Officer Rusty Pink loved reading the Guinness Book of World Records. He especially liked the feats that ordinary people did, like staying under water for six minutes, running all the way across America, and finding the world’s biggest agate.
Officer Rusty Pink wondered what he could do to get into the book himself. He liked the beach, but he was afraid to go into the water.
As a police officer he got only one week of vacation each year. Even if he took the last week in December and the first week in January, giving him two weeks together, he didn’t think he could run across even the narrowest state.
Hmm… which state was the narrowest? Indiana? Florida (Pan Handle)? Rhode Island? New Jersey? He would have to research that! ***
As for finding the biggest, rarest, smallest or most valuable of something, well, Officer Rusty Pink was not very lucky at finding things.
What could he DO to get into the book?
He decided, even though he wasn’t lucky, to try and find something worthy of notice. Since he lived near the beach, he rented a metal detector for $50 for one day, and went down to the public beach. It took him a while to figure out how it worked, but soon he was swishing it back and forth across the sand.
Once, he bumped into a man on an orange towel, who was eating a hot dog. The man yelled at him, “Watch where you are going with that!”
Another time, he thought he found something, but it was just a greasy bag of cold and moldy French Fries with a soda can pull tab mixed in.
He was distracted for a while watching several young boys playing in the waves. It looked like fun and he stepped closer. Then a bigger wave crashed and rushed to where he was standing. The kids yelled in delight, but Officer Rusty Pink backed up in a hurry to keep his boots and his body away from the encroaching foam.
In his hurry to back up, he tripped on some seaweed and fell on his bottom, just missing two teenagers in bikinis sunning themselves on a purple and teal blanket.
“Excuse me! Sorry!” he said and got up, brushing the sand from his backside.
“Hey, quit that!” one of the girls cried. “That sand is sticking too my suntan lotion!”
Officer Rusty Pink felt bad and thought about brushing the sand from the nearest girl’s back, but decided that wasn’t a good idea. It was then he noticed that she had a necklace on backwards, and the small medallion was between her shoulder blades. It was blocking the sun from her skin. It was leaving a tiny line of dots and a medallion shape on her back.
“Did you want that necklace to block your beautiful tan?” he asked.
“What?” she said and sat up quickly. She pulled the chain around to the front and tried to peer at her back. “Maddie, do I have a weird white mark on my back?”
The other girl looked closely. “Oh, don’t worry, Abbie, it’s just a little circle. But it will get pink soon if you lie back down.”
Officer Rusty Pink nodded as the girl named Abby thanked him, and turned to go away.
Then his mind got to thinking. He was getting pretty hot and sweaty wearing his uniform. Maybe he should take off his shirt and get a tan while he worked. Maybe he should take off his boots and socks and roll up his pants as he worked.
So that’s what he did.
Then he asked the girls if he could leave his bundle of clothes and boots near them for safe keeping while he walked around a bit.
Maddie said, “Sure.” Then she noticed his badge peeping out from the pile, still pinned to his shirt. “Hey, are you sure you want to leave this here?”
Officer Rusty Pink decided he didn’t, and hurried to unpin his shiny gold badge from his shirt. But what to do with it?
Then he got an idea! He could get a sun tan around the shape of his badge! Surely no one in the Guinness Book of World Records had ever done that!
Quickly he spread out his shirt on the sand a little ways from the girls. He sat down and laid back onto it, face up. He put the metal detector down beside him to keep it safe, then positioned the badge on his chest just where it would be on his shirt. He put on his mirrored sunglasses on to protect his eyes and laid his head on his cap. “Ahhhhhh,” he said and wondered how long it would take to get a nice suntan.
Hours later his growling stomach wakened him. He was very hungry. It must be way past lunch time. He took the sunglasses from his sweating face and looked around. When he sat up, the now hot badge slid from his chest.
“Ouch,” he said, and bent to pick it out of the sand. “OUCH!!” he cried as his now very sunburned skin wrinkled when he sat up. Ow, ow, ow!
Officer Rusty Pink had not applied any suntan lotion. Officer Rusty Pink’s chest was now a dark rosy pink, except where his badge had been! Ow, ow, ow! It hurt when he touched it.
Then he looked into his shiny gold badge and saw that his face was a deep dark rusty-red color. Except where his mirrored sunglasses had been. The big white circles around his eyes made him look like a raccoon!
“Oh, no!” he cried, and touched his nose gingerly. It was especially tender.
Then he looked down, “‘Oh yes!” he said as he saw the perfect shape of the badge in white skin on his chest.
He was so excited he jumped to his feet. Immediately he felt the sting of sunburn on his very white and tender feet. Ow, ow, ow!!!
All Officer Rusty Pink’s “OW-ING” did was to cause many people to stare at him! He blushed redder, if that was possible.
But one of those people staring – and now laughing at him – was a vacationing newspaper writer named Speedy Scribner. Quickly that man pulled out his camera and took a picture of Officer Rusty Pink hopping on the sand, with his badge in one hand and his sunglasses in the other, and his white raccoon eyes, and his….. perfect white badge outline on his rosy pink chest!
“Can I get your name for a story, sir?” he asked Officer Rusty Pink. “This will be a great human interest article for my newspaper!”
Officer Rusty Pink sighed. He might as well. Getting into a home town newspaper in Ohio or Oklahoma might be easier than getting into the Guinness Book of World Records, which probably already had lots of people with funny sunburns.
“Sure,” Officer Rusty Pink said, and stood still while the newspaper man took more pictures and then asked a bunch of questions while he scribbled on a tiny flip-over notebook.
Two weeks later, Speedy Scribner sent Officer Rusty Pink a copy of the newspaper which featured him on the front cover.
“World Book Record Seeker Gets A Permanent Badge.”
Speedy Scribner had written a nice story, and even plugged the Police Station that Officer Rusty Pink worked for.
It was a good thing that Officer Rusty Pink did NOT have a sunburn on his back. This way he could smile at his boss and not yell, “Ow, ow, ow!”
However he did get a lot of jokes about his raccoon eyes and was called Officer Raccoon Pink for a few weeks until the sunburn faded.
*** The narrowest state is Rhode Island at 37 miles. (“Hmm,” says Officer Rusty Pink, “I could probably run across Rhode Island in less than one week of vacation. I will have to try that!”)
*** The widest state (with all its islands) is Alaska at 2,661 miles. (“WOW!!” says Officer Rusty Pink.)
*** The “average” width of all the states is 311 miles.
1,366 words — a fast, STORY STORM story for kids.