Blauer - Tactical Clothing & Equipment

"Provolone" - By Lt. Tim Cotton

The old man would never accept a sandwich. He would just turn his nose up and walk away. He had no interest in speaking to the cop. While their conversations were short and not very friendly, the cop felt that he should keep trying. Sometimes the old man might say hello, some nights he would just stare. 

He would never accept food. The cop had offered repeatedly for weeks. The man’s sneakers had duct tape wrapped around the toes to keep them from becoming flip-flops. If he wouldn’t take a sandwich he certainly wouldn’t take a pair of shoes. 

The cop drove down Water Street and wheeled over to the waterfront. It was 0233hrs. He opened the sandwich that he had picked up at 2100hrs. The oil had soaked into the roll and made eating a slippery prospect. The rectangular white cheese was not Provolone. Provolone is not rectangular. No cheese should be rectangular. He always asked for Provolone and he never got it. 

The good news was that his necktie (which was good for exactly nothing) caught the cheese before it landed on his shirt. The coating of oil allowed it to slide halfway down the black polyester choking device. His tie-bar stopped the cheese (if it was cheese) dead in it’s tracks.

He pulled off the clip-on. The cheese adhered nicely. He shook it out the open window and the cheese came off. He pulled the tie back inside and threw it in his duty bag. Sgt. Stuart would probably not even notice. If the cop stayed out of the station like he was supposed to, he wouldn’t see Stuart until he went in to finish up paperwork around 0515. By 0515, Stuart wouldn't be wearing his tie either. 

The tide in the Penobscot river was going out. Some folks were in their boats down on the city dock. He could hear a few boisterous voices now and then, but as he sat quietly finishing the sandwich, the voices from the boats became softer. The lights went out. They must be out of beer he thought to himself. 

WKIT was playing the Rolling Stones. This was a good sign. “Beast of Burden” reminded him of his time when he was raking blueberries in high school and college. Those were long hot summers. Tonight his biggest problem was no Provolone. It had been slow, no calls, no drunk drivers. Just an old man that still wouldn’t take a sandwich. 

He pulled a Granny Smith apple from his duty bag. He snagged the last two on the way out the door tonight on the way to roll call. Naturally, this one was bruised. It was too dark inside the car to notice the brown spots. Whatever.

He put it in gear and took a drive back toward Pickering Square. People were clearing out. Two characters were playing hacky sack near the fountain. One obviously inebriated traveler was sitting on a bench. And there, leaning on a tiny decorative maple tree, stood the old man with the duct tape on his shoes. 

He slow-rolled to a stop as close as he dared. The old man looked away. The cop thought to himself that the man must live nearby. The core of the apple was all he had left in his hand. He turned down the radio and put it in park. He got out of the car to throw the core away in the overflowing trash can. It landed on top. 

The old man watched him as he walked back to the car. He adjusted his duty belt and made a decision to eat more apples and fewer crappy sandwiches. As he got back in his car the old man said, “I like apples.” He got in and shut the door. He was lost for words for a moment. He reached his right hand over the computer monitor and into the duty-bag and pulled out the second Granny Smith. He transferred it to his left hand and held it up, “You are in luck.” He held it out the window.

The old man covered the fifteen feet at a fairly quick pace. The duct tape held. He gingerly took the apple out of the cop’s hand and moved his lips into what appeared to be smile. Even though there were very few teeth involved, it was obvious the man was pleased.

The cop put it in drive and checked the computer monitor. Still no calls for service. He looked back at the man who had returned to the small decorative maple. He had placed the apple in his pocket and was leaning again. The old man yelled out, “Looks like a piece of cheese on your door.” The cop smiled and hollered back, "That's not cheese!" 

He pulled out onto Washington Street as the Doobies sang "Black Water." He headed to the car wash at Motor Pool. 

For the first time in weeks he was glad they forgot the Provolone. 

Keep your hands to yourself, leave other people’s things alone, and be kind to one another.

TC ( 

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