Keystone Kops

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
A short story about one person's encounter with the Ontario Provincial Police in a small town. ( Napanee, Ontario)

Submitted: September 16, 2007

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Submitted: September 16, 2007



Keystone Kops



As I was walking home from school this afternoon, taking my time and thinking about Ernest Hemingway and his story about marlin fishing, my right leg decided all on its own to wake me from my reveries with a jolt. I guess I should have seen it coming. I've left my cane at home the last few days, hoping that the power of positive thinking would bully the leg into doing its job without complaining, but to no avail. As usual, I left Centre street to get away from the blaring of the car horns of the people who know me well enough after eight years to honk and wave, but not to offer me a lift. My shortcut takes me through the CN yards, and past the Queen's Hotel to John street, and then downtown.

I had made it almost a block down John, to just about across the street from the ambulance service building, when my leg, without any warning, just lost all will to do anything at all. It's the first time that's happened, and not a good sign, I guess, and I wasn't in the least prepared. It was sort of like stepping off your back deck in the total darkness. One moment your wondering if you should do one more cocktail before calling it a night, and the next, your groping around in the dark for your glasses, or dentures, or any dignity that may not be totally lost. All the while you wonder who the idiot was that decided a railing wasn't necessary because the deck is only about six inches above ground level.

My glasses and binder with all my papers and books went flying into the street, as I slammed into the pavement face first. I never did learn to fall gracefully. Even as a kid, I'd just sort of go down like the proverbial sack of potatoes. I lay there for a few seconds, winded, running down a mental checklist to see if anything was broken. A thoughtful driver leaving the Queen's swerved around my books in the street, showing the proper respect for other people's property, tooting his horn and waving as he passed. I wonder why they do that. Really.

I must have been there a minute or two before I noticed a woman in the living-room window of the house I was sprawled in front of. She was peeking out from behind the shelter of a pulled back drape, looking to make sure I hadn't damaged in any way the huge Manitoba maple tree on her lawn that I was trying to use for support to get to my feet. She ducked back from the window as if I'd thrown a rock or something when I waved my arm to her for help, and disappeared from view. I had the fleeting thought that she might be coming to help me, but disavowed myself of that idea when less than five minutes later, a police car pulled onto the block, tires protesting as it tore around the corner from Centre street.

It was at that point that I noticed the ambulance attendants across the street, leaning against their vehicles, watching the scene unfold. They hadn't been called, so they didn't come to help me. Something about billing or liability, I suppose.

The policeman bailed out of his patrol car, as though he were coming upon the scene of a bank robbery in progress, hand on his holster, ready to fire at will if I showed any signs of resistance or intentions of tearing my useless leg off and beating him to death with it.

He stood there a moment, surveying the scene of the crime, and then to show that he had earned his corporal stripes through years of unrelenting detective work in which he witnessed the most heinous and unspeakable of criminal acts, he cut right to the chase.

"What's going on? A bit to much to drink at the Queen's? It's still early, old man. You gotta learn to pace yourself."

"No, officer, actually, I was just walking along, minding my own business, when I saw an ant on the sidewalk in front of me. I hate the little bastards, so I tried to crush it with my face. I missed him though, and I've been trying to find him down here on my hands and knees for the last five minutes. I'm pretty sure he headed for this tree to escape."

"And before you ask, yes I've been littering too. Those aren't important papers blowing down the street. I just decided to make a mess at the same time."

All this while I'm still struggling to get a grip on the huge tree, and pull myself up. The cop is still hanging back a bit. Only fools rush into a situation that could spiral out of control at any moment. He was obviously trying to recall if he had ever come across a similar situation in his long and stellar career, in which a felon had assaulted an ant with his face on the hard pavement.

Down the street, a young schoolgirl of ten or eleven has been picking up my papers that have made it almost to the next block. She makes her way towards us, straightening them out as she walks, but is warned to stay back with a cautioning wave from the cop who can see a potential tragedy looming if I lunge at her on all threes before he has a chance to draw his weapon and fire.

