Finneran

2

-- Bedford, two-four-seven, please -- Mary Bailey, on the phone -- Is Daddy in trouble? -- Pete -- Shall I pray for him? -- Janie -- Yes, Janie, pray very hard. -- Mary -- Me, too -- Tommy -- You too, Tommy. (Into phone.) Hello, Uncle Billy. -- Mary (It’s a Wonderful Life)

The Bicycle (Helmet) Thief
by Daniel Finneran

The night-vision goggles had been expensive -- very expensive, actually -- but more and more, he realized, worth it. Though he then looked down at his map, swatting at a mosquito near his face, and his gloved hand slid quickly off the black, what felt like, greasepaint. He could have just worn a black ski mask, but, somehow, the black ‘camy’ paint -- the kind, he knew; he’d done his reading, and ordered the two DVD set, ‘The Art of Camouflage’ -- the Navy SEALs used, somehow, it really did work better. It somehow allowed you to stay more focused. And who was he to argue -- with the SEALs? He looked down, and with his goggles, and the moonlight, not even needing a flashlight to double-check the map. The house circled twice -- no mistakes; make no

The Bicycle (Helmet) Thief

3

mistakes; like the guy on This Old House, Measure twice, cut once -- and he then looked up. Circled twice -- so no dogs within five houses. And, at least on this one, no alarm system he could discern. (As if that could stop him.) He watched, through his goggles, and this was when he would feel unease. He was not a pervert, he was not -- certainly -- some maladjusted fool -- and was always worried. That as he sat, tonight amongst the forsythia bushes, now in full bloom on this late July evening, he would end up seeing some teen-age daughter undress, or some man and wife beginning to have relations. And that was not his mission. He watched, over this, an unusually long front lawn -- it was an old house, and also long -- the telltale signs of the final lights being turned off, the husband making that last subconscious walk-through, and the dull glow of a final TV set -- or computer -finally being abandoned for the evening. He breathed out a bit. Mid-July, and it was hot. He could feel the sweat on his face, but knew he had to keep his hands away from his face. Man, how did woman do it all day with make-up. And between the black paint, and the black headgear, holding the goggles -- just best to keep the hands away from the face. He looked through -- last time -- his black backpack, lightweight, purchased at the online Navy SEALs store, checked for all his instruments -- Measure twice, cut once -- put his arms and shoulders through the straps, stood, crouched, and watched some more. Listened. No dogs. Gotta love no dogs.

Finneran

4

On his belly, he crawled to the edge of the lawn, along the rose bushes. A car coming up the two-lane road -- that lead to all the cul-de-sacs; ahh, the cul-de-sacs, what hunting there -- and as the headlights flashed for a moment did a full roll, in towards the bushes, and watched it go. Some kids, probably returning home. Some of that hip-hip music on the radio, or whatever they used, to listen to for music. He waited and then sprinted, in a controlled sprint, across the street, up the long lawn, along the hedges -- which needed to be trimmed, actually -- past the apple tree, to the chest-high wooden fence, moved the wooden rainwater barrel over a bit, over the fence, down in a crouch, and over to the back porch. Up the stairs -- door locked. Ahh -- had they heard about him? Read the recent article? Quickly out, the small scissors, snip, then the heavy duty clippers, square cut out, reach in, presto! The night steamy, and this house without air-conditioning -- how air-conditioning had made his life, for a time more difficult; but, ultimately, figured that out -- so just screens to cut. Before cutting looked through a window, and saw on the dining room table, a brochure from an alarm service. He snickered. Fools, what fools. Another screen cut, into a hallway, and, down, stepping like a panther, into the garage. Not a one! Every bike, without one. None hung, methodically, on pegs on the pleasant peg-board, or just hanging from the handlebars.

