Nightwatch

Sometimes I get tired of reading and so I lay back and tell myself a story instead. The fun part is that stories we tell ourselves don’t have to make sense, nor do they need to pass the discerning eye of an editor or focus group.

They were ten-seven in David Sector at 2 o’clock in the morning, sitting in their patrol car and looking down across the river at Peaceful Valley. That’s cop talk for a couple of officers sitting on break in the Downtown (D for downtown, D like David) area by the Monroe Street bridge. One was a youngblood, newly arrived –well, new as in the last two years, a rookie, the other an old salt on the SPD for nearly twenty long years. One had seen a lot of history go by, the other hadn’t seen shit. Yet the younger one was sure as ever he knew more than the old fogey he’d been assigned to patrol with. He was there to be familiarized before being given a patrol of his own.

“I like to sit up here,” the older cop said, speaking over the lid of his McDonald’s coffee. “It’s not like before though. Before, I could sit here and see all sorts of low lifes, –crawling across this bridge like the cockroaches they are, or moving through the shadows down there in Peaceful. That little area down there under the Maple Street bridge used to be nothin but hippies. All runnin around and selling each other pot and crank, maybe some brown. Used to be we could see that shit and go down there and bust some heads. Now it’s all about rights. About the rights of those scumbags. It was better in the old days. Cops had some respect back then.”

“Well, you know Sarge,” spoke the youngblood piously, “they’re people too. You gotta respect ‘em. Besides, how do we know if they’re doing something wrong –just seeing them walk around?”

The old timer felt gas in his widening girth and knew he was going to get heartburn. He always did. Of course, what’s a guy to expect living on coffee, fast food and sucking down scotch whiskey by the fifth after clocking out day after day. He burped an odious mixture of coffee, onions and garlic that made the younger cop wrinkle his nose and crack his window. At least he didn’t have to deal with the old fart smoking. No more smoking at all in SPD. “People my ass.” said the salt. “You know they’re up to no good because you can see ‘em moving.” At that moment a car sped across the bridge, the sergeant figured it for 40 per. The limit was thirty. “See what I mean?” he said, dropping the car in gear and turning on the light bar.

He accelerated onto the bridge and pulled up behind the speeder. It was a late model Infinity, no doubt driven by some jackass day trader who figured his college degree entitled him to have his ass kissed 24-7. The cop figured the driver to cross the bridge and make a right onto Main, right by the Spokane Club. But no, the ditzy schmuck pulled to the curb and stopped right on the bridge. At the hour, with little to no traffic this was no big deal. If it happened in traffic, it would have tied a knot that would jam the streets for half an hour or more. “What a dumbass,” said the younger cop. They pulled up behind the Infiniti and stopped, their light bar still throwing red and blue glittering beams that bounced everywhere. Both cops got out, the younger one taking a position at the right rear of the Infinity and the salt making his way to the driver door. The sergeant had his flashlight held aloft in his left hand, his right hovered by the butt of his sidearm, a 9mm Glock.

The Infiniti driver rolled down his window and the scent of alcohol wafted out in waves almost thick enough to see. “Wass up, Oph-isser?”

“Your speed was a bit high coming across the bridge. Have you been drinking tonight, Sir?”

“Driniking? Me, shih, uh, nope. Nossir, I hasn’t.”

“Havet, huh? Would you step out of the car, please sir?” The driver’s door popped open and the driver began to fumble. He seemed confused a moment and then began to tug at the seat belt crossing over his left shoulder. He fumbled for a full minute, the cops waiting. He finally had some success because he fell sideways out of the car. The sergeant tried to grab him, but the driver struck his head on the concrete roadway. The rest of his body slithered from the car in a snakelike movement, the driver pulling himself into a fetal position.

“Fug me, that hurt.” he burped and the air was recharged with the odor of old alcohol. The sergeant fanned the air with his hand and then reached down and grabbed the driver by the arm to stand him up. The driver went limp, forcing the cop to use both hands to lift him up. He leaned him on the car and held the driver up with a forearm across the driver’s chest.

“Looks to me like you may have had a little too much to drink, sir. May I see your license, registration and insurance card?”

“Sure!” said the driver, who then started sliding back to the ground. The cop grabbed him by the biceps and lifted him back up again.

The rookie, having made sure there was no one else in the car had moved around to the driver’s side of the Infiniti and took a position next to his sergeant. “He looks pretty out of it.” he said.

The sergeant nodded. “Sir? Your information please?”

“Aww, fugoo.” wheezed the driver. “Leemee alone.”

“I’m sorry, I can’t do that, Si…” he was cut off when the Infinity driver vomited on himself, splattering what looked to be an expensive but casual shirt. It had a polo horse on the breast. The cops both jumped backwards to avoid the deluge and the driver immediately fell forward, face-planting into the splattered puddle of puke he just made. “Aw, Christ.”

