"Woah, partner, you all right?"
"You slipped on Woods' towel."
"Oh." All Jim Reed could remember was that he'd been demonstrating a great play from his college football days, when suddenly the locker room floor broke formation and tackled him from behind. Opening his eyes, he saw a group of dark blobs hovering overhead, which he quickly resolved into five or six brother officers. Their smiles didn't help ease his embarrassment.
"Break anything?" Pete Malloy asked as he knelt by Reed's side, looking both amused and concerned.
"No," Jim replied in mild disgust, but with a hint of an answering smile. He probably had looked pretty funny for those few seconds between abruptly losing track of the floor and even more abruptly finding it again. The cold tile wasn't particularly comfortable, so he got up - too quickly. A wave of painful dizziness immediately set in; Malloy caught an arm and helped him to the nearest bench.
"That wasn't a bad performance, Reed. Trying out for the lead in Swan Lake?" Ed Wells' voice seemed more than usually annoying.
"I doubt they need a clumsy quarterback," Jim replied, blinking to chase away a few lingering stars.
"Neither does the department," Pete added. "Remember you're wearing a badge on your uniform instead of a number. Save the fancy moves for foot pursuits."
"I'll remember and I will," Jim said ruefully, gingerly fingering the lump on his head. He looked up to see Woods approaching with a baggy full of ice. "Thanks Jerry."
"Hey, it was my towel. Too bad you fell - that looked like a good pass." Reed laughed and carefully settled the ice against his dark hair. The other daywatch officers returned to their lockers and the normal low hum of conversation greeted Sergeant MacDonald when he came in a few minutes later. He stopped in disbelief upon seeing his newly injured officer.
"Don't tell me you got hurt before your shift."
"Okay, I won't tell you," Jim replied with a small grin, unable to pass up the opening.
Mac shook his head. "I'm not even going to ask what happened. Do you need to go to Central Receiving?"
Jim began to shake his head, then stopped and opted for "No, I'll be fine."
Pete wasn't convinced. "Still dizzy?"
"A little," Reed admitted reluctantly and MacDonald's shrewd blue eyes hadn't missed the slight wince whenever someone shut a locker door too firmly.
"I'll put you on desk until it clears up, just to be safe." Mac had to suppress a smile at the look of chagrin which his announcement produced. "Sorry Reed. Keep ice on that for about 20 minutes every hour, all right?" Jim nodded. "Okay. See you two at roll call."
"Great," Reed mumbled as he carefully stood to continue dressing. "I'll be sure never to use that play again. It's bad luck."
"I don't think your bad luck needs an excuse." Malloy ignored his partner's glare, pretending to be absorbed in straightening his badge.
Daywatch officers started trickling through the briefing room door, some alone, some in groups of two or three. The noise of their discussions blended with the clatter of their equipment as they sat down, creating an atmosphere of ordered chaos. When Pete walked in the sergeant called him up front.
"What is it, Mac?" Malloy asked as he came close enough for easy conversation.
"Just wanted to let you know I've got some L-cars open. You can take one out today if you'd like."
Pete was mildly surprised. He knew things had been slow, but he'd assumed the Scotsman would put him on the street anyway. "Are you giving me a choice?"
"Sure - either go out on patrol alone or work here with Reed until he's up to active duty. If things pick up I can always pull you away and assign a policewoman."
"They're both real tempting, Mac." Pete thought for a minute. The division was in the middle of a slow stretch; he'd heard that the desk had actually been getting more action than some units. On top of that, working an L-car meant long periods of solitude and tedium even under normal circumstances. Neither sounded particularly appealing. Malloy glanced out at the briefing room - Jim was already sitting in their usual spot, ice and all, looking understandably dispirited. "I guess I'll stick with Reed," Pete said at last.
"Right. Well, we'd better get started." As he moved to the front of the room conversation died down and all officers took their seats, ready for roll call.
"I'm sorry about this," Jim told Pete as they walked to their assigned station. "I guess I was being pretty asinine earlier."
"Don't worry about it. I've seen officers pull dumber stunts."
"Yeah? Like what?" Jim asked, stowing his bag of ice water away and taking the inside spot. Sitting to Pete's right had become natural by now.