The Bicycle (Helmet) Thief

5

Oh, how you annoy me, little people. How you toy with me and how it annoys me. Back to the hallway, out into the large kitchen, and just past the kitchen, against a beige wall -- and there. Oh, how I can sense it. Can just sense it. Like a cat. A toy box. Wooden. He walked closer. Custom made, with Oh isn’t that sweet, the names of the children on the front, and a nice engraved painting of a rocking horse. Oh, just how goddam sweet. He opened it. Bingo -- five, six, seven of them. And they thought this, this would deceive him. He grabbed for the green-net bag around his waist, emptying out a display of chamois material -- old shirts, mostly -- and began loading the helmets. First wrap in chamois, put black elastic -- taken from wrist -- onto top of chamois -- how I move in stealth, oh how I move in stealth -- and place in bag. As he left, putting one of his cards on the kitchen table: ‘Grendel -- your friend -was here.’ Out the porch, and back out through the woods, over a cul-de-sac -- cul-de-sacs, like half-asleep sheep, for me, for me -- and onto the golf course. Down the 15th fairway, across the green for the 14th, onto the road, up the woods -- and to the car. Parked in the parking lot of the condos -- so who would notice an extra car. Home, morning, ‘Morning Dear’ to the wife, ‘Hi, Daddy’ ‘Hi, Fi-fi’ to little Fiona -- Fi-fi he would call her -- to work, at Holbert and Licardello -- where he worked for his father-in-law -- and carried out his CPA duties -- as an employee -- not a partner, and home, and again, ‘Dear -- they just, they’re overwhelmed at work. So they have me going

Finneran

6

into Boston again, to work with this other firm. I guess we might merge,’ and out, Out Dear God, again, to the glories of the hinterlands. Black paint upon him, headgear on, a slight mist of rain -- that will disarm them, these sheep; their locks and alarms; what fools; it is Grendel you are now with; Grendel -and he watched through his goggles, all in black, sitting in the glories of the mist, at the edge of the youth soccer field, and watching. He knew they had that, what was it, a Himalayan? Mountain Dog -- beautiful dog; a big dog -- but heard him -- the guy in computer sales -- saying to Licardello’s secretary, would be going away for the weekend, taking the dog with them. The husband, the wife, the newborn child. And he sat, in the mist, in his goggles, and, Yes, let them laugh, the accountant warrior; surely they would laugh -- but how I have unsettled them. And he made his move -- nice house, big front porch. No garage though. This section of town, one block back from Main, tough to find a garage, which he knew, as a CPA, could really help when you were trying to sell -- and over the fence -- just had to step onto the back AC unit -- How they all need the AC now Grendel, how they all need the AC -- to the backyard -- new wooden play-swing-set, nice; with the climbing rope, nice touch -- in through the back -- and, five. Five of them. Five of the helmets. Two new, two old, and one for, yes, the precious newborn. How we must keep the child from ever…ever… A flash of light, he looked up. Another flash of light, his eyes blinking beneath the thousands of dollars worth of night vision goggles. Through a front window, could see, a man -- with a gun. Could see the outline of a gun.

The Bicycle (Helmet) Thief

7

Heard some words, then heard, ‘We know you’re in there -- come out with your hands up. You are surrounded. Completely surrounded. This is the…’ His mind reeling. Then realizing. Realizing so quickly what was happening; hearing the steps up the front porch steps -- he knew just recently painted, painted Williamsburg Gray -- and up the wooden back stairs, which were stained, not painted, and knew -- knew what was happening, and Dear God, what would be happening, if caught, and looked down, down at the ground before him, through his goggles, then up, a flash of light catching the goggles, he stepped forward, now tripping, tripping forward, falling, his head hitting something, soon leaning against something -- cabinets? -- and now on the ground, trying to get his bearings. Feeling dizzy, disoriented. Trying to see through the goggles. Hearing more footsteps, a breaking of glass, and looking through the goggles. Seeing, there near the bottoms of his feet, the culprit, that which he must have tripped over. Two fifty 50 lb. bags of -- he focused in -- Purple Buffalo Organics Chicken and Brown Rice dog food, and as he looked, for some reason, making sure, he did not know why, it was the food for the adult dogs, heard more footsteps, felt dizzy, but cried out, as he was just not sure, any longer, exactly what was happening, ‘I’m an American. I live her in Town. I am an American. I live her in town,’ and more footsteps came hurtling towards him.

