Trojan Horse Operation

Trojan Horse Operation – Ypsilanti Township – When I was Lion Strong

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What I’m about to tell you happened at the peak of the Blood and Crip gang war. Street corner crack cocaine trafficking had reached it’s Zenith and many corners were occupied by a crack cocaine dealer (in the open) and a gunman (hidden). Drug trafficking turf have been claimed and paid for in blood and gangs claimed ownership of their corners. Crack cocaine was the newest national epidemic and the zombies of the night moved among us, robbed us, killed us.

My Brothers and I fought them back in the dark while you slept.

This is the story of one operation.

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The bosses had decided on a new plan of attack, a Trojan horse operation. About 20 of us signed up for this overtime operation but to be honest I would have worked the detail for free. I loved this stuff – These assignments were always exciting, dangerous and unpredictable. We all met at Station #2 for a briefing but we all knew what we were in for. We were to be dropped into a “target rich environment” and expected to run down the rabbits.

We broke into partners for protection. Three partner crews were in marked patrol cars and assigned to the outer perimeter, two partner crews were in unmarked surveillance cars and assigned Scout responsibilities. I was one of the remaining ten, veterans of operations like these, Tucked in the Truck. We were the jump out crew and were to stay hidden until the time was right.

No one was to run off without cover and the buddy system assured that. Each of us was clad in armor and dangling flex cuffs hung from our ballistic vests. The time had come for a last press check of weapons, magazines, flashlights, handcuffs and a thumbs up to your partner.

As I mount up my adrenaline begins to build and my focus becomes more  acute. I felt more than human – I was a part of this team – we had plans – we had targets. Muscle memory flashes it’s bright light, I tingle with anticipation of the night. In the moment I know I love this. We were ready.

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We ten pack tightly side by side into the rear of a U-Haul moving truck. The floor was wooden and splintered as we tried to sit without stings. One of the surveillance units made a pass down Calder street and by our intended jump out location near the edge of a city park. “Be advised there are more than a dozens gang members on the corner and they seem twitchy – They gave us the stink eye,” the Scout advised.

The undercover officer begins to drive us and the truck to the park.

The bosses had decided to double roll the dice. Not only were 10 cops about to be air dropped on an active drug street corner but they wanted a cocaine buy to go with it. The Undercover officer was to drive up and buy crack and we would bail out after the deal went down.

One of the Cops in the back of the truck starts flashing his light against his newest piece of gear, a glow in the dark POLICE jacket. “What the fuck are you doing Bill” I ask. He says “I don’t want any of you fuckers shooting me in all the confusion were about to create.” I laughed but couldn’t argue with his logic.

Someone ripped a two note fart, more laughter and threats followed.

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“ONE MILE” the driver calls out.

The Undercover Officer begins to give a description of a possible suspect as the truck rolls to a stop “I can’t see his cover man” and then he went quiet. A hushed deadly silence overtook all of us in the rear of the truck. Any tiny movement or noise could endanger not only the Undercover Officer but the whole operation.

We wait and listen.

U/C: Hey Gee you straight?

Dope Man: Yea Cuz what you need?

U/C: How about two twenties?

Dope Man: Let me see the cash.

20 seconds pass…

U/C: Good deal (Our signal to bail and catch whatever ran)

The rear door of the moving truck flies open and all of us hit the ground at once. I was instantly reminded of some wild rodeo except made for Cops. One of my Brothers let go with a war cry at the top of his lungs.

I recognized a half a dozen gang members when I jumped from the truck. All I could see were assholes and elbows as they ran towards the park entrance. Many of them were already career criminals and If they were caught they were looking at decades in prison.

The work begins…

The U/C had giving a good description of the crack cocaine dealer and I had him in my sights from the time my feet hit the ground. I ran after him into the darkness – he was my single target – my partner with me. This thug was ours, we cut him from the pack hoping someone else had the hidden gunman – this thug’s cover.

I trusted my Pack – I trusted my partner – I trusted my skill – I trusted my Heart

The calm clear eyed animal within me chased down this Thug. All sounds stopped as I closed the distance and slammed him to the ground. After a short struggle the cuffs were on. He was a stunned animal, he was my prey.

I hear my own heartbeats first as I re-entered the World.

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We take the crack dealer back up to one of the waiting marked patrol units which now flooded the area. From one of the cars I could hear the theme song from the Cops show playing. “Bad boys bad boys what you gonna do, what you gonna do when they come for you.” Most of  the other Thugs were captured and a couple of stolen handguns were recovered. I notice a neighbor give us a thumbs up from behind his curtains. I appreciate the intensity of my life.

It was a good night. A lot of thugs went to jail and no Cops got hurt and I made overtime. What more do you want?

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© 2016, Michael Fulcher. All rights reserved.

