Livin’ inna hood.
I was sitting in my POV in the driveway, just returned from work, listening to the last chapter of the audio book in my CD player in the dark. I had the ignition off, and lights out, with my foot off the brake. “VrooooooooooooOOOOoooommmm!!” A little subcompact with custom exhaust that sounded like a rice-burner cycle at perpetual high RPM pulled up to the curb at the house across the street. It idled there at the curb for a minute, with the stereo thumping. “ChickaBOOM, Chick-BOOM, BOOM, ChickaBOOM, Chick-BOOM, BOOM…” From 70 feet away, with my door and windows closed, I could feel it in my chest. The night before, I had been sitting at my kitchen table at 2:15 AM when I had heard the same exhaust and thumping pull up, to idle and thump for a few minutes, before I came out and stood in my underwear to give that same car a Darned Good Staring At, until he had squealed tires and left.
- - -
Here’s the thing-- I hate that I’m suspicious of people. I hate that I assume the worst. Hey, a person can simply drop by and visit his Friends for 5 to 10 minutes at a time, at wee hours of the morning, without necessrily being on a drug run, right? (Right?!?) Friends that... seem to entertain a lot. Friends that... seem to have a lot of short-term traffic over. Friends that refuse to make eye contact with me, even when I’m gesticulating and saying “Howdy!” while getting the mail. Maybe those folks are just loners and aren’t gregarious. (Except that... they do seem to entertain a lot of different people. For short periods of time.) I shouldn’t judge them.
Then I wonder-- am I overcompensating because of the race thing? Is this white guilt?
- - -
I continued to listen to my audio book. Five minutes later, the guy shambled out to his car, fired it up (“Ch-BOOM-Boom, Ch-BOOOM…”, “VROOoommm!”), and took off. I thought about it. Screw it. I fired up my car, backed out of the driveway while blacked out, and let him get down the block before following him. The whole time I trailed him, I kept noting the myriad of good PC opportunities that he was providing for a good stop. Speeding. Failing to signal. Rolling the stop sign. Speeding faster. That rear signal sure was blinking quickly-- was the front signal lamp blown? Yes it was. Turning across lanes. Speeding WAY too fast. Day-um, but I wished I was in my patrol car. And, um, you know-- also in my jurisdiction. Or at least in my county. I kept following, but surreptitiously. He turned off into another neighborhood, down a windy little residential street. He was still going FAST.
What was I doing? Why was I following him?
I guess I just wanted to collect some info, to pass on to my local cops. I sure didn’t want to make contact.
I came around a curve, knowing that I was going a fair amount slower than he had been going, hoping that we’d come to a straightaway soon. I passed three intersections on the curve, each with curving streets, and finally came to a straightaway. Nothing. I zipped past three other intersections. Nothing. I pulled over at a car wash parking lot, and thought about turning back to look, and decided that, nope-- it was time to take it to the house. My night’s fun was over. A cop car passed by a half block away on the major boulevard. Huh. I hadn’t even realized that I’d passed into the adjacent town. I almost flashed him with my lights, and then thought, “Why? What do you have to pass on? You don’t have an address, and you don’t even have an LP. Just a vague description, and a generic one at that.” I turned around and started back the way I’d come.
I checked my rear view, and noted that the cop had come back, too. He was creeping around the corner. I made the next corner slowly, and noted that he’d increased his following distance, though I was rolling along pretty slowly. “Matt, old boy, you’re about to get pulled over,” I thought. Might as well save him the trouble. I stopped at the next intersection, set the parking brake, and hopped out. And waited. Where was he? Was that a shadow sliding around the curve? Yes it was. Heh. He was doing pretty good at stalking me. I pulled my Stinger off my duty belt (I was still in uniform from work), and illuminated myself. His headlights came on, and he rolled up alongside me. His window came down, and I counted 5, 6, wow! 7 hash marks on his sleeve.
We chatted, and exchanged cards. I figured that he’d find my little foray odd, but he got it immediately. “I put in 8 years as a designated investigator of child abuse and sex crimes,” he said. “I finally asked just to go back out on the street. This is what I do.” When he couldn’t find his cigarettes, I gave him the pack that I had with me. (I don’t smoke, but don’t ask.) I finally allowed that I had better run back home, and he said that he was going to go set up on the house of a certain heroin addict he knew.
Wish he worked my neighborhood.