Thursday, April 30, 2015

After dropping Jackie off I walk fast across to 7th Avenue, trying to get to work on time. I’ve learned not to take 18th Street where the mail trucks pull in and out of their loading bays. The way I go is otherwise determined by the walk signals; today I had a straight shot across 20th, past the police station.

Nearly twenty-one years ago I stood on that very sidewalk. Two plainclothes cops had been on the open container detail outside a Dead show at the Garden when they busted me and some friends from Connecticut. I mouthed off while they took their sweet time writing us up. By contrast, they were in a big hurry to slam my face against the side of their van, cuff me, and throw me on the dirty floor in back. They rode me around for a while playing good cop–bad cop, the one shaking his head and saying, Now why’d you go and do something like that? and Geez, you know, my partner’s in a hell of a mood tonight. Why’d you have to do that tonight? and the other berating me, threatening me. What do you have to say for yourself? he yelled. I cleared my throat and began to speak. He cut me off immediately: Shut the fuck up you dickhead from Connecticut.

When we got to the station, where I’d been told I was goin’ in, and goin’ through the system, and where a big, black guy would fuck me in a cell that night, the bad cop instead took me out of the van, turned me around and freed me. He grabbed my shoulders, put his finger up close to my face. Did you learn a lesson tonight? he said. Yes sir, I did. He stared at me for a few more moments and then grandly, imperiously told me to go, go. Enjoy the show.

Today as I walked by the very same spot, a cop was walking out of the precinct door. He was engaged in a pleasant conversation with a man in civvies behind him.

“I love havin' no boss,” the cop said. “I feel so... different.”