Hank

This story comes from someone of impeccable character, who swears that it is true.

****

An unnamed superintendent in another county drove his truck to a basketball game at his home high school some years ago. He parked it and went inside to oversee the game.

Superintendents are sometimes the first ones at a game, and sometimes the last to leave.

This was one of those superintendents, and this was one of those nights.

The game was played, finally ends. The superintendent speaks to everyone as they leave: hi, hello, how are you.

Finally, he is the last person on the property. He secures the gym and comes out into the deserted night. He walks toward the empty parking lot.

A totally empty parking lot.

His truck was among all the vehicles which aren’t there in the lot.

He was stunned. He looked high and low for his truck, or at least as high and low as you can look in a naked parking lot.

He supposed that someone must have really admired his truck. They say theft is the most sincere form of flattery.

The superintendent went back inside the school building, called the Highway Patrol, told them his truck had been stolen.

Directly a patrolman came out to the school. The officer filled out a report, sympathized, said there was a lot of it going around nowadays, finished up.

The patrolman offered the superintendent a ride back to the superintendent’s house. Unhorsed, the superintendent took him up on it.

As they pulled up in sight of the house, there, sitting on the property, was the superintendent’s truck.

And if a truck could laugh, that one would have been braying.

Red-faced, the superintendent shoots out of the patrol car like a bat out of a searchlight. The shirttail doesn’t stick to his back as he hotfoots it into the house.

Inside the house is his wife.

She doesn‘t understand why a patrolman has brought her husband home. She doesn’t understand why her husband is so very glad to see his truck.

Very soon, she fully and completely understands.

When the racket from her husband dies down, she explains that someone had dropped her off at the game so she could borrow the truck. She picked it up, drove off, didn’t tell him.

Well, no one’s perfect.

The superintendent explains the whole thing to the patrolman. The patrolman is about to drive off. He tells the superintendent, who’s hot enough to fry an egg on his head, there’s nothing to be embarrassed about.

The sworn officer of the law, of course, is lying. The superintendent knows he’s lying. What’s more, the officer knows the superintendent knows the officer is lying.

The truth of the matter is that there’s already plenty to be embarrassed about, and the patrolman will make sure there will be more.

Another truth of the matter is that the officer can’t wait to get out of here, to begin to spread this tale.

The only thing which could delay this officer from telling this tale as soon as possible is an ax murder, committed in the officer’s sight.

In the officer’s mind, he is already polishing this tale to tell to every other lawman he will see for coffee this week. He will tell his wife, which will then put the story on the powder vine.

Soon, the whole county will know, and the story will draw hearty good-hearted laughter the way good tales told on prominent people often do.

The superintendent know all this, knows he has created a legacy of laughter which may well outlive him.

Soon he will laugh about it too. He knows if you can laugh, you can last.

But he’s not laughing yet. Staring at his wife, he tells the officer through clenched teeth, “don’t leave yet. You may have to investigate a homicide.”

My source swears the superintendent wasn’t smiling when he spoke…

Recommended for you

comments powered by Disqus