Police Blotter

Copyright 1993 by Robert L. Gidley. All rights reserved.

This one has been rejected by six places (so far), including "Catholic Forester." I thought it was pretty funny, but apparently I was in the minority. If you can think of someplace with lower standards that might consider giving me money for this, let me know! By the way, the Police Blotter item quoted in the article is a real item (word for word)

My favorite part of the newspaper is the weekly roundup of local criminal activities called the "Police Blotter." Once a week, I get to read about the less spectacular activities of the criminal underworld. Serious crimes hit the front page, while serious lack of intelligence distinguishes the crimes in the Police Blotter.

The dry reporting of the facts sketches in the broad outlines of a picture, leaving the details to my imagination. Behind the simple prose of the incidents lurk actual humans attempting to commit crimes, or sometimes just getting themselves committed.

For example, a recent episode starts out as follows:

Responding to reports of shots fired, police went to the house, and learned the owners were in the San Juan Islands.

No mention is made of how the police learned the owners were in the San Juan Islands. Was there a big banner on the mail box that said "Gone to San Juans"? Did the police stop and say "Hey, that's the house where shots were fired. Let's stop and talk to the neighbors for a bit first. Maybe whoever it is will run out of ammunition."?

Anyway, somehow the police learn that the owners were not supposed to be in the house. The report continues:

Police saw a ladder leading to an open window and two men inside.

Now this is what I would call suspicious activity. This is also our first clue about the minds of the criminals. Think about it. There are two men inside, and the ladder is still outside. Why did they both use the ladder? Why didn't one of them climb in and open the door from the inside? The second guy could then take away the ladder and walk in the front door.

Clearly, we are dealing with master criminals, here. This is further evidenced by what happened next:

Police knocked on the door and one of the men opened it. Seeing a police officer, he quickly shut and locked it.

Here's a house where somebody heard shots being fired, the owners are in the San Juan Islands, there's a ladder leading to an open window, and the police knocked on the door?

This sounds like something from a British farce: "Excuse me terribly, old boy, but things do look a bit suspicious. I wonder if I could trouble you to explain who you are, and exactly why there's a ladder outside the window?"

Worse than that — the criminals answered the door! What were they thinking? "Hey Joey, that could be UPS delivering some more diamonds, you better answer it!"

I can imagine the scene after Joey answered the door.

"So, Joey, who was it?"

"Um, Harry, I think we got kind of a problem here."

"What? It's a COD package?"

"Uh, no, Harry, it's the police."

"The what?!?"

"It's the police, Harry."

"Uh oh! You didn't let them in, did you?"

"What, do I look like a dope? Of course not! I locked the door."

"Good! Turn off the lights, and maybe they'll think we're not home!"

The plot thickens:

Police tried to contact the men by telephone,...

"Hey, Harry! The phone's ringing, should I answer it?"

"No, you dope! We don't want to let them know we're in here!"

...but ended up breaking down the door to take the two into custody.

I'm a little surprised that they had to break down a door. If the police had looked around back, they probably would have found a side door that was open.

Nowhere is any further mention made of what brought the police to the house in the first place: the shots being fired. No bodies, no shooting as the police stormed the house, nothing.

Which leaves my imagination to fill in the blanks:

"Hey Harry, look what I found! A gun!"

"Cool, Joey! Hey, that's a six shooter!"

"Yeah! Just like Wyatt Earp used to carry! 'Draw, stranger!'"

"Joey, be careful! That gun could be—"

Bang! Bang!


"You idiot! You shot the mirror! Great, just great! Now we're gonna get seven years of bad luck."

Better make than five to nine years of bad luck, Harry, with time off for good behavior. I'm looking forward to next week's Police Blotter, when Joey and Harry break out from prison and attempt to stickup a cash machine.

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Copyright 1993 by Robert L. Gidley. All rights reserved.