Saturday, October 31, 2020
Wednesday, October 28, 2020
Her voice echoed down the alley, bouncing off the buildings, loud in
the crisp air. Once strident and accusatory, now pleading, bemoaning the
hour, the situation, a bit more aggressive. Shutting the walk-up loft's
battered door carefully behind him, he quickened his pace. She was
holding her own. He wondered when she would contradict herself. As
though it mattered.
"Ma'am. We're just saying there have been complaints."
A man's voice. It carried a warning. He was becoming annoyed. The three chevrons on his sleeve heaved and roiled, biceps flexing nervously, the blue cloth barely restraining them. Behind where he stood two squads cars waited in the little parking space. Just beyond the altercation beginning to unfold, hidden from the view of passersby, lay a respite of sorts.
Tucked into a notch between buildings, its few humble
features remained relatively undisturbed, placed with care and an eye
for design. Two worn but sturdy benches flanked a huge circular picnic
table with seats attached, liberated from the back of the bar next door.
During a somewhat drunken debauch of self-righteousness, it had been
rolled away in broad daylight. There it stood at odd angles to three
wooden planters with found weeds inside, strains of native prairie
plants a thousand years old, seeds carried on a jet stream.
From a Shepard's hook in a corner hung a bird feeder and chimes, a place to store ladders and other implements on the opposite. Always at the ready, a cooking grill stood in the center. Neat and orderly as any English garden, a border of Perennials completed the scene. The tiny oasis belied the bleakness of the neighborhood's meager prospects. It was a sanctuary literally carved out of the asphalt.
Humming and clicking as they cooled, the police cars squatted menacingly, paint schemes in black and white a stark contrast to the gold insignias like badges on each door. The constant babble of radioed dispatches emitted unintelligible commands to anyone more than a few feet distant. Adding to the cacophony, strobe lights flashing red and blue, every surface of worn Chicago brick bedazzled without mercy.
She seemed oblivious to the danger despite this tension. "Or is she", he thought? He couldn't be sure even now. Implacably forceful or subtly benign, her moods could stymie him. At times it made him want to retreat. Walking out quietly, sometimes he did, or to go for a drive. He would jump on the trampoline with her other times. She could engage on an uncomfortably personal level, arguing every point impossible somehow, total strangers or her beloveds, until he forgot how it started. It didn't often matter, since both were adult children of alcoholics, or was it a peculiarity of the neighborhood?
Two more officers lingered in the shadows, chattering quietly like bored observers watching a ballgame.
"Why can't we enjoy our birthdays! It's just a little party!" Her speech slurred slightly. " It's 10-10-10!"
As though explaining to the dullest of children, she enunciated with an emphasis of particular stridency, tangential or not, sibilants less distinct with each phrase.
"We can't even celebrate our birthdays?!" She repeated dates and numbers to anybody who might be listening.
Closer now, he inhaled and breathed out, slowed his walk, willing himself a compliant posture. Making sure to stay in the light, he held both hands open and in plain sight.
Nearing the end of his patience, the Sargeant's voice took on a darker tone.
"Ma'am, we've been called out twice. Next time, somebody's going down." He wasn't having any circular arguments. The warning had been directed at the both of them.
The husband directed his gaze at his wife only and smiled.
"What'cha doin', hon? Gettin' into a fight with the cops?" like berating a little girl, he continued, calmly yet each word with the slightest emphasis.
"I just took the dogs in now. We're all goin' in - right now."
Both promise and order, an offer of compliance to the Sargeant, feigned admonishment to his wife. Surely she knew how to respond? The situation had turned serious.
He'd been in a similar situation years earlier and only a few blocks away. Like this one, it started with the neighbors and a noise complaint raising someone's ire. Subsequently, a radio turned too loud set off a chain of events uncommon to a local noise ordinance. With the right set of personality traits any situation can escalate from the ridiculous to sublime. Involving police contact, in an instant a right horror show.
complainant was known to the police department as a serial caller to
911 who placed grievances against the officers responding if she felt
slighted or deemed "enforcement" was lacking.
The lady of that house where the call was made on became belligerent enough to be put under arrest. A guest, practically a stranger, inexplicably jumped up and assaulted one officer.
Calls went out for back up. Stuck in a no man's land, the husband went to ground when an officer stuck his fingers in his eyes from behind. Eerily calm, he complimented the effectiveness of the hold. This earned him curses, boots and a tasing he didn't even feel, so involved was he in the wonder of police tactics.
Sixteen officers responded to the call in all, a few were acquaintances from the tavern they'd both frequent. A vehement argument broke out with the first officers on the scene. Fisticuffs broke out in the middle of the street. None of this appeared on the record. A witness later quipped the scene resembled sharks at a kill.
