"The Day Shift" by Shawn O'Meara

Be Careful What You Wish For

I saw two of them the other day, wheezing their way down the sidewalk in hot pursuit of a crook who'd held up a hot dog stand, the seams on their neatly pressed uniforms fit to bursting. We all held our laughter till they had trundled on by.

The day shift of Gotham's Police Department used to be the elite: the proud few who had clocked enough years — or enough pals among the department brass — to qualify for the good life. A typical day's labors used to include a little light paperwork, warming a stool at the counter at Frank's for a couple hours, maybe a nice stroll in the park.

Not anymore. Crime is down overall in Gotham, a staggering thirty percent, according to the Mayor, who would like you to believe it's due to his hard work. But during the day shift, crime is up. Way up. Cops who haven't seen the business end of a foot chase in thirty years have been getting run ragged. (Today's stock tip - invest in those gel shoe inserts.)

In fact, according to the numbers, the local ne'er-do-wells seem to have given up on nocturnal adventures altogether, swapping safecracking for pathetic stunts like the aforementioned wiener bandit.

Why? You know why.

Things are changing all over Gotham. Most of my poker buddies (a few of whom are themselves day shifters) have been complaining that the place hardly resembles the one they used to know. They say the new generation of criminals — the ones who do go out at night — are crazy, that they like to play dress up, that their capers don't make sense.

But mainly they don't like him. They don't like the idea of a man taking the law into his own hands. They don't like admitting the fact that things were so bad that the most evocative symbol of hope in recent memory is a man dressed as a demon. They think the town is going to hell in a hand basket. They talk wistfully about the good old days.

Let me tell you about the good old days.

I had a friend once whose wife loved to go jogging down by the reservoir. He had to identify what was left of her by her sneakers.

I interviewed a beat cop once who refused to take money from the old syndicate. They found him in the trunk of his squad car, at the bottom of the Deutsch quarry down in Morningside.

My friends on the day shift needn't worry. Their wishes will be answered soon enough: you can't do what Batman's been trying to do for long without getting killed or caught. DA Garcetti has promised he'll do serious time for daring to interfere with Gotham's business as usual.

And then we can all go back to what the day shifters dream of - the good old days, when criminals just shot you and dumped you in the river. And when concerned citizens minded their own business.

I say be careful what you wish for.