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U3A Writing: The Police Are Onto Me

Lee Cohen tells of the day that an author received an unexpected visit from a Story Policeman.

I was relaxing at home one afternoon when there was a loud knocking at my door. Surprised, as I wasn’t expecting anyone, I cautiously looked through the peep-hole. There was a man dressed in uniform. “Strange, I thought, “what could he want?” as I reluctantly opened up.

“Hello,” I said, “can I help you?”

“Yes, you can,” he said abruptly. “Can I come in?”

“What’s it about?” I enquired. “I’m not letting you in just because you happen to be wearing a uniform, you know.”

He backed off a little. “Of course,” he muttered, “but don’t worry. I need to talk to you about certain stories you’ve been writing.''

“Stories?” I said, mystified. “Oh, all right, come in” I was bursting with curiosity. “You might as well sit down.”

“Thank you,” he said politely.

“Now, tell me, what is the meaning of this visit?”

“You see,” he, began, “my superiors sent me here because it appears that you have been getting hold of inanimate objects and making them human. They start talking and acting in weird ways because of you, and then they come to us and lodge a complaint.”

“Excuse me,” I answered, “Who exactly are you and who are your superiors?”

“Oh, sorry, sorry,” he apologised, “I’m from the Office of the Police of Stories.”

“Really? So what? I’m not doing crime, am I, and what’s more, if these objects didn’t want to come to my pages, they wouldn’t. I never force them.”

“That’s true”, he agreed. “But take the elephant, for example. While he’s not exactly inanimate; he complained to us on a geographical matter.”

“What?” I yelled.

“Madam, please calm yourself. I’m only saying this because he wasn’t happy in Killarney, he likes Rosebank better.”

“Mmm… Well, next time maybe. Look officer, you can’t take control of my mind, so where does one draw the line?”

“I think,” he went on, “be kind to these objects and they may be prepared to accept the situation. But then there was the chocolate. It complained too”.

“Why, I asked, “What did I do to it?”

“You made it return after being eaten, Regurgitated, if you know what I mean”.

“Officer,” I pleaded desperately, “What should I do?”

“You see,” he continued, “it’s the young objects that complain, like the locum in the mirror who felt it was good exposure, a free advert, so to speak, but the chocolate said it could have had much more fun teasing a dieter for instance instead of being eaten by a chocoholic. So basically what I’m suggesting is that perhaps it’s time for you to consider the antiques market?”

“You’re suggesting that I go back in time and bring historical objects to life?”

“Definitely!” he agreed enthusiastically, “they have such interesting pasts to relate and would be happy to visit modern situations. They’ve told us.”

“Museums, then?”

“Exactly,” he agreed. I realised this would be a good place to weave some ghostly business into my scenarios, so I told the Police of Stories I would consider interviewing some old bits of furniture and see what they said.

“You would be doing something really fine there,” he exclaimed, “Those little pieces have been dormant for so long, so why don’t you go there and make it happen?”

“OK, to please you, I will” I agreed. “Oh my goodness – look out the window. I can see a cuckoo clock coming down the street.”


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