Chase McCain stood in the Chief’s office of the Lego City Police Department, jaw hanging open. “Chief, you have got to be kidding me. You want me to work with… Frank?!”
“Yeah, Chief. Are you sure you’re not making a joke? Cause, no offense, you’re not very good at those. But if you really want me to work with Chase that would be amazing!” Frank’s voice rose half an octave, as well as several decibels in volume.
Chase groaned, and rubbed at his ear.
“No, Frank. I’m not making a joke. You’ll know when I’m making a joke,” said the Chief.
“If you got one of those little clown horns and honked that every time you did then everyone would know…”
“Seriously, Chief. Are you sure this is a good idea?” said Chase, reigning in the urge to raise his voice. “I mean, it’s Frank, he’s only good for…”
Frank beamed up at Chase, practically bouncing on his heels.
“Um, its field work. His talents lie… er… elsewhere?” Like shredding documents. Mostly because the entire point of that exercise was to destroy something. And Frank had lost three neck ties in that endeavour thus far.
Frank grabbed Chase’s sleeve and yanked it. “But, Chase. I can learn stuff from you. You’re the best. If I hang out with you I can learn how to take down criminals, and drive a police car.”
“You don’t know how to drive a police car? How did you pass training?”
“I mean, without breaking the car,” Frank lowered his voice. “That makes the Chief kind of mad.”
“Of course it makes me mad!” The Chief stood up and slammed a fist on his desk. “The only reason I’m doing this is because you two idiots caused a huge mess downtown. And yes, he can’t drive to save his life, so you can teach him that too!”
“The mess? That was Frank! And it was because you sent him for donuts.”
Frank rubbed at the back of his head. “Yeah, sorry about that.”
The Chief squeezed the bridge of his nose. “Gawd, why can’t I just fire you?”
Frank grinned. “Because you know I’m a good cop, and I think you secretly like me.”
“Must be very secretly, because I don’t even know about it.” The Chief lowered himself back into his chair. It wasn’t like he ever stayed in the fully upright position for long.
It certainly wasn’t any favour on the Chief’s part that kept Frank in a job. Rather, it was Frank’s parents. They were rich, and donated a fair bit of money to the police force. Which was an odd thing to ‘donate’ to. Unless your son was working there, and ran the risk of getting himself fired at least twice a week. They didn’t interfere a great deal that Chase could tell, but he was certain those donations were congruent on any breakages caused by Frank being largely overlooked. And that explained why the Chief tried to find other ways to punish Frank. What Chase couldn’t understand was why he was being dragged into this.
“Chief, he caused a mess because he went outside. And you want to send him outside again?”
“But you’ll be looking after him, won’t you? And you were supposed to go with him to get those donuts in the first place. You had to have a damned coffee break.”
Chase winced. He hadn’t wanted to take out Frank at all, that was true, hence why he’d disappeared. He’d already reached the five-minute limit of interaction with Frank he could handle for that day. Not to mention his skills were wasted going out for donuts. He frowned. “Hey, wait, my coffee breaks? All you do up here is eat donuts and sleep!”
“Point is, I don’t take coffee breaks.”
“Probably cause then you’d be too hyped up to take a nap…” Chase muttered. “This is hardly a punishment, I mean, look at him!” He gestured at Frank.
Frank’s grin faltered for barely an instant. “Punishment? Chase, this is going to be awesome.”
“Frank,” said the Chief. “Go down and see Officer Phillips. Get yourself fitted with a vest and something a bit more appropriate… don’t want you getting that tie stuck in a street cleaner, now do we?”
If Frank had been beaming before, now he looked like Christmas had come early. He certainly wouldn’t pass up on an opportunity to visit Ellie. He practically worshipped her, and she seemed the only person with the patience to handle him. “Yes, sir!” Frank saluted so enthusiastically, he was rubbing his forehead as he rushed out of the office.
“What the hell are you playing at?” Chase hissed once Frank was gone.
The Chief folded his arms. “Nothing, McCain. And this doesn’t leave this office, but you are actually pretty good at your job. You might be able to teach Honey a few things. You know he looks up to you.”
