Josie looked at the cuff link in her hand, the cuff link belonging to Grant Harrison. All she had to do was plant it at the scene of the fire, and Grant would be convicted of arson.
"I can finally make up for stealing that tape," Josie thought. "Grant got away with setting one fire, so it would be poetic justice for him to take the fall for this one."
Josie knew that Grant was (cough cough) innocent this time. She had seen Grant walk into the Harbor Club at the time the fire was set. Grant, however, had not seen Josie, nor had he noticed his cuff link falling to the sidewalk. Josie had made sure that nobody was watching, and then she had used a handkerchief to pick up the cuff link. She knew better than to leave fingerprints!
Ever since Grant had returned to Bay City and resumed the office of mayor, every cop at the 2-3 had dreamed of speaking the words, "Grant Harrison, you are under arrest."
Josie could make that dream come true for one of her fellow officers. She, herself, was not working on the arson case. Joe had said that she already had enough of a caseload.
Six weeks later, Josie was on her way to the station house. Grant was behind bars, convicted of arson, and to say that the cops at the 2-3 were happy about that would be one of the biggest understatements of all time. As for their captain, he could hardly stop smiling. Yes, every cop at the 2-3 was perfectly happy... every cop, except Josie. Of course, the only reason for that was that she missed Gary, who was out of town, working on a case. The case was complicated, and Gary expected to be gone for about a month. Her uneasy feeling, she kept telling herself, had nothing to do with the fact that she had framed Grant.
When Josie walked into the station house, she found Joe waiting for her. From the look on his face, she knew that, as the saying goes, the jig was up.
"Josie, come into my office right now," Joe ordered.
"Yes, sir," Josie said.
They walked into the office. Joe locked the door and closed the blinds. This, Josie knew, often meant that the officer was in trouble.
"What's up?" Josie asked, speaking as casually as she could.
"I came across something today," Joe answered. "It turns out that, by some miracle, the surveillance camera at the scene of the fire Grant was convicted of setting is still working, so I got the tape. Turns out, Grant wasn't there. But the tape showed someone planting Grant's cuff link at the scene after the fire. I'm sure you know who I'm talking about," Joe said pointedly.
"Yes, sir," Josie said.
Then you know what I have to do now, don't you?"
"What?" Josie asked.
"I have to go to the D.A. and get Grant released from prison," Joe replied, "and then I have to talk to Internal Affairs."
"Can you" Josie hesitated. "Can you keep my name out of it?"
Joe shook his head. "Not this time, Josie. If I did, it could bring this entire department under suspicion, and you wouldn't want that, would you?"
"No, sir," Josie said.
"Now, I want you to stay here until I get back," Joe said, "and, Josie, I want you to do some serious thinking."
"Yes, sir," Josie said.
Joe left the office, and Josie was alone. She sat there, thinking, "So what was so terrible about what I did? Look at all the things Grant has gotten away with."
She wondered if IA would let Joe deal with her. Maybe he'd go easy on her; after all, he had been as glad as anyone else that Grant was serving time.
The door to the office opened, and Joe walked in. Josie looked up.
"Did you talk to IA?"
"Yes, and they finally agreed to let ME deal with you," Joe said. "Now, get your coat, and come with me."
"Where are we going?" Josie asked.
"We are going to release Grant, and then you are going to apologize to him," Joe said.
Josie could not believe this. "Apologize to Grant after everything he's done?"
"No," Joe said, "apologize to him for what you did."
"I don't want to apologize to Grant," Josie protested.
"I know you don't, but you have to, and right now is NOT a good time to disobey orders."
A half hour later, Joe and Josie were at the county prison with Grant, who had just been released.
"Well, Captain Carlino, I am ready to accept your immediate resignation," Grant said.
"You can't fire Joe," Josie objected. "He didn't have anything to do with this. I was the one who framed you. Joe went to the DA to clear you as soon as he found out the truth."
"Is that all you have to say to Grant?" Joe asked pointedly.
Josie looked at the floor. She still couldn't believe that Joe was making her apologize to Grant. "I'm sorry," she mumbled.
"I didn't quite hear that," Grant said.
