Officer Alex fondly recalls a fellow officer who was a true role model. Or not.
“I have an El Camino full of rampage here, what’s the plan?” — Ofc. Alfonso Shagnasty, peeling onto the lot of a Scotchman convenience store off-duty,circa 1998.
In a functionally dark dining area of a local eatery and brewery he would place his hand over the top of his glass of liquor and shake it vigorously at the most random of moments. “It aerates the liquid, you see,” he would say with a completely straight face while acting like he’s trying to contain a waterspout inside of a thick-bottomed tumbler, channeling “Ace Ventura.” On occasion he would even add a nickel to the glass to further the agitation process. Not a big deal! But…
This was also the excuse he gave for perpetually blowing bubbles into a mixed drink: “To aerate and keep it evenly mixed, you see,” he would say while bent over the drink (or while holding it up to his lips), the straw dangling out of his mouth as he spoke with his eyes cast upwards towards you. He was so sincere about his task you let the absurdity of it pass. And occasionally, you realized it made sense that the bubbles would agitate the liquid sufficiently to do just that.
(This didn’t make you any less pissed off with yourself when you found yourself unconsciously blowing bubbles into your own drink afterwards, despite just having mocked him for doing the same.)
Actually, that was it. The guy was the last person you wanted to be like, much less be associated with, but there was something about him that clawed at your periphery. Have I mentioned he was a complete and unrepentant asshole? God, it made him being “right” that much more frustrating.
Cops. There are so many different types of people that fill The Blue you almost get used to none of it making any sense. The guy working the district next to me eventually went on to be a professor at UNC. A guy in the next team over on a different shift ended up going to a federal penitentiary for theft and civil rights intimidation (arrested by other cops before you get all sanctimonious).
Another guy could speak five languages, skills he picked up having fled the country of his birth under rocket fire, and another could barely pencil in the Scan-Tron dots on a crash report (though he later became the manager of a local auto parts store, where he flourished).
I really believe our diversity is our strength; we have a tool to fit most every broken situation, and this variance in skill sets makes us whole and incredibly powerful (particularly since we are on the simplistic side of “Right” in the interminable battle of “Right vs. Wrong”), but on occasion, one of these magnificent Lego pieces of nobility happens to be a weird mother %$#@!& that just disturbs you with his (or her) weirdness. And Shagnasty was the apex predator of that particular crop.
The first time I met him was in the back yard of a home in Brainerd where we’d caught a burglar and armed robber who had been wearing us out for weeks. It was the ’90s, a brother to the ’80s and a distant cousin to the ’70s, so we planned on seizing the moment to de-incentivize recidivism. This cop walks up to the guy in the dark lying face down in wet grass (a German shepherd on a leash barking at him furiously from about two feet away for effect), and what does he do? He lays down on him, legs over legs, torso over torso, gunbelt and all, and begins to whisper weird shit in his ear.
The guy holds his composure for a minute and the cops preparing to deliver the memo just kind of have to stand there, and eventually the guy starts to freak out—I mean really freak out. When they stood him up to take him to jail, I’m pretty sure he’d pissed himself (no judgment!), and despite 26 prior offenses I never encountered him again professionally. So, like blowing bubbles through my straw, I was annoyed at the weird bastard for being “right” again (though a clinical psychologist or unemployed “activist” would surely disagree).
That officer? There is so much more to tell, but he is no more. Whatever he was isn’t a part of this place now, but I have to wonder…how did he get in? Was I as bad as he was? Of for that matter, was I as good?
I pondered the ifs, lowered my mouth to the straw in my drink and began to slowly blow bubbles.
“God *#@! that guy.”