By Jack Keillor
While it may have just been a split second in what feels like someone else’s life, there was a time when people called me, “Police Commissioner Keillor.” I know it’s hard to believe, considering the man I’ve become and the lives I’ve left ruined in my wake, but it’s true. I rose through the ranks quickly, back when I gave a damn, and I got to the top of the pile. It wasn’t hard, not for someone with some brains that wanted the job for the right reasons and willing to get it in all the wrong ways.
When I say “the right reasons” I’m not talking about morality. I’m talking about reality. The Police Commissioner has to make a lot of tough decisions that are never going to make everybody happy. They’re going to make themselves a target. That’s just a fact. Hell, it’s practically part of the job. The thing about making yourself a target? Everyone’s going to be taking shots, and a few of them are bound to hit. When they do there’s not much to it but to take the hit, get back up if you can and brace yourself for the next one. Repeat until retired/dead and don’t let them see you bleed. That’s when they’ll know you’re human. Sure, they may tell themselves they always knew, but they never know. Not until you tell them. One way or another. If only I’d taken my own advice then. Not that I could, since I didn’t even really think of it until now, but man, I really dropped the ball. I let them see me bleed my first day.
First day on the job as Commissioner I thought I’d hit the streets, patrol my old beat just to show them that I was a man of the people. That just because I was at the top didn’t mean I didn’t care about the people at the bottom. Which is why at 10:13 AM that Monday morning I found myself in the parking lot of my local Burger King eating the 3-piece French Toasts Sticks while I watched helplessly as a bus full of nuns were murdered in front of me.
When I heard the first burst of machine gun fire and saw a few of the nuns go down, I hoped that it was an isolated incident, but again I heard a short burst and again I saw a number of nuns disappear from sight. As Police Commissioner, I knew that I had to do something about the situation so, fighting every natural instinct I had, I dropped my French Toast Sticks to the floor of the car and reached for the handle but my hands were too covered in syrup to get the door open. By the time I managed to find a napkin to help get a grip it was too late. All 44 nuns were dead and there wasn’t a perp* in sight.
I called in back-up and after combing the area we found three suspicious persons tied up in an alley just three blocks away. What had happened neither we nor the criminals knew, but the material they were tied up with? Slim Jims. After a good ninety hours of questioning we found out the crazy bastards just hated nuns. No reason, just didn’t like nuns. This wasn’t the first time they’d shot up a bus full of them and they said it wasn’t going to be the last. Pretty open and shut case, you’d think, though when it came time to book them with actual charges it became all but impossible. These guys were found unconscious in an alley, we never read them their Miranda Rights. Hell, one of them was in a coma, might never wake up. All I knew was, that as Police Commissioner, it was my job that these scumbags never made it back onto the street to shoot up another bus full of perfectly nice nuns. So I brought them into one of the back rooms and put a bullet into each of their heads. Unfortunately, what I thought was a “back room” was actually a busy street full of civilians.
While it may be hard for you to understand how I could make such a mistake, I’d like to point out that I was also wearing a Walkman at the time, had just been to the eye doctor and was wearing a large pair of powerful sunglasses to shield my eyes from the harsh light. Which is how I accidentally murdered three men in front of a crowd of about 90 people. One of which was unconscious and in a wheelchair. To say this was a black spot on my career would be offensive to black spots everywhere. The following trial would embarrass myself, my family, forever tarnish the honor of the Minneapolis Police Department and would set a record for the second quickest removal of a Police Commissioner from office, superseded only by Commissioner Hart, who was fired for masturbating while being sworn in as Commissioner.
