Wednesday, February 08, 2006


A great man once said: "some days, it don't pay to get outta bed."

That man was Foghorn Leghorn. A person could conduct his entire life upon the wisdom of that wise rooster.

But the point is this: bad things happen when I get out of bed early. Unequipped to deal with the brightness and clamor of morning, I run into obstacles everywhere.

It was midweek, and I awoke to the girlish screeching of the alarm clock at 9 a.m. Unspeakable. But I was out of bed within minutes and fully dressed not long after. It was a January miracle.

The reason for this uncharacteristic rising was a hunch. I had a good feeling there might be big action downtown and I wanted to be there. I had already alerted my editors that huge news was imminent.

"Huge news is imminent," I told them, standing in a defensive posture and protecting my gallon jug of coffee from their talons.

At the paper, we have what is called (I have no idea why) a daily budget. On the budget go items that will appear in tomorrow's paper. With assurances from me that huge news was imminent, a notation was made at the top of the budget.


And so I wandered out into the frothing world of a Lewiston morning. I parked my car discreetly on Park Street so I could watch the cops and anyone else that wandered in or out of the station.

It's always a funny thing when I get to surveilling the police department. Unsure of what I'm looking for, I lunge at everything that moves. A cruiser pulls out of the compound, I give chase, like a dog after a cat.

But you can't drive with utter freedom in the morning like you can at night. The roads are clogged. People stop for red lights. It's like skating on a rink with too many people jammed onto the ice. You never get a chance to open up and fly.

Many minutes and miles later, I learn that the officer was sent to a loud stereo complaint. I lob a few lines of profanity and return to my perch on Park Street. And wait. And wait. And get distracted by street noise.

"I am not going to take this anymore! You need to change your ways, buddy bone!"

What's this? Marital discord? An argument between drug peddler and a troublesome customer? I creep from my car to check it out.

None of the above. A cranky dad yelling at his 2-year-old. There goes that Father of the Year award. I return to the car and wait. And also, wait.

It's hard to lurk in daylight. I'm slumped in my car, peering over the top of the steering wheel and thinking I'm blending right in. A police cruiser rolls up next to my car and a cop is grinning at me. A familiar face strolls out of Speakers with a warm sandwich, looks at me, rolls his eyes.

In the morning I'm vulnerable, like an overturned turtle. Without the protection of darkness, I might as well have a spotlight on me as I wait. And wait. And besides that, wait.

Long story short: nothing happens. No big arrest, no huge news. The loud stereo complaint was the highlight of the morning. The following day, I'm at it again.

"Huge news is imminent," I tell the editors, approaching their webs with caution.

The item on the budget said something like: "Action today? LaFlamme will cover?"

And the next day, way down on the page, in parenthesis: "LaFlamme blithering about huge news again. Assigning weather story, instead."

So, I've stopped talking about it. Huge news? What huge news? Because I know better now. I learned from the sage Foghorn Leghorn, who once quipped: "That boy keeps talking, he's gonna get his tongue sunburned."

Mark LaFlamme is the Sun Journal crime reporter.


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