This week on Criminal Minds, we’re putting our protagonists into a nasty predicament and seeing what they do. Specifically: our protagonists blow a tire on a deserted road, and when they check for the spare, they find the body of a teenage girl.
Such a situation could unsettle the hardest boiled of detectives, but not Joe Kozmarski. This kind of thing happens to him all the time. Once when he was a teenager, a girl he was dating let the air out of one of his tires, climbed into his trunk, and waited. When he opened the trunk for the spare, she pulled him inside with her and closed the trunk. The problem was that the trunk required a key and Joe had left the key in the lock – outside. The silver lining was that when a passing patrolman freed them from the trunk eight hours later, Joe was now a man, his girlfriend was now a womanfriend, and the deflated tire (thanks to a little-known pneumatic process that occurs in moments of extreme passion) had re-inflated itself.
Since then, very little has surprised Joe – inside his trunk or outside.
At forty-three years old, Joe drives a green Buick Skylark that I’ve based upon the car that I drove when I was a teenager – and, no, none of my girlfriends ever pulled me into the trunk (dammit), though the tires always seemed to be bald and needed frequent emergency changes, and the car itself took its final voyage when my brother turned hard to the left and a front tire broke free from the axle and rolled across a lawn and into a stranger’s garage door.
Which has little to do with the dead teenage girl Joe discovers in his trunk.
What would he do? What would you do? He would call 911 and pray that (1) the responding officer would not be the patrolman who, years earlier, sprang Joe and his girlfriend from the trunk; and (2) this officer would believe that Joe had nothing to do with the dead girl, that she’d just appeared in his trunk, as if by magic, and that, honest to God, all he’d wanted was a spare tire.
But since Joe is who he is – and since everything that can go wrong for him generally does go wrong – the officer would be the patrolman who had helped him out once before and this patrolman, having gotten to know Joe’s teenage girlfriend after springing her from the trunk, eventually married her, though he never really got over the jealousy he felt during their first meeting; and so, no, Joe could point at the flat tire, he could show the officer his AAA card, and he could prove that he was elsewhere (faraway elsewhere) at the time of the girl’s death, but the officer and all his fellow officers would still believe that Joe did it.
And for the next 250-300 pages, Joe not only would need to find the killer but to avoid the whole gun-slinging police force. Because that’s how things generally go for Joe.