In Cahoots Chapter 1
Mike said:“Growing up mom would tell me that you are judged by the company you keep. Later with the internet, Facebook, blogging, you are still judged by the company you keep. Seems there is a conspiring mentality out there that says your Facebook friends or your blogging friends describes who you are. I still wonder what is in the mindset of those who are in the social media arena? I do not use the word arena lightly, it is an arena; sometimes you are served up for sport. I learned to not get into conversations with those who start their blog with another bloggers username. It is as if you are calling them out in the street for a virtual dual.
At least when Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr dueled over integrity, because of perceived slander, now slander is a sport. Another thing seems to be a sport, this X generation is now adults they use the baby boomers lingo such as pulling a girls hair because a boy likes her. Sorry I cannot wrap my head around people who believe that hurting someone physically is a compliment. This Jerry Springer atmosphere has taken us back to the stone age of dragging a girl by their hair to the cave when we need a generation to understand domestic violence is not okay.”
He was hunched over as he spoke, a burden so heavy he would take a deep breath in and let out the air as a sail looses its wind. His shoulders slump, he downed another shot, took a pull on his beer while I attended to other customers. I came back leaned on the bar, just enough to face him. I do not think he noticed that the bars chatter quieted to a whisper. Everyone knew who he was. How could they not? They crucified him and his partner across that social media he was speaking of. I waited for a moment or two then said. “So you and Joe took the call, some guy was hurting his wife?”
Mike answered:“Sloan, the guy’s name was Sloan, domestic disturbance. I knocked on the door. Geraldine came to the door. That’s Sloan’s wife, screeching out her complaint, she needed to calm down for us to discern what was going on. Joe took her aside. He is good at calming the women down. Somehow he get’s them to believe he understands their plight. Doesn’t hurt that he looks like Rock Hudson. I walk Sloan into the kitchen, Geraldine was still loud but not as high pitched. Sloan could hear what she was saying. That he shoved her, that he threatened her. Sloan just shook his head no. I asked him his version all he said was “Don’t mind her she get’s like that when she has too much to drink. Got home from work at 6:30 worked some overtime. She had started drinking sometime after lunch. As soon as I walked in the door she yelled, “You better have brought home more beer” I never forget, but don’t mind her.
Mike paused his explanation a moment contemplated the burger someone bought him. He nodded to the person who was kind enough to buy it for him. I could tell he had no intention eating it. I left it there just the same. Someone else bought him a beer and a shot, which he downed as he did the first two rounds. Again he closed his eyes slightly took in a breath let it out. I really think the man wanted to cry but dared not because he would not be able to stop once he started.
So I asked, “How did you resolve that first visit?”
Mike answered: “I told Sloan he should pack some things. Go to a family members house or a friend and stay a day or two till things calm down. My partner will speak to your wife about getting some assistance. Maybe convince her to not drink for a day or two, think things through. Sloan nodded said he will call his brother tell him that he was coming. Tell him Geraldine just called the police on him. I walked Sloan to his room, he grabbed a couple of suitcases from the floor of the closet. Filled them with his belongings.I walked him to his truck. I told him my partner and I want to drive him, he said he was fine, I insisted. I promised him if he let my partner drive him I would follow in his truck. Sloan did not want to miss work. My partner came out told me that Geraldine promised to make an appointment the next morning with the doctor. We have cards for counselors, they have a good track record with those who call. I followed the squad car to Sloan’s brother’s place. His brother came out onto the porch to greet him and help with his belongs, Sloan’s sister-in-law came out with what looked like a 2-year-old on her hip, the little girl was sucking her thumb with sleepy eyes. I gave Sloan a card with another counselor’s name on it, told him to make an appointment, he said he would first break at work.”
Mike paused again, someone walked in the door, all heads turned to see who it was. Except for Mike, he was staring at the empty shot glass. I refilled on the house. He thanked me, threw it back, took a pull on his beer, rubbed his face with both hands, let out a breath. I waited. He did not say anything else. I got others their drinks, filled the drinks our waitress Millie needed. Came back and stood again my arms folded waiting for Mike to finish what he needed to get off his chest.
Mike:”Sloan made the appointment. He came to the station after work to make sure I knew. I suppose he thought we made a special connection, not realizing I was doing my job. He seemed to be a mild manner type. I could not figure him to be the abusive ass that Geraldine was making him out to be. In this job one never knows, the quietest, smiling guy can be a brute.”
The papers and other media said that Mike and his partner Joe were at fault for not seeing the situation for what it was. The character assassination included Mike and his divorce, womanizing, and drinking, Joe’s marriage took a hit because the media is never questioned as to their accuracy they just make the accusations for readership, not caring what it does to a couple.
