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  • Writer's picturePaige H. Perry

The Enthusiastic Ride-Along with our Cozy Mystery Team

Picture of a young person with wide eyes
Wide-eyed recruit gets an adventure

“Vega! You and Walker are up!”

Alex glanced up at his boss with a confused look on his face and then peered across the room at his partner. When Walker shrugged, Alex sighed and rose from his desk, leaving behind a stack of paperwork he’d been itching to get finished.

“I’m sorry, Corporal,” he said when he approached. “Up for what?”

“We have a ride-along today,” the man said dismissively. “You’re up.”

“Oh, no,” Alex argued. “I had the last one, and I have a pile of paper…”

“No arguments, Vega,” the Corporal said. “I seem to remember someone strolling in three minutes into today’s briefing, so you can take this one to make up for it.”

“But...” Alex started but stopped when his boss gave him a stern look. “All right. Yes, sir. We’ll get right on it.”

“Great!” the Corporal said. “And, don’t forget to show the kid a good time while you’re out.”

Grumbling, Alex walked back to his desk and swung his coat off the back of his chair. After stuffing his arms through the sleeves, he stalked back across the station to his partner, who was waiting for him with a smug look on his face.

“I’m sorry, Jack.”

“Teach you to oversleep,” he said.

“It’s Anna’s fault,” Alex hissed. “She insisted we shower…never mind.”

“TMI, buddy,” Jack said with a shake of his head and a chuckle. “But I have to say. If my girl wanted three minutes of my time to “shower”…”

“Shut it!”

Jack laughed heartily and took a long drink of the coffee he held in his hand. Alex shook his head and led his partner into the precinct’s lobby to find a bright-eyed high schooler waiting for them.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Alex grumbled.

Stepping around him, Jack stuck out his hand toward the kid. “Welcome! I’m Detective Walker and this is Detective Vega. It looks like you’re going to be riding around with us today.”

“Ooooh,” the kid said after shaking both their hands. “I’ve never been in a real police station before. Or a police car, for that matter.”

His eyes wide, he peered around them at the activity going on in the station. When the phone rang suddenly, he jumped and dropped the notebook he held in his arms.

“Greaaat,” Alex said. “Let’s go.”

The kid bounced behind them as Alex and Jack walked to their squad car. Alex let him in the backseat and closed the door behind him. When he glanced at Jack and rolled his eyes, Jack grinned and mouthed, “Be nice!” back at him. Alex rolled his eyes again and slunk into the driver’s seat.

“So, what’s your name, kid?” Jack asked after they had all buckled up and Alex started the car.

“It’s Milton,” came the reply. “Ooooh, are we going to get to shoot someone today? I’ve always wanted to see someone get shot!”

Alex raised his eyebrows at Jack, who shook his head and turned to address Milton.

“Nice to meet you, Milton. Chances are we won’t be shooting anyone today. Our goal is to always avoid that scenario.”

“Darn it,” Milton said. “Maybe we could squeeze in a tasing then?”

Alex shook his head and mumbled to himself, “Oh, Anna owes me for this one.”

“Who’s Anna?” Milton asked, his interest peaked. “Is she your girlfriend? I wish I had a girlfriend. I bet yours is pretty. Is she pretty?”

Alex turned around in his seat to look at Milton. He pulled his sunglasses down from in front of his eyes and glared at the kid before turning back to look at Jack.

“Shower,” Jack said with a smirk.

“Oh, this day keeps getting better and better,” Alex grumbled and pulled out of the parking lot.

He tried to ignore Jack and Milton as they chatted about police work and patrolling and cases they worked on, but every once in a while snippets of the conversation reached his ears and he inwardly groaned. He almost sighed in relief when he saw a vehicle run a stoplight since it required him to leave the vehicle.

“Red light!” Milton screamed. “HE RAN A RED LIGHT!”

“Thanks for being so observant,” Alex said and gave Milton a fake smile.

Alex flipped on his lights and siren and pulled up behind the vehicle in question. The driver pulled over to the side of the road. Jack typed the plates into the laptop attached to the dashboard and gave Alex a thumbs-up sign.

“What’s that mean?” Milton asked, his excitement spilling out and making his voice shrill.

“Just that there aren’t any issues with the car,” Jack said. “Like, it hasn’t been reported stolen and has up-to-date registration.”

“Ooooh,” Milton said. “Do I get to come?”

“No,” Alex said and got out of the car.

The driver of the car had already rolled down the window before Alex arrived. Alex attempted to put his annoyance aside as he addressed the driver.

“License and registration?”

“Yes, sir,” the driver said. “I’m so sorry. I don’t normally run red lights. I didn’t see it in time.”

“Just sit tight and let me check things out,” Alex said. “I’ll be back with you in a jiffy.”

Alex took the man’s documents back to the squad car and handed them over to Jack to run. Milton watched with eagerness and excitement that brought a chuckle out of Alex. After a few moments, Jack handed them back to him.

“He doesn’t have anything,” Jack said.

“Are you going to arrest him?” Milton piped up. “I can move over or drive his car to impound for you. Whatever you need.”

Alex laughed and shook his head. “Kid, you really need to research the priorities of the police department. We don’t arrest people for running stoplights.”

“Oh,” Milton said. “Still, that was pretty dangerous. You should give him a huge ticket for that!”

“I’ll take care of it,” Alex said with a nod. “Thanks, though.”

“You’re welcome!” Milton called after him.

Alex was still shaking his head when he approached the driver again.

“You need to be more careful,” he said. “Lots of deadly accidents happen because people run red lights.”

“I know,” the man said and hung his head. “I’m so sorry.”

“You don’t have anything on your record, so I’m going to let you go with a verbal warning today.”

“Oh, thank you so much!” the man replied. “I truly appreciate it.”

“Pay more attention next time,” Alex said. “And be careful getting back into traffic.”

“Thank you again, Officer!” the man called out to him.

“Stay safe!” Alex said and walked back to the squad car.

Alex returned to the car and climbed into the driver’s seat, an anxious Milton watching his every move. After glaring at a grinning Jack, he put the car back in drive and followed the driver of the car he’d pulled over back into traffic. He drove a few more miles with Milton and Jack chatting away before the radio piped up with a call.

“That’s a robbery!” Milton squeaked. “Do we get to go to that one?”

Alex listened to the dispatch spew out the address of the robbery and a handful of officers answered the call before addressing Milton.

“Sorry, kid,” he said. “That one’s too far away for us, and there are already plenty of officers en route.”

“Darn it,” Milton said. “What now?”

“Now,” Alex said, making another turn and watching the cars around him for any who weren’t following the rules. “We keep driving and keeping the streets safe.”

“Here in about an hour,” Jack said with a grin. “We’ll stop for lunch.”

“O.M.G!” Milton said. “I get to eat lunch with real police officers?!”

Jack turned to look at Alex with a wry smile on his face. “And it will be Officer Vega’s treat!”

Alex glared at Jack but received a grin back as Jack mouthed, “Shower” at him.

Alex shook his head and glanced at the clock on the dashboard before turning his eyes back to the road. He took another right and mentally began calculating how many minutes of this torture he had left.


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