Scavenger Hunt

Following is a short story I wrote for the Short Story Challenged sponsored by NYC Midnight. I was assigned the action/adventure category. My character was a rookie, and the subject was newlyweds.

“Oooo weee! Your first day on the force is gonna be sooo exciting!” jokes Cliff, the portly Lieutenant of the Fairfax Police Department. Two other police officers, Jake and Tommy, can hardly contain their laughter. Jared Rollins eyes them all over a box wrapped in wedding paper as he takes a long sip of his coffee. Above Jared’s head is a wanted poster of a big burly man, mean looking.  

“Yeah, you get to escort little miss money bags around town while she looks for her wedding present from her Grammy.”

“Keep your hand on the trigger. That’s gonna be dangerous!” says Jake. They all laugh again. Jared can’t take it any longer.

“Hey! If something does happen, I’m going to shut it down real quick, and you’ll all be eating crow! More laughter. Jared slams his hand on the desk and rises from his chair. “Now if you all will excuse me, I’ve got more important things to do than sit around and chew the fat with likes of you three.”

“Hey, if you get bored you can hunt down ‘ole Scar here, become a hero.” says Cliff as he points to the poster. Jared doesn’t look at the poster, but grabs the present and stomps out of the room as Cliff, Jake and Tommy double over with laughter.

Jared stands in the living room of an opulent mansion with the present in his hands. He puffs out his chest. This may not be a dangerous assignment, but he’s going to do it with pride, dogonnit, he thinks to himself.  He hears a giggle and turns to see a woman, young like him, bouncing into the room. She’s petite with blond curls. A dark-haired man follows her into the room. He’s not a big man, but bigger than Jared. It’s David and Annie Asheford, the wealthy newlyweds whose picture had been in the small town newspaper just over a week ago on their wedding day.

“Is that my wedding present from my Granny Weatherby?” says Annie. Annie grabs the box out of Jared’s hands and sits on the couch. She eagerly tears into the wrapping paper. “Come and look, David! David moves to the couch next to Annie. “I just know it’s the tiara! It was gifted to her by the Queen on one Granny’s visits to England.” Jared’s eyes widen to two full moons. He can hardly believe what he’s about to see, one of the crown jewels!

Annie opens the box, digs through endless tissue paper, and finally reaches the bottom. Her face falls and she pulls out a single piece of paper with writing on it. She begins to read.

“Dearest Annie, to you, I leave my greatest earthly treasure. My hope is that you and David will embark on this adventure together. The officer who delivered the present will escort you. The first clue is where Darcy and Elizabeth meet.”

Annie looks to David and then Jared, perplexed.

“It’s a scavenger hunt!” says David. David looks at Jared. “And you have to come with us. I didn’t catch your name.”

“It’s Jared.” The two men shake hands. Jared wonders what he’s gotten into, and now understands why his cohorts were laughing at him.

“So, where Darcy and Elizabeth meet-what does that mean?” says David.

“It’s Granny’s favorite book, Pride and Prejudice. The two main characters are Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth.”

“So where exactly is the clue?”

“Isn’t it obvious? It’s in the book?” Annie thinks a second. “But where is the book?”

Realization dawns on Jared. “At the library!”

“Yes!” Annie exclaims. “Brilliant! Let’s go right now!”

            Jared pulls his patrol car out of the driveway with Annie and David riding in the back. Just as he pulls out, a black sedan that was parked on the street pulls out behind them. Jared looks back at the car suspiciously.

            At the library, Annie runs up to the help desk followed by David and Jared. The lady behind the desk looks up.

“Can I help you?”

“Yes, we need to find the book, Pride and Prejudice.”

The lady types away on her computer. “Hmmm. Pride and Prejudice. N365. The shelves over there to your left. Two rows back.”

“Thank you!” says Annie. The three head towards the shelves. Once they get to the second row they scan the books for the correct number.

“I’ve got it!” exclaims Annie as she pulls the book from the shelf. “Let’s see, where Darcy meets Elizabeth.” She thumbs through the book and pulls out a small slip of paper. “Here it is!” She starts to read the writing.

“Well done, my dear. The next clue is down deep, where children play.”

David ponders. “Down deep? Where children play? Things that are deep, things that are deep…” He paces.

“Water!” shouts Annie. “Where children play. The ocean? No that’s too far away.” Annie and David look at one another and both have the same thought at the same time.

“The Pool!” they both say a little too loudly. Some people across the room look up at them.

“It’s at the bottom of the pool at the Y!” says Annie. Just then, a man, big and burly, dressed in all black, darts out from behind the next row of shelves. It’s the man from the black sedan.