He sat in the beige, cement-block rectangular room in a light-blue jumpsuit and, with the handcuffs, really didn’t want to be seen awkwardly reaching for the cup of water, in a small paper cup, there next to him. I mean, you did want to maintain some semblance of dignity.

Finneran

8

He waited -- knowing he was being watched. I mean which decent American, after how many crime shows, did not know he was being watched through the two-way mirror? Soon, in walked, in a uniform -- Hmmm, so not a detective? -- Sergeant McJames. ‘How ya’ doin’?’ he said. He placed, on the edge of the metal table, a pile of the clothes, and of the equipment, that he had been using. And before him, McJames, a manila folder. ‘I’m…’ began Bert, then hesitating for a moment, seeing his night-vision goggles, Navy SEALs backpack, SEALs gloves, and official, black, Navy SEALs boots -- all the SEAL stuff purchased the at official Navy SEALs website -- there before him, under the off-putting glare of what seemed to be too many fluorescent lights. ‘I’m okay.’ ‘Good -- great. Water okay?’ ‘Fine. -- Not that thirsty, actually.’ McJames -- Liam -- (it was right there, tagged to his chest) liked to wait a bit until offering them food, or coffee. Let them think. Others thought it best to just stuff them with food and drink, and then, ahh, wait awhile ’til they had to go to the bathroom. ‘So -- howya’ feelin’, head okay?’ said McJames. ‘Should be okay. No problem.’ ‘Well, if its any consolation, the night-vision goggles are okay. Didn’t break.’ ‘Oh, that’s good.’ ‘Pretty expensive -- just gonna sit down, if that’s okay.’ ‘Sure -- go right ahead. Yeah, I saved up.’

The Bicycle (Helmet) Thief

9

‘For the goggles,’ said Liam, looking up as another officer, young, came in the door. ‘We’re just going to tape this, if that’s okay,’ said Liam. Bert looked back at the officer, smiled, and politely nodded. The officer smiled back, and sat in a chair behind a video camera on a tripod. McJames stated the day, time, his name, officer Goddard’s name, and the name of the suspect. ‘But you checked out, right. No concussion?’ said Liam. ‘That’s what they said. I don’t know if I blacked out, though.’ ‘Don’t worry. It happens. First arrest,’ said Liam, looking down at the folder before him. ‘It was your first arrest, right?’ ‘Well, one speeding ticket. About ten years ago.’ ‘These things happen. And so you -- you saved up for the goggles?’ said Liam, glancing over at Bert’s pile of clothes, and equipment. ‘Yes -- yes I did.’ ‘And all the other equipment -- a lot of Special Forces stuff.’ ‘Yes -- from the official Navy SEALs website. Most of it.’ ‘Sure -- makes sense. -- And now -- this card,’ said Liam, taking out the small white business card, with, written on it in black magic marker: ‘“Grendel -- your friend -was here.” Grendel -- what is that all about, actually?’ ‘Well, it’s actually, sort of taken from a book, by John Gardner. Grendel. Grendel was…’ ‘I know -- Beowulf. Grendel’s the monster.’ Bert raised an eyebrow. ‘Oh, I see.’

Finneran

10

Liam just smiled a bit. ‘Everything okay with the recorder, Leo?’ Leo leaned forward, giving an extra look through the viewfinder. ‘A-okay. Sergeant. I don’t think any problems this morning.’ Liam looked to Bert. ‘Making our own movie. We don’t want any “production problems.”’ ‘No, no. Wouldn’t want that,’ said Bert. Bert then seemed to exhale, and his body seemed close to relaxing. He was at least 6’1” but many people thought him taller, because of the uncoordinated lank of his body. He lifted his two handcuffed hands, scratched his head, and then reached for the water. ‘I guess I am a little thirsty,’ said Bert. ‘Drink up. Plenty more where that came from.’ ‘Thank you,’ said Bert, reached up with right hand, left hand of course, following, scratched at the top of his bald head, surrounded, in circumference, by a well-trimmed ‘power donut’ of brown hair -- and then let out a hellacious sneeze. ‘Sorry, allergies.’ ‘That’s all right. Happens to the best of us. Have anything for it?’ said Liam. ‘Well, actually, I think I have some Claritin. In the Navy SEALs backpack.’ Liam raised his hands just a touch: ‘Ahh, that’s evidence. But we’ll see if we can get you some Claritin. Leo -- Butch uses Claritin doesn’t he?’ ‘I think he does, Sarg,’ said Leo, from behind the camera. ‘Good -- Good; so we can take care of that.’ Bert sneezed and Liam and Leo both said Gesundheit. ‘Thanks,’ said Bert. ‘And now -- you would leave these cards -- each time. At each “visit.”’

