Saturday, October 2, 2010

The last story just never spoke to me enough to finish so I'm moving on. It happens often when I write. The false start syndrome.

So this is the new one.


"So you're the new guy?" The question came from an at least forty pound over weight young woman.

"Yep. I'm the FNG. My name is Michael Burke, but you can call me Mr Burke." I replied.

She ignored my attempt at formality and just jumped right in. "Well we sure have heard a lot about you. Did you really beat the crap out of the mayor's son?"

I didn't quite know what to say, The chubby chick was at least open and direct. I would probably have liked that, if she hadn't directed it at me. "He said I did," I replied.

"They say anyone else would have been fired."

"I heard that to," I hoped she would get it all out so the rest of the people working at the city ranger's office wouldn't be asking. Telling it all once was more than enough."

"I suppose it would have been hard to call you the city's greatest hero in March, and fire you in June?" she added.

"I suppose dating a TV reporter didn't hurt either." I said it so she wouldn't have to.

"I guess that is true." she agreed. She went on, "Friend of mine on the force said, 'Don't try to be his friend, but if shit happens out here find him and glue yourself to him.'"

"Oh does shit ever happen here?" I had expected to do the next two years riding around checking campsites and then to retire gracefully. It was the deal the chief and I had made.

"We get a mean drunk now and then. Had a couple of drownings and even a body dumped in the lake last spring."

"Sounds like an exciting life you have here."

"Well the city cops do most of the heavy lifting. If it gets nasty, we just back off and call them."

"Yeah, I was out here on a domestic a while back. Nothing worse than a man and wife having a beef in a twenty foot camper."

"It does seem to upset the neighbors," she agreed.

"So is there a park ranger to show me around." She probably guessed that I wasn't thrilled with the new position in which I found myself. I managed a lateral transfer from patrol Sergeant to head of the park rangers. I didn't lose any pay or any of my accrued time for retirement. Of course the job had been created for me since the rangers had previously been supervised by the parks and recreation department. In theory I worked for the parts department as well. The truth was I pretty much would be working on my own. It was up in the air as to whom I would report to. At least it had been all the last week.

"I got a call from Bruce Melton this morning first thing. He wants you to report to his office at the parks and recreation department. You do know where that is?"

"Sure in that old school on Elm street," I replied.

"Yes that's the one. There is a car assigned to you in the parking lot." She placed the keys on the counter. It's the only one out there. When You get back I can show you your office and call Jane in to show you around the park."

"Sounds like a plan."

"By the way, just so you know, I don't work for you."

"That's fine." I replied as I headed for the parking lot. I turned back at the door to add, "In that case I'll make the call for the duty ranger to come show me around, when I get back. If you have a list of all the rangers and their home phone numbers, just leave it on my desk please. If it's not too much trouble, that is." Yes I was sarcastic with her. If she really wanted to have a pissing contest, I would be happy to play along.

Bruce Melton was a kid at least ten years younger than me. I had worked for younger men before and found them a pain in the ass. It had to do with their needed to prove themselves to me. Melton was no exception.

"We haven't exactly worked out how this relationship will work, but I expect that you will cooperate."

"You can expect anything you like, but I will do what I have to do. One of the things I will not do, is to do nothing at all. So don't worry, I'm sure I will be a pain in your ass, like I am everywhere I go." I did smile when I said it.

"I'm sure we can find things to keep you busy for the next two years."

"Oh I am sure you can. I think when you get around to figuring out how things work, you are going to find that I am solely responsible for security at the various parks, you are responsible for everything else in the parks."

"The rangers have always answered to me," he said indignantly.

"And I'm sure when I retire they will again, but in the meantime the will report to me and I will keep you in the loop."

"You understand that you work for me," he said angrily.

"And you understand that I am here as a representative of the police department and the Mayor's office." Okay it was bullshit, but it worked to put a little fear into him. Kids, you gotta love them. They intimidate so easily.

I wondered how long it took him, after I left his office, to make the calls to city hall. It would be even more interesting to know who he called. I doubt that he called the chief of police or the mayor. He wasn't high enough up the food chain to question them. Most likely he called the city manager. If he did, he probably got the old give him enough rope speech. I seemed to be collecting rope from everyone. That god for the civil service board. I was so close to retirement that I would have to kill the mayor in the McDonalds parking lot at noon, to get fired. Mostly it was because the feds were looking into the firing of employees everywhere who were almost eligible for retirement. Some companies and even cities were trying to use it as a cost cutting tool.

The truth was that I was pretty safe, as long as I didn't punch the little prick. I was pretty sure he had been told to keep a black book on me. When my twenty came around, they would sit down and use it to force me into retirement. At the moment the score on me was tied. Three commendations for bravery and good police work and three complaints. Not a bad score unless the last complain was from the mayor. Seems he didn't like the fact that I refused to lose his son's DUI arrest.

To be honest, I threatened to have my girl friend do a piece on the event, if he got any special treatment. I think they knew that it wasn't an idle threat.

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