            “You! Stop!” Jared takes off running. Annie and David follow him. Library patrons look up from their books and their computers and stare as the four run past them. The man disappears through the library doors.

            “Jared, what’s the matter?” asks Annie as they all run out into the parking lot.

            “He was listening to us! He’s going to try and get there first!” Just then, the man burns rubber out of the parking lot.  “Get in!”  They all pile into the patrol car. Jared turns his lights on and peels out of the parking lot to follow Scar.

They find the man stopped at a red light, but he runs the light as soon as he sees them approach. Jared goes through the light too. The man points a gun at them out of his car window and shoots. A bullet hits the windshield and shatters the glass. The man continues to shoot as he speeds through town. Annie and David duck in the back seat. Other drivers do their best to get out of the way. People on the sidewalk stop and stare.

“Why don’t you call for backup?” suggests Annie to Jared.

“No way! I’ve got to prove I can handle this on my own,” says Jared.

Finally, they reach the Y. The man pulls into a parking spot, tires squealing. He gets out of his car and runs inside. Jared, Annie and David follow him.

“You two look for the next clue. I’ll keep our interloper busy,” says Jared. As they run past the front desk, the guy behind it looks up, surprised.

“Hey! You three, stop! I need to see your ID!”

“Police business,” Jared calls out. The guy throws his hands up in defeat.

Jared, David and Annie arrive at the pool just in time to see the man jump in. Jared stands there for a moment, not sure what to do. Meanwhile, David and Annie jump in, fully-clothed. Jared takes off his holster and does the same. He goes straight for the man. The man sees him approaching and grabs him and pulls him under. Jared fights, but the man is too strong. David sees what’s going on.

“You look for the clue. I have to help Jared,” he says to Annie. Annie goes under the water and starts to survey the bottom of the pool.

David reaches Jared and the man. While the man’s hands are busy holding Jared down, David punches him right in the nose, and he reels backwards, letting go of Jared. Jared comes up gasping for air.

Annie frantically searches the bottom of the pool, coming up every now and then for air and to see how David and Jared are doing. She realizes they are in trouble and she has to be fast.

By now, Jared is angry. He heaves his foot right into the big man’s abdomen, sending him reeling again. The man moves to attack Jared, but Jared grabs his right arm, and David grabs his left arm. They each pull in opposite directions, disabling him.  

“I found it!” yells Annie from across the pool. She pulls a small piece of paper out of plastic bag. “Bravo, my dearest Annie. The last task that will lead you to where your gift awaits is the place of my humble beginnings. Well, that’s easy! It’s her first…” Suddenly, everyone is talking at once.

“Annie! Stop!” yells David.

“NO!” yells Jared.

“…cookie store!” says Annie.

The secret is out. Jared wonders what to do with the big man. His handcuffs are on the edge of the pool with his holster. He scolds himself for making such a stupid mistake, but he decides to do the only thing he can think of. “On the count of three, run!” he yells. “One. Two. THREE!” David and Jared let go of the man and start to swim as fast as they can to the edge of the pool. Annie swims too. The man doesn’t try to stop them. Instead, he passes all of them in a few easy strides.

Jared jumps out of the pool and grabs his holster. He pulls his gun out and runs after the man.

Once they get outside, Jared aims his gun at Scar, but Scar is already pulling out of the parking lot.  Jared, David and Annie jump into the patrol car. Jared quickly pulls out, intent on following the man. Once again, he puts his lights on and speeds off. Realizing he’s in over his head, Jared reluctantly grabs his radio.

“Rollins to base. I need backup. I’ve got an attempted theft. Suspect is on the run in a black sedan with license plate XRT-5670.  I’m right behind him on River Street.”

“Copy,” says a female voice. “Dispatching units.”

Jared follows the man away from the Y, into the middle of town and onto Main Street. The man double parks in front of the Weatherby Cookie Emporium. He runs inside. Jared parks behind him and he, David and Annie run inside the store.

The man is standing at the counter, his gun pointed at the cashier, Suzie. “Give me the present,” he says.

Jared enters the cookie store and draws his gun.

“All right! Drop the gun!” says Jared. “You’re under arrest!” The man turns slowly at first, but then he points his gun at Jared and starts to pull the trigger. Pow! Eeeee! Annie screams. The man falls to the floor and grabs his leg. Jared was able to fire on Scar first. He grabs his handcuffs and moves towards the man. David grabs the man’s gun. 

Jared grabs the man’s arms and wrestles to get the handcuffs on him, but the man breaks free of his grasp, grabs Jared’s arm and pulls him to the ground. David aims the man’s gun at him, but he hesitates to shoot for fear of shooting Jared instead.

