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Could Have Run
Could Have Run
It was a Friday. Along with every other high school student, I was ecstatic about being done with school for that week. Unfortunately, at my young age, being unable to drive made it hard for us to go pretty far. So I did what every other under 16 year old high school kid I knew did; I called up a couple of friends and told them that I would meet them uptown Park Ridge, not to eat, not to go shopping, just to stand. But that’s about all that we had to do. No one ever wanted to have kids at their house, so we could all count on one place to hang out at: Uptown Park Ridge. I remember being able to find kids uptown no matter what, if someone didn’t have plans, they wandered uptown and there was something to do. Even the older kids at the time would drift through uptown. They’d drive by in their cars and yell profanities at us, the freshman, because the truth was they had nothing to do either. As the night passed, we’d walk around, stand in front of different establishments until the crowd grew too big, got kicked off of the property, moved to a new establishment, repeat.
Some nights, after we’d been kicked out of just about every spot we could think of, and the group had grown to nearly a hundred kids easy. We’d wander into the alley directly behind the Pickwick Theater, because it was literally the only spot that could hold the mass of people that had accumulated throughout the evening.
One fair night, at approximately 9:17 in the P.M. that very thing happened. A large group of us kids started our own little party in the alley behind the Pickwick. On this night, it was an exceptionally larger group then usual grouped together in the back. Easily one hundred kids were running around like maniacs, screaming, yelling, having fun, being kids. I was sick of the whole uptown craze and at around 9:25 P.M. decided to pack it in and head home. The night had grown boring and you can only yell and scream and act like an idiot in an alley for so long. My time was up and I decided it would be a better use of my time to go home. So that’s what I did, I said goodbye to what friends I could pick out of the immense crowd, and was on my way. Turns out, straying myself from the crowd was the second biggest mistake that I would make that night.
On my way out of the alley, I saw the flashing of red and blue lights against the brick wall of the Pickwick and heard the screams and laughs as the kids that I had just been a part of ran away from the Park Ridge Police Department, famous in town for trying to get a ticket in the hands of every teen they can. So naturally, the mob that I had just been a part of scatter, in an almost nonchalant fun-loving way. I looked back and smiled, and was frankly glad that I didn’t have to be a part of running away from the police amongst a group of hundreds.
That’s when the intercom atop the cop car turned on and started shouting at everyone to return home or else arrests would be made. Being that that was exactly as I was doing I continued on my gentle walk away from the alley. To my surprise the flashing lights became stronger from behind me, and the voice on the intercom continued to grow in volume as the cop car was for sure coming up close behind me. Feeling I was as innocent as could be, I still kept my steady pace and walked out of the alley in fear that if I did run it would look like I was guilty of something.
Just then, the squad car cruised by on my left and stopped some ten feet in front of me. The door slammed and an officer standing at about six foot four, with a big beer belly, and thinning hair stepped out. Officer G., for the sake of the story, had one hand on his handcuffs and one on his gun, and was obviously feeling way to good about himself for making a bunch of fourteen and fifteen year old kids disperse, spit on the ground as I walked casually past, doing my best to ignore his presence altogether. The only thing, I thought, that could make this night more absurd then it had already been, was a pompous cop that took way too much pride in his job inside of a city of little to no crime.
At this point I’m past him by a couple of steps, when I hear Officer G’s voice for the first time.
“A-hem, excuse me, son, come here for a moment.”
I laughed it off because there was no way he was talking to me, after all I’d done nothing wrong in this situation.
“Son! Do not make me chase you now!” Officer G. was now making his way toward me judging by the footsteps I could hear from behind me.
A decision to be made suddenly occurred to me. I’m fast, surely faster than this donut eater, if I run there is almost no doubt in my mind that I’m getting away here. But, on the other hand, I felt that as a matter of principle running would make me seem intimidated, make me sink to the same level of hilarity that my classmates had recently dipped to when they ran top speed out of that alley.
I’m too good for this, I said to myself in my head. There is no way that I’m going to get arrested for walking home right now.
“I’m walking home, I’ll be out of your hair in just a moment.”
“No, kid, it’s too late for that come back here.”
I was caught, for nothing. The thought of running crossed my mind again, and again I decided against it. I turned around and walked toward the car, assuming that this was a misunderstanding and I would be able to talk this cop and calm down his twitchy ticket writing finger.
I approached him, still confident as ever, and said as calmly as possible.
“Officer, I was just passing through on my way home, wrong place at the wrong time I s’pose. But I’m on my way home.”
“No you’re not, it’s too late for that. Do you know the uptown curfew is 9 o’clock? You’re in violation. Get in the car.”
I thought two things. First, I had literally no idea that uptown Park Ridge was designated a separate curfew from the rest of the time. And second, there is no way I’m getting taken down to the station for this. I thought, great I just scored a free ride home I guess and made my way to the backseat of the cop car.
