Mugged in the Jug
Sure, friend. I’m just like you. Oh, I know, I seem unapproachable, with my thriving career as a failed writer, my jutting stomach and chiseled spine, and my daunting command of most of the English language. But I put my condoms on one foot at a time, just like anyone else. Like you, I’ve had my problems with women, when I’m feeling insecure or they can see what I look like. Like you, I’ve had money trouble, usually because of that stupid phosphorescent dye the banks use these days. And like you, sure, I’ve been arrested two or three dozen times.
But last week, when I was busy missing an appointment with my parole officer, something struck me. We all remember what we were arrested for: we remember what we did, who we did it to, and how much time we did for doing it. But how many of us take the time to stop and think of the person who got the whole thing started?
No, I don’t mean the victims. Personally, I remember them plenty when they come to haunt my dreams at night. Besides, there’s so many of them! I can barely keep track of my surviving relatives at the family reunion at Chino; how am I supposed to remember the names of each and every person on that Greyhound I hijacked back in ’92? I’m talking about the ones who get the party started in the first place. The ones who do so much for us, and to whom we can do so little. I’m talking about our good friends, the arresting officers.
It’s particularly strange that we don’t pay much attention to these heroic civic busybodies who make their job interrupting our jobs. After all, they’re as diverse and varied as the crimes we commit! They’re usually the first on the scene, the first to testify, and, sadly, the last person we remember when we finally get sprung.
And, like any large group (mine numbers in the high double digits), they’re a colorful bunch. From Officer Karpinski, who pinched me when I was eight for shanking old man Carpenter in the ass at the 7-11 so I could get at the Slurpee machine, to Detective Coleman, who nailed me only a week and a half ago for smuggling dope in those immigrant corpses, they’re as rich and fascinating a group as you’re likely to find in any other high-pressure occupation, like professional assassin, organ mule, or video game tester.
Thinking back on it now, I’m stunned by the vivid array of personalities I’ve encountered when I page through the yellowing leaves of my arrest record. There was Officer Carrel, who busted me for the first time as a legal adult. There was Officer Korbel, who busted me for beating Officer Carrel over the head with a flashlight after I got out. There was Officer Oakum, who taught me what police brutality was really all about, and Officer Englewood, who I taught why police brutality is so vitally necessary.
Officer Crandall, do you remember shoving my face in the communal toilet? I do, like it was yesterday, instead of three whole months ago. Sgt. Molensky, do you recall how you called me a fat Dago fuck, and how happy you’d be to see me spend the next six months in the hole? And when I told you I wasn’t Italian, you said to make it a year? How right you were; how naïve I was.
From Officer Carbajal, who ruined my first Christmas in jail by crushing tree lights in my sliced turkey dinner, to Lt. Miller, who still sends me a card even though I ruined all those senior citizens’ Christmas by setting fire to his grandfather’s care facility, I’ve been blessed with a whole lot of luck, a whole lot of love, and a wide interpretation of the meaning of the word ‘torture’ by my arresting officers. But I’ve never taken the time to remember them all in the way they deserve to be remembered. That’s all going to change.
Starting now, I’m going to remember them all. I’ve written them thank-you cards with little memorabilia of all my arrests, and tracked down all their addresses (risking, I might add, further arrest) so I can send them something special. It’s time to remember every brave officer who’s shown me the downside of tri-state crime sprees, and remember them good. One by one.