Shift supervisor Sergeant Leisha Bogaert pulled up behind Officer Dale Rossiter’s cruiser.
She checked in with dispatch.
“On the scene of the 5150.” It was out in the country but still within the city limits.
“Super on scene.” The air hissed over the speakers. “Time is zero-one-fourteen and thirty.”
“Roger that.” She shook her head as the dispatcher read off the incident report number.
Too much coffee over there.
Shoving her baton into its belt-loop, settling her cap firmly, she sauntered up to where Rossiter stood with the concerned local citizen, a CLC, noting the pale visage of the offender in the passenger side of Rossiter’s cruiser, Unit Nine.
“So. What’s up?”
She already knew the bare details.
Local farmer Joe Sverdlup had been returning with his wife Angelina from a night at the clubs, when he could have sworn he saw a monk get out of a parked car and enter his fields. The car, a little white Sunbird, was sitting right there and everything,
Becoming suspicious of he knew not what, although dope growers and murderers dumping bodies were not exactly unheard of in the modern world, the fact was it was just plain odd. The thoughts of devil worship and occult rituals wouldn’t let him alone, and it was private property after all.
The car was still there fifteen minutes later when he went to put the dogs out in the yard. He checked out back of the barn and saw a naked person standing in the middle of his soybeans under the silvery light of a full August moon and so he called 911.
“I can’t tell if the gentleman is disturbed or just some kind of a crackpot.” Dale was non-committal.
The big question was whether he would become a danger to himself or the community.
She stood looking at their new friend, huddled under a blanket in the back seat.
“What was he doing out there?”
“He says he was feeding the bugs.’
“What?” The word was torn from her.
She thought she’d seen everything.
“He’s got the bites to prove it.” Rossiter had his arms crossed against the chill of the night. “He stands there with arms wide open. It’s like he’s high on life or something. There were hundreds, thousands on him when I came along.”
“Ugh. Was he naked?” She turned to Rossiter.
“No. He says he kept his underwear on and he has those rubber crocs, you know—”
Leisha knew, as her own brood of seven to twelve year-olds all had to have them, and yet shopping with them was sheer hell.
“Huh.” She blew air out through her lips. “Are you making a complaint?”
She eyed Mister Sverdlup.
They all grinned.
“I could live without the publicity.” He had a vegetable stand in season and sold a lot of sweet corn, squash, peaches and the like.
Joe was a vendor at the Saturday morning farmer’s market in town.
“Okay. Let me talk to the gentleman.”
With no other ideas, and no real harm done, Rossiter nodded.
She got Rossiter to open the door and she stood, hand on roof and door frame, leaning in and looking Mister Ermine Swales over. He was a slender man in his early thirties. She took her time sniffing for giveaways and taking a look at his eyes. Dale and Joe conferred in dubious tones by the front hood of the car.
They had a real winner here.
“Can you tell me what you were doing out there?”
He flushed a little and gathered his dignity.
“I was feeding the mosquitoes.”
She bit her lip and shook her head.
“Why? Why would you want to do that?”
“I don’t really know why. I just enjoy it, I guess.”
“Promise me, cross your heart and, ah, hope to die, that you had your underwear on and stuff like that? You don’t seem to have been drinking…”
“No! No! I have to keep my blood pure for God’s little creatures.”
She bit back a scream. A real winner. Didn’t do drugs or anything. In a bygone age he might have chained himself in a niche and dispensed spiritual advice.
“I’m also a poet.” He was attempting to be helpful.
She patted him on the shoulder.
“You’re not in trouble, okay?”
“Okay, sir, so you have your shoes. The gentleman said you looked like a monk. Did you have any other clothes?”
“Oh, yes, officer. I left my housecoat hanging on a branch.” It was velour and had a hood, dark brown with cream lining.
“Ah. Of course.” She mentally reviewed the facts. “And your driver’s license is good. You have insurance, and all that sort of thing.”
She thought it over. Rossiter had all of his ID. The man had never been transported, no arrests, no record. No restrictions and no parole violations.
“You know you were trespassing there, right?”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t see any signs. Besides, I’ve done it before.”
Her jaw dropped.
“Oh, yes, and other places too.”
“Sir…do you mind if I ask a personal question?”
“Not at all, officer. Sorry. You’re a sergeant, right?”
This was an opportunity of sorts.
“Why do you do it? I mean, what’s the attraction?” She didn’t say it, but there were all kinds of odd-ball things available in town if you knew where to look, and this was just so out of the ordinary.
“I wanted to feel something, officer. I just wanted to feel something.”
That one hit home for some reason. She could sort of see his point. Sheer loneliness caused so many problems in the world, and her heart ached at the thought sometimes.
“And…how does it feel…exactly?”
“Exquisite…sublime…” He turned and engaged her fully for the first time. “It really is wonderful.”
The ecstatic look in his eyes was enough for Leisha.
“Uh, huh. Okay, thank you, sir. I’ll just talk to these other people for a moment.”
Leaving the door open, Leisha walked up to the front of the car.
“If this guy maybe asked nicely for your permission, I mean…would you mind if he sort of came here out once in a while and fed the mosquitoes.?”
“Oh, ahhh…ahhh. Ha! I…ah…I suppose not.” Joe was flabbergasted, and not a little intrigued.
His knees went limp or something for a moment there.
“Ahhh…sure. Why not?”
Leisha looked at Rossiter.
He looked at their prisoner. He turned back to her, with an odd shake of his head and the right side of his mouth curling up.
Joe Sverdlup’s ears were at full perk.
“Outstanding. Sergeant.” She hadn’t seen Rossiter smile like that in a while—a long while.
“I’ll leave it in your capable hands then, gentlemen.”
“Before you go, I want to get you some cucumbers…we got tons of them, all the rain this year.”
“Oh, no, really…I couldn’t.” From the sublime to the surreal, all in one easy twelve-hour shift.
“Sure you could!” He scuttled on bandy legs to the kiosk and quickly unlocked it.
Mister Sverdlup was back in jig time, plying her with cucumbers and some nice, firm plums that drew a squirt of saliva on seeing them. Sergeant Bogaert got back in her car and drove away without a second look, enjoying a strangely good feeling about this one.
What the hell.
It takes all kinds to make a world.
Besides, it saved a lot of paperwork.
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