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Bewildering Stories

Kevin Ahearn writes about...

“Hero Cop Saves Cat”

(in issue 190)

Nice voice, moves right along. No sf or fantasy, but that’s not my quip. This whole snowball got rollin’ ’cause the guy leaned a stepladder against his own house to get in a window. Why? Never explained; which, as well as it played out, gave the tale no motor.

How well a work may be written, and as smoothly as it may flow, it would be nice if it made sense. “Hero Cop” doesn’t. (If the blonde didn’t know Brite was married, why did he give her his address?)

It all goes back to having something to say. Sorry, but nothing here save the cat.


I see your points, Kevin; the story does have a couple of loose ends:

  1. Why would Brite give the blonde lady his address? That’s practically an invitation to come over and meet Mrs. Brite, and he obviously did not want that to happen.

  2. The opening scene of the action starts the story in the middle by implying a question: What is Brite doing with the ladder? That’s quite all right as long as we find out eventually, but we don’t.

    If Brite had done no more than carry a hammer and chisel, the officer and the readers could comfortably assume that he was just doing housework, namely going to work on a stuck window sash.

The story is fun nonetheless. We have many comic stories in the Archive, but we’d really have to rummage to find other examples of classic slapstick, let alone a story that pulled it off without lapsing into silliness.

I wouldn’t worry whether the story had anything “to say” or not. I think we can draw a moral or two, but that’s almost incidental: “Hero Cop” is an exercise in style that writers can study for its methods of voice, timing and setting description.


Well, I disagree with you both... It is clearly stated he saw that the window was open and was trying to close it. Nothing was said about climbing in. It could have been that he tried to close it from inside and failed. A minor carp. As to the girlfriend... It could also very well be that she discovered Brite's address by investigation, and wanted to come over and surprise him. Again, a minor point, and frankly, I've seen TV episodes that explained less, and made less sense.

My thought? It was funny and well written.

Reminds me of a question I just saw. "Do we expect our stories to say something profound?" Nope. Not at all. So, anyway, thanks for the letter, Kevin, and keep it up.


The plot sure does thicken, eh? I can’t buy that Brite had already failed to close the window from the inside: he notices that the window is open only after taking the car out of the garage. Then he picks up a stepladder lying next to the corner of the house and tries to close the window from the outside.

And that raises questions: Why doesn’t Brite just go back upstairs and close the window without wasting time with the ladder and risking his neck, to boot? And why is the window so all-fired important anyway?

I still think a plausible sequence of events would make this minor mystery evaporate: Brite could back the car out of the garage, fetch the ladder from inside the garage, and then climb up with a couple of tools, ostensibly to fix a sticky window sash.

As for the Brandi Boone scenario, I must plead ignorance in affairs of this sort and have no idea how she might have come by Brite’s address. Perhaps Steve Douglas can explain this second minor mystery in a related story about the misadventures of Mr. Brite. (Go for it, Steve!) Well, the mystery is “minor” to us, but Mr. & Mrs. Brite and Miss Boone may think otherwise...

TV scenarios have made less sense? Picking out inconsistencies is one of the hobbies of Star Trek fans. And readers have clucked in triumph to discover that Flaubert has Charles Bovary collect a fee of 75 francs in two-franc pieces. It’s a game that takes nothing away from the stories, and “Hero Cop” has turned out to be more fun than the proverbial barrel of monkeys in more ways than one.


Copyright © 2006 by Kevin Ahearn
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