Tales From The Hood - Chapter 4 - Gabrielle

Editor's note:

With this chapter we come to the fourth and final installment of Ron DeLaby's novela - Tales From The Hood. We hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as we have enjoyed bringing it you.


Remember this work contains real-world adult situtations and is not suitable for kids or fuddy-duddies - now that we have your attention, let's get it on!

By Ron DeLaby

Every man with an idea has at least two or three followers ? Brooks Atkinson

While the situation in the north end was concluding, an entirely different situation was developing, this time involving numbers of off duty personnel. Mention the word party to policemen and there will never be a shortage of participants. It was a well-established fact that the boys from the P.D. were among the best party hounds in the state. The Sheriff?s department, not wanting to be left out of the limelight, had been rumored to attempt some river bottom soirees. The parties, which included the introduction of alcohol deprived dispatchers to strange and unusual practices, paled in comparison to the inventiveness of their city dwelling cousins. Of the more memorable P.D. bashes, the one involving the lovely Gabrielle would be passed down from generation to generation.

Gabrielle Schnauchz was a twenty-eight year old divorcee who had four basic requirements for the sustenance of life: Food; Oxygen; Sex and Alcohol, not necessarily in that order. She worked the 4-12 shift at Cindy?s Restaurant at University and Iowa. Because of the lifelong relationship between policemen and restaurants, it wasn?t long before Gabrielle discovered a catalyst for two of her requirements. There is an old saying about women loving men in uniform and it is widely believed Gabrielle authored that very thought.

Now, among the officers of 3rd watch there was also a widespread belief: you can?t get enough booze or enough pussy. In fact to support that belief, the word was quickly put out amongst the anointed that the early Roman Legions, predecessors of the modern police warrior, also subscribed to that concept. Proof of this was offered following the showing of an old movie of roman troops marching off to battle. Heading each cohort was a soldier carrying a sign that read ?SPQR?. The sign was translated by the more learned on the department to mean, ?The Roman Quest for Strange Pussy?

In the eternal SPQR there were those who had their private stock and for reasons known only to them, selfishly refused to share the booty with their brother officers. Since logic and reason failed to persuade, it was up to the remaining doggies to find their own bones.

The discovery of Gabrielle?s talents, and there were many, took less time than it took a spider to shrink-wrap a moth. Uniformed cops instinctively know where horny women abide. Since their motto is to ?Protect and Service,? what choice did they really have? With that rationalization firmly established their duty was clear. Service and duty called.

The relationship between Gabrielle Schnauchz and the officers of 3rd watch started innocently enough. A smile. A nod. The suggestion of a drink after work and before you could say psychopathic nymphomania the word was out. Gabrielle soon became known as pubic squeeze number one.

A slightly built, attractive blond in her own right, her shy persona melted away after a few small helpings of Jim Beam, Kamchatka, Jose Cuervo or scope mouthwash. In fact, alcohol in almost any form would change the sweet demure waitress from Miss Jeckyl to Madame hide the sausage. Pulling the train was her unique specialty and it was rumored she had entertained as many as 8-10 happy campers in succession.

Gabrielle?s name was of undetermined Germanic origin and therefore virtually unpronounceable to the standard police tongue. Therefore Schnauchz quickly became snacks and ultimately, SnackCake. Her latest adventures thus became the topic of conversation wherever two fellow members of the law enforcement community met to exchange notes over warm conversation, good fellowship and lots of booze.

Now, there are two unwritten maxims in the police service: Maxim#1; the deadly mixture of free, loose women and virtually unlimited quantities of alcohol is a delicate combination. When properly vented, i.e. sex, it maintains a self-driven equilibrium. Maxim #2; when out of balance, i.e. lack of immediate sexual gratification, it becomes as deadly as a fertilizer and fuel oil bomb.

So it was destined to happen. The word went out among the thin blue line that there was to be a poker party on the upcoming Friday night. There would be the usual chips, dips, beer and cards; and oh yeah, SnackCake.

Throughout the department there was a subtle tectonic shift in personal plans. Activities were cancelled and wives were placed on notice that the upcoming poker game could well determine the fate of the free world.

Over the protests of wives whose husbands had heretofore shown as much interest in cards games as in helping to plan baby showers, the movement began.

?But you NEVER play poker.?

?Can?t I take up a simple hobby without your criticism? Good God woman, remember the fate of the free world rests on the outcome of this game.?

The forces of nature converged.

The house was a typical three bedroom, one and a half bath, California style ranch about 35 years old. It had been through several sets of children and pets as well as one or two newly marrieds and a retired couple. Its walls had beheld the very basics of civilized life and family stability.

It was presently owned by two of the department?s finest. Richard Tessler and Dominic Ferrante. Tessler was a six-year patrol officer recently transferred from Los Angeles Sheriff?s Department. Ferrante was a five-year patrol officer who had only recently added his first hash mark to his crisp blue uniform shirt. Both considered themselves to be the answer to the question posed by western women, ?Was there life without Ferrante and Tessler??

Although they weren?t currently radio car partners, they blended like rum and coca cola, smooth and sweet. Each had a personality that complimented the other; Tessler?s straight man to Ferrante?s set up gigs. Both represented what the police department?s recruiters looked for in their best dreams. Good physical appearance, uniforms immaculately tailored, empathy and compassion for the less fortunate. They could have been poster children for the United States Marine Corps.

Their house likewise reflected their good taste, a combination of English Gentry and hunting lodge. Their social soirees were quiet, sedate affairs carefully planned to avoid attention from the neighbors. If said neighbors ever entertained concerns about two good looking, well groomed single men with immaculate tastes in home furnishings and automobiles, they never really voiced them and needn?t have worried.

One of Ferrante?s favorite tricks, B.R. (before Rugs) was to tape record the nocturnal vocalizations of his more ardent sex partners. During particularly bestial fornication these vocalizations were known to reach high ?C?. Of course no self-respecting gentleman would keep such a treasure to himself so the recordings were shared with the entire third watch at roll call.

Since Ferrante had become the undisputed master of the pinhole camera, no room in the house was safe from the all seeing, eye. As a result videos were available at discreet showings and the favored few developed an awestruck appreciation for the Chief?s new secretary.

On the eve of the poker game, which was shortly to be inducted into the police department?s hall of fame, the neighbors were being individually and discreetly told of the upcoming event. The task was relegated to Ferrante as the one with the most talented tongue. A truism attested to by many women for various reasons. His Italian good looks and his glib personality slithered their way into the hearts of his fellow homeowners.

?Mrs. Renaldi. How are you this lovely day? My, but you?ve lost weight haven?t you? You are looking good. Don?t tell Frank I said so, now. We don?t want a jealous husband on our hands do we? Incidentally, we?re planning a small (emphasis demonstrated by the placement of index finger and thumb approximately 1/8 inch apart) party.?

Or, ?Hey, John. How?s it going buddy? Sylvia was asking about you. You remember Sylvia? I had her over for the pool barbeque last week: 5?2?, blond, bigggg gazongas, flesh colored thong; yeah, that one. She thought you were a hunk, man. What can I say? Ohh, incidentally??

And so it went, the king of schmooze, preparing a carpet of foam to lessen the impending impact of the upcoming 787 wide body event.

By 7:00 p.m. on Friday night cars were starting to fill in the curb spaces in front of the neighbors? houses. In the party house the den, living room and kitchen were starting to fill up as individuals nursed beers and shared war stories or complaints about dispatchers and their general lack of concern for the safety of their police charges.

Jolly was on his fourth Budweiser as a follow up to the twelve-pack he had consumed before leaving home. His blood alcohol content was rapidly reaching a happy functioning level of .15%.

Ferrante had been regaling two younger officers with his interpretation of a recent decision concerning racial profiling. One of the officers was having a difficult time with judicial interpretations, as they always seemed to favor the wrong set of people.

?Look, Dom. It?s just crap. If two white dudes stick up some mom and pop store no one says shit, but if some poor oppressed minority does it we can?t even stop ?em and check ?em out? That?s total and complete bullshit.?

?They didn?t say you couldn?t stop them, John.? Ferrante replied. ?They said you couldn?t sit by the side of the road and stop every black guy or Mexican that drives by. You can?t fish for bad guys.?

?Works for me,? said the second of the two.

?Nine times out of ten you come up with something. I?d say those were good enough odds to gamble on.?

?You?re missing the whole point,? responded Ferrante. ?Here, hold on, I need a refill.?

Reaching into the refrigerator Ferrante looked out the kitchen window and saw Gabrielle?s little yellow ford escort pull up to the curb. Two 1st watch guys were moving a couple of orange pylons, which had been strategically placed for just that purpose. They waved her in as though parking an airliner. She got out of the car carrying a brown Stater Bros. grocery bag and kissed both of the men on the cheek. She smiled as she walked up the sidewalk toward the house. Ferrante noted that she was wearing a light cotton blouse and a pair of shorts. ?Pretty face and nice legs,? he mused, appreciatively.

The doorbell rang and there was a small buzz of conversation as she came in. Friendly greetings and some cheers rang out.

?Hey Gabby.?

?Hiya sweetie. How?s it going??

Gabrielle acknowledged each greeting with a smile or a peck on the cheek of the greeter. She also welcomed the occasional pat on her rear end with a giggle.

Tessler entered the kitchen with his arm around the girl. He was carrying her sack.

?Look whose here,? he said.

?Hey, baby,? Ferrante cooed.

?Kiss.? He pecked her on the lips.

?Whatcha drinkin?? He asked.

?Just a beer for me? She replied. ?I have to go slow tonight.?

Ferrante gave her a horrified look.

?What? No. You?ve done it. You?ve joined the convent. Our Sisters of Perpetual Orgasms.?

She giggled. ?No, silly. I just need to slow down. I?ve been a little wild.?

?Wild Thang,? Crooned Ferrante.

?You make my heart sing,? echoed Tessler.

?You make everything, groovy,? they harmonized.

Someone from the other room grabbed her hand and started pulling her into the living room.

?Maybe tomorrow, then.? She smiled at Ferrante and shrugged.

He laughed and thought, ?Ohh Lord.?

A poker table was set up in the dining room and a game was going. Small groups of men gathered in the hall and kitchen. The crackle of ice cubes and the clink of glasses competed with the fizz of fresh cans of beer being opened. Gabrielle Schnauchz was the only woman in the house.

No one knows how such a message is communicated. Some believe it is a telepathic phenomenon, some have held there is a change in the astral plane. Regardless of the method of conveyance, the word did indeed go out. There was a party at Ferrante and Tessler?s? and SnackCake was in attendance.

At first it was some of the morning watch guys on days off, then a couple of sheriff?s deputies dropped by. By nine-o?clock several off duty highway patrol officers were at the door.

As the conversational noise level rose, the stereo music inched up to compensate for the discrepancy. Beer runs were being made and each time the front door was opened an undulating blanket of sound crept out onto the quiet residential street. Seismographs were beginning to pick up the slightest beginnings of energy transfer.

Snackcake was well into her sixth drink and was showing signs of loosening up. She was on the glass coffee table demonstrating her version of Madonna on PCP. The living room was packed with an appreciative audience.

Helpful volunteers had seen to it that Gabrielle?s glass was never empty and her drinks were always fresh. Fresh by police standards was guaranteed to poison the normal human. Beer had given way to rare California Chablis bottled two weeks previous. The Chablis metastasized into rum and coke and finally, rum with coke coloring.

