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The Night We Shot Floyd Young

   The Night We Shot Floyd Young really started the Night BEFORE We Shot Floyd Young when I fell against the cruiser's visbar fighting a drunk. I could have used a couple of stitches in my head, but because we were busy, I just put a couple of butterfly sutures (fancy bandaids) on it and forgot about it. I probably also got a mild concussion, but I was too proud to admit that I had slipped and fallen while fighting a drunk.

   Floyd was another drunk. Sober, he was one of the nicest people you'd ever meet. Drunk he was just the 5'2", 90 pound banty rooster who would whup the entire world.

   But despite Floyd's bone-headedness, he wasn't stupid. He would never start anything with us on the street. Out there he would have just gotten rearranged. He knew that at the booking counter marks were harder for us to justify, and so we were less likely to just beat someone into submission. Besides, with floyd's size, he was hard to get a decent hold on: he was just too small. There was nothing to grab.

   Weeks, sometimes months, would go by with no Floyd until he'd fall off the wagon and we'd have him nearly continually for weeks after.

   The booking counter was just that: a counter which could be closed off with doors during prisoner handling, since if someone did round its corner, there was a straight shot out either the front door to the street or to the back parking lot. Sometimes, but not after the Night We Shot Floyd, we would get complacent and not close off this counter.

   The Night We Shot Floyd was near Independence Day. That is also significant because all of us had been confiscating firecrackers from kids all night long. We had gone through rolling them under the men's room stalls at each other, etc.

   We had Craig the dispatcher. Decent kid, but a bit on the excitable side. His shift actually overlapped ours, so that there wouldn't be an entire change of personnel at one time.

   In the basement, we had a mostly busted coffee machine. Mostly busted because even though the coffee was free, the heating element had been damaged during the process of making the coffee free, so you got a foul room- temperature noxious substance which only superficially resembled coffee, but it was free and caffeinated, and if you put enough artificial creamer in it, almost drinkable as long as you got it hot enough to sear your tastebuds.

   The dispatchers who worked nights would often go down and load up on enough coffee to get through the night and heat it up in the microwave as they needed it.

   Enough of the Prelude to The Night We Shot Floyd Young.

   It had been a long night which was just about to end. The next shift was arriving, and we had gathered by the booking counter to swap lies about what had happened during the night.

   It was now that Paul and I got paged to hit the street to go get Floyd. Our joy was unrestrained because it meant that we'd be at least 1.5 hours late getting home. And all because of Floyd.

   We actually got back with Floyd before anyone went home. They were lingering a bit to enjoy the fun with Floyd at the booking counter. As we took the cuffs off of Floyd, Craig, having talked someone into sitting the radio so he could get some coffee, walked by with a tray toward the basement steps. And he entered the narrow, tall cinder block stairwell that led to the dungeon.

   Randy watched Craig walk by, and as we heard the basement door close, Randy grabbed his pipe lighter and some firecrackers and walked down the hall toward the basement door.

   Randy had a mission.

   By this time Floyd had squared off at Paul and was just starting to get really mouthy. By this time Craig had his coffee and was walking up the steps in the narrow, tall cinder block stairwell toward Randy, who opened the door and tossed a lighted firecracker into the dark.

   This is where things started to get confusing.

   "BANG!" said the firecracker. "WHA-WHA-WHA-WHA," said Craig, throwing the entire tray of no less than eight coffee cups into the air.

   I don't know why I screamed, "Oh, my God, who shot Floyd?!" I hadn't planned on screaming, "Oh, my God, who shot Floyd." I certainly didn't think that anyone had shot Floyd, it just slipped out.

   Floyd stopped in mid tirade. All the blood drained from his face. I watched a line of pink, healthy flesh disappear into his collar and get replaced by deathly pale skin. Until then I never really knew what they meant by, "All the blood drained...."

   Five cops became completely incapacitated with laughter.

   Floyd started physically checking out his body for wounds. He wasn't sure what had happened, but he knew he had heard what sounded like a shot and a bunch of yelling and screaming and someone yelling about him having been shot, and a bunch of cops standing around laughing hysterically.

   Getting shot, or shot at, wasn't in the rules and a lot of Floyd's world suddenly lost a lot of its luster.

   By this time Craig was stumbling past the booking counter with a death grip on the tray and a cross-eyed fixation on the single empty cup still sitting upright on the tray. Craig, who seldom swore, was muttering a mantra, "Sumbitches, sumbitches, sumbitches, sum...." He had coffee dripping off his hair, down his collar, off his elbows. With his blue uniform shirt covered in creamer-blonde coffee, he looked like a Smurf who had lost a war with paint filled waterballoons.

   That started a second round of laughter. I was hanging onto the booking counter. Paul was leaning on it pounding his fists. Randy was literally onthe floor, and nobody was functional.

   Floyd had had enough of this. He got down on his hands and knees and started furiously crawling at a snail's pace toward the end of the counter and freedom. He really looked like those cartoon characters that run in place with their arms and legs lost in a blur. Damnedest thing I ever saw.

   As he rounded the corner and started to raise up, I staggered over to him and collapsed across his back, weighting him down until I could regain my composure. By now my probable concussion was getting the best of me and I wasn't feeling so good with all the bouncing that Floyd is doing. So there I was. Trying to grab one of Floyd's limbs and not barf.

   Then one of Floyd's elbows hit my head wound. Hard. You know how head wounds can bleed, particularly when your heart is already pounding.

   Floyd saw the blood and really came unglued. He was bucking and twisting. One of the oncoming shift said it reminded him of his honeymoon and would we like to be alone. Another, "Ride 'em cowboy. Go for the buzzer." As impossible as it is to believe, we were hit with another, bigger wave of hysterics.

   Finally the sergeant realized that I was in some real trouble. And being the sergeant and having the most to lose, he picked Floyd up by the belt and threw him into the drunk tank, all the while Floyd's arms and legs still thrashed the air, "Let that be a lesson to you, Floyd."

   I went back to the hospital where they refused to stitch me because it had been too long since the original incident. Paul got stuck with the paperwork, and the rest bought Craig's silence by taking up a collection for real coffee and giving him time to go home to get cleaned up--which took far longer than it should have.

   As for Floyd, he didn't show up again for about 2 years, after I left the department. Paul said he stood with his hands flat on the booking counter, his eyes as big as dinner plates, and said only, "Yes, Sir./ No, Sir." to the questions.

"Damn, Floyd, if I had known that's all it took, I'd have shot you sooner."


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