Odum leaned forward and tapped me on the shoulder.
"Hey, pal! What did you score? Did you pass?" He whispered.
Wintermeyer had begun a lecture on use of the baton. He looked in our direction and stopped momentarily, giving Odum a chance to shut up voluntarily.
"Mr. O'Hanlon, I believe you might want to have your eyes facing the front of the room so you can see the demo and hear what I'm telling the class."
I could feel my face burning as I turned back to face him and I replied, "Sorry, sir. I guess I just got distracted. It won't happen again."
The military had taught me that one never places blame on another, but takes it on the chin oneself.
"See that you don't. This is an important lesson for everyone."
After several more minutes of lecture, he brought one of the men to the front to demonstrate proper use of the baton. It looked like a dangerous weapon as he demoed it.
He then told us how it could be the difference between life and death when apprehending a suspect. He had each of us come up and he demonstrated individually, having us to then practice by twos, so he could observe.
"Upon graduation in four weeks, those of you who make it will receive a baton as part of your equipment. I want to be sure each of you understand its proper use and advantages."
Sitting on the edge of his desk, he began to relate a story of how his partner a few years earlier had saved his life from a drug addict.
"Having and being a good, dependable partner is better than any visible weapon a policeman has. I'm going to assign partners to each of you. At first, you may not understand my reasoning in the assignments; but I'm hoping it will eventually prove to be a good choice on my part."
We each looked around the room expectantly.
"You can check on the board in the morning when you come in. I need some time to think about the assignments. You are excused for lunch. Report back here in an hour, ready for more instruction."
As we left, I collared Bobby Joe.
"Listen, Odum. You're beginning to be like a gravel in my shoe. Irritating. Got it? I'm not in here for anything except to become a policeman."
"Okay, okay...no need to get all prickly on me. Listen, you stick with me, and we'll be in like Flint."
"Why do you say that? Who do you know that gives you that assurance? I know the Captain doesn't like you. I've met men like you while I was in the Army. Your kind always drag down the ones you associate with."
"Ah, don't you worry none about that, little buddy. I got connections is all you need to know."
"I need to go, Odum. See you later."
Walking away, I headed for the diner and Jackson Finley. I was going to do some investigating.
(To be continued)