police commissioner morton looked around the small, sealed room where he had summoned a small group of his most trusted associates and acolytes.
the desk in front of him was empty except for a small notebook and a pencil.
there were no telephones, televisions, or electronic devices of any kind in evidence.
the six people in the chairs arranged in a semicircle in front of the commissioner’s desk either had small notepads and pencils of their own or sat empty-handed.
none of them had bags or briefcases beside them.
the commissioner had made clear when he had invited them that the meeting was to be shrouded in the deepest secrecy, and that no records of the proceedings were to be kept.
any notes or doodling made at the meeting by the participants were to be destroyed at the meeting’s end.
the commissioner began the meeting.
“as i am sure you know,” he announced. “ we are facing a crisis in law enforcement in the city. a crisis of the most severe sort imaginable. and we all know what it is.”
bluff bill morrison, who held the title of chief of police, started to speak, but the commissioner held up his hand to stop him.
“we all know what the problem is, bill, “ he admonished, “there is no need to speak it aloud.”
“i understand that,” bill replied.
“do you have something else to say then?”
“yes,” said bill. “ i just wondered if you knew if other cities are experiencing the same problem.”
the commissioner paused. “i think all cities are experiencing the problem to some degree. that is all i have to say on that. any other questions?”
nobody had any questions.
“good. now, since we all know what the problem is, what i want is some proposals for solutions. i want creative, dynamic solutions. and here is how i want them presented. listen carefully. if you think you have a proposal worth considering, contact me through my priority messaging and simply leave the message - 3-b. that is not too difficult to remember, is it? do not write it down, just remember it. “
the commissioner leaned back in the enormous leather swivel chair that had served generations of police commissioners. the squeaking of the chair was the only sound in the room.
“now - if you have a proposal, i ask that you do not write it down. do not commit it to paper, do not record it in any way whatsoever. just notify me with the code - i repeat it, 3-b - and when i summon you, we will meet in this room and i will provide you with a pad of paper and you will write your proposal down on the paper i provide you. is that clear enough?”
everybody nodded or murmured assent.
“all right. so much for the manner in which i want your proposals. as for the matter of them, i repeat i want dynamic, creative solutions. please do not waste my time or yours with trivialities. that is all. you can go.”
they all stood up. “that was fast,” laughed ralph haywood, the dapper sub-commissioner for serious crimes, “we didn’t even get to have coffee or a bagel.”
the commissioner fixed ralph with his steely gaze. “if you want coffee and bagels, ralph, i am sure miranda can accommodate you.”
“ha, ha, just my little joke, commissioner,” ralph replied easily.
“those of you who had notebooks,” said the commissioner , “please leave them here. even if you did not write in them. “
those with notebooks placed them on the big desk and they all began heading for the door.
“oh, and sonia,” added the commissioner, “can you stay a moment, please? i just want the briefest of words with you.”
“of course, commissioner,” replied sonia.
the door closed behind the other five and sonia was left alone with the commissioner.