Trooper Manuel H. Fields – End of Watch August 27, 1994

Trooper Manuel H. Fields | Michigan State Police, Michigan
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I was loaned out to the Michigan State Police to work undercover narcotics for three years. For most of that time Manny worked out of the same office but on a different Team. I was on the Crack Attack Team (CAT) and Manny was part of a team involved in long term investigations. His team went after the big fish and mine snagged the corner dealers.
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We often worked together if either team needed surveillance or raid entry help. We had been through many operations together, Manny and I. There was this one time when my team had made a controlled purchase of an ounce of cocaine and needed some help with the Search Warrant raid. The location was a long row of tenement housing on a large root farm. Some Hispanic non-English speaking Perps sold the dope to one of our paid informants.
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COP INFO: A Controlled Purchase works like this. You meet with and strip search the Informant. Next you supply the informant with prerecorded cash funds. Then you drive the Informant to the target location and watch as he enters. You have to maintain surveillance continually while the informant is “Up and In” the target location. When the Informant returns he hands you the dope. You then drive the Informant from the area and strip search him again. Through this process you can write an affidavit for a Search Warrant and testify before a Judge that money went in the target location and dope came out. This will get you a Search Warrant to enter the Target location. Glamorous ain’t it. Lesson over, back to the past.
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Manny’s self chosen undercover name was CB or Chocolate Bunny. I bump CB on the side channel of the Police radio to see if his team was available to help out on the raid. They were so we schedule a meet up not far from the farm. I do the pre-raid briefing and make the entry assignments and place CB right in line with me. We all loaded up, armed to the teeth, as Manny climbs into the Chevrolet Astro van with me. There are six of us and we all wear black raid entry gear. Shamu has the ram, Pepper is on shotgun and riding shotgun, Flash has the entry shield. We are shoulder to shoulder as the tension settles in and the jokes begin. The driver says, “One mile out.” I suddenly realize that the suspects might not understand our raid entry orders and ask, “Any of you fuckers speak Spanish?” Manny says “I got this.”
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I asked him if he was sure because I’d never heard him speak any Spanish in the years I’d known him. Manny nodded his head, “Rat, I got this.” So we roll up and bail out into the darkness. Shamu destroys the door with the ram and steps aside. The team enters and I see about half a dozen subjects in the first room. Manny yells out, “No Fumar Gracias Por Favor Triple Sec La Pinata.”
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Well like I said I don’t speak Spanish but I was pretty sure that wasn’t “Get down before we shoot your ass.” I look over at Manny and he is laughing his head off. I look at the Perps and repeat, “No Fumar Gracias Por Favor Triple Sec La Pinata.”
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They seem confused.
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Skip forward in time to…
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The Last Goodbye
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Manny was rotating back to road patrol and his years of undercover assignment was coming to an end. He would leave behind the deals and doors and Trojan Horse operations and would return to a life of uniformed patrol, traffic accidents and taking any complaint the radio dished out. He was in the office cleaning out his desk when I last saw him. Lucky for me I took the time to have a long conversation with CB. We laughed and remembered some of the best. There were several Remember when moments between us. We spoke openly and with Truth. Manny told me what it meant to him to be a Michigan State Trooper. I told him I already knew that.
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My team was on the way out the door and I had to go. If I would have only known that was the last time I would see Manny. I hugged him goodbye and told him I loved him.
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Manny got killed not long after that night. He made a traffic stop on I-94 and was dealing with that when some 70 year old woman crossed the fog line and struck him. He died instantly next to his patrol car and she drove home. She would later claim that she thought she had struck a deer. Bitch shouldn’t have been driving.
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The funeral and aftermath
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I don’t go to Cop funerals unless I have to. I have been to three, all brothers. Manny’s funeral was an intense journey for me. All of the team members were in attendance at his grave side as the bagpiper played Amazing Grace. Tears streamed down my face as I stood at rigid attention. On a nearby hill a single figure stepped forward and played Taps. I can remember it all. Ancient rituals and the path to Valhalla fill my mind.
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On the way home most of my team stopped into a roadside bar and grill which was filled with trucker types. It was one of those worn red paint joints with a huge wooden bar fumed with the aroma of beer. It was a good place for greasy burgers and cold beer.
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An ugly darkness had overtaken us. Our emotions were raw and our nerves exposed. As I look back I think it was because we had all been through so much with CB and for him to get killed in such an unfair way, we had nobody to hate, he was only 34 years old for fuck’s sake. We drank too much, we were rude and loud and we spoiled for a fight with anyone. Within hours we were all kicked out of the bar.
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Cops can be assholes like that.
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© 2015, Michael Fulcher. All rights reserved.

The Italian Tourist

NOTE: I needed to tell the stories of PTSD and Medal of Valor before this one would make sense and you might better understand my actions.

“Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.” Sun Tzu – The Art of War

This happened so long ago that the Statue of Limitations has passed. Now I can tell of crossing paths with the Italian Tourist.

I had been living in Kodachrome State park for a season, the time had come to move on. I was moving to Otter Creek to be closer to the Pretender, the first women I chased and caught after the end of my marriage.  Later I may write of her – She was another intense experience and looked just like Lauren Becall.

