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Today, Detective Hussey continues with another story about his rookie days on the police force.
Mike Butler, whom you met in the previous chapter, was another of those characters who have entered the annals of police history. Mike was one of the most aggressive, physical, honest, contentious cops I have ever met. And he is also one of the craziest bastards it has ever been my pleasure to serve with.
The first time I met Mike was in the locker room of the police department. Several of the veteran cops were talking about going for a beer after work at Zimmerman's bar. "God that would be great," I made the mistake of saying. There was instantaneous quiet and everyone looked my way.
"You ain't invited rookie," Butler said, scowling at me. "And also, you ain't allowed to talk to veterans. Change your clothes and get the hell outa' here."
I dressed in silence and left. I heard several other comments as I dressed into my street clothes..."That rookies got some balls," one guy said. "Who do these F.N.G.'s think they are?" (F.N.G. Is an acronym for "fucking new guy") another guy asked. "Sure has changed," one said.
On another occasion, after I'd been with the department for several months and was riding alone on patrol, Officer Butler summoned me on the radio. "56 at Lakeshore and the Boulevard."
"10-4," I responded and raced off to the meeting.
Mike needed a form he didn't have to complete a report, and I was glad for the chance to get closer to, or to even be acknowledged by, this veteran officer. Mike was so cool on the radio. I had heard him once after calling out on an armed robbery in progress call. Mike was right on top of the call and after calling out of service on the call, came back on the radio in his same calm voice saying, "Lakeland, roll me a supervisor and a homicide man, I just shot one." The robber survived, but it was just so cool. His composure on hot calls was something every rookie wanted to master.
We exchanged niceties and talked about some calls we had both been on.
"Look what I bought," I offered, holding up a small black canister containing tear gas.
"Where'd you get that?" Butler asked.
"I bought it at the Spur Station on Lakeland Hills."
"Let's see that." He extended his arm. I shoved the small black canister out the driver's window and into the veteran cop's hand. He examined it carefully then asked, "Used it yet?"?
"No, not yet."
What happened then will be forever etched in my mind. Mike Butler brought the canister up level with the top of the window and depressed the button on top, discharging a stream of caustic gas striking me directly in the face.
Mike moved his car and helped me out. He was laughing hysterically as the tears and snot poured from my eyes and nose. "That shit really works, huh", he asked?
"Yeah...guess...it...does." I choked out the words. Mike stayed with me until I had regained my composure. It's just the way he was.
There are so many stories about Mike Butler, and I've been with him on many occasions. My favorite story though involves Joe Reed, an elderly man who was what we called a "regular." He liked to call the police, and nearly every officer on the department had been to his house for one thing or another.
On this particular evening it was noises in the attic. Officer Dewey Pollack, a thin, six-foot-five Navy Vietnam veteran and Mike's best friend was Mike's backup officer.
"I'd like to cure this old fucker," Mike said to Dewey as they walked up to the front door.
"Yeah, but he's harmless," Dewey said.
"But he's a pain in the ass."
Pollack knocked on the door and after some difficulty with the locks, the door popped open.
"Hi officers," Reed said as he held the door open.
"What can we do for ya?" Dewey asked.
"Huh?" the old man yelled.
Jesus, Mike thought. He's deaf as shit.
"Turn on your hearin' aid!" Mike yelled.
"Oh yeah," the old man said, reaching for the device. "I been hearing noises up in the attic."
"How the hell could you do that?" Mike asked in a low voice.
"What's that?" Joe leaned toward the officer.
"Nothin',", Mike said "How would you get into the attic?"
The old man showed the officers a trap door in the ceiling located in the hallway of the home. Joe got a small stepladder and put it up under the hole.
"I'll go," Butler offered. "I'm smaller".
Mike stood only about 5'4" tall. He had been accused at one time by a suspect who was beaten severely by several "vertically challenged" officers of being a member of some "pigmy" patrol.
As Mike looked around in the attic, Dewey and Reed continued their conversation, walking into the living room area of the home. Joe Reed was a colorful old guy. He'd lost his wife several years earlier, and I suspect he called the police sometimes just so he could talk to somebody. He really liked the police. Dewey and Joe were standing facing each other in the center of the living room, when they heard a loud crash. All of a sudden, the air was filled with white dust and tiny fragments of plaster. Dewey looked to his right to find a very dusty Officer Mike Butler standing right next to him. The whole thing resembled a magic act.
There was a person-sized hole in the ceiling above Butler's head.
"There's nobody up there," Mike said rather matter-of-factly. He grabbed the stunned Dewey Pollack by the shirt, said, "Let's go," and headed for the door.
"Thanks a lot," Reed said.
"Don't mention it," Mike said. "Always glad to be of service."