In Cahoots Chapter 2
Mike: “ I went on my time off back to Sloan’s neighborhood. Asked neighbors about the couple. Everyone pretty much said the same thing, Geraldine is fine when she is not drinking, Sloan is just a nice guy who would do anything for anybody. The neighbor directly across the street said she and Geraldine were good friends until she made the mistake and suggested she stopped drinking every day. That sealed the fate of the relationship right there on the spot. Geraldine got up and walked out giving her once best friend the finger.”
Millie my waitress heard this part and said “You went on your time off to ask these neighbors, there was nothing in the paper about that, why did the neighbors turn on you? The Facebook account was just horrible, guess some don’t care about the truth they just want to seem important.”
Mike looked over at Millie and said “Sadly the police are the bad guys, until they need you, then you are their servant, there to do their bidding, there are still some out there that respect what we do, respect the uniform, the media seems to enjoy using us as the bully of the streets to enrage the readers who are so busy being busy bodies, and Springer anger management seminar they watch on tv, believing this is how civilized people problem solve.
Millie nodded placed her hand on Mike’s shoulder, leaned over and gave him a soft kiss on the cheek, whispered something in his ear which I could not hear, then took her tray and served her customers. Mike’s eyes were moist but he controlled the flow, this was a man on the edge of a breakdown.
Mike: “One good thing came from all this my X called and we are now at least on speaking terms. She had a sit down with Joe’s wife, seemed to help patch things over, the papers saying Joe and I went carousing after work chasing tail, which was not true. Joe is devoted to his wife Eva, his high school sweetheart, he would always say, there was no other. I believed him.”
What happened next just pissed me off royally, the door opened another person came in, camera running, I took the bat from behind the counter. Told the reporter if he wanted a quiet drink he was welcome if he was here to stir up more lies and shit, he needed to turn around and walk out. The reporter spewed out the rhetoric about freedom of the press, and such, I told him this was my bar and I had the right to serve or throw out, I suggest you leave. He continued to move towards Mike, Mike did not even look his way instead he stared into his empty shot glass, every customer got up and stood in the reporter’s way. One customer reached for the reporters camera, the reporter jerked to the right, lost his grip and the camera when careening to the floor, where another customer gave it a kick, the game started, the camera was now a hockey puck, everyone kept batting it; the reporter was swearing, the customers playing keep away. After one customer picked up the camera and walked out of the bar with it, the reporter followed, from that point, I do not know what happened.
Once things settled down, I placed a fresh burger in front of Mike, leaned in and said, “Please eat something, I will not serve you another drink till you eat that burger.” I set a glass of water on the bar told Mike he could wash it down with the water. Mike took a bite but you could tell he was having trouble swallowing it, Millie had made herself a burger grabbed a water sat down next to Mike and started to eat her burger after that Mike seemed to swallow a bit easier. I think he was finally catching on he was not in this alone anymore.
After Mike ate the burger, Millie went back to servicing her customers, by this time the place was packed, still subdued, someone started to play the jukebox, some old time country which seemed to fit the mood of the place.
Another big sigh from Mike, his shoulders did not seem as slumped but he was still a man that was beaten down. At this point I was hoping he and Millie would get together, the man could use some tenderness.
Mike:” I went to the meeting one night that Sloan said he was going to, he was thrilled to see me, said he was trying to talk Geraldine into joining him. Said that he was still staying with his brother and family, figuring to give time for Geraldine to come to her senses. She did not she only became angrier at Sloan, saying they do not do anything together anymore they may as well get divorced, Sloan told her that if she wanted a divorce she would have to do the filing, he told her he still loved her, loved her enough to wait till she got better.”
Another pause, Mike asked for a beer, I would not give him another shot, he shrugged and drank his beer.
Mike:” Joe and I got a call to Sloan’s place, when we arrived he was in his truck, Geraldine was taking a baseball bat to it, standing behind it so he could not leave, Sloan just sat still, she seen us pull up came around to the drivers side of the truck and wound up ready to hit the window, I caught the bat before it made contact, that put Geraldine off balance and she landed on her ass in the grass, screaming police brutality.”
I closed my eyes for a moment remembering how I heard about Mike being brought up on charges for unnecessary force, seems Geraldine went into the house locked herself in called the department and told dispatch there were two uniformed officers on her front porch trying to break the door down. Geraldine must have been on Facebook and Twitter because one of my customers said: “Hey that Mike guy, the cop, he is trying to break into a woman’s home she claims he took a bat to her.”
There were too many witnesses which disproved her account but that did not stop the media storm, which blew the whole thing so out of proportion Mike got a few days off with pay hoping the media dust would settle.
