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But really, no matter what the town council thought, how important could another public safety lecture be? And why send Officer Bill to conduct it? Did we want this papier-mâché creature to be the law personified to impressionable minds? I mean, did these people have amnesia? Sending Officer Bill back to the grammar school was just begging Fate to do something nasty to a lot of innocent children.

Of course I protested the assignment, but to no avail.

“Boston, just do it. You can have this Friday off.” Good Friday. Friday was one of our busiest days and the one day of the week when I was most likely to end up writing up friends and family for parking infractions. Good Friday was even worse since there wasn’t enough parking at the churches and people tended to feel better about offending parking regulations than offending God. It was probably worth playing Officer Bill one last time to get out of it.

“Okay. I’ll do it. This once.”

“Thank you.”

So, there I was, about to inflict myself on small children who had never harmed me.

I will agree that for many years, Officer Bill was a friend to school-age youngsters, especially among those who counted their years on one hand. But that was when the beloved and gentle Alfred Cook was assigned the role of public liaison. After he died I had inherited the costume and job, and not because I had any inclination toward the spotlight or gift for interacting with children, but merely because I was the only one in the department small enough to get my skull through the opening in the papier-mâché head. Since my inauguration, every Officer Bill appearance had been a disaster. First time out I had gotten Bill’s enormous head stuck in a door and ended up ripping his ears off. The kindergarten had been so traumatized by the dismemberment that there had been mass crying and several children ran away. Then there was the incident at the Falls. Officer Bill fell in a fountain and came out looking like something from a leper colony. That one is on YouTube under “Zombie Attack in Washington.” And lastly there had been that awful murder in October where the corpse was hidden in Officer Bill’s costume and then strung up at the 4-H Halloween Haunted House.

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