Office of the Chief of Police
A Mid-Sized Town in the Midwest.
Ann Shelton stood before the mirror in the bathroom adjacent to what would soon be her office, adjusted her black uniform skirt, put on her matching uniform tunic and looked approvingly at herself in the mirror.
Though the uniform lacked the required badge and collar devices, the rest of her uniform was complete: her name tag was pinned above her right pocket and her various ribbons and medals, awarded for everything from efficiency to marksmanship to personal valor in the face of great danger to herself were pinned in the appropriate places. Her shoulder-length blonde hair was starting to gray, ever so slightly in places, which she attributed as much to having dated a rapscallion like Lenny for years as she did from having spent years as a cop.
She was still incredibly fit, trim and lithe and still combined beauty and athleticism like few other women.
The reason Ann Shelton’s uniform was missing a badge and collar devices was that she was about to receive the badge and collar devices of the Chief of Police. Yesterday, had she been wearing her dress uniform – which would’ve been silly because she had the day off – it would’ve displayed the badge and her collar points the two stars of an Assistant Chief of Police.
In about 15 minutes, after a brief ceremony conducted by the honorable mayor and a few remarks by her, the four stars of the Chief of Police would be pinned on those collar points. Her badge, which had said Assistant Chief would be exchanged for one that said Chief.
The four stars had been hard-earned. Not many cops got to be chiefs over the course of their careers, and few of those that did were women. Of the around 12,700 municipal police departments in the United States, women commanded less than 150.
She had joined the force within a year of graduation from college, and, over the years, had found time to earn both a law degree and a master’s degree in public administration in her spare time.
She had also found time to pull over Lenny and Larry for speeding ages ago, see them perform, separately because they had not yet begun working together, suggest they do, in fact, work together and even came up with their stage name, The Regular Guys, which Lenny in his idiocy initially rejected out of hand, terming it ‘gay’.
Her work in show business complete, she turned her attention to law enforcement. She had wanted to be a cop as long as she could remember, and chief since high school. Gradually she had moved up the police department ladder, from patrolman to sergeant to captain to lieutenant to assistant police chief to chief of police.
She had waited a long time for this moment with no guarantee it would arrive. And while she was ready and highly desirous of seeing those four stars placed on her uniform, as she thought back she thought she wouldn’t mind doing it all over again, the whole thing; it had been the very best of journeys.
A few minutes later her boyfriend, Lenny, and his comedy partner and friend, and her dear friend, Larry, walked in.
“Freeze,” Larry said. “Up against the wall and spread ‘em.”
“Hey,” Lenny said. “That’s my line.”
“No, yours is lay down and spread ‘em,” Larry said.
Chief of Police – Designate Ann Shelton approached her dear friend Larry and slugged him in the arm. She then hugged him warmly. Since she had spent the night with Lenny, and in fact was less than two hours removed from being in the sack and knowing Lenny as Adam once (or twice) knew Eve, she gave him a mere peck on the cheek.
“Is everything ready outside?” Chief of Police – Designate Shelton asked.
“I think so babe,” Lenny said. He was smiling, obviously very proud of his lady. Their careers, or more accurately their life’s course, had caused their paths to cross but had conspired to keep them apart most of the time. Still, though, both had become what fate had intended for them to become and both were pleased. Besides, Lenny thought, no woman in her right mind would want to live with him anyway.
“Good,” Chief of Police – Designate Shelton checked her watch. “It’s almost time.”
“That’s what the condemned say when the warden walks in,” Larry said, as a police sergeant opened the door to say it was, in fact, time for the ceremony to begin.
As the ceremony was about to begin, the door in the back opened and several men in dark, well-fitting, conservative suits and sunglasses walked in and immediately fanned out across the room. If Chief of Police – Designate Ann Shelton didn’t know better, she’s swear they were agents of the United States Secret Service.
Seconds later the president of the United States and the First Lady walked in, trailed by a short, balding man in an ill-fitting gray suit who sort of resembled a mouse and an Air Force officer carrying a large black leather satchel. The president and the first lady walked to where the mayor and Chief of Police – Designate Shelton were standing.
“Hello, Ann,” First Lady Rachel Rachmaninov said. She hugged Chief of Police – Designate Ann Shelton warmly, a hug that was returned just as warmly. They had not seen each other since the trip to New Orleans years ago when she had told Larry she had had a marriage proposal.
“Larry told us about your big day. We were going to send flowers, but we were in the area…”
Larry had originally emailed Rachel Rachmaninov to inquire if the president might, perhaps, send a congratulatory card. Rachel had said card, hell, how about if he swore her in?
Larry thought that would be tough to arrange, but in fact, it hadn’t been. The president, who had become quite a fan of The Regular Guys after having had them over for dinner as vice president a few years ago, actually thought it a good idea. Since he was the president it was a simple matter to tell his chief of staff that he was desirous of attending the swearing of Chief of Police – Designate Ann Shelton – whoever she was – and to get the details from the first lady; it was the chief of staff’s job to attend to the details. The only tough part of the whole evolution was keeping the arrival of the president of the United States secret from the incoming chief of the police department of the town he was visiting; presidential visits are usually planned and prepared for well in advance.
First Lady Rachel Rachmaninov introduced Chief of Police – Designate Ann Shelton and the mayor to the president of the United States. The mayor looked as if he were about to hemorrhage. Chief of Police – Designate Ann Shelton, accustomed to not showing what she was feeling, smiled as if she were intrigued. She looked accusingly at her friend Larry, who was beaming a smile you could drive a truck through. Ann was a fan of the president and had been angry with Lenny and Larry for visiting the then-vice president without her.
The president, still tall and tanned, shook hands with the mayor and turned to his right to shake hands with Lenny and Larry.
“Larry, Lenny, it is very nice to see both of you again. How are my favorite comedians?”
Lenny looked as if he were witnessing the Resurrection and was unable to produce words; Larry was able to muster a couple of coherent sentences though.
“We’re well, Mr. President, very well, thank you for asking. It’s a pleasure to see you again; were glad you could make it, aren’t we Lenny?”
Lenny moaned; it was the best he could do under the circumstances.
“Well, Rachel told me how important this day is, and I was sorry the Chief was unable to make it when you had dinner with us and when we took in your show in Vegas,” the president said as if Chief of Police – Designate Ann Shelton weren’t standing right there.
The president turned, received a leather portfolio from the short balding man in the ill-fitting gray suit, opened it, and read the city council’s proclamation decreeing that Assistant Chief of Police Ann Shelton was to be promoted to Chief of Police and assume command of the police department on the date appointed therein.
Someone then produced a Bible and the president administered a brief oath, where Chief of Police Ann Shelton swore to faithfully discharge her duties as chief of police and protect and defend its citizens from whatever dreadful enemies foreign or domestic – such as, but not limited, reprobate comedians – might see fit to attack her town during her term.
The president gave the Bible to the man in the ill-fitting gray suit who replaced it with a small leather box. The president opened the box, removed one of two silver devices. Each device consisted of four stars in a row. In a maneuver he had practiced on his aides’ ill-fitting gray suit, he deftly pinned the devices on Chief Shelton’s collar points. The aide then replaced the box with a similar box and the president pulled out the badge of the Chief of Police and pinned it on her.
And that was that. After a career of working and planning, Chief Shelton found herself standing where she had always wanted to stand, and, if you looked closely, Chief Shelton could be seen to be weeping.