A second police car pulls up, tires squealing, the two officers out of the car almost before it comes to a complete stop. Both of them have their nightsticks out, ready to subdue me. I'm still struggling to get to my feet. The woman, I notice, is back in full view in the window, no longer hiding behind the draperies. It's her way of telegraphing that she feels safe now, and is grateful to the police for their prompt response to her panicked call. "Why, decent people are hardly safe in their own homes anymore.", she's thinking, "And all this happening right in front of my house with the kids coming home from school, being forced to witness it."

A third car pulls up. Two female cops get out, tucking their batons into their belts as they walk over to assist their brothers-in-arms in dealing with the situation. I finally succeed in making it to my feet, or rather, foot, and am leaning against the tree for support. The first cop, ("Inspector Clouseau", I'll call him), having been in situations like this before, and no doubt receiving commendations for his bravery, takes charge.

"Step over to the car, sir, place your hands on the hood, and spread your feet, Got anything in your pockets I should know about? Any drugs, or sharp objects? Carrying any needles? I'm gonna be really upset if I get poked with something."

I start to protest that I don't have any feeling in my right leg and that I don't believe I can make it the ten feet to the squad car. He's no rookie though, and won't be put off so easily by the likes of me.

"We can do this the easy way, or the hard way. Your choice." You just know right away that he's been watching re-runs of ‘Cops'. He's reaching for his handcuffs as his partners, Mike Hammer, and Sherlock Holmes step forward to assist him. Nancy Drew and Miss Marples are hanging back, observing. and ready to throw themselves into the breech if necessary.

"O.K., O.K.," I protest. "I'll come easy. You got me copper." But either my James Cagney imitation is worse than I thought, or the situation too life threatening for them to appreciate it. I took a step forward on my right leg, but it still had a mind of its own which was obviously somewhere else, and I went, face first again, into the side of the police car.

I'm usually a very easy going kind of person. On most occasions I have the patience of Lot, sitting on a heap of dung, but I found myself very close to just losing it completely and venting my spleen in the most vociferous of manners. I was about to launch into a diatribe to end them all when either Nancy Drew or Miss Marples, I can't recall which was which, recognized me from last year when some of her co-workers no longer stationed in Napanee used to buy large quantities of my home made baked goods.

"Hey, it's Stevie, the cheesecake guy!" she cries out, wondering if that was a butter tart in my pants pocket, or if I was just happy to be in Napanee.

"Are you the guy who sent the butter tarts and the cherry cheesecake up to the station last year?" This from Mike Hammer, who was built more like Hercule Poirot than Mike Hammer.

"Those were pretty good. What the hell are you doing drunk like this on the sidewalk in the middle of the day for, anyway?"

By that point, someone, I think it was Miss Marples, had retrieved my glasses from the gutter, having stepped on them only once. She was trying to straighten the frames, or maybe break them completely, and was passing them to me as a car slowed and stopped a few feet away, having just left the Queen's parking lot.

One of the town's biggest drug dealers was driving. We know each other from when the Paisley was still open, and have been on speaking terms, if not friends, for years.

"Hey, Steve! Everything okay? Hey, guys, how's it going?" This last question to the cops who all know him and his business. Before I have the chance to respond, and tell him exactly how things are going, all five cops turn to him, and as though they were talking to the mayor, greet him with varying questions as to his health and well being, and life in general. The little girl, recognizing him, which sends a chill down my spine, runs over to him with my schoolwork.

"Here, Isaac. That old guy leaning against the car dropped these." Old guy my ass. She hands him my papers and takes a few steps away just in case I'm dangerous even with her friend the drug dealer there to protect her.

"Hey, Stevie, you want a lift home? It's not out of my way at all." Isaac the drug dealer pauses to answer a call on his cell phone from a customer who's wondering what's taking so long. The cops move away a few feet to give him the privacy and respect he needs to talk on the phone and take care of business without feeling uncomfortable.

"If you're going to give him a lift Isaac, we'll be on our way. And you sir, maybe you should think about using a cane or something"

"Thanks officer. I don't know why I never thought of that myself. Boy, I'm stupid sometimes. I don't know how I've lived this long. You've all been a great help. Thanks again."

I hobble over to the passenger door of Isaac's car as the cops all pile back into their vehicles. A call has just come over the radio about a senior citizen at the Royal Bank who's finally run out of patience with the incompetence of the staff, and is threatening to take his business elsewhere. Sounds like they may be able to go in with guns blazing.



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