"Well ..." Malloy settled onto his own stool. "A certain Scottish sergeant we both know once locked himself in the back of his own unit."
"Nope. Fortunately his partner let him out before he had to climb over the driver's seat in front of about twenty curious citizens. His partner didn't come to the rescue in any hurry, though, and made sure everyone back at the station knew what'd happened. Mac swears this guy loved spreading embarrassing stories even more than Ed Wells."
Jim grinned. "That's hard to believe."
"I know, but you don't argue with the sergeant," Pete replied, green eyes twinkling. "Anyway, it was quite awhile back - almost ten years now - and he still gets needled over it sometimes. That's why, as soon as he became senior lead officer, he made us promise not to tell any probationer the story. Of course we just wait until you're ..." Malloy broke off when the sergeant in question stepped through the open door behind Jim. Mac had caught the last sentence and when both patrol officers turned away to stifle smiles his suspicions were confirmed. Which called for a little revenge.
"I'll check in on you two at about thirteen hundred hours. Oh, and Malloy, as long as you're discussing rookie mistakes, why don't you tell Reed about the shotgun?" Mac smiled at his friend's mild consternation and stepped back out.
"Shotgun?" Jim asked, turning to face his partner again. Pete's dismay was quickly turning into a mixture of chagrin and amusement.
"Uh, yeah." Malloy paused, hoping for the phone to ring or a citizen to walk through the doors. Reed simply waited expectantly until the older man had no choice but to sigh and give in. "I'd been on the job about three months. We were on a delayed 211 call and I was chambering a shell in the shotgun as we pulled up, just in case. We stopped ..." Pete hesitated.
"And?" Jim prodded mischievously.
"And I, uh, accidentally blew a hole through the floor of our unit." Jim burst out laughing, despite his aching head. Pete smiled but promised himself to check the hallways before telling a tale on Mac again.
Desk duty kept the Adam-12 team occupied. They took reports on a few abandoned vehicles, answered citizens' questions on everything from parking tickets to noise ordinances and processed a fair amount of paperwork (including one crossword puzzle). Sparse radio activity showed that the streets were still quiet, but Woods managed to find a 502. He passed along the story when he came by to see how Jim was doing.
"We chased this guy up South Hill for about five minutes. We knew he was deuce because he was weaving like Muhammed Ali, but what really caught our attention was his little hood ornament." Jerry paused and waited for the obvious question.
"Hood ornament?" Malloy prodded compliantly.
"Craziest thing you've ever seen," Woods said, his low voice becoming relatively high with disbelief. "This guy was driving down the street with half a light pole lying across his windshield. Each time he came near a sidewalk everyone had to hit the pavement." He shook his head incredulously. "Anyway, while we were taking him in we decided to ask where the thing came from. Guess what he said."
"He thought it was the antenna," Jim quipped.
"I wouldn't be surprised, but what he told us - very seriously - was that when he bought the car, the pole came with it." Woods shook his head again.
"Boy, Jerry, you get all the dull ones," Malloy said, grinning.
"Good, because if this is dull I don't think my sanity could survive something interesting." Woods soon bid them goodbye and headed for the streets again.
"Sounds like the idiots have been out in force lately," Pete remarked as he and his partner got back to work.
"Thanks a lot."
Malloy chuckled. "Not you. I was thinking about that 459 Mac mentioned in briefing this morning. You remember?"
"Well Sanchez told me why they caught the guy so quickly, even though they couldn't find any witnesses."
"I was wondering about that. Did someone turn him in?"
"Nope. He'd gotten this bright idea of bringing something along to put between the door's latch and frame so it wouldn't lock behind him. When he spotted Adam-43's lights he took off, but he left his doorstop behind. Greene found it and they got to his house about two minutes before he did."
"Why, what was it?"
"Traffic ticket. Had his address and everything."
Jim suddenly felt much better.
An hour of phone calls and paperwork later, a rather scruffily dressed man walked through the station's front door. Glazed, bloodshot eyes and an unsteady walk made it pretty clear he was either drunk or high. With a look of something like righteous indignation the man marched up to Jim's side of the desk and went for his right coat pocket.
