Perhaps music, which, as the poet tells us, hath charms to soothe the savage beast, works equally well on policemen, a theory not tested, as far as I know, in the physical or the metaphysical realm since Orpheus got past Cerberus and into Hades to find his beloved Eurydice, and our would-be sax man may hope that his best rendition of Body and Soul in the style of Lester Young or that playing Ben Webster’s best bits from Take the A Train will slow the cops down sufficiently for our burglar and his accomplices to get on the A train and make good their escape. The method is clearly not foolproof; it did not work for Orpheus, but that mishap was the fault of doubt playing on his mind, not the fault of his musicianship, and the pursuing policemen may be fans of Dexter Gordon or Coleman Hawkins, or worse, may prefer Dizzy Gillespie or Miles Davis to anyone who plays the tenor saxophone. Such are the uncertainties of a tenor sax-playing burglar’s life.
Or perhaps our burglar has larger game on his mind. If the Pied Piper of Hamelin could empty of a town of its rats and then of its children, then presumably a tenor saxophone-playing burglar could empty a zoo of its hippopotamuses, although why he should want to do this is yet another mystery to me. Turning a large and extremely irascible riverine mammal with a propensity for spraying its dung about promiscuously loose on the unsuspecting population of a large American urban center is not a good thing, either for the population, who will be understandably upset at the prospect of having a hippo spray dung all over their clean shoes, or for the burglar, who can hardly hide the fact that he is leading a parade of hippos out of the city to the tune of When the Saints go marching in from the police, a professionally cynical group of people not apt to believe that the trailing line of aquatic beasts are jazz lovers or the Second Line of dancers at a New Orleans-style funeral; real life does not resemble Disney’s Fantasia in any way that I am aware of. Hippopotamus rustling may not be a crime where you live, but I am certain that it is a crime somewhere, and I feel fairly sure that it is a crime in this particular large American urban center, simply because most large American urban centers have many silly laws about many silly things, but, unfortunately, saying large American urban center instead of big city is not one of them, despite the best efforts of Messrs. Strunk and White to omit needless words from American prose style.
Here in our happy little burg, for example, which is not at all a big city and has no laws against rustling hippopotamuses, the solons who rule over us, a group of pols as honest as the day is long in December, decree with great solemnity that no one may keep pigs anywhere within the city limits, and so no one does, but there is no law forbidding the keeping of crazy people, and so we are awash in crazy people, who wander the streets day and night looking for money to buy coffee and bring said coffee into the egregious mold pit wherein I labor for my living, even though there are signs everywhere saying that they cannot do this, and they proceed to spill this contraband coffee onto our recently cleaned carpet, which is why we have signs saying no open beverages here in the first place. I do not know why the municipal government finds pigs so offensive and crazy people not so offensive, or why stealing a car is a crime here but rustling a hippopotamus is not, but the one thing I am reasonably certain of is that absolutely no one will explain the rationale to me, something I’ve noticed over the years and that I still think is just plain rude.