What had set off this misfortune? The husband told his wife to get in the house. His voice attracted the attention of an angry Lieutenant on scene. He then gave chase to the wife who managed to elude him. She locked the screen door behind her and then taunted him through the screen as he commanded her to come out. The husband eluded three tackles before his capture.
Many years later, they both understood the other's most subtle gestures. As if on cue, respond she did.
Abruptly turning on her heel, she marched off in the opposite direction. Her arms and elbows apace with her gait, it appeared as though to make a last stand in the garden cul de sac. For the briefest of moments he looked after her not sure what to do.
Well aware that pursuit of this one could lead in many unexpected directions, he remained still. Quietly, he observed her gamine walk, so compelling and graceful, a rare species in retreat, the insides of her long wrists exposed and turned slightly askew.
For whatever odd reason, the strains of a familiar love song came to him. Maybe a chord from a car stereo passing on Highway 61 set it off. This conjured up a picture, a gathering of people your Mother wouldn't approve of, its melody lilting, an old standard Norteno style, lyrics evoking casual friendships become intense affairs and grown more entwined than bargained for. An odd exhilaration overcame him then, reckless and inviting, shivering up his spine. He exhaled quickly, like stifling an errant laugh during a sermon in church. His humor was doubtlessly irreverent, however.
At that moment she, too, was overcome. Her voice was always one that carried. Nor did it go unnoticed this time. an obscene insult hung precariously in the crisp, night air, taunting as an errant curve ball. And in that instant the situation changed. Authority had been breached. Egos were at stake. A determination had to be made. This ball was about to be smacked out of the park.
Throughout the shift the young cop riding shotgun beside the Sargeant remained quiet and motionless. Therefore he was unnoticed. Slumped in the car seat as he was, he was able to observe without being seen, a tactic he'd learned during two tours in Afghanistan and the Mid East. He'd also learned the art of ambush, training extensively in assault tactics, before transfer to a Police unit attached to JSOC. A stranger in a strange land, he'd guarded and arrested foreigners and friendlies alike; even stood patrol over some peculiarly questionable fields of native crops.
Mostly, his duties were apprehensions involving rapid, fully armed actions against unknown targets. The bulk were turkey walks, fully equipped squadrons against one or two unarmed suspects, actions Blackwater and other unnamed mercenary units wouldn't or couldn't handle.
On his discharge he'd locked in a police department job within just a few weeks. This was his 6th actual duty night out, and he was bored to death. Like the sound of a starter's gun, his demeanor burst from quiet watcher to angry agitation.
"What did you say, Ma'am?!" No response. "Wait a minute - come back here!"
The last order barked with command. He'd had enough posh talk - any patience he'd learned on this job had suddenly regressed to tactical training and muscle memory.
Barely able to wrest control, the weary Sargeant looked ready to stand down and let the excited rookie run with it. But, in his haste, the newbie had locked himself in the car. He hadn't learned to be a good Jump Out Boy yet, tackling unassuming pedestrians with a leap out of a moving SUV from behind tinted windows. Robbed of this exhilaration, he cursed his inattention and fumbled with the handle.
The husband still hadn't moved. He lingered as though in deep contemplation, eyeing his wife's retreat, seemingly unaware of the forces gathering around him. Actually, struck by the incongruity and happenstance, he marveled at the chain of events that had led to that point in time, its escalation and Absurdity.
In his position to "agree" with the new recruit and stand down would be the safest course. He felt the aggravation in his voice and the menace below its surface. His funds were low and bail for two would be impossible on short notice. The country was still in a Recession. The multi-billion dollar industry of fraud carried on unabated. He lived by his wits and his craft, breadwinner an anachronism, building a name for himself in the Black Economy at worst.
Who would want to spend the weekend in jail anyway? You could get roughed up in the process - he'd heard the stories of the trip up the isolated jailhouse elevator. The memory inherent in unchecked authority washed over him like an icy blackness. Sighing inaudibly, he gathered himself as the young cop flung open the door. He turned, with a smile, and then spoke.
"Ahhh, she's just had too much to drink is all."
delivered like some country bumpkin. He scuffed the toe of his boot
along the pavement, for emphasis, which placed him squarely to block the
squad car's door.
Short of leering, his grin widened, a little over the top but for a lack of concern in his eye. The display distracted the young cop. He hadn't trained quite this way. He'd certainly never been confronted so.
The husband's body language reverted to a cat taking pleasure in teasing a mouse.
" ... gee, officer - guess I better get control of my bitch."
each in turn,
the crickets all go silent -
Tuesday, October 27, 2020
Wednesday, October 21, 2020
by wiggy jones, "the little hippie boy"
Thursday, October 8, 2020
by nick nelson
Sunday, October 4, 2020
by bofa xesjum
Saturday, October 3, 2020
by nick nelson