Tuesday, December 30, 2014




(Tuesday December 30, 2014, NYC)  Cops are accustomed to walking fine lines.  The hierarchical structure of the NYPD itself as a civil service Law Enforcement Agency with a well-defined chain of command and control provides the regimentation required to have a 34,000 member force function effectively and efficiently. The NYPD is steeped in tradition and a rich, proud history and in good times and bad the men and women of the Police Department perform their assigned tasks in accordance with the laws that govern the USA, the State of New York, and The City itself.  To many it can be seen as an insular, self-protecting fraternity and, like many large entities both public and private, in some ways it is just that.  While the public presence of the Members of Service (MOS) is highly visible throughout the Five Boroughs, some of its customs and codes are familiar only to the MOS.  There is an internal cohesiveness of the type required among men and women whose lives often can depend on their coworkers. 

In the latest maelstrom with Law Enforcement as a whole and the NYPD in particular convulsing through the country and NYC, it has been interesting to follow the coverage of events in the local media.  Lately every half-assed scribe, hack reporter, and TV talking head most with little or no actual experience or knowledge of the NYPD is suddenly an expert on policing, the NYPD, and the codes and customs, written and unwritten, of the MOS. Some of the trash that has been printed in the papers and spoken on the airwaves has been disingenuous at best, derisive, divisive, and inflammatory at worst.  Those who have written and spoken so callously with the feigned air of the “experts” have generally made matters worse.  Like it or not the media often helps shape public opinion and defines the lines of the debate.  These people given the size of the audiences they can reach are quick to point the finger at the NYPD for being “irresponsible” and “disgracefully disrespectful” towards Mayor Bill de Blasio after two Officers were assassinated in Brooklyn on the Saturday before Christmas are themselves atop the pinnacle of irresponsibility and disrespectfulness.  They fail to recognize, or chose not to see, some of the most relevant facts regarding the relationship between the MOS of the NYPD and the de Blasio administration and the Mayor himself who has done more to widen the already deep rift that has torn the relationship between City Hall and One Police Plaza apart.  One would be hard pressed to find a time in the past anywhere approaching the level of estrangement between a Mayor and the PD.

It did not have to be this way; the NYPD did not pick this fight, so to speak but as the first waves emanating out of Ferguson Missouri began to break on our shores, Mayor de Blasio did as much as any one person could to promulgate and exploit the racial divisions that the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson could do.  And, as the Mayor of the largest city in the USA, also, by the way, the “Safest Big City” in the country thanks to the efforts of the NYPD over the last 20 years, his words echoed from coast to coast.  And time and again he chose his words with little thought often speaking in terms that painted the NYPD as a reckless street gang of brutal racist thugs who young Black men need to fear.  He shamelessly made these points using his own biracial teenage son as one of the legions of Black youth that have to be taught how to interact with the police if they are ever stopped for any reason.  One might think that the Mayor of the largest, safest City in America that is also the most diverse and has the most diverse PD of any in the land would be possessed of better political acumen but obviously he lacks that skill.  His mayoral candidacy was based largely on an anti-Police platform employing so many of the “dog whistle catch phrases” he and his advisers were sure would reach their intended constituents.  And they did.  But like so many other ambitious, spineless, self-serving, politicians before him he learned quickly that being the Mayor of the City of New York is infinitely more challenging and complex than being a mere candidate in a pool of no-name lightweights.

As the first Commissioner of the NYPD and future President of the United States, Teddy Roosevelt once remarked, it is far easier to be a critic instead of being in the arena, engaged in the fight.  Rather than step boldly into the arena as Mayor, Bill de Blasio remained in perpetual “campaign mode” never missing an opportunity to at least verbally pacify his unruly, clamoring, “broad coalition” of New Yorkers who vaulted him to victory.  When he reached back in time and appointed Bill Bratton as his NYPD Commissioner it was likely with a sense of nostalgia and a political nod to his experience.  Bratton had been the Commissioner in the first term of Rudy Giuliani’s administration and was a very effective, innovative leader who began the concerted efforts to reclaim Our City from the staggering crime rates and poor quality of life that had come to define huge swathes of the Boroughs.  But twenty years has changed Bratton just as we all have changed to some degree over two decades of living, learning, and experiences.  The Bratton of 2014 is nowhere near the Bratton of 1994 and that became painfully obvious almost from his first days on the job.