It was during my time at Kodachrome that I slowly re-entered society, a better Michael. I was finding my happiness. I lived in an ancient motor home with my dogs. By day we built trails with pick and shovel. At night we visited with happy campers, travelers and people of different places. I grew stronger with all the physical work. I wrote in the mornings while drinking black coffee from a hand warming mug. I slept under stars so thick I couldn’t tell them from camp smoke. Red sands became bed – Black sky became covers – Night air became dreams.

Kodachrome is a magical place, a bowl basin awash in glorious desert colors. Shadows and rock are Witness to the passing Ages – I stood humbled by the Place – Grounded to the Earth – Right where I was supposed to be – Surrounded – Safe. Kodachrome and the people I met there were an important part of my Journey.

I loaded everything up, hooked the trailer to the motor home, and whistled up the dogs. The last thing I needed to do was ride into town to say my goodbyes to the locals and pick up a few road snacks. I mount my finely tuned German motorcycle and carved a way into town on a twisted purple road. I stood on my foot pegs and pumped my fist skyward in celebration of my Freedom. I felt unleashed, stronger.

I pulled up to the pumps and filled the tank on my motorcycle and decide to just leave it and run in the store for quick goodbyes and salty snacks. I dangle my helmet over the mirror, threw my jacket over the saddle, and walked into a crowded store.

I took up a position forth in the checkout line and found everything I needed right there. A commotion caught my attention, a ripple in the flow of the herd, something is wrong.

There he stood in all his glory – the Italian Tourist. The hairy legged, yellow plaid short wearing, five foot nothing – fat man that he was. He had hoisted a bag of Kingsford charcoal over his head while screaming, in broken English, at the cashier over the price. He was in a full rage, face red, veins throb, muscles tense, filled with anger – Ripe.

Mary, the sixteen year old cashier and daughter of the owner, cowered and burst out in tears. She leaned as far away from the threat as she could, her back against the calendar filled wall.

Shit was about to happen. Muscle memory and past training took over. Without thinking about it I advanced behind the Italian Tourist and caught his neck in the bend of my left arm. I pulled him off-balance and into my old favorite position. He was on his heels walking backwards more interested in his next breath than anything else. The charcoal drops to the ground. I throttled him more, making sure the fight was out of him, as we spill into the parking lot. His wife ran towards us from their rented motor home. I pushed him and he fell on his fat ass in a dusty pile.

“You better just Get!” I told him. I think he’d had enough of me and scurried away towards the wife and hopefully back to Italy, the land of cheap charcoal.

I really wasn’t too interested in having contact with the Police so I jump on my motorcycle and raced back to camp and was gone within the hour.

I never got to say my goodbyes.

© 2015, Michael Fulcher. All rights reserved.

PTSD

This will be painful for me. I will pick scab, twist bone, open jars. I will allow you to look through my eyes, to feel what it’s like to be me.

I wake in the night eyes wide open.  The echoes of a scream bounce around the dark room.  The scream fades to nothingness.  My heart thumps the inside of my ribcage like a panic crazed rabbit trapped in wire.  I gasp in a full breath, which seems like my first.  Every muscle has fired.  What just happened?  I feel beaten, I remember (The Nightmares of Others).

I always sit with my back to the wall, aware, ready. I anticipate the worst and dread it’s arrival. An overwhelming sense of doom begins to build in the center of my chest. Dark shadows hide imagined threats to the farthest edges of my World. Tears press against the backsides of my eyeballs for no apparent reason. Something is about to happen, I can feel it on my skin and in the air I breathe. I hear hoof beats as I walk in the Valley of the Bones.

Some of us are Protectors. We appoint ourselves to watch over the Flock, the Herd, the Pack, the Tribe. We cannot do otherwise. I was raised to be a Protector being the oldest of four and by a father who believed in the old scripture, “Spare the rod and spoil the child.” I took beatings early and sometimes for my younger brothers and sister. I became numb to pain.

Later, when the playground bullies would make themselves known, classmates came for me. I was bigger than almost everyone else, I still am. I became numb to the fist.

Today, if I witnessed someone committing violence on a weaker person, I would have to find a way to make it stop. I know this about me and I prepare for my future battles. I still train for the fight.

PART TWO:

Langford Spring

My mind responds to echoes of the Past and dances in that dust of long ago. I am reminded of things at strange times and in strange ways. It happened again just the other day.

I had nothing to do as I sat in the ruined foundation of another man’s dream. Here, on the edge of the frontier, Langford had built an imposing two story structure of boulder and mortar, chinked together to last the ages. He had fought rattlesnakes and Mexican bandits to hold onto this dream. In the end the  Restorative Hot Springs Bath could not stand against the ravages of the Rio Grande. Countless floods had their way with the old building leaving only four low stone foundation walls. The hot spring water still follows some old chase and then overflows and spills from the foundation into the river.

The Sky was steel grey and just a breath of wind as I dip myself into the waters up to my neck. This day would not rise above 70 degrees. The Rio Grande was as high as I’ve ever seen it and filled the banks between Texas and Mexico with small white caps. I lazed away a couple of hours soaking in the 104 degree spring and having pathetic conversations with transient tourists. I watched as they came, one after another, down the narrow path between the river and a cliff of stacked rock. They came huffing and puffing and I recognized most by their new hats.

