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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Police (10/12/06)

TITLE: Officer O'Malley's Beat
By Jan Ackerson


Officer O’Malley patrolled the streets. It was a hard habit to break—even after his retirement several years ago, he had continued his daily walking routine. Recently he had moved into a new, gated community where he felt perfectly safe—nevertheless, a spin around the neighborhood seemed like a good idea. The community was lovely, the weather fine, and although he had often been plagued by heel spurs during his stint of ten-hour days, those had mercifully vanished now in his retirement.

The day was bright and glorious, and Officer O’Malley followed the street in a new direction. The homes here were large and lovely, and the smell of—what? apple blossoms?—filled the air.

As Officer O’Malley walked, a young woman approached him, grinning broadly and with a glow in her eyes. “Officer O’Malley?” she said. “Hey, welcome to the neighborhood!”

He stopped, cocked his head, looked quizzically at the young woman. “I’m not sure I…”

She laughed. “Of course, you don’t remember me, do you? I was just a little girl when…well, when the accident happened. But I’ll never forget…you were there so quickly…and you were such a comfort to my mother…you even prayed with her while they were putting me in the ambulance...well, anyway, it’s great to have you around!”

Officer O’Malley watched as she walked away with a bounce to her step and a happy flutter of her fingertips. He remembered the accident now—how severe the little girl’s injuries had been, and how devastated her mother was. Wonderful to see the girl here, and to know that he’d been able to help the woman. He resumed his stroll, whistling.

Down another street now, and Officer O’Malley noted with satisfaction that this new section of homes appeared safe, calm, well-maintained. He was about to head back—he had recently discovered his voice and joined a choir, and it was nearly time for their next performance—when a voice called out to him from a nearby lawn. “Yo! O’Malley!”

O’Malley approached the man. “Tommy Hawkins? Well, I’ll be! How’re you doing, Tommy?”

Tommy chuckled. “I bet you never thought I’d be livin’ in a place like this, huh, O’Malley?”

“I guess I didn’t, Tommy. Seems like I was always hauling you down to the station for some kind of trouble or another.” O’Malley searched Tommy’s face for signs of the punk teenager he had once known. “Didn’t you do some time, Tommy?”

Tommy nodded. “I like to say I done lived in the Big House, and now I got me a bigger house. I ain’t such a punk no more, right, O’Malley?”

“What happened to you, Tommy?”

“Well, I was in the right place in the right time fer once in my life. I got an incredible offer—an’ here I am!” Tommy gestured expansively at his home. “Wanna come in?”

O’Malley hesitated—it would be nice to revive memories of the old neighborhood with Tommy—but the pull of the choir performance won out. “Another time, Tommy, okay?”

“Sure thing, O’Malley—I got nuttin’ but time.” Tommy grinned and headed back across the lawn.

O’Malley quickened his pace, and set off toward the center of the city. He could hear voices raised in song in the distance when he felt a tap on his shoulder.

He turned, and found himself face-to-face with the teenager he had first encountered on his last day on the job. Memories of that day tumbled through O’Malley’s mind.

A convenience store robbery gone horribly wrong…hostages held…shots fired, his partner on the pavement…more gunfire…rushing in to find the shooter dead…two barely alive kids, soda mingling with their blood…one teenager whispering “Save my friend…please”…scooping up the unconscious teen and performing CPR until the ambulance arrived…running back into the store…too late, too late…

He had wondered for years—did I do the right thing?

A youthful voice brought O’Malley out of his reverie. “Officer O’Malley, I’m glad I saw you! I just wanted to say thanks for rescuing my friend. He wasn’t ready to die, and me—well, I’m here, aren’t I?”

O’Malley nodded, speechless with gratitude. He grasped the youth in a silent embrace, then hurried off to join the singing voices. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw that a few steps ahead, a small chunk of pavement had broken loose. He picked up the nugget and tossed it gently into the air, where it sparkled golden in the brilliant Light of day.

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This article has been read 1701 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Schultz 10/19/06
OOOOOOH! What a great twist!
Venice Kichura10/20/06
Very well written, truly master's quality stuff.
Lynda Lee Schab 10/21/06
I had to go back and reread! This was great! I had a "huh?" moment the first time you mentioned the choir but definitely got it at the end. Creative piece. Well done!
Jen Davis10/23/06
A great take on the topic. I liked how you developed your story and the twist at the end. The italicized portion was exceptionally well done. Finally, the detail of the golden nugget was a "brilliant" way to end this wonderful story. Very nice work!
Ann Grover10/23/06
Awesome! Knew where you were going from "gated community" and "choir," but it didn't take away from the twist one bit. Enjoyed every word, as always.
Kaylee Blake 10/23/06
Whoa! Awesome! I took me about 20 seconds to figure out the ending and everything. I actually had to read a couple of the comments before I realized that you were referring to Heaven. (I have been accused of being dense before. ;)
Masterful descriptions. I felt as though I was riding on the officer's shoulder during his walk. Great job!
Pat Guy 10/23/06
If I hadn't read all the comments first, I probably would have been one of 'those' who didn't catch on so quickly.

What an awesome story! I loved it! This has got to be perfect.

Great stuff Jan! :)
Betty Castleberry10/23/06
I loved this, although I have to admit I'm dense as well. Took me a minute or two to figure it out, but it held my attention from the beginning. It's very entertaining and well written.
Cassie Memmer10/23/06
Wonderful and unique take on the topic! I guessed the 'whereabouts' when he was talking to the former little girl. Very entertaining and great writing!
Ruth Neilson10/23/06
Wow...that's all I can say. I didn't even realize the ending was coming until it hit me. Then I had to re-read it to make sure I didn't miss anything important.

Donna Haug10/24/06
I'm one of those that didn't get the 'aha' moment until the shiny stone flew in the air... and then what a great 'aha'! Loved it.
Teri Wilson10/24/06
Brilliant last paragraph, Jan! Loved the whole thing.
william price10/24/06
A brilliant story!!!!! Once I got the ending, I re-read this masterpiece with that knowledge and was blown away. Superb. God bless.
Bonnie Derksen10/25/06
Wowee! I hardly know what to say except that I think I just read the "winner". Incredible writing, Jan, with such creativity. I'm reading and taking note as a student would to the work they aspire to write. Very well done.
Tabiatha Tallent10/25/06
Excellent story writing. It left me satisfied, yet wanting more. I loved it!
Beth Muehlhausen10/26/06
WOW - ! Incredible! The first reference to the choir made me scratch my head, but then as I kept going I figured out what you were up to. Glad you cinched it at the end w/ the nugget from the streets of gold! Exceptional writing, I'd say. :-)
Jan Ross10/26/06
CONGRATULATIONS on your win! This is incredibly masterful! I haven't done a lot of reading this week, but I'm glad I took the time to read this! You inspire me with your realistic voice and creativity. Incredible! Your win is well-deserved! God bless! :)
Helen Paynter10/26/06
What a fantastic entry, Jan. Many congratulations.
Val Clark10/26/06
Sucked me right in, Jan, until he met the teenager and then the pennies began to drop. Well done. An enjoyable read with authentic voices. Yeggy
Joanne Sher 10/27/06
I also didn't "get it" till the end - but it was WONDERFUL all the way through - and even better when I got it!! Congrats on your win too, Jan! Loved it!
Peggy Bennitt02/15/07
Jan, I just had to comment, even though this is months after the writing. This is awesome! I clued in very gradually to where the story was headed, but LOVED the nugget throwing! A very beautifully sculpted story.