The highly anticipated “summit meeting” tomorrow with the Mayor and the presidents of the three major Police unions is not expected to yield any results towards repairing the rift.  It would be a start if at least, privately, de Blasio apologized for some of his most egregious anti-NYPD rhetoric but that is not likely to happen.  Some in the media claim that the recent protests against the Mayor by MOS of the NYPD are “union” activity and that the unions are “over-playing their hands”.  This could not be further from the truth.  Turning their backs towards a Mayor who has not supported them is a respectfully silent statement.  The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association (PBA), Sergeants Benevolent Association (SBA), and he Detectives Endowment Association (DEA), the “Big Three” of the Police unions have not encouraged their membership to conduct themselves in any way that might be perceived as a “work slowdown” or “job action”. Such activity would come dangerously close to violating the Taylor Law, the New York City legislation enacted in 1967 that prohibits any job actions and particularly a strike of the MOS of a “vital civil service” and was aimed specifically when written, at the NYPD.  But that was another time, in another City and the NYPD has never violated the Taylor Law and absolutely no one is suggesting doing so now. Columnists such as the NY Daily News’ Pete Hamill has written many untruths about the current crisis, the NYPD and his views , which he is as entitled to as he is air to breath, are wrong and his opinions simpleminded, idiotic, and misinformed.  But he has the potential to reach a broad readership and he should be more professional in his pontificating and bloviating.  He is but one of a host of media “professionals” who have either inaccurately reported events and/or provided unsound and often unfounded commentary.  But there is not a Cop that has ever expected a “fair shake” from the press or TV media; they are constantly being accused of some grievous wrongs, brutality, racism, and various other “charges” that serve merely to illustrate how little they really know about our City, the NYPD, and life on the streets.

Tomorrow night the NYPD will be out in full force performing a monumental task that they have down to a science.  They will use their tried and true tactics, perhaps as much of an art as a science, and will in a organized manner usher in upwards of one million people into Times Square and the surrounding blocks who’ve come to see in the New Year at this most famous crossroads in America.  Crowd control is one task the NYPD does exceptionally well and has set the standards other large cities have always tried to emulate.  The uniformed Police presence will be extremely visible but there will also be hundreds of other “plain clothes Cops” from a variety of Commands, Squads and Units on site to assure the safety and security of the reveling throngs.  From the Emergency Services Unit (ESU) to the Counter Terrorism Unit, the Police will be on guard for threats of any and every kind in addition to managing a literal sea of humanity.  There will be thousands of tourists from across the country and around the world in Times Square tomorrow night and none need worry about their safety.  Some visitors may not even be aware of the current crisis we are experiencing and, like many others, they usually want to shake hands with Cops and wish them well. For a few hours every year, the last hours of every year, people are grateful and appreciative towards the Cops and that does mean something; it always has.

Copyright The Brooding Cynyx 2014 © All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, December 23, 2014











(Tuesday, December 23, 2014, NYC) A cursory review of armed and unarmed conflict amply documents the observation of a temporary cease fire or brief truce at times of religious days of significance and sometimes merely to bestow dignity to those lost on the battle field by having their bodies retreived for proper burial.  There exists something so profoundly humane in an agreed upon and honored cease fire for these purposes that it speaks more about the combatants and some of the earliest unwritten rules that govern wartime conflict. 

What is transpiring currently in New York City is by no means a “war”, or anywhere yet near an “armed conflict” or anything close to it but, it was not an unreasonable thought as of earlier today to think in the wake of the assassination of two NYPD Officers that both sides of the raging dispute that has been racking our City for weeks,there would be found common cause based in human decency to cease and desist in the increasingly hostile protests, demonstrations and rallies pitting the aggrieved protestors, now largely an anti-Cop movement, and those who still must conduct their duties as Police Officers despite the escalation of the confrontations and rhetoric that comes more from the gutter than from any core belief.  If for no other reason at all we have to bury our dead and this sacred Last Rite has been a time honored reason for a temporary truce.

