It was a wet September evening somewhere in the early 1970's. Michael, Clark and myself were staking out a store known as "Sock It 2 Me", a shop which we knew was a front for an illicit baked goods and drug ring. Yes, baked goods. Danish pastries, Chelsea buns, Eccles cakes, crullers, steak and onion pasties and sausage rolls, mainly. The leader of the whole operation was known only as "The Muffin Man" and had thus far proved difficult to capture. He'd been smuggling drugs into the country via a Guatemalan bakery, and then filtering the baked items out to his network via the sock shop. The reason for this was because an actual bakery would have been too obvious, and the authorities would have noticed straight away. Fiendishly clever.
As we sat in our old pal Ralph's (rest his soul) Corvette we were slightly cramped. Actually, we were very cramped. Alright, we were contorted into extremely uncomfortable positions and each of us had at least one limb that had gone numb. The reason for this is because this was our first joint operation with the FBI, and office junior Mitchell wanted to come along for the ride, as he'd never seen an actual takedown before. Also with us was the guy in charge of the FBI operation, Schlomo McCaskill, the world's only Scottish-Jewish-American FBI agent. However, as we sat in a cramped automobile with steamed up windows (made worse by Mitchell's insistence on bringing two Thermos flasks - one filled with hot coffee and the other with scalding tomato soup) we began to wonder if perhaps two vehicles might have been a better option. That, and walkie-talkies. And matching jumpsuits.
Schlomo knew his stuff. He'd been researching the Muffin Man's operation for a long time and several times had come close to nabbing the fiend, but never quite made it. This is why he'd called us, to pool our resources, so to speak.
We'd been on The Muffin Man's tail a good while too. We were beginning to wonder if we'd ever get a break in the case, when Schlomo called us. We were glad of the help, frankly. Especially when you consider the following chain of events.
It was eight o'clock, and despite the cold and the rain outside, Michael finally cracked and wound down the window of the 'Vette. Fortuitous that he did, for it was at that moment that we noticed some shadows flickering in the half-light from inside the store.
Just then a truck pulled up and went around the rear of the store. The truck bore the legend "Muffin Man Bakery" on the side. We somehow knew this was our guy.
We split up and made our way around to the back entrance. Schlomo went with Clark, Michael and I went the other side, and Mitchell was left to mind the car and keep feeding the parking meter. He seemed quite content with his soup anyway - and he liked to play that game where you try to spot license plates from every state, so we didn't feel bad about leaving him on his own. "Keep the engine running," we said. "We might need to leave in a hurry."
Well, it seemed like it was all over in a matter of moments. Clark and Schlomo busted into the store while Michael and I subdued and restrained the truck driver. Clark sat on one guy (he kept wriggling - a lot), Schlomo cuffed another while he was in the act of stuffing a pair of blue Esquire Socks with a drug-laced sausage roll and a New York Water Bagel, but where was the Muffin Man himself?
Just then we heard the crunching of gears and turned in time to see the maniac take off in the truck, grinning widely and leaving the parking lot. However, the truck came to a sudden halt when the Corvette - our car - Ralph's precious 'Vette - lurched from its parking space, up onto the curb, knocked over the parking meter and fishtailed into the front of the truck. The Muffin Man was too stunned to do anything but just sit in the cab, looking glazed, like a cake donut.
We were pretty amazed too. Mitchell - our office junior, the guy who usually made the coffee - had saved the day. We raced over, shouting words of congratulation to Mitchell, except for Clark, who was muttering stuff about the car and repair bills and how hard it is to find a decent mechanic these days. However, it seemed that what had transpired was that Mitchell had become bored, was tinkering with the radio, and had accidentally put the car in gear. But no matter. The day was saved. After we had repaired to the nearest bar for two or nine beers with Schlomo, he suggested we pose for the above photo as a way of celebrating a successful capture. Quite why we agreed to do it nude, I can't recall. It seemed a good idea at the time.
The picture still resides on our office wall, and brings back some great yet fuzzy memories.
The Muffin Man made a daring escape from prison a few years later using a laundry cart, a gross of paper-clips and a hockey puck, and is currently at large, whereabouts unknown...
And Mitchell? Well, he left us soon after that, claiming the event had "traumatized" him, but we noticed a few weeks afterwards that he was advertising his services in the local want ads as a private detective. I wonder where he is now...