A Quiet Night Out


(c) P.M. Kroonenberg

Detective Inspector Kay loved stake-outs. Those long, quiet nights sitting in his squad car, eating Ben & Jerry’s. Usually the most exciting thing that happened was a dog barking or a suspicious car pulling up outside the house in question. This night was shaping up to be another good one. He’d brought his dinner (chicken and chips, no ketchup) and he had a couple of tubs of Cherry Garcia in his ice box on the back seat for after.

Staring out over the black water, gently lapping at the sides of the canal, a sudden movement caught his eye. Kay sat up straighter, slowly chewing his chips, his eyes now trained on the curve of the canal, partly hidden from view by an overhanging willow tree. Yes, there is was again. It was a light – a lantern probably. Slowly, the barge he had been waiting for but not expecting slid out from under the willow tree, heading for the lock.

“Blast,” Kay muttered. That was the end of his quiet evening in the car. He should radio for backup now, get other cars in, then there would be floodlights, shouting, gun-waving, the arrest, the paper work. The detective cast a regretful glance over his shoulder at the icebox. No Ben & Jerry’s tonight.

His hand hovered over the radio for a moment. Then he turned around instead, reached inside the ice box and grabbed a tub of ice cream. As quietly as he could, he opened the car door and took up position by the side of the canal. He could see the barge and his mark clearly now by the light of the moon. Kay took aim and with a mighty throw launched the tub at the man in the barge. It hit him square in the forehead and he dropped into the water like a sack of potatoes.

Detective Inspector Kay dusted himself off and watched approvingly as the barge drifted off course and ran aground in the reeds. It would keep till morning. He got back into his car and reached for his second tub of Cherry Garcia. As he tucked in with great relish, he decided it had been worth the sacrifice.