Perhaps it was just a naive’ hope; a wish based not in reality but in the thought that some of the vile, vitriolic rhetoric would become muted at least until after two families are able to bury their dead but that seems not to be the case.   Since the brutal, cowardly assassination of two NYPD Officers as they sat in their RMP eating lunch, it was only fitting to think that there would be a break, a “cease-fire” if you will, between the Police and the anti-Police movement but, sadly, that is not the case.  Now that some of the most strident and boisterous of the “Black Lives Matter” and “Justice for Michael Brown and Eric Garner” campaigns have received death threats they are fumbling and shaking in their shoes trying to get the violent genie they unleashed back into the bottle.  That simply will not happen.  Blood has been spilled; blood of two Police Officers completely unrelated to the precipitating events that prompted demonstrations and protests in cities and college campuses across the country for the better part of the last five weeks.

Yes, we were determined to take the high road out of respect for Officers Lui and Ramos; we thought these days were not the proper time to engage in the fray or participate negatively but the total lack of respect by the Mayor and some of his closest advisers has changed our mind and given us reason to have a voice no matter how small it is in the cacophonous din of today and throughout the last few weeks.  It is relatively easy to allow the nasty venomous shit spewed from the protestors mouths to just wash off our shoulders; it is quite another when the Mayor of the City that employs you and some of his most visible and vocal “out in front” emissaries from the Black and Latino communities, many who are elected municipal officials, are taking airtime on TV to blame and blemish the men and women of the NYPD and to belittle the Service and Sacrifices everyone in the Department assumes as part of the Job.

Our City has seen its share of inept, incompetent Mayors in the not too distance past.  But one has to travel back to the NYC of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s to find a time when there was a such a serious rift between City Hall and One Police Plaza.  Today that rift is as wide and deep as it has ever been.  Mayor de Blasio has so alienated, disrespected and insulted the NYPD, that he essentially has lost the entire rank and file of the Department.  They do not want him to attend their funeral if they are killed in the line of duty. It was a powerful and extremely disturbing sight to see the dozens of Cops assembled at Woodhull Medical Center where Officers Ramos and Lui were pronounced dead as de Blasio made his way through that gauntlet of Blue of the gathered Police Officers as in unison they turned their backs toward him; a dramatic and stunning silent statement that speaks volumes about the depth of the estrangement between the men and women of the NYPD and the Mayor of New York City.


When then mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio pulled ahead of the field of contenders in last year’s primary, some analysts suggested that it was partially due to an avalanche of TV commercials featuring the bi-racial de Blasio family.  De Blasio really hit his stride when he began to knock the NYPD under the Direction of then Commissioner Ray Kelly and the assertion that Mayor Bloomberg was only a “Manhattan Mayor” who cared little for the struggling middle and lower class working families who were increasingly being forced out of affordable housing due to the gentrification and rebirth of some neighborhoods in the Outer Boroughs in particular.  Candidate de Blasio was merciless in his attacks on Bloomberg and Kelly and he used the “color-coded” hot button phrase, “Stop and Frisk” to excoriate the policy and those who were responsible for it.  The policy from a Departmental standpoint was officially “Stop, Question and Frisk” (SQF).  It was an effective policy and many New Yorkers in the poorest neighborhoods, in the highest crime Precincts came to applaud the increased presence of the NYPD in those areas as well as the SQF tactic.  And, as a result of some clever politicking de Blasio not only shot to the top of the pack but also assembled a “broad coalition” of members of some of the “lesser served” communities.  But this is all just so much history.  The point here is that de Blasio was already revealing some of his deeply held (or conveniently acquired) ideas of what the NYPD should and should not be doing.  Having a mayoral candidate express disdain for Cops while on the campaign trail, and to dismiss their proven strategies and tactics, was an ominous sign to many.   By the time candidate de Blasio became Mayor-elect de Blasio the seeds of future animosity between his ideas and proposals and the NYPD was cemented.


