Just an FYI if you're dealing with New Orleans Cops
I knew that something was up when Brazil walked in shaking. That’s one of those ‘oh shit’ moments: seeing a 6’2” burly black dude with long braided hair shake in legitimate fear.
“My car got stolen – they held a gun to me and they took my car.”
I ran through the half empty house looking for a beer. There was nothing in the fridge and less in the liquor cabinet. Ronny, who lived upstairs, walked in with an unopened Highlife tallboy in his hand. I grabbed it, cracked it and handed it to Brazil as he sat on a bed, phone receiver to his ear.
“Yes ma’am, they took my car.
At the gas station on Claiborne and Louisiana.
I’m on General Taylor and Carondelet now.
Yes, I walked home.
Yes ma’am. Thank you.”
We got up and walked out onto the back porch where Rusty, Brazil’s landlord, passed both of us Marb reds and a lighter.
“Fuck man. They fucking shot at me.”
Rusty, being an unemployed, dysfunctional alcoholic, started yelling nonsense about ‘fucking n*ggers’ and the ‘hoodrats down the street.’
Twenty minutes later the cops showed up. I made a point of keeping Ronny, equally unemployed and drunk, on the back porch and out of trouble. I didn’t want to go out there myself. I’ve had my own experienced with NOPD and didn’t really want any part of seeing them again.
What we needed, more than anything, was booze. After a ten minute mission involving back gates and side doors I returned from across the street with most of a handle of Skyy Vodka and a bottle of wine. I set my loaded bag down inside, took a deep breath, and brought a cigarette out to Brazil in the front yard.
There was a squad car and a cop SUV in front of the house. Brazil and his roommate, Heath, were sitting on a stump while the three cops filled out paperwork and talked to each other. I handed Brazil the smoke and gave a nod to Heath. Every once in awhile a cop would call Brazil up to ask him a question, but the scene was otherwise actionless.
It was, at least, until I heard Rusty’s cries. When Rusty gets drunk every night, he likes to let out this low, guttural howl. It sounds like a combination of a wild animal raging and a man being tortured on the rack. It’s disturbing at first, but having lived across the street for six months or so, I had become used to it. The cops, however, had no idea what to make of him.
Then Ronny came tumbling down the stairs after Rusty. I think he was sincerely trying to help, but drooling drunks aren’t good for much. As if the howls weren’t enough, Rusty began to actually talk,
“What the fuck man. This is some racist shit. What the fuck are you doing here anyway? You can’t fuck with me I’m on my property. Fuck you.”
God. Damnit. Another cop car, unmarked, pulled up and a detective got out. He called Brazil towards him. Everything seemed fine until the detective rose his voice,
“You’re going to get in the fucking car and we’re going to go back to the scene. Then you’re going to fucking tell me what happened.”
“Fine man, let’s go back to the scene. I’ll show you the casings.”
Brazil made a move for the detective’s passenger side.
“Not in my car. Get in that one.”
The cop standing next to the squad car opened the back door. I realized that my hand had been wrapped around my throat in horror and was beginning to cut off my oxygen supply. There isn’t an easy way to describe the look of loathing that was on this detective’s face. There was nothing good about this scene.
Heath looked up, “can we come with him?”
“No.” The cop shut the back door on Brazil.
The detective pulled the other three cops into a huddle before they all got into their respective cars and drove away.
For the next two and a half hours Heath and I sat on the front porch killing the bottle of vodka and chain smoking. It tasted like water; we went through packs. I felt like I was in some unreal dream; this was some pretty fucked up bullshit. Poor Brazil, he had just moved from Chicago, barely been in the city six months.
Around sunrise the squad car returned and dropped Brazil back off. All at once the vodka slammed me.
“Man, they fucking took me to central lockup. They told me I was lying and that I had lent my car to my drug dealer. They said if I didn’t sign some form saying that it hadn’t been stolen that they’d put me in jail for falsifying information.
“All I kept asking them was, ‘why aren’t you looking for my car?’ The girls in the office were sitting there watching videos online. Fuck man, I was coming home from a gig. My beemer’s gone. My cellphone. My fucking guitar.”
So we finished the last of the vodka and Heath made breakfast burritos. What else you gonna do?