Title: Stretching the truth
By Author: Emma Courtice
Tag line: The sergeant wondered what would cause a good kind to make big mistakes!
Police characters: Sgt. Norman Bain
The gist: A teenage boy was in the police station accused of stealing a car and joy riding, and crashing it in front of the police department. The sounds of a crash brought the cops outside only to see three kids running away. One boy, Joey, wasn’t as fast as the others and Officer Esposito grabbed him. When asked why he did it, the teen said his team had won the big game tonight and it put them all in a good mood that got out of hand. When asked who the other boys were, Joey stubbornly shook his head and said, “Look, it was my fault. It was my idea. I crashed the car.” Joey’s father was called and was on his way into the station. While they were waiting for his dad to come the cops started talking about the game and the school. They noted that although Joey was tall, 6’5”, he didn’t play ball very well, not like some of the other boys who were in line to receive basketball scholarships. It was mentioned that Officer Esposito’s son was on the team also. They went outside to examine the car. It was an older sedan. The front end had been crumpled pretty badly. All four doors were standing open. The ignition had obviously been tampered with. While looking in the front with their flashlights, Sgt. Bain saw something shiny under the driver’s seat. He eased back the seat and found a crumpled beer can. Joey’s dad arrived and said he was really surprised that his son did it because he was a good boy.
Sgt. Bain went back inside and asked Joey who was really driving the car.
How did he know Joey didn’t do it?
Crime scene: In front of the police station.
Clues: The beer can scene.
Red herrings: Esposito’s son being on the team. It made you wonder if he was the driver.
Solution: Sgt. Bain knew that Joey was too tall to fit into the driver’s seat the way it was found pushed forward. He was also suspicious of Officer Esposito running down Joey, as Esposito was the least fit officer in the department, yet he managed to run down a fit teenager who played ball. It turns out that one of Joey’s teammates, a best friend of Esposito’s son, had begged Joey to take the blame to protect the real driver’s scholarship.
My two cents: Well, I was quite excited with this story. At first.
But I’ve got questions.
We knew Joey was lying to protect someone’s scholarship. And we knew the seat wasn’t pushed back far enough for a 6’5” boy to drive. Okay, so far so good. I’m still happy.
But where in the world did all this Esposito info come from? A best friend of a cop’s son? What’s that got to do with the price of bananas? And what does that have to do with Esposito being the least fit officer in the department? And how would we know that? It wasn’t in the story. And is the author trying to tell us that Esposito never really ran anyone down, that the boys negotiated with him in the street as to who he should say he caught? And if that were true, shouldn’t Officer Esposito be in big trouble? And if there were four car doors open, why are there only three boys running away?
It’s quite unfair to leave out details in the story and then spring them on us in the solution. I think this story suffered from Red Pen Madness.
This story was heading for five stars… until it fell apart in the solution. The writing part of this story was superb. It read very well, and was an interesting little story. It would have been better if the driver had been Esposito’s son.