“We better get him out of the street.” commented the rookie. Each cop took an arm and dragged him, dead man, to the curb and onto the sidewalk. They leaned him on the concrete railing of the bridge and the rookie began feeling the drunk’s pockets in search of a wallet and the man’s ID.  The driver made an urp-ing noise, his head tracing a circular weaving motion. “Jeez, he’s gonna blow chunks again!” whined the rookie.

The cops took a protective step backwards, the drunk said “Wheeee!” and fell backwards over the railing, disappearing into the darkness.

“Oh shit!” the pair harmonized, and both leaned over the rail and shone their flashlights down into the water whirling some thirty feet below. Their man was in an area of still water, flailing his arms and splashing. The cops could hear him yelling, but not so they could make out anything he was saying. Assuming it was coherent, anyway. The sergeant yelled “Call it in!” and continued to watch as the man splashed in the water below. The rookie called from his shoulder mounted mic, explaining a drunk had gone off the Monroe street bridge and asked for assistance; backup and river patrol. The sergeant told him to keep his light on the driver and took off at a run toward the end of the bridge, skirting the railing and sliding down the steep embankment to the rivers edge. He took a position on the concrete sea wall and directed his flashlight at the foundering man in the water. Caught in current, the man had drifted down river about 10 yards, fighting against the current with his arms flying all over. The cop yelled “Towards me! Come towards me!” but the drunk had reached faster water.

In almost the blink of an eye, the man accelerated and was carried into the white water where the river wove its way between and over the rocks. His yelling and screaming was quickly lost to the sound of the river, and faded from hearing even as the man faded from sight into the darkness. And that was the point, if not the very moment, that the sergeant and his rookie partner earned the nicknames Bathman and Robin.

Emily Peaksill and her sometimes boyfriend Alvin were sitting on the greenway down in Peaceful Vally. Under cover of darkness and some accommodating shrubbery, they had just completed one of many assertions of the appreciation for one another’s company. In a state of partial undress, they were sharing a bowl and thinking how pleasant a night it was. Not too hot, not too cold. Laying on their backs, head towards the river, they stared up at the night sky and the stars winking in the nighttime sky. It was a pleasant and relaxing moment right until a soaking wet hand splashed out of the water and took a loose grip on Emily’s face. She had begun to scream as yet another hand erupted from the water and flailed about, seeking some kind of purchase and splashing Alvin. The lovers both jumped to their feet as a bedraggled man began to pull himself lizard-like from the murky waters of the river. Alvin, in a moment of macho protection of he sometime true love started kicking the crawler in the head. “Fuck you, Fuck you!” he yelled, getting in as many kicks as he could. Unfortunately, he was barefooted, having removed his tattered Nike running shoes. The third kick to the head caused him to break a toes, which sat him down on his butt with bone jarring force.

The soaking and now stunned man trying to crawl out of the water was saying “What? what?” being someone confused at the assault, an so Emily, in a moment of bravado, screeched loudly and dropped to her knees so she could rake the attacker’s face with her ample tobacco and pot stained fingernails.

“Leave my man alone, you dick!” she screamed.

“Help! Help!” screamed the poor Infinity driver right back. Alvin, feeling a sense of rage from the white hot pain of his broken toe, used his other foot to shove the man back into the water wile Emily looked in vain for a rock or something to smash her attacker with. She was interrupted by the sergeant, who, still hunting his charge, has come across the scuffle and was lighting things up with his flashlight.

“Everybody just chill!” he yelled. “Freeze!” This quieted both Emily and Alvin who immediately started taking stock of where their baggie of pot and their paraphernalia had gotten to. Gritting his teeth, knowing he was about to ruin his shoes, a comfortable pair of broken in oxfords, the sergeant waded into the water and grabbed the confused and half-drowned motorist from the river by his collar, much the way one might carry a cat. He deposited him on the grass of the greenway with a soaked splat and he wheezed “You’re under arrest.” before going down to one knee in an effort to catch his breath.

Emily and Alvin looked at the cop, the soaked and heavy breathing man at his feet, and then both of the grabbed what they could of their stuff and fled into the night. “Get back here!” yelled the sergeant. But they were out of sight and he was too out of breath to do anything about it anyway. Besides, a couple of patrol units were pulling up. Let them go find the two dopers if they wanted. He was just too tired to care, and a bit dizzy with relief. After all, the motorist wasn’t dead. He wasn’t in fine shape either, his lip and nose bloodied from the kicks he took or perhaps encounters with rocks in the river.

The rookie pulled up next and joined the growing group of officers, illuminated in the pool of light from the headlamps of the patrol cars and the red and ble flashing of the emergency lights. Running over, he stopped and squatted own to look at at his sergeant. “You okay?” he asked.

The sergeat shook his head. “See, it was like I was sayin. It was easier in the old days. I coulda just shot this prick.”