"Hold it!" Reed snapped. Both officers had a hand on their gun in an instant, ready to duck for cover if necessary.
"Woah ... hey man, I'm not lookin' ... for trouble ..." the other began, speaking slowly but still slurring the words.
"Just keep your hands away from your pockets, mister," Malloy interrupted curtly.
"Okay, man. Okay." The man unsteadily held out his arms and the officers caught a familiar acrid scent - marijuana. "I only want ... t' help you guys out."
"How's that?" Pete asked warily.
"Jus' ... look in my pocket, you'll see." The partners glanced at each other. Malloy nodded.
"All right," Reed said, straightening up. "Stand still." The man obeyed as Jim moved around Pete and out into the foyer. A quick search of their visitor revealed nothing except a bulge in the indicated pocket, which the young officer carefully extracted. He found himself again holding a baggy - but this one was not filled with ice. Instead the two officers found themselves staring incredulously at what an untrained eye would call dirty powdered sugar.
"See ... that stuff is crap, man. My friend ... got real sick. Frankie was trying to rip me off." Reed and Malloy immediately sprang into action. Within ten minutes the heroin was being held for evidence and analysis, an ambulance was dispatched to check out the man's friend and preparations were underway to end, at least for a few months, Frankie's career as a pusher. Only an hour later customer and supplier were keeping each other company in the station's holding cells.
Pete and Jim had just gotten news of the successful bust when Adam-43 brought in a 211 suspect. While Wells booked their catch, Brinkman stopped by to chat; the two desk officers soon had him filled in on recent events.
"You two sound pretty busy." Brink's dark eyes took in the papers scattered about.
"Yeah. We can't wait to get out on patrol and relax."
"You can say that again, Jim. The crooks are making it easy on us. Remember that 459 suspect we heard about in briefing?" His audience nodded. "Well this guy's even worse. He walks up to the cashier in Simmon's Grocery, buys a pack of cigarettes and demands all the money in the register, right? The cashier hands over about $90 and this guy takes off. We get there a minute later and find the cashier waiting for us - with the suspect's wallet. He'd left it on the counter. Can you believe that?" Wells came around the corner and idled up beside Brinkman.
"Einstein's booked. Hi Malloy, Reed, keeping awake?"
"Sounds like you're having more trouble than we are there, Ed," Pete replied.
"No kidding." Wells turned to his partner. "We'd better go Code 7 while things stay slow."
"Good idea," Brink replied. "Hey, maybe we'll finally get it on the first try," he added brightly.
Wells answered with a pessimistic shrug. "Maybe, but I doubt it. See you two later." He tossed the desk officers a jaunty wave on his way out.
"This shift is getting harder and harder to believe," Jim said, standing up to exercise his legs a bit. Sitting down for so long was uncomfortable.
"You're telling me." Pete leaned back and stretched out his arms. "Someone must be running around with a dumb stick."
"Sure seems like it," MacDonald put in as he came through the front doors. "But things are picking up, so at least it's ended our slow streak. How're you feeling, Reed?"
"Just fine, Sarge," Jim replied, this time with complete honesty. The once painful headache had faded into a distant memory. Mac nodded.
"All right, go ahead and get out on patrol. I've got replacements coming any second now." Pete and Jim didn't hesitate to obey, though the younger man stopped momentarily to empty his bag of warm water.
"I guess your bad luck ran out," Malloy remarked as they neared the black and white. "Those kinds of bumps have taken officers out for days."
"It's not really luck. We both know that nothing can put much of a dent in my hard head."
"Hey, wait a minute - that was supposed to be my line," Pete said with feigned indignance.
"Sorry," Jim said, grinning. "I guess I've been cooped up at that desk too long."
"Then let's get out of here before you drive me crazy." And they did.
These incidents (except for the locker room bit, though you never know...) are true. I adapted them, changing circumstances and locations, from three wonderful sources that sadly no longer exist: Officer Russell's Life On the Beat site and list archive, Mr. Gaspirtz's Police Humor site and Sheriff Dettwiler's site. Jim, Pete, Mac and the others are fictional characters, of course - but there are thousands of real police officers who are just as brave, kind, dedicated and worthy of praise as those we meet and love on Adam-12.