One of the visitors stuck her foot in the pool for less than 3 minutes, withdrew her leather bound travel journal from her new backpack, and wrote of the experience for 6 minutes. Her red faced hubby squatted on a nearby rock, his mind lost in thoughts of work. I was glad not to be them – not to meet them.

I glimpse ancient pictographs painted against the cliff face and was reminded of another time monument which I can measure my Life against. What was important to Mr. Langford and these ancient people has no meaning today. A calm peace settles around me.

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I am having another perfect day when…

A young mother and her son Abe arrive and enter the pool. Abe is a rambunctious 2 ½ year old. He’s a tow head and has a round pot belly of a new born pup. His energy is boundless as he begins to climb on the stone wall that divides the raging Rio Grande from the calmer waters of the hot spring.

It begins…

I can see a possible future where Abe tumbles head first over the stone wall and into the swift water. The Mother is distracted and unaware of the danger. I have lived a life where dead children have been pulled from murky waters, the images are locked in my Mind, I am Witness. The memories begin the Dance, my mind and body react to the past. I am a time traveler but I can only go back into my own past – to live it again. Troubled I get up and leave the pool but I take up a position downstream (just in case). Thankfully a high clump of river reed blocks my vision of Mother and Son and river and rock.

My heart pounds – my mouth is as dry as cotton – my vision narrows – echoes ring in my ears – Adrenaline courses through me – I am entirely aware and on point – I am ready for anything. Its’ the old Fight or Flight reflex and I’m trained to Fight.

Outwardly nothing shows as the storm rages. Inwardly I begin to have the same old conversation with myself. “It’s nothing Rat – relax – be cool.”

When…

I hear the mother call out “ABE – ABE!”

I run to the water’s edge and begin to visualize how I will spot Abe in the river. He will be face down and head first in the current and nearer the Mexican side. I will have to swim hard to reach him. I can see all of this. Every nerve has fired – I know this feeling – Its all up to me.

When…

Abe comes running down the dirt path with his Mother right behind. She coos and chases him in a bent over goose fashion. They both scream with delight as they pass by me, standing and watching for ghosts at the river’s edge.

Fuck PTSD

 

© 2015 – 2016, Michael Fulcher. All rights reserved.

A shared nightmare

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This happened a year after the Tomb of the unknown child and The Christmas party.

Again, I was working a second job for cash. During the fall I worked for a family business that operated a haunted barn and offered hayrides. Most often there were no problems and my job was to keep the cash box from being robbed. I was their hired gun.

It was a cold and foggy evening so I went into the small ticket booth to warm myself in front of the propane heater. The customers had slowed to a trickle. In the ticket booth was a young woman I had known for years. She was barely out of her teens and was considering her college choices. Everyone who worked there knew me as Deputy Mike and that I was a Cop.

The woman began to ask questions about being a Police Officer. She went on to explain that she was considering a career in law enforcement and wanted my input.

My first reaction was to think she was a bad fit for Law Enforcement. Too tender, too much white meat. I felt she would be crushed by the requirements of the job. I wanted to find an easy way to dissuade her from this idea.

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She then asked, “Deputy Mike what’s the worst thing that ever happened to you”?

Perfect, she gave me this opportunity to tell the story of the death of the marionette puppet on the side of the road. During my career I was with more than a dozen people who were suddenly and unexpectedly ripped from life. One minute to be alive and the next fighting for their last breath.  Some went easy and others fought all the way. Often I could do nothing more than say, “There, there it will be alright”. I was honored to be with them as their lives ended.

Some left a deeper scar than others. This was one of my worst.

Again I drifted into the fog of telling but this time I told only of the emotion of the moment. The pain, the blame, the memories. I told her how Police work is a 100% win proposition and when we fail we blame ourselves.  “If I had only driven faster to get there, If I hadn’t been fucking off in first aide class, If I had just pressed harder on her chest, breathed more into her lungs…”

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I told her after the child died in my hands I went home and pulled my sleeping daughter from her bed – made popcorn – put My Little Pony in the VCR – held her and quietly wept.

I didn’t know what else to do…

I told it as softly as I could but I wanted her to know the emotional consequences of her potential choice.

When I returned to the present she was sobbing. She looked at me and said…

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“You don’t know do you? I was the screaming woman in the car”.

I didn’t know. When the Trooper released me from the scene (which was just around the corner from the haunted barn) the woman in the car was still screaming. I supplemented his report but never asked any questions about the case. It turns out the family crossed the street right in front of the screaming woman and she was not at fault.

By the strangest of coincidences I had told the story of my nightmare to the screaming woman.

She didn’t become a Cop.

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NOTE:  My intent is to someday turn this blog into a book. I would appreciate your comments or thoughts. Consider clicking the Facebook share button (bottom of each story) if you liked something I wrote.

Thanks for stopping by…

© 2015, Michael Fulcher. All rights reserved.