The average person can be expected to burn off approximately one ounce of alcohol per hour. An experienced drinker like Gabrielle was better able to compensate for the effects of alcohol poisoning based, in part, on the fact that her liver was approximately the size of a regulation NFL football.

Nevertheless, as each new drink was poured it became darker and stronger until they were averaging two and a half shots of alcohol to one eighth of an ounce of Coca-Cola. It was an awesome thing to behold.

A chorus of cheers could be heard to emanate from the living room with each bump and grind.

The quiet residential street had turned into a parking lot. By eleven o?clock there were no curbside spaces available. In fact, the neighbor?s driveways were occupied, having been confiscated for this police emergency. Cars were now stacked up in such a way that no one could get in or out. As long as the doors and windows of the party house stayed closed and the rest of the neighbors remained engrossed in their evening sit-coms, the lid remained on the pot. The pot, however, was beginning to show signs of coming to a boil.

A small cluster of partygoers had assembled outside under a streetlight. A newly purchased Walther PPK in stainless .380 caliber was being passed around. Several of the admirers had already tested the weight, grip and feel of the weapon. Appreciative comments had been exchanged.

?Nice grip,? said one.

?Conceals easy, huh?? questioned another.

?The trigger pull seems a little hard,? volunteered a third as he sighted in on the overhead mercury vapor streetlight.


The hammer of the small semi-automatic had traversed to the end of its design length and upon reaching that point reversed course downward at warp speed. The firing pin struck the primer of a seated round setting off yet a second chain of events.

The pressure of impact caused a compression of gasses, which generated heat, which ignited the gunpowder in the brass casing. This in turn propelled the semi-jacketed hollow point bullet in a spiraling rush down the alternately raised lands and grooves of the short barrel. The bullet, now traveling at roughly eleven hundred feet per second came into contact with the glass covering of the mercury vapor light, shattering the glass and extinguishing the light. The sequence of events occurred much faster than you could say, ?Ohh Shit!?

For the briefest of moments the small group stared in stunned, disbelieving silence. The ejected casing hit the asphalt of the street with a small ting and did a little circular dance before coming to rest. The acrid aroma of gunpowder wafted up, teasing individual olfactory nerves and cementing the harsh reality of the event.

Then everyone began talking at once.

?You dumb fuck.?

?Whaddya mean? Why didn?t you tell me it was loaded??

?Guns are ALWAYS fucking loaded, you moron.?

?Gimme that fucking thing. God Damn. What an idiot.?

?Jesus. Let?s get back inside before someone comes out.?

?Shit. How was I supposed to know??

As the group reentered the residence they unleashed yet another amorphous mass of sound which quickly dissipated into the cool night air.

A block away, and over a screaming commercial extolling the benefits of hemorrhoid suppositories, a husband turned to his wife and asked,

?Did you hear something??

?No. What, dear??

?I dunno. Sounded like an explosion or something.?

?No. I didn?t hear anything,? The wife replied. ?Hmmm. OK, then.? Finalized the husband.

The beast was beginning to awaken.

Years from now anthropologists may study the cause and effect of alcohol and the police mentality. Policemen today instinctively know the phenomenon as a state of ?invisibility.? Simply put, it is pretty much the understanding that alcohol is an integral part of being able to cope and function in a thankless job, fraught with peril. This combined with the knowledge that since ?we are the cops,? there?s no reason to worry about a gathering getting out of hand. Hence, ?You owe it to us and we?re really just invisible anyway.?

The shooters had retreated to the sanctuary of the party and had lost all interest in muzzle velocity.

In the meantime SnackCake had reached up inside her blouse to perform a magic trick for her admirers. In a display of manual dexterity known only to women, she was able to remove her bra and drag it out through her right sleeve. She twirled the prize over her head a few times before tossing it into the crowd like a bridal bouquet; all without missing a step to the music. The prize was set upon by a snarling pack of semi-inebriates, each bent upon retrieving it as a personal trophy.

Now that she had broken free from the bonds of bradom, SnackCake was writhing to the music and toying with the top button of her blouse. A chant was taken up. Slowly at first, then building to a crescendo.

?yes, yes, Yes, Yes, YES, YES, YES!?

The first button opened to a cheer from the growing crowd. Three more sheriffs? deputies and another highway patrolman drifted in, swelling the ranks to thirty-five to forty people. Later estimates would range from seventy-five to one hundred, but civilians are well known to be prone to hysteria and make poor witnesses.

In short order the remaining buttons were undone and the blouse was dragged seductively back and forth. First off one shoulder then the other. In the process an occasional glimpse could be had of one or the other pinkish brown nipples supported nicely by estimated 34C cup breasts.

The average American male will tell you that three days without sex pushes the comfort-o-meter into the discomfort range. Policemen have senses much more finely tuned due to their extensive training and will be able to tell you the exact moment the lackanookie synapse occurs. First, there is a subtle buildup of pressure which immediately triggers and internal alarm which screams ?WARNING, WARNING! White count approaching critical mass.? If the warning is ignored there can be serious side effects such as impaired vision, lack of concentration and extreme irritability culminating in such classic exchanges as,

?OK, Asshole. What color traffic light would it take for you to stop for us today??

It is widely held that the 1964 Los Angeles riots were the result of just such circumstances. In any event the conditions required for maxim #2 were fast approaching.

The music was resonating a primal beat as SnackCake, now completely caught up in the moment, abandoned all efforts to keep the front of her blouse closed. The chanting grew in intensity.


As she threatened to take it off altogether the crowd began to clap in time with the chanting. With a whoop she pulled the blouse off and threw it overhead into the seething mass of testosterone where it was promptly digested. Now divested of all topside encumbrances, Snackcake began to dance in earnest. The glistening of sweat shone brightly on finely proportioned breasts. They began a dance of their own in time with the music. Gabrielle was happy, her breasts were happy and the law enforcement community was exceedingly happy.

Holding up a far corner of the living room wall was Harry Link. Harry was a ten-year veteran who neither drank nor smoked nor engaged in wild sex (or any sex for that matter). It was well known Harry?s wife who was 80-100 pounds overweight and 80-100 years old had sworn him off such disgusting behavior for his own good. Harry was 40ish and balding. He was slightly built and wore Clark Kent frames for his glasses rather than the killer cool Gargoyles worn by the young, with it crew. In fact, he went without sunglasses altogether. No one could understand how he could possible function as a policeman without sunglasses.

Harry had been kidnapped and taken to the party. He had originally asked for a ride home from one on the young lions and was preparing his thoughts for a scintillating night of crossword puzzles when he realized he wasn?t going home.

?Where are you going?? Harry asked.

?Just to see a friend for a couple of minutes,? replied the young lion.

Content with his own understanding of ?a couple of minutes? Harry reverted to Aardvark, 8 across and Docile, 6 down.

Once they reached the party, Harry was told he ?just HAD to stop in for two minutes.?

As Harry stepped inside and was recognized, cheers of welcome and camaraderie greeted him. No one could ever remember sighting Harry at any social gathering. A beer was thrust into his hand. Three beers later Harry was practically blind.

Freud contended the human psyche was made up of ego, superego and id. The id was the beast of basic raw emotion and impulsive childlike needs. It was kept in check by the ego and superego. Freud postulated on the dangers of an unchecked id left to run amuck. Freud would have loved Harry Link.

SnackCake was now working on the top button of her shorts. With breasts bouncing in time to the music and rear end rotating in a counter clockwise direction she was the dance floor equivalent of rubbing your stomach and patting your head. The button popped open and the zipper started its downward journey. The room went wild. Harry was transfixed.

The shorts came off and disappeared into the gaping maw of the beast. All that remained between heaven and earth was a thin layer of pink polyester. Harry moved off the wall. SnackCake turned her back to the crowded room, bent over and dropped the panty level by two inches. The crowd roared. She faced the room and thrust her pelvis forward and repeated the procedure. The crowd went wild. For Harry, time stood still.

The seismograph jumped.

Several years ago Gabrielle had taken to wearing thongs in lieu of your basic two-piece bathing suit. The response was better but it required much more attention to detail. During a particularly difficult shaving process one day she elected to throw caution to the winds. From that day forward she decided to go to what the French refer as ?sans muff?.

SnackCake had now reached the point of intoxication that overrides the common sense safety switch each of us have imbedded in our brains. She had, in effect, become invisible. Throwing her panties into the air she sat down naked on the coffee table for the grand finale. Bracing her arms behind her she extended her legs at a 45-degree angle into the air and opened wide.

Harry had never before seen a deforested beaver and at that very moment he snapped, unleashing the id from hell. Rushing forward and falling to his knees he thrust his face deeply into Snack?s cake, sinking up to his ears. Gabrielle let out a squeal of pleased surprise; the crowd went nuts and began to chant,


Ferrante turned to Tessler and quipped,

?What a cunning Link he is.?

Harry had lost all sense of propriety. Throwing off his clothes he fell on Snackcake dragging her to the deep pile carpet where he began to fornicate like a demented hare. Since this was the cue everyone had been waiting for, a conga line formed around the living room. A voice from the line paraphrased,

?From each according to her ability, to each according to his needs. Damn fitting, if you ask me.?

Harry?s long awaited reintroduction to labia majora resulted in an eruption of epic proportion. Sated, drunk beyond living memory and naked, he crawled around the living room floor. He finally managed to pull a pair of white jockey shorts over his head and crawl out the back door. He promptly passed out under an oleander bush.

Much later, in another home, a wife would awaken and interrogate her husband as to why he was wearing a pair of red polka dot boxers when he didn?t own any.

Gabrielle would surpass her record of achievement in pleasing the multitudes. In fact it was suggested the Guinness Book of World Records might be contacted. This idea was quickly abandoned when someone pointed out that names might have to be mentioned. Ferrante and Tessler became local folk heroes and were privately awarded the silver goblet for best party of the century.

Rumors floated up to the Internal Affairs unit of certain departmental improprieties. An investigation was briefly considered then abandoned when it was determined the city could not afford to lose over one third of its law enforcement personnel. The whole affair was quietly shoved under the table in expectation that it would not reemerge in the form of citizen?s complaints.



Tales From The Hood - Chapter 3 - Mitchell

By Ron DeLaby

Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once - Shakespeare

While Malorie and Jon contemplated each other over steaks and wine, the inhabitants of the city continued to invent new and ever more challenging situations for the Patrol Division officers. A short distance away and slightly south of the happy diners a new incident was about to unfold.

?Sam Fifty-five, Sam five-five.?

The radio transmission broke through his train of thought. Francis ?Frank? Mitchell had been a policeman for sixteen years and a uniformed patrol sergeant for six. In this time he had attained the ability to filter out the constant stream of police radio traffic. Like most veteran officers he listened for two or three ?triggers?: a breathless voice of an officer signifying a need for assistance; an alert tone signaling a hot call; and his call sign.

?Sam,? or sergeant 5-5 was third in seniority in the patrol division and was pretty much able to run the shift according to his comfort level.

?Sam 5-5, Magnolia and Terracina,? he responded, giving his location.

?Sam 5-5, channel 4,? the dispatcher instructed.

