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Catch Any Bad Guys?

John W. Pinkerton


“Catch any bad guys, chief?”

The “chief” was Roy, one of three local policemen.  He gave the mayor and his question a weak wave of recognition and continued  to the booth where two men, one in a uniform like Roy's, awaited his arrival.

Jim, years older than the other two men, commented to Roy as he squeezed in beside Bobby, “The mayor is a really witty fellow.”

The others smiled and sipped their evening coffee.

Bobby Joe as a courtesy asked Roy what kind of day he had had.

Roy looked out the cafe window at a passing car.

Jim, who was about Roy's age---mid-twenties---didn't wait for an answer and commented that Roy was a little early ending his shift.

Roy just nodded and inspected his cup of coffee as though it contained some mystery.

Roy blurted out, “Ya'll know Mr. Green, the old guy who lives…lived…just out of town?”

“Sure,” really old guy.  I think his wife recently passed away,” Bobby Joe responded.

“Well, Mr. Green has joined her.”

“Really?” Bobby Joe commented.

“Really, Bobby Joe.  He blew half his head off with a shotgun.”

“Holy crap, Roy.”

“Yeah, holy crap is right.  I got a call from his neighbors who hadn't seen the old guy in days and wondered if we would check on him.  Of course he lives a little out of the city limits, but I didn't have anything special to do, so I went out to check on the old guy…what a mess.”

“Did he leave a note, Roy?” 

“Nope.  I guess he just got lonely and decided to join his wife.”

Roy once again inspected a passing vehicle.

Bobby Joe finally broke the silence with, “Yeah, suicides are rough.”

Roy looked at Bobby Joe as though he expected more from the older guy.

Bobby Joe shifted his weight a bit and began to tell the following story.

“A few years back---well, I guess more than a few---I was new to the job in Wakefield---my first police job. 

Jim interrupted, “I didn't know you worked there.”

“Yeah.  Anyway, I was driving home one afternoon and I see the young fellow sittin' on the tracks.  Just sittin' there on the rail not particularly doing anything…just sittin' there. 

He looked so odd just sittin' there, so after I passed him, I turned my  car around and drove back to where he was.  There was a bar ditch full of water, so I couldn't just walk up to him, so I got out of the car and walked down to the edge of the water and asked him if he was okay.

He just stared at me and smiled…not a grin…just a little smile.  He was nice lookin' kid, maybe twenty…no older.  He had the whitest hair I've ever seen…kinda weird.  I could hear a train coming through the woods. The track curved away from the highway a little ways off.  I wasn't even thinkin' about the train when I saw it barrel out of the tree line.  I looked toward the train and then back at the boy who had stood up while I was lookin' at the train.  I thought he would step away from the tracks.”

Bobby Joe paused to take a sip of coffee and Jim added, “Bobby Joe, what happened?”

“Well, it was the damndest thing I've ever seen…well, I guess I never saw.  Just as the train was baring down on the kid, he stepped back centering himself between the rails the whole time looking right at me with that smile on his face.  I looked away.  The train, being a train, was so loud I never even heard so much as a thump.

I think that's the only time in my life I almost fainted.  The train finally stopped about a half mile down the track.  I didn't help locate his body.  I'd seen enough.

Of course we tried to identify the kid, but we never did.  We kept making inquires with all the police departments in the area, but no one responded.  No one claimed the boy.  We got a little collection going and with the help of the funeral home we were able to bury him with a little dignity.

“Now, Roy, at least you have a clue why the old guy killed himself.  That young smiling kid---I don't even have a theory.”

Jim's mouth was open at this point.  Bobby Joe playfully slapped Jim and told him, “Go to work, brother.”

Jim stood up and said, “See you fellers, tomorrow,” and passed the mayor who for the benefit of his cronies yelled at the departing Jim, “Catch a mess of bad guys, Bubba.”