Kevin In The Morning

The voice on the other end of the line is deep and has a thick very authentic Brooklyn, New York accent.   “Hi, Kevin, ” I say.  and he booms back in his inimitable fashion, “Pete!  How Ya doing?”

How long has it been?  Five years? Ten years?  More?  I am not sure.  But, really, no time has passed.  We are together by phone, and nothing has separated us.  He mentions the time we arrested John Yancy, a black dope peddler, in Harlem one cool evening, and he carried him down several flights of stairs, dumping him in the back of the car, and, as an ominous crowd gathers, urges me to “Get the hell outta here!”  That was back in the late ’60’s when cops were getting shot not too far away, and two white guys “kidnapping” one black guy did not look like something which should be done without a battalion of black clad troops and a few tanks.  But, what did we know?

I remember the sunny afternoon on First Avenue when he clotheslined some guy running away from us and I, chasing him, stepped on his head just as he hit the ground.  Someone else scooped him from the street, threw him into the car just pulling up, and we all piled in on top, driving off while the well dressed folks stopped and gaped, trying to figure out what had just happened to their world. It took about ten seconds, after we’d been watching and waiting for about two hours.

Today, they’d have roped off Midtown and evacuated all the people.  helicopters would be all over the place, sirens day and night, searchlights, stun grenades, smoke bombs.  After a day or so the guy would give up, and MSNBC would break down the set and go off somewhere else for continuous coverage of another disaster, catastrophe, chariot race or what all.

What did we know?

“Where are you?  What are you doing, now,” I ask.  He’s down in Georgia, Brunswick, GA, to be exact, the only Catholic surrounded by Baptists for miles around.  “I gotta be careful on Sunday, Pete,” he says.  “I gotta be careful going out to mow the lawn and have a beer.  All them eyes on me.”  I give him the name of another fellow, another Irishman, another Catholic who has to be careful in the same way down there, and tell him to get in touch.  This guy is from Indiana, a Bobby Knight fan, an old prosecutor.  They’ll get along I say to myself.

This guy got his picture on the cover of some magazine years ago after he made a big deal case.  His boss was on the cover, too, which is strange because his boss didn’t think the case was the right kind of thing to spend time on.  Matter of fact, no one but him and one lone guy in the IRS wanted the case made.  Until it was made.  Then the defendant pays a $500,000.00 fine from their petty change account, and walks out the door.  See what I mean?

What did he know?

Then Kevin says something serious to me.  “I was working for the Children’s Court, Pete.  The judge down here was an ex-FBI agent.  I couldn’t take it anymore.  All these kids coming in raped by their uncles, their older brothers, and nobody’s doing a damn thing about it.  You know?,”   He says, “I wanted to grab a few of them and give them a beating.  I had to leave.  There was one girl who kept having kids, one a year.  She gives them up for foster care, but makes a living out of the money she gets when she’s pregnant.  And, no one does a thing about it.  Don’t talk to me about foster care, either.  That’s a racket, and no one cares.”  As he talks I’m thinking about another guy I used to know in one of the sheriff’s offices up here in Cow Hampshire, from some place like Alabama originally; another good guy.

The first time I meet him is in this big office in the new county courthouse, not too far from the county jail, and he’s surrounded by boxes and boxes of smut; evidence in a case against a guy who…; well I’ll leave all that alone. He tells me that his office sees this kind of stuff more than anything else.  He’s sick of it and wishes he could get lost in a nice murder case, or some boat owner smuggling dope in from a mother ship off the coast.  But, there’s only one other detective in the whole department.

Back in the present, I’m listening to Kevin going on about life down South; about him and his wife Judy, and his little dog; about how he goes for walks along the beach, and talks to the folks he meets, and nets shrimp from the shore.  “Pete, they’re the biggest juiciest shrimp you ever ate!  They’re great!”, he rumbles.

I’m smiling as he says goodbye, and we promise to call and stay in touch, and love each other forever.  I have a picture in my mind of Kevin about forty years ago in the middle of some street in Brooklyn where we spent four days and nights back then waiting for a shipment of heroin from Spain to leave the dock so we could follow it and arrest the rats who smuggled the stuff here.  There’s Kevin in the morning.  It’s early, and it’s cool and the sun is bright, the sky is blue and clear.  He has a football in his big hand, and the rest of us are down the street.

What did we know?


9 responses to “Kevin In The Morning

  1. Those were the days my friend! Enjoyed the conversation and your thoughts on days long gone. Law enforcement has changed so dramatically making me glad that we served in
    an earlier time. Your ability to capture and bring to life a moment in time with the pen is surreal
    but refreshing. Thank you for your contributions in support of drug law enforcement. “You are the man and one tough sob”

    • Hello K.,

      If I ever thought of myself as the “man”, I beg “real men’s” forgiveness for usurping the role. I am simply a guy like the guy on the stool next to you, I hope, or in the seat next to you on the Subway..or, better yet, in the pew next to you.

      But, I appreciate the compliment. If you will loan me the money to buy you a hamburger I will pay you back on Tuesday…


  2. It’s hard to be the one who cares in a world or workplace that doesn’t. I’m learning that about long term care. Good people, tired and overworked, need more help to help the helpless.

    I hope I have friends that call me up to reminisce in my “golden years” (couldn’t resist that one.)

    • Good Morning Sunshine,

      How to put this… I think you will find that there never will be enough of people or places or supplies. One of my Philosophy teachers was fond of saying this: “In the great boarding house of the Universe the pancakes, butter and syrup never come out even.” The real difficulty is to see this part of it as, actually, a grace; to be aware enough that God is trying to communicate something to each of use in the circumstances we encounter each day, all day lone. Some graces are easy, and some are very difficult. I think you understand that. I hope that you also understand it’s all about love.


  3. peter, you are amazing, truly a rennaisance man….I think maybe the word is eclectic or holistic or something which denotes one who has experienced many things..anyhow we love you both and welcome another visit before it gets too cold…

    • Thank you, Alan. Eclectic? Holistic? I can think of a lot of words, many of them unprintable. Lucky comes to mind, just now. Lucky and blessed.

  4. Ave Maria Peter,
    we must pray that world will recognise sin a quit making excuses for it. Our Lord is there to turn things around but we must keep asking Him to do so.

  5. The Island Piper

    “Old” Prosecutor? Me??… I prefer “former”, thank you. I did indeed speak to Kevin and I am looking forward to meeting him soon. But I do hesitate, realizing that the only thing we have in common is working with Peter. Sort of like those guys who sit around at physical therapy, comparing their knee operations.

    • And infinitely more painful in the present experience and the recollection. But, then, this IS a vale of tears. Think of the poor souls who will be set free, and practice holy charity toward them with your co-redemptive suffering, and the wonderful example you will give.

      This will marvelously enhance your “cause”..

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