Reaching down to the radio console he switched to the talk-around frequency. The tactic of requesting a field supervisor to go to a talk-around channel did two things. It took him off the main frequency and immediately away from the prying ears of the general public. It also alerted him that the upcoming radio traffic was either out of the ordinary or was of such little consequence as to not warrant tying up the main frequency.

?Sam 5-5 on four,? he announced.

?Robert Eleven to Sam 5-5. See us at 14th and Brockton.?

The voice belonged to Daniel Linton; a three-year officer working a downtown beat. His voice betrayed no emotion and the request was routine enough. Ever alert for the possibility of problems on his shift, Mitchell was constantly analyzing everything, which came his way. It was one of the basic rules for survival in this game.

?Sam Fifty-Five, 10-4,? he responded.

The communication trick was to say as little as possible, revealing nothing to the outside world. Mentally translating the call he rapidly came to the conclusion this was not going to be good news. The ?us? in the request meant that at least two units were about to embark on some problem and such problems had a way of escalating into tactical operations. Francis Mitchell hated tactical operations with a passion. In such situations, it would never fail that someone either got hurt or something got broken and contrary to the laws of nature, shit did indeed roll uphill.

He leaned forward around the steering wheel, craning his neck to see if he could find the moon. A full moon, weird though it may seem, would only worsen the situation, what ever it might be. Unable to locate any warning of such impending disaster he contented himself to drive to the requested meeting.

Accelerating from the traffic light he was pulling into an abandoned gas station at the designated location. As he entered the driveway he noted the presence of two police black and white units and a large red fire truck. The two uniformed officers were talking to a fire captain, Mitchell?s equivalent rank in the fire department.

He pulled up to the group and exited his vehicle. One of the officers approached him from the large pumper truck.

?What?s up, Danny?? he asked, trying to be as pleasant as possible.

?Hey, Sarge,? responded the officer.

?That gentleman over there with the bathrobe on is Mr. Harvey,? he said pointing to a civilian standing with the small group of emergency service personnel. ?He lives in an apartment in that building over there.? He spun about forty-five degrees to the left and pointed to an old house across the street.

?Mr. Harvey and his, ahh, friend, Mr. Willis, seem to have had a domestic disagreement earlier tonight. This was about a half hour ago,? said Linton, consulting his watch. ?They were watching television and Mr. Willis started in on him about one thing or another and it degenerated into a regular old family beef. Mr. Harvey tried to get him to calm down but he just got worse, so Mr. Harvey left and called us.?

?So?? Mitchell knew the punch line had to be shortly forthcoming. This was far too easy and he wasn?t lucky enough to be able to walk away from a call like this without it developing into a disaster of biblical proportions.

?Well, It seems Mr. Willis is still in the apartment over there and is somewhat suicidal.?

He pointed to a three-story, ancient wood frame structure across the street. The house was a typical turn of the century residence gone to seed. It was one of many such homes which had been converted into any number of cramped, dingy apartments for low or no income residents. Given a few more weeks, some drunk would probably burn it down with a forgotten cigarette dropped on a flea-infested sofa.

?Yeah?? responded Mitchell, his anxiety level cautiously dropping somewhat. Suicidal homosexuals were not high on the list of tactical emergencies this evening.

?Well,? continued Linton, ?It gets a little dicey from here. It seems Mr. Willis? means of departing this life is by way of a stick of dynamite.?

The red tactical warning light in Mitchell?s brain began to flash again. He looked around again for a full-orbed moon to confirm his fears. Still nothing. He turned his attention back to the officer.

?Yeah?? he responded, ever so calmly.

?Well, it seems he also has a blasting cap and has stripped the insulation on the end of the wires down to the copper,? Linton continued.

?He has been sitting on the floor next to an electrical outlet, very despondent and quietly getting very drunk. Now, he figures that if he jams the blasting cap into the stick and shoves the wires into the outlet, it will blow up and kill him. I figure he?s right. What do you think?? He stood there with his head tilted and his left eyebrow raised a half-inch as though to add emphasis to the question.

?Yep, that would probably work,? Mitchell replied.

Mitchell had visions of the review board demanding to know why he wasn?t able to anticipate and prevent this disaster from occurring. ?I knew it. I just knew it.? He thought. He reached into the right front pocket of his uniform trousers and extracted a half eaten roll of Maalox anti-acid tablets. He bit off a couple from the roll, spitting the tiny bit of foil wrapping on the asphalt parking lot. He chewed and swallowed the paste as quickly as possible, noting with pleasure the immediate cooling of the fire in his belly.

?God bless Mr. Maa and Mr. Lox,? he thought. If it weren?t for the wonders of pharmaceutical science, he would have been a candidate for a stomach operation or retirement several years ago. As it was, he was just able to keep the pain under control with a rather large amount of anti-acid tablets.

?Where is he?? he asked, struggling to maintain a ?don?t give a shit? expression on his face.

It was always best if the patrol officers felt their Sergeant was on top of the situation and wasn?t worried about the outcome. In truth, Mitchell worried about everything and everyone. He knew exactly how many years, months, days, and hours he had left before he could retire from this insanity. If his stomach held out he would open a nursery and tend to roses for the rest of his life. If it didn?t, well there was always a medical retirement. He often wondered just how bad it had to get before he qualified. He had always meant to ask someone but was afraid the word would get out that he was thinking about it and he would be in some other kind of trouble. ?Well, the best we can get from Mr. Harvey,? the patrol officer droned on. ?is that Mr. Willis is against the north wall in one of the ground floor apartments. We have a map over here.? He pointed in the direction of the units.

They began to walk toward one of the patrol cars where the remaining participants to the unfolding drama gathered around a crude drawing of the apartment?s interior. Mitchell glanced at the apartment again. Bone dry and flimsy from age, it would present a problem if there were an explosion. There might be as many as five or six different apartments in the house. Now he understood the reason for the fire truck. His mind flashed between instant visions of the apartment flying apart like so many Popsicle sticks and a review board seated at a long bench. In his vision the members of the review board always wore black hoods and burning torches suspended from the walls lighted the room.

?God, I hate this shit,? he thought.

?Okay,? he replied, forcing a smile.

?What about evacuating the remaining tenants?? asked Mitchell.

?We probably don?t have a whole lot of time to play with,? said Linton. ?He?s been nipping at a fifth of Jack Daniels for most of the day now, and Mr. Harvey thinks he?s pretty much in the bag. He?s liable to go over the edge any time.?

?Wonderful,? he thought. ?Just fucking wonderful. This moron is going to blow himself into puree and doesn?t give a shit about anyone else.?

?Okay,? said Mitchell. ?Stand by for a minute,? he told the others.

Walking over to a pay phone at the corner of the gas station lot he began to formulate a plan in his mind. He stared morosely at the number attached to the phone for a long while, finally speaking into his hand held radio.

?Sam 5-5.?

?Sam Fifty-Five.? The dispatcher responded.

?Sam 5-5, Ten-Twenty-One 68-3-9575.?

He gave her the number of the pay phone, keeping his voice deliberately neutral.

The local newspaper had a scanner going all the time. He hoped the little bespeckled titmouse monitoring the police radio traffic was missing the significance of this unfolding drama. What he absolutely didn?t need was press reporters and photographers climbing all over the potential crime scene and getting in everyone?s way. Those idiots were the first to scream their rights were violated if they were kept safely out of harm?s way, but the first to complain the cops weren?t doing enough to protect them when they finally did get hurt.

He recalled a horrible plane crash into a residence a few years back. He had just sat down to dinner when the alert tone went off on his hand held radio. The crash was two blocks away. He remembered tearing out of the house and rolling up on the scene of a small plane embedded nose first into a carport. The passengers were momentarily still alive in the rear of the aircraft, which was fully engulfed in flames. A press photographer, in his ghoulish need to obtain the best photograph ever of barbequed passengers, managed to knock over a large light fixture and interfere with the fire department?s attempt to douse the AV-GAS fire. One of the firemen took after him in foot pursuit with a small hand ax, intent on burying it in his head. The press ghoul only escaped because the weight of the fireman?s equipment slowed him down. The deputy chief had arrived at the scene and when Frank explained the problem to him he replied, ?If he comes back, book him.? God he loved that kind of attitude.

?3-9-5-7-5, Ten-Four.? The dispatcher confirmed the telephone number.

The phone rang once and he answered.


?Hey Frank, Larry.? The voice on the other end of the line belonged to Larry Fletcher, the communication?s supervisor.

?Look, we?ve got a pending tactical situation here,? said Mitchell.

He kept his demeanor totally professional. The beep on the phone line every five seconds reminding him the line and all conversations were being taped. Since the conversation would likely be subpoenaed, whatever he said would be replayed for a jury somewhere down the road. It simply wouldn?t do to make disparaging remarks about the sexual proclivities of the players. Everyone on the department was painfully aware of the effects of a random comment. A few years ago a hapless patrolman had been trapped on the witness stand and had a taped conversation played back. He was then made to explain to the jury exactly what he meant by the defendant?s ?Humongo tits.?

He continued: ?Get a 10-21 from Robert Twenty and Robert Thirty and have them meet us at 14th and Brockton. You might want to notify Community E.R. to stand by in case this situation deteriorates and have Mercy roll a unit to my location, but advise them I want no lights and siren. NO code. I don?t need to draw a crowd.? v ?Gotcha,? replied Fletcher. We?ll keep the operation on channel four for you. Is there anyone else you want us to notify??

?Not yet,? said Mitchell. ?Just transfer me to the watch commander so I can get that over with.? Fletcher snorted. ?Good luck.?

The watch commander was Lieutenant Gene Gordon, a senile old toad who, while insisting on micromanaging his field sergeants in excruciating detail, always managed to keep himself out of the loop if anything went sideways. It was a common joke that during pending tactical operations he spent more time in the station bathroom then he did at the watch commander?s desk, thereby being better able to invoke plausible deniability. He would never volunteer to manage any such field problem, a fact greatly appreciated by all of the sergeants who had the sad misfortune to work under his supervision.

?Watch commander, Lieutenant Gordon,? said the voice in the telephone earpiece.

?You know it?s me, you freaking moron,? thought Mitchell. ?Fletcher told you I was on the line. You?re doing this for the benefit of the recording, you bleeding asshole.?

?Lieutenant, it?s Mitchell,? he kept his voice deliberately calm. No small feat, considering the circumstances. ?I just wanted to give you a heads up on a situation we have out here at Brockton and 14th. It may develop into a tactical operation and I wanted you to know in case you wanted to take charge.?

?Take that, you chickenshit,? thought Mitchell. ?Two can play at this game. Now try and tell everyone you didn?t know what was going on.? The taped line gave a resounding beep.

There was a long silence on the line. Mitchell could hear the gears turning in Gordon?s head as he tried desperately to rectify the damaging statement.

?Well, ahh, yes Sergeant Mitchell.? He said Mitchell?s name with more emphasis than was necessary.

?I, ahh, that is to say, I?ll be available if you need me, of course. However, I don?t want you to go off on one of your overreactions on this probable minor incident. Do you hear me? I don?t want you to do your cowboy thing here.?

?Cowboy thing?? Mitchell gritted his teeth to within a quarter ounce of cracking the enamel.

?Yes sir, I understand perfectly, Lieutenant but I?m certain the men will feel much better with you in charge.?

