When I was still a rookie on the force, there was a guy called Frank Speed. I don’t know if that was his real name. Somehow I doubt it. Anyway, Frank was a bank robber, and we could never, ever catch him in a car chase.
Not that he was fast. Not at all. Actually he was quite slow. That was his trick, you see: he would go excruciatingly slow, driving at speeds that made you wonder if he was even driving at all, and then we cops would be stuck behind, waiting, waiting, waiting, and waiting. And then waiting, and also waiting.
Damn that Frank Speed. We would sometimes be out there for days following Frank while he went one mile an hour. He’d lean out of his car and shout, “You’ll never catch me, coppers! Haha!” and we would all have the opportunity to engage in a lengthy debate on whether anybody really said coppers anymore. Six hours and two blocks later, we would come to the conclusion that it was just Frank Speed who said that.
We had guys set up roadblocks, sure. Unfortunately we would always set them up a few miles away, according to copper protocol. By the time we chased that dirty Frank Speed to the location, the roadblock would be gone, the guys who had set it up naturally assuming that Frank Speed had slipped past them sometime in October.
He always got away. Even the most diligent cop would fall asleep sooner or later, whereas Frank Speed seemed to be on something. Something speedy. My guess is energy drinks. Not to mention he was probably the only criminal in history who drove a Smart Car, meaning by the time we ran out of gas he still had half a tank. That rat Frank Speed and his crafty green ways.
Why didn’t we just walk up and open the door, then? Shows what you know. You don’t go playing around with a madman like that Frank Speed. For all his crazy, he’d probably press down on the accelerator as soon as you grabbed the handle, making you fall down and scrape your knees. That’s what happened to Officer Mendoza the one time he tried it: he grabbed the handle and blam! he’s on the ground crying. When his embarrassment had receded enough for him to stand up and put band-aids on his legs, he said, “You know what? I didn’t sign up for this. I quit.” And I don’t blame him, either: I would have too. A cop can only deal with so much danger before he loses it. The door was locked, anyway. That Frank Speed was one clever devil.
The other day me and my partner Bruce were in the bar after our shifts, and I says to him, “Hey Bruce, you remember that guy Frank Speed?”
Bruce said, “What made you think about Frank Speed?”
“Oh, I don’t know. I haven’t read a book in a while. I used to read them all during Frank Speed’s car chases. One time I read all of War and Peace from 3rd to 8th Avenue, remember that?”
He nodded. “Well, I can’t say for sure what he’s doing now, but last I heard, he’s been working as a plumber.”
My eyes opened wide in astonishment. “You mean Frank’s gone straight?”
“That’s the rumor. People call him about an emergency toilet leak and there he is eight days later, ready to fix it. Aside from some fines he’s accumulated for parking in no-parking zones—usually while he’s driving—he’s clean.”
Wow. As I sat there with my beer, I couldn’t help but brood about the fickle nature of man. That’s to be expected, since I had brooding duties that week. People say I’m the best brooder on the force, and one time I even won Broodiest Cop of the Year award at the regional police award ceremony. Anyway, what was I talking about? Oh yeah. The nature of man. Wow, how fickle.
Bruce and I paid for the drinks and headed home to get some sleep. When you work a beat like ours, you always gotta be at the top of your game.