"Beth, I know that we've gone over this a hundred times, but explain it to me again. Why don't you want us to be tested? There's something wrong with one of us, otherwise we would have a couple of kids running around the house already."
"I know, I know," Beth said, "But Pete, I have resigned myself to the fact that I am not going to be blessed by Him in that manner."
That was always her answer, but it never rang true with me. And why does she never look me in the eye when she says it? There's something else going on here, but what? We've been married 15 years and we love each other dearly; deep inside I know that the Lord wants us to have children. We've been trying in earnest the past couple of years, but without success.
"We don't have time to talk about this right now," she said. "You've got to get to roll call. You know how Sgt. McNamara gets bent out of shape whenever someone strolls in late."
"Mac will get over it if I'm late." Mac does get upset with that kind of stuff I thought; I should go now and not risk the wrath of the good Sgt.
"Okay babe, but please, let's settle this soon. Neither one of us is getting any younger, and I know that we would make terrific parents."
"Pete, please...go. We'll get into this later."
I grabbed my gun belt and duty bag and made my way to the garage.
"What time do you start work in the morning babe? Want me to bring something for breakfast?"
"Pete, you're tired by the time you get home. Don't worry about me, I'll get something on the way and eat it at the office."
"Okay," I mumbled.
She was right; I am beat when I get home in the morning. I had been working the straight midnight shift for a couple of years now, trying to get through St. Xavier University during the day to get my degree. The Chicago Police Department was a great organization, plenty of chances to work your way up. Having a college degree was almost a necessity now; just about every cop that was making lieutenant and above had one. I still wasn't sure that I was ready to give up being a street cop though, I was having too much fun, but I had to plan for the future.
Anyway, I had gotten kind of used to being a "Midnight Warrior," as those of us that worked the shift on a permanent basis referred to ourselves. Being home during the day had its advantages too. Taking care of PB (personal business) was much easier. And my almost daily trips to "St. Xav's" gym meant that it was less crowded during the day than after dinner, plus our subdivision was right next door to the campus. So there were certain "bennies" involved with working permanent mids.
I hopped into my truck and backed out making sure that the garage door closed completely. I sure didn't want any scumbags getting into our house and causing problems for Beth. We lived in a great neighborhood, but you never know what kind of riffraff might be casing the houses.
The Southwest side of Chicago was loaded with city workers--policemen, firemen, sanitation workers, teachers--the residency requirement meant that all of us had to live in the city where we worked. And while the area where we lived around 103rd and Pulaski was relatively safe, it was also somewhat affluent as well. That meant creeps were well aware that the homes in our subdivision contained lots and lots of electronic goodies-all way too easy to fence. My motto was, "better safe than sorry." I kept after Beth to make sure that all the doors were double locked and the alarm set, but I was constantly finding that she would forget.
The station was only 15 minutes from our house. Chicago Lawn, the 8th District, was once considered a plum assignment. Years ago it had one of the lowest crime rates in the city. Old timers used to burn all of their favors to get that gig. Once they got it they never left. Now much of the complexion of that piece of geography has changed for the worse. Lots of violent crime, thefts, pockets of immigrants, both legal and otherwise, were springing up all over the District. There were also lots of drug trafficking, prostitution, and muggings occurring in the once beautiful and serene Marquette Park area. The public golf course, once a haven for retirees who got their exercise and socializing in at the same time, had even seen a couple of shootings. Things were "going south" quick.
Midnights rocked. If you were a cop that enjoyed police work, mids was the shift to work. The radio never stopped, from the beginning of the shift till the end. Old timers who used to enjoy pulling behind a warehouse for a little nap during their shift, no longer had that option. Things were too busy and just too dangerous.
I pulled into the station parking lot and said a quick prayer. Being raised Catholic had taught me to develop a personal relationship with Christ very early on. All through St. Nick's grade school and then four years at St. Laurence High School, helped me to walk in my faith every day. In my mind, there was no better way to start each shift. I asked Him every night to partner me with St. Michael the Archangel. Michael had led the fight in Heaven against Satan; he was the Lord's principal warrior. Anyone that could defeat Satan and lead a band of Angels that could dispatch Satan and his ilk to Hell, was someone that I wanted backing me up.
