“Snow! Here boy! Snow! Where the hell is that dog? SNOW!”
Jack hadn’t wanted the dog. After his dad had made him go in to be with his own dog Ralphie when he was put to sleep, Jack hadn’t wanted anything to do with dogs or pets in general.
But no, his little sister had insisted the family needed another dog. Jack had refused to go when the rest of the family had gone to the shelter to find a dog to ‘adopt’. He hated that term. It was a dog, not a brother or sister, so how could you ‘adopt’ it?
Then they’d come home, not with a big, gentle old dog, but a pup that bounced around like it didn’t know how to hold still. And that name! One look that the dog’s coat, a patchwork of different colors, no two matching, had brought several names to Jack’s mind. Painter’s Mistake. Drop-cloth. Even Patchwork. But his sister had already named the damn mutt: Snow. He’d asked her later, and the little twit had given him a wicked grin before replying.
“Cause I know you hate it when dad makes you shovel snow. Besides, he looks kinda like they couldn’t make up their mind what color they wanted him to be and just ‘snowed’ different color schemes down on him.”
His sister had picked the dog out, but who got to take care of it? Who had to take it out to do it’s ‘business’…and pick up the nasty results afterwards? Jack, that’s who! Like right now, when the dog needed to be fed. His sister was nowhere in sight, and Jack was supposed to take care of that before heading out for his summer job. He had to get going, or he’d be late to his job with the landscape company. “SNOW! Damn it, where the hell is that mutt!”
“Jack, watch your mouth. Just because you get to cuss at work where nobody can hear you over that leaf blower you use, that doesn’t mean you can cuss at home.”
As if worrying about being late wasn’t enough, now Jack’s mom was pissed with him for a couple of minor swear words! “Mom, I gotta get going and I can’t find Snow anywhere. How am I supposed to feed him if I can’t find him?”
Mom worked alternate nights at the nursing home, and she’d just gotten home herself a short while ago. She was trying to sort out the dishes Jack had loaded into the dish washer the night before, and not looking too happy with what she was seeing. She stopped, straightened, and fixed Jack with her best ‘Don’t mess with mom!’ look. “He’s outside. Just stick your head out the door and give a yell. That’s dog’s such a ‘chow hound’ just the thought of food would bring him home from California!”
“Mom! Why did you let him out?”
“Because the poor dog needed to go so badly he was trying to scratch his way through the back door, that’s why young man! Now just you watch the tone of voice you use with me.”
Jack scrubbed his hands across his face, frustration wanting to make him shout at his mom for doing something so stupid, while discretion told him to keep his response civil. Civility won, but only by a hair.
“Mom, don’t you remember? The perimeter system, the one that keeps Snow in our yard, is broke! God knows where that dog’s gotten to….”
“Oh, he can’t have gone far…I just let him out a few minutes ago.”
She said it so calmly, like it was a Rule Of The Universe that a dog that loved to run full-speed around their yard like he hadn’t been outside in days, when it had only been an hour since he’d last gone outside, wouldn’t go tear-assing off around the neighborhood. Yeah, sure mom..and who’s going to end up having to chase the damn dog down? Jack kept that thought private and headed towards the back door.
Once outside, he gave a quick look around. No surprise, no dog. It was early enough that he didn’t want to scream for the dog, but Jack knew the only other alternative was to wander around looking for the mutt.
“SNOW!!!! FOOD, SNOW, FOOD!!!!!!!”
Inside, it was like even the thought of feeding the dog would bring him. Outside, Jack’s yell echoed vaguely, but that was the only response it drew.
“I so don’t need this shit!”
On two sides, the back yard was enclosed by six foot tall wooden fence. He’d helped Dad put it up years ago, but the third side, the one opposite the back of the house, was open because it let out onto the alley that was the only way to access their parking area. There wasn’t room for even a small car to pull in without it being in the alley, so they parked parallel to the pavement. An earlier occupant had paved the entire length of their lot with gravel, so they had space for three cars to park. Given that the family had three cars, and there was not enough space to allow a fence and the cars to occupy the space, the entire back of their lot was open.
Well, I know how he got out, but where the hell did he go after that?
Jack made his way down the back steps and walked out to the alley, whistling and occasionally slapping his hand on his thigh, a noise that often drew Snow’s attention. He reached the alley and saw nothing. He drew in another deep breath and yelled as loudly as he could.
“SNOW! HERE BOY! SNOW!!!!”
