Cream Cheese

These officers are not the best and brightest, but they sure do enjoy their bagels.

"Answer the question!"

The chief of police slammed his meaty fists on the table in frustration, though neither his fists nor the table had done anything to deserve that kind of treatment. The one he was actually mad at was sitting in a rather uncomfortable chair across the table from him - or, more accurately, sitting a few inches above the chair, having vacated it involuntarily upon being startled by the anger of his interrogator.

"Sir, like we said, he's dumb," interjected another officer, a tall, eternally confused looking man, well into his thirties and doing a terrible job of concealing it.

"What do I care if he's stupid?! What!?" yelled the Chief, the former comment being directed at the tall officer, the latter at the fourth and final occupant of the room, who had spoken while the Chief was busy roaring.

"I said the correct term would be 'mute', sir. He can't speak," said the third officer, very quietly. He was a man of average size and weight, but of small appearance, by virtue of the fact that he was more mouse than man. In fact, if you stared at him long enough, you would probably see his nose twitch with discomfort.

There was a brief pause during which the suspect's knees could be heard knocking before the Chief eloquently thundered, "What!" as if incapable of communication on anything less than rock-concert levels.

"He said the guy's 'mute'," said the tall officer, considerably louder and with a chuckle, as if it was some kind of joke.

"Oh."

Although most people would have said this at a quieter level, the Chief's voice, if anything, only got louder. The author is simply sick of exclamation points and would ask you to assume they are there whenever the Chief says anything, ever.

"Is Murphy in?" hollered the Chief, and the author reminded his readers to use their exclamation punctuation situation imagination.

"Yes sir," breathed mouse-man.

"Yes sir," translated tall-as-a-tree-and-about-as-intelligent.

"Well why the hell isn't he here, Pillard?" shouted the Chief, sounding flabbergasted that anyone could make a such a monumental error. "We need a sign language translator!"

"He's on vacation, sir," said the quiet one.

"What?" exclaimed the Chief.

"He says he's on---"

"I heard him, Johnson," exploded the Chief, causing Johnson to recoil from the typhoon of saliva and sound waves. "How is he on vacation if he's in?"

"He is in, sir. His hands are on vacation. He's sitting at his desk with his hands bandaged up, not doing anything and getting half-pay. He says the doctor ordered it," Pillard explained, with all the volume of a pin dropping into a pile of feathers.

The Chief's eyes were threatening to vacate their sockets by this point, so utterly astounded was he by the fact that Pillard had the nerve to be a quiet person. Seeming unable to come to terms with what had just transpired, he turned instead to Johnson.

"Uhhhh, he said... Murphy's hands are on vacation."

The Chief's eye twitched once. He left the room.

The three other occupants did their best to ignore the yelling and cursing that filtered through the sound-proofed door, Johnson and Pillard examining their nails and staring at their toes, the mute man fidgeting nervously in his seat.

The Chief re-entered the room, looking a few shades of red lighter than when he had left. "Where were we?" he inquired, volume level substantially lowered, but still well above regular speaking level; the Chief's equivalent of a whisper.

"The suspect is dumb," said Johnson.

"Mute," said Pillard.

"Why d'you keep saying that, Pillard? It was funny the first time, but I don't think somebody actually pressed mute on him," Johnson said, sounding as if he pitied Pillard for losing his marbles.

Whatever Pillard said to that had about as much a chance of being heard over the Chief as a house of cards would have surviving the Earth exploding.

"So what do we do now?" the Chief demanded, his sheer loudness causing meditating monks in Tibet to display looks of consternation.

Johnson and Pillard glanced at each other, then at the Chief. The Chief glanced at each of them in turn. Then the three of them looked at the suspect.

The suspect held a hand up to his ear hopefully.

"Phone call!" said the three officers in unison, with differing degrees of volume. "That will give us some time to think!" they said again, and after giving each other a series of puzzled looks, they tried for three for three.

"I'm hungry," mouthed Pillard, while slowly breathing out.

"You two can go home for the day?" said Johnson, hopefully.

"Yes, we admit it, it was the two of us that stole all your candy on Halloween!" the Chief masticated through his vocal chords.

They all looked a little disappointed at the sudden emergence and disappearance of their group telepathy, but they had business to attend to.

"Alright," Johnson said, opening the door and gesturing for the suspect to leave the room. "You can have your phone call. Make it quick."

"Wait... a phone call?" Pillard exhaled.

The suspect stared at them all in disbelief before leaving the room. Johnson closed the door behind him. "Wait a minute... why does a deaf man want the telephone?" Johnson asked, for the third time that week.

Click!

"Click?" the Chief verbally exhumed. "Johnson? Did you just let the suspect lock us in? ...again?"

But Johnson was too busy even for the Chief's tremendous volume, watching through the tiny window as the suspect hastily exited the Police Department, a tremendous feeling of deja vu haunting him.

"You know," Pillard thought, not even bothering to try to verbalize over the gargantuan force of the Chief's screaming, "you would think we would recognize the guy by now, seeing as it's the third time he's done this."

Johnson slid down the wall beside the door, until he was sitting on the floor. "You want to go for bagels again after we get out?" he mouthed (or perhaps yelled, it was impossible to tell over the racket the Chief was making).

Pillard nodded. Bagels were always a good idea.

The End

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