garbage debris, and he even fought his way through the crowd of pedestrians that had stopped to see what the ruckus was.  Hal felt the thrill feeding his adrenaline, boosting his levels of performance higher and higher.  At the same time, he knew what his duty was to the good citizens of the city.  He was hired to protect and the longer this cat and mouse game went on, the more people he would endanger.

Hal looked around him, hoping that his environment would grant him some advantage to stopping Klen.  The police officer could see nothing that would give him the edge.  But then he noticed Klen up ahead.  The man was clearly slowing down.  Hal knew that this was his moment.  He took a deep breath and drew on his reserves to give him one final sprint.  Hal bee-lined towards Klen, catapulted himself off of a cement planter, and dove at the wanted man.

The tackle had been picture perfect.  Just like in the movies, Hal had connected solidly with Klen’s back.  The force of Hal’s attack had sent the two of them into the ground.  The impact knocked whatever fight that had been left in Klen right out of him.  Hal recited the Miranda Rights.  As he did so, he handcuffed each of Klen’s long arms to a bike rack outside a grocery store.

Now Hal couldn’t take Klen’s smiling anymore.  “You wait right here while I go and get reinforcements”, Hal half-joked.

Again, Phil Klen only smiled confidently.  Hal couldn’t see where this devious attitude was coming from, but it was freaking him out.  He was already warmed up from the initial round of running, so he picked up the pace again and ran back to his squad car.

Four blocks and as many minutes later, Hal saw his partner approaching the car.  Hal threw up his hands in a victory-pose.

“What are you so excited about?”  Officer George Cutlo had been on the force ten years longer than Hal.  His enthusiasm was always harder to earn than Hal’s.

“I caught him!”

“Caught who?”  George only half listened as he pulled up the latest arrest warrant on the squad car’s laptop.

“The guy on the radio; Phil Klen.”

“Yeah right”, George smirked.  “So where is he?”

“He’s in front of the grocery store about four blocks from here.”

“Really?”  George’s tone had quickly shifted to serious.  “Who’s watching him?”

“No one.  Don’t worry; I left him handcuffed to a bike rack.”

“You did what?”  George immediately put his keys to the ignition and fired up the vehicle.

“What’s wrong?”  Hal sat shotgun as George fired up the lights and sirens.

“Did you happen to listen to the broadcast?  Maybe actually read the arrest history of our perp?”

“No.  I was too caught up in arresting him.  What’s the problem?”

“The problem”, George said angrily, “is that this Klen guy is a safecracker.  He’d been an apprentice locksmith.”


“He worked for two years learning his trade with a professional escape artist!”  George stabbed his finger towards the laptop, directing Hal’s attention to the details in the warrant that were right in front of him.

The weight of Hal’s mistake started to dawn on him as the car turned the last corner.

“You’ve got a walkie talkie on you.  Why didn’t you call for back up?  Or take that phone out of your pocket and call me?  I could have met you there.”

“I just”, Hal stammered.  “I didn’t think to.”  Hal left out the part where he had enjoyed leaving the world of paperwork behind and the thrill that the foot chase had provided him with.  As they screeched to a halt in front of the grocery store, what had been a moment of pride for Hal was now a hollow victory.

Hal’s handcuffs were right where he left them on the bike rack.  Only now, they were empty.  In that moment, the smile on Klen’s face made a lot more sense to the rookie cop.


About Cosand
He's a simple enough fellow. He likes movies, comics, radio shows from the 40's, and books. He likes to write and wishes his cat wouldn't shed on his laptop.

2 Responses to The Officer’s Key Error

  1. s1ngal says:

    evil over good…. bruhaha

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