Still nothing. Jack walked along the alley, looking around, hoping he wouldn’t find the dog rooting through one of the neighbor’s garbage cans…or worse, lying in the alley, hurt.
Ralphie, lying where the passing car had thrown him, whimpering and struggling to move….
Jack pushed that painful memory aside. Snow was just being Snow, running around, investigating any-and-everything. He saw a car enter the alley and started to step back…then he saw it was a police car, and what was trotting along side it.
Snow stayed beside the police car, or the car stayed along side him, it was hard to tell which. He had no leash or any other sort of restraint on, but dog and vehicle stayed perfectly in place relative to each other. But as the odd assemblage came closer, Snow sped up, dashing towards Jack as fast as he could go. He came to a stop, staring up at Jack, his mouth hanging open and his tongue lolling out in what Jack could only describe as a doggy grin. The police car came to a stop in front of Jack, and Snow gave it a quick glance before turning his gaze once again to Jack, looking for all the world like he was proud of what he’d brought home. Then the window came down and the officer stared at Jack like he’d caught him elbow-deep in a pile of freshly-stolen cash.
“Is that your dog?”
The policeman’s already cold gaze grew Antarctic. “Funny…it sure looks like that dog knows you.”
“Well yeah, he’s the family dog, and…”
“So it’s your dog. Fine. Did you know that having a dog off the leash is illegal in town?”
“You’re going to have to come down to the station and fill out some paperwork on this. Get that dog inside or on a leash line, then get yourself up to the station.”
Jack didn’t get a chance to argue, because the window came back up, and the car rolled away before he could offer any objections. His trophy gone, Snow wasted no time in running to the back door, where he waited, impatience with the wait to go inside and be fed in every quivering muscle of his body. Jack looked at the dog, pinched his brow, and followed it up the back walk muttering “I am in such trouble with my boss……….”
Jack was wrong. He called his boss, but rather than getting a chewing out, Mr. Juarez had told him to take care of his problems and call him back when he was finished. One weight off his shoulders, Jack drove to the police station. He’d never been there in his life, so he had to consult his phone to get directions to the building. The exterior looked almost cheery, a low, neat brick building that only stood out for it’s small number of windows. Inside, it was far different. The public entrance opened onto a small room with a large glassed-in counter taking up one wall. A heavy door, it’s steel-reinforced construction clear from the bolt heads visible for anyone to see, occupied the second. A string of three ugly orange plastic chairs sat against the dingy-white concrete of the final wall. The scant light coming in through the glass around the entrance gave more illumination than the dim florescent lights overhead. With no idea of what he was supposed to do in this grim place, Jack approached the counter.
Maybe that’s why the light is so dim in here? Jack thought to himself as he tried to see if there was anyone behind the glass. After the bright light outside, all he could make out were dim shapes in the room behind the glass. His eyes began to adjust, and he could make out desks and some sort of control panel, the only thing with a human sitting at it. That person, a chunky woman with graying brown her hair cut short, was talking to someone on a phone and acted like Jack didn’t even exist. Then he noticed that one of the video screens in front of her held a series of images, one of which was him standing in front of the window. A quick glance over his shoulder told him where the camera was, then a scratchy voice came out of a grill beside the window.
“How can I help you?”
“Umm, I was told I had to come to the station to fill out some paperwork because our family dog got loose. The officer didn’t give me his name, he just told me to come here.”
The woman hadn’t even bothered to get up, and she looked like she’d rather Jack wasn’t bothering her, but she grabbed a phone before saying “Have a seat and I’ll find out what’s going on.” before the speaker went dead with an click. Jack didn’t sit down, instead he watched her talk to whoever was on the other end of the call. She hung up before addressing him again.
“Someone’s coming to take care of you. Please, just have a seat.”
Jack sat, and had time to find out that the chairs weren’t just ugly, they were also uncomfortable. His ass was starting to protest about the unforgiving surface when the heavy door opened and an officer addressed him.
“You’re here about the loose dog complaint?”
“Yes. I was told to come to the station because there was some paperwork that needed to be filled out.”
“Come with me.”
The officer held the door open, which seemed nice, then instead of walking along side of Jack, he fell in behind him. The impassive expression on his face made it clear he was not in a friendly mood, so Jack walked ahead of him, wondering what he’d gotten into. They were walking down a corridor, it’s walls painted the same white of the entrance, but these walls had been cleaned even less than the reception area. Grimy fingerprints could be seen at several points, like someone had stopped to steady themselves. Scuff marks from uncounted shoes marred the it’s lower margin. Ahead was a tee-junction with another corridor, and Jack saw an office directly ahead. He wasn’t going there, though.
“Make a right turn, and enter the first door on your right.”
Jack came to the junction, saw a pair of officers standing in the corridor to his left. They stopped talking to stare at him, so he made the required turn. The door he had been told to enter had no light coming from it, and he while he wasn’t sure what to do, he entered the dark room. The officer that had been with him turned on the lights, and motioned him towards a chair in front of a small desk.
“Sit down so I can finger print you.”
Finger print? “Officer, I thought I was here to fill out some paperwork…”
“You’re here because you’re being charged with keeping a dangerous animal and not keeping it under proper control. Have a seat.”
What followed next would have been impossible to believe if Jack hadn’t gone through it. The officer fed a heavy paper form into an old-fashioned typewriter and began by asking. “What’s your full name?” After that, he took the rest of Jack’s information down: when he was born, where he lived, asking what seemed like every detail of Jack’s life until he was satisfied. Then he took the form out of the typewriter and put it into a small plastic device that held it in place before looking around.
“Where’d they put the ink pad?”
That lead to him rising to rummage through the drawers and cabinets around the room until he found what he was looking for: a small, flat, white container like a large mints tin. When he opened it, though, what was inside was a block of black, oily material that looked like wax but he guessed was ink. The officer sat this down, then addressed Jack.
“Stand up and give me your hand.”
Jack did as he was told, and with a firm grip, the officer pressed each of the pads of the fingers on Jack’s right hand onto the block. It even felt like wax, but when they came away, the pads were covered in a black ink. His finger were in turn pressed down in pre-marked squares on the form. Once the last one was done, the officer lead Jack to a restroom.
“You can wash the excess ink off here. Let me know when you’re done.”
That final short sentence was delivered in such an stern tone that Jack stared at the policeman before turning to the sink. His efforts to clean his fingers proved in vain, for no matter how he scrubbed his hands, the dark stain remained. The ridges were still clearly outlined as Jack followed the officer back to room he’d been finger printed in. This time, the door was closed, and Jack was told to stand in front of a height scale affixed it. His picture was taken facing the camera, then with his face turned to the side, and as this happened, it dawned on him.
He’s taking mug shots of me? What the fuck?
“We’re done here. Follow me.”
Jack, stunned by now with how much worse things were looking than he’d ever imagined, followed in silence. Back to the front, where he was handed a piece of paper. “You’re free to go. Appear in court on the date on the ticket to take care of this.” With that, the officer opened the door, and Jack walked out, feeling like he was waking up from one strange nightmare.
“Mom…I got to go to court.”
“The cops found Snow loose and brought him home. They told me I had to go to the station, so I did…and they booked me! Finger prints, mug shots…just like I was a criminal!”
Mom had been out in the ‘mud room’, where the washer and dryer was. Now, she came into the house proper, and from the her scowling face to the stiff stance she took when she stopped in front of Jack, it was clear she thought he was making fun of her.
“Jack Simms, being arrested is nothing to joke about! Now tell me what happened!”
Jack didn’t like being called a liar any more than anyone else, and his mother had just accused him of doing precisely that. He fought the desire to get angry, taking a breath before answering.
“Mom, it happened just like I said! Here’s the ticket they gave me, and it’s got a date on it I’ve gotta be in court.”
Presented with the actual ticket, his mother went from doubt to shock. She read the ticket, twice, before saying anything more.
“They arrested you because they think Snow’s ‘vicious’? But why did they arrest you?”
“Well, the officer asked if I owned Snow, and I tried to tell him he was the family’s dog, but he didn’t want to hear it. He just told to get to the station. When I did, another officer took me in the back. Then he got my information before taking my finger prints and mug shots. I still haven’t gotten all the ink off!”
Mom took his hands, looked at the darkly-outlined ridges, and shook her head. “This is insane. Why would they go through all of this for a dog running around loose?”
Jack had no more clue than his mother, and shrugged in silence.
The appointed day arrived, and Jack,with his mother in tow, arrived at the city hall well before court was to go into session. A receptionist directed them to the court room, where they joined a small knot of people waiting for the doors to be opened. Jack fought a desire to fiddle with the tie around his neck, hating the ‘formal’ clothing his parents had insisted he wear for his court appearance. Being surrounded by other people, all of them obviously distressed to be dressed in similarly pressed-and-starched shirts, did not help him feel any more comfortable. Only a few people wore their attire without notice, as if it were second nature to them, and Jack realized these were probably the lawyers in the group. More people arrived, filling the hallway with a subdued hum of conversation and an ever-increasing feeling of unease.
