According to some people, if the LAPD is known for one thing it’s for being trigger happy, ready to bust people up. Well, I’m happy to be able to say that I’m one of the few people to have pulled a gun on two cops and lived to tell about.
In a Lonely Place was on the tube. One of my favorite movies. Didn’t matter how many times I saw it it was never enough. Gloria Grahame was beautiful. Seductive. Bogart was cynical. Jaded. Everything was shaded. