He went that way

posted Jan 23, 2017, 5:09 AM by Viktor Zólyomi
An often seen situation in works of fiction is the reliance of a lawbreaker on a friend standing at a junction to send the lawman giving chase in the wrong direction. At such times, the friend says to the lawman, `he went that way,' while pointing in the opposite direction as the one the lawbreaker had taken. Few people know that this often used phrase in fiction actually originates in real life.

In the year 1925 the infamous Red Scoundrel, a masked thief who stalked the streets of Con City for the better part of the 1920s and 1930s, robbed a liquor store while a police officer was on patrol in the neighboring street. As he made his escape, the policeman saw him and gave chase. The Red Scoundrel ran extremely fast and managed to gain a considerable distance on the police officer, who lost sight of him after the thief turned the fourth corner. At the fifth corner, a young man was selling newspapers. The police officer stopped and asked him whether he'd seen the Red Scoundrel.

`He went that way,' the young man said, pointing to his left. The police officer took one glance at the `no entry' sign on the street in question, then decided that the witness was lying, and proceeded to give a one minute sermon about the rules of one way streets and the consequences of lying to a police officer. Finally, he offered the newspaper boy one chance to amend his testimony, or face jail time.

The witness timidly pointed to the right and once again said, `he went that way,' to which the police officer nodded and promptly ran down the one way street. The Red Scoundrel, who had of course gone in the opposite direction, avoided capture that day. The newspaper boy later went on to tell his experience to all his friends, and before long all of Con City knew to always point the police in the opposite direction, should the Red Scoundrel run past them. This was just one of the reasons the Red Scoundrel remained at large for many years to come.

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