A clear, loud metallic ‘Thunk!’ issued from the doors, and they were opened by a pair of men in uniforms, different from those of the police. A third, similarly dressed man stepped forward, directing the assembled crowd towards a pair of uprights that were the room metal detectors. As he watched people ahead of him in line empty their pockets, Jack was happy he hadn’t given in to the temptation to bring his cell phone. The mechanism buzzed when he stepped through the uprights, and one of the guards took Jack aside.
“I’ll need to check you out in detail, kid.”
With that, Jack was forced to stand in front of all those waiting, hands raised, as the guard ran a wand over his body. When he’d proved that Jack had nothing more dangerous than a metal zipper in his khakis on him, he waved him towards the court room. His mother was waiting, directing a glare at the guard that would have made Jack quake with fear.
“How dare he do that to you? What did he think you were, some thug who was going to sneak a gun into court?’
“Mom, he was just doing his job. I was the one he made stand in front of everyone and get checked out! Let’s find a seat.”
Jack had watched plenty of TV programs like ‘Law & Order’ that had court rooms in them, and none of them had looked like the room they entered. It was only remarkable for its plainness: beige walls surrounded rows of seated fixed to the floor like those in a movie theater. In front of those rows stood a podium facing a broad sweep of wood, like an arch laid on its side. Stalks, that when Jack focused on them, held microphones, caused him to guess that each one was a place someone sat.
“Hey, mom, I thought this place was a court room. What’s with all those mics?”
“It’s a court room now, but it’s also the place the city council meets and other groups like the parks district use it too. I went to a park district meeting, years ago when you were little, to try to get them to put another park on our side of town. I might as well have talked to the walls for all the good I did.”
Her tone told Jack his mom was angry about something from that long-ago meeting, but before he could ask about it, a small knot of people moved past them towards the front row of seats, and one of the guards moved along the side wall towards a door. The low rumble of people talking died away, replaced by an expectant silence, and a tense feeling grew in the room. The guard who’d stationed himself by the door knocked on it, then turned to address to room.
“All rise! City court of Carswell’s Corner is now in session, the honorable justice Mathew Neamann presiding.”
Jack hadn’t know what to expect of a judge, but to see his old baseball coach, dressed in a long, dark robe, walking into the room with everyone’s attention focused on him wasn’t something he could have imagined. But he moved and acted as if this were all natural to him, like he’d done this all his life. When he sat down, he leaned towards the mic in front of him and his voice had none of the cheerful nature Jack remembered from practice all those years ago.
“Be seated. Bailiff, call the first case.”
“James Kultgen. Charges are public drunkenness, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest.”
An older man who looked even more uncomfortable to be wearing a tie than Jack moved towards the podium, along with one of the slickly-dressed men Jack had guess were lawyers. The latter took center stage and proved the guess correct.
“Your honour, I’m Phil Leleki, and I represent Mr. Kultgen. My client wishes to plead guilty to the charges, and I would ask the court to consider the time he served before making bail, plus any fines, punishment for his offences.”
“I’m sure he would. However, I remember your client, and this is not the first time he has been before this court on alcohol-related charges. If your client is willing to agree to seek treatment for his drinking, I would be willing to accept your plea…but he would be under a suspended sentence, and subject to supervision by court officers. If he finds these requirements unacceptable, we can find space for him in the city jail…”
This set the lawyer and client leaned towards each other, and after a few whispered words, the lawyer addressed the judge.
“My client agrees to the courts conditions, your honour.”
“Very well. We accept the defendant’s guilty plea, and hereby sentence him to suspended sentence of no less than…”
Jack’s mind started to wander, and he wished he had brought a book or something else to occupy him. He looked around the room, scanning the people who filled most of the seats. Many of them were like Mr. Kultgen: dressed in clothing they looked ill at ease wearing, like people attending church for the first time. Most of them looked nervous, and the only part of the crowd that seemed at ease with their surroundings were the lawyers who fill the front row of seats.
Mr. Kultgen was followed by a woman facing a traffic ticket, then a boy not much older than Jack who was facing a shoplifting charge. Jack found he wanted to yawn, managed to stifle the impulse, and as he started to sink back into his bored funk, heard his name called.
“Next case, City of Carswell’s Corner versus Jackson B. Simms. Charges are keeping a vicious animal and not properly controlling an animal.”