Walking through the front doors of the station I spotted Mac seated behind the raised desk that ran from one end of the room to the other. In many ways it resembled the layout of most courtrooms, where the judge sits much higher than everyone else in the room. The "desk" was about five feet high, this design caused police personnel to tower over any citizen that came in to make a complaint or ask a question. It also served to give desk personnel not only a commanding view of anyone approaching them, but also to give them the high ground in case anyone was foolish enough to make trouble or display a weapon.
"Hi Mac," I yelled as I made my way to the locker room. "Anything big happening tonight?"
"So far so good Pete," he replied. "The afternoon shift had a couple of guys in a hot car that cracked up on 59th Street, the ‘Tac Guys' got 'em."
The Tactical Team (Tac Team) were cops that worked in plain clothes and drove unmarked cars. Funny thing was that most of the guys that were working Tac were so glad to "get out of the bag," meaning getting out of uniform, that they went way overboard in their appearance. Freed from the fresh haircuts, shined shoes, clean shaven faces and pressed uniforms, many of them let their hair grow long, grew beards or mustaches, and some even wore earrings. The irony of this behavior was that most of the citizens stopped wearing long hair ages ago and mostly looked like all of us. Now the "undercover cops" were easy to spot just by their appearance.
The so-called undercover vehicles that the Tac guys drove were generally nothing more than full sized Fords and Chevys without the police markings or light bars on top, but most still had the spotlight on the driver's side. Bad guys could see these cars coming a mile away. Despite all the "give-a-ways," the Tac Team still made some great arrests.
"Pete, see me after roll call. I have a potential problem in your sector that I want to go over with you."
I walked into the locker room, almost bumping into Sal as he was coming out. Sal was Sal "The Hammer" Rosato, a tough talking veteran cop known for his short fuse, and rugged interrogation techniques. Sal had been promoted to sergeant a couple of years ago, but after his involvement in a couple of questionable shootings and a "brutality beef" that almost got him fired, his sergeant stripes were quickly recalled and "The Hammer "was back pushing a patrol car on mids. I tried to avoid him as much as possible.
"Sal, what's up brother?"
"Shannon, how many times do I have to tell you--I'm not your brother?" He barked. "Call me ‘The Hammer', or Sal, or don't talk to me at all."
"Easy boy, easy...you'll have plenty of folks to puff out your chest at once we hit the street. We're on the same team, remember?"
I kept on walking into the locker room, not giving him a chance for another comeback. Sal is the type of guy that always wants the last word. When he doesn't get it, he gets angry and takes it out on someone, somewhere.
I quickly changed out of my civies and into my uniform, threw my ballistic vest on, and checked my gun belt for all the weapons that cops use. My OC spray, collapsible baton, handcuffs, two flashlights, and my Glock .40 caliber semi-automatic pistol were all in place. I carried two spare magazines, 15 rounds each, knife, and radio. I also had a Remington 870 shotgun in a gun mount in the patrol car.
Wearing all of that equipment caused each of us to carry around an additional 15 pounds at least. If a cop had to jump out of his unit to chase someone on foot, they had better be in shape. Unfortunately, some of my colleagues were not, ergo the early deaths from heart attacks and strokes. The jokes that you always hear about cops and donuts isn't far off the mark. The donut and bagel shops in the 8th District always seemed to have a cop car parked in front.
Checking my appearance in the mirror, I was satisfied that I would pass muster at inspection. I strolled into the squad room for roll call. My partner, Joe O'Hara, was already there so I grabbed the seat next to him.
"How are you brother, God been good to you today?"
He looked up from the crime reports that he had been reviewing..."Hey Pete! Oh yeah, He's been good today and every day."
