The Shop Window
by Arthur Mackeown
P.C.Wilson was just ten minutes into his night shift and already he had work to do. A teen-aged boy stood gazing at a large, shiny transistor radio in the window of Mike’s Electrics. He jumped when the constable laid a heavy hand on his shoulder.
“Guilty conscience?” asked P.C. Wilson.
The boy grinned. “Don’t worry, Officer,” he said. “I’ll come quietly.”
Police Constable Wilson was not amused. “You may have to if you can’t explain to my satisfaction what you’re doing here at this time of night,” he said grandly. “A kid your age should be home in bed. Do your parents know where you are?”
“I’m only looking, aren’t I?”
“I can see that,” said P.C. Wilson.
“It’s a free country.”
“It is,” agreed Wilson, “but it won’t be free for you if you get banged up for breaking that window.”
“Who says I was going to?”
“Just ask yourself: Is it worth it?” said the policeman enthusiastically. “You’ve got your whole life in front of you, you have. Why ruin it over a piece of junk like that?”
“I know you,” continued Wilson, “and I know your father.” This was a lie; he didn’t know the boy, or his father, from Adam. “He’ll give you a right walloping if he has to come down to the nick and take you home.”
“I wasn’t doin’ nothin’!”
“If you don’t move on right this minute I’ll take you home myself,” said P.C. Wilson in his sternest voice. “Then you’ll catch it.”
The boy muttered under his breath something Wilson pretended not to hear and slouched off with his hands in his pockets.
P.C. Wilson watched the boy until he was out of sight, then went on his way feeling rather pleased with himself, for he was a kindly man who believed in second chances and he was confident his timely warning would bear fruit.
It did, and the harvest came sooner than expected. Five minutes later his radio beeped suddenly and he heard the voice of his dispatcher. “George, there’s been a smash ‘n grab at Mike’s Electrics in the High Street. You’d better get over there.”
“Idiot!” the policeman said to himself. “Now look what you’ve done.” He turned and hurried back. As he approached Mike’s Electrics he could hear the alarm ringing and lights were coming on in the flats on the second floor above the shop. Someone had tossed a brick through the window and the radio rested, upright and apparently undamaged, among shards of broken glass in the middle of the pavement.
Wilson stopped and looked about him. When he saw the street was still empty he sighed with relief. Even so, he would have to act quickly. The shop owner could be along any minute. He picked up the radio and carefully replaced it in the window display just as he thought it had been before. Then he stepped back to make sure it looked right; he’d have some serious explaining to do if it didn’t.
His own radio beeped again. “What’s the story, George?” asked the dispatcher.
P.C. Wilson took a deep breath.”Window’s broke, that’s all,” he said calmly. “Just kids playing silly buggers. They’re long gone by now, I reckon.”
Copyright © 2010 by Arthur Mackeown