| “Okay, you sorry excuse for a Force, we’ve got a situation to deal with this morning and I suspect most of you know what I’m talking about here.” The new Police Chief, Jack McIntyre, surveyed the room. Fully two thirds of his men were quite obviously hung over. The ashen skin tones and blood shot eyes were a dead give-away.
“I am aware of the fact that some of you disappeared from Johnny M’s retirement party over at the hall, around two a.m. this morning, returning to said premises somewhere around three a.m. Would any of you like to comment on that?... No? Well, perhaps you’d like to offer some theory or theories relative to the hefty accumulation of wheels discovered by retiring Chief Johnny Mangiafridda in his very own garage at approximately five-fifty-two this morning.
"Officer Downs, you are excused from this meeting temporarily. Kindly take your pathetic carcass to the men’s room and re-button your shirt. If you start from the very bottom and work your way up, you might just get it right. If necessary, you may also puke while you’re in there.” Raising his voice to include the whole room, McIntyre added, “I don’t plan on cleaning up after any of you idiots this morning.”
Downs scrambled out of his seat and headed for the john, followed by Mahoney, who waved his excuse to the assembly with one hand, the other being planted firmly over his mouth.
“Anyone else need to make a pilgrimage to the porcelain god?” With no takers, Chief McIntyre continued. “Very well then, let’s get back to the subject at hand. Speaking of hands, we do intend to dust those squad cars for prints, unless they are refitted with all of their accoutrements within the next two hours.”
Pacing the rows between the long, bare tables, the Chief stopped next to Iannuzzi, who sat staring straight ahead with his hands resting on the surface in front of him.
“Well Danny, I see you must be out of soap at your house. Perhaps you should ask for a raise to cover basic expenses….There’s a can of GOOP in the john, Iannuzzi. Get your sorry butt in there and use it!” Four other sets of grease stained fingers slipped quietly from the tables to the laps of their respective owners.
“Gentlemen – and I assure you I am using that term loosely – the town of Grisham depends for its well-being on a fully staffed force of uniformed professionals with a fully equipped fleet of vehicles at their disposal. The disablement of even a portion of that fleet results in an endangerment to this community. Do you all understand?”
Around the room there was a scattering of “Yes, sir”s mixed with low guttural sounds and choked guffaws. The new Chief turned towards the windows overlooking the parking area. He stared down through the fencing at the three squad cars, neatly set on concrete blocks below. Jack used the moment to pull his facial muscles back into a stern expression, then turned to assail his men once more, as Mahoney and Downs staggered back to their seats and flopped into semi-reclining positions.
“Alright then, within this room and in total confidence, I want the answer to one simple question. Then the bunch of you can get those squad cars back into the condition they were in yesterday morning. Here’s my question. Why the hell would anyone want to confiscate fifteen tires, counting the spares, and deposit them in Johnny’s garage? What sense does that make? Am I missing something here?”
Bill Cage’s hand was raised slightly and the Chief acknowledged him. “Well, sir, of course I know nothing about this current situation, but, sir, if a man’s retiring after twenty years on the Force it seems he might deserve something a little more substantial than the usual plaque and handshake. Sir.”
“Go on, Cage. Why tires?”
“Oh, well, I really wouldn’t know for sure, sir, but then, maybe it’s sort of a play on words. You know, retirement - re-tire. At least that would be my guess, sir.”
McIntyre was compelled to face away from his men once again. It took every ounce of will power to maintain a straight face and his will power was fading fast. Without turning around, he spoke. “Look, just get out of here, all of you. Get those tires back from Johnny’s garage and onto those squad cars. The mayor will be showing up at nine-thirty and I certainly don’t need him seeing that…that situation out there.”
“The mayor could be late this morning, Chief.” The entire room cracked up. McIntyre paled and sputtered, “No. You didn’t…you wouldn’t…”
An unidentified voice from the back of the room muttered, “Just a matter of numbers, is all. Three squad cars plus spares equals fifteen tires. Only, Johnny had twenty years on the Force.”