It didn’t take very long before more and more New Yorkers began expressing misgivings about their chosen candidate, now the sworn-in Mayor. His inaugural address was a cleaned up and tailored summary of his campaign rhetoric which did not bode well for the NYPD.  His appointment of Bill Bratton as NYPD Commissioner was seen by some as a positive development but left many in the ranks wondering why Bratton, who had previously held that position during the first term of Rudy Giuliani’s administration, would accept that position twenty years after he left NYC and especially chose to serve under a Mayor who was as anti-Police as any in recent memory.  Even the bungling David Dinkins was not openly disrespectful or overtly critical towards the NYPD until late in his administration.  No, de Blasio was an entirely different political animal who saw his landslide victory as a “people’s mandate”.   His announced first executive action was to be a moratorium on what he called “Stop and Frisk”, a derisively shortened misrepresentation of the official policy of “Stop, Question and Frisk”. Commissioner Bratton tried to paint a different picture over the reality of de Blasio’s intentions in this matter but, he is after all, serving in the position of the second most powerful man in NYC at the pleasure of his honor, the Mayor, and had to defer to his boss.  Bratton had at that juncture lost faith with many who were familiar with him from his first tenure in 1PP.  


There was likely not one New Yorker in a million that had ever heard of Ferguson Missouri or find it on a map prior to last Summer.  That gritty suburb of St. Louis was suddenly thrust onto the world stage in August after a White Ferguson Police Officer, Darren Wilson, shot and killed an unarmed young Black man, Michael Brown.  The ill-prepared Ferguson PD had to act promptly as nightly demonstrations after Brown’s death drew larger and more violent crowds.  Fires were set, local businesses burned to the ground as anonymous groups of looters had their way.  The situation escalated to such a fever pitch that the President of the United States actually sent the Attorney General, the highest Law Enforcement Official in the country to Ferguson to assure the protestors – peaceful and unpeaceful alike – that “justice” would be served. When the Grand Jury in St. Louis County presented a “non indict” decision for Officer Wilson, the protestors once again took to the streets even more hostile and aggressive than before.

And then, just weeks later, comes the death at the hands of the Police of Eric Garner, a well-known petty crook in Staten Island.  His confrontation with the Police was partially captured on video and Garner could be heard while on the ground repeatedly saying “I can’t breath”.  A Staten Island Grand Jury just like their counterparts in St. Louis County, delivered a “non-indict” decision for the Officers involved.   These two events merged and galvanized what became a nationwide “movement”  loosely united in their charter chants of “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot”, “Black Lives Matter”, and “I Can’t Breath”, all expressions born of the details in the Brown and Garner deaths.  Here in NYC the marchers, some groups of which tied up traffic at key arteries across the City were, for the most part, not violent,but soon began attracting a far more aggressive, militant element often leading “die-ins” and chanting, “What do we want? Dead Cops!, When do we want it? Now”.  When thousands of younger and working class New Yorkers take up a rallying cry seeking “Dead Cops”, this is a sign that social order is beginning to waver no matter how half-halfheartedly or legitimate the threat to Police Officers.

The Intelligence Bureau of the NYPD has a Unit that follows social media and monitors in “real time” surveillance footage from the over 24,000 closed circuit cameras they have at fixed sites across the City.  They began seeing the emergence of an increasing number of Facebook pages, Instagram and Twitter accounts with overt “death to the Police” rhetoric as well as some individuals boldly posting their intent to kill Cops.  With each passing day it seemed as if that dark underside of social media was growing and urging more and more like-minded people to take up the cause of killing Cops.  Such threats cannot be ignored by the NYPD nor should they be.  Even if 99% of those posting such criminal murderous intent are just “key board cowboys” spewing vitriol behind the safety of the anonymity of cyber space, that other 1% represent a clear and present danger and must be taken seriously.


