THE COLUMBIA COP CAPER
An Original Short Story by Jack Robbin
Fallsburg Constable Bronco Kelly is back, and this time his job takes him just up the road from his Hurleyville home to the Columbia Farm hotel, where he has been called to an early morning meeting by the hotel’s owner, Ben G. Knapp. Read on to discover what new adventure awaits our hero…
Ben Knapp was seated on the expansive porch of the Columbia Farm Hotel, his gaze extending far off in the distance, possibly taking in the rooftops of Main Street, Hurleyville in the valley below. When he heard my footsteps on the wood stairs a short distance to his right, he turned toward me with a start and took the unlit cigar stub from his mouth.
“Kelly, good that you could make it,” he said in a booming voice, walking toward me. “Come sit.”
He shook my hand and turned to lead me back to the rocking chair he had been occupying, motioning for me to take a seat in one next to him.
“I think you get taller every time I see you,” he laughed. ‘You need a good memory to be that tall. You have to remember to duck to make it through the doorways.”
He laughed at his own joke.
“It’s not quite that bad,” I said, a bit uncomfortable, as I usually was when people commented on my six-and-a-half foot height.
“Well, you fill it out well!” he laughed again. “Okay, so you are probably wondering why I asked you to come by today, so I won’t keep you in suspense. I need your help.”
“Always ready to help out,” I said. “And before you start, let me offer condolences from Irene and me. Your mom was one of my favorite people, and the best boss I have ever had.”
“Well thank you, Kelly. I appreciate that. She will be missed.”
“By a lot of us.”
“Yes, she will indeed… Kelly, this place has grown a lot since you worked here way back when,” he said, motioning to the grounds that extended almost as far as the eye could see. “We had the pool when you were here—the first hotel in the Mountains with a real honest to goodness swimming pool, but a lot more people use it now. And we added the golf course last year. There’s lots more to come, too. Of course, that’s all good, but the growth has also brought with it some problems.”
“Kelly, we have basically three months to make enough money to support us through the rest of the year, so we have to take whatever business comes our way. We don’t turn away anybody, that is, as long as they are Christian and aren’t coughing and spitting. And that means we occasionally have more people here than we can really handle—not in terms of accommodations, mind you, but in terms of, let’s say ‘crowd control.’”
“I’m not sure I understand, Mr. Knapp. In all the years I have been Constable, I don’t think you’ve had more than one incident here, and that was the missing kid we later discovered sleeping in the blackberry patch.”
“You’re right, Kelly, you’re right. We usually manage. But next weekend I am anticipating something very different from anything we’ve ever had here at the Columbia, and I think I am going to need your help.”
“Any time you need my help, you just call, Mr. Knapp. You know I’m just down the road.”
“That’s not going to be good enough, I’m afraid. Not this time. I’ve got a bunch of New York City cops coming here for the weekend, and I know how much trouble they can get into. I need someone like you here, on the grounds, to help us keep that trouble to a minimum.”
“They’re police officers. It seems as if they should be able to keep law and order amongst themselves. And if not, you call, I’ll be here.”
“Kelly, we’re both too young to remember the rumpus the city cops used to cause at Brophy’s back in the day, but my mother used to tell stories that would make your Irish face blush. She knew, because she was there.”
I recalled that Mary Knapp had been a Brophy, the family that had owned the Mountain View hotel on the other side of Hurleyville, which had burned down when I was a toddler. The place’s reputation lived on, however, and largely because of the escapades of the New York City cops who used to regularly vacation there it would forever be remembered not so much as the Mountain View, but as “Brophy’s Mad House.”
“What exactly do you have in mind?” I asked after a moment.
“I know you have a job, Kelly, and although I’m sure you don’t make a hell of a lot of money as Town Constable, I’m equally sure it is more than I could afford to pay you. But I’m hoping you will agree to take a short vacation—a working vacation—and spend it here at the hotel, on the house, of course, and you’ll bring Irene, she can sit by the pool, or even learn to play golf, while you pitch in as our security officer for the weekend.”
“I’m not sure I can swing that, even if I was inclined to do it. I’d have to try to arrange for someone to cover for me with the Town…”
“Already done, Kelly, already done. I spoke to Norman this morning. He’s new on the job, but he said he could assure me the Town Board would approve your taking a weekend off to help me out. I doubt if Rosenstraus would have been as eager to help, but Misner could not have been more cooperative. Sometimes change is good in politics.”
He smiled. He stuck the stub of a cigar back in the corner of his mouth and stuck out his hand.
“Do we have a deal?”
“I’m going to have to talk to Irene,” I said. “Unless you have already done that, too.”
“That shouldn’t be a problem, Kelly. I’m sure you can make it sound attractive to her to get out of the house for a couple of days, to have someone wait on her, to enjoy our great food and the pool. When was the last time you took her on vacation?”
“All right, I’ll talk to her tonight, and I’ll let you know tomorrow.”
“This is going to be fun, Kelly. You’ll see, it’s going to be fun.”
Will it be fun for Bronco Kelly, though? Find out what kind of trouble he is getting himself into in the next installment of The Columbia Cop Caper, only in The Hurleyville Sentinel. This story is a work of fiction. Bronco Kelly is a fictional character, and while the Columbia Farm hotel, Ben Knapp and other characters in the story are real, no representation is made that their characterizations are portrayed accurately.