HOW MICHAEL SAVED MY LIFE?
“Law enforcement officers are never ‘off duty.’ They are dedicated public servants who are sworn to protect public safety at any time and place that the peace is threatened. They need all the help that they can get. “
It was late and I shouldn’t have been alone on the dangerous and raw streets of New York City. I knew that and everyone else also would know it but I still have been there. Maybe I was searching for my own reason or hoping to find one but that NYC was not my friend at the moment but rather an enemy. So many unfriendly eyes have lurked on me and I thought I can handle it like I can many others things, successfully.
This is not that I didn’t want to be in Tudor City or Carnegie Hill but my steps have lead me to the no trespassing area. Why? Because I am myself, I don’t know how to obey to fear and how to accept zones of comfort and never to challenge them. I was born to put myself there where I shouldn’t be and to cause the storms there where the storms are forgotten .
At the moment when I planned my trip to the New York, I knew it won’t be a typical tourist visit but rather walk on the dangerous plates, working on survival skills. I have never been a tourist but a traveler who sees the story behind the story, damned journalist, grudged writer, the spokesmen of voiceless and those in the shadow of public. I am digging the topics you have never thought they exist so I am not allowed to just end up in Sutton Place but to knock on the inferno door, directly in Castle Hill Ave, not far away from Bruckner.
You all ask yourselves why would anyone normal land in such risk area of this amazing metropolis. I am not here to make selfies with NYC as we all know, I am here to learn the secrets of this city and to find out it’s weakest chain.
My concept is simply – live like a local and that’s why I tried to rent a flat in the Castle Hill Ave, knowing that Soundview area is not far away at all. My contact has been a family from Jamaica that promised me safe room … I told them that I work on my book about violence in NYC and class disproportionate relations and they pretended they understand. The promised money for a rented room was more interesting as my altruistic work projects . The old lady Angelia has told me that I should be careful, no matter what, because there are people who could be harmful for hand full of dollars. I was just a girl, girl from train that has brought me to the Castle Hill, to discover my dreams.
The part itself was ruined by lack of city interest, social deviations and accelerated poverty. Many broken houses and families and just a little bit of common sense that was gone after the cold survival skills. Those people haven’t been evil, they have only learnt how to survive for every new day.
I had a vision that I should find some interested subjects for my project who would participate in my research study – the case study of forgotten NYC people. I have never been afraid of them till that night has reminded me that I have a talisman, angel guardian or whatever – whoever it is .
My contact found a contact for me and my investigative article. All I should do it to go to the Longwood and ask for Cece. How I can find the Cece in such a place like Longwood? The neighborhoods like this one, together with Hunts Point and Mott Haven have experienced the economic collapse itself and turned into drug cartels and criminal paradise. The people who live there lost their jobs and just tried to survive, seeking the drug shelters as the way out. All I knew is that Longwood is located in southwest Bronx. This should be relatively safe part but still, you can be easily lost if you don’t know how to swim in dangerous parallel NYC urban life. I didn’t want to waste my time but to find Cece, the guy who would tell me how is to be outsider in the inside universe of this American big Apple city. Donna Angelia hugged me before my trip to Longwood and asked me to take care of myself. I was so special to her. This touched me but it seemed like my life is going somehow to be ended after I get to the Bronx. Anyway, I haven’t been afraid but thrilled. I know what I do or even more, I have never doubted in my mission.
I picked up gray mouse clothes so I don’t stand up but more to fit up in the local settings. Maybe I found those people cool or maybe I was just a good eccentric writer but taking old street dance sneaker, distressed jeans and washed camo jacket, combined with cap of NY Yankees was the right decision. I was neutral, invisible and ready to grab the story.
I arranged to take metro line 6 to get to the Longwood Ave and my meeting was planned for 8 pm. Cece hasn’t been available anytime before so I accepted. Now when I think of it, I can’t believe how odd and lucky bastard I am. The madness of my soul is a weapon of mass destruction for many.
Finally I stepped out in the Longwood, Bronx. I was the only one who did get out. The evening was cold and dark, as the reality of those who live there. I looked few times behind me and I kept going. My granny told me once that I must keep going, even when I am in hell. It will pass faster. I regretted that I didn’t take ticker jacket because the November evening was chilly and winter has been showing it’s teeth. I was advised to walk 2 miles before someone will give me a signal that I am on the right place and the same person will take me to Cece. Isn’t amazing that I believe those people so much? It could be all kind of scenarios for me. They could rape me, take my healthy organs and close the chapter of my writing season once for all times. I hoped they won’t. Somebody told me that it won’t be good if another gang meets me before the gang I would have contacted … because those areas have been crossed with guns and force of different crime kings. I had those scary feeling that something won’t be ok …. or at least, I will make it wrong with my doubted behavior and anticipated social reaction. Suddenly, I heard foot steps behind me …intensive and rushed. That was a tall guy with hoodie who followed me. I knew it is not anyone from Cece gang and I knew it won’t be good for me. The guy was just one meter behind me when the another guy has stopped him and attacked him preventing any further attack on me. I was going on the side, trembling and trying to catch my breath. Who is another tall man in the hoodie, with Air max sneaker and perfect martial art mixture ? I hoped that he is one from Cece tribe but he was too profiled and skilled for one who would live the whole life on the edge of society. The incognito guy put the another hoodie man on the floor and arrested him. Oh God, we have a policeman here … now I am in the problem. How I will explain what I am doing here and why I want to talk to Cece? Then he came to me, saying that his name is Michael, detective from NYPD and he told me he will drive me immediately in the safe part of the city because I am damned lucky to still be alive, alone in the night in that wild area.