The Bicycle (Helmet) Thief

11

Bert pursed his lips. ‘I guess, sort of like The Riddler, you know. I don’t know why. I thought -- I really didn’t want anyone worried.’ ‘You mean you didn’t want anyone too upset -- that you had been in their house?’ ‘Sure; you know, I’m a homeowner. I thought it would -- maybe quell any fears they might have. I just didn’t want to upset anyone.’ Liam had both elbows on the table with his hands clasped together. Bert could not help notice the thickness of these forearms -- and wrists. ‘Didn’t want to “upset anyone.” Okay,’ said Liam, and took a small notepad out from his top pocket. ‘And I have here -unofficially -- you had one-hundred-and-seven helmets in that room. In your basement. Now is that all the helmets?’ ‘Oh, yes, definitely. I kept track, and, well…’ ‘Your being a CPA and all.’ Bert nodded, shrugged, sneezed, and said, ‘Yes -- that’s right. I mean I did want to keep track and all.’ ‘And to get that many -- over one-hundred. How many houses, would you say…’ ‘Usually three to five helmets in each. So, sounds like a lot, but, according to my records, twenty-six altogether.’ ‘Twenty-six,’ said Liam, glancing down at his notes, nodding in the affirmative. ‘Looks like we’re on the same page.’ Bert shrugged, lips pursed -- trying to convey modesty, but one could see the pride -- that he had kept such close track. Small business owners, tax-returns for couples going through a divorce, all the most complicated, had often arrived on Bert’s desk.

Finneran

12

Liam looking over his small notepad, Bert just glancing at the camera, the red light on. He couldn’t help himself, wanted to be polite, so nodded at the guy behind the lens, though so it almost ended up looking like he was giving himself a nod of recognition. He was really just unsure of what to do with himself. ‘So, “Grendel,” like the Joker,’ said Liam, almost to himself. ‘Well -- “Riddler,” actually, but that’s okay.’ ‘What’s that?” said Liam. ‘I am fairly sure, in Batman Forever, it’s The Riddler that leaves a calling card.’ ‘Oh, I see -- and you watch a lot of movies, Bert?’ ‘Fair amount. Kids and all. Take the mind away from other things,’ said Bert, and sneezed. ‘What about you, a movie fan?’ ‘Excuse me?’ said Liam, looking up from the notepad, then taking a glance down at the notepad and actually placing it on the table, giving it a glance, then back up towards Bert. ‘What’s that?’ ‘A movie fan. Guess just wondering if you were a movie fan also.’ Liam looked down at the pad, then, ever so slightly pushed it away from him. ‘Actually my girlfriend, she says I remind her of Chili Palmer. You know who Chili Palmer is?’ ‘Get Shorty, right?’ ‘Yup -- and the other one.’ ‘Be Cool, with Steven Tyler.’ ‘Right -- Get Shorty, with Rene Russo. Now that’s a woman. And the second one there, not nearly as good as the first, but watchable. Don’t have the heart to tell the