It was my first time in the back of a squad car, and only time thus far. The seats were made of hard black plastic, like the handicapped swings at the park. There was room for three people. At this time, I was alone in the car. Just as I suspected from the countless cop movies I’ve seen, there was a chain link cage in between the back seat and the front seat. In a case above the rear window, there also was what appeared to be a shot gun. This seemed highly unnecessary to have in a Park Ridge squad, but I figured it was most likely a regulation. While sitting in the car, I began to notice that he wasn’t asking where I lived or anything. We continued to circle the uptown area for a while. There were two other stragglers wandering around uptown. Jeff and Max, both kids from my school. They were picked up in a similar manner as I was. Taking a seat next to me in the back seat of the car, we were laughing about the situation. All still figuring we were getting a ride home, it was a very light mood at that point. The squad now had it’s intercom on while our officer was yelling threats to the kids walking through the park near town. The group of one hundred held pretty strong, and I was able to see a lot of the kids that I was just hanging out with. They saw me too, and like jackasses were laughing and pointing and going so far as to come up to the window, to make sure that I knew they saw me.
On the intercom, Officer G. was telling the public that if he had more room in the car he would take all of them. He put down the intercom mic. and picked up a walkie talkie and phoned another unit, “I’ve got three, yeah, I’m taking them down to the station now.”
I nearly screamed. I looked at my buddies in the car, and muttered, “is this guy serious?” All signs pointed to him being serious.
We pulled into the station’s parking lot and were escorted from the car to the building. For the last time the thought of running crossed my mind. I would have done it too, but I didn’t want to strand the guys with this guy. While they get grilled about what my name was, where I live, etc. So I sucked it up, walked into the station, and sat down in a chair where a new officer took down my information. Then officer G. returned, and stood tall with the false pride of bringing down three non-resistant teenagers.
“You got a cell phone?”
“Yeah…” I answered.
“Well use it, call your parents they have to pick you up.”
I grabbed my cell and was faced with another decision. Who do I call? Mom or Dad? I decided Dad, he’d be more understanding with this. My mom would have been quick to judge, and believe anyone as to the reason I was arrested besides me.
I listened to the ringing of the phone through the ear piece, and I began to sweat.
My dad had obviously been sleeping already.
“Hey Dad, umm…I’m at the police station uptown, and I need a parent could you come get me out?”
“Oh God damn it, Zach, what the hell did you do?”
“I have no idea, you can talk to my officer…”
I handed the phone to Officer G. who took it with joy.
“sigh, hello Mr…”
“Glasebrook.” I muttered.
“Yes, Mr. Glasebrook, your son was uptown after hours, we had to bring him down to the station and you will have to come down and pick him up.”
I stared at the ground. Max was on the phone with his mom. I could hear the yelling from two seats away. Officer G. hung the phone up and handed it to me.
“He says he’s coming.”
Max hung up the phone, and shook his head.
“My mom is coming.”
Jeff hung up the phone.
“No one’s answering.”
“Keep trying,” instructed the officer.
Minutes were going by like hours, and finally I could hear a door open from around the corner. I braced myself. Around the corner came a middle aged, blonde haired woman. She looked flustered as if she’d been sleeping. Max stood up and approached her. She immediately began to scream at him. When that had ceased Officer G sat them down and explained that we would have to go to court in a month.
This was beginning to get ridiculous. Not only did I get dragged into this station for nothing, but now I was going to be dragged out of school in a month, to go to court. I began to think that this was more serious then I had originally anticipated, I started to worry that I was going to be kicked off of the football team. I started to hate myself for not running. Everyone else ran and everyone else got away. What the hell was I thinking? While my mind was racing a mile a minute, I heard the door open again. This time, I heard the steel toed work boots that my dad sports everyday, against the tile of the police station floor. I knew who it was before I saw his face, so I kept my eyes glued down on the ground. He didn’t say a word to me. Sat down in a chair in front of the desk. And got the same speech I had just heard given to Max and his mother. When we were free to go, I followed my disappointed father through the double doors that lead to the parking lot of the station, and my dad’s car. Jeff, who still hadn’t gotten a hold of his mom or dad, was apparently there for quite a while after we left I found out later. We got in the car, and not much was said on the trip home.
Finally, we arrived at home. I went inside. My mom was standing in the kitchen doorway, arms crossed, eyebrow cocked, tapping her toe. This was the same “you’re in deep shit” look that I’ve been getting since as long as I can remember.
I explained myself as best as I could. And to my surprise my mother said; “well, why didn’t you just run?”
I’d been asking myself the same question since I got in the cop car in the first place. I continued to ask myself the same question every day for a month. Every time I walked out to the football field for practice after school I feared I was going to get the talk from one of my coaches informing me that I wouldn’t be able to finish out my year because they had some sort of rule that I hadn’t heard of stating that if you’re arrested you’re off the team. This was my life for a month. Finally, the day of court came.
I figured I had lucked out, considering that Jeff’s dad was a lawyer. So the day that all three of us went into court, we had Jeff’s dad representing us. But the second I walked into the doors of that court room I knew it was all bad. Everyone that stepped up to the little podium to plead their case… “GUILTY!”
I don’t know if the judge was having a bad day or what, but everyone was guilty. My friends and I sat in our seats quiet as ever, and waited. Finally, the humongous doors of the court room opened and in walked Officer G. Officer G. then took the time to spew some crap to the judge about how we resisted and how he had no choice but to take us into the station. Jeff’s father did his best to get us off. But it was to no avail. I knew before he opened his mouth we were going to be called guilty. And we were. We were issued a $100 ticket, which I knew I’d be paying one way or another.
The kicker? That smug boy in blue, Officer G, walked up to my dad after court and made sure to tell him what a respectful boy I’d been. Of course. He’s not going to say that in the court room because how else would I leave that court with a ticket in hand.