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Cops are supposed to “protect and serve,” right? Yeah, and presidents are supposed to uphold the Constitution. And priests are supposed to get you into heaven; not get into your pants. Is it men whose actions are always incompatible with their words? or just kleptocrats?
I cite two incidents:
One night after drinking myself senseless in the Whitehorse Tavern and going home with a gal fag poet José Garcia Villa had fixed me up with (he couldn’t get into my pants, so he put me into hers), I was out of cigarettes. I told the gal to warm the bed, I’d be right back. She lived on Riverside, way uptown. I walk up to Broadway, but everything was closed: five AMish. Nicotine constricts the capillaries, alcohol opens them up. That’s why drunks smoke: contrary motion effect. The more you drink, the more you want to smoke, the more you smoke, the more you want to drink: till you might as well be dead at twenty-one. I don’t see any stores open further uptown, nor down. I keep walking east: deep into Harlem.
Drunks are relatively safe in the Village: the Mafia sees to it. The Mafia frowns on muggers talking twenty dollars off a guy once when they, the Mafia can take a huge hunk of his lifetime’s income by luring him always back to a Village where he don’t get mugged. Not so in Harlem. There’s no black equivalent of the Mafia to protect stupid tourists. All Harlem has is human nature: and the cops. pk knew all that, but pk is liberal. His free spirit will protect him.
The further east I went the less I trusted my wisdom. The more I began to search shadows with my imagination for the mugger who wouldn’t give a shit that I wasn’t a racist.
I don’t remember whether I ever found the cigarettes. But I remember clearly finally detecting somebody hiding in the shadows: it was a white cop: young; apparently petrified.
What a career! I bet he hid behind that same garbage can every night! all night! or for the duration of his beat.
In grad school I’m hanging around the East Village, East 3rd Street’s Old Reliable, in particular. Walking up toward the bar, now several years free of my nicotine addiction, but still a sucker for the booze (and the loose pussy) (and the grandiloquent intellectual pretensions of drunks), I feel something whizz past my face. A bottle smashes in the gutter. I glance up and see Hispanic faces withdrawing from a closing window. Half-hidden behind the garbage cans across the street a cop is looking at the window: and at me.
I bet he saw the whole thing: saw them take aim, saw me dolting along like a dodo. Protect and serve. Yes, Sir.
@ K.2003 11 25