The Bicycle (Helmet) Thief

13

girlfriend started watching movies after the divorce, but, actually, she’d probably understand.’ ‘Oh, divorced, sorry.’ ‘Don’t worry about. She wasn’t a bad gal, just a bit of a pain in the ass, that’s all. Two good kids. -- But Chili Palmer, liked the movies.’ ‘That’s right. And that’s great about that kids.’’ ‘Thanks. Yeah, so started watching a lot of movies. You know, there is a movie -The Bicycle Thief.’ ‘I’ve never seen that. That’s that guy -- who’s that guy?’ ‘You mean Vittorio De Sica. The Italian Neorealist school. Good movie, and I don’t mind the subtitles. I find them relaxing. You have a chance, rent Umberto D. About -- a man and his dog.’ ‘Really, hmm,’ said Bert, and thought, scratching at his cheek, lifting both hands again with the cuffs. He looked at the camera and pursed his -- face -- again, as if to apologize for the inconvenience. ‘Yeah -- The Bicycle Thief, very simple, but, you know how it can be when simple, makes the point. The guy needs a bike, to keep his job, someone steals it from him, and by the end, he steals one from someone else. Pretty good movie,’ said Liam, again glancing down at his notes. Bert looked down and saw a hefty, black, diver’s watch, and on the strap, a small insignia for the United States Marine Corps. ‘Marine Corps?’ ‘Uh-huh. The Marine Corps. OCS.’

Finneran

14

‘OCS. Geez, and you’re -- ’ began Burt, but then caught himself, turning, slightly, for a moment, to the camera, as if he could take it back. ‘What -- a lowly sergeant in the suburbs. -- Sold bonds for awhile, in Boston. Not my deal. You know what I mean.’ ‘Oh, sure. I mean, I’m a CPA, so sure.’ Liam nodded. Liam thinking -- five brothers, tiny house, only blocks from the projects, basically growing up on the streets of Boston, and, after awhile, decided he’d grow up to become Sheriff Taylor. Keep Mayberry safe. The divorce sort of threw things -- never a good idea to emphasize a woman’s legs when deciding who to marry -- but now he was Sheriff Taylor -- to a bunch of pain-in-the-ass yuppies. ‘Sure. Sure,’ said Liam. Just give them a little personal information. That always helps, thought Liam. And he was about to go forward, but decided -- you had to have a feel for these things -- just one more tack. The more comfortable they are, and then…‘Actually, of the movies, you know,’ said Liam, touching the pad with a pencil, and the back of the pencil then pointing back towards the video camera. ‘The way we tape, it’s a lot like -- I forget the name of the movie,’ he said, his head down towards the pad, as if talking offhand. ‘It’s a lot like a movie -- forget the name; Gene Hackman lives on some island; I think an island; and he’s accused of a murder; spends most of the movie in a tux; forget the name; guess, you know,’ said Liam, looking up, with a slight nod towards the camera. ‘One of those Art, Life; Life, Art things. Know what I mean.’ ‘Sure. Absolutely,’ said Bert. Just happy now to be in on the conversation. Liam wrote a few words down on the pad, and there was silence for just a bit.

The Bicycle (Helmet) Thief

15

‘Just forget the name,’ said Liam, looking down at the pad, and up again. And now -- now it would come. Just give them a little personal information (the divorce); then a little more small talk, about this and that -- so it’s like therapy -- they’re all in therapy, on antidepressants, all the idiocy; though he did enjoy talking about movies, so that really was genuine; and then it comes like water from a spigot. ‘So, tell me, Bert,’ said Liam, his hands on the table now, but leaning slightly back in his chair. ‘Why’d you do it? Why did you steal all the bike helmets. Bert? Why did you do it?’ (He knew he sounded, at that moment, like the detective in Rebel Without a Cause asking Sal Mineo why he killed the puppies.) Bert pursed his -- face -- once again. He lifted the water to his mouth and bent his face down towards the water, just like a convict. ‘Take your time,’ said Liam. ‘We don’t want anyone thirsty around here. Right, Leo?’ ‘What’s that, Sergeant?’ said Leo. ‘Just making sure Leo is awake,’ said Liam, towards Bert. Bert put the water down, and for a moment there was silence. Leo sneezed, and Bert said, ‘I hope I’m not contagious.’ ‘I wouldn’t worry about that, Bert. Just -- well, why don’t you tell us.’ Bert glanced at the camera, then back towards Liam. ‘You ever think -- you know, you just have something to say. That things -- the way things are -- it should be different. And you think, you have something to say -- but you just -- don’t have anyway to say it?’