?Well now, Sergeant Mitchell,? again the emphasis. ?How will you ever develop your potential if I have to come hold your hand every time something happens in the field? You just make certain you keep me posted on this and be sure not to get in over your head.?

?Yes sir, Lieutenant. I?ll be sure to do that.? He hung up the phone very deliberately so as to avoid damaging the receiver. Reaching into his pocket he retrieved yet another Maalox and crunched it to paste. He then ate a second one for good measure.

Mitchell had done everything he could think of to try and mitigate future civil repercussions in the event innocent people were injured or killed.

Turning back to the group of emergency personnel he began to formulate a plan of action.

?Mr. Harvey,? he said as he approached the spurned lover. ?Let?s take a look at that diagram again.?

The two additionally requested black and whites pulled into the parking lot. The officers joined the growing crowd and Mitchell filled them in on the operation.

?Okay, listen up. We don?t have a lot of time here. In fact, I don?t think we have enough time to do anything but try and neutralize this situation.? He motioned toward two of the officers.

?John. Dan. I want you to come with me. Hank and Pete, I want traffic rerouted away from this block. Cordon off the area; no traffic gets through, period. Okay?? The officers nodded their understanding.

?Captain?? He looked at the fire captain?s nametag, ?Henkins. You know best where to deploy your people. If we have an explosion it?ll be a one-time thing unless we have a fire or if he?s close to a gas main. If you want to bring in another rig, you might want to do so now. But if you bring in more equipment, please be sure to tell them to come in quietly. No lights, no sirens. As for us, I don?t see where we have a choice at this point and I?m afraid we?re out of time. I?m taking my people and we?re going in.?

?I can set up our command post across the street and cover the house from there,? replied the fire captain. ?If we bring in additional units I?d like to place them there and there.? He pointed to two additional locations on the adjoining streets.

?I don?t have a problem with that,? replied Mitchell. I just need a clear lane to get my people in and out and to be certain we have room for the ambulance if it?s needed.?

The fire captain nodded in agreement and turned away, speaking into his own hand held radio, eternally grateful he had chosen the fire profession. Everyone loved firemen, even if the building burned down

Frank motioned for the two officers to accompany him and the three uniforms crossed the street to the rear of the apartment building. Once near the back door, Mitchell assessed the situation once again.

?Okay,? he said as the two officers gathered next to him and studied the hand drawn diagram by flashlight.

?Here?s what we do. Fire team set up. Flashlights when we go in. He should be against the back wall, here.? He pointed to the map.

?John, you?re in first. Break right and look for the light switch on the wall. Dan, you follow and break left, same drill. I?ll come in straight across the room. As soon as we isolate him, watch his hands. If he moves to stick those wires in the wall socket shoot him. Do you understand? John? Understand?? The two officers nodded their acknowledgement.

?Dear God. What did I just commit us to?? Thought Mitchell.

?All right, we go in as quietly and as quickly as possible. No noise,? Mitchell whispered as they moved up to the landing. The three wooden steps led up to a battered screened in porch. The screen itself was full of holes and was peeling in sections like the curled page of a damp magazine. The weary old door was held shut by a rusted spring, which complained loudly upon being forced to perform. It emitted an eerie screech that silenced even the ever-present crickets.

Suddenly the sounds of multiple sirens cut through the still night. The fire units were responding with full emergency equipment including the huge foghorns to clear traffic at the intersections.

?Jesus H. Christ,? said Mitchell. The fire units had either not gotten the word or were handling things on their own. It was time to move.

?Go, Go, Go,? he urged.

On his signal they rushed the door. The beams of flashlights shone like beacons in the darkened room, searching for their suspect. A flashlight beam identified a dark bundle on the floor. The wall switch was located and the room was suddenly bathed in light. A body lay face down on the floor. There was no sign of the explosive device.

?Keep him covered,? said Mitchell. The two officers moved into position, firearms extended in a combat stance, ready to fire at the slightest provocation.

?Okay, turn him over slowly. Watch his hands.?

?He?s probably passed out,? offered one of the policemen.

As the body rolled over the whole lower torso was covered in blood. Bits of flesh and clothing were scattered about. The smell of burnt explosive was in the air, noticeable for the first time.

?Where?s the device?? Shouted Mitchell. ?Find the damned dynamite.?

?Sarge, look.? Said Linton. He pointed to two pieces of copper wire lying nearby; the insulation was stripped on one end and burned and melted on the other.

?Did he set it off already?? Asked the other patrolman. ?When did he do that? I didn?t hear anything.?

?Damn! The sonofabitch blew himself up before we got here!? Said Linton. ?No, no. Wait. Here it is. Here?s the dynamite, under a leg. It?s intact. What?s with that??

Mitchell took a closer look at the damage.

?I?ll be damned,? he exclaimed. ?here, check it out. He pulled the blasting cap from the dynamite as he leaned forward and by the time he made contact with the outlet the cap was resting practically in his lap. BLAM! No balls.?

?Sam Fifty ?Five,? Mitchell spoke into his radio.

?Sam 5-5,? the dispatcher was quick to respond. She had obviously been briefed about the potential seriousness of the investigation and was eager to help.

?Sam 5-5, code 4. Roll Mercy in here.?

?Sam Fifty-Five, 10-4, mercy is standing by your location. Will advise.?

The dispatcher turned to her counterpart at the radio console and smiled broadly each sharing a high five.

A few moments later the additional siren of Mercy could be heard. At least this one was welcomed. The ambulance personnel entered through the rickety screen door and hurriedly set up near the body.

?What happened?? a paramedic asked Mitchell.

Mitchell briefly explained what he knew. The attendants cut away the torn and charred clothing and made a cursory examination of the body.

?He?s alive,? said a paramedic. ?But he?s lost a lot of blood.?

?We?re transporting,? said the other. ?Let?s get him on the gurney and out of here.?

Mitchell and his officers helped clear a path for the ambulance personnel to wheel the torn and battered Mr. Willis out the door and into the waiting ambulance. Curious neighbors were starting to gather. The two uniformed officers went about gathering names and piecing together statements. A short time later, Linton as the handling officer met with Mitchell at Community E.R. Mitchell was already consulting with an emergency room physician.

As Linton approached the discussion Mitchell turned to him.

?Got anything?? he asked.

?Well Sarge, one of the neighbors reported hearing a muffled explosion earlier in the evening. The time would coincide with Mr. Harvey?s calling dispatch. So it looks like he did the deed even before we got the call.?

?Why didn?t the neighbor call it in?? Mitchell inquired.

?I asked him that, Sarge. He was pretty drunk anyway and said that he was used to a lot of banging and crashing from that apartment. Seems like Mr. Harvey and Mr. Willis used to fight a lot.?

Mitchell turned back to the doctor. ?Well, that?s what we have so far,? he said.

A second physician, draped in green scrubs, came around the corner and approached the group. Harvey could be seen through the half windows of the E.R. doors, pacing back and forth, waiting to hear the condition of his life partner. He was wringing his hands and moaning softly to himself. ?It?s all my fault. It?s all my fault.?

?It looks like he?ll live,? said the O.R. doctor.

?We have an avulsed right thigh and he?s lost his testicles and penis to the explosion. He has a perforated bowel but we were able to repair that much. We had to remove a length of intestine. There isn?t anything we can do about the rest. He?s going to have to sit down when he uses the bathroom from now on, I?m afraid.?

?Thanks Doc,? said Mitchell.

The Doctor went through the swinging doors and took Mr. Harvey aside. He began to explain the results of the operation to him. Harvey let out a plaintive wail, which resounded throughout the E.R.

?What the hell started all of this in the first place?? inquired Mitchell.

?Well, Sarge,? replied Linton. ?As best I can make out, Mr. Harvey was always complaining about Mr. Willis. There was a disagreement as to the respective roles in this, ahh, relationship. It seems that both of them wanted to be the, ahh, guy. Harvey insisted Willis take a more submissive role, because as he said?? Linton flipped through the pages of his notebook.

?Ohh, here it is. He wanted Mr. Willis to be more submissive because, as he said, ?I?m the one with the balls in this relationship.??

?Well.? Quipped Mitchell. ?It looks like he got his wish. I?d better call old guts and glory and fill him in on what?s happening.?

Mitchell dialed the watch commander?s line from the nurse?s station. After three rings a dispatcher answered the line.

?Watch Commander?s Office,? she said.

?Linda? This is Frank. Where?s the lieutenant? I need to fill him in on what?s happening.?

?Hi Sarge,? she responded. ?He can?t come to the phone right now, he?s in the men?s room.?



Tales From The Hood - Chapter 2 - Jolly

By Ron DeLaby

Men are born equal but they are also born different - Erich Fromm

The late summer of 1988 saw the promotion of Jon Moreland to Detectives. With it came a much welcomed pay increase. Jon?s time in grade had also provided him with a step raise in addition to a long overdue city increase. The combination of the three allowed him to put a down payment on a nice little two-bedroom house overlooking Fairmont Park in the North end of the city.

Along with the house came a wayfaring stranger who straggled up to the front door one warm evening and asked to come in for a bite to eat. The stranger was invited in and stayed as a permanent fixture. Jon named the stranger, a female black Lab, ?Chu Hoi? a little remembrance from Vietnam. The term?s closest translation was ?Open Arms?, or ?Surrender?. The dog simply became known as ?Chu?

To celebrate the promotion Jon invited Malorie over for a burned steak and a glass of Merlot. He had installed a swing on the small side porch and listened attentively as she regaled him with past tales of daring with her various roughneck brothers. He admired her shapely legs as she curled them up on the overstuffed pad of the swing, tucking them under like a cat. She rocked the swing absently with one hand and sipped the Merlot with the other as they chatted.

?Say,? she suddenly exclaimed. ?Who is Sean Rogers? I mean I know who he is but what kind of officer is he? We got a report from him about filing a complaint on an eastsider for a kidnap and assault, and I have to tell you the guy strikes me as kinda different. What do you know about him??

Jon turned the steaks and raised the grill so they could have a few minutes to talk.

?Well,? he began, ?Sean is a little different. I worked around him for a while on the eastside when I was in uniform and he does seem to have his own way of doing business. Not that it doesn?t work; it?s just really different. But I know what you mean. What do I know about him? Well,? he chuckled at a memory. ?What I remember most is this.? He began to unfold the tale. ?3 Robert 5, 3 Robert 5.? The dispatcher?s voice broke through his reverie. Sean Rogers looked at his watch and wearily removed the microphone from its cradle.

?3 Robert 5, Market and 14th,? he responded.

?Bitch, give me a call and you?re in deep shit,? he thought.

?3 Robert 5, see the woman, a family four-fifteen at thirty-one twenty-five Cedar. 3-1-2-5 Cedar, cross of First.?

?Five, 10-4. Is 5 Adam clear?? The call wasn?t even on his beat. What a dumb bitch.

?3 Robert 5, negative at this time.?

The dispatcher was starting to become flustered. She was new and she had run into Sean?s disagreeable attitude before. Unlike the other dispatchers who had not only been there longer but had already bedded half the uniform division, she did not have the horsepower to argue as effectively.

?Five, how about Robert Ten??

