A home away from home for The Night Police.
The function of the choir practice, the ancient and culturally appropriate social gathering of brothers in blue is threefold.
First, it’s a place of comfort and social acceptance where a tough day on the street could be mitigated by quite a few rounds of drinks. Second, it allows detoxification from the stress and brutality of the last ten or more hours of urban battle. Third and almost always, the choir practice devolves into a random recounting of favorite war stories. It doesn’t matter if the stories are current or recycled; they are current whenever they are told.
There’s always eager anticipation to hear the next tale. Often it leans competitive, each guy jockeying to slip his story into the queue so his voice gets heard.
The stories are always true but often deployed in a gray space where total accuracy is not demanded. It’s hard to remember the exact details each and every retelling, but that’s expected by the street-hardened cops in attendance.
Back in our day, it was a time-honored tradition to spend most working nights, after shifts end at a local watering hole. We’d work at it, often ‘til the sun came up, playing dice, drinking, smoking, gambling, and chasing girls.
There was almost always a lot of laughter and gallows humor. It was all about reliving our last shift and all the weird, fucked up and hilarious shit we’d just endured during our night on the streets. You can’t share these stories with the bagger at the Circle K or with the receptionist at the offices of Dr. Michael Tweezlerod, DDS.
Often you didn't want to share them with your significant other. Sometimes because they just wouldn’t understand and sometimes because you didn’t want to invite a spousal interrogation. You could share those stories with your brothers in blue without the bright light in your face or the spectre of retribution for some unknown slight.
Occasionally things got out of hand and there’d be testosterone and fists flying, but that was quickly forgotten. We’d pick up the wreckage, wipe down the tables and order another round or three. Once in a while, you’d assign a rook (if he was sober enough) to escort a mostly comatose buddy home, to keep him from doing something really stupid behind the wheel. Occasionally you’d even have to negotiate safe passage with the local cops (which was THE key selling point for drinking in your own jurisdiction).
To be sure, there was some seriously disturbing things that happened after hours too. I suppose that over time, the “off shift” will make for some interesting blog posts, perhaps even a chapter or two in a follow on volume of The Night Police. For now, we’ll let the frightening, troubling, mirthful, distressing, unsettling, peculiar, alarming, questionable, entertaining, and the occasionally shocking events play out over time. We haven’t made up our minds about including some of the more horrifying events to which we were witness.
It was “always something” as Roseanne Roseannadanna would say. And we couldn’t wait to do it all over again, the very next day.
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