The following story is by guest contributor Howard G. Morzov.
** During the 1970s in Pasadena, CA, a time before cell phones, when the police relied solely on radios, taking a call without back up was deemed so dangerous as to be completely up to the individual officers discretion.
As the young cop inched his way down the hallway he called out softly, “John, John, it’s me. . . Officer Morgan. Are you alright?”
As he slowly, deliberately peered around the open bedroom door, he locked eyes with terror. Fear stunned him into a sudden realization that his world had instantly become really, really small.
“2L22. . . 2L22. . . 415 Family. . . 1240 Menton . . . no further. . . be advised you’re rolling without a back!” Although monotone, the police dispatcher’s voice seemed to subtlety emphasize the “without a back” part of the transmission. No biggie, Officer Morgan didn’t register alarm as he rogered the call. After all, it was just some kind of domestic disturbance in the middle of the afternoon. Probably some single mother having problems with an errant son. Having no back available meant that he shouldn’t get involved in anything he couldn’t get himself out of. Nothin’ but a ‘thang, just a routine family disturbance. . . nothin’ but a ‘thang.
Parking a couple of houses away, he approached on foot noticing a woman holding a baby standing on the front lawn of the residence. Standing next to her was an older woman holding the hand of a young boy. None of them had moved toward his car as he parked, and as he walked closer they just stared at him blankly. The woman holding the baby appeared composed; however, her swollen eyes and damp cheeks betrayed the fact that she had been crying.
“Has anyone been hurt, anyone need medical attention?” Morgan asked with genuine concern.
“He’s in there,” stated the woman holding the baby as she nodded towards the open front door of the house.
“Who is he?” asked Morgan.
“John,” she sighed heavily, “John Evans.”
“Is he your husband?”
“We ain’t married,” the woman replied, “I’m leaving but he won’t let me back in to get my stuff.”
“Has he hurt you?” Morgan asked softly. “Do you want me to talk to him?”
“He ain’t hurt me. . . I don’t want no trouble. . . I just want my stuff, that’s why I called y’all.”
“Okay, Ma’am, I’ll go inside and see if we can’t work something out, okay?” Morgan asked, doing his best not to sound condescending.
The woman nodded slowly in assent.
As Morgan entered the house he immediately grew uneasy. It was just too quiet. No music playing, no laundry noise, not even a clock ticking. Without consciously thinking about it, he slowly slid his hand down his side and clasped the handle of his service revolver.
Slowly making his way down the hallway, he called out softly, tentatively, “John, John, it’s me, Officer Morgan, are you alright?” He then turned and peered around the open bedroom door.
His eyes became immediately riveted to those of the tall black man standing in the middle of the room. His glaring hate was unsettling, but Morgan had seen hate before. No, it was the large revolver dangling at the man’s side, nervously twitching in his hand that got Morgan’s attention.
For a long, terror fueled moment both men just stood, staring at each other. The gun continuously twitching in the man’s hand.
Barely able to speak, Morgan squeaked nervously, “Are you John?”
“Get the fuck out of my house,” was the man’s slow, hoarse, deep retort.
“You really seem pissed John,” Morgan said with a nervous grin, praying for time.
“Get the fuck out of my house. . . Now!” John boomed. His gun seemed to be twitching faster in his hand.
An instantaneous firestorm of thoughts and emotions overwhelmed Morgan. He felt like he had been shot in the stomach. He hoped that he wouldn’t throw up. He was alone and he was scared. No one else was coming to help.
“I am fucked. . . I am so fucked,” was all he could think to himself.
More nervous silence followed, broken when Morgan got up enough courage to say softly, “John, I’ll leave, but you got to put that gun down first.”
“You put yours down, motherfucker.” John’s agitated reply sounded a little less belligerent.
“Mine’s not out, John, it’s in my holster, and really, Holmes, you’re scaring the shit out of me with that thing in your hand.” Morgan sweated.
When John didn’t reply, Morgan continued, “Look it, I just want to talk to you. Your family is outside and they’re worried about you, man. I think your mom’s out there. I don’t know what happened between you and your old lady, but damn, man, this shit is crazy.”
John’s face appeared to relax just slightly, “It’s my house, man. . . my gun too. . . I didn’t let you in here. . . just get the fuck out.”
To Morgan, his reply seemed less edgy. “I know man, I know,” Morgan acknowledged, “but do me a favor. Put the gun down, come on outside and we’ll try to work it out.”
John didn’t reply, but Morgan noticed the gun appeared to be twitching a little slower.
“John, man, I don’t know you. I got nothing against you, and I don’t want to start popping caps with you in your own house. . . in front of your family. . . over some crazy shit I don’t know from nothing,” Morgan all but pleaded.
John’s eyes seemed to soften. Then, as he slowly lowered his gaze, he dropped his gun on the floor.
Morgan stood frozen, incredulous. He noticed John’s chest begin to heave.
“Are you okay, man?” Morgan asked in a tone of concern meant to conceal his fear.
“Naw, man. I’m. . . I’m. . . I’m all fucked up.” John’s sobs obscured the rest of his speech as he sank into the nearby bed, put his face in his hands, and moaned like wounded animal.
John’s girlfriend was allowed to remove her personal things without further incident. John’s mom agreed to stay over for a few days while child care arrangements were made. The baby was John’s nephew, the boy his by a prior relationship. After a routine record/want check proved negative, John was allowed to leave for a nearby construction yard, where he was currently employed. His loaded, 44 caliber Smith and Wesson revolver was confiscated for safe keeping.
Upon arrival to the police department later that afternoon, Morgan’s Sergeant saw him walking through the parking lot. The Sarge thought he looked a little pensive.
“You okay, Morgan?” he asked affectionately.
“Yeah, Sarge, I guess I’m a little tired. . . it’s been a long, hot afternoon,” Morgan monotoned, still walking, not looking back. He couldn’t think of anything else to say.