A Near Miss

A South African guy passed through our neighbourhood bar for a few weeks. I never really talked to him, he was just another guy passing through my watering hole as I drank with the other regulars.

A nurse I knew was going through a nasty divorce, and asked me for a ride home from the bar one night. I dropped her off, and declined her offer to stay for a while.

A few days later, she called me. Her husband, who I also knew, had changed the locks on the house. She asked me to help her break in, which I absolutely refused to have any part in.

Many months later, it turned out that she had had an affair with the South African guy, and contracted HIV.

Martin Wisuri’s School Of Defensive Basketball

We’d just got back from a family dinner, and were loading pictures from the camera onto the computer when my brother got a phone call. My brother is the kind of guy who, when he gets a phone call, walks to the center of the room and starts talking. Loudly. Bro, if you read this, I’m just telling you, as I have before, that’s rude and inconsiderate to the others in the room.

The call was from someone in a bar in Michigan who ran into a childhood acquaintance of my brother’s. There were a few large families where I grew up, so chances were, if there was someone in the family my brother’s age, there was also someone my age, as was the case here.

Back before Michael Jordan went on to dominate basketball, The Detroit Pistons were doing pretty good. So me and some friends played a lot of basketball. A couple brothers lived across the street from the Junior High, so we’d meet up and play pickup with whoever showed up. Martin had just got out of the Marines, and I attribute a lot of how I played basketball to his particular brand of play. I don’t remember for sure, but I think he was upwards of 240 pounds when he got out of the Marines. He was a big guy. I never played organised basketball, so don’t know the rules, but I know when a 240 pound guy is coming down on top of you from a layup, you have to do some things defensively that might get a foul called in a more organised match. Seems like a pair of glasses got smashed at least once a week playing basketball, a pretty high equipment cost for a guy who needs his glasses to see.

So from this chance encounter of a couple people my brother knows meeting up in a bar, I come to find out that Martin committed suicide a few years back. I googled his name later that night, and there were zero results, which even added to the sadness a little. Martin was a pretty good natured kid, I didn’t expect to hear of things ending this way for him.

So, this one’s for you, buddy. Semper Fidelis. You may not have ever known that I thought of you years after we parted ways whenever someone asked me to defend against the other team’s lead scorer.

Some Days Are More Uneventful Than Others

I was on my way to court, but wanted to stop by work to pick up a check first. As I drove North on Wyoming, I saw a guy throw something at the windshield of a car in the strip mall parking lot on the West side of the road, and then run North, hopping a small wall. I went to turn around, but traffic was heavy, so I watched as the guy jumped in his car and drove off.

I pulled in the parking lot, and observed a brick on the ground by the car. I went into a couple of the stores asking if anyone knew whose car it was. A girl and guy came out of the barber shop, and said it was the girl’s car, and that they had just argued with the guy in the barber shop a few minutes before. They said the cops were on the way. I waited for about a half hour, but since I had a court date, decided to go pick up my check, I gave the girl my card, went and got my check. I decided to get a burrito at the Garcia’s on Indian School and Wyoming, before returning to see if the cops had shown up.

The girl was sitting in her car when I pulled up, so I pulled up next to her, leaving an empty parking spot between her car and mine. I had just taken a couple bites out of my burrito when I saw the guy who had thrown the brick throw something at the car’s rear driver side window. I said “What the fuck is wrong with you?” as I got out of the car, he took off running, and I ran after him. As we rounded the back of my car, I realised for the first time that he held a small infant in his arms. I’ve never played football, but desperately tried to think if anyone had ever told me how to tackle a guy without damaging the football.

I caught him at the corner of the building, and tackled him high around the shoulders. He wrestled away, I had a grip on his t-shirt, but he pulled away, leaving me with the remnants of his shirt in hand. I tried to scissor his legs, but he easily avoided being taken down. Just then, the girl’s boyfriend appeared around the corner, and the guy pulled out a chrome 38, as he raised it to shoot, I turned around and grabbed the infant and ran, hearing a couple shots ring out, and then another, as I rounded the corner to the front of the building.(??? is that right? not sure if that’s what I told the cops later).

I handed the infant over to his mother, and curiously noticed her seeming detachment to the whole affair.

Cops started showing up, some in their personal vehicles, and they donned body armour and M-16s. Somehow, I found out there was an FBI agent present. A lady cop asked if I was him, but I told her no as I was giving my statement. It started getting cold, so I got a flannel hoodie out of my car. I noticed with some amusement as the look in her eyes changed from admiration to a questioning disapproval. Apparently there’s something to the “clothes make the man” saying after all. I was just a hood, after all, in her eyes, at least. The paramedics helped me pick out some bandages from the pharmacy after checking me out in the ambulance. I remember not liking the TV camera set up on a tripod in the median trained on me as I stepped out of the ambulance.

The cops wanted me to make a formal statement at the station. I told them I had to be at court, but they said they would talk to the D.A. explaining I was a “material witness”.

I followed the cops to the station, and they sat me down in a debriefing room. The girl, her boyfriend and her two kids showed up a few minutes later with a bag of McDonald’s. We were instructed not to talk to each other, but the cops apparently knew the boyfriend and engaged in small talk before leaving the room. As I was seated behind them, I could see the girl and boyfriend exchanging a few looks. The girl took something out of the infant’s pockets and put it in the McDonald’s bag, and threw the bag away.

After giving my written statement, a detective took me into a small room to question me. Yes, I thought the shooter had pointed the gun at the boyfriend before firing. I told him there was more to the picture than met the eye, without being too specific.

I went to the bar afterward, and saw the news on TV, but couldn’t hear it as the sound was turned down. I knew a cameraman at Channel 4, and asked if he could get a copy of the story, which he later did. The story was inaccurate, but I wasn’t too surprised.

Weeks later, I was called in to talk to detectives again, and I told them I didn’t want to testify against the shooter.

I was working in Los Alamos, and was out of town for months at a time. One night I returned home to a subpoena taped to my door. The date I was supposed to appear in court had already passed. Years later, I got a ruling in the mail from the court mentioning me by name, that the guy was never to contact me, etc. I think the guy served about two years. I wish him luck.