Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: SLANDER (09/07/17)
- TITLE: The Signature
By Yvonne Blake
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“Boys,” Chief Nebber strode into the room and plopped a stack of folders on a table. “I hate to cut your break short, but we have an emergency down at the wharf. The Viper Gang has vandalized the boat house and terrorizing the pedestrians near the park. I need a team to see sniff them out. We need to put a stop to this now. So, any volunteers?” Dan lifted his arm. “No, not you, Dan. I need you to coordinate things here at the station –to oversee the whole operation.” A murmur rumbled around the room. “Well, if no one else volunteers. I’ll have to choose the team.” Nebber wagged his finger around. “Jake, Mike, Lester, Phil, Butch, and Conner, suit up and meet me back here in ten minutes.”
Conner slammed his locker shut and pulled on his gloves. “I’ve had just about enough of Nebber playing favorites. He never sends Dan on any dirty work. That preacher boy thinks he’s so special. I can’t stand his guts. We’ve got to find a way to get rid of him.”
“You don’t mean . . .’ Butch’s unfinished sentence hung in the air.
“No, no! I’m not going to knock him off. I’m going to find something on him that will send him out of this station, out of this precinct, maybe all the way back to Wales.”
‘How are you going to find something on him? He’s got the cleanest record of anyone I know. I’ll bet he even flosses his teeth three times a day. I’ve never seen a person have such a regimented life. Even in his breaks, he reads that religious book all the time.”
“I know! I even asked him why it took him so long to finish it. Do you know what he said?” Conner leaned close and whispered. “He said that he’s read it all the way through seven times already. Seven times! Can you believe it? It’s like he’s trying to memorize it.”
“Well, if you ask me, the only way you’re going to get him fired, is to make one of his weird traits against regulations.” Butch adjusted his hat and slapped Conner on the back. “Good luck doing that.”
The next Friday afternoon, Conner tapped his boss’s door. Without waiting for an answer, he poked his head around the corner. “Chief, can I see you about something?”
“Sure, Conner, what’s up?”
“Well, I’ve noticed things are getting slack around here, and I’ve come up with a proposal to tighten discipline – things like promptness, hygiene, and respectful attitudes.”
Nebber nodded. “Yes, yes, I agree.” He flipped through the ten page report of legalese, pausing at the last page filled with signatures. “I see you got the guys to agree with you.”
“Yes, sir. All we need is your name, and it can be put into practice.”
“Right now? My flight to Palm Springs leaves in a half hour.”
“I know. That’s why I wanted to get your signature before you left.”
Nebber flipped through the pages again, pausing here and there. “It looks okay.” He scribbled his name on the line. “Print and distribute copies for everyone. I’ll see how things are going when I get back.”
“Yes, sir.” Conner smiled as he closed the door behind him.
Two weeks later, Nebber returned to a ship-shape station – sharply dressed officers, polished cruisers, and everything done promptly. “Where’s Dan?” he asked Conner.
“Oh, he’s got night shift on Vinegar Hill.”
“What? Alone in that crime infested neighborhood? It’s suicide. Why?”
“It’s on page seven, sir.” Conner shook his head. “He was stubborn and refused to comply. In fact, he even implied that he might resign. We had to enforce the rules, sir.”
Nebber read, “No officer will have any non-law enforcement printed material in the break room, locker room, police vehicles, or anywhere in possession while on duty. All offences will punished by two weeks of night shift duty.”
“Conner, you scoundrel!” He bellowed at the figure beyond the closing door. His head dropped into hands. Oh, Dan, what have I done?
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