Humor Fiction posted March 2, 2022

This work has reached the exceptional level
A woman reports a crime

My Baby

by snodlander

"You need to calm down,” said Sergeant Phipps.  “Speak slowly and calmly or I won’t be able to understand you.”
The woman in front of the desk closed her eyes and took a deep breath.  He could see the effort she was putting into it.
“They’ve stolen my baby,” she said, her voice quavering despite her control.
“Who has?”
She shook her head.  “I don’t know, just some people.  Strangers.  They stole my baby!”
Sergeant Phipps picked up the phone and punched out a number.  “Hi.  Front desk.  We’ve got a report of a 207.  Send a detective here, please.”
He hung up and turned to a fresh page in the incidence book.  He wrote ‘Child Kidnapping’ on the virgin page.
“Name?” he asked.
“But my baby.”
“Yes, Madam.  We are going to do everything we can to find your baby, but I really do need your name.”  He had seen it all, from street riots to littering.  A calm voice and pedantic paperwork was always the way to deal with them.
“Penelope Faye.”
“Penelope …” repeated the sergeant, writing it down in his best handwriting.  Senior officers would be looking at it later, so legibility was vital.
“Oh, or did you want my real name?”
The sergeant looked up.  “Your real name?”
“Yes.  Penelope Faye is my professional name.”
The sergeant drew two neat lines through the name in the book.  “Yes, your real name.”
“Audrey Bishop.”
“Audrey Bishop.  And your baby’s name?”
The sergeant put down the pen and gave her a friendly smile.  People were distracted at best at times like this and he was a patient man.
“The name of your baby.”
“Oh.  I’m not sure.  I mean, I haven’t exactly decided yet.  What do you think of Priory Passion?”
The sergeant decided to keep his thoughts to himself on people who gave children stupid names.
“And how old?” he asked, writing ‘Priory Passion’ into the book.
“Well, new, obviously.  I haven’t quite finished it yet.”
The sergeant couldn’t help but glance at her stomach.  “I’m sorry?”
“Well, I’ve finished the draft, obviously but I’m not quite happy with the denouement.”
“I’m sorry.  The denoue-what-now?”
“The unmasking.”
Sergeant Phipps hadn’t kept up with modern childbirth since his youngest twenty years ago.  To be honest, he wasn’t that au fait with it even then, but unmasking?
“I’m sorry.  Your baby is what exactly?”
“My novel,” said Ms. Bishop, as though it was obvious.
“Your novel.  Right.”  He picked up the phone and hit redial.  “Front desk.  Cancel the 207… Yeah… Sorry.”
He drew two straight lines through ‘Child Kidnapping’ and in slightly less tidy writing wrote ‘Theft’ alongside it.  He considered striking out ‘Priory Passion’ but the page was already a mess and he hated untidy reports.
“You wish to report the theft of a book.”
“Yes.  Well, manuscript.  I don’t call it a book until the contract is signed.  Superstition.”
“And where was the book when it was stolen?”
“In my car.”
“Was it locked?”
“No.  Why would it be?”
The sergeant stared at the page, mentally girding his loins.  His was a public service.  Unfortunately, this involved dealing with the public, even ones like this stupid woman in front of him.
“To stop people, I don’t know, from stealing articles from it?”
“Even at the traffic lights?”
“Even at – Wait.  What?  You were at the traffic lights?”
“Yes.  They just pulled me out and jumped in.”
The sergeant looked at the page.  Well, there was nothing for it now.  It was a state anyhow.  He scrubbed out ‘Theft’ and scrawled ‘Carjacking’ over the top.
“You should have started with the car,” he said.
“But it’s not a new car and my manuscript is far more valuable.  A year’s work.  A whole year!”
“Are you the owner of the vehicle?”
“Yes.  Well, no.  Not technically.  It’s in my husband’s name.”
“And where is he?”
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know?”
“Well, he was asleep on the back seat of the car when they stole my manuscript.  If he doesn’t snore he’s probably still there, I expect.”
“Your husband is in the car that was stolen?”
The sergeant shook his head and scrubbed out the whole page.  He turned to a fresh page and poised his pen over the clean white sheet.
“Why –” he said, and then mentally censored all the expletives that sprang to mind.  “Why,” he continued in a more reasonable voice, “didn’t you say that at the start?”
Ms. Bishop waved the question away.  “I can get a husband anytime.  This is my novel we’re talking about.”

This Sentence Starts The Story contest entry

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