I never dreamed of becoming a detective. Just like all the other kids, I had farfetched dreams of being a firefighter, an astronaut, or maybe even the president of the United States. I don’t recall ever considering becoming a detective, but that’s the occupation I ended up choosing. Or rather, it was the occupation that ended up choosing me.
By the time my wife and I retired, we had an endless amount of stories to tell. Stories of the criminals we stopped together as a crime fighting duo, or of how many times we were able to defy death due to the perfect mixture of quick thinking and a little bit of luck. Each and every time one of our children or friends asked, we would tell them a different tale. We told hundreds of stories, never repeating a single one, and while some may have doubted them, each and every tale was true with no exaggeration on our part.
Although I would tell a different story each time, the beginning was always the same. I couldn’t tell one of my great tales without telling my audience how I became a detective. I would always begin each and every story with the same introduction: “It all began the day a mystery found me…”
On the day I graduated from high school, I was contacted by a secret organization called JDFA, or the Junior Detective Foundation of America. Every year, the president of the organization would choose ten young men and women who had just graduated from high school. To be chosen, one needed either exceptional grades, or very high SAT/ACT scores, be a leading figure in their community, and be under the surveillance of an elite JDFA agent. This was all conducted under the radar, since the JDFA was in fact, a secret organization, much like the CIA, and those who were not members of this group usually had no knowledge of its existence.
My life changed the day I received a letter from the JDFA president. Once I agreed to join, and to keep the organization a secret, they whisked me away, to undergo training. As for my family and friends, some of the JDFA agents covered for me in that aspect.
One day I was standing in front of a flood of happy families and fellow students at graduation, and the very next day I found myself standing at attention with the other nine candidates from around the country. I can remember the JDFA’s president’s speech very well.
“Hello, I am Nancy Stiles, the president of the Junior Detectives of America.” The woman paused as she was greeted with applause from all of the agents attending the ceremony, and us candidates as well. “This organization is one very dear to me. My husband Raymond and I founded this together, in the hopes to drastically reduce crime throughout the world.” She stopped talking again as everyone in the room began to clap once more.
“Our mission is to make the world a safer place by training the country’s most talented young adults to become the world’s greatest detectives. All ten of you young men and women that are standing in front of me are all very special people. For the last three hundred and sixty five days, each of you have been under surveillance by the partner I have handpicked to be your mentor for the next few years in your training. And now I believe it’s time for you to meet that person.”
The only word that could describe my feelings back then was “nervous”. I normally never let my nerves get to me, but I knew that my partner was going to make a huge impact on my performance. You must stick with your partner for a total of five years, and then, if they decide that you have what it takes, you will be able to handle high-level missions alone, or with a team of your choice.
To match the number of candidates, there were ten JDFA agents for each of us to be paired with. The only thing running through my mind at the time was what my friend from the training camp had told me:
“Jack, I’ve heard a lot about the ten officers that we can be assigned to this year. You should cross your fingers that you don’t get Max, Leslie, or Blaine. Blaine is the oldest of the three, he’s known for failing every single rookie he gets assigned. Max has a bad record as well, he’s very harsh on the rookies and out of the ten rookies he’s trained, three of them have died in the field. Leslie is the youngest and newest JDFA officer. She is famous for becoming an officer with just one month of rookie training. She’s gorgeous, but everyone is expecting her to be insanely tough.”
I stood there in place, praying I wouldn’t get Max, Blaine, or Leslie. I was hoping that I would get one of the other seven officers.
“Jack Spencer,” My heart skipped a beat as my name was called. “The officer that has been paired with you is our newest agent. She holds the record for the shortest time of any rookie to ever finish training. Meet Leslie Sylvia, your new mentor.” My heart sank, as the words hit me. I had been paired with one of the three officers I didn’t want to be with.