Alex gives a career criminal a lesson in what not to rob
Editor’s note: Officer Alex is currently taking a turn about the hinterlands of America. Therefore, we are running one of his more State of the Arts “Best Of” columns.
“What kind of sick &@$% robs a ‘Cracker Barrel’?!” I nearly screamed. “That’s unAmerican!” I meant it. I was truly disgusted.
“Why can’t you rob a gas station or a porn shop—” I was interrupted by my partner, who said something in my ear. “Yeah, you’re right,” I muttered, “that’s pretty American too. Title pawn shop?” I said, glancing over at Jonesy for approval. He nodded, smiling.
I shook it off and resumed. “The Cracker Barrel is like the ‘Gramma’ of chain stores.Who the &@$% robs Gramma?!” I screeched, back in my stride.
Darrell Winton was sitting before us looking forlorn, his hands cuffed behind him and draped over the back of the chair, completing the effect. He was looking down between widely spread knees and feet planted flat on the floor, a hint of clear spit poised to drip from his lower lip.
“Maaaaan,” he drew out, “I ain’t never thought of it like that.”
“Exactly, son. You definitely weren’t thinking. In America, we have choices,” I explained, my voice calming as I stood erect and began to pace a bit, the 30-year-old pictures on the wall suddenly becoming interesting.
“There was a hotel right across the street. Two, actually. And just down the road is a liquor store. A liquor store! Who doesn’t rob a liquor store?” I said, my voice beginning to rise again. I paused, then resumed my pacing. “But you had to choose the most wholesome business this great city may have on its tax rolls.”
Winton remained silent.
“You’ve got to think, son.” (He was about five years younger than me.) “You are a criminal, it’s your trade. And if you’re going to be a criminal, you might as well be good at it. You’ve got to have pride! Does this feel like pride?” I asked rhetorically. He actually began to open his mouth and I cut him off.
“Hell no you don’t feel proud. You feel stupid. Shamed. And that’s on you, son.” I paused again, and changed directions in the hallway. “When you leave here, sure, you’ll be booked and processed. You’ll bond right out, and by foot or by car you’re going to pass a few dozen, maybe a few hundred businesses and you’re going to have to look at them and think to yourself ‘Why? Why didn’t I rob that Kohl’s instead?’ Nobody robs a Kohl’s, son, but work with me here.”
Jonesy tilted his head a little and furrowed his eyebrows. I don’t think he knew where I was going with this, but then neither did I. That wasn’t the point.
“Now you’re going to be on the docket with a Cracker Barrel around your neck. You’re the child rapist of robbers now. Labeled. Marked. A marked man, whose other robber-friends are going to mock you behind your back, and that’s if you’re lucky.” I let the moment hang there for effect. “You disgust me, sir. As a man, and as a cop. I really expected more.” Jonesy’s mouth was starting to hang open a bit to offset his now-squinting eyes, and I have to confess…I think I was starting to weird myself out now too.
“Let’s go, Jonesy. The detectives have him now.”
We left the hallway as two poor guys from the burglary/robbery squad approached to begin their questioning, and the look on their faces telegraphed their confusion as to why 34-year-old Darrell Winton, a career criminal, was now pouring drool onto the floor in a steady stream between slow, racking sobs. He had seemed fine just minutes before when they asked us to watch him for a second so they could take a phone call. My work here…was done.
We hopped in separate cars to head back to district, and Jonesy said his first words. “Hey, all that talk has me hungry. Wanna go to Cracker Barrel?”
“No. That place gives me the shits.” And with that I rolled off.
(My work here, after all, was done.)
When officer Alexander D. Teach is not patrolling our fair city on the heels of the criminal element, he spends his spare time volunteering for the Boehm Birth Defects Center.