By Michael G. Glab
— Twenty-six —
[The 1968 Democratic National Convention is coming closer by the day. Anthony Pontone will be there. So will Sal Sanfillipo. This is the latest installment of the serial e-novel, “Black Comedy.” Read on, babies!]
The cop Sal Sanfillipo, despite being considered a fine and honorable public servant by the commander of the corrupt Austin District police station, is less esteemed by his own commander at the Shakespeare District. That commander is sick and tired of answering brutality charges leveled against Sal by Puerto Ricans, whom Sal views as only a shade higher on the evolutionary ladder than the fat rats that infest their shithouse apartments.
Not that the Shakespeare commander thinks the Puerto Ricans in his district deserve to be treated like human beings — clearly they don’t — but, Jeez, Sal Sanfillipo never knows when to stop. There was the time he shoved some fourteen year-old punk’s head through the bars of the basement lockup. For chrissakes, they had to call in an iron worker in the middle of the night to come out and blowtorch one of the bars off to get the little fucker out. Then, not six months later, Sal broke both bones in his right forearm — they snapped like dried twigs, one of the other cops who’d been there later said, making a similar sound to boot — on a Latin King’s cranium, again in the lockup. While other patrolmen gathered around Sal to help minister to his bent arm, the Latin King lay on the cold concrete floor with a five-inch long depression in his skull. When they finally got around to tending to the Puerto Rican, the hematoma in his brain had already caused him to fall into a deep coma. Figuring the little jag was gonna die anyway, the patrolmen simply picked up his limp body, brought him up to the second floor, dumped him out the window and then called his mother to break the bad news that her son had died trying to escape.
And there was no way to count how many Puerto Ricans were walking around the district with missing teeth, misshapen noses, and punctured eardrums, thanks to Patrolman Sal Sanfillipo, his nightstick, and his kid leather-gloved fists and palms.
Shoot, the Shakespeare commander figures he could hire a part-time secretary just to fill out the paperwork on all of Sal’s brutality complaints. The commander has had at least a half dozen serious sit-downs with Sal, each time threatening him with disciplinary action, none of which has penetrated that thick skull of his.
So now the Shakespeare commander holds a memo from the area deputy chief ordering him to assign two patrolmen to a special duty next week, Friday. The commander understands he’s not being asked to send two of his best men; rather, he’ll dispatch two of his biggest pains in the ass. One of them will be Sal Sanfillipo. See, the special operation will take place around Clark and Diversey — Clark and Perversity, as it’s known throughout the force — home of the Mary boys. Every year or so, area central likes to stage a nice bust at some fruit bar. Naturally, no self-respecting patrolman wants to come within twenty yards of those queers so the task falls to officers on the various district commanders’ shit lists.
The commander calls Sal in to tell him the news.
“Commander, wit’ all due respect, that ain’t no place I wanna go. Can’t I get outta this in any way?”
“Sal, whaddya want me to do?” the commander says. “I tole you time and again, watch yer step. Watch whatchyer doin’. Take it easy. How many times, huh? How many times?”
“Yeah, but I been doin’ my best. I’m tryin’, Commander. Honest. Look whaddya want me to do? I’ll do anything to get outta this detail.”
“It’s too late, Sal. You’re in no position to bargain with me anymore. Go report to Captain Kelleher at the 23rd at midnight Friday. That’s it. Now go and sin no more.”
“Yes sir,” Sal says, snapping a half-assed salute, baffled as to why his commander has this hard-on for him.
So, Friday midnight arrives. Sal drives up to 23, also known as the Town Hall station, at Halsted and Addison, three blocks east of Wrigley Field. There he meets three dozen other shit-listers. They’re inspected, given instructions, and then most of them are loaded into two personnel vans. Captain Kelleher’s special duty force is sent off in waves. First, four unmarked cars go out. One car will park directly in front of the fruit bar, a second in the alley behind it. The other two cars will be positioned at either end of the block on Clark Street between Surf and Diversey, effectively closing it off. Next a half dozen blue and white squadrols will descend upon the area. Two patrolmen from each car will gather in front of the joint and then enter it en masse. Once the detail sergeant radios in that the place has been secured, the two personnel vans are to pull up. They contain the two dozen cops who’ll do the dirty work — as in, they’ll actually have to touch the queers.
Sal Sanfillipo sits on the metal bench of one of the personnel vans, shifting from ass cheek to ass cheek as the vehicle bounces over potholes. Sal’s getting more pissed by the second. Some fag motherfucker’s gonna pay for this shit.
