“What is there to be said about Vom Sawyer, the great Schwinn-liberator, who’s loosed from their chains some half-dozen Huffies, Kents, and Dynacrafts already this month, an unknowable number in the summer preceding, an unknowable, inestimable, terrible number, who’s lain dormant all winter, evidently practicing his craft, whose fingers now sing in a twitching matrix of four-digit combinations, even in sleep, who can play like a lyre even the sturdiest U-frame lock and leaves no fingerprints, only the unerringly smooth tread of his quarry, coasting a straight-line to nowhere? Nothing. Not for certain, though he has been seen. I say he for the marked lack of a pony-tail protruding from the knit balaclava in the furnished security footage. See, in my estimation, that there’s a balaclava, not simply say a wooly head of dark hair paired with a novelty glue-on beard and mustache. A ski mask to you, rookies. I say ‘Vom Sawyer.’ It’s of course an alias. Refer to page 17 of the print-out I’ve provided. The hoodlum’s been taunting us, in lewd defacements of public property and through the post. That’s a photostatic reproduction of one of the letters. A copy, young rooks. The real thing’s in my office, for personal perusal and at-length rumination. Graphological analysis is one of my specialties, men. It’s why I’m up here and you’re down there. Why you are many in number, and I am just one. Note the usual porcine epithets, the reference to our beloved community as Pigtown. Interchangeably, Pig City. One thing ought to be clear, men. He hates us. He hates cops. In his heart is that inane mantra of the entire criminal element: nana-nana boo boo, you will never catch me. But note, also, and it might take a trained eye to detect it, the slightly strained quality of the penmanship. A shaky hand, as it were. Men, he knows we are after him. He knows well the temperature of our pursuit, that in our game of Hot and Cold, the adjectives are only intensifying and ever in our favor. When I look at this footage, when I have it wash over me in a steady loop from the conference room projector, I see a boy. A boy, men. One who’s turned his admittedly prodigious talent against the good of the community that’s produced him, who rails against the dominant mode of leisure it so enjoys, perhaps even, I daresay, and when it’s said I shudder, the leisure class itself. The one I hope to count myself a part of, some sunny Sunday with a bicycle of my own. Or the velocipede of better days past, when the crimes were simpler, the suspects understood. It’s often I think about that, men, peering through the drawn blinds of my office, pipe in hand, smoking against several state-level protocols regarding indoor tobacco-use, my sole transgression in a life of by-the-letter rules-following and respect for the law. The unknowable quality of the modern-day criminal. Namely, young Vom. His grainy, digitized face. The blurriness at the edge of him. I wonder who, in this land of plenty, feels the need to take and take. And bicycles! Who fingers the trigger of the golden bell, brrrrringing to the night all he has taken, more than he can ride. I think motives, as a vestigial instinct from my time in the rank and file, and come up with nothing, a blank space on the rack where a bike should be. I wonder at who had helped him remove his training wheels and when I do, I see him doing it himself, the intrepid tyke squatting with a tiny screwdriver, the balaclava no doubt loosely-fitting then, but present, even in his youth. I can’t help but say I see some of myself in him, in his intrepidness, his intrepidity, his good ol’ American can-do attitude. But I must say, with resolute certainty, I see nothing of him now, today, in my reflection as it’s pasted to my office window. I see something foreign, Soviet in nature and rapacity. If you’ll leaf to page 34 of my brief, you’ll see a detailed overview of those connections. I want you to study them, know them well, so that when I grab you by the shoulder in the hallway and shout ‘Elucidate upon the Soviet Connection!’ you’ll be able to without skipping a beat. I see myself doing that, if this rash of theft continues. Shouting. I hope you won’t hold it against me. Over the course of this investigation, much may occur that I hope you won’t hold against me. I envision paroxysms, herrings of deepest crimson, forks in the road at which our turn won’t be obvious, attempted strangulations if indeed we choose poorly. But I will guide you, men. As your chief, I will guide you. Wherever you go, I shall supervise. I shall offer morsels of attendant wisdom, life lessons, if you will. I’ll offer choice cigars and head pats in exchange for good police work. And men, men, when we’ve found our boy, I’ll call on you to hold me back. It may take every one of you.”

— Don Television is an American writer. His debut was recently featured in the eleventh issue of Angel Rust. Reach out:

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