Normally, he would have cheered for someone on their way to big money.
But when the pieces finally fell into place, and the face before him was clear, he knew what he had to do. He was the only one in the thousands of people watching who knew the truth. This guy was lying.
Retired cop, Bernard slumped into his worn armchair with a beer and a happy sigh. It was time for one of his favorite shows – Super Password.
It was a mild, yet satisfying thrill to watch everyday folks win big money while chatting with glamorous celebrities. It was the best part of his Thursday evenings.
Cameras focused and a new row of contestants smiled up at the host. Hints were given out and viewers clapped at correct answers.
He liked to imagine himself sitting with everyone and being part of the energetic audience. However, one of the participants began to stand out in more than one way.
A scruffy bearded man named Patrick Quinn tore through the answers with such ease that he made it look like child’s play.
Answer after answer was knocked right out of the ballpark. Bernard also noticed an unmistakable, thick layer of charm. Even he found himself cheering for the guy. But something was off.
The nagging feeling stayed with him all through the week.
And when he sat down with his customary Thursday beer again, he spent more time watching Quinn than actually paying attention to the game – which Peter was winning big time. It wasn’t until another episode later did something finally click.
Bernard hasn’t been a superstar officer, but he had been capable enough.
He had a sharp mind and decent recollection of details. Somehow, under that thick layer of hair, he recognized Quinn. Maybe he had busted the guy for speeding once? I could have been a witness to a crime? Something was frustratingly familiar.
He was retired, but the thrill of detection was still there. He was going to get to the bottom of this one way or another.
So, he pulled out all his old notes and scrapbooks and poured over the details like he was an enthusiastic rookie again. All the while, Quinn was killing it towards the grand prize.
Paper after paper joined the reject pile. But the nagging thoughts wouldn’t leave.
He was sure now, more than ever that the man on television shouldn’t have been there. Somehow, he knew that bright smile should be behind bars, not about to win $50,000. All of a sudden, a tiny newspaper clip made everything fall into place.
Bernard stared at the text with wide eyes. It wasn’t one of his cases, but it was a case that had stayed with him for profound reasons.
It involved a series of events that betrayed the badge in some of the worst ways. He picked up the phone. He knew exactly who to call.
The first call went to the FBI and the second to the game show producers. Both involved jumping through some annoying hoops, but Bernard wasn’t going to let this guy get away!
It wasn’t Patrick Quinn on Super Password. He was a criminal called Kerry Dee Ketchum … who had started his crime spree as a Sherriff’s Deputy.
This guy might not have made national headlines, but he had certainly become locally famous – not to mention a topic of disgust for many cops.
Ketchum made false bank loans, forged checks, uncountable cons, and made an illegal insurance claim for a wife that was still alive. And it was all done under the authority of a small-town badge. But that wasn’t all!
He had even had stolen $200,000 worth of military equipment! Bernard finally got through to the producers and told them who they were really dealing with.
Thankfully, the FBI had taken his tip seriously and was already making plans. The best part? Because of his tip, and law enforcement background, they promised to let him know what happened.
As the hour ran out, the audience saw “Quinn” win his grand prize. They saw him walk off the set with an enormous smile.
But Bernard’s was a million times bigger. When the final details were released to him, he couldn’t believe it. Thanks to him, they had set up a sting and caught Ketchum as he tried to get his winnings early.
The con man had even gone as far as telling producers that he was with the CIA and had to go out on assignment, which is why he needed his winnings early.
He claimed that he had been stationed in the North Pole cracking codes and a bunch of other grandiose nonsense.
In the end, Ketchum walked away in handcuffs instead of to the airport to escape to Turkey.
It was a thrill Bernard never could have imagined. The FBI not only thanked him directly, but the producers also gave some of Ketchum’s winnings to him as a reward! Thursday nights would now be extra special.