Annie runs up to Suzie. “Do you know where the gift from my granny is? 

“Well, right before she passed away, she came into the store and put something in the safe. Maybe it’s there.” Annie follows Suzie to the back of the store. Suzie goes to the refrigerator and grabs the key out of a baking soda box.

Back at the front of the store, Jared and the man roll around the floor, wrestling. Jared kicks wildly at him. The man rolls on top of Jared and pins him to the ground. He grabs Jared’s gun out of the holster, then he gets up and runs as fast as he can with a bullet in his leg towards the back of the store. David hands Jared the man’s gun. Jared gets up and runs to the back of the store.

The man walks into the back room just as Annie and Suzie pull a box out of the safe, this one wrapped in wedding paper too. He points the gun at them. “I’ll take that,” he says. Both Annie and Suzie jump and scream. The man grabs the box out of the safe and starts to run away, but comes face to face with Jared. The man shoots at Jared, but Jared ducks behind a table.

The man runs through the store and out the door with Jared and David on his heels. Annie and Suzie run out behind them. The man jumps into his car. Jared shoots and manages to take out one of the tires. The man stops, gets out of the car and starts to limp away on foot. He ducks into an alley.

Jared grabs his radio. “Rollins to base. Suspect on foot on Main Street in the alley.”

“Copy,” says the female voice.

Jared, David, Annie and Suzie run down the street and into the same alley that the man turned into. What greets them is the gift, the paper torn off, and pieces of paper strewn all over the alley. The man is exiting out the other side of the alley. Jared runs after him. This time he runs like he’s never run before, with a determination that he’s never felt before. He catches up to the man just as he rounds the corner. He jabs a foot into the man’s back, knocking him to the ground and grabbing his handcuffs at the same time. Jared practically stands on top of the man while he grabs one arm and then the other and tightens the cuffs around his wrists. Just then a cop car approaches, sirens blaring. Cliff gets out of the car and sees the man on the ground and Jared standing over him.

“Say it ain’t so. Rollins, I think I owe you an apology. Do you know who this is?

“No.”

“This here is Scar. We’ve been trying to catch him for a long time. Good job, Rollins. Your first day has been a good one!”

Back in the alley, Annie gathers all of the papers with David and Suzie’s help.

“These are granny’s cookies recipes!”

“Look! Here’s a note from your grandmother,” says Suzie. Annie takes it from her and starts to read.

“My dearest Annie, congratulations on completing your quest. You now have in your possession all of the recipes that made me a success. With it comes the business that I’ve built. I hope you’ll accept it and carry my dream into the future. Love, Granny. P.S. Look on the bottom of the box.”

Annie turns over the box and finds an envelope. It has her name on it. She pulls it off the box and opens it. She pulls out another note and a key. Annie reads the note silently.

“It’s the tiara. It’s in a safe deposit box at the bank.”  Just then, Jared walks up.

“Everything okay?”

Scavenger Hunt

Synopsis: A rookie cop escorts an heiress on a dangerous scavenger hunt to find her wedding present from her deceased grandmother and saves the day by catching a notorious criminal.

“Oooo weee! Your first day on the force is gonna be sooo exciting!” jokes Cliff, the portly Lieutenant of the Fairfax Police Department. Two other police officers, Jake and Tommy, can hardly contain their laughter. Jared Rollins eyes them all over a box wrapped in wedding paper as he takes a long sip of his coffee. Above Jared’s head is a wanted poster of a big burly man, mean looking.  

“Yeah, you get to escort little miss money bags around town while she looks for her wedding present from her Grammy.”

“Keep your hand on the trigger. That’s gonna be dangerous!” says Jake. They all laugh again. Jared can’t take it any longer.

“Hey! If something does happen, I’m going to shut it down real quick, and you’ll all be eating crow! More laughter. Jared slams his hand on the desk and rises from his chair. “Now if you all will excuse me, I’ve got more important things to do than sit around and chew the fat with likes of you three.”

“Hey, if you get bored you can hunt down ‘ole Scar here, become a hero.” says Cliff as he points to the poster. Jared doesn’t look at the poster, but grabs the present and stomps out of the room as Cliff, Jake and Tommy double over with laughter.

Jared stands in the living room of an opulent mansion with the present in his hands. He puffs out his chest. This may not be a dangerous assignment, but he’s going to do it with pride, dogonnit, he thinks to himself.  He hears a giggle and turns to see a woman, young like him, bouncing into the room. She’s petite with blond curls. A dark-haired man follows her into the room. He’s not a big man, but bigger than Jared. It’s David and Annie Asheford, the wealthy newlyweds whose picture had been in the small town newspaper just over a week ago on their wedding day.