“I… wha… was that a complement?”
“Don’t get excited yet. Honey is a liability. You know that.”
“So don’t put him out on the streets! He’ll hurt himself, or someone else.”
“Exactly. So, you’ve got two choices: you can use that legendary McCain whatever-metal- that makes you so special, and teach Frank Honey to be a semi-functional cop. Or get rid of him entirely.”
“Wait, what?” Chase squeaked.
“Oh, settle down. Not like that! He’s got over-protective parents. Why do you think he still has a job here?”
“I know why he still has a job here. And it’s nothing to do with protectiveness, it’s the money. They slipping you a bit extra too?”
“No! His parents give us a nice donation because they care about their son, despite his obvious issues, and want him to be happy.”
“Bet it makes you happy too,” Chase grumbled, folding his arms. He was done curbing his comments.
“And, if Frank goes out there and gets himself in some serious trouble; if he walks himself into a shootout or tries to arrest some criminal, or steps out of his police car before it stops, his parents might see how dangerous this kind of job is for someone like their son. Those same loving parents might actually pay us to fire him.”
“You want him to get hurt?”
“Or course not. Why do you think I sent him downstairs to get a vest? Of course, if he learns something, he’s going to bug everyone a whole lot less, break a whole lot less, and might become a passable cop. Either option would be fine with me. Of course, whichever one you actually manage to make work, that’s on you, McCain.”
“Thanks a lot.”
“Oh stop pouting. If you do a good job, I might consider putting you in charge of training the police dogs. I expect they’d be a walk in the park compared to Frank.”
Chase found Frank in the basement, at Ellie’s station. He was in front of a full-length mirror, trying on a bullet-proof vest. “So,” Frank said, whirling around. “How do I..”
“Frank, your fly!” said Chase. “How’d you… you haven’t even changed your pants.”
“Oh, whoops!” Frank turned around and put himself back together.
“Yeah, he got a bit excited and almost started stripping off before I told him all he needed was a shirt and the bullet proof vest,” Ellie said, stifling a giggle.
“Jeesh, I suppose at least he knows how to dress himself. Sorry about that…” Chase added, feeling the sudden urge to apologise for Frank. Making Ellie uncomfortable would be the last thing Frank would intentionally do, but doing so would also go completely over his head.
Ellie shrugged. “I don’t mind.”
“Er… good to know…”
“Listen, Chase, keep an eye on him. But don’t be too hard on him either.”
“Come on. Why would I…”
“You’re already all tense and irritated. I can tell.”
Chase grunted. It wasn’t just the thought of having to hang out with Frank for more than ten minutes that irritated him. His conversation with the Chief had him rattled. “The Chief is being a jerk. And not just because he’s making me babysit Frank. He wants me to teach him, and if I can’t, he… he’s just mad he can’t fire him…”
“Because of his parents?”
“Um, yeah… how’d you know?”
“People tell me things, sweetheart. But Frank isn’t as daft as he seems. Just be patient with him. He gets stuff right if you give him a chance. And he does look up to you. He’s going to be trying his best to impress you, so if you encourage him instead of making jokes at his expense, he might surprise you.”
Chase sighed. “Okay, I’ll try. Thanks, Ellie.”
Frank whirled around and spread his arms wide. “How do I look?” He’d replaced his dress jacket, shirt and tie, with a blue police shirt and bullet-proof vest. The vest did bulk him out a bit, and Frank was aware of it. He put his hands on his hips, and thrust out his chest.
Despite his mood, Chase had to supress a chuckle. “Speaking of trying to impress,” he said in a low voice.
“Hang on, sugar. Let me show you how to do up those buckles properly.” Ellie untwisted one of Franks straps on the vest, then redid it and tightened it.
Frank grinned at Chase. Whether it was his upcoming adventure, or simply Ellie’s proximity that excited him was hard to tell.
Chase drew a deep breath, and squared his shoulders. “Okay, Chase. You saved Lego City from a plummeting rocket. You can handle Frank Honey.”