Thursday, June 12, 2008

Lucky Guess

This morning started with a read of the comic strips in the Houston Chronicle, beats reading the editorials. There was Dilbert, an unusual take on corporate life. Interesting how seemingly unrelated topics come together, jumping back twenty or so years to when I worked night shift with the police department.

I had a rookie partner, couldn’t tell you his name; but he’d progressed along enough to the point where he was driving the patrol unit. We’d arrested a young man on some minor charge, probably traffic warrants, and had him in the back seat on the way to book him at the substation.

I noticed the young man was more than a little agitated, beads of sweat dripped from his face; it wasn’t that warm. There was something bothering him and I didn’t have a clue as I changed my position to where I was almost turned around to observe him while my rookie drove; time to have some fun.

“Didn’t we get a flyer on a rape suspect in roll call; this guy fits the description, don’t you think, partner?” My rookie had no idea what I was talking about; all the same he had enough “snap” to go along.

“You know, I think you’re right, he’s a little shorter; but other than that…” For a rookie, he showed remarkable flexibility. The nervousness became pronounced in the back seat as our guest’s hidden secret had accidentally been revealed. I’d heard it said that the public believes police officers have the ability to “know things”, some gift or talent which transcends normal abilities; maybe it’s true.

The suspect began explaining how he’d had a "relationship" with his niece, an under age girl of 14, while he was over one afternoon. He didn’t think she’d told anyone about it. I had my rookie partner change our destination to the downtown jail facility where we’d have the suspect finger printed and checked six ways to Sunday; sure enough, a report had been made listing our man for aggravated rape of a juvenile.

We never went to court on this; my guess was some kind of plea bargain agreement had been reached; justice had been served when feelings of guilt, manifested in the form of excessive sweating, got noticed. I’d be the first to admit, sometimes we just get lucky.

While writing this an old Burl Ives tune began rumbling around in my head, “A little bitty tear let me down, spoiled my act as a clown, I had it made up not to let me down; but a little bitty tear let me down.” The song has nothing to do with guilt; but fits all the same; deep feelings are often times written on our countenance.

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