Finneran

16

‘I’m a cop, living in the suburbs, divorced, with two kids, paying for parochial school, and a girlfriend, that likes nice restaurants -- that’s basically my life seven days a week.’ Bert just looked down, eyeing the water. ‘That’s all. I just felt I was saying something that needed to be said.’ Liam nodded, and again there was silence. ‘Can I -- Could I ask you a question?’ said Bert. ‘Sure -- you can ask me anything you’d like, Bert. No problem.’ ‘How’d you catch me?’ Liam’s hands, now more straightforward, went up and out just a bit. ‘Well, we knew you were avoiding dogs. So had scouted out places -- no dogs. Then just happened to hear that Ricky was going out of town -- he sold us this service that services our computers, or something like that, right, Leo.’ ‘I think so. Something like that.’ Liam looked back to Bert. ‘Leo hopes to one day work for the State Department; we think that’s a good home for his type of awareness. And, well, knew he took his dog with him, and took a shot. Just had some cruisers swing by now and then -- and keep checking the other spots, with as few dogs as possible.’ Bert nodded. ‘Dogs -- ya’ really can’t beat dogs. The alarms -- they were getting easier and easier. But, dogs…’ ‘Dogs -- I suppose, who was it, Grendel?’ ‘Grendel.’

The Bicycle (Helmet) Thief

17

‘Couldn’t outsmart a dog. -- But you had a good run, kept us on our toes -- and now, Bert, it’s onto the court system.’ ‘I know that. I know. And, again, just so you know, all the helmets -- as much as I hate them -- all of them are in the same condition as when I received -- well, took them. I didn’t harm any of them.’ ‘We realize that. Don’t we, Leo?’ ‘Absolutely, Boss. Though I think the batteries are getting low. I should have checked it.’ ‘After the State Department -- maybe Leo will go to Hollywood.’ Bert smiled, ‘Yes, why not, right?’ ‘Why not is right, Bert. Why not is right. -- You’re free to go, Bert. We’ll get you out of your cuffs, get the bond all straightened out, and, as the saying goes, we’ll seeya’ in court.’ ‘I just want to thank you, Officer, for all you did. And you also, Officer -- Leo.’ Leo peaked around the lens, ‘No, problem, Mr. Goodfield. No problem.’ ‘You take care of yourself, Bert.’ ‘I will -- and I promise, I won’t do it again.’ ‘That’s good to hear, Bert. And remember, The Bicycle Thief, and Umberto D. The Italian Neorealist school. You can impress all your friends at the next cookout.’ Bert just shook his head, and laughed a slight laugh. Liam felt, somehow, he was looking at a defeated man. Bert propped himself up for a moment, holding his hands steady, preparing himself to be uncuffed. -- ‘Well, all I can say, Officer, is, “That was Damn fine police

Finneran

18

work. Damn fine police work.” That’s Cool Hand Luke. After they catch him, when he’s in a stolen car, in traffic.’ ‘“What we got here is a failure to communicate,”’ said Liam. ‘That’s right -- the sheriff, that’s what the sheriff says,’ said Bert, and hesitated. ‘Though I think we communicated okay, Sheri -- Sergeant. Wouldn’t you say?’ ‘I think we did just fine, Bert. I think we did just fine. So, we’ll see ya’ soon..’ ` Liam rose, taking out the key to the handcuffs. ‘So, we will see you soon, Bert.