Mr. Morse

The hard Desert work was behind me and I began to live among Humans again. I had made Promises to Myself that I would forever keep. I felt alive and free. My eyes still scan the horizon for imagined threats but that is what they trained me to be. This is what I will always be. Echoes of my Past linger in me. I accept this.
In the fall of 2010 I volunteered at Otter Creek State park until the weather drove me away. I cut the tops out of dying cottonwood trees. The saw freed the smell of ancient spice from the wood. I enjoyed my work.

The nearest place to get food was in Antimony, not even a town just a bend in the road. I rode there under a canopy of yellow leaves and gray skies. The café side  of the joint is separated from the tin can aisles by a one step up lunch counter.  Old green linoleum with sides painted bright white time after time. I hung my motorcycle jacket over the swivel seat next to me.

When I spend time in small towns I like to get to know the locals on a first name basis. I often get the local price on everything from gas to bread. Jeri ask how I’d been as she poured my coffee. Jeri was one of those women every man likes to have a conversation with.  She spoke is slow measured sultry tones. Dark hair framed her intense smile.  She was fit and destined to always be beautiful.

I first saw Mr. Morse as he approached the third seat and carefully mounted it, his cane propped against his side. I guessed him in his late 80’s but bright and he carried himself with broad shoulders. His hair was crew cut. I recognized this old warrior as he ordered only coffee. I was trying to drive the chill from my bones and decide what to do next.

We talked casually of fishing for a moment. Mr. Morse told me that he had been coming to Otter Creek for a dozen or more years, since the death of his wife. He told me he once had a dog.

He then asked me how my day was. It is this question that often causes a shift in my conversations.

“I’m having the day of a lifetime Brother, but I have many of those. Sometimes I string them into weeks, months or years. I live a life other men don’t even know exists. I live a dream of my own making.” I spoke the truth.

Mr. Morse smiled broadly and extended his large hand. We introduced ourselves. A few people milled around on the grocery side of the business. We went unnoticed as I asked him what he did during WW II. He proudly told me that he had trained bomber pilots. He knew exactly how many to, 44. He began to describe the type of aircraft he flew.

I stopped him, “Mr. Morse could I ask a difficult question?” He said yes…

“Of those 44 men that you trained do you know how many survived their tours and returned home?” His crystal blue eyes flashed, I saw tears well up in his face.

He said, “No, I couldn’t… maybe half.”

Without missing a beat Mr. Morse began to tell me of the last moments of his wife’s life. She had been subjected to some minor surgery and he was with her in post-op. She suddenly and without warning suffered a brain aneurysm and died in his presence. In that moment He began his new life alone.

I expressed my sympathy for having suffered such a terrible wound. To have made it through the hard and scary part only to lose her when all seemed hopeful. Tears spilled down his cheeks.

We continued to talk. Someone walked past. We were in a bubble – just Mr. Morse and I – unseen.

He suddenly asked me if he should get a dog. He explained that he had a fear of dying and leaving the dog with no one. I told him to go to the nearest shelter and get the oldest dog they had. I explained to him that he was denying a dog the gift of his friendship.

His hand quivered as he pushed a crumpled dollar bill a quarter and a dime across the counter with one bony finger.

He patted my shoulder and mouthed his thanks as he left. I wished him well.

Later Jeri told me he got a fuzzy old dog.

© 2015, Michael Fulcher. All rights reserved.

Christmas Party

I have told the story of the Tomb of the Unknown Child before…

I had to attend a Christmas party hosted by my ex-wife’s boss. She worked for a vice President of something surrounded by other vice Presidents of nothing. They were a bunch of Harvard and Yale grads, pretentious and inexperienced. I was not impressed by any of them.

At that time in my life you wouldn’t have liked me. I made decisions in 1/5 of a second and expected the rest of the World to do the same. I was moody, suffered from depression and had a mean streak. I spent my nights surrounded by pimps, thugs, hookers and thieves – everybody lied. I didn’t trust anyone but other Cops.

I had sunk to the lowest point of my life.  Most have heard of Suicide by Cop, I was the reverse, I was a Cop looking for a shoot-out.  I searched to find someone to put me out of my misery.  I was first through the door, first to the bar fight, I quit wearing my bulletproof vest.

This was just before Christmas and like all good Cops I was working a second job for cash to give my kids a Christmas morning they would never forget.

I was sleep deprived and in a foul mood.

I put on my best Court suit (I owned 3 at that time) and tried to catch a nap in the car as my ex-wife drove us to the venue.

It was a stylish affair with a free bar filled with the best liquor. I took up a position near the door, with my back to the wall, and tried my best to avoid contact with anyone. I drank more than I should and watched.

In the very center of the room was a congregation of the pampered puppies. They were beginning careers with the fresh scent of their ivy league past hanging on them. I watched the loudest one as he hogged the conversation. I could just hear him bragging about his latest trip to Spain. I watched a chunky gold Rolex watch slip up and down his skinny wrist as he spoke. In that moment I realized that watch was worth more than my entire yearly pay and all the Christmas cash I was trying to raise for my kids. I bit my lip and growled under my breath.

The little Prick heard me and looked my way…

After he finished his vacation story he said to the other puppies, “Lets go talk to the Cop”.

