Since the police chief was getting pressure to stop the incidents, Officer Delinko knew that catching the vandals would be a feather in his cap - and possibly the first step toward a promotion. His long-term career goal was to become a detective, and the Mother Paula case was a chance to show he had the right stuff. (4.40)
It won't put an actual feather in his cap. That just means catching the vandals would make him look good. But he's definitely after that recognition, because he's certain that it'll help him achieve his goals.
My whole career is in jeopardy, Officer Delinko thought angrily, all because of some smart-ass juvenile delinquents. He was more determined than ever to catch them in the act. (6.67)
Catching the Mother Paula vandals is now a personal matter for Officer Delinko. If he's able to solve the case, it'll get his career back on track. Plus, catching the bad guys is what police officers love to do.
David Delinko was proud to be a policeman. His father had been a robbery detective in Cleveland, Ohio, and his older brother was a homicide detective in Fort Lauderdale - and a detective is what David Delinko fervidly wanted to be, someday. (7.71)
There's no doubt in Officer Delinko's mind about what he wants to be when he grows up. And sitting behind a desk doing paperwork is not part of that dream. Even more reason why he has to catch the vandals.
In Montana, ospreys lived in the cottonwoods all along the big rivers, where they dived on trout and whitefish. Roy had been pleasantly surprised to find that Florida had ospreys, too. It was remarkable that the same species of bird was able to thrive in two places so far apart, and so completely different.
If they can do it, Roy thought, maybe I can, too. (8.71-72)
This is a turning point for Roy and he starts to give his new life in Florida a fair shot.
"You're sayin' it's a lost cause, right? Come on, Tex, you gotta start thinkin' like an outlaw."
"But I'm not an outlaw."
"Yeah, you are. Last night at the hospital - that was definitely an outlaw move." (14.99-101)
Roy may not believe it, but he's more heroic (and much more of an outlaw) than he thinks. Kinda like this brave bull rider he wants to be like...
Roy sat cross-legged on the floor, gazing up at the cowboy poster from the Livingston rodeo. He wished he was as brave as a champion bull rider, but he wasn't. (15.1)
We think that standing up to bullies is pretty brave. And does Roy forget about how he socked Dana in the nose? A coward certainly doesn't do that.
Smiling, Roy dropped to the lawn and took two steps back from the Matherson house. He proceeded to do something that was drastically out of character for a boy who was basically shy. What he did was salute crisply, spin around, drop his pants, and bend over. (15.23-24)
Oh, no he didn't! Oh, yes he did. This takes some major guts to do to another person—let alone a bully. We're starting to doubt the severity of Roy's shyness.
Chuck Muckle whipped off his shades and eyed the patrolman dubiously. "You wouldn't happen to be the same crackerjack lawman who fell asleep in his car while the vandal trashed our survey stakes, would you?"
"The same genius," Mr Muckle went on, "whose careless sleep habits resulted in a newspaper article that unfairly smeared the good name and reputation of Mother Paula? Was that you?"
"Yeah, that would be him," Curly said. (19.79-82)
This is not the fame Delinko is looking for. His reputation is getting to be the screw-up cop instead of the future detective. Delinko wants to save the day, not be a joke.
"How'd you get here?" he asked.
"Hopped the fence last night. Then I hid under the backhoe," the boy said. "You walked right past me about five times."
"You're the one who painted my patrol car last week?"
"And ran away from the hospital?"
"Double no comment," the boy said.
"And hung your green shirt on my antenna?"
"Man, you don't understand. The owls got no chance against those machines."
"I do understand. I honestly do," Officer Delinko said. (20.97-105)
Looks like Officer Delinko finally figured out who has been messing with him and the construction site. But instead of slapping handcuffs on Mullet Fingers and hauling him off, what he does next is lie for the kid. This is quite the turnaround from the policeman who was determined to catch the bad guys. Maybe he had a change of heart regarding who the bad guys are.
Guess I'll have to come back another day and try again, Roy thought. That's what a real Florida boy would do. (Epilogue.79)
Is Roy saying that he wants to be a real Florida boy? Sure sounds like it.