Mister Baseball has been his name for these past years to me and the others on our night crew.
He's a big, handsome man who shops for the next day's needs on the way home from his DJ gigs. During baseball season and especially the pennant race he is a font of relevant information for the sports junkies on the crew—yes, he saw the game, he was there in his box seats with his pals hoping "The O's" could get past the opposition for just one more game—keeping the dream alive.
To me he has always been, The Cop.
The swagger says cop.
Not going all the way with the swagger—the tentative clenched ass, says cop.
The big, definitive voice, says cop!
Steevo takes one look, sniffs, and says, "Yeah, he could be a cop."
The late night shopping habit, with hand basket and no cart, says cop.
The cagey gait when he takes a corner, whispers cop.
The way his ears perk up and mouth shuts when he hears us talk about a violent shoplifter, screams cop...
Last night as Mister Baseball said good morning to me I stopped stocking the sour cream and said, "You used to be a cop, right?"
He froze in his tracks.
His eyes started.
He swallowed hard.
The way he seemed leery of me, despite towering over me, screamed cop, because the cops I have trained have always insisted that the medium-sized guys, who are calm with you, are the ones that can and might hurt you. I had a cop seek me out for sparring simply because I was "That size of guy," that "not small enough to squash" or "big enough to dodge," size.
He stepped back to me nervously and said, "Look man, its all water under the bridge. You used to ride, right?"
"Now, I'm afraid of motorcycles."
He breathed a sigh of relief and said, "Look, if I arrested you—not making any judgments—that wasn't my job, I just hope everything worked out for the best."
"Look," I said, "I guarantee you are not among the twenty-seven cops who have harassed me during my lifetime. I live down in the city, Hamilton."
He breathed a deep sigh of relief and said, "That's the Northeast, I was Southwestern district," and extended his hand for a shake, "There you go, brother, we're straight—name's Mitch."
"James," I said, holding his big hand.
Still apparently unable to shake the thought that I'm the Sonny Bridger of some local biker club, Mitch goes on, "Look man, I've got no problem with bikers, especially members of clubs. They police their own—you don't get any bullshit from bikers, no 'He hit me officer,' none of this and that. They stick together. They can fight. You don't want to roll with them because they don't give a shit. they're the one group of guys the city people [Dindus] know not to mess with. If I am called to straighten something out in a biker bar, I've got deputies. Let me tell you, I am only standing here today because of a biker that had my back. Some kid hit me in the face with a stolen bike frame. I was going out from a brachial strike and I look up, and one of you fellas has it taken care of. And let me tell you—with this guy we have in there right now [the scanning for women and Dindus says he speaks of Trump]—there's going to be more support for cops and for people who want to be left alone. Every law abiding citizen should have a concealed carry permit. I have numerous friends who are alive today because a citizen had there back. The bad guys and the punks—they can't factor that."
I tell Mitch about the dumb bitch cop who was screaming at me last year with her hand on her gun after some Dindu got pissed and called the cops on me because I wouldn't let him have my six o'clock.
"Look, brother, don't get me started with who they're hiring now. Many of my friends are retired Baltimore City and they're chief of this little town, chief of that. Small towns are looking for experience. When the opportunities come up, I say, 'No way. I did my time.' And you didn't hear it rom me, but the people that are being sworn in now, a lot of them shouldn't have a gun let alone a badge. Just like in any losing effort you start scraping the bottom of the barrel."
I get the sense that Mitch was a cop that did his job without enjoying it, which makes for a good interview. he mentioned he'd have some stories for me after I told him I was a boxing coach. Cops feel comfortable with boxing guys, because they are confident that they are speaking with someone who understands the nuances of aggression.