“So what’s going on?”
His eyes darted side to side, up and down the empty, gravel road. “Uh…nothing. Just out walking, I do that a lot.”
We were on a dirt road that winds along the north shore of the Illinois River where it bends from north-south to east west on its way to Chicago. It’s 10 miles of absolutely nothing. No homes, no business, nothing but river land and forest. I patrol down there lots and lots and lots, and usually, there is something going on. Booze or drugs or fights or whatever. I love it down there.
This particular night, one of the first patrols of my new assignment (nights, 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.), I had stumbled across a truck and a tall, lanky 17-year old kid.
At first, I thought it was illegally dumping garbage. Then I realized he had just cracked open a beer. And I mean JUST cracked it. In fact, the pull tab wasn’t even all the way open yet, he hasn’t had a single swig, and there I am, all Ramboed up and official.
“Yeah?” I asked. “Whose beer?”
“Yeah? Where is he?”
“Uh…he took a walk.” The kid pointed vaguely behind him.
“Yeah? Cracked a beer and then took a walk? Didn’t even take his brew with him?”
The kid shrugged, but dutifully handed over his license.
“Okay, no sweat. Tell you what, I’m going to check your license, make sure you’re not a wanted hatchet murderer or anything, and why don’t you see if you can find your friend for me.”
He nodded and headed in the direction his friend had taken.
And I just watched. Sitting in the front seat of the cruiser, license check long since done, I just watched him. He made it about ten feet past his truck, didn’t even bother actually looking into the gathering darkness, shrugged, and came back to the truck.
I’m thinking: if you’re about to get arrested for illegal consumption, or at the very least illegal possession of alcohol, and said alcohol is your friends? Get your ass down the road and find him. Hang him up in the hoosegow, rather than yourself.
Ah, my friends are thinking now, a clue to Trey’s personality. Cut the friends loose and save himself.
Well…yeah. Momma didn’t raise no fool.
Anyway, the booze was his and I cut him a break. I took his beer and sent him on home. Actually, I felt sorry for him. First of all, how bad is life for a 17-year old when he’s drinking alone? That’s gotta suck.
But then, before he takes a drink, before he even gets the beer open, BOOM, here are the cops, giving him grief, taking his crap, and pouring it out right in front of him.
To be honest, there was a part of me that just wanted to hand the kid the open beer and say, “Kill it quick, lonely boy.”
I called this entry King Booze because that six pack wasn’t all I had that weekend. I found another last six out of a twelve pack at one of the canal locks. Just sitting there, no one around. I assume it was kids drinking and they didn’t want to take a chance on getting pulled over with beer in the car.
Then I had five teenagers at another canal lock with three cases of really cheap beer. When I got there, the beer was all in the water. No like in the water to stay cold, but more like “Heave! (splash!) What? I have no idea what you’re talking about, Officer.”
So in the course of three days, I found three cases of cheap beer. And let’s not forget the nearly finished fifth of Beam I found in the possession of a 16-year old.
Jim Beam? I almost arrested her for drinking crappy whiskey. If, at 16, you’re going to finish the better part of a fifth in less than a night, make it Jack Daniel’s.
King Booze, indeed.