Criminally Yours (Smile, Hon, You're in Baltimore! #8.75)
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Introduction by William P. Tandy
Baltimore Crime Making Me Proud Benn Ray
The Voluntary Victims Becky Abernathy
Tipping the Delivery Man Sarah Pinkser
The Missing Starter Sab Grey
Crime-Free Joseph Grey
Oedipus on the Avenue E. Doyle-Gillespie
Receiving Week! Johnny Law
The Crime that Wasnt Megan Hamilton
Collateral Damage Joe Higler
Roll-Away Scooter Tom Balog
Keeping It Real Elizabeth Galo
Guilty as Charged Nikki Verdecchia
Golf Driver Linda Pierce
Junky City Antoinette Volley
Smokin Car Kelly Horvath
Costume Seating JoAnne Schmitz
Crime Scenery John Marsh
No Clubs Foxy Ed
Soy Una Victima Davida Gypsy Breier
Floating Ribs Trickster
Kidnappers and Dumbbells Ben Robinson
Embrace the Crime Sarah Boonstoppel
Crossroad Matt Crocamo
laming Drag Queens Robin Jacobs
A Lesson in Journalism Greg Stoops
Neighbor Issues Rachel Grrr
Final Hadj E. Doyle-Gillespie
Jury Duty Benn Ray
About the Contributors
Steve had gone back to Jersey for the weekend to party with old friends. It was during his tenure as a car-insurance salesman, and he had driven up to the One-Horse Burg after work one Friday, no doubt still wearing his shirt and tie when he got there. I always thought he enjoyed showing up like that in those days, in the sort of way, when youre in your late teens or early 20s, that you want your friends to know youve made it.
I never liked the One-Horse Burg myself and had given up even driving through it years before I ever left Jersey, primarily because their local police force (and that of the adjacent Burg, as well) was of the high school diploma preferred variety. The State Police, with their required bachelors degree, had far higher expectations than these good ol boys could ever meet. Theyd reached top end, and they knew it, and god bless the poor dumb fuck who happened to let slip with some Minor Infraction of the Rules. Domestic violence and the odd assault-and-battery were the heaviest things these boys were accustomed to handling on a daily basis; most of the time, though, they generated revenue for the town by pestering motorists, both foreign and domestic.
Two major north-south arteries course through the Burg: the four-lane Garden State Parkway, patrolled by the State Police, and Route 9, a winding, two-lane mess of blind curves, residential and commercial driveways, and fluctuating speed limits, lorded over by the One-Horse Burgs Finest. Though the Parkway is a toll road, Id been pulled over by the yokels on so many bullshit suspicions (as a young male driving an admittedly beat-looking 1983 Oldsmobile 98) that I eventually opted to pitch in my 35 cents each way and take my chances with the state cops, and avoid 9 (and the rest of the Burg) altogether.
My brother Steve, however, is cut from a slightly different cloth. He rolled into the Burg sometime around dark, and the shit hit the fan not too long thereafter. The Finest, having gotten a whiff of what was going on, crashed the party later that night. Steve, with his city duds and smart (but no less frank) manner no doubt stood out from the crowd.
What are you doing here? one cop demanded.
Im just visiting, Steve replied. From Baltimore.
Baltimore, huh, the cop grunted, eyeing my brother with heightened suspicion. You here to buy drugs?
Steve shook his head, probably straining to suppress the urge to cackle sharply in the cops face. I told you I was from Baltimore, he sighed. Why would I drive three hours to pay retail when I could stay home and buy wholesale?
Thinking about that story, its particularly fitting, perhaps, that I write this introduction now, when about a dozen people have been shot citywide in the last 48 hours, bringing Baltimore Citys 2007 homicide count, according to The Baltimore Sun, to 114 - up from 102 at this same time last year.
I havent had the same sort of problems in Baltimore that I encountered in Jersey all those years ago. Im not quite as young as I was then, of course, and I now drive a much younger car. But in a city rife with drug- and gang-related violence, Id say its pretty safe to conclude that the Baltimore Police Department has more serious matters to address.
In the meantime, my brother has since traded his snappy shirt and tie for a sheriffs uniform, and recently completed training at the citys police academy. Theres a decidedly sharper edge to his chosen vocation, but it is his choice, and as such I respect it - much more so than if he had donned a badge and gun in, say, the Burg. Plus, hes Very Good at What He Does. Its why youre the sheriff, I kid him, and Im the editor. And some of the stories that he brings home are an absolute hoot, like the one about the tenant, faced with eviction, who ripped the natural gas line from the kitchen wall in the face of encroaching law enforcement . . .
Because its important to remember to laugh at whats funny, even in lifes darkest moments, and that, sometimes, only sharing a drink with Absurdity will help bring sense or reason to any of the rest of it.
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