The Christmas holidays were never my favorite time of year. Since my first wife died they got even worse. Usually if I had the day off on the holiday I would trade with a married guy so he could be with his family and I didn’t have to be alone.
This year was no better or worse than any other. Same old traffic accidents, family fights, bar drunks, family drunks, and bar fights.
I’d just finished working an accident in an intersection. This required me to direct traffic, in the pouring rain, for 15-20 minutes. I was soaking wet and trying to sip a cup of hot dark water the drive through called coffee.
It was 10:05pm, or twenty-two zero five in cop lingo, and I only had 25 minutes left until I was done for the night, when the call came.
“427” (That’s me)
“427” Standing by..”
“427: Adult males drinking in a parked vehicle. Fronting 46-228 Luluku Road. Complainant is a juvenile alone at that address”
Great, just what I wanted before I go home.
The location was at the farthest end of my beat, about as far from where I was as you could get and still be in my zone. Since this appeared not to be a life and death situation I tried to finish the coffee before I started out the address.
Not to be.
“427-second call…Same complaint…Appears to be getting concerned about the males…Says the radio is real loud.”
“10-4, dispatch…in route”
As usual I throw the coffee out the window. Too hot to drive with and I have no desire to pour hot coffee in a sensitive area of my anatomy. Since this wasn’t a hot call, no lights or sirens, I just took the quickest route to the location. It took maybe 7 minutes to get to the area even by the most direct route.
As I turned onto the caller’s street I could hear radio from the end of the block. I killed my lights and pulled to the curb a few feet behind the vehicle. First thing I noticed was the vehicle was parked on the wrong side of the street.
Of course, he was parked on the wrong side of the street.
The driver’s door was opened and a foot was propped on the hinge. Next to the driver’s side, on the grass, were several empty beer bottles.
As I got out of my vehicle I realized I knew the car. It belonged to one of our area burglars of little talent. I mean he keeps getting caught. I was sure he was presently on bail awaiting trial.
The music was so loud, or perhaps there were other reasons the two occupants of the car didn’t even hear me walk up until I “bumped” into the rear of the car causing the door to shut a little, pinching the occupants foot.
The driver, Tito, sat up and started cursing.
“HEY man, watch what you doing. You coulda hurt me,” then he looked up and saw who it was.
“Tito. Tito. Tito. What am I going to do with you? You don’t live in this area and you don’t want to be pulling any jobs tonight. You don’t want to spend the holidays in the cellblock”.
Tito looked about half bagged but still capable of some thought. Well, as much as Tito and his partner Bobby were ever capable of thinking.
“Look Tito, It’s late”, I explained.” I want to go home and you don’t want to go to jail. So, turn down the radio, pick up your bottles, and go home.”
“Naw man. You can’t tell us what to do. We got rights like everyone else.” Oh, Oh. The booze has made Bobby brave.
“Ya man. We got rights”. Tito was quick. Nothing gets past him.
So I explained to Tito and Bobby how easy it would be for them to drive away, and how hard it would be if I had to arrest and book them. I also explained how long it would take for them to make a phone call on a night their paperwork was “lost” due to the Christmas crush. And let’s not even consider all the paperwork for towing the car.
They both were muttering under their breath as they picked up some of the empty bottles on the ground. Some, but not all. I wasn’t going to push it; if they just left I wouldn’t complain. All this took 3 to 4 minutes, but that was less than the 3 to 4 hours the other alternative would have taken.
Finally they were back in the car and getting ready to leave, when I tapped on the window. Tito took his time in rolling the window down.
“Tito, don’t come back. Understand?”
He didn’t answer, just revved the engine a little and pulled away from the curb as fast as he dared. You know, maintain a little “face” and showing me how little he cared. I let him go.
It was then I noticed it had been raining for several minutes and I was wet, again. I got into my car and picked up the radio,
“Central standing-by 427”
“427..10-08 (returned from call)..Subjects have departed area”
“10-04..427..10-1 (return to station)…2230 hours..All third watch units 10-1 and sign off..”
Well, I’d only be 10-15 minutes late.
I’d just started to pull away from the curb when there was a knocking on the driver’s door. I jerked my head to look but didn’t see anyone there as I jammed on the brakes. I rolled down the window as I spotted the small boy standing next to the car.
“Oh..Thank you Mr. Policeman….” a small hand reached into my open window and dropped a small candy cane into my lap.
“I was sooo scared. My mom and dad are down the street and I didn’t want to walk pass that car. Thank you Mr. Policeman.” He turned and seemed about to run away when he stopped, turned back to face me and yelled, “Merry Christmas Mr. Policeman. Merry Christmas.” And he ran into the house.
You know, Christmas that year wasn’t so bad.