A Short Story on the Website of
the Red Dirt Writers Society

Tales from the Police Blotter 
by Beth Stephenson (Apr 2009)


Police blotter: Saturday at 8:22 a.m., a scantily dressed man was seen jumping over a fence and hiding in the bushes. Investigation revealed footprints from bare feet near the fence, but nothing else suspicious.


It was a crisp fall morning in Grass Valley, California, when Marcus stretched his arms and fanned his toes. His wife was already out on her morning jog, so he cracked his knuckles one by one with all the pleasure of jumbo bubble wrap. The fog outside robed the house in modest fleece and he lounged to the kitchen in nothing but his boxer shorts. He toasted two bagels, spread them with the last of the strawberry cream cheese and emptied the orange juice carton. Melinda would be sorry. “You snooze, you lose.” He chuckled. “Except in this case when I snooze and then eat all the goodies while my body-obsessed wife jogs off last night’s ice cream.”

He grinned as the cat, willing to be his accomplice in selfish pleasure, rubbed herself on his shin. “Go fetch the paper, you worthless dander machine.” The cat purred and arched her back against him as though attracted by static cling.

The paper wasn’t on the porch, nor was it anywhere on the sidewalk leading to the house. “I bet those newspaper boys love foggy days so they have an excuse to drop the paper at the curb.” But as the cat knew he wouldn’t eat his breakfast on a Saturday without her purring on his lap, Marcus knew he also couldn’t eat breakfast without the sports page spread on the table.

“I’ll have to reinvent myself as a middle-aged streaker,” he murmured as he took two steps onto the porch. The birds muffled their songs in the shrouded morning, but seemed the only life stirring. Marcus let the screen door bang behind him as he leaped over the steps and ran to the curb. The paper huddled a first-down away from his gate and he rushed for it as the fog licked his bare chest with friendly wetness.

As he grabbed the plastic-wrapped paper, he heard a little shriek from across the street. He should have considered Mrs. Spyton’s habit of a morning constitutional. Marcus didn’t wait to see her wool coat and scarf covered head as he leaped his fence and crouched in the junipers. He’d have a hard time explaining scratches he received in odd places to Melinda, but there was no help for it. At least the glimpse of his hairy whiteness would entertain Mrs. Spyton for the weekend. He watched her scurry inside through his pickets until her front door banging cued his dash to the house.

Five minutes later, the police knocked. He paused a reasonable time and, robed and slippered, unlocked and opened the door.

‘No, he hadn’t seen anything suspicious. This always seemed like a safe neighborhood, but you never know. Yes, he’d keep the doors locked.’

Marcus bit his bagel and found the write-ups for the high school football games. The cat leaped into his lap and purred as she kneaded his thigh with her paws. A slow grin crept to his face while he read.

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