He was clearly trying to avoid the call. Even though it was only the first hour of a three to eleven shift, he was not known to go out of his way to protect and serve. In fact, Sean Rogers had established beyond a reasonable doubt, many years before, that he not only disliked people, he absolutely and conclusively hated every living thing.

?Sam-57 to Robert Five, Channel four.?

The dispatcher breathed a small sigh of relief. A sergeant was going to tell that moron to handle the call and to quit arguing with her. She glanced at the clock on the console. Only an hour into the shift and she was catching grief already. It was going to be a long night.

Sean had twenty-four years under his well-worn Sam Browne. The problem however, was two-fold. One: Sean was only forty-five years old, too young to retire. Under the city?s benevolent plan, members of the P.D. had to be a minimum of fifty before they could pull the pin and leave. Ohh, there was some military buy back options but since Sean was never in the military that program was useless. There was a strong suspicion amongst the older crew that the magic age of fifty had been decided upon because no one was expected to live that long. With each succeeding year it became even more apparent that the city fathers, Satan rest their black souls, were more correct in that assessment than even they could have suspected.

And Two: Sean had no interest in going anywhere anyway. He was trapped in a twilight zone of conflicting emotions. In the first place he hated his job. In the second place there was nothing else he cared for, so he might as well stay in the first place.

Because of his surly and sarcastic attitude and his dislike for everything with a beating heart, Sean promptly became known as ?Jolly? Rogers. The handle was all too fitting in a rather dark sort of way. The name took root and grew like a noxious weed among the uniform crew. Even Sean seemed to agree it ?added character? to his otherwise sterling personality. In fact, he was so moved by the thought that the others would bestow such an honor upon him, he had risen to the occasion and had a special nametag created.

The standard police nametag sits over, and is centered on, the right pocket of the uniform shirt. It is black plastic and contains the last name of its wearer in white letters. Jolly?s nametag sported the entire title of ?Jolly? Rogers and was accompanied by an engraving of a small skull and crossbones to commemorate the namesake. Of course the ?special? nametag could only be worn on certain occasions, those being anytime he was out of personal contact with a supervisor.

No one knew exactly where or when Jolly went wrong. His wife of twenty years had not only divorced him but had also moved out of town and threatened him with a restraining order if he should ever show his face within her new city limits. It was rumored she always carried a mirror, a crucifix and a clove of garlic in an emergency kit on the off chance she might actually run into him at some inopportune time.

There were two children from the long dead marriage. They were both boys. One was believed to belong to a super secret military unit, which wore Girl Scout hats and was deployed on missions in third world countries blowing swarthy little people to bits. The other could be found at various airports around the country wearing saffron colored robes and chanting ?Oooommmm.?

Jolly was a friend of hops and barley. In fact, those in the know, who purchased stock in whichever brewing company Jolly happened to favor, made considerable fortunes. It was said that when a well known Mexican activist struck against a well known beer company and changed multitudinous Mexican taste buds to a competitor?s brand, Jolly single-handedly brought that company back from the brink of bankruptcy.

Jolly was one of those rare individuals who was incapable of functioning with any degree of civility at a blood alcohol level of less than .08 percent. He was a textbook alcoholic. A mean trick when 40 or more hours of one?s work week required absolute, not ?Absolut? sobriety. Most everyone else considered the protection of the citizenry a sacred trust. Jolly knew the job of a policeman had but a singular purpose; to keep Jolly entertained. In his nightly pursuit of his entertainment he drove the Watch Commander and field supervisors to attacks of acid reflux. No one really knew what nefarious scheme was about to be hatched in his alcohol destroyed brain but when it matured and was ready to be born, you could be certain it would be a double honker.

Jolly preferred to work among the Mexican population of Riverside. He did so because this particular ethnic group had a deep abiding fear of the police and were not as likely to voice complaints. Therefore, the nightly entertainment was less likely to be interrupted. Of course, this gave Jolly a license to steal when it came to running his beat. These people were, of course, his people, his ?subjects.?

One thing, which could honestly be said about Jolly, was that he had a weird sense of humor. The depth of that weirdness came to pass in a somewhat backhanded sort of way. During the ongoing investigation of a family problem, a day watch officer was having difficulty understanding the broken English explanation being given. He therefore requested a Spanish-speaking officer.

The patrol supervisor on duty and closest unit was Sergeant Dave Garcia, Sam-55. He responded to the scene and after conferring with the investigating officer he began to offer a translation. During the course of the conversation with the female member of the family problem, a curious question was posed.

?Como esta el policía con el ojo arruinado??

Sergeant Dave was at a loss.

?What policeman with the ruined eye? We have no such policeman.? He said.

?Si, Si,? the woman responded.

?Usted el concoce. El desgasta la corrección negra concluido su ojo arruinado Tal vergüenza. Como sucedió??

Sam-55 ran the translation over in his mind very slowly, thinking ?Huh??

?You know the one. He wears a black patch over his ruined eye. Such a shame, how did it happen??

When he finally made the connection, Sergeant Dave saw to it that a copy of the uniform regulations was passed out at each roll call. The addendum, written in heavy felt pen, made some cryptic reference to eye patches. Of course everyone knew the stress had gotten to Sergeant Dave and it was soon rumored he might be retiring because of it.

Even so, black patch sightings regularly occurred and Jolly remained entertained. His subjects often wondered how the policia had come to lose his eye. There was an ongoing disagreement as to whether he had lost the use of the left eye or the right eye as the condition seemed to change with relative frequency.

Jolly was known to be even less jolly around the melanin-enhanced citizens of Riverside. His disdain for the darker population was so well known that there was extraordinary effort put forth to avoid assigning him to any beat covering such areas.

Since the police population in Riverside was somewhat limited, there came an occasion one evening when Jolly was required to fill in on an adjoining beat. The regular beat officer, who happened to not only be black, but also have a black recruit, was down for the count with the flu. Jolly was elected to fill his place. Prior to roll call the duty Sergeant took Jolly aside and broke the news to him. He was warned at that time to put forth his best effort to train the new recruit officer and not damage him too badly. Jolly reluctantly agreed.

Upon the completion of roll call, officers went to their respective units and performed routine checks for unreported damage and verified the working condition of the various components of the cars. Jolly of course made certain his recruit officer performed all the tasks for ?training purposes.?

The relationship between Jolly and the recruit officer started off tenuously at best. The young officer?s name was Freeman Jones, but Jolly insisted on referring to him as his ?boy? or his ?gun bearer.? Either name, of course, was considered not only highly inappropriate, but a major ?trigger word.? Freeman decided to grin and bear it since his tour of duty with Jolly was only going to be for a limited period, and he really wanted this job.

?Here?s the deal,? said, Jolly, as he firmly ensconced himself in the passenger seat.

?You drive. I meditate. We get a call you don?t answer it. I talk you listen. You don?t talk. Got it?? Jolly was nothing if not succinct.

Freeman nodded, afraid to even speak.

?How long you been on?? Jolly inquired.

Freeman held up four fingers.

?What is that?? asked, Jolly

?Four weeks? Four days? Four hours? What??

?Four weeks,? squeaked Freeman.

?Good enough,? said, Jolly.

?You?re practically a pro. Now drive.? He curled up on the front seat and turned his face to the window and went to sleep.

Throughout the evening Freeman drove, terrified he might be forced to make a decision or worse, ask his partner for any help.

About three hours into the shift Freeman turned a corner just as a black male subject stepped into the street. He jumped back on the curb, outraged at the prospect of being nearly struck by the police car. He slammed his hand on the hood of the black and white and shouted at the two officers. Freeman slammed on the brakes shaking Jolly awake.

?What the Fu??? inquired the senior officer.

?Freeman, boy. What the hell are you doing?? Jolly was visibly upset at being awakened so rudely.

?I think I hit him,? Freeman was even more upset. He could see his police career fly out the window over a pedestrian accident while he was still on probation.

?Ahh, shit,? said, Jolly as he got out of the patrol car.

?What the hell you doin hittin? my car like that?? he angrily demanded of the pedestrian, aptly shifting the blame of the collision to the victim. This enraged the man even further.

?Motha Fucken PO-lice. Ain?t nothin? but PIGS.? He shouted as he rubbed his supposedly bruised and battered leg.

The man peered into the front windshield of the police car and noticed Freeman for the first time.

?Well, looky here. I gots daddy PIG and baby PIG,? he continued, dancing around, shuffling his feet and moving his shoulders in time to some far away rhythm only he could hear.

Jolly folded his arms and watched the man through slitted eyes.

The dance continued punctuated by stabs in the air with an index finger to emphasize points.

?YO. White PIG. Got yoself a BLACK woman ?n have you a baby PIG?? He laughed derisively at the officers.

Jolly had long since reached the end of his patience. He ambled over and prodded the man in the chest with a finger in hopes of inviting a swing.

?There?s just one big difference between you and me, asshole,? he announced, poking the man?s chest with each word and forcing him back on the sidewalk.

?When I go home, I can take this pigskin off.?

He turned around and got back in the patrol car, the message obviously too deep for the pedestrian who stood there blinking. Freeman sat gloomily, his head resting on the steering wheel, staring at the floorboard. Visions of a heroic career going down in smoke and flames. He mentally ticked off the upcoming sequence of events: Hit and Run, Assault and Battery. A citizen?s complaint review board; followed by the chief of police dramatically ripping the buttons from his uniform shirt to the accompaniment of a drum roll.

?Drive,? commanded, Jolly.

Third watch roll call started promptly at 2:45 p.m. Most sergeants were sticklers for the time and would glare warningly at anyone entering the room at 2:46 p.m. The events were pretty much the same every evening. Read off beat assignments and provide the keys to available units. The latter always provoked indignant complaints from the senior officers who, by some oversight, might not have been issued the latest and best patrol vehicle.

The sergeant read off assignments as he had for many years.

?3-Robert-60, Jones. Unit 2058.?

?3-Robert-45, Hendricks. Unit 2255?

?3-Robert-15, Foley. Unit 2150.?

?2150?? replied a horrified Foley. With ten years he was the second senior officer on the shift and was due entirely more respect than being assigned such an out of date patrol vehicle. ?C?mon, Sarge. 2150 is a piece of shit.? The roll call sergeant looked at Foley over the top of his half frame glasses.

?3-Robert-15, Foley. Unit 2150,? he repeated.

?Rogers. Air-One needs an observer. Morley called in sick. You?re it.? Said the sergeant.

?Ohh Christ,? responded Sean. ?Why is it always me??

Secretly he enjoyed the occasional break from a black and white and who knows what wonders lurked around suburban swimming pools in July. Why, just last week Air-1?s observer had logged no less than six titty sightings, one of which jumped up and down and waved exuberantly. This action, of course, prompted a circular orbit on the residence that lasted to within 2 seconds of a personnel complaint by the neighbors. Promise was in the air but true to his reputation, Jolly was required to take anything and everything as a personal affront.

The Hughes 500 is a small egg shaped helicopter capable of superior speed and maneuverability. It is a favorite among most law enforcement agencies. However, because of its size, it affords little room for the pilot and observer to move around while in flight. Of course the folks who designed this particular craft did not know Sean Rogers or they might have compensated.

The heat waves rising from the tarmac of the airport created a visual sensation of peering through water. The blades of Air ?1 were winding up to their appropriate liftoff pitch and the pilot was completing his pre-flight check.

