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Caldwell, A Police Story
The white 1971 Ford LTD had the 429 cubic inch four barreled Police Interceptor engine, the beefed up suspension and the heavy duty brakes. What the three year old car lacked was enough room in the front seat for Sgt. Bill Putnam's gigantic stomach. Even with the seat pushed back to it's limit, Bill's belly rubbed when he made the turn onto Main.
Bill had spent most of the evening shift doing the things he did every shift. He cruised around town at about 15 miles per hour, clogging up the exhaust system in the high performance car and eating at all the places where he could get free food. Hoop cheese sliced thick on saltines and a coke at Doc Tolbert's place was followed an hour later with a double cheeseburger at the South Main Grill. He was thinking about going home for an early supper when he saw the blonde swishing her long hair down the street.
Bill knew his days on the Lancaster Police force were numbered and he was thinking of retiring to get away from the crazy ex-Marine Drill Instructor who had been named the new Police Chief. This guy expected them to patrol instead of sitting on the bench in front of the PD waiting on a call and shooting the breeze. When a burglary happened on the black side of town last week, the crazy Chief made him file a written report!
Bill decided to cut the block and get a look at the blonde from the front.
Caldwell Simpson had been drinking since the boss man told him early that morning there was no work for the rest of the week. Caldwell had been a brick mason's helper about as long as Bill Putnam had been a cop and when he was sober he was a good hand. To say that he was simple would be an understatement. He was much like Ernest T. Bass from the Andy Griffith Show, except not as smart. Caldwell did not have a malevolent bone in his painfully skinny body and had a child like persona. Why he chose to don the long blonde wig that day is anyone's guess.
Bill muttered under his breath when he realized it was Caldwell wearing the wig and that the swishing was just a drunk man walking. Most of the new cops thought Caldwell was a funny, harmless drunk and sent him home when they could. Bill just thought he was a pain in the butt and busted him every chance he got. He pulled to the curb and as he cranked down the window the hot august air flooded the car.
"Hey, Caldwell get over here," Bill ordered in his gruff southern voice.
Caldwell stopped on the street and looked at the big cop through glassy, bloodshot eyes. He giggled and snuff dribbled out of the corner of his mouth onto his salt and pepper stubbled chin. He shook his head and giggled some more.
Infuriated, Bill looked around to make sure no one was close enough to hear. "Caldwell, get your drunk ass in the car. Don't make me get out."
Whatever demon had suggested to Caldwell that he should wear the wig that day had also helped form his other wardrobe choices. He wore a white dress shirt and he had tied it oddly around his waist, leaving his stomach bare. His jeans were about six inches too short and his loafers matched the white rope he was using for a belt. The whole outfit made Bill wince and he could just imagine the crap he was going to have to take off the new guys when he showed up at the PD with this character.
"And spit out that snuff before you get in my car. I'm not cleaning up after you like I did last time."
That was when Caldwell remembered the last time Bill locked him up. Bill took his snuff, and nothing was as important to Caldwell as his snuff. Well, maybe the half finished Mad Dog 2020 that he had in his back pocket was, but nothing else.
"Caldwell ain't hurtin' nuttin'," he whined in his high pitched voice. "Caldwell goin' home, I ain't doin' nuttin'."
Bill reached over on the seat and picked up his lead sap. He held it up so Caldwell could see it and motioned for him to come.
Caldwell giggled again and when Bill popped the door open he turned to run. The chase lasted exactly one block before Bill, panting and out of breath, tripped on a Dr. Pepper bottle and fell flat. The wind whistled out of him, and he lay on the hot sidewalk as his vision clouded.
Caldwell saw him fall and scooted back. He squatted down in front of Bill who looked up into his face, desperately trying to breathe. Tears of anger formed and ran down Bill's wrinkled hog jowls to mix with the summer sweat.
"You all wight?" Caldwell had a pronounced lisp that got worse the more he drank.
Bill shook his head no and his vision cleared a bit.
"Bweath knocked out?"
Bill nodded a yes.
Caldwell smiled showing his snuff stained teeth, took off his right shoe, and popped Bill once right in the forehead with it! Then he ran down the street out of sight, giggling in delight.
Thanks to WillStar for suggesting I turn to police fiction as I enjoyed writing this hub. There is some truth to this tale, but I didn't see it happen. I also made up the last names for the characters. They are based on real people who are no longer with us. Hope you enjoyed it!