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Dwayne Jr.'s Daring Escape This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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Dwayne Jr. knew there was only one chance to escape the evil clutches of Mertle. After the kidnapping that fateful day in the Everglades, Dwayne Jr. was stuck guarding Mertle's stupid house in stupid Niceville. Niceville wasn't nice, Dwayne Jr.'s old family was nice! But they would never accept him now. After Mertle stole him away from his siblings, she took everything that made him him. She gave him a new name, Dwayne Jr., and washed him until he no longer had the telltale stains of muddy swamp water from his homeland. She left him outside to sit and stare at the world, and the often rains were the only way he could feel home again. Now she could buy a dog or something, instead of keeping him a slave to do her bidding.
He much preferred the dogs of the everglades- the big scaly green ones that would step on him- to the ones in Mertle's neighborhood. The dogs here peed on him. The dogs here bit him. The big dogs back home did that too, but at least the big dogs and the scary armless water dogs had the decency to not pee on him!
So he bided his time. He knew the police wouldn't investigate his sudden appearance out on her lawn.
He pretended to like Mertle, talking to her about her day, letting her pet him, the normal pet stuff. He waited until the time was right, coming up with many plans involving the neighbor's kids. Except Shelly and Courtney were too weak to pick Dwayne Jr. Up. He was the oldest and strongest in his family, after all.
Then, it happened.
The Jenkins boy from down the street was still upset about the aftermath of last year's Halloween Bonanza. To the teen's disgrace, he had been caught throwing eggs at many of the houses. This of course, included Mertle. Now Dwayne Jr. didn't quite like the Jenkins boy, citing many times the child had flipped him upside down or "accidently" dropped messy food on him, but beggars can't be choosers. So he used the boy, like a pick-up artist subtly manipulates girls to get their attention. He used the teen's resentment towards Mertle for getting him grounded, and it worked. The teen whisked him away to a nearby pond.
The bottom of a pond isn't much different than the Everglades to a rock.

***
Officer Davis had dealt with a lot of crazy over the years. But this, this definitely took the cake. A written confession in the Sunday paper. Why not? Niceville wasn't exactly the model town for normal crimes like occasional convenience store robberies. Well, it was, that's actually what they had the most of. Comparatively speaking though, Niceville was better crime wise than the rest of Florida. Hell, most of the time he spent on the force was laughing with the call center girl Kennedy over the ridiculous crimes people would call in.
The usual stuff, old people “losing” their glasses, young kids with smart phones not getting ice cream when they want it, stuff like that. Kennedy was always gracious about it, but afterwards they would break into laughter and maybe go back to his place. She like to play with his son while he worked on taxes and filed some overtime reports. She was a good girlfriend like that. But this call-in wasn’t one Kennedy could solve by reasoning with the individual, and it was serious.
Serious to the caller, and literally no one else. Except the Police Chief and his stupid heart. That guy had Davis and the other officers do stuff like this all the time. Trapping and spaying the wild cats, picking cats out of trees they were stuck in, babysitting the Chief’s cat while he was on vacation, inane favors and tasks of that variety. The firemen would be more suited to do those tasks than he would! They even had a black cat instead of a dog. Oddly enough, the Dalmatian that used to live in the Fire Station ran away. He guessed it sensed everyone in Niceville was a cat person. Weird. Back to the call at hand, Davis thought as he sighed through his "intimidating" resting face.
Local cakewalk contributor and scrapbooking enthusiast Mertle Pleasants recently called in a crime regarding her pet rock. The investigation wouldn't have happened if the Chief lived in any other neighborhood. But apparently, Mertle's devil food cake was so good he just had to go over and check the place out. Now, when the lady reported a pet rock missing, Davis thought it would be like a pebble or something. Pictures and even a big spot of dirt where the rock had previously been proved otherwise. (She even had them wear matching Christmas Sweaters at one point. The lady was seriously attached.) It was at least, a thirty-pound boulder taken straight from Everglades National Park. She claimed it was in the water when she found it. How the single woman got permission, or even just physically dragged the thing home, he'd never know. With a car probably. She did have a pick-up parked in front of her house.
So, he took a look, a glance, at the woman's yard and the pictures of her rock and declared it worthless. Mertle started yelling some colorful language about the good ol' boys in blue, so he decided he'd price it at around eight dollars. She still wasn't happy, and didn't listen to his admittedly sarcastic advice to put up a reward. For Pete's sake, it was only a rock! Who would even steal something that heavy? So he chalked it up to natural causes or something, considering Pleasants lived on top one of the very rare hills. Wind could've moved the rock or something. He thought he was done with the case.
He thought wrong.
Weeks later, after the start of the school year, he read a short story in the Sunday Paper. Daniel Jenkins, who happened to lived nearby Pleasants, wrote about the adventurous tales of a rock stolen from the Everglades, and then stolen again. He didn't even bother to change any of the names. If this was a serious crime, Davis might've brought the kid in for questioning. If he had cared he might've even mentioned it to Kennedy with her pretty face and kind eyes. But he honestly didn't care at all, so he took his paper, put it through the shredder, and dumped it in his son's gerbil cage. Gerbils, the only sensible pet, surely. His son was a good kid.
If the teen got grounded for egging the lady's house and took petty revenge, it wasn't really his concern. The Jenkins boy took a rock, so what? The most recent convenience store robbery not three blocks from the station had turned into a hostage situation. And the first cops to show up to the scene mistakenly shot a bystander. Unfortunately, another thing the Niceville police force was known for. At least this time they just got someone in the hand instead of the head. The recruits were making improvements.
So he headed off to deal with the alleged criminal. Honestly, how they keep letting "Pringle Pete", the man rich enough to buy the company itself ten times over, get away with holding stores at gunpoint was beyond him. But he was long-time normal cop Davis. He wasn't promoted, so he couldn't say anything. Not that he was bitter about it. He wasn't.
The Chief was also golf buddies with the billionaire. That could have had something to do with it.
But even that wasn't the end. Ms. Pleasants starting calling the police so frequently she was brought in for harassment charges. Neither he or Kennedy spoke against her, but the majority of the department decided to give her a fine. Which the Chief allowed her to pay in a lifetime supply of cake. He should’ve thought the case would end like this. After all, Pringle Pete got off the hook so much because the recruits needed practice talking down criminals. That and he pretty much single handedly funded City Hall and the police force. Officer Davis would be lying if he said this wasn’t normal life in the city of Niceville, Florida.
He couldn’t wait ‘till his transfer request to Tallahassee got approved. At least the crimes there were actual crimes. He sat down in his desk after a classified meeting with the chief. It was his turn to take care of Cowboy, the station's cat. Again. For the third week in a row.
He wasn't getting paid enough for this.




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