The little girl, who claimed her name was Greta, was feeding squirrels in my park. Which I explained is very against my park’s policies. She didn’t care about the signs posted everywhere, of course. She couldn’t read yet, she said. Which was possibly true, since she was only five or six years old.
I flashed my badge. That usually squelches punks acting cute to get out of trouble with me.
This half-pint criminal just shrugged it off.
“Are you here with a parent or grandparent or grown-up?” I asked her. “I need to talk to somebody with respect for laws. And a car to drive you home.”
“That goofy squirrel with his tail all puffed up reminds me of you,” Greta replied. “Maybe that’s why he’s my favorite-est.”
I could’ve corrected the brat’s grammar, but I didn’t. I could’ve kicked her out of my park for emptying what remained of her peanut bag at that squirrel’s tiny feet, but I didn’t. I could’ve asked her in what ways, exactly, my park policeman uniform reminded her of a rodent, but I didn’t.
I could’ve done many things I didn’t do that afternoon. Because I had a better way to teach this little monster her lesson.
I handcuffed Greta to the squirrel she purported to like best.
Capturing the squirrel version of me was easier than you’d think. Other squirrels scattered as I approached, but he was so preoccupied with the mound of peanuts just dumped before him that he didn’t notice the handcuff bracelet snapping shut around his belly until it was too late.
Then I snapped the other bracelet around the girl’s wrist.
Both shrieked as if the world was about to end. The girl ran frantic circles around me, flailing her handcuffed arm every which way over her head. The blur of brown fur trapped in the other end of the cuffs screeched in ways that I was certain weren’t natural.
I’d never heard such cries in my park before. Not even during mating seasons.
The commotion attracted a considerable audience, including Captain Winslow, my supervising officer.
“I suppose you have a reasonable explanation for all of this,” he said with a frown.
Before I could reply, Winslow demanded my key ring and unlocked my cuffs. First the squirrel, then the girl. Both ran off as soon as they were free. The squirrel zoomed up a nearby tree. The girl disappeared into the crowd of gawkers.
I could’ve told him that they were going to flee the crime scene. But the exact details of that afternoon didn’t concern Winslow one iota.
When I wrote up the events for my report, he refused to even read it. He’d written his own report, he told me. And, no, I couldn’t see it.
Winslow sure loved telling me that. He seemed to get a kick out of firing me, too. All the years he’d been my boss, I’d never seen such a huge grin across his fat, stupid face.