The van stops and Sal and his colleagues pour out. This stretch of Clark Street, normally pretty busy at 12:45am, is flat-out deserted. The fruits and the normal citizens who live around here have seen these raids before. They know the moment they see the advance unmarked cars squeal up to get the hell off the street — hell, nobody wants to get caught up in a mess of pissed-off Chicago cops forced to do a fruit bar raid. Bystanders, nearby restaurant proprietors, hell, anybody with a heartbeat unfortunate enough to be within reach of a cop gets swept up. Once even a couple of nuns out for a walk got pinched.
Sal looks up at the sign hanging over sidewalk. Ma Barker’s Bistro. Fuckin’ fag name. He marches into the place with his mates. It’s dark and smoky. Smells of cologne and gin. Not a broad in the place, the sick fucks. The original dozen cops who went in already have lined the employees and patrons up against the bar and the opposite wall. Looks like about fifty or so people with their hands against the wall, their feet shoulder width apart. “Alright, ladies,” the detail sergeant shouts, “drop ‘em.”
The fifty or so exchange glances. “C’mon, c’mon! Take down your panties!”
One of the fifty — looks like the manager of the place, the den mother — says: “Why?”
The sergeant looks at him as if he’s smeared with dog shit. “Because I say so, Dolores.” Sal and the rest of the guys from the personnel vans now line up behind the men with their hands on the walls. The sergeant adds, “We wanna make sure none a’ you sweetie-pies are carryin’ any pep pills or goofballs. You all look hopped up on somethin’.” With that he clacks his nightstick across the manager’s teeth, three of which are spit in a bloody glob on the floor.
Sal and the boys have been given no specific instructions on how to search the men. They take this to mean they may use their discretion. Nothing makes a certain breed of cop happier. Sal’s breed.
The two dozen cops move in and get to work. Sal’s guy is a blondie with a spit curl. He’s thin as a rail and pale. The piece of shit is soft like a schoolgirl. Never did an honest day’s work in his friggin’ life. Probably got some sugar daddy who puts him up and keeps clothes on his back. Sal feels sick to his stomach.
Sal jabs the pale blondie in the small of his back with his nightstick. By the way, this is his old, nicked-up nightstick. He’s never gonna use it again after tonight’s work. The blondie grimaces and utters a high-pitched moan.
“Sa’matter, you can’t take it, girlie?” Sal says. “Doan worry about my little bat here. This is my contraband probe. Gonna see if you got somethin’ hidden up your ass. You’ll like that, wontchya?” He jabs the blondie again. And again the blondie emits a girl’s moan. “Too much for you, huh?” Sal says. “Your old high school pals over in ‘Nam are gettin’ their legs blown off every day and you’re cryin’ about a tap in the kidneys? By the way, how many of ’em did you blow in the locker room? All of ’em?”
“Please stop,” the blondie whispers.
Sal leans in close. “Huh?” he says. “What’s that? Oh, I’ll stop.” Sal cracks the blondie across the side of his head with his kid-gloved right hand, making sure his palm covers the fruit’s earhole. Perfect shot. The blondie yells in pain. Pop goes the eardrum.
The blondie falls against the fruit next to him. The other fruit turns his head in surprise. Sal thinks: I seen this prick somewheres before. The man makes eye contact with Sal, wordlessly pleading with him. Oh yeah, Sal thinks, I know d’is guy! Da fuck’s he doin’ here?
“Please,” the fruit says. “This is a big mistake. I just walked in here. I didn’t know what kind of place this is. You know me — we’re neighbors.”
Sal does know him. Sal also knows the guy’s full of shit. Three drained highball glasses sit on the bar in front of him, along with his change, his pack of Raleighs, and a gold-plated lighter with his initials etched into it — RB. Rocco Bianco. The alderman. Jesus H. Christ in heaven. Y’stay in this fuckin’ job long enough, Sal thinks, y’see everything!
“Come wit’ me,” Sal says, grasping the alderman’s elbow. He pulls Rocco away from the wall and leads him toward the rear door. “Honest to God,” Rocco says. “What is this, a homo joint?” Sal doesn’t answer. Still, Rocco keeps talking. “This is all a big mistake. Really, it is. You believe me, don’t you?”
“Yeah, yeah. Sure. I believe you. Just shut up and get the fuck outta here,” Sal says as he pushes Rocco through the service entrance door. Rocco stumbles a little. He turns toward Sal. “I owe you one, buddy,” he says. He turns on his heel and walks quickly into the shadows of the alley.
“I know it,” Sal says.
To be continued
All fictional characters, descriptions, and situations are the property of the author.