The Cop
Uko-Bendi Udo


I turned one more time to look behind me. I was reassured by the sight of the police sharp-shooter hidden behind the black and white just across the street. The order was to shoot-to-kill if the target came out of the house brandishing any type of a weapon. Of course the cowboys (hidden from view but just around the corner) had not taken kindly to my vigorous insistence that I go talk to the suspect first before any moving in was done. They had set their watches. They wanted to go in, blow him away and go home. But this was Jerome Crenshaw, my childhood buddy in the fifth grade. In one way I was going this extra mile, exposing my behind to a gangbanger’s bullet because I was the one that had identified him in the TV reel that showed an African-American beating up on an Asian victim during the riots a few weeks previous. Since then I had learned more about him, enough that I was periodically thrown into this nostalgic frame of mind (about Jerome and I in high school) that was now having a restricting effect on my usual "Dirty Harry" approach to matters as such.

Jerome was now a gangbanger, a source in the ‘hood had told me. I ran a check on him the other day and came up with nothing. Funny. Usually gangbangers show something in their police records. The police record was the banger’s resume. A clean record hinted at an impostor. Could my source be wrong about Jerome? Nevertheless, I wished I had kept my mouth shut. All this "extra mile" stuff was just a dumb stunt on my part to pacify myself for fingering a childhood friend.

The feeling that I had going into the building was that Jerome was going to do the unwise thing, come out flashing a gun and get picked like a chirper on a wire. As I marched cautiously but purposefully towards the stucco building, I could feel the tense, discomforting anticipation all around me. I thought back to about a decade ago. Mr. Carlton was the fifth grade teacher, and Jerome was the rowdy, swaggering clown of the class. He made some of those slow, boring days go by faster. But he also acted a nuisance once too many times. Then we played cops and robbers, running around the school buildings, pissing everybody off. But this was the real deal. One of us was going to be dead before the day was over. Maybe both of us.

I knocked on the door and prepared for the worst. My cop instinct said have the gun and badge out so the point could be made in the first instant. If there was going to be the squeezing of triggers between he and me, I wanted to be first. But my pedestrian instinct said relax, leave the gun in its holster. I was momentarily confused. Usually the pedestrian instinct agreed with the cop instinct, freeing me to do my "Dirty Harry" thing and go home. I listened to the pedestrian instinct. It’d saved my life a number of times, so I owed it one. Noises, like heated discussions came from inside the house. The door opened. My nerves tightened.

"Wussup, Bobcat," Jerome said as he appeared at the door armed with a disarming smirk and a calm about him that was unnerving. I became instantly suspicious and almost disregarded that nagging cautionary thought. But it had a tight grip on me.

"Hi, Jerome," I managed to say, not sure about the situation. Maybe the surprise was behind the door.

"Come on in, man," Jerome said, pulling me into the house. It was a well-furnished house that defied the gangbanger stereotype I had formed in my mind about him. But it made me suspicious. "Long time no see," he added.

"Jerome, I’m not here on a social call," I said, angry at him for toying with me like this. What did he think this was, a game?

He kept his cool. "I know." He turned to look behind him. "Charles!" he called out. A carbon copy of him swaggered unhappily into the room and scared the hell out of me. I remained stunned for a few minutes, then snapped out of it.

"Who’s this?" I asked as I whipped glances between the two.

"My twin brother, Bobcat," Jerome said, reaching for something and almost made me jump. "He was the one you saw on TV, man. Not me." He lit a cigarette.

The revelation made me sit down on the couch for a second. Then I began to chuckle along with Jerome.

"Everything’s cool, man. Call off the dogs. He’s going with you." He turned to Charlie. "Lawyer’s already on his way to the station. This here is a good friend of mine. We go way back. I know he’s gonna make sure you get to the station safe," he concluded with a tinge of warning in his voice.

"I did not know you had a twin brother, Jerome," I said, relaxing my guard a little.

"I’ll fill you in next time you come back for a visit," Jerome said, eyeing me closely. I stood up and engaged my radio, all the while keeping them both in my sight. More than ever, I now realized the cop instinct was not always right. Once again the pedestrian instinct had reminded me of that, and I was grateful for it. I could’ve made the wrong move and gotten a childhood buddy and probably an innocent man killed. I called the captain and told him about the new development. At least now I knew no one was going to be shot today before the new wrinkle in the case was straightened out.



Copyright 1992 Uko-Bendi Udo
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