Words matter, language counts.  Not every set of ears that hears the same hyperbolic rhetoric hears the same message.  That is human nature; we can easily pluck from an ocean of talk those phrases and concepts which most comport with and support our own personal ideology.  The speaker of any words also matters.  If a man claiming to be anointed as a reverend, a Man of God, naturally the faithful in his denomination will hear in his words what others not so similarly inclined might hear.  Any individual in a position to speak to a wide audience has a responsibility and needs to be held accountable for actions motivated by his or her speech.  The spoken word and the neural capacity that makes it possible and distinguishes humans from the rest of the creatures of the earth, is a powerful tool. Words expressing various thoughts, directed to a certain audience with an intentionality towards incitement, ought not be dismissed as just so many words. 

And there was certainly no dearth of words after the Brown and Garner tragedies.  From every quarter on talk radio and the cable TV “newsertainment” networks words spilled out from pundits and politicians alike, from self-proclaimed community activists, African American advocates, Law Enforcement spokespeople and something akin to a carnival freak show of belligerents on both sides.  Talk is talk; rhetoric is rhetoric until it crosses a line.  Lines were crossed and instead of dialing back on some of the most racially charged commentary, the “debate”, as it was, continued unabated.  In retrospect we can see all too late what the eventual outcome was from the incendiary face-off between the anti-Police movement and the Law Enforcement community.  Sadly, it reached its ultimate nadir last Saturday when a man from a Baltimore suburb got on a bus heading for the Port Authority terminal on 42nd and 8th Avenue with the intention of “giving two pigs wings”.  Within three hours of 28 year old, life long criminal Ismaaiyl Brinsley’s arrival in NYC, he shot dead two Officers as they sat in their RMP eating a mid-afternoon lunch. The cowardly perpetrator driven by the inflammatory rhetoric and pre-existing “mental health issues” took his own life as Police Officers closed in on him at a subway station just a few block from the scene of his bloody, cold-blooded handiwork.  Yes, words absolutely mean something and coded, “dog whistle” phraseology delivered by some of the most rabid race baiters, can and did result in death.  


Despite the expressed existence of a cease fire the NYPD family will bury two of our own in the next few days.  The fact that this is Christmas week. a time typically celebrated and enjoyed in the company of family and friends, we have the sacred duty to send our Brothers off in a dignified, honorable, and respectful manner that is an absolute of the pact we share with each other.  Many New Yorkers will awaken tomorrow morning and spend the day with their children, open presents, and share a traditional meal.  The NYPD has traditions of its own that must be represented and observed as well.

Some claim that a lone madman took the lives of Officers Lui and Ramos; others ascribe his heinous actions to untreated mental illness.  Regardless of his mental state or motive his actions have sealed his fate forever in the minds and conscience of every man or woman who has ever, is still wearing or might wear in the future the NYPD Blue and enforce the laws in our City.  They each take an oath but there is a far more transcendent oath between members of that Blue Community; a piece of each of our souls dies off whenever one of our Brothers or Sisters is killed in the line of duty and it is for them and all the others killed before that we uphold the traditions that are ours.





Copyright The Brooding Cynyx 2014 © All Rights Reserved

Friday, December 19, 2014








(Friday, December 19, 2014, NYC)  He had had his nights.  Times when the world seemed to be at a hazardous kilter that was making him dizzy.  His thoughts would race on those nights and like the repetitive bursts of the same songs as the scan mode went through the stations on a car radio; his mind scanned through his memories and kept revealing the same handful of scenarios over and over again until they became one cohesive block. It was a bit unnerving that in that vast ocean of his past that he would always come back to that handful of moments, moments frozen in time where he perpetrated an error of commission or omission. Yes, he had had his nights; sometimes, after a 12 to 8 tour as the rest of the City was going about on their way to work he would find himself in the lonely shadows of a Blarney Stone or some other shithole tavern that actually did a brisk business at that time of day.  People who sit on bar stools at 8:30 in the morning see the world outside differently.  That was fine.  There were few people who could see the world the way he did and, even those who occasionally did, were rarely up for a few shots of Jameson’s  before the morning rush hour was even over.  So, he drank alone.