In Cahoots Chapter 3
It was getting late near closing time, I told Mike he should sleep it off upstairs. I have an apartment with one bedroom. I usually rent it out, but I was between renters at the moment. Mike got up turned to everyone in the bar and thank them. They all stood and applauded. Sometimes people astound me. Mike started to cry, he turned quickly for the back stairs I could see him slightly, his shoulders were heaving he needed he needed the release. Millie asked if it would be alright if she left to go grab some things and come back to stay with Mike. I told her I thought that was a great idea.
My customers were kind enough to clear the tables, I was washing the tables off when Millie came back, I locked the door behind her, she went up the stairs. One of my regulars, Larry, stayed helped mop the floor and clean the restrooms while I washed down the bar, washed and dried the glasses before putting them away. I told Larry tomorrows drinks are on the house, he said he would not hear of it, said he was doing this for Mike.
Next Morning when I came to open up Mike was gone Millie had coffee ready, refrigerators full chilling the beer. I sat with a coffee and asked how it went last night. Millie said okay, he just cried himself to sleep barely said a word.
Millie “Mike was wondering if it would be okay, he would like to rent the room upstairs, says his apartment building is uncomfortable, the silence from neighbors. The glares from people on the street knowing who he is.”
Millie gave me Mikes phone number, I called it and told Mike the first 3 months are on the house, it would be good to have him.
Mike is back to work, on desk duty the media frenzy has taken another turn, seems his partner Joe was at a traffic stop when someone came around behind him while he was handing the paperwork back to the driver, when Joe turned he got hit, with a bat, his partner Gary called out stop, took a shot at the guy with the bat, hit Joe, the guy with the bat ran, Gary shot the guy, he went down, the driver started to swear saying Joe deserved what he got for letting his partner take a bat to a defenseless woman.
Joe’s funeral was 3 days later. There were mourners, an honor guard, also protestors, against the police in general. Joe’s wife took it so hard she was hospitalized and did not make the funeral.
Some were wondering if the protesting was just a twirl and dance the put on media or someone with an agenda set in motion, secretly hoping for chaos, keeping the headlines sweetened with the violence.
After the funeral any police officer who wanted to blow off steam was welcome, on the house, Mike sat at the bar as he did the one night, slumped over his shot and beer. We did our little routine, Mike drank till he nearly fell off the stool, I insisted he eat, Millie sat next to him had a burger, the night was long, the grieving was heavy, there seemed to be no end in sight.
The cops that showed up started talking about the night Joe and Mike responded to a call for domestic violence, none of Mikes brothers or sisters in uniform second guessed the two seasoned officers. No one would have guessed Geraldine’s last move. The general consensus was women do not normally carry out this sort of thing Officer Jacobs, a lieutenant sat at the bar shaking his head
Jacobs said: “It is inconceivable to me that anyone would hold these two officers responsible for what a citizen did on their own volition.”
Even after Joe’s funeral, there were innuendos in the paper of how the two officers could have handled the call differently, including the subsequent calls.
The lieutenant walked over to where Mike was sitting, bought him a beer and said: “Mike this is not on you, I hold the media and citizens at fault, not you nor Joe.”
Mike: “There is no consolation sir when no one can be held accountable for Character assassination. Maligning Police officers in the media, they do this saying it is freedom of the press. As if it were a victimless crime, it was all in a days work. Sir there was no way after Joe and I took the complaint and Geraldine was beating the crap out of Sloan’s truck, that she would then do what she did. The media was so busy crucifying me over the nonexistent bat incident they totally breezed past the real tragedy and then when they acknowledged what a horrific thing Geraldine did she was set on a pedestal as a bereaved wife because her husband left her. Then stating we the police and the department were complicit because we talked Sloan into leaving, and going to get professional help. No one is responsible for their own bad behavior except those who protect and serve.”
The Lieutenant nodded, in agreement, Mike then said something which took us all by surprise “Sir, I am turning in my papers Monday morning, along with my gun and badge, there is nothing more I can nor do I want to do for this community, my thinking is I would be better off working for a security firm, better hours and better pay.”
The Lieutenant said: “I can understand how you feel Mike, how about taking a week or to leave of absence to consider the 15 years you already gave this job, do not throw that away.”
Mike: “Sir, I do not need to think about it, I had thought about it as soon as I was benched for allegedly beating Geraldine, at this point in time I would be doing the department a disservice, because I now wish I had done that, the family would still be alive.”
No one would have thought in a million years after Sloan left with his beaten up truck to go back to his brothers place, that Geraldine would get in her car, at 3 am, go over to her brother in laws and throw mulla toph cocktails through every window, taking out the entire family while they slept. Still, makes no sense that all this started with a domestic violence call.
When is someone going to say the media acted stupidly.