Jack rose, and with his mother, moved to the podium. She was the one who spoke.
“Your honor, I’m Jackson Simms’ mother. I’m speaking for him because he’s under 18. We don’t have a lawyer, but if I could, I’d like to ask why my son is even here. The dog in question is our family pet, not my son’s, and he isn’t vicious in any way.”
The judge looked at mom, then at me, before speaking.
“How old is your son, madam?”
“He’s 17, your honour.”
“Then I’m sorry, but for cases of this sort, you have no standing. Minors facing this sort of offence are expected to stand before the court to answer for the charges brought against them. So, young Mister Simms, what do you have to say for yourself?”
Mom looked like she was going to say something more, and from the way her eyebrows were drawn down, I knew this might be one of those times when she cussed. I stepped forward and spoke to keep her from making things worse.
“Well…umm, Your Honour, what my mom said is true. Snow, the dog in question, isn’t mine. He’s supposed to be my little sister’s dog, but I end up taking care of him all the time. He’s not mean, let alone vicious, and I don’t know why the police officer would even say he was. My mom let him out so he could go to the bathroom that morning, and she forgot that the electronic fence around our yard wasn’t working. I didn’t even know Snow wasn’t in our yard until I went out to feed him. Then the police car pulled up with Snow trotting along side it. The officer told me I had some paperwork I needed to fill out because Snow had gotten out of our yard, he never said anything about him being vicious or that I was going to be arrested.”
That got the judge’s attention. “Arrested? What are you talking about?”
Jack wasn’t sure he could do it, but in fits and starts, he recounted what happened to him at the police station. He kept his head down, not sure he could look the judge or anyone else in the face, but when he finished, he raised his head to find the judge staring at him, mouth gaping open. There was a moments silence in the courtroom, then the judge turned to the man standing by the door he’d entered through.
“Bailiff, find out if the chief is on the building, and if he is, tell him to come to the courtroom. Mr. Simms, I find I need to speak to the chief of police, because what you have described is clearly not the proper procedure for an infraction of this sort. This court is in temporary recess until I can find out precisely what’s going on here.”
That statement set off a low buzz of talk, and as Jack looked around, he found everyone was staring at him. Being the center of attention was something Jack hated, so with seemingly every eye on him, his greatest desire was to be able to sink into the floor and disappear. It was the touch of his mother’s hand on his arm brought his thoughts away from hiding.
“Hey, don’t looks so down.” she said in a loud whisper “I think you said just what you needed to to get the judge to listen to you. If things were going bad, he’d have already told you what punishment you were facing. So chin up, hear me?”
“Yeah, mom, I hear you, I just wish I didn’t feel like I was on display.”
Mom didn’t have a chance to respond, as the side door opened and the guard came in, followed by Chief O’Mara. Everyone knew ‘The Chief’, mainly because he made sure some story about him was in the town newspaper every week. Mom and dad both called him an attention whore, and things a lot less polite when they didn’t agree with what he was doing. Now, rather than the confident smile he always seemed to have plastered on his face in the newspaper pictures, ‘The Chief’ had the nervous look of a kid who’d been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. He moved to stand in front of the crowd, directly between the judge and Jack.
“Chief O’Mara, I have been informed that a citizen was subjected to what I can only describe as a full booking procedure for what should have been a simple matter of a ticket. Can you explain why this happened?”
If Jack had thought the chief looked uncomfortable entering the room, the way his shoulders rose, or his head sank down, reminded him of a kid being ‘dressed down’ by an adult for something they knew they’d done wrong. The fact that he didn’t speak for several seconds after the judge had stopped speaking just reinforced that impression. When he did speak, his voice was not the booming one you would expect from such a big man. No, his voice barely rose above a loud whisper, like he was ashamed to say what he did.
“Well, your honour, I’m not familiar with this case, but I can look into it….”
He didn’t get a chance to finish. The judge cut in, stopping him cold.
“Chief, I would suggest you ‘look into’ this matter now! I have no reason to believe that a 17 year old would make up as far-fetched a story as I have hear today to avoid something as simple as a ticket that carries nothing more serious than a simple fine as punishment. So if you will take this young man and his mother with you, and find out what did happen, this court may consider not asking for a formal explanation of the matter. Do I make myself clear?”
Now it was the big policeman who looked like he wished he could sink into the floor, and that somehow cheered Jack up. His contrite reply, “Yes, you do, your honour.”, sounded very much like an apology. But when he turned, there was no apology in his eyes, only anger, and Jack wondered what would come next when he motioned them to follow him.