He was a good drinker, a good bar customer.  He sat alone at the farthest corner of the bar so his back was against a wall: laid out his cash, placed his cigarettes and lighter to one side of an ashtray, read the paper, did a crossword puzzle and bothered no one.  And no one bothered him.  Of course those were the days before the Imperial Mayor had swept into City Hall and began to regulate the habits of New Yorkers.  Fucker.  There was no small irony lost in that the City had become the safest large City in the country, the number one destination for foreign travelers, very business friendly, and clean thanks to the efforts of Bloomberg’s predecessor and the NYPD.  Things were running so smoothly that he had time to dream up all sorts of “quality of life” ordinances and initiatives.  Rudy Giuliani had inherited one God-awful mess after the abysmally inept David Dinkins and during his two terms things, the things that really matter, turned around.  He had been proud to be part of the PD when that tectonic shift occurred.

But on this particular morning he wasn’t thinking much about anything or anyone besides himself.  Typically, when he got in one of these moods, he could identify the precipitating event.  On this morning which was shaping up to be sunny and clear as far as he could tell, he wasn’t sure why he was sitting where he was. Clearly something triggered this mood; some scene or words exchanged with a mope; something was eating at him like the itch in a phantom limb that an amputee can never scratch.  Some cluster of nerve endings in his un- or subconscious mind was twitching.  Not caring at the moment for some introspection he let the warmth of the smooth Irish whiskey  to gradually round the edges in his mind.  It usually did.  For some reason on this morning he couldn’t identify the singular event or encounter that was troubling him and, after a few more Jameson’s he realized it was not a single event or scenario; it was the cumulative effect of the countless jobs, situations, scenarios, crisis, disorder; of witnessing year after year the callousness of people, the petty, trivial things they will kill over, kill for, deliver violence and brutality of an epic scale upon those least able to defend themselves.  Yes, it was always the children; the children are what could make his blood boil and heart ache.

*****     *****     *****

Suddenly, without recognizing him at first, an old friend came and sat next to him.  He was familiar with this specter, this mindset that conjured up what he’d long referred to as “the option”.  The option had traveled through life with him since his early teen years.  For a very long time, most of his lifetime actually, he could and would not speak to another about the option.  To do so might get him a permanent appointment with a Department psychiatrist or even worse some bleeding heart liberal psychologist the Department had on retainer would have him reassigned to "Thee Bow and Arrow Squad".  So he kept his option a secret; he protected his secret from anyone who might disparage it or otherwise imply he suffered from some sort of mental illness. After all, who besides a deeply disturbed man would ever even consider such an option?  But he found an odd sense of comfort in owning the option. His thinking in this regard was akin to that of an agoraphobic; a person who always had to have an escape route planned just in case…just in case of what?  Just in case of a panic attack or some other sense of being confined or impending doom. No but he held on to his option for similar reasons; if he ever decided it was time to exit, he could take himself out. Death via his service piece or one of his other fire arms was literally an arm's length away.  If he ever arrived at the point where his ambivalence towards life became a hazard for others, he’d be close to a proverbial door and simply slip out.  Yes, he found comfort in the option.

*****     *****     *****

Given the estrangement that has set in like a tenacious virus between the NYPD and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration, one is left to wonder if the Mayor has reached out to the family of the 33 year old, father of two, 10 year veteran Police Officer Sachin Singh who killed himself yesterday.  Sadly, this tragic story has not been covered in the media aside from a short blurb in the Daily News.  Suicide retains its age old distinction as a taboo, an unnatural act committed by a mind housed in a body that is completely constructed to cling to life.  Human biology is fundamentally, when taken in total, all about survival.  While we are composed of “selfish genes” determined to thrive, it is in the dark recesses of the soul, the shadowy nether regions of the mind that suicide lurks.  Like toxic mushrooms suicide grows in the damp shaded underbrush of a spirit that sees no light.  But it is a spore that does not take root in everyone’s mind; it simply doesn’t register with most people as an option for anything and therefore it is a closely held secret by those who’ve allowed it to flourish.

