Rising to the challenge

I’ve just completed my training at the Writer’s Police Academy—an odyssey of self-discovery. What I learned was … I’m short. You kind of get used to looking up at people all the time, but I’d say that the majority of the attendees were post-menopausal, osteoporitic, and vertically challenged. Put a group of us next to a strapping young fireman, and it looks like a munchkin convention.

When it was my turn to knee the tackling dummy in the groin, I had to jump up to reach it. Most assailants lack the patience to wait while you get a ladder. Fortunately, put a gun in my hands and I turn into a major badass. I managed not to shoot any innocent bystanders, but that’s only because my aim was off. I was firing at anybody who looked remotely suspicious. Hey, that blue-haired old lady was asking for it. My finely manicured trigger finger was flying. Moral of the story: don’t mess with a dwarf holding a standard-issue police glock.

I have a new appreciation for the police who have to stare down a knife or gun and make split-second decisions. I got to talk to bomb squad guys, canine handlers, divers, and motorcycle cops. Of course, as a writer, my hard-hitting questions were not exactly typical. “Does your unit have cadaver dogs? When recovering a body underwater, does it gross you out to know that you’re swimming in people soup? How do you pee when you’re on a stakeout?”

When you get the facts wrong in a mystery, people respond like rabid beavers on crack. Generally, that’s not a good thing, since you’re likely to get your ass chewed. I know more than I care to about dismembered, charred human remains, dripping with melted fat. The slide show featuring said body parts came right after lunch. Note to self: take the morgue tour on an empty stomach.

I’ll just have to content myself with writing about crime rather than fighting it. They don’t have standard-issue police ladders, and the gendarmes are not likely to issue me a glock anytime soon. Those kids should really learn how to duck and cover.