Joe and I had a long history together dating back to our high school days at St. Laurence. We played on the football team together-he was the quarterback and I was the fullback. We learned early on the importance of teamwork. After we graduated, we both enlisted together in the Army and spent two years in the same unit, the 2nd Infantry Division in South Korea. We had each other's backs-on duty and off.
"Joe, Mac wants to see me after roll call, said he's got something that he wants to go over with me...some kind of problem in our sector."
Joe nodded, "Yeah, he told me the same thing; could be a hot lead."
Mac sometimes gave us some good info that he could have very well given to one of the other teams, but since our arrival here at The Lawn, we built up a very tight relationship with Mac. He knew that we were two guys that loved police work. We meant what we said, and said what we meant. Mac knew that he could depend on us, and we in turn were the two biggest supporters in the Sgt. McNamara fan club.
We came to know our good friend and mentor both on duty and off. He was a decent, kind, God-fearing man who had seen more than his fair share of hard times. He and his wife Shirley had been married 45 years; through all of those years Mac had treated her like a queen. For a cop to stay married to one woman for that length of time meant that Mac was walking with Jesus every day.
Mac's daughter, Joanne, was a stay at home Mom and had recently died unexpectedly from a brain aneurism. Their son in law, Tom, had to continue working his blue-collar job downtown as a maintenance supervisor. That left their kids on their own most times, so Mac and Shirley had the two children at their own house most days from dawn to dusk. That's why Mac was on permanent mids with us.
Funny thing was that even though Mac would sometimes come in to work dragging his tail on the ground, you never heard a word about him feeling sorry for himself, or how unfair the world was. He was always cheerful and ready to give his all. He was truly a blessing to the men and women on the midnight shift. Most of us did not look forward to the day Mac would decide to retire.
"Fall in!" Mac came in the squad room and had everyone line up for inspection. After a few comments to those whose uniforms or equipment needed some work, he got down to business announcing the assignments for the night.
Joe and I were in our usual sector car working a "power beat." That meant that while we would still be assigned the usual calls, we were also free to roam throughout the entire sector, giving special attention to known problems areas.
"Alright everybody listen up! There's some new activity around the area of 63rd and Western. The afternoon guys report that there is a new stable of hookers working out there whose pimps are ripping off the johns and seem to be enjoying it way too much. They've been taking their car dates over by the tracks, and as soon as they get their client all lathered up, the pimps show up and take their money, clothes, and usually cold-cock ‘em with what's been described as a pistol. One john wound up in Holy Cross Hospital yesterday with a gash on his head that required 40 stitches to close."
Mac looked at us and said, "Pete and Joe give that area special attention. The Tac guys on mids are over in Morgan Park tonight helping those guys with a stakeout."
"Will do Mac, any description on either the hookers or the pimps?"
"Oh, you'll have no trouble spotting the ladies."
That brought out the laughs from our colleagues in the room.
"I've got a partial on one of the pimps' ride-looks like a black SUV, maybe a Cadillac Escalade or something similar," said Mac.
"Hey Shannon, want me to help you find the ladies tonight?" Sal had to chime in with something condescending. "Maybe you could give them a little Bible lecture when you see them on the stroll."
"Rosato, unless you want to be walking your beat tonight, you'd better keep your comments to yourself. Do I make myself clear?" Mac wasn't about to let his roll call get out of hand.
"Sure sarge, I was only trying to lighten the moment."
"I'll let you know when that need presents itself."
Mac gathered up his notes and said, "That's all I've got. Check your cars and hit the streets. God bless you and stay safe."
I gathered my stuff and said to Joe, "I'll go see what Mac's got for us, if you want to go and gas up the car."
"Ok Pete, I hope the afternoon shift took care of that rear tire that had the slow leak. I'm not driving around another eight hours on that, if we get in a chase we'll never hold the road."
"Good idea brother. See you in a few minutes in the lot." I made my way to the front desk where Mac had already assumed the position in the seat of authority.
Next: The Business Trip
Previous: Praise for Chicago Warriors
- Article Word Count: 2636
- Total Views: 93