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Party Time on Lake George

by Ben A. Vanguarde

NIGHT SHIFT BLUES

"Drunk and Disorderly at Green Peppers", came the call.  They're always drunk and disorderly at Green Peppers but this call usually meant it was closing time.  Don zipped up his uniform jacket before leaving the warmth of the idling cruiser.  With Labor Day long past and the tourist season over this was likely one of three town drunks.

"Roscoe," Don called out as he sauntered toward his intended target, "How's them Steelers' doin'?"

Turning his head, the drunk replied, "Gawd, not you again.  Every night.  Seems like I'm just startin' to get a good buzz goin' and you have to show up."

"That's your last one for tonight, Roscoe.  Everybody wants to go home.  Steve, can you drive Roscoe home?"

"Not tonight.  I'm riding with Tina.  Discovered a flat on my way in.  Gotta fix it tomorrow."

"Okay.  Come on, Roscoe, tonight you're riding the black and white limousine."

"Ah, no.  That car always stinks."

"Because of guys like you puking."  Don led Roscoe outside and into the rear seat.

As they drove away Don noticed an orange glow reflected off of a parked car.  Don wheeled around and drove behind a strip shopping center and spied a shivering man in a thin jacket huddling next to a fire.  Don flipped on his red lights, parked, and kept the headlights aimed at the man that stood up to meet Don.

"Good Evening," began Don.  "We can't have an open fire in the business district.  Put it out and tell me what's going on."

His teeth chattering, the man answered, "I come into town to scrounge for food but there ain't much after the season.  Gotta feed my wife and daughter.  I'm so cold."

"You all live in that car in the woods by the point, don't you?  And you dumpster dive and take your prizes to sell at the swap meet.  Get into the back seat.  It's warmer than out here."

"I didn't think you ever saw me.  I thought you were bat blind.  I guess not.  You going to arrest me?  Have a heart, man!  I have to bring my family something to eat."

"No.  Get in.  Watch out for the drunk."  Roscoe was asleep with his head against the side window and dribble hanging from his mouth.  Don popped open the trunk to retrieve the department issued blanket and returned to the open back door.  "Put this around you."

Don turned off the red lights and reported in.  Don noticed the apprehensive look on the man's face as he drove the opposite way, toward the police station and jail.  "Where are we going?  You're taking me to jail, aren't you?"  Don did not answer.

The cruiser pulled in before an all night convenience store and Don got out and opened the back door.  "Get some food for your family.  Twenty dollars worth.  And no booze."  The man looked at Don in disbelief.

"I'm Ben Parker.  Thank you, man.  I'll pay you back.  Honest."  They shook hands.

"I know who you are and I've heard your story.  Don Nichols and I'm not nearly as dumb as I look.  And you're not going to pay me back.  You just remember to help someone else, when you can.  I am blessed already."

Don opened the cruiser trunk and $65.97 worth of groceries were deposited inside.  As Don opened the cruiser doors, Ben said, "You're not like that son of a bitch Metcalf.  I'm glad he's dead.  He abused my wife several times.  If I could, I would have killed him myself."

"He abused your wife?"

"You know what I mean."

"Then I, too, am glad he's gone."

The cruiser rolled just out of town to a thin path leading into the woods.  Don popped the trunk open and Ben picked up his grocery bags.  "Thanks so much, Don.  I don't know how to repay you."

"Don't thank the worker but thank the One who sent the worker."

Ben thought for a moment and a glint of recognition came as he remembered something back from his childhood.  At that moment the sound of retching and spilling liquid came from the back seat.  Ben rushed to see that Roscoe had puked all over the back seat, floor well, and back of the front seat, as well as himself.  Ben recoiled in disgust.  "How do you put up with that?"

"This is one of the peak experiences of the job."  Ben hurried down the trail.  "Good Night, Ben."  No answer was returned.

Don dropped stinking Roscoe off at his home to his apologizing wife and called to put his cruiser out of service to clean up.  The shift sergeant denied his request.  A highway stop took off and the chase officer thought the suspect was headed into Lake George proper.  The locations called out by the chase officer seemed to verify the docks and tourist area as a likely destination.  Don searched for a plan.  Between the ticket office of Party Time and a row of parked cars Don hid his cruiser.  Don radioed the chase officer his location and asked the chase officer to go around behind the businesses facing the docks to catch the fleeing suspect in case he should elude Don.

The headlights appeared over the rise and down hill raced the speeding car.  At the last second, Don flipped on his red lights and idled the cruiser to block the road.  The suspect slowed but did not stop.  Don left space on either side because the cruiser was not long enough to completely block the road.  The driver kissed the front of the cruiser, ripping off the bumper, and smashed through the wooden ticket office of Party Time.  In Don's headlights the young driver looked terrified.

Don backed up his cruiser and gave chase.  The suspect fought to drive his damaged vehicle, that spouted a steady hail of sparks, up the hill, past the moderate homes, and into the wealthier part of town.  Don followed with flashing lights at a discrete distance.  The suspect stopped, got out with two bags in one hand, and fired his pistol, breaking a gaping hole into the cruiser's front and back windows.

Don stopped and got out and aimed at the fleeing suspect, who ran up the street.  Why did the suspect not seek the cover of the neighbor's hedges?  Drugs were obviously in the bags but who would give the boy refuge in this neighborhood?  His boss?  Don wondered how he should do this: follow at peril to himself or take the shot now because a stray bullet from the suspect could kill a sleeping civilian?  Don grabbed the loud speaker microphone and ordered the suspect to stop.  The boy turned his head once again to look at Don but kept running.

As the boy ran up the hill another set of red lights appeared off from the left intersecting road and that cruiser took the curve too fast and too wide.  The suspect struck the front of the cruiser and his head smashed the glass.  The chase officer bolted from his car and drew his weapon.  Laying on the ground on his back, the boy raised his pistol but the officer fired first, instantly killing the suspect.

Detectives and the chief separately questioned Don.  After the adrenaline wore off Don was a wreck.  By noon, they sent Don home suspended from duty with pay.  Over the next three days Don was questioned by investigators and lawyers and he told the same story to each.

On the fourth day the chief called Don at his apartment.  "Don, come to my office tomorrow at 9:30 and we'll walk over to the mayor's office."

"Another fricken interview?Doesn't anyone read the reports?"

"Easy Don.  Remember the suit you wore for your interview?  Wear something sharp like that."

The next morning chief Seth Muldane led Don to the reception area of the mayor's office.  Upon a buzzed message from inside, Seth and Don entered into the mayor's office.  The mayor waved for Don to sit in the empty chair to his right.  Chief Muldane stood silently in the back.  Inside were many strangers in suits and a court reporter.  Don recognized only the mayor, city attorney, and Stephanie Dills, clad in a brown business suit. 

"Thank you for coming today, Officer Nichols," the mayor began, "this is not testimony for criminal purposes but for casualty damages to the ticket office of Party Time.  Please state your name for the record and tell us, in your words, what happened the night the ticket office was smashed to pieces."

Don shot a nervous look at Chief Muldane, who returned a no-big-deal smirk.  Stephanie Dills sat motionless, not making eye contact with Don.

When Don finished, the mayor said, "Miss Dills, you have heard Officer Nichol's sworn testimony.  Will you now accept our offer to rebuild your ticket office?"

"Thank you for calling this meeting, Mr. Mayor.  As you know the Party Time business has always fully supported the police and fire departments of Lake George.  I just wanted to satisfy myself that this accident was unavoidable, as I now believe it was, after listening to Officer Nichols.  Therefore, I reject your offer to pay for damages and I will instead submit through my insurance company and Party Time will make up any difference.  I just need the cooperation of Officer Nichols or some other officer to write up a single car accident report."

"Officer Nichols will be more than happy to assist, in anyway he can," replied the mayor.

"Yes ma'am," answered Don.  Stephanie gave a polite smile.

"I declare these proceedings closed.  Miss Dills, Chief Muldane, Officer Nichols, and you two," pointing to the city attorney and another suit, "please wait here.  The press would like photos."

After posing before a photo mural of the park and lake, and flanked by the national and state flags, the mayor concluded.  "Thank you all." 

Don began to move toward the door but Seth grabbed his jacket at the forearm.  "The Mayor wants to talk to us afterwards."

Don stopped and sternly faced Seth.  "When can I get back to work?"  Seth turned away and Don followed his gaze.  As Stephanie and the mayor walked side by side to his office door, he slipped his hand around the curve of her butt.  She stopped and smiled.  The mayor bent to hear her apparent whisper.  He discretely tapped her butt again and Stephanie walked out of the room.  The mayor turned to the two policemen and twice gave a cryptic signal and then left them alone in the office.

Don turned to face Seth again.  "He's says he's going for coffee.  I guess we're free to go."

"No coffee anywhere in city hall?  Anyway, I'm pissed at you, chief.  Why didn't you tell me what this was about before hand?  You had me sweating baseballs."

"Easy, Don.  The mayor was going to tell you, you've been re-instated.  You'll return to work at 23:00 tonight, your regular shift."


Submitted: April 19, 2015

© Copyright 2021 Ben A Vanguarde. All rights reserved.

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Comments

LeeSchneider

Interesting things are happening connected with 'Party time'. Lady Stephanie is cat with tiger claws. Don is a good soul and simpleton. It was awesome! Sincerely liked it. What is waiting for poor Don? Nothing good, is it?

Tue, April 21st, 2015 6:44am

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Reply

You know my writing by now -- things are seldom as they seem.

Tue, April 21st, 2015 3:51am

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