They all approached and surrounded me. Their glasses clinking with ice and liquor. All with polished broad practiced fake smiles. My heart beat faster – Fight or Flight feelings rose up. I felt trapped and angry.

As they neared I leaned over and whispered into the ear of the Prick, “Don’t fuck with me”. He looked shocked but continued, “So Deputy Mike tell us what its like to be a Cop”.

I said loud enough for most in the room to hear me, “You want to know what its like to be a Cop do you? Well I’ll tell you what its like to be a Cop”.

For the first time I spoke of the child dying in my hands days before. As I told the story I drifted into a fog of reliving it. The words spilled from me. Instead of telling it like I’ve written earlier I told them of every broken bone, of every pool of blood, of the sounds, of everything I saw. I gave them the full gore version.

“AND that’s what it’s like to be a Cop”.

When I came back to the present children were crying and being dragged away from me by their mothers. The room then fell silent. Ex-wife looked at me with disgust. The party was over.

I stood up with clenched fists and looked at the Prick. “I told you not to fuck with me”, and I walked out of the room.

I was never invited back to another Christmas party

© 2015, Michael Fulcher. All rights reserved.

Suicide

Wednesday

I was working the afternoon shift in a marked patrol assignment. Once I had my cruiser loaded I called in service to Dispatch.

“Baker 12 copy a suicide in progress.”

Someone had called in and said a subject was threatening to kill himself. The caller related that the subject was in the water, at the boat launch, and had a knife to his wrist.

I go like a bat outta hell and arrive within minutes, having just a few miles to cover between the Station and the location. When I arrive I find the subject waist deep in the lake with a dull butter knife to his wrist. He starts telling me to back up or he was going to kill himself.

“What’s your name friend?”

“John”.

“John drop the knife and get out of the water. I can find help for you”.

John complied almost immediately and began apologizing for his behavior. I walked him back to his apartment talking with him along the way. Suicidal subjects can be dangerous but I didn’t sense that in him. He was just a skinny, wet frightened man. He was alone and confused.

On these types of calls our policy dictated that a team of Mental Health professionals be contacted. I called them and briefed them on the situation and they came out and interviewed John. After a couple of hours they decided that John’s threatened suicide was nothing more that a call for attention and  scheduled a follow up visit with him. Everyone agreed that John wasn’t a danger to himself or others and we all left.

Thursday

This was the Second time I was dispatched to John’s apartment – another suicide in progress call. John called Dispatch and said he was going to hang himself. Upon arrival (Single entry door into the common area of 4 apartments – 2 up 2 down) I see John at the top of the stair landing with a clothesline around his neck and the other end around the banister. I just walked up the stairs and cut the rope and took John back inside his apartment. Again I called the Mental Health pros and they again responded to the scene. After a few more hours of interview they again stated that John was not a danger to anyone and that he was only calling out for attention.

Saturday

This was the third time I was sent back to John’s on a suicide in progress within my work week. John was becoming a problem. Again John called it in himself, telling the Dispatcher that he was “Really gonna do it this time.” I didn’t run a signal and took my time getting there.

John was back in the water but now he had a sharper knife. It took me a little longer but I talked him into dropping the knife and coming out of the water. I took him back to his apartment and again called the Mental Health people.

This time the team decided they would not respond to the scene. The Psychiatrist  said, “Michael create a story that will impress upon John the potential consequences of his actions. Find some way to tell him that he may cause a greater harm”.

Hummmm…

I hang up the phone and started talking to John…

I act shaky and tense. “John you ain’t gonna believe what just about happened. I was running a signal to get here to help you and I almost ran over a little girl. She was playing at the entrance to your apartment complex and I didn’t see her rushing to get here. Man it was so close. My heart is still beating a mile a minute.”

“Here feel this”, and I placed his hand over my heart. Whatever he felt was in his mind as I was wearing a bulletproof vest.

While still holding his hand to my chest I looked him right in his eyes and said, “John, I almost killed that child and you would have been to blame. You’ve got to stop doing this.”

John’s eyes widened and for the first time I think he did realize the consequences of his actions. Tears stung his face and he was remorseful.

“I’m so sorry Deputy Mike, you don’t have to worry about me calling you guys anymore.”

Sunday

I got called back to John’s for the last time. A neighbor heard a gunshot. I got there quick and found the front door to John’s apartment slightly ajar. I think he left it that way for me.

I pushed the door open, gun in hand, and entered. I saw John in the living room sitting in a big recliner. He had placed a .45 caliber handgun under his chin and pulled the trigger.

What a mess…

NOTE: I felt a little funny for creating such a vivid image for John but this one doesn’t bother me. I tried my best to help but couldn’t.

Shit happens…

© 2015, Michael Fulcher. All rights reserved.

Peace

 

Some have gone to Hell and back to find themselves. I survived the journey and I’m stronger because of it. In this Place and Time I am the best Me I have ever been…

I write in the voice of who I was and not the person I am today. Many of you will feel empathy, sympathy and pain for my words. Try not to. Feel for the victims, their lives and deaths matter.

