#311: Midnight Golf

April 23rd, 2014

“911,” she said, before adding what sounded like “wait.”

I waited.

“Hello,” I finally said.

“911,” she repeated with the sad, annoyed tone of someone dealing with an idiot at 1:30 a.m. “What is your emergency?”

“Yeah, I don’t know if it’s a 911 or a 311, but I’m at _____ and _____ and there’s a guy smashing the shit out of a car window with a golf club across the street.”

“What color is the car?” she asked, annoyed once more.

“Gray,” I said.

“You got the license plate? Model?”

“It’s across the street.”

“And the person? Black? Hispanic? You’ve got to give me a description here.”

“Black,” I said. “Gray hoodie.”

“OK,” she said, sigh in her voice. “I’ll send someone over. You want to leave a name?”

“Naah,” I said.

“OK,” she finished before hanging up, leaving me standing in the dark, in my underwear, in the living room.

I blame the accordion drag racers for the whole thing.

I try to sleep at night, as is my wont. It’s the wont of others, apparently, to drag race down my street at night while blasting Norteña music. Because noon is made for lunch and 1:15 a.m. is made for revving engines as you crank Mexican polka out a car window, apparently.

So I was wide awake for the smashes.

I walked up to the front window to see what the noises were, those repetitive smash smash sounds I first thought might be my imagination. But unless my imagination was a glint of five-iron wielded under the lights of a gas station parking area, nighttime had become more realistic than I cared for.

After calling 911, I watched as police SUVs pulled by, swarming, circling the block, weaving in and out and shining lights at various cars as I murmured “It’s the gray one. It’s the graaaay one” to myself.

Eventually one of the SUVs spotted the car in the gas station parking area. It, and soon three more SUVs, pulled up.

A few cops got out to wander the area. Three of them — a hefty older officer, a young man and a woman — gathered to chat by the effed-up car.

The young man started laughing and walked over to one of the pumps. My view was blocked by the fourth SUV, but he gestured down repeatedly, cackling so I could hear it across the street.

“It’s a crime scene!” I heard him yell to the laughter of his friends. “Better tape it off!”

As the young man walked over to the hefty one, the woman walked over to her SUV. She opened the trunk and pulled out some police tape. It fluttered behind her as she walked to the pump. The two men pointed to her and conversed when they noticed what she was doing.

Silently, she walked to the pump. She looped the tape around the pole, holding both ends of the tap and taking several steps back to extend the marked area. She then took the two ends and wrapped them around her butt like it was a hula hoop or those 1950s workout machines that jiggled the fat off ladies. The two men lost it.

A fifth SUV pulled up.

“You got a homicide?” someone in the fifth SUV joked out the window.

“We found the club!” the young man called back.

I heard a laugh from the fifth SUV before it pulled off.

I found the whole scene really touching, in an angering way. Here they were. Our police. Protecting and serving and being just as much jackasses as we are. It was like me and my friends were responding to a 1:30 a.m. call to action. The same jokes covering the same smug, exhausted attitude.

Does that make it worse because they’re not living a higher standard? Or does that make it better because they’re just schlubs like us except I would never charge into a gunfight to save a stranger?

It’s 2 a.m. now. I wrote for a bit, then walked to my window to see the status. All the cops were gone, leaving nothing but a gas station pump, a flutter of police tape and an abandoned car with the windows smashed out.

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You are currently reading #311: Midnight Golf by Paul Dailing at 1,001 Chicago Afternoons.

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