March 20, 2006

I think I was about eight years old when the policeman came to our classroom. He was there to talk to us about the work that policemen did. It was known back then as "community relations".

When he walked in the door I got a sinking feeling in my stomach. Earlier that week, I was at my grandmothers house when a couple of police cars pulled up. Two cops walked up to my grandmothers door and rang the bell. They were looking for my uncle. They said they wanted to "ask him a couple of questions". The local cops had it out for him big time. He may have done a few minor things wrong but now they were trying to pin every crime that ever happened on him. The problem for the cops was that my uncle was an urban magician. He could disappear at will. To this day I don't know how he managed to do it but if he decided to not be found...well, you were not going to find him. It drove the cops nuts.

As I stood behind my grandmother at the door, I heard the last thing the cop said to her. "Tell that punk we'll find him". Wrong thing to say to my grandma. She launched into a profanity laced tirade that would melt a truck drivers ears. She followed them out to their cars calling them every name in the book. (I actually learned a few new word combinations that day.) As the cops drove away she stood on the curb swearing at them and shaking her fist. One of the cops looked back at us as he drove away and looked me right in the eye.

The same cop that was now standing in my classroom.

I knew that he remembered me. Right when he walked in the door, we made eye contact and he gave me a smirk. The worst part wasn't the fact that he remembered me but the fact that I was now a marked kid. There were kids that the cops "knew". They constantly got hassled by the police. Even though I'd never done anything wrong, I was now one of those kids. That look told me "I know you and I'm going to get you".

He gave a speech about his job and the usual "stranger danger" stuff. All through his talk he would look at me and give me that same smirk . It was really pissing me off. I wanted to launch into a grandma strength tirade of my own but sat there quietly as he gave his talk. By this time the other kids were noticing the looks that the cop was giving me. My friend Mike looked at me from a few rows over with a "what the hell is that all about?" expression. If the other kids knew I was a "marked" kid it wouldn't be good. Eventually it would get to the parents and you'd be one of those "I don't want you hanging around with him...I hear he's nothing but trouble"

The cop was finishing up his speech and asked if anyone in the room had any questions. I had to do something. This guy was going to ruin my childhood. I raised my hand and the teacher said "Yes, Ronny, what's your question".

"Did you ever catch my uncle?"

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