Reprinted from my first blog on Myspace, detailing my final encounter with a racist cop in a small town. First printed December 2, 2007, edited January 4, 2009. See the original posting here.
You may not believe this, but I don’t really believe in violence. I think it’s a means to an end, and sometimes you have no choice. I learned this the hard way by having so many people push me around when I was younger. Much younger.
So I come to this small town and deal with the small town law enforcement, and while most of the cops I’ve run into are cool, there was this one that made life a little tricky. He is known for his brutality and even choked out a fifteen-year-old girl once. I looked into it to see if there was any truth to it, and there was. I imagine the whole matter was settled the good-old-boy way and that’s why he has still has a badge.
I don’t remember the first time him and I clashed, but the most memorable event was when he approached me at the local store’s ATM and indirectly accused me of trying to hack someone else’s account. He approached me from the rear without warning or identification, and startled me. I struck his hand off of my shoulder, and it would’ve led to a fight had there not been so many people around. I don’t think he was used to anyone standing up to him. I couldn’t fight a uniformed cop…I would’ve been disappeared. I told him that one day, we would catch each other. He would have no gun, no badge, and no witnesses. See how billy-bad-ass you are then.
Well, that night came on my last day of work, the Wednesday prior to last.
It’s a dark, cold night, the onset of winter in Michigan, and it’s only about thirty degrees out. I’m walking along the road and the lights and sirens are on me so fast that I nearly leap out of my skin.
When I realize who it is, I release my iPod and brace myself for what I’m thinking is the fight of my life. I’ve never taken on a cop before and my mind is already racing through a million ways to get out of town after beating the holy shit out of him.
He storms out of his car and approaches me from the front and demands my ID. Still in shock, I give it to him. He immediately returns to his car and I wonder if I’m going to Ionia tonight…but he returns shortly and I smile. The judge was true to his word.
He hands me my ID and demands to know what I’m doing out so late (it’s about seven, so you know). I tell him plainly I’m just walking. He asks me where I’m coming from. Work.
He tells me that he heard I was leaving town. How the hell….?!
He asks me if there’s any reason why I see a need to leave after all this time.
You smug son of a bitch…
Just personal business, I tell him.
He now invades my personal space and neither of us say anything for a minute.
He tells me, he doesn’t know how I stayed out of trouble all this time, but I should mind my P’s and Q’s these last few days. It would be a shame if I missed my flight out of town.
Okay, you prick.
I took a step back. I told him that I know he was used to dealing with all the common people who just bowed down and took his bullshit, but I’m not the common folk, I’m not from around here, and if you have beef to settle with me, let’s do it. There’s no one else here besides you and me.
Nothing happens for a second. You and me.
I realize that if he goes for his gun, I’m in trouble; if he’s any good, I can’t get to him before he draws and at least raises. I might take one getting to him, and one is all it takes. Getting shot is like setting your insides on fire and having a metallic weight at the center of that fire. You never forget it.
Me, an enemy, a road under the night sky. How many times have I seen this…
He walks up to me and smiles a smile of victory, like this is his town and he has finally run me out, like I’m leaving because of him. He extends his hand and tells me “Take care, Mr. Tingle.”
I hesitate for a second before shaking his hand. “You too, officer.”
He gets back into his car and pulls out. The chill inside me makes the weather looks like summer. I continue walking as he pulls right around the corner.
I think to myself that the situation could’ve gone a million different ways, none of them have positive outcomes for me. I could’ve been left for dead right then and there. I could’ve disappeared for months only to be turned up in next year’s hunting season.
I weigh all this out with the need to stand up for myself. You can’t…I mean you just can’t let people think than can run you, or that’s all they’ll do. I’ve grown up to the point where I don’t need to beat something down to prove myself. I can fight in other ways now, and that’s part of why God is letting me leave.