“Is that my wedding present from my Granny Weatherby?” says Annie. Annie grabs the box out of Jared’s hands and sits on the couch. She eagerly tears into the wrapping paper. “Come and look, David! David moves to the couch next to Annie. “I just know it’s the tiara! It was gifted to her by the Queen on one Granny’s visits to England.” Jared’s eyes widen to two full moons. He can hardly believe what he’s about to see, one of the crown jewels!

Annie opens the box, digs through endless tissue paper, and finally reaches the bottom. Her face falls and she pulls out a single piece of paper with writing on it. She begins to read.

“Dearest Annie, to you, I leave my greatest earthly treasure. My hope is that you and David will embark on this adventure together. The officer who delivered the present will escort you. The first clue is where Darcy and Elizabeth meet.”

Annie looks to David and then Jared, perplexed.

“It’s a scavenger hunt!” says David. David looks at Jared. “And you have to come with us. I didn’t catch your name.”

“It’s Jared.” The two men shake hands. Jared wonders what he’s gotten into, and now understands why his cohorts were laughing at him.

“So, where Darcy and Elizabeth meet-what does that mean?” says David.

“It’s Granny’s favorite book, Pride and Prejudice. The two main characters are Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth.”

“So where exactly is the clue?”

“Isn’t it obvious? It’s in the book?” Annie thinks a second. “But where is the book?”

Realization dawns on Jared. “At the library!”

“Yes!” Annie exclaims. “Brilliant! Let’s go right now!”

            Jared pulls his patrol car out of the driveway with Annie and David riding in the back. Just as he pulls out, a black sedan that was parked on the street pulls out behind them. Jared looks back at the car suspiciously.

            At the library, Annie runs up to the help desk followed by David and Jared. The lady behind the desk looks up.

“Can I help you?”

“Yes, we need to find the book, Pride and Prejudice.”

The lady types away on her computer. “Hmmm. Pride and Prejudice. N365. The shelves over there to your left. Two rows back.”

“Thank you!” says Annie. The three head towards the shelves. Once they get to the second row they scan the books for the correct number.

“I’ve got it!” exclaims Annie as she pulls the book from the shelf. “Let’s see, where Darcy meets Elizabeth.” She thumbs through the book and pulls out a small slip of paper. “Here it is!” She starts to read the writing.

“Well done, my dear. The next clue is down deep, where children play.”

David ponders. “Down deep? Where children play? Things that are deep, things that are deep…” He paces.

“Water!” shouts Annie. “Where children play. The ocean? No that’s too far away.” Annie and David look at one another and both have the same thought at the same time.

“The Pool!” they both say a little too loudly. Some people across the room look up at them.

“It’s at the bottom of the pool at the Y!” says Annie. Just then, a man, big and burly, dressed in all black, darts out from behind the next row of shelves. It’s the man from the black sedan.

            “You! Stop!” Jared takes off running. Annie and David follow him. Library patrons look up from their books and their computers and stare as the four run past them. The man disappears through the library doors.

            “Jared, what’s the matter?” asks Annie as they all run out into the parking lot.

            “He was listening to us! He’s going to try and get there first!” Just then, the man burns rubber out of the parking lot.  “Get in!”  They all pile into the patrol car. Jared turns his lights on and peels out of the parking lot to follow Scar.

They find the man stopped at a red light, but he runs the light as soon as he sees them approach. Jared goes through the light too. The man points a gun at them out of his car window and shoots. A bullet hits the windshield and shatters the glass. The man continues to shoot as he speeds through town. Annie and David duck in the back seat. Other drivers do their best to get out of the way. People on the sidewalk stop and stare.

“Why don’t you call for backup?” suggests Annie to Jared.

“No way! I’ve got to prove I can handle this on my own,” says Jared.

Finally, they reach the Y. The man pulls into a parking spot, tires squealing. He gets out of his car and runs inside. Jared, Annie and David follow him.

“You two look for the next clue. I’ll keep our interloper busy,” says Jared. As they run past the front desk, the guy behind it looks up, surprised.

“Hey! You three, stop! I need to see your ID!”

“Police business,” Jared calls out. The guy throws his hands up in defeat.

Jared, David and Annie arrive at the pool just in time to see the man jump in. Jared stands there for a moment, not sure what to do. Meanwhile, David and Annie jump in, fully-clothed. Jared takes off his holster and does the same. He goes straight for the man. The man sees him approaching and grabs him and pulls him under. Jared fights, but the man is too strong. David sees what’s going on.