Chief O’Mara led Jack and his mother out through the door he’d entered from, and through a series of corridors to an anonymous door closed with a keypad. He tapped a series of numbers into the pad, there was an audible buzz, and the chief opened the door.
“This way, please.”
The door opened onto another corridor, this one lined with offices, that ended at a large office that seemed filled with the huge desk that dominated the space. Beyond the chair behind that desk, there was only one other chair, a much smaller and more uncomfortable looking one that sat against the wall the entrance was set in. The chief didn’t ask either of them to sit down, instead going around the desk to grab the phone setting on it before hitting a button alongside the keypad.
“Sergeant Linder? Yes, I need you to get into the records and find out whether there is any booking information for…what did you say your name was, kid?”
“Jackson Simms, sir.”
“Look for any reference to a Jackson Simms, should be in the arrest records for…what day was this supposed to have happened?”
“June 22, sir, and it happened. Ask my mom, she can tell you I came home with that black stuff they use to take your finger prints still on my fingers.”
“Okay, whatever. Look for June 22, this year. Yeah, anything, and if you find something, bring it to my office…and make it snappy, I’ve got Judge Neamann breathing down my neck on this one.”
The chief sat down, then looked at them. “Sorry, but I’ve only the one chair for visitors. If either of you wants to sit down, go ahead, it’s going to be several minutes before anything happens.”
“Mom, why don’t you sit down.”
“No, Jack, I don’t feel like sitting down. Chief, if you don’t mind, can I ask you why you think my son’s lying?”
Mom wasn’t a large woman, she barely topped five feet tall, but when she was angry, she seemed to fill a room. That anger was clear in the frigid tone of her voice, and when Jack looked at her, he saw she was glaring at the much-bigger police chief, her rigid stance making it clear she was bristling inside.
Maybe the chief had enough sense to pick up on that anger, or more importantly, how intense it was. He leaned back from the desk, but not like he was relaxing. No, he looked like a man trying to get some space between himself and someone about to punch them.
“I’m sorry if you think that, Mrs. Simms, but that’s not what I think about you son. I just have trouble believing one of my officers would put a kid through the full booking process for something simple. That would be a serious breach of procedure, and any officer that did that would have to know I would not be happy with them…and officer I am that unhappy with has no future with this force.”
Mom relaxed, but that feeling that she was someone ready to strike out never subsided. Jack wondered how long that tense environment could persist before someone said or did something that would ignite the tension and lead to something worse. A rap behind them brought everyone’s attention to the door, where an older police officer stood with a familiar sheet of paper in his hand.
“Excuse me, Chief, but I found those forms you were asking about…and I don’t understand them. It says this kid was booked for….”
The chief raised his hand to stop the explanation. “I can guess what it says: something completely stupid, right? Were their any mug shots noted with it?”
“Yeah, and they’re in the computer system already. What’s going on?”
“Tell you more in a second, Sergeant. Who’s the officer of record on this, the moron who asked that this kid be booked?”
The sergeant peered at the form for a moment, then “Ulematt, Chief, Officer Capchik Ulematt…I guess that explains everything.”
“Yeah, yeah it does, sadly enough. Give me those paper forms, Sergeant, then get on the computer and purge those mug shots and anything else connected with this…utter mess from the system.” The forms deposited on the chief’s desk, the sergeant left and the chief addressed Jack and his mother directly “Mrs. Simms, young Mr. Simms, I’d like to offer a sincere apology from this department for all of this. This…individual has earned a bad reputation for being, well, let’s just say he believes in being exceptionally zealous in enforcing the law. I’ve had other complaints about him, and I think it’s time for him to start looking for another job.” He stopped talking, took the forms in his hand, and tore them once, twice, a third time, then threw them in his garbage can. “I’m truly sorry about what happened to you, young man, and I promise to make sure nothing about this…abjectly stupid action remains on record. I hope that’s enough.”
The chief rose, held out his hand, and Jack shook it. “Ah, yeah, sure. As long as you tell the judge what happened, I’m okay. Mom?”
Mom hadn’t moved forward with Jack, but she stepped up to the desk and shook the chief’s hand. “Yes, I can accept that, if the Chief will assure me that nothing about this incident remains on the city or any other police computer system.”
That fall, for his senior English writing project, Jack wrote about his run-in with the police. His teacher thought the piece good enough to print in the yearly review of student writers…and that was how Jack Simms began his journey to becoming a journalist. It was also not the last time he would have to deal with the police……..