I am honored to have lived the intense life I have. I have defended those that couldn’t defend themselves. I stood shoulder to shoulder with my Brothers. People have risked their lives for me and I for them. I lived in a violent World where your reputation was everything. Truth mattered.

How many get a chance to live in this World?

My Definition of Peace

Mine is a “Peace of Mind” and not some numb disconnected thing. I did not find this Peace by sitting on a black cushion in some dark room making weird noises. I found it within me. I am a hillbilly Buddha having discovered my own enlightenment. I don’t want to be Tom Cruise or an NBA star. I love being me and being a part of the life I create around me.

I found my Peace in the Deserts and Mountains of Utah and Nevada years ago. Back then I lived wild with only my dogs. I avoided all human contact and rode into the backwater towns for supplies under the cover of darkness. I began to find ways to heal myself.

Everyday I stood in a steep walled canyon screaming “WHY” until I could scream no more and “WHY” didn’t matter.

I wrote everything I could remember that haunted me. The deaths, the bodies, the betrayals. The failures, the near misses, the luck, the survivor guilt. Every night I would burn it all and start over the next morning. I pounded my fists into the red dirt and howled into the night like the wounded Animal I was. I learned how to forget – how to forgive – how to find a place for my Memories. I was troubled by my past and found my own way through it. I learned to look inward to find what caused me to react to the World in the ways that I did.

For me it started with rage. When I had my career I had explosive fits of rage. The rage had a home in me and served me well in the fights but when the career was over I didn’t want to lose control of my mind anymore. I waited and watched. As a new rage would build in me I would do my best to sense every aspect of it. To smell, feel, taste it. To feel it building. Once I was familiar with the beginning of my Rage I waited for it and visualized putting a trash can lid over it. I tried and failed many, many times to stop it.

Then one day I was able to stop my rage. In that moment I was changed forever. For the first time in my life I felt the reins of my mind in my hands. I was in control and things have been better ever since. I have shared this technique with others who have been effected by PTSD and it has been helpful for some of them. I have not experienced an explosive fit of rage since that day. I learned to take control of other parts of my mind that I didn’t like to. Fewer things bothered me.

This is the Peace I speak of. A Peace of knowing oneself. Of being able to look inward and control what causes you pain or pleasure. To not be troubled, to know what makes you tick.

This is the Peace I’ve found

Michael of the Distant Mountains

© 2015, Michael Fulcher. All rights reserved.

Tomb of the unknown Child

I have mixed feeling about this post.  I feel that I might be disgracing the memory of this child by telling of her death.  But if some further good might come from it then should I post these words?

This is my Tomb of the Unknown Child.

A lifetime ago…


 
I was on the afternoon shift working 4 pm till midnight.  I had enough time on the job to be considered “Senior Deputy”.  After about 5 years you start to earn your pay, until then its all a learning curve.  I had a rookie with me, just fresh from the police academy.  I had seen his type before, a lifelong dream to be a Police Officer.  Bright eyed and bushy tailed and he didn’t know shit from Shine-ola.  Some make it but many don’t, always hard to predict the winners from the losers.  I thought picking a career path at 5 years old was akin to setting a trap in one‘s future, often hard to un-spring.

People should be careful what they wish for.  Before the shift would end this Recruit would be doubting his choice.

Fall in the Midwest can be and often is brutal.  This was one of those days.  A harsh freeze with blowing snow had jumped us.  Wind that bites, pockets of blinding white, every footstep squeaks like rusty nails being pulled from old wood.  Winter has arrived with the power and fury of a rock slide.  A lifeless day when no wild thing would move without reason.

The sky was grey blue as we loaded the cruiser.  I stowed my 12 gauge under the leading edge of the front seat.  I blip the siren and test the overhear light.  Two bulbs under a canopy of blue plastic make their slow rotation and that low whir-whir-whir sound as the rubber belt twisted its never ending course.  The take-down spots on either side lit our trunks as we transferred gear.  Finally I checked the medical kit, a green ammo box full of Korean War era bandages.  All neatly arranged (but slightly yellowing) grey boxes, each wrapped in crisp cellophane.  When opened you would find a white bandage wound as tight as a chunk of wood.  Cartoon images on the package told which bandage was for what injury. Government cost cutting run amuck.

“Lights, camera, action” I called out to the recruit, “Mount up little brother”.  Into the night, into the gathering storm, into another nightmare we drive.  Lives would be changed and lost.  Things would forever be different for all of us.  I can’t remember who I was before this day.

I knew that we were in for a shitload of accidents and I needed to serve a subpoena outside of my patrol area.  I cleared it with dispatch and headed for the address, which was in a rural farming community.  A small town that didn’t grow beyond it’s initial footprint in the slow twitch of the past 150 years.  A four corner town with mammoth oaks down both streets converging at the blinking yellow light.  A beer store and a couple of old Churches.  Two lanes of blacktop intersecting at 90 degree angles.  A checkerboard land split into squares by wire and post.  A flat place of cornfield stubble and harrow scars, tinged white by the snow swept out to the distant horizon.