“You look for the clue. I have to help Jared,” he says to Annie. Annie goes under the water and starts to survey the bottom of the pool.

David reaches Jared and the man. While the man’s hands are busy holding Jared down, David punches him right in the nose, and he reels backwards, letting go of Jared. Jared comes up gasping for air.

Annie frantically searches the bottom of the pool, coming up every now and then for air and to see how David and Jared are doing. She realizes they are in trouble and she has to be fast.

By now, Jared is angry. He heaves his foot right into the big man’s abdomen, sending him reeling again. The man moves to attack Jared, but Jared grabs his right arm, and David grabs his left arm. They each pull in opposite directions, disabling him.  

“I found it!” yells Annie from across the pool. She pulls a small piece of paper out of plastic bag. “Bravo, my dearest Annie. The last task that will lead you to where your gift awaits is the place of my humble beginnings. Well, that’s easy! It’s her first…” Suddenly, everyone is talking at once.

“Annie! Stop!” yells David.

“NO!” yells Jared.

“…cookie store!” says Annie.

The secret is out. Jared wonders what to do with the big man. His handcuffs are on the edge of the pool with his holster. He scolds himself for making such a stupid mistake, but he decides to do the only thing he can think of. “On the count of three, run!” he yells. “One. Two. THREE!” David and Jared let go of the man and start to swim as fast as they can to the edge of the pool. Annie swims too. The man doesn’t try to stop them. Instead, he passes all of them in a few easy strides.

Jared jumps out of the pool and grabs his holster. He pulls his gun out and runs after the man.

Once they get outside, Jared aims his gun at Scar, but Scar is already pulling out of the parking lot.  Jared, David and Annie jump into the patrol car. Jared quickly pulls out, intent on following the man. Once again, he puts his lights on and speeds off. Realizing he’s in over his head, Jared reluctantly grabs his radio.

“Rollins to base. I need backup. I’ve got an attempted theft. Suspect is on the run in a black sedan with license plate XRT-5670.  I’m right behind him on River Street.”

“Copy,” says a female voice. “Dispatching units.”

Jared follows the man away from the Y, into the middle of town and onto Main Street. The man double parks in front of the Weatherby Cookie Emporium. He runs inside. Jared parks behind him and he, David and Annie run inside the store.

The man is standing at the counter, his gun pointed at the cashier, Suzie. “Give me the present,” he says.

Jared enters the cookie store and draws his gun.

“All right! Drop the gun!” says Jared. “You’re under arrest!” The man turns slowly at first, but then he points his gun at Jared and starts to pull the trigger. Pow! Eeeee! Annie screams. The man falls to the floor and grabs his leg. Jared was able to fire on Scar first. He grabs his handcuffs and moves towards the man. David grabs the man’s gun. 

Jared grabs the man’s arms and wrestles to get the handcuffs on him, but the man breaks free of his grasp, grabs Jared’s arm and pulls him to the ground. David aims the man’s gun at him, but he hesitates to shoot for fear of shooting Jared instead.

Annie runs up to Suzie. “Do you know where the gift from my granny is? 

“Well, right before she passed away, she came into the store and put something in the safe. Maybe it’s there.” Annie follows Suzie to the back of the store. Suzie goes to the refrigerator and grabs the key out of a baking soda box.

Back at the front of the store, Jared and the man roll around the floor, wrestling. Jared kicks wildly at him. The man rolls on top of Jared and pins him to the ground. He grabs Jared’s gun out of the holster, then he gets up and runs as fast as he can with a bullet in his leg towards the back of the store. David hands Jared the man’s gun. Jared gets up and runs to the back of the store.

The man walks into the back room just as Annie and Suzie pull a box out of the safe, this one wrapped in wedding paper too. He points the gun at them. “I’ll take that,” he says. Both Annie and Suzie jump and scream. The man grabs the box out of the safe and starts to run away, but comes face to face with Jared. The man shoots at Jared, but Jared ducks behind a table.

The man runs through the store and out the door with Jared and David on his heels. Annie and Suzie run out behind them. The man jumps into his car. Jared shoots and manages to take out one of the tires. The man stops, gets out of the car and starts to limp away on foot. He ducks into an alley.

Jared grabs his radio. “Rollins to base. Suspect on foot on Main Street in the alley.”

“Copy,” says the female voice.

