No one would ever describe Jake as thin. At six foot four and nearly 300 pounds he was a large man. Anyone watching him pedal his bicycle on the streets of Winter Garden might do a double take as he rode by. It isn’t often you see so large a man in Spandex.
Jacob Harry Callahan didn’t consider himself a cyclist, rather he was someone who occasionally rode a bike. Sometimes he rode for exercise, other times he was engaging in healthful family outings and occasionally he rode to let off steam. Today was one of the steaming occasions.
As the youngest detective on the Winter Garden PD Jake had an enviable and difficult position. Being a wonder kid extraordinaire is a lofty perch and sitting high on a pedestal it’s easy for everyone to see every slip you make.
It wasn’t the pressure of the job that was bothering him, it was one of the folks he had interviewed. Last week had been extremely difficult. He’d interviewed a man in hospital who had been brave enough to enter a burning house. According to Nik Diabhal, the slightly charred Samaritan, a little old lady had been screaming incoherently for help and Nik had voluntarily stormed the intense inferno and found a dog yelping and a toddler screaming for help.
Nik had decided to save Buttons the dog and leave Diana Rousillion to her agonizing death. The smirk on Nik’s face when he told Jake, “Yeah. I heard the kid. She was making quite a racket. I jumped in but I stayed low to the ground to avoid the smoke, see? I’ve had training. I know how to save lives. So there is the little girl screaming and Buttons barking and I scooped up old Butts and quick crawled back to the window and got out pronto. Anything wrong with that? Did I break some kind of law?” still haunted him.
The last interrogation Jake had conducted today had been innocent in comparison. A uniform had arrested a driver who was parked on the road. Approaching to see what was the matter the officer found him rocking back and forth and gibbering. When the uniform asked what was wrong the man had looked at him and said, “Gorillas. Gorillas. There are gorillas driving cars.” The rolling meth lab that was plainly visible in the man’s backseat was ample cause to search the vehicle and arrest the semi-coherent druggie and Jake had been called in to see if he could make heads or tails of the junkie’s ramblings.
When he’d first started the interrogation Jake wasn’t sure if he should spell the word gorilla or guerrilla but after talking with the collar it became clear that he was certain he’d seen a large, black gorilla driving a white Cadillac convertible on the streets of Winter Garden. “Gorilla was bopping his head to Big Band music, man!” he’d said in way of explanation.
Jake had gone home, kissed his wife and daughters and then gone for a little bike ride. He’d ridden to the West Orange Trail, headed north on the trail for half an hour, turned around and cycled back. Now, having exited the trail, he was returning home via a side street that had two lanes in either direction plus a left turn or suicide lane along with the occasional right turn lane.
At eight o’clock at night there was plenty of daylight and the streets were pretty empty. He caught a red light, coasted past three cars queued up in the right turn lane, checked his rear-view and put his foot down. He saw the white car in his mirror and was a bit surprised to see a big, black gorilla in the passenger seat.
Just as the gorilla made its way into his brain the panel van to his right started honking; hard and repeatedly. Jake’s attention was diverted from the Caddy to the van in the right turn lane and he muttered to himself, “What the heck is your problem? Can’t share the road with a cyclist?”
Then Jake thought perhaps the van driver was honking impatiently at the driver in front of him; “urging” the driver to take advantage of the right turn on red after stop law. Jake looked back to his left and saw a white male, roughly sixty five to seventy years old, driving a white Cadillac convertible. Sitting next to him was a life size and life like large, black, gorilla mannequin. The car’s stereo was indeed blasting Big Band music.
The car in front of the panel van turned right but the van driver kept insistently honking his horn. Jake again turned to his right where he saw the van’s driver laughing uproariously. Jake let out a snort and called to the man in the convertible, “Hey! Hey, sir! I think this guy in the right lane wants you to wave at him!”
The man in the Cadillac turned to Jake, smiled and then turned to the van driver and waved. The gorilla remained impassive and when the light turned green Jake continued on his way toward home. The white Cadillac passed him a few seconds later and Jake waved at the car as it drove away.
“Gorillas in our midst. Guess I’m going to have to amend my report a little,” he said to himself, shaking his head and smiling.