As a rule the NYPD does not call attention to the suicide of one of their own.  They keep very quiet about it as they instinctively, collectively circle the wagons knowing that every detail of the suicide’s life is going to be scrutinized by the Internal Affairs Division (IAD).  They will look into his bank accounts; speak with his colleagues, family, neighbors and friends looking for something untoward in the Officer’s life that they can explain the suicide away.  This is some of the nasty, disrespectful fallout that ensues after a Cop’s suicide.  In the locker room of the Precinct the suicide was assignation to the other Cops would scour their memories of the last interaction, the last conversation each of them had had with the deceased.  Some would wonder if they had missed some warning sign, some change in demeanor or personality that may have, could have been a red flag that something was not quite right with their colleague.  This line of thought occurs quite naturally after every suicide be the deceased a Cop or civilian.  Suicide just seems so far beyond most others comprehension that they need to know why; why did this happen and could I have done anything, anything at all to prevent it?  Rarely are such questions ever answered.  Death by suicide typically leaves more unknown than known.  The answers are held by the suicide into the grave.

*****     *****     *****

The bar he found himself in on this morning was called the Molly Wee.  It was on 8th Avenue and 30th Street just a  block south of Penn Station and Madison Square Garden.  His Dad had always called this bar and others of its ilk a “bucket of blood”.  But, now, there was no crowd from a Knicks or Rangers game, no college revelers doing shots of weird concoctions after a big concert at the Garden.  No, for these hours this was a hard-core drinker’s bar.  Despite the Irish name the only thing Irish about this tavern were the bottles of Jameson and Bushmills on the top shelf of the back bar.  Since the long dirty window faced west as the rush hour gave way to mid-morning the bar was graced by bright sunlight that illuminated the gauzy cloud of cigarette smoke that hung in a slow moving layer like some indoor vapor trail just above the old wooden bar.

Without realizing it the bar had begun to fill up a bit.  A few old grizzled Irish pensioners, likely retired  longshoremen and stevedores, talking quietly and smoking cheap cigars; a few Latino guys with the logo of an office cleaning service on their shirts, a hooker of indeterminate age slumped on the stool nearest the door with the tell-tale track marks on her arm of a heroin addict, and a couple of big firemen from the Engine 1, Ladder 24 House on 31st Street between 7th and 8th Avenues.  They nodded at him and raised their glasses and he in return raised his.  He recognized them from the days he spent working in Midtown South.  He liked fireman for a number of reasons and was just a bit envious of the public appreciation they received, and rightfully so;  he wished the public had some modicum of appreciation for his Department and the men and women who served on the front line between civil society and chaos.  But, shit, what the fuck, he thought.  Everyone has a role to play; everyone made a choice many years ago and that was that.

For a moment he lost sight of the option and wondered if he’d slipped out the back door between the restrooms and a storage closet.  In that moment he found a wave of relief wash over him because frankly, he knew he was just not up to dealing with the option today.  It was often a draining experience to spend time with the option; sometimes terrifying, at other times tranquilizing.  The dichotomy inherent in this relationship was not lost in him but, long ago he’d ceased analyzing his relationship with the option.  They knew each other well enough to know when to poke and prod and when to back off, to just let life unfold in its all too messy and random ways.