But for now, you’re fine.’ And soon Bert was gone, and when you plead guilty here in America, everything moves along quickly and Bert had plea-bargained down to one month in prison, a year suspended, a whole lot of community service -- a lot of non-profits were going to be getting their taxes done for the next few years -- and the return of the helmets. The end of August coming on and Liam had seen many of the evenings of that month in Boston, at Intermezzo’s, and at Tuscano’s, and at Chef Ling’s -- all of them the sorts of places his girlfriend liked, and where you had to sit down the night before and factor in the valet, and coat-check girl, and had to remember which fork to use. And where the owner liked to come out and talk to you if you had been there before. Sort of a pain in the neck to go through it all, but she did have a great…-- well, she looked darn good in a pair of dungarees, that’s for sure. Monday, and back to work. Driving the streets of Heathersfield -- ahh, the dangerous streets of Heathersfield. Traffic accidents, make sure teenagers aren’t drinking, the divorced husband runs into his wife at the supermarket and she calls, saying he is not obeying the Restraining Order.

The Bicycle (Helmet) Thief

19

He stopped at The Heathersfield Spa and got a muffin and a some green tea, then was soon at the intersection of Oak and Maine -- Maine the two-lane road that was also Rt. 26 -- which, he knew, 40 years ago was the route into Boston. He stopped, and he looked, and saw -- I guess they’re all out from school, and looked at his diver’s watch, and saw it was 2:58. Then saw them all now, all with their helmets on. Every single one now with these helmets. He was not the Chief -- the Chief now in his 60s, and a good old guy, but not altogether with it anymore. He’d hang on for a few more years -- with his wife gone, really didn’t have much family around anymore, so he’d hang on for a few more years. He had not been on the force that long -- not even ten years, but knew it was -well, when you have been through OCS, when you have been a Marine Corps Officer, it just seems like people listen a bit more. And you really don’t have to say much. He knew, quietly, he was the one that had suggested, when all the helmets were being stolen -- just let it go for awhile. We don’t know whose helmets have been stolen, whose haven’t -- and, what, are we going to start grilling all the kids on whose helmets have really been stolen? And so for weeks, maybe a few months -- all over town, kids with no helmets. What a thing. No helmets. You could see the boys, driving a little faster, maybe, maybe, even a little more recklessly, but -- there had been no increase, from what he could see, in injuries. Caught a few kids, at a construction site, using a dirt mound as a jump. When he pulled up, looked as happy as he’d seen kids in a long time. Covered in dirt, laughing -felt like giving each of them twenty bucks, just for doing what they were doing.

Finneran

20

It was then he felt like Sheriff Taylor -- it was then he really felt that he had become what he wanted to become. And then -- all before him. All these kids. All back with their helmets. And he realized -- he’d done his job. He was only doing his job. There had been theft, and he was assigned to deal with that theft, and apprehend that which was the perpetrator of that theft. But realized -- all these kids, now back in these helmets -- it was because of, him. Because he was doing his job, and for a moment, he felt very sad. Very, very sad. ‘Car Seventeen,’ came the call over the radio. ‘Car Seventeen,’ he said, picking up the black receiver. ‘Car Seventeen, domestic disturbance at the corner of Apache and Chestnut. Twenty-seven Chestnut. Can you respond?’ As he looked up, riding right in front of him, on their bikes, two little girls. Nine or ten. Same age as his oldest daughter. Both, on their bikes, and as cute as a button. One, with a little ponytail bouncing out from under her baby-blue bike helmet. I was only doing my, job, little girl. I was only doing my job. And watched as they pedaled away, waiting an extra few seconds, to make sure they made it safely to the sidewalk. I was only doing my job. ‘Can respond. Can respond,’ he said, calmly, and deliberately. ‘Ten-four, Car Seventeen. Ten Four.’ The receiver returned to its metal holder, the sirens turned on, the red-light before him no longer to be waited for, Officer Liam McJames, former Marine Corps officer, former bond trader in Boston, alimony-paying divorced father of two, with monthly

The Bicycle (Helmet) Thief

21

tuition bills at the local parochial school, looked left and right, to make sure everything was safe, that it was okay to go, pulled out, and turned right, to head off -- off to a domestic disturbance, as behind him, all the children, now out from school, traveled up and down Main Street, and all over town, in their helmets.

-- END -If interested, more stories by Daniel Finneran can be found at: http://scribd.com/nostromo10

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful