Jeremy the Germ, Planetary Crime Fighter
by Ben A. Vanguarde
Chapter Nine - Solving the Case
Zone Officer Perry Salter reported for duty at roll call for the overnight shift. He shaved and showered but did not risk sleeping. The Watch Commander looked at Perry suspiciously and re-read the instructions left for him.
"Officer Salter recently broke the 68% mark for closed cases," announced the lieutenant. "Outstanding. Congratulations Officer Salter." The men and women gave a half hearted cheer. "Officer Salter is assigned tonight to a one-officer, one-shift stakeout and that means he will not be available for service calls."
A voice called out from the back, "Does that mean he will be horizontally interviewing Hannah Jenks or will he just be taking names?" Other officers supplied lewd comments. Hannah Jenks was a town woman known to leave her back door open to cops.
"Officer Salter," bellowed the watch commander to restore control of the room. "If you need any assistance, please don't hesitate to call. And see me after roll call."
Afterwards, the lieutenant looked at Perry suspiciously, "You look like crap. I'd send you home but for a favor to Sergeant Wagner. Suppose I ask you to blow into a breathalyzer?"
Perry stared at the graying officer. "Suppose you don't."
"I'm not going to have any trouble out of you, am I?" Perry Salter turned and walked away without answering.
Freed of any real police duties, Perry pulled his cruiser into the moon shade of a big oak tree deep into the town park which connected to the Schweitzer, Pollack, and Winkler residences. Without sleep, Perry planned to rely upon a thermos of coffee, a paperback he had attempted to read over the last three months, and the loonies on the overnight, AM radio talk shows. For nourishment he brought an egg salad sandwich he made last week. Perry opened and poured his first cup of coffee. He checked the settings on his digital camera. Perry vented the windows to let in the cool night air. Perry looked about the dark, quiet park. The only sound was the occasional insects and a lonely barn owl.
With his strength low, the images and questions freely invaded Perry's mind. Jeremy the babbling boy and Jeremy the simple kidnapper who was unaware he had done anything wrong. No motive, no accomplice, no graves, no bodies, no blood, no explanation of where they were but up in space with little gray aliens. How could Jeremy have possibly have overpowered and kidnapped two adults by himself? He couldn't even drive. He was easily manipulated by everyone. Why would he call the Pollack's just after the kidnapping? How did he disintegrate their dog?
Next, Perry's mind ran over the blur of testimony and the piece he almost missed; the part where Parlow the alien agreed to return one year later. That would be tonight. He felt good. He would wait and see. Perry tried to image what their craft looked like. Then, the coffee cup fell harmlessly onto the floor of the police cruiser.
Perry was startled awake by the sound of rushing air, as if being exhausted from a vacuum cleaner. He opened his eyes and focused on the hovering, black flying craft with the red, white, blue, and green running lights, which changed colors. Primal fear quickened his pulse. He held his breath as he beheld the flying craft slowly ascend vertically, up before the black tree tops, and up into the navy blue sky. He reached, searching for his camera on the seat.
Perry had prepared questions to ask the aliens, if there were any. Come back. How can I rescue Timothy and Wanda? His brain screamed. The black craft shot straight ahead, beyond the trees, and disappeared from his view forever. His thought seemed to hang in the air, unanswered. Perry picked up the camera and looked at it with disgust. Disgust with himself that he had fallen asleep.
Staring at the empty sky, a bitter feeling of failure overcame Perry. The awards and a possible promotion meant nothing compared to failing Timothy and Wanda and their parents. Perry had failed, conquered by boredom and fatigue. Perry now knew that Jeremy was innocent; he just saw the proof. We have an innocent man in a mental institution for life. Perry rubbed his forehead in grief. They could keep their promotion and Officer of the Year.
If he spoke up, no one would believe him and his fellow cops would forever taunt him. If he kept quiet only good could follow for him. Perry felt sick. In the urge of an instant, Perry stepped out of the car and threw up mixture of creamed coffee and egg salad into the grass.
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