In court I would have to testify that while I watched the mass murder taking place, I was unable to do anything as the syrup from the French Toast Sticks more or less completely immobilized me. I was a laughing stock. I’m not being dramatic here; they literally laughed in my face. The judge had to call a recess because a woman was laughing so hard she vomited. If I had been a comedian I could have called it a career, packed up my novelty teeth and went home, knowing I had done all that I could do for the world of entertainment. But I was not a comedian. I was a man. Maybe not much of one, but a man none the less. A man trying to save his livelihood and knowing the whole time that there was no way he could win. I was going to not only lose my job but I was going to be a punchline for the rest of history. People would look back at my time as Police Commissioner and make only jokes, at best about my crummy luck and at worst about what an incompetent jackass I was that got a bus load of nuns murdered over a handful of junk food. Personally I lean with the latter, but I think the former have their point. I let this city down pretty badly, but I wasn’t done yet. The trial would be a long one and in the meantime I wanted to meet the guy with the Slim Jims.
While the trial was still underway, I knew that I had to do something to distract the public, so I arranged the meeting with the vigilante on a tall building at midnight, as seemed to be the cool thing to do when it came to these kinds of meetings. To get the vigilante’s attention, I had three cops dress as criminals rob a liquor store and, when the Slim Jim vigilante caught up with them, give them the time and place to meet me. The plan worked beautifully except for the fact that he killed two of my men. In the long run, it was a trade I was willing to make, but in the short run I was going to have to attend a lot of funerals this month already and the ones I’d already gone to were already really bumming me out. The Slim Jim vigilante showed, right on time. He wore a plastic grocery bag with the eye-holes cut out and had a handful of Slim Jims wrapped around his hands like they were brass knuckles. The name he gave me was Jimmy Slims.
Jimmy and I came to an understanding. I would let him continue to administer his brand of street justice if he threatened every witness the DA was going to use to try to put me in jail. Jimmy Slims agreed and each day I went into that courtroom I noticed one or two more people bruised or battered. Jimmy held up his end of the bargain and so did I. Jimmy knocked ’em down and we picked ’em up. They’d end up in jail every night and we’d spit them back out in the morning. We couldn’t keep them, some lunatic with Slim Jims beat them up for doing God-knows-what. We had no proof and they learned no lessons. Justice served.
After a few months of this system, Jimmy Slims started to get frustrated, saying that if we couldn’t hold these guys what was the point of bringing them in? Then he starts talking about maybe not shutting the witnesses up for me anymore if this was how it was going to be. I couldn’t have that so I made Slims a deal. I told him we’d start a three strike rule, where if they came through three times we’d take them into the back room. The real back room, not the stupid fake back room that almost got me shit-canned. We double-checked from that point forward and were all the better for it, so I guess you live and you learn when it comes to quietly killing people like cattle. At least you hope you do. Can’t say that I ever did.
Since the room was so dark and we had no idea we were being spied on, the room was never checked for cameras. Which means that after about two weeks of this “three strike” rule the DA had video evidence of me killing dozens of people. Luckily, Jimmy Slims got this information to me before the DA could track me down and while he was distracted looking for me, Slims managed to get the tapes and frame the DA with child pornography, a shovel and a bag of lime. He may have never seen the inside of a cell but his name and face were plastered all over the news for weeks. He’d never live it down. Which is why he resigned in the most permanent fashion. Fine by me and Slims, we had no room for loose ends.
I’d survive the trial with only a demotion back to Detective while Slims wasn’t so lucky. Just a few weeks after the trial, he would slip on some garbage while jumping from building to building, fall 109 stories and die instantly when his face hit the side of a fire escape. We never learned his identity, given that his face was completely destroyed, but we could tell by the costume and the Slim Jims wrapped around his fists. Though I’d always hoped since we’d found that body that maybe, just maybe it wasn’t him. Maybe he was still out there fighting the good fight, keeping us safe from people that just did something horribly bombastic and tacky that we aren’t prepared for and might do something horribly bombastic and tacky again.
I don’t blame the french toast sticks for any of this, of course. They were everything they needed to be. Warm and gooey in the middle, crispy on the outside and the syrup? Don’t even get me started on the syrup. Any other french toast sticks and I’d have to ask for two cups but not at Burger King. Burger King gets it right. A little bit goes a long way at BK. They could maybe work on their security, but the french toast sticks?
Five out of five.