?Riverside tower, this is police helicopter November 1-7-3-5-Niner requesting clearance for takeoff.? The pilots voice modulated low and practiced in Jolly?s headset.

?November 1-7-3-5-Niner, clear.? Responded the mechanical sounding voice from the tower.

The tail end of the helicopter lifted first and the forward airspeed began to increase as the small helicopter raced across the asphalt. This sensation was always a thrill to Jolly. As the aircraft lifted it gave the sensation of the earth falling away, creating a slightly sinking feeling in his stomach. He belched a fermented bubble of hops and barley.

?Air-1, 10-8? The pilot announced to the dispatcher over the police frequency.

?Air-1, 10-8, 10-4, assist the units at Twenty-one fifty-seven Holly Drive. 2-1-5-7- Holly Drive, cross of Orefield. A possible 4-5-9 in progress. 3-Robert-57 handling.

?A residential burglary in progress,? thought Jolly. ?Now here was something worth flying for. Air-1, 2157 Holly, copy, enroute.? Responded, Jolly.

The helicopter arrived within four minutes of the call and began a circular orbit over the address in question. Below, the large black numbers painted on the white roofs identified the approaching patrol vehicles. By consulting a copy of the watch roster the observer could associate who was driving which unit.

Officers were still responding when Air-1 began its orbit over the house. Two figures exited the front door of the residence and glanced briefly upward. They entered a vehicle parked in the driveway and drove off at a high rate of speed.

?Looks like our boys,? said, Jolly over the headset. The pilot nodded and angled the craft to fall in behind the fleeing vehicle.

Jolly depressed the foot switch, opening the mike to the radio frequency.

?Air-1, we have a Blue 1980?s model Ford leaving the residence at a high rate of speed, proceeding Northbound on Orefield. The occupants are two male Negroes with light colored shirts and levis.? Removing his foot from the floor switch he quipped to the pilot over the headset.

?Two male usuals, standard description A,? he chuckled.

Below, a black and white careened around a corner, falling in directly behind the fleeing suspect vehicle.

?3-Robert-60. I have the suspect vehicle Northbound on Orefield at Davis, license, 867-Adam, Sam, Henry. He read off the plate to the dispatcher.

?3-Robert-60, Northbound on Orefield at Davis. 8-6-7-Adam, Sam Henry, copy.?

Replied the dispatcher. Units were converging from several beats away and would attempt to hem in the suspect vehicle.

Seconds later the dispatcher announced the results of a license check on the suspect vehicle.

?Units responding to Orefield. 8-6-7-Adam Sam Henry is a stolen out of Pomona.?

?No shit,? Jolly leaned over and nudged the pilot. ?What the hell else was it gonna be??

The blue ford made a sharp right turn onto a dirt road leading to an orange grove. It fishtailed, throwing out rooster plumes of light brown dirt as it attempted to regain traction.

?They?re gonna bail when they hit that grove,? said Jolly.

Seconds later his prediction came true. The vehicle was abandoned and the suspects vanished into a small orange grove about a city block square.

?Unit?s responding,? Jolly continued.

?Suspects have abandoned the suspect vehicle and are on foot in the grove at Orefield and a frontage road.? Below, units were attempting to cover each side of the grove area.

?Crap,? observed Jolly. ?This shit could take all day. Take it down to that open area. I have an idea.? He told the pilot. ?What are you gonna do?? The pilot asked, and was immediately sorry he did.

?We?re gonna get us some baseball grenades and have us an air strike,? said Jolly. ?We?ll bomb the bastards and drive ?em out.?

The best intentions are not necessarily always the correct solutions to problems. Baseball grenades are so named because they are a similar size and shape to softballs. There the resemblance ends. They are constructed of hard gray rubber and contain powdered Chloracetophenone, or CN gas. Once the fuse is activated it burns the gas setting off clouds of noxious chemicals guaranteed to force the submission of even the most recalcitrant suspect. But sometimes, these grenades are hard to hang on to.

Collecting a goodly supply of baseball grenades from the trunks of the assembled units, Jolly reentered the helicopter and signaled for the pilot to take it up again.

The pilot increased the rpm and once again the aircraft lifted upward throwing huge clouds of powdered brown dust everywhere and on everything ?Up we go, into the wild blue yonderrrrrrrrrrrr,? Jolly sang loudly and off key into the headset mike, causing the pilot to wince.

?Take it over there.? He pointed to an area just ahead of where the suspects were last seen.

?We?ll pop the grenades and drop them all over the grove. They?ll come out,? predicted Jolly. He forced open the small Plexiglas side window and dropped the first of several baseball grenades.

?Bombs Away!? Shouted, Jolly, with a mirthful tone to his voice. The pilot shook his head and flew.

Of course FAA regulations strictly forbid ?dropping? anything from aircraft, but who had time for such foolishness? This was a police emergency.

Air-1 made a series of passes in which Jolly gleefully pulled the safety ring of each grenade and dropped it into the trees below. The results were rather spectacular. Large clouds of gas could be seen billowing up over the tops of the trees and spreading out over a fair distance before drifting to earth. Some of the grenades were noted to have shorter fuses, which caused even more spectacular airbursts. A true Fourth of July show, compliments of Sean ?Jolly? Rogers.

As fate would have it the gods had apparently decided Jolly?s operation was going a little too smoothly and had decided to inject a little fun into the equation. After about the tenth ?bomb? was dropped and during a particularly low pass, a small amount of gas wafted into the cabin of Air-1. Now, one of the greatest components of CN gas is its ability to convince the human lungs that they have suddenly and irrevocably shrunk to the size of walnuts. This condition creates absolute panic in the wearer of said lungs and causes all manner of adverse reaction. When one is piloting a half million-dollar aircraft 350 feet above the ground, contrary lungs and adverse reactions are the last things one wishes to have.

The first whiff of gas caused Jolly to rub his eyes. This, of course, is the first thing at the top of the ?Don?t Do? list. The burning sensation quickly accelerated to meltdown levels and Jolly began to thrash around just as he was about to unleash grenade from hell number eleven. The safety pin had already been pulled and the only thing keeping it safe was Jolly?s gloved mitt. Rubbing his eye caused him to lose his grip on the round object and he dropped it on the floor of the aircraft. The safety lever flew off with a ?ping.? The spring activated firing pin set the fuse on its downward course to the interior of the rubber ball. A huge cloud of white smoke began to escape from the grenade as it processed into melt down and spun like a deranged top on the floor of the helicopter.

Jolly and the helicopter pilot had but the briefest moment to stare at each other in wide-eyed horror as they realized what had just occurred. The pilot wheeled the aircraft over hard to port and dove for the ground as the cloud quickly filled the bubble.

Choking and gasping for air and completely blind he pulled back on the collective and attempted to ?flare? to a landing at a guestimated height. He was only off by a few inches and Air-1 hit the ground with a teeth-shattering impact. It skipped and bounced along the hard dirt surface, teetering first right and then left. Each time the overhead rotor came within fractions of striking the ground and cart wheeling the occupants into oblivion.

The radio car patrolmen on the ground dove for cover as the police meteorite streaked their way. The two suspects, Montel Jones and James ?Pokey? Washington were perched in an orange tree just inside the first row of orange trees and were treated to an outstanding view of the unfolding drama. Saucer-eyed and open mouthed they watched the ship finally settle after the third bounce, skid 360 degrees and rock to a stop. The doors flew open and two policemen fell out to the ground choking, cursing, kicking and gasping for breath.

?Now they gone blame this muthafuckin shit on us, you watch.? Said Montel.

?Shee-it,? said Pokey. ?We be in for it now.?

Both suspects emerged from the tree line with their hands over their head in hopes of at least being taken alive.

?Don?t shoot,? said Montel.

?Don?t shoot,? said Pokey.

There wasn?t much chance of being shot. The gaggle of patrolmen was so busy recovering from the downing of Air ?1, they didn?t even notice their quarry approach.

Finally an alert patrol officer saw the two suspects and quickly drew down on them shouting the customary greeting; ?FREEZE!? The two, needing no further encouragement to cooperate, were taken into custody and whisked away for booking.

Jolly and the pilot managed to pull themselves together after a time. The remaining patrolmen gathered around in awe at the amazing two aces who managed to pull off such an incredible feat. Jolly and the pilot removed their helmets and stared at each other. Their faces streaked with rivulets of sweat and tears. Their formerly blue uniforms brown with powdered dirt from rolling around on the ground.

A dry cleaning bill was the least of their worries, however. Word of such an occurrence in police circles is about as likely to remain a secret as the second coming. Unlike its counterpart in the war in Vietnam, the incident rapidly became known as ?Operation Rolling Blunder.? Sympathy cards were received from departments as far away as Moose Breath, Maine, a three-man department with no hope of ever receiving funding for a helicopter.

As is the case in the police profession, it wasn?t long before the review board was convened and appropriate unpaid vacations were awarded to the two erstwhile heroes. Even the timely arrest of the two suspects seemed to make no impression on the review board, which was noted for its lack of understanding in such matters.

The disinfecting of the aircraft came to considerable expense, as it had to be almost completely dismantled and each part scrubbed clean. It was out of service for six weeks.

Jolly took his two months off in stride. His partner in the fiasco was a little less enthusiastic about the mark on his heretofore unblemished record. He made it quite clear he would provide great and grievous bodily harm should their paths ever again cross.

Montel and ?Pokey? pleaded guilty to a lesser-included charge of trespass. As they had been interrupted before the completion of the burglary, a feeble-minded jury had been convinced by the public defender that the two had only stopped by the unoccupied residence in search of a drink of water. Since the front door was already standing open, it appeared to be sort of a ?Welcome Inn.?

The two briefly considered filing a civil lawsuit against the police department for a claim of emotional distress following the harrowing incident with the helicopter. They decided to abandon the idea after some consideration as it might be construed to be pushing the envelope a bit. They decided to let some time go by and if things went well they could always return to the house and finish the job. Who knows, they might get away with it next time.

The sun was beginning to set and the evening breeze helped dissipate some of the day?s accumulated heat.

Malorie eventually recovered from a laughing fit and settled in to rock quietly in the swing. She gazed at Jon over the top of her wine glass. Jon had a song going in the background, ?As time goes by.? She wondered about their future together as only a woman can. He was a very interesting man and he held her attention for much longer than anyone else she had ever met. The gentle way he treated her was real. He wasn?t pushy and demanding. When she was around him it was almost as though she was one of his buddies and for that she was grateful.

Jon glanced at the woman gently swinging back and forth. She was a breath of fresh air compared to anyone else he had ever met. She was intelligent and secure in her own way. She demonstrated no need for a man. That alone raised his opinion of her threefold. She was not pushing for a relationship nor did she appear interested in having someone provide a nest for her. The setting sun cast its rays on her auburn hair, burnishing it to a dark copper hue. She was a striking woman there was no doubt. If he wasn?t careful he could grow to like this handful of M&M?s. The steaks were now done to charred perfection. Jon refilled their glasses and they sat down to eat, chuckling occasionally over the visuals he had painted.

?And that, is pretty much how I remember Jolly,? said Jon. ?You might say he has his own take on life.?

Jon slipped occasional bites of steak under the table to ?Chu? unaware that Malorie was doing the same thing from her side of the small table. Chu couldn?t believe her luck; she was in dog heaven.



