He has a bad feeling about that guy. Should he do something about it?
Mr. Forbes had a problem. To solve his problem, Mr. Forbes made a special trip across town one Friday morning. He woke up an hour earlier than he normally did, and told his wife he had a special business appointment that couldn't be kept at any other time. Oh, Mr. Forbes didn't lie to his wife. He never lied to his wife. He did have business. And he did have an appointment, of a sort. It wasn't the kind of appointment one made over the telephone, though. The other party wasn't even aware of the meeting, in fact. Nonetheless, it was a necessary affair, and Mr. Forbes had made up his mind to see it through.
That's how he found himself in the 'Holes of Heaven Doughnut Shoppe' ordering a cherry turnover that he didn't much feel like eating. Mr. Forbes was confident he was doing the right thing. Still, something about the way he was doing it seemed dishonest.
"John! John Forbes!"
Mr. Forbes tried to act surprised. This was a lie, of a kind, in that he wasn't surprised to see his friend Harvey Griswald sitting at the corner table. In fact, Mr. Forbes knew his friend, a lieutenant detective, always had coffee at 'Heavenly Holes' of a morning.
"You're awfully far away from home, aren't you?" asked the detective, standing at his table, Harve's way of inviting Mr. Forbes to have a seat. Harve extended his hand, as Mr. Forbes approached wearing a false appearance of pleasant surprise. Mr. Forbes shook the offered hand, and a sour taste of hypocrisy rose to his tongue. "I hope you haven't come to admonish me for not showing up at the club last Thursday. I was on a case, and just couldn't get away."
"No, nothing like that, Harve," said Forbes as he sat, placing the unwanted cheery turnover on the table like a heavy brick. "I was just taking care of some personal business before work, is all." At least this was no lie. "It's just my good fortune we share the same sweet tooth, I guess."
"Yeah," grunted Harve noncommittally, "I guess. So," he heaved, "How's the family? Marge? The kids?"
"Fine. Fine. Things keep getting better all the time." Mr. Forbes genuinely smiled. Thoughts of his family always caused an irresistible, boyish smile to cross his face. "And more expensive. But you must know plenty about that, having three of your own."
"Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. You know, it costs more to send Junior to college for one semester than I paid for my first new car. Can you believe that?"
"I believe you. I'm just glad its not my turn, yet."
"It will be, soon enough. Maybe too soon. How old is your son, now, six? seven?"
"So little Sarah is what, three?"
"Yeah. You've got a hell of a memory, Harve."
"It goes with the job. Well, anyway, you've got a decade yet to get ready. All I can say is, you better be saving now, buddy boy! Save every penny you can get, if you want them to go to school." Harve harrumphed cynically, and sipped at his coffee. "By the time it's your turn, tuition will probably cost twice as much."
"Probably." Mr. Forbes tried to force a similarly cynical smile, but was unable. His urgent business weighed heavily on his shoulders, and swelled in his throat. Ashamed of his own sophomoric attempts to manipulate so worldly a man as Harvey Griswald, Forbes looked down at his hands, which were clutching and releasing a napkin nervously. "Sometimes I wonder, though . . . "
When his friend didn't immediately continue, the detective took a cool, nonchalant sip at his brew and prompted, "What? What do you wonder, John?"
"Sometimes I wonder if, well, you know," Mr. Forbes dropped the napkin, having reduced it to rags, then picked up his turnover as though he might actually take a bite of it. "If they have a chance, at all."
"They, who? Little Sarah? Your son, William?" another cool sip from his Styrofoam cup of coffee, his detective's steely eyes peering over the gnawed rim. "Is there something wrong with them?"
"Oh, no. No, not at all," Mr. Forbes' face blanched to think he might have given the detective some reason to believe his son and daughter were anything other than the most perfect, wonderful children they both were. "Nothing's wrong at home. Sarah and Bill are fine. Just fine. It's the world I was talking about." To make his lie more convincing, to make this introduction of his dilemma as polite and innocent as he could make it seem, Mr. Forbes took a bite of his pastry. Surprisingly, it was quite good. "Some of the things I read about in the newspaper and see on the evening reports really bother me, you know. Especially when I hear about all the bad things that happen to children."
This time it was the detective's turn to look down at his clumsy, nervous hands. Yeah. He knew about all that, well enough, having worked a child homicide or two in his time. No matter how often he came across such cases, and no matter how professional or distant he tried to remain, crimes that victimized children always touched that softest spot in his gut. It was that same soft spot that had, years past, called on him to serve the public as a policeman, to do his part to right a measure of all the world's most sinister wrongs.
Finding a much needed opening in the detective's studious silence, Mr. Forbes continued, "Just the other day, I read about this guy that had been molesting neighborhood children for years, and none of the parents had suspected a thing. They were all quoted as saying how he had seemed such a wonderful person, always willing to help out with the children, always ready to baby-sit on short notice, that kind of thing, you know. And how they couldn't believe he was accused of such horrible crimes. Some of them were even angry that the man had been arrested, and were obviously unwilling to believe he could be capable of committing so many unspeakable acts. Imagine. All that. Right under their noses, and them oblivious to it."
"It's not so hard to imagine, John," Harve sighed, raising an as yet unscathed glazed doughnut to his lips. His mouth filled, the detective added, "You only hear about a quarter, maybe less, of all that really goes on. Most of those scumbags never even get a day in court. I can't tell you how many times I've had the goods on this step-father or that uncle, only to have them plea bargain charges of 'rape of a juvenile' down to 'indecency'. It's the lawyers and the courts. There's too many of the first, and not enough of the second, if you see what I mean." Harve enjoyed another bite of his doughnut, but never took his eyes off his friend. "You get to where you can read the case histories after awhile, enough to know which charges will stick to which perpetrators and on like that, so you tailor your investigations to the likelihood of a conviction. Some of them, though," growled Harve, forcing the rest of the glazed into his mouth vehemently, "Some of them become personal. I'll be the first to admit, there are instances when my pursuit of professional duty is somewhat less than professional. I don't like child molesters. I'd rather send one of those bastards away for twelve months than send ten burglars away for ten years."
"Why's that?" asked Forbes around his cherry pie. He had discovered he was actually rather hungry .
"Because the time a Chester does is harder than the time an inside man does. Even the hardest of hardened cons hates a Chester."