*****     *****     *****

The first suicide victim he had ever seen was a 66 year old man, a divorced retired military officer who was at the time the director of security for a big building in Midtown.  This fella, possessed of whatever personal mayhem that raged on that night in his mind, sat on the lid of the toilet and placed a .45 caliber sidearm in his mouth and pulled the trigger. His neighbors had heard the shot; a .45 is a big, heavy, loud gun and they had phoned 911.  He and his partner arrived only to see what was left of this man’s cranium precariously balanced on his facial bones while the rest of his skull and brains were plastered to the wall in chunks and clumps behind the poor fucker.  It was during the hours it took for the Medical Examiner’s crew to arrive that he spent time looking at this man with half a head on his shoulders.  What possessed him to do this?  How much balls does it take to commit suicide in such a brutal, sloppy manner?  Was there a note left behind that might explain why he did this?  Who was his legal next of kin and have they been contacted?  Once a person expires from whatever the cause a well-worn, efficient mechanism is set in motion by the NYPD on the scene and the ME’s Office. The victim’s family is contacted if there is any lead as to who they might be. It is not unusual to trace a dead end seeking the next of kin of a suicide.  Had they had better relations, more contact and communication, perhaps the suicide would never have happened. He was probably some one's grandpa. This is a common thought that every Cop whose ever had to "secure" such a crime scene wonders about.

The process can be perceived as a cold, callous,and intrusively obscene as a  routine by the next of kin but, every such incident is first assumed to be a homicide and is handled as such.  In this particular case it did not take very long, merely a matter of hours, to determine that this man had indeed taken his own life.  To this very day he could see that man’s final facial expression.  He looked to be oddly at peace. 

*****     *****     *****

It was nearing noon as he walked back to the men’s room that reeked of piss, disgust, and Lysol. As he stood there relieving himself he could not help but to read the graffiti on the wall in front of him and the metal partition to his left.  It was mostly the typical barroom shit, the names of unknown women who had committed unknown transgressions by the guy who carved some insult in the paint maybe with his apartment key.  There was something sad in all these emotional, bile-driven epithets and he was left to wonder anew about his own past, the women who had come in and out of his own life and, at some point in their relationship, had realized it was in their best interest to leave him to his own devices, to not ask to be introduced to his demons, and, above all, he’d guarded the existence of them. That was his option.  The results of a life carried out in such a fashion eventually catches up with you and this he realized more clearly with each passing day.

As he washed his hands in the rust stained sink he looked into the stall thinking perhaps the option was just hiding from him for the moment, poised to pounce at any second.  But that would not be the case on this day.  He collected his cigarettes and lighter, left the newspapers behind for the next person to read through, gave the barman a very generous tip and walked out onto 8th Avenue.  He could see the bright yellow and blue umbrella of a Sabrett’s hot dog vendor on the next corner.  He walked in that direction, ordered two dogs with onions, mustard and relish and continued on walking south.  His apartment was a bit of a walk from where he started but he needed the sunlight, the air and the activity.  Before he realized it the option had taken leave.  That was a good thing.  He was planning to go to bed and sleep as soon as he got home.  The option could visit anytime; sometimes at the worst of times but for the time being they seemed to have forged a fragile d├ętente’, a ceasefire that would last for who knew how long?  At least today he’d kept the option at arm’s length, the very same distance in which he wore his service piece.  The .38 caliber, five shot wheel gun with a 2 inch barrel was worn on his ankle; this was the piece his Dad had given him when he’d graduated from the Academy eons ago. 

He thought often about his Dad who, at the still tender age of 18 found himself a Marine on a landing craft to be beached on Okinawa.  He had occasionally in his later years spoken about death and it was from him that he was taught that everyman, no matter what they proclaim or say, will cling to life tooth and nail.  Marines in the island-hopping South Pacific battle theater learned this lesson exceptionally well.

But life is not meant for everyone; longevity as a goal might reside in our DNA but in the minds and souls of others, it has no appeal.  To do battle with an ambivalence towards life seems so anathema to most that those who have a long-term relationship with the option know they cannot speak of it.  

At 23rd and 9th there is a church.  The doors were open so he walked inside, his vision unfocused from the abrupt change from the light of day to the darkness of the church.  He sat for a moment looking up at the stained glass windows; various Saints captured in an artisans mind made real in wedges of thick glass.  If it was a Saturday he may have waited around to make a Confession but there was no Priest to be found on this early afternoon.  He said a few prayers, asked God to forgive him his many transgressions and also pleaded his case for a rapid and imminent death.  It was probably a sin to pray for death but it couldn’t hurt.  He immediately recalled the axiom to “be careful what you pray for…you just might get it”.




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