Josie looked up and said, "I'm sorry for what I did."
But she wasn't really sorry. She still felt that her actions had been justified.
"Well, I can afford to be magnanimous," Grant said. "I'll allow you to keep your jobs. However, Captain Carlino, I hope that you won't let Detective Sinclair off without appropriate punishment."
"I will deal with Josie," Joe said, "but her punishment won't be any more severe just because you happen to be the mayor."
"Well, it most certainly should be!" Grant said.
Josie felt relieved. She figured that Joe would let her off with what would amount to a slap on the wrist. But Josie's feeling of relief was cut short.
"And," Joe added, "it won't be any less severe because of my personal feelings towards you."
Joe and Josie were back in Joe's office. Once again, the door was locked, and the blinds were closed.
"I still don't see why what I did was so wrong," Josie said.
"Well, first of all, you framed someone for a crime he didn't commit," Joe said.
"But this is Grant we're talking about, and don't forget, he got away with burning your house to the ground."
"Do you think I could ever forget that? Yes, Grant got away with burning my house to the ground, but that is no excuse for what you did," Joe said. "You not only framed someone for a crime he did not commit, but do you realize what else you did?"
"No, sir," Josie replied.
"Your actions allowed the real arsonist to walk."
"I never thought about that," Josie admitted.
"Obviously not!" Joe said.
"All right," Josie said, "it was wrong to let the real arsonist walk, but I still think that what I did to Grant was poetic justice."
"Poetic justice is for stories, not for real life," Joe said.
"But I had a good reason for what I did," Josie argued.
"There is no good reason for doing wrong," Joe said, "and to help you to understand that, I am suspending you from the force, and placing you under house arrest, for two weeks. You will serve your time in the guest bedroom of my house."
"I don't mind that too much, with Gary out of town, but do I have to stay in the bedroom the whole time?" Josie asked.
"Except for meals, and a half hour on the porch every day, yes," Joe said.
Josie sighed. "Are you telling me I'm grounded, like a little girl?"
"You could say that," Joe replied. "Besides, what is house arrest, if it isn't grounding for adults? Now, I'll need your shield and your weapon."
Josie handed them over, blinking back tears. She couldn't believe that Joe was coming down so hard on her. Deep down, didn't he agree with what she had done?
"Look," Joe said, "it's only for two weeks. IA wanted to demote you way down. I finally talked them out of it."
"Thank you," Josie said.
"Now, Josie," Joe said, "I want you to understand that I am disciplining you for your own good, because a good cop like you shouldn't have done what you did."
"You still think I'm a good cop?" Josie asked, surprised.
"Yes, most of the time," Joe said. "Now, come on. We'll go to your place first, and get your stuff, and then I'll take you to my house, and you can begin serving your time."
That night, Josie, in her pajamas, was talking with Joe in the guest bedroom of the Carlino home.
"I've thought and thought," Josie said, "and besides the fact that the real arsonist walked, I still don't understand why it was wrong to frame a bad person like Grant."
"Well, maybe I can help you to understand," Joe said. "Who once framed Jake McKinnon for attempted murder?"
Josie answered in a small voice, "Grant."
"So when you framed Grant, who were you acting like?"
"Grant," Josie said again.
"And who is the LAST person you want to act like?" Joe asked.
"Grant." Josie's voice broke. "You're right. What I did was wrong. I'm sorry." She began to cry. "I'm so sorry. I don't deserve to be a cop after what I did."
"Sure you do," Joe said, "more than ever, now that you understand why what you did was wrong." Joe took Josie in his arms and stroked her hair until she stopped crying. "Now," he said gently, "I want you to go to sleep."
"You won't think I'm babyish if..." Josie hesitated, a bit embarrassed.
Joe smiled understandingly. "Do you want me to stay with you until you fall asleep?"
"Will you? Please?" Josie asked.
"Of course I will," Joe said.
Josie lay down. Joe tucked her in and kissed her.
"You know, right now I feel like a little girl, but in a good way," Josie said.
"Well," Joe said, "since you are being punished like a little girl, it's only fair that you should also be tucked in like a little girl."
Josie smiled up at her captain and said, "I guess you could call it poetic justice."