When the cocked .45 came out from behind the cop’s leg, honest to God, I found myself thinking — Damn, I know busking is illegal but geez…

A nice, peaceful sidewalk cafe
You almost read about this in the evening news instead of in this blog. This happened just about two hours ago…

When the cocked .45* came out from behind the cop’s leg, honest to God, I found myself thinking — in that slow-mo way — Damn, I know busking is illegal but I’m just sitting out here in my favorite sidewalk cafe, plunking on my guitar like I have hundreds of times, talking to a pal, drinking some coffee…

But when he brought the gun up the bead was on my friend.

“Take your hands out of your pockets very slowly,” he said, the .45 looking surprisingly big like they always do when you’re on the wrong end of one. (Hell, they look big from any angle, to me. But compared to the nines most of the cops around here have carried for years, this thing looked like a WWI Howitzer.

My friend slowly realized the cop was talking to him. He got this funny little smile on his face and, very, very slowly drew his hands out of the front pocket of his hoodie, which had its hood up over his head.

“Put your hands on top of your head very slowly — don’t make any sudden moves.”

I quickly figured that if I didn’t get hit by a through and through, I’d at the very least be wearing my friend. It didn’t seem like a happy way to close out the week.

My mind flashed back about ten minutes to ordering my coffee. The barista at the counter had taken a phone call as I put my two bucks across the counter, looked concerned, then got a big grin and said, “Oh, no. Don’t worry about that — he’s a customer. He’s a sheriff’s deputy and he just got off duty… really, everything’s OK.”

He clicked off the phone, laughing. “The burger joint across the street saw a guy with a gun outside — but it was a buddy of mine, a deputy just off some assignment and he was in some kind of plain clothes thing with a gun strapped on. He took off a few minutes ago.”

Having had a few guns pointed at me before (including a cocked .38 held right upside my head by another Long Beach officer back around ’79 — that was a traffic stop that netted me a $35 ticket) I had gone into physical slow motion as soon as I saw the gun — thinking in an oddly abstract way, Gee, I wonder why he’s got that thing cocked? — even though, oddly enough, it didn’t strike me as funny it was out of the holster.

[*UPDATE:I’ve been reminded that .45 automatics are typically carried cocked with the safety locked, so the fact that this weapon was cocked was actually not surprising but if the safety was dropped as well, then it was ready to go.]

Just about as I was going to very slowly start explaining what I imagined had happened, one of the baristas came out (no uniforms at this place but I think he was wearing an apron) and said, “Wait, everything’s okay. It was a sheriff’s deputy who was here a few minutes ago and the guys across the street didn’t know he was a cop. Really, these guys are regulars, they’re OK.”

The gun lowered,and he holstered it and grabbed his mobile, walked around the side of the building for a minute or two and came back. He hadn’t said anything to us but my pal lowered his hands after the cop went around the corner.

My friend — a guy who really has seen, if not everything, at least most of it, never broke a sweat.

As the cop came back around the building, he put his hands back up on top of his head and, with just a hint of sarcasm said, “Do you want me to leave my hands on top of my head?”

The cop, a guy much, much younger than either of us, looked faintly annoyed but was muttering about the “damn deputies” and something about their gang clothes and how the Sheriff starts them all out as COs in the (wildly overcrowded LA county jail) and they all come out from that duty thinking they’re gangsters.

“I really apologize, sir. Apparently a motorist saw the deputy with a gun and called it in. I wish those guys would…” and I didn’t really catch the rest, I don’t think it was meant to be heard.

My friend smiled and said, “No problems. Don’t sweat it.”

Life in the city.

There’s Always Trouble (in a Fool’s Paradise)

[re-run – 2005-10-24]

There’s always trouble
in a fool’s paradise
There’s always trouble
but the fool don’t realize

Trouble comes knocking
just when trouble wants
trouble knock down your front door
and take everything you got

There’s always trouble
but the fool don’t realize

there’s always trouble
in a fool’s paradise

There’s always suffering,
plenty to go around
but give it to some other guy,
on some other side of town

I don’t know my neighbors,
but they seem nice enough
and if the Insane Crips come and blow them away makes
it hard to maintain my bluff

There’s always trouble…

Trouble stay out of my backyard
I can pretend it don’t exist
sure enough I feel real bad
for that poor fool the trouble hits

but it really aint none of my affair
I fold the paper away
cause I sure enough know I don’t wanta read bout
the trouble headed thisa way

There’s always trouble…

Theres always turmoil
in the heart of Babylon
but you go where the gold is
and the rest just tag along

theres always casualties
in the race to stay alive
theres always casualties
but sometimes the strong survive

There’s always trouble…

(C)1990, TK Major


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