Jared, David, Annie and Suzie run down the street and into the same alley that the man turned into. What greets them is the gift, the paper torn off, and pieces of paper strewn all over the alley. The man is exiting out the other side of the alley. Jared runs after him. This time he runs like he’s never run before, with a determination that he’s never felt before. He catches up to the man just as he rounds the corner. He jabs a foot into the man’s back, knocking him to the ground and grabbing his handcuffs at the same time. Jared practically stands on top of the man while he grabs one arm and then the other and tightens the cuffs around his wrists. Just then a cop car approaches, sirens blaring. Cliff gets out of the car and sees the man on the ground and Jared standing over him.

“Say it ain’t so. Rollins, I think I owe you an apology. Do you know who this is?

“No.”

“This here is Scar. We’ve been trying to catch him for a long time. Good job, Rollins. Your first day has been a good one!”

Back in the alley, Annie gathers all of the papers with David and Suzie’s help.

“These are granny’s cookies recipes!”

“Look! Here’s a note from your grandmother,” says Suzie. Annie takes it from her and starts to read.

“My dearest Annie, congratulations on completing your quest. You now have in your possession all of the recipes that made me a success. With it comes the business that I’ve built. I hope you’ll accept it and carry my dream into the future. Love, Granny. P.S. Look on the bottom of the box.”

Annie turns over the box and finds an envelope. It has her name on it. She pulls it off the box and opens it. She pulls out another note and a key. Annie reads the note silently.

“It’s the tiara. It’s in a safe deposit box at the bank.”  Just then, Jared walks up.

“Everything okay?”

Scavenger Hunt

Synopsis: A rookie cop escorts an heiress on a dangerous scavenger hunt to find her wedding present from her deceased grandmother and saves the day by catching a notorious criminal.

“Oooo weee! Your first day on the force is gonna be sooo exciting!” jokes Cliff, the portly Lieutenant of the Fairfax Police Department. Two other police officers, Jake and Tommy, can hardly contain their laughter. Jared Rollins eyes them all over a box wrapped in wedding paper as he takes a long sip of his coffee. Above Jared’s head is a wanted poster of a big burly man, mean looking.  

“Yeah, you get to escort little miss money bags around town while she looks for her wedding present from her Grammy.”

“Keep your hand on the trigger. That’s gonna be dangerous!” says Jake. They all laugh again. Jared can’t take it any longer.

“Hey! If something does happen, I’m going to shut it down real quick, and you’ll all be eating crow! More laughter. Jared slams his hand on the desk and rises from his chair. “Now if you all will excuse me, I’ve got more important things to do than sit around and chew the fat with likes of you three.”

“Hey, if you get bored you can hunt down ‘ole Scar here, become a hero.” says Cliff as he points to the poster. Jared doesn’t look at the poster, but grabs the present and stomps out of the room as Cliff, Jake and Tommy double over with laughter.

Jared stands in the living room of an opulent mansion with the present in his hands. He puffs out his chest. This may not be a dangerous assignment, but he’s going to do it with pride, dogonnit, he thinks to himself.  He hears a giggle and turns to see a woman, young like him, bouncing into the room. She’s petite with blond curls. A dark-haired man follows her into the room. He’s not a big man, but bigger than Jared. It’s David and Annie Asheford, the wealthy newlyweds whose picture had been in the small town newspaper just over a week ago on their wedding day.

“Is that my wedding present from my Granny Weatherby?” says Annie. Annie grabs the box out of Jared’s hands and sits on the couch. She eagerly tears into the wrapping paper. “Come and look, David! David moves to the couch next to Annie. “I just know it’s the tiara! It was gifted to her by the Queen on one Granny’s visits to England.” Jared’s eyes widen to two full moons. He can hardly believe what he’s about to see, one of the crown jewels!

Annie opens the box, digs through endless tissue paper, and finally reaches the bottom. Her face falls and she pulls out a single piece of paper with writing on it. She begins to read.

“Dearest Annie, to you, I leave my greatest earthly treasure. My hope is that you and David will embark on this adventure together. The officer who delivered the present will escort you. The first clue is where Darcy and Elizabeth meet.”

Annie looks to David and then Jared, perplexed.

“It’s a scavenger hunt!” says David. David looks at Jared. “And you have to come with us. I didn’t catch your name.”

“It’s Jared.” The two men shake hands. Jared wonders what he’s gotten into, and now understands why his cohorts were laughing at him.

“So, where Darcy and Elizabeth meet-what does that mean?” says David.

“It’s Granny’s favorite book, Pride and Prejudice. The two main characters are Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth.”

“So where exactly is the clue?”

“Isn’t it obvious? It’s in the book?” Annie thinks a second. “But where is the book?”

Realization dawns on Jared. “At the library!”