Tales From The Hood - Chapter 1 - Evelyn

By Ron DeLaby

"The last pleasure in life is the sense of discharging our duty" - William Hazlitt

As the city grew in population, so grew a need for additional officers on the police department. Recruitment had reopened in an effort to fill vacancies created by retirements and other forms of attrition. The complexion of the department was on the cusp of change. There were new forces on the horizon and they had their eyes on the former fraternities of the police and fire service.

With the expansion of the civil rights movement, all manner of previously unclassified groups now felt free to place demands for recognition. The black freedom coalitions were muscled aside by the eventual incursion of others who felt their day in the sun was long overdue.

There was no shortage of victims of oppression. Everyone who could get a television camera to hold still long enough, had a tale of woe to tell the American public. People watched the news reports at night and cluck clucked at the pathetic stories. ?Someone should do something about that,? they said -- little realizing that the ?someone? was them.

The door was opened at the Riverside Police Department when a former local Mexican gangbanger came in to apply for a job in law enforcement. He was turned down because the minimum height requirement at that time was 5?9.? It was believed shorter people would not be able to adequately handle the type of work required of policemen, nor would they command the respect so needed to carry out the job. He left the department and announced to a waiting reporter, who just happened to be standing by, that he would never again be the same. All his life he had dreamed of being a policeman and now he was being turned down because he wasn?t quite tall enough. He was being discriminated against because of his race. Many otherwise qualified former gangbangers, he maintained, would not be able to seek gainful employment in law enforcement because of a genetic predisposition to shortness. He was 27 years old, 5?1? tall weighed 98 pounds and had a history of violent felony arrests dating from the time he was 11 years of age. He was a heroin addict and had the track marks up and down his arms to prove it. But, not wanting to dilute a perfectly good sob story with facts, the article with this harangue was run. The dreaded accusation of racial discrimination had its intended effect.

Various groups read of the tragedy, dried their collective eyes and went on a holy quest to right the wrongs of American law enforcement. As a result, height and weight requirements were dropped. The ranks of previously white male defenders of truth and justice were rapidly being filled with all manner and shape of aspiring super heroes. Soon women were encouraged to apply. No longer would a woman?s place be in the home. It would be on the street, rolling around in a freezing gutter at four in the morning with a drunk twice her size intent on gutting her with a knife. It would be on a hospital gurney in an emergency room somewhere in the country seeping blood from a bullet wound in her belly. She would join her male comrades in the ground while flags were lowered and taps were played on mournful bugles. Progress and enlightenment had finally arrived.

By 1988, Evelyn Roggs was one of the new breed of cops who had come forth to save America from itself. The term ?police officer? had now taken on a unisex connotation. Badges all over the country were changed from the sexist term ?policeman? to the more enlightened ?police officer.? Not satisfied with their accomplishments, the hearts and flowers coalitions continued to strive for uniformity until there were virtually no restrictions for admission into one of the worlds? most exclusive clubs. Oh sure, violent felons need not apply just yet, nor child molesters, but wait until next year. Why should we, as an enlightened society, discriminate on ANY basis?

Problems occurred in training when it was discovered women were, gasp, ?different? from men. They had virtually no upper body strength. No problem, said the hemorrhaging heart associations; we?ll just eliminate that requirement from the physical agility tests. Women had no endurance. Not important, said the Simple Simonettes. Their natural ability to sooth the savage beast would overcome their need for brute force. After all, who would strike a woman?

As it turned out, a goodly number of people would indeed strike a woman. Not only strike, but stab, shoot, crush, mutilate, and kidnap and rape them; so much for equal opportunity. But the floodgates had been opened and would not soon close.

Evelyn would have a great deal in common with her brothers in arms. They both had an unusual fondness and affection for the female of the species. Evelyn?s biggest problem was her lack of the appropriate appendage needed to consummate romantic relations. Nevertheless she was undeterred in her quest for the opposite sex, or in her case, the same sex.

Officer Roggs was the embodiment of the new age woman. A short, stocky, no nonsense, card-carrying member of NOW who sported a rainbow flag decal on the windshield of her personal vehicle. ?Rugs,? as she was soon affectionately tagged, was so named in honor of her carpet munching proclivity. Although it was widely rumored she was a militant lesbian, not to be trifled with, a curious patrolman changed the course of that belief system one fine spring evening.

It was one of those nights when everyone stayed home and watched television. No one beat his or her spouse, no one got drunk and disorderly. In short a dead and uneventful night. A night in which you continually checked the squelch control on your patrol car radio to ensure it was still working. The kind of night feared by most police types as the lull before the storm.

It was during this lonely evening of traveling down lonely dirt roads in the vast orange grove region of Riverside, while purportedly looking for stolen and abandoned vehicles, that officer Jamie Bradley saw a glint of light; a reflection off a car bumper that would change the course of events for Evelyn as well as her hard earned reputation. Jamie had learned from his training officer, a veritable master of silent running, how to effectively advance on a parked vehicle. It was important; he was solemnly told, to approach quietly in order to avoid alerting the lurking criminals therein. The lurking criminals in 197% of the cases were lovers locked in impassioned and naked embrace.

The stalking officer must open his car door several yards before coming to within earshot of the parked suspect vehicle. He must attain a maximum speed of no more than twelve feet per hour. Slowly does it. Additionally he must utilize the services of the parking brake to avoid highlighting the police unit in a flash of red brake light thereby alerting the heretofore-unsuspecting rogue. Finally, he must exit his patrol vehicle and quietly slip up on the reclusive recalcitrant on foot. Jamie?s training officer had apparently acquired the unique ability to hover a half inch off a bed of gravel to avoid making noise. He was as silent as a deer in the forest. Finally, suddenly appearing at the side window of the vehicle and beaming in 20,000-candle power from his 12-cell flashlight he would administer the coup de grace. The shocked reaction usually resulted in the forced uncoupling of the startled targets and was good for a week?s worth of story telling. What was never revealed in this training session was what to do if one of the lovers returned the compliment with shots fired.

No matter, the parked vehicle was now his. The suspicious movement of the car, accompanied by low moans emitting from within convinced Jamie that he was about to save the life of a terrified kidnap victim. Hurriedly he employed the appropriate steps and gleefully activated his Night Sun brand flashlight. The startled couple sat bolt upright. They were no more startled than Jamie however, as he recognized his beat partner Evelyn Roggs, in flagrante delicto with an actual male member of the species.

From that day forward the word went out that ?Rugs? was actually AC/DC, thereby earning her the delightful sobriquet of, ?Rugs, the indoor-outdoor lezzie.?

Evelyn was not to be trifled with and her expose was a sexual harassment lawsuit waiting to happen. The irony of a lesbian filing a sexual harassment suit was lost on the courts, who in their infinite wisdom, sought to defend all manner of creatures great and small.

It was widely known that her new 450 SL class Mercedes was a gift from the city of Riverside due to an unfortunate comment about the weather made by an unsuspecting patrolman. As a result, the officers of Riverside Police Department were reminded of the paraphrased old adage, ?Hell hath no fury like, ??

The incident started innocently enough on an unusually humid August afternoon. The air conditioning had been on the fritz for at least a week and each day at precisely 2:45 p.m. the denizens of watch three would gather for their roll call ritual. Since the evenings in Southern California can remain uncomfortably warm, the interior of the police facility was not able to cool off as quickly as would be hoped. The temperature and humidity inched up each day until by the end of the week orchids were noted to be sprouting from the dust bunnies in the corners.

During the assembly in question, the collection of humanity clad in Kevlar vests, squeaking leather gear and poly-wool blend uniforms had upped the moisture content in the cramped roll call room to about 98%. Mouth breathing like spawning salmon and weary from the endless list of beat patrol requests and stolen car reports, the mood in the room was rapidly deteriorating. Finally, an old salt by the name of Johannsen who was seated next to ?Rugs? made a fateful proclamation. ?Hey Sarge. Can you hurry it up a little? It?s hot as hell in here and ?Rugs? is starting to smell like a Tuna.?

After the gales of laughter had subsided. ?Rugs? was noted to be talking seriously into a cell phone. It was later learned that she kept a female (lesbian, of course) attorney on retainer, and on speed dial.

The civil suit came and went very quickly. Johannsen disappeared to a graveyard front counter assignment unhappily taking phone-in reports and the entire third watch crew was treated to a sensitivity seminar. Evelyn chose baby blue for her Mercedes. ?Rugs? soon proved she was up to dealing with the worst the job had to offer. She had developed as demented a sense of humor as the most hardened vet. Even though she had been tormented as a new recruit with photos of blood and gore, she steadfastly refused to show they affected her.

Typically, new officers are assigned to a graveyard shift upon release from the field-training program. Newer officers, it was reasoned, needed to break in slowly and the 11:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. shift had fewer calls. One associated problem with the shift however, is terminal boredom.

Evelyn?s training officers had determined they had done everything humanly possible to discourage her from a career in law enforcement and, being unsuccessful, they pronounced her as fit as could be expected. She was assigned to a graveyard shift and allowed to go forth to mature and develop.

Officers going on shift checked their cars, loaded their gear and announced to the dispatcher they were ?10-8,? in-service, and ready for assignment. Evelyn had followed the time-honored procedure announcing her availability as 1-Robert-30 for the morning watch.

Accident Investigation units are unavailable after three o?clock in the morning and any traffic problems are therefore assigned to the patrol officers. Peach-faced recruits listened with nervous anticipation each evening as the fateful end of shift announcement was made at precisely 2:45 a.m.

?Tom Fifty-One, 10-7.?

Traffic unit, Tom?51, was the sole remaining Accident Investigation unit of the shift. The virgin police officers took on the gloomy outlook of a troop transport crossing the North Atlantic during World War II, alone and unescorted, prey for enemy submarines. So naturally, as regular as clockwork, some drunk driver managed to wrap himself around a palm tree and afford a squeaky new graveyard patrol officer the opportunity to unravel the intricacies of a fatality investigation all alone. How the soon to be body bag occupants knew when Tom-51 was off duty was forever shrouded in mystery.

?Rugs? took each investigation philosophically and seemed to be able to work her way through almost any case, no matter how difficult. Accidents, to her, were much like any other call and she was probably the only graveyard trooper unmoved by the weekly announcement of yet another fatality.

During a particularly nasty winter evening when the morning temperature plummeted to nearly 32 degrees, frost warnings were announced and graveyard officers huddled in their patrol cars. Collective prayers were offered up to the traffic gods for an accident free shift. ?Rugs? cruised aimlessly back and forth across her assigned beat vigilantly in search of nocturnal ne?er do wells. The night had thus far been free of radio traffic other than an occasional bored voice announcing a vehicle or business check. Suddenly, the entire graveyard crew was startled from slumber by the piercing voice of the dispatcher announcing the passing of yet another city resident. ?Robert-Thirty, 1 Robert-30.? ?Robert-30, Beech and Sand Hurst,? Evelyn responded from mid block.

?1-Robert-30, 11-80 at Wayside and the tracks, Wayside and the tracks. Your call is code-3?

?Robert-30 copy, enroute.?

Evelyn reached down and slapped the lever on the control unit all the way to the right, activating the overhead lights and siren. The unit siren pierced the air with a wailing shriek as she mashed the gas pedal to the floorboard. The unit leapt forward and raced to the scene of what was surely this week?s fatal accident.

