I sat with my back to the one way mirror in the interrogation room. Across from me were two of the biggest criminals I had ever been face to face with. On the left, was the one they all called Sarge. The one on my right had the nickname “Jump Street” because he looked younger than his age and often worked undercover.
These two would go on to rob hundreds of accused drug dealers. Sarge rose in rank, enjoying the support of crooked politicians and attorneys. Jump Street was wise enough to use his resume to get out of town before their playhouse collapsed under formal charges, disbandment, and restitution.I think Sarge mows lawns now, and answers phones for somebody.
But at this time they were young, barely older than my twenty five years, and allowed to do as they would. The town had once been known for the corruption of it's police. Many from that era were retired, or soon to do so, and there was a new generation of gangsters with badges aspiring to fill their shoes. The hysteria of The War On Drugs was at it's pinnacle and provided the perfect opportunity for bribes, “forfeitures”, and outright theft. H.W. Was President and Dave had just been elected mayor.
They had me sign a Miranda statement, and were collecting my personal information. Sarge did most of the talking. Jump Street left the room a few times and returned with evidence bags, file folders, and the occasional supervisory agent. One detective, I had known as an outlaw biker and had no idea he was Drug Task Force. It turns out, he had investigated almost every unsolved murder in the previous decade. Many of the victims (women) had ties with law enforcement or politicians through either their jobs or personal relationships. That's a different story though, and for somebody else to tell.
We got to the part where Sarge asked me if I had any aliases or nicknames. Seeing a chance to have some fun, I answered in the affirmative. “Some people call me Redbeard” I told him. “Any others?” he asked, “Sure”, I replied, and really got into it. I told him how in elementary school, I wrote a series of short stories wherein I had super powers and used the name Barno and it had stuck among the boys I grew up with. Then I started playing word games with my names as he listed them. I was born with the name Todd Stuart Christian, so I gave him that one next.
Then I said Stuart Christian, Chris Stuart, Chris Barnes, Stuart Barnes, etc. I went on like this for awhile; enough that he had to turn the sheet over and keep writing. I was able to keep up the charade halfway through a second page before I began running out of ideas. I decided to give up the game. “Lefty”, I said, and couldn't believe it when he wrote it down and didn't even look up.
“Well”, I thought to myself, “might as well see how far I could go with it”. “Bill the Sailor”. I glanced over at Jump Street, who was taking notes as well. Neither of them looked up, both had paused to wait for the next name. I imagined them running all those names through some database and wondered what they would find. I was amazed they were still buying it and had to suppress the giggles.
“One Eyed Peter.”
Sarge wrote it, but Jump Street put his pencil down and whispered to his partner. Sarge looked out the top of his eyes at me and said, perfectly deadpan, “You're yanking my chain aren't you”. Unable to contain it anymore, the laughter burst out of me while they sat there looking at me stone faced.
Sarge asked me if I was on LSD “right now”. “Oh god no”, I responded, “That would be awful”. “Then why are you laughing and joking” he wanted to know, “Most people aren't very happy where you are right now”. “I'm just trying to make the best of a bad situation”, I told him honestly, “You have your job to do and I have mine”.
I figure one day it will all bite me in the ass. Some cop somewhere will run my numbers and all those bogus aliases will show up along with a warrant for Bill the Sailor or ol' One Eyed Peter and I'd better have a good alibi.