“Yes!” Annie exclaims. “Brilliant! Let’s go right now!”

            Jared pulls his patrol car out of the driveway with Annie and David riding in the back. Just as he pulls out, a black sedan that was parked on the street pulls out behind them. Jared looks back at the car suspiciously.

            At the library, Annie runs up to the help desk followed by David and Jared. The lady behind the desk looks up.

“Can I help you?”

“Yes, we need to find the book, Pride and Prejudice.”

The lady types away on her computer. “Hmmm. Pride and Prejudice. N365. The shelves over there to your left. Two rows back.”

“Thank you!” says Annie. The three head towards the shelves. Once they get to the second row they scan the books for the correct number.

“I’ve got it!” exclaims Annie as she pulls the book from the shelf. “Let’s see, where Darcy meets Elizabeth.” She thumbs through the book and pulls out a small slip of paper. “Here it is!” She starts to read the writing.

“Well done, my dear. The next clue is down deep, where children play.”

David ponders. “Down deep? Where children play? Things that are deep, things that are deep…” He paces.

“Water!” shouts Annie. “Where children play. The ocean? No that’s too far away.” Annie and David look at one another and both have the same thought at the same time.

“The Pool!” they both say a little too loudly. Some people across the room look up at them.

“It’s at the bottom of the pool at the Y!” says Annie. Just then, a man, big and burly, dressed in all black, darts out from behind the next row of shelves. It’s the man from the black sedan.

            “You! Stop!” Jared takes off running. Annie and David follow him. Library patrons look up from their books and their computers and stare as the four run past them. The man disappears through the library doors.

            “Jared, what’s the matter?” asks Annie as they all run out into the parking lot.

            “He was listening to us! He’s going to try and get there first!” Just then, the man burns rubber out of the parking lot.  “Get in!”  They all pile into the patrol car. Jared turns his lights on and peels out of the parking lot to follow Scar.

They find the man stopped at a red light, but he runs the light as soon as he sees them approach. Jared goes through the light too. The man points a gun at them out of his car window and shoots. A bullet hits the windshield and shatters the glass. The man continues to shoot as he speeds through town. Annie and David duck in the back seat. Other drivers do their best to get out of the way. People on the sidewalk stop and stare.

“Why don’t you call for backup?” suggests Annie to Jared.

“No way! I’ve got to prove I can handle this on my own,” says Jared.

Finally, they reach the Y. The man pulls into a parking spot, tires squealing. He gets out of his car and runs inside. Jared, Annie and David follow him.

“You two look for the next clue. I’ll keep our interloper busy,” says Jared. As they run past the front desk, the guy behind it looks up, surprised.

“Hey! You three, stop! I need to see your ID!”

“Police business,” Jared calls out. The guy throws his hands up in defeat.

Jared, David and Annie arrive at the pool just in time to see the man jump in. Jared stands there for a moment, not sure what to do. Meanwhile, David and Annie jump in, fully-clothed. Jared takes off his holster and does the same. He goes straight for the man. The man sees him approaching and grabs him and pulls him under. Jared fights, but the man is too strong. David sees what’s going on.

“You look for the clue. I have to help Jared,” he says to Annie. Annie goes under the water and starts to survey the bottom of the pool.

David reaches Jared and the man. While the man’s hands are busy holding Jared down, David punches him right in the nose, and he reels backwards, letting go of Jared. Jared comes up gasping for air.

Annie frantically searches the bottom of the pool, coming up every now and then for air and to see how David and Jared are doing. She realizes they are in trouble and she has to be fast.

By now, Jared is angry. He heaves his foot right into the big man’s abdomen, sending him reeling again. The man moves to attack Jared, but Jared grabs his right arm, and David grabs his left arm. They each pull in opposite directions, disabling him.  

“I found it!” yells Annie from across the pool. She pulls a small piece of paper out of plastic bag. “Bravo, my dearest Annie. The last task that will lead you to where your gift awaits is the place of my humble beginnings. Well, that’s easy! It’s her first…” Suddenly, everyone is talking at once.

“Annie! Stop!” yells David.

“NO!” yells Jared.

“…cookie store!” says Annie.

The secret is out. Jared wonders what to do with the big man. His handcuffs are on the edge of the pool with his holster. He scolds himself for making such a stupid mistake, but he decides to do the only thing he can think of. “On the count of three, run!” he yells. “One. Two. THREE!” David and Jared let go of the man and start to swim as fast as they can to the edge of the pool. Annie swims too. The man doesn’t try to stop them. Instead, he passes all of them in a few easy strides.