?Robert 45, I?ll assist.? Came the voice of an adjoining beat partner, relieved at the prospect of directing traffic or laying out flares rather than actually having to write the report.

?Robert-45, 10-4. Units responding be advised this is an auto versus train, Mercy enroute.? Mercy was the local ambulance company but the need of their service was in doubt. Automobiles rarely won in a game of chicken with a train.

Moments later Evelyn careened around the corner, announcing her arrival. The rear end of an old red pickup was lying in a ditch near the train tracks. The front end containing half a driver was a half block east on the other side of the tracks. Several train personnel were gathering around surveying the damage and speaking into hand held radios.

Evelyn exited her patrol car and walked to the front half of the old truck. She noted that the upper portion of the driver was still behind the steering wheel. Leaning inside what was left of the vehicle she sniffed and wrinkled her nose. The odor of stale beer drifting off the body was unmistakable. He appeared to be an adult Mexican male in his early forties. Since the SAN MIGUEL bar was about six blocks away, it looked like a bad end to a good night.

The driver had dutifully stopped for the flashing lights signaling an oncoming train. He apparently sat patiently as the train whizzed by. The moment the southbound train cleared the tracks; he proceeded across, only to be taken out by a second train traveling Northbound on a second set of tracks.

The bottom half of the torso was laying in a field a few yards away. ?Rugs? was crouched down inspecting it when her adjoining beat partner came running up. She looked at him and looked back at the human wreckage on the ground. Steam was rising from the convoluted pile of intestines. ?Rugs? began to sing, ?Suddenly, I?m not half the man I used to be?? She looped a strand of intestine over her baton and offered it to the new officer.

?Want some?? She inquired.

The officer, a young man with the appearance of a 12-year-old, stared at Evelyn in shocked disbelief at the desecration of the remains. He suddenly turned white and lurched over to the side of the road and proceeded to lose his lunch.

?I guess not,? suggested ?Rugs.? Okay then, all the more for me.? She made chewing sounds and smacked her lips, ?Ummm, this is good.? The baby faced policeman retched louder.

Evelyn?s career had its ups and downs. She was a loner, feared by the male officers and female officers alike. No one would socialize with her off duty and she was never invited to coffee during a shift. No one understood her and everyone was afraid to try. She was watched carefully by the police administrators who longed for a return to the days of intimidation without retribution, termination without litigation. Attempts were made to encourage her to seek other fields of employment, all without success. Evelyn loved the freedom of police work. She loved the adrenaline flow and the excitement of the unknown. Evelyn Roggs planned to stay around for a long, long time.

At some point in their careers, field supervisors are usually promoted to Watch Commanders. The promotion is accompanied by the awarding of a bright shiny gold lieutenant?s bar to be worn on the collar of the police uniform. Some take the promotion seriously and continue in their efforts to seek the eternally elusive answer to crime in their city. Others see it as a step to two gold bars, a captain?s promotion and the attainment of a division command. Sometimes these individuals trod on the backs of their charges in their quest for fame and glory. Such was the case of a new promotee by the name of James Ridgley. As a Sergeant, Ridgley was mediocre. As a Lieutenant he was a tyrant. Ridgley was one of three newly promoted lieutenants who seemed to belong to the same club. Their mantra was to seek out and destroy the careers of their subordinates. Patrol officers and Sergeants alike were subject to the irrational whims of the dreaded threesome.

Ridgley was unpredictable. He was demanding and unreasonable. On one occasion he had summoned a Patrol Sergeant to the station from the furthest reaches of the city. Upon reaching the Watch Commander?s office, the weary Sergeant was told by the imperious Lieutenant Ridgley,

?There is a unit parked by the gas pumps. It belongs to one of YOUR men. I want YOU to move it.?

The Sergeant proceeded to the gas pumps and discovered that the offending unit was down with a dead battery and couldn?t be moved. Returning to the Watch Commander?s office he informed the Lieutenant of his findings.

?I told you to move it,? responded Ridgley. ?I didn?t ask for excuses. Now, go do it or go home on suspension.?

Furious, the Sergeant moved the unit by physically pushing it into a vacant stall. He then reported back to the Lieutenant that he had strained his back in the process and was leaving on a worker?s comp injury. He was out for three months. The message was lost on Ridgley and the city paid the disability.

Of the three Lieutenants, James Ridgley was the worst by far. He had racked up more disciplinary actions against officers than any of his predecessors. He was a sadistic, hateful person who saw his chance to get even for whatever past wrongs he had suffered in his own miserable life. He was so universally disliked that plots to assassinate him were openly discussed without fear of being reported. Had James Ridgley suddenly caught fire, there wasn?t a police officer in the city who would have walked over and pissed on him to douse the flames.

One particular evening, while on routine patrol, Evelyn was summoned to appear before her Watch Commander to pay homage.

?1-Robert-30, 10-19 Watch Commander?s office.?

?Robert-30, copy,? she replied, puzzled since she had avoided him at all costs and considered contact with this particularly loathsome creature to be on the same par as contracting a case of genital herpes.

A ?See the Watch Commander? call never boded well. These people were not known for handing out warm fuzzies. She wasn?t due for an evaluation and was sure she had committed no breach of policy. She rolled in, parked her unit and removed a small voice actuated tape recorder from her briefcase. She depressed the ?on? button and slipped it into her right front pocket before entering the station.

Arriving at the Watch Commander?s office she knocked at the door. Lieutenant Ridgley pretended to be reading a report and ignored her. She knocked again and cleared her throat. He looked up and smiled. He reminded her of a snake contemplating its next meal.

?Roggs,? he said pleasantly. ?Come in, close the door and sit down.?

?Disaster,? thought Evelyn. Alarms shrieked in her head. Little voices screamed ?Shields up! Shields up!?

?I wanted to talk to you in private.? Ridgley?s words were oily and insincere.

?Yes sir?? Inquired Evelyn. She closed the door and sat across from the Lieutenant, hands folded in her lap.

?Roggs, I?ll get straight to the point. You?re a troublemaker. I don?t like you. In fact I dislike you so much I?m going to offer you the opportunity to quit, right here, right now. If you don?t I?m going to make your life a living, breathing hell. In short, I want your resignation. You?re not cut out for this line of work. You?re a broad, and a queer and no one likes queers, especially female ones.?

Evelyn stared at the lieutenant, stunned beyond response.

?C?mon Roggs. It?s no good for you here.? He waved a copy of a form in front of her face.

?This is a city resignation request FORM. I want you to sign it and leave. If you don?t, I?ll make you wish you had never gotten into this line of work.?

?Lieutenant Ridgley,? said Roggs, carefully annunciating his name for the benefit of the small whirring tape.

?I can?t do that. I love my job. I?m good at it. I have no disciplinary actions in my file. As a matter of fact I have three commendations.?

?Not any more,? Ridgley smirked. ?Poof. They disappeared.?

Evelyn looked at him open mouthed, unable to speak.

?Disappeared,? continued Ridgley. ?Just like that.? He snapped his fingers for emphasis. ?Just like every commendation you may ever earn from now on?

?Ohh. There is one thing.? He leaned closer.

?I understand you like to screw men from time to time. Is that true??

Evelyn sat, stunned. She could not believe what she was hearing.

?Now instead of worrying about your career, perhaps we might work out a little deal, you and I. As long as you work the same shift for me I might be inclined to go a little easier on you if you show the proper respect.?

?Respect, sir?? Evelyn could see it coming.

?Yes, respect, Roggs. I?ve never screwed a dyke before. I thought I might like to add it to my list of experiences before I retire. Be nice to me and I?ll be nice to you. Am I making myself perfectly clear to you, Ms. Roggs??

The ceiling of the Watch Commander?s office opened. A burst of sunlight suddenly lit the office in glorious radiance. In the background the deafening refrain of the Halleluiah Chorus rang forth.

?Of course, if you think you want to raise an issue about our conversation you might remember that I?ll deny everything; and you, my dear, are still on probation, subject to termination without cause. Do we understand each other??

?Yes, sir. I understand perfectly.? Said Evelyn. The little tape spun merrily away. Life was indeed good.

That very morning at 8:01 a.m. Evelyn?s attorney sat listening to the recorded conversation of the previous evening. The tinny voice emitting from the tape recorder carried with unmistakable clarity.

?Yes, respect, Roggs. I?ve never screwed a dyke before. I thought I might like to add it to my list of experiences before I retire. Be nice to me and I?ll be nice to you. Am I making myself perfectly clear to you, Ms. Roggs??

The attorney stared disbelieving at Evelyn who sat back in her chair smiling like a Cheshire cat.

?You have GOT to be kidding me,? she said.

?Nope,? responded Evelyn. ?It?s real.?

A deal was struck between the chief?s office, the city manager and Evelyn?s attorney. The city would be spared an incredibly expensive sexual harassment suit and horribly embarrassing exposure in exchange for the liver of one Lieutenant James Ridgley.

The resignation was quick and quiet. Citing personal reasons, James Ridgley elected to pursue other forms of employment. The fact he was 18 months shy of a retirement didn?t seem to faze him. The announcement rolled through the ranks of the police department like a rippling orgasm.

Two nights later Evelyn appeared at roll call. Everyone gave her the usual silent treatment. She took a seat in the rear of the room, long since accustomed to the avoidance. The sergeant began to read the beat assignments. She lapsed into daydreaming.

The tone of the sergeant?s voice changed and she mentally surfaced to hear the reading of a commendation. Puzzled, she listened more closely.

??with complete disregard for her personal well being, and acting above and beyond the call of duty, this officer did accomplish her mission in the highest tradition of the police service. To this achievement, we hereby award this commendation of outstanding police service to officer Evelyn Roggs.? At this the entire roll call rose and gave her a standing ovation. Catcalls and whistles rang out.

?Speech, Speech, SPEECH,? they chorused.

Evelyn was unable to react.

?Evelyn,? the sergeant continued.

?This is our little unofficial award to you in thanks for what you were able to do for all of us. I?d also like to remind everyone that the term ?Rugs? will be stricken from use from here on out.?

Evelyn pulled herself to her feet, pushing back the chair.

?I, I don?t know what to say,? she said. ?I didn?t really do anything special. I was just in the right place at the right time. Besides. I kinda like ?Rugs.? It has personal meaning to me.?

?Well,? said the Sergeant. ?I think we?ve all been in similar situations in there but you were the one to make it happen, so if it?s rugs you want, it?s rugs you get.?

So ?Rugs? it was.

The triad had been broken. The remaining two lieutenants had seen the handwriting on the wall, or in this case, the all points bulletin on the clipboard. One Lieutenant regressed into a state of zombie like existence. Treated for depression he sat like a stoned Buddha in the Watch Commander?s office, day after day, staring at the wall until his retirement. The other drifted into obscurity following his retirement a few years later. Neither was missed and the rules had been changed, for better or for worse, things would never be as they once were.

?Rugs? was eventually promoted to Sergeant and moved in with her attorney. Everyone seemed to take their unusual arrangement in stride. They were seen together from time to time at the awards? banquets. No one ever really got used to the two holding hands and dancing but carefully refrained from comment. The trade off for the unholy threesome was considered a great exchange.



© Ron DeLaby, all rights reserved, reproduced here with permission.