Alex Teach Image
Life on the mean streets with Officer Alex
I had just finished eating something with lamb in it. It was in a bowl, of that I am sure; the bowl contained something with a hint of spice in a thick broth, but the meat cubes…I wasn’t sure of them at all, and little by little I was beginning to realize that the bland little meat cubes were probably lamb, and if there’s one thing I despise in this world, it’s self-righteous smarmy 20-somethings who make themselves feel better by making fun of people who find comfort in religion, so long as it’s Christianity (because making fun of Muslims would be wrong, of course). But a close second? Lamb.
“Oh, God,” I mumbled as we cruised along, an unavoidable frown growing ever downward. My partner turned his head towards me but was interrupted by dispatch calling our unit number.
“Fox 9?” they inquired.
“Gourd head,” I chirped back.
It was a missing person call. I was good with that. If it’s a huge deal (someone really old or really young, disabled, unmedicated, a combination thereof), it gets handed over. If it’s minor, we check the area ourselves and take a less dramatic approach. All or nothing, win/win given my condition at the moment.
We arrived at a house on 10th Avenue that used to be known for its incest but was now an attempt at a “trendy picker-upper.” (The fact that these two things were indistinguishable to the indigenous peoples of this area was lost on the new former-North Chattanooga tenants).
“Yes,” she said. “I’d like to report Henry missing.”
“Henry? Is that your husband or family member?”
“No,” she said. “Henry’s a friend. He stays around here.”
“I don’t understand. He lives near here?” I said with a slowly tilting head.
“No. He’s homeless. I just usually see him about now, and I haven’t seen him since the day before yesterday.”
I paused. “He’s homeless, but he’s missing? That’s a tough one, ma’am.”
“How so?” she replied.
“Because how can you be missing if you weren’t anywhere in the first place?”
I probably shouldn’t have done it, but I actually knew of whom she spoke, and knew that she’d been feeding a known stray. Henry is a “confidence man” amongst his ilk, a freeloader and thief when the time is right. He loves his job. And because I love mine, I knew who she was talking about.
“I don’t…” I cut her off. “What was he wearing the last time you saw him?”
“H’mm…a dark blue coat, kind of dirty, and brown pants. They were pretty dirty, too. Oh, and he had his backpack with all his things in it.”
“So, he was moving then?” I said. Now she was baffled.
“Let me clarify. He doesn’t have a house, and he had all his stuff, and he was walking away. So he was moving, right?”
“Are you messing with me?!” she exclaimed. “I’m serious, this isn’t at all like him! This is extremely unprofessional, you know. I can’t believe you’re acting like this! Who’s your super—” and at that she was cut off as my partner came in behind me, stating, “Found ’em.”
“What?” the complainant said. “Where?”
“He was in your car, ma’am. At the McDonald’s.”
“But I don’t understand…” she trailed off, now taking her own turn to tilt her head in confusion.
“Exactly, Miss. And I’m not sure I can explain it to you. But I will say that if you don’t give serious thoughts to your sense of charity towards local predators, the next missing person report may be yours, and we’ll find you at the McDonald’s, too. In the trunk.” I drove it home to make a point, or in her case, a dent. This is the frontier, folks.
She was quiet…but I was lucky. That was definitely going to be a complaint.
And speaking of complaints, that nasty-ass lamb was working its way into my guts.
Have I ever told you how I feel about lamb?