Jared jumps out of the pool and grabs his holster. He pulls his gun out and runs after the man.

Once they get outside, Jared aims his gun at Scar, but Scar is already pulling out of the parking lot.  Jared, David and Annie jump into the patrol car. Jared quickly pulls out, intent on following the man. Once again, he puts his lights on and speeds off. Realizing he’s in over his head, Jared reluctantly grabs his radio.

“Rollins to base. I need backup. I’ve got an attempted theft. Suspect is on the run in a black sedan with license plate XRT-5670.  I’m right behind him on River Street.”

“Copy,” says a female voice. “Dispatching units.”

Jared follows the man away from the Y, into the middle of town and onto Main Street. The man double parks in front of the Weatherby Cookie Emporium. He runs inside. Jared parks behind him and he, David and Annie run inside the store.

The man is standing at the counter, his gun pointed at the cashier, Suzie. “Give me the present,” he says.

Jared enters the cookie store and draws his gun.

“All right! Drop the gun!” says Jared. “You’re under arrest!” The man turns slowly at first, but then he points his gun at Jared and starts to pull the trigger. Pow! Eeeee! Annie screams. The man falls to the floor and grabs his leg. Jared was able to fire on Scar first. He grabs his handcuffs and moves towards the man. David grabs the man’s gun. 

Jared grabs the man’s arms and wrestles to get the handcuffs on him, but the man breaks free of his grasp, grabs Jared’s arm and pulls him to the ground. David aims the man’s gun at him, but he hesitates to shoot for fear of shooting Jared instead.

Annie runs up to Suzie. “Do you know where the gift from my granny is? 

“Well, right before she passed away, she came into the store and put something in the safe. Maybe it’s there.” Annie follows Suzie to the back of the store. Suzie goes to the refrigerator and grabs the key out of a baking soda box.

Back at the front of the store, Jared and the man roll around the floor, wrestling. Jared kicks wildly at him. The man rolls on top of Jared and pins him to the ground. He grabs Jared’s gun out of the holster, then he gets up and runs as fast as he can with a bullet in his leg towards the back of the store. David hands Jared the man’s gun. Jared gets up and runs to the back of the store.

The man walks into the back room just as Annie and Suzie pull a box out of the safe, this one wrapped in wedding paper too. He points the gun at them. “I’ll take that,” he says. Both Annie and Suzie jump and scream. The man grabs the box out of the safe and starts to run away, but comes face to face with Jared. The man shoots at Jared, but Jared ducks behind a table.

The man runs through the store and out the door with Jared and David on his heels. Annie and Suzie run out behind them. The man jumps into his car. Jared shoots and manages to take out one of the tires. The man stops, gets out of the car and starts to limp away on foot. He ducks into an alley.

Jared grabs his radio. “Rollins to base. Suspect on foot on Main Street in the alley.”

“Copy,” says the female voice.

Jared, David, Annie and Suzie run down the street and into the same alley that the man turned into. What greets them is the gift, the paper torn off, and pieces of paper strewn all over the alley. The man is exiting out the other side of the alley. Jared runs after him. This time he runs like he’s never run before, with a determination that he’s never felt before. He catches up to the man just as he rounds the corner. He jabs a foot into the man’s back, knocking him to the ground and grabbing his handcuffs at the same time. Jared practically stands on top of the man while he grabs one arm and then the other and tightens the cuffs around his wrists. Just then a cop car approaches, sirens blaring. Cliff gets out of the car and sees the man on the ground and Jared standing over him.

“Say it ain’t so. Rollins, I think I owe you an apology. Do you know who this is?

“No.”

“This here is Scar. We’ve been trying to catch him for a long time. Good job, Rollins. Your first day has been a good one!”

Back in the alley, Annie gathers all of the papers with David and Suzie’s help.

“These are granny’s cookies recipes!”

“Look! Here’s a note from your grandmother,” says Suzie. Annie takes it from her and starts to read.

“My dearest Annie, congratulations on completing your quest. You now have in your possession all of the recipes that made me a success. With it comes the business that I’ve built. I hope you’ll accept it and carry my dream into the future. Love, Granny. P.S. Look on the bottom of the box.”

Annie turns over the box and finds an envelope. It has her name on it. She pulls it off the box and opens it. She pulls out another note and a key. Annie reads the note silently.

“It’s the tiara. It’s in a safe deposit box at the bank.”  Just then, Jared walks up.

“Everything okay?”

“Yes!” says Annie. Thank you so much for your help, Jared.” She gives him a big hug. He’s taken by surprise, but decides to hug her back.

©Amy Falkofske

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