The wind hissed against the wire.

We pull into our destination after a 30 minute ride.  The car door yanked against my hand as I opened it.  I tag the witness with the subpoena and jump back into the warmth of the always running cruiser.  I told the rookie to call us back in service and returning to our area of patrol.  As he did the dispatcher asked if we could check the status of an “unknown accident” not far from our location.

As I approach the yellow light intersection I expect to see mangled automobiles, as these sort of crossroads were notoriously bad for T Bone crashes and they always spread out like a hillbilly yard sale.  Instead I find nothing.  I’m just about to grab the mike and tell dispatch the call was unfounded when I noticed lumps in the road.  I turn the car and my headlights lit this stage of horror.

“Those are people” I scream at the now wider eyed and more confused rookie.

“Fuck“, I say to nobody in particular.  I can see a car up ahead, on the right shoulder, beyond the carnage.  I thumb the trunk release and grab the medical kit and yell at the rookie to re-position the patrol car to close the road, start popping flares and get us some firefighters or EMT out here pronto.

I would again like to point out that I have all the respect in the world for the emergency medical personnel who experience these situations on a daily basis.  I have no idea how they do it.  I worked in a city and could rely on a quick response from either the fire department or ambulance, or better described, people with medical training that far outweighed mine.

That would not be the case this night.  As our situation worsened so did the weather and road conditions.  The radio called out a cascade of bad accidents with confirmed injuries.  Dispatch had even pulled the Sergeant out of the office to handle calls.

I hear the rookie call for help and by then we both knew we had serious injuries.  I was about to find out how bad.

I can remember the finest detail of the next few moments of my life and the ending of another.  This is a memory that will never leave me.  At times it is almost visible, like a scar.  I have learned to live with it.  It is part of me.

The rotating blue beacon froze falling snow in time and space like jewels in the dimming light.  I start to take notice of a woman screaming.  The screams come from the car on the side of the road.  I can just see her rocking back and forth behind the wheel.  She is screaming, not words but something more like the sounds of a wounded animal, all throaty and dark, guttural.  Her screams are muffled by the windows that slowly fog over.  A crimson red spider web spreads out from the center of the windshield.

Groans and moans, more animal sounds at my feet.

The father is conscious but completely overtaken by shock.  He has suffered an exposed compound fracture of his femur, or upper leg bone.  I’m surprised as there is little bleeding.  I know that shock has removed his ability to feel the pain.  He drags himself on the ground, like a dog that had been hit.  I looked at my med kit and this injured human and thought, I haven’t got anything in here that will fix that, and walked towards the next victim.

I took a quick look over my shoulder and noted the rookie was back in the cruiser.  I think he was suddenly re-evaluating his career choice.

Hello Mom.  This family had been crossing the street together when they were struck by the screaming woman.  Mom was lucky, she lost her arm, mangled at the elbow.  I do have a bandage for that but she isn’t bleeding too bad either and I’ve got another victim that isn’t moving.  Sorry Mom, gotta go.

“Oh no, little princess” I mumble.  This final victim is a little girl child about the age of my daughter.  I don’t know her name but I have thought of her every day for 20 years now.  She was dressed for Church but now sprawled on the frozen asphalt, a marionette puppet with her strings cut, bright white against the swirling darkness of the road.  I knelt beside her and listened to her breathing, guppy breaths, I know she is hurt bad.  I scoop her head off the ground with my hand and feel broken skull.  I breathed into this child and begged her to live.  I screamed at her to breathe.  I wish I was anywhere but here.  Please live beautiful child.

After what seemed like hours I hear the wail of the approaching fire truck.  I check this child for signs of life.  The guppy breaths are gone.  Her eyes are black pools of emptiness.  I know she died in my hands.  I have failed.  The woman still screams in the distance, I feel like joining her.

A firefighter took over for me.  I stumbled towards the ditch and toss my medical kit down the slope.  I sat on the edge and fished out a Marlboro and lighter.  At that time I smoked 3 packs a day, if it wasn’t bowling night.  Try as I might I couldn’t get my Bic to flick.  I look down and see a blood soaked cigarette and lighter in my hands.  I laugh and drop them both.  Behind me and around me was all the help I could use.  I was trying to muster the strength to stand when a State Trooper tapped me on the shoulder, “You alright Bro” he asked.  I shook my head and said, “No”.  He said, “I’ll take this case, go home”.

This friend of mine and fellow officer relieved me from this nightmare, I still owe him for that.  I drove the rookie to the station and radioed the Sergeant that I was going 10-7 (out of service).  He didn’t ask any questions.  I didn’t have any answers.

NOTE: I don’t write these vignettes of my experiences to gain your sympathy or praise. I write, this was my life, if I worked for the Circus I‘m sure it would be lighter fare. Feel compassion for these victims, these destroyed families. I was paid well for the job and always knew what I might have to do.

I couldn’t imagine being anything but the Police after I discovered life inside the tape.

I have no regrets.

Rat734

 


© 2015, Michael Fulcher. All rights reserved.