Mike, as i called him, was very fit, cautious and with scars on his face. I tried to thank him but he didn’t react. He was driving his car, with no words. I explained that I am writer, explorer and speaker for voiceless and wanted to check the other side of the NYC tale. Then Mike looked me for the first time and spoke:” You say that you are interested in their side of the story? Do you know our side of the story? The blue line saga of lost lives, families without fathers or mothers, memories of good colleagues who was killed on the duty? Do you think it is normal, everyday and not so exciting for people to know it?”, his words were almost judging and angry but at the same time disappointing and sad. The guy was broken deeply inside. I have been embarrassed of myself. I was so busy to follow the another side of the medal that I didn’t want to look up first for the official side, side we think we all know but we don’t know at all. Maybe we all think it is normal for police to work over hours, to not sleep, to drink coffee and lose family life through the efforts to protect us and give us what we take for granted: safety and security. Mike wanted to let me somewhere in the city so I can go to my rented home but I didn’t want to let Mike go… I was interested in Mike’ s story and I knew it is more than story, it is confession and oath to life in the ocean of deaths and hopeless moments.
“Can we go for a drink and spaghetti, Mike? “, I asked careful I because I didn’t want to cross the borders of his own privacy but I wanted to show him that his life and the life of his colleagues matters, to me and to all of us. The police is the vein of our body, if you cut it off, you don’t have life anymore, it is ended.
” I have no time for drink and spaghetti. I am on my duty and I need to clean up many things tonight … when you and others sleep.”, replied with mischief smile. At that moment, I knew Mike will be my friend forever and I was relieved. I didn’t hurt him and I still have a chance to save the world .
” Please Mike, I want to learn about you and your mission, I want to know why I stand behind you and for you. It is important, believe me. It takes a half hour but it will bring eternity in hearts of people who will understand you and your people who give their lives for ours. “ , it didn’t give up so easy.
“Ok girl, you have 30 minutes to draw the smile again after you almost caused the new civil war between NYC gangs“, accepted finally and drove us back to little East Village Italian trattoria Il Posto Accanto. The bar itself has been unstylish but warm and the people how have had their dinners and laughed didn’t even notice the two of us. We could have been couple that tried to make compromise or two Zimmers, but we haven’t been so prominent and attractive to be seen. So it was the corner in the bar, invisible like two us us. He kept his hood and I kept my cap. For some careful onlookers, we could look like bank robbers or people released free from mental hospital. I didn’t care in spite of fact that I always imagined to look par excellence when I am in NYC. This time, I looked like a hip hop dancer who believes in American Talents chance and Mike… just like a friend of mine. The perfect match in the broken land of shadows and dreams.
“I don’t have family. How could I ? I work over hours and I deal with dangerous people and passions so my family, even if I would have it, would be at risk.“, he started his own biography. “ My life is between long shifts, empty stomach that lives on coffee and sleepless nights in car. I have no time to live like you or anyone else. I need to chase the demons of the city so you and people like you can feel safe and can walk freely. “, continued our Mike.
I almost cried when he told me that he lost his two partners in crime against crime, in the local fire. Both left wives with two children.
“It is an ultimate survival every day and people don’t even think of it, for them, it is just something I chose to do. Indeed I am but at least, I just want to get a bit of gratitude and respect. Nothing more, nothing less. It would be so nice to see people are aware of the risk we live with during our working hours and even after. It is not just driving car around and checking those who drove too fast … it is about stopping crime fluctuations, rapes, murders. We are there to bring the safety there where it is gone or killed. “ , said Mike during our spaghetti evening.
” Why do you to this job?“, I sincerely asked.
“If I give up, who will protect you from the shadows ?“, asked Mike and I cried and admitted he saved my life. If he wasn’t there, I would be raped, disfigured or even killed. The error in the underground system. The right person on the wrong place.
You have no idea what police is experiencing every day. Not only amazing NYPD but the complete blue line all over the USA and the world. They are our guardians and we even don’t know how to greet them and show how much we are thankful for the zone of comfort they are keeping protected.
If you cross the line and step into darkness, you can still find them there, fighting for you when you give up on yourself.
Mike saved my life that night but I promised I will try to protect their role in our society. The blue lives matter. Mike matters as me, you and all that try to make this world being a better place.
Stand up for police !