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.”

“And?”

“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.

The Pursuit

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 Pursuit

The man with the red scarf tore through the forest as quickly as he could.  His breathing was becoming more and more labored.  He could feel his feet starting to give out.  But behind him came the sound of his pursuer.  He had to keep going.

The theft had gone off without a hitch.  The owner had been asleep when the man with the red scarf crept into the yard.  He had been worried about the resident of the house keeping a close guard on his treasured possession.  However, when the man with the red scarf slowly approached the entry to the home, he found the item he was searching for laying right in front of him.

The man with the red scarf shook his head.  Clearly the owner had grown complacent.  He couldn’t understand what the owner had been thinking.  For years he had tried to get the sacred item, the most-beloved of all the owner’s things away.  And yet, the owner had just left it sitting there.  Maybe he had thought after all the years he had his grubby paws on it that no one would dare to steal it away from him.  The man with the red scarf dared.  For years he had been thinking about taking the article.  It wasn’t so much that the man with the red scarf really wanted it.  His motivation was centered more around the owner not having it.  He was not a cruel man by nature, but in this situation, the man with the red scarf had had enough.

He looked to his attire yet again; he’d regretted his clothes ever since he’d left the house.  The blue jeans should have been black, his sweater was too warm, and his shoes squeaked if he stepped on any paved surface.  As obnoxious as it was, the red scarf was necessary.  The man had not had any hats that would have suited the task at hand and it was far too cold to go out without his face covered.  He took some comfort in the notion that it would be harder to recognize him with the lower-half of his head covered.  Still, the man was not convinced.  The one he was stealing from could see quite well in the dark.  The bright color of the scarf did not help, and there were ways to identify a man without glimpsing his chin or mouth.  The man with the red scarf reasoned that it was best to simply grab the spherical object and run.

Now, as he saw yet another set of tree branches try to scratch and attack him, the man with the red scarf wondered if he hadn’t underestimated the owner’s ability to run.  For every step he made in the grass and every tree that snapped under his feet, it seemed like he heard twice as many from his pursuer.  No real threats were thrown out from behind him; they were more of verbal challenges.  The barbs were short but fierce; a reminder that the one who had been stolen from could catch up to the thief whenever they got bored.  The man with the red scarf tried to convince himself that he was home free.  The door that only he had the key to was within sight.  He saw it and tried to pick up his pace.  Foolishly, the man with the red scarf chanced a glimpse behind him and was dismayed at what he saw.

The owner was picking up the pace.  Faster and faster the feet moved.  What had once been a playful trot was now a full-on sprint.  The man with the red scarf would be caught in mere seconds.  He felt himself tripping over a large rock and only just managed to stop himself from falling.  Growls came behind him only yards away.  The man with the red scarf tried for one last desperate burst of speed.  He could feel his lungs burning and the taste of adrenaline in his lungs.  He wanted to cough from the cold air that had been attacking its way through the scarf, but he couldn’t.  He gasped as he body gave out on him.  He was almost to the door.

That’s when it happened.  After a bark was sent out into the night, the man with the red scarf felt the owner pounce onto his upper back.  Both were sent crashing into the ground.  The owner was not a huge character, but he knew how to tackle someone.  The man with the red scarf knew that he had lost.  Whatever small chance there had been for him to enjoy his prize was entirely gone.  The owner had won.

The owner, his eyes and teeth gleaning with victory and the bright full moon, smiled down at the man with the red scarf.  He put a foot on the man’s face and stuck his tongue out.  The man with the red scarf tried to utter a plea, but the victor didn’t want speeches.  He wanted the spoils of the race returned to him and placed at his feet.

The man with the red scarf yielded.  He pushed the foot off of his mouth with his free hand and muttered, “Okay, okay”.  He took the old once-green tennis ball and threw it to the left of the Labrador.  Lance barked back at his master, licked him on the face, and retrieved the sphere.  He picked it up in his mouth and trotted happily back to his doghouse in the back yard.  The man took off the red scarf and sighed.  He couldn’t understand what Lance saw in that disgusting tennis ball.  It was gross.  He didn’t like tossing it.  He had tried so many other chew toys and bones, but Lance remained loyal to that ball.  The man opened the front door to his house, shaking his head.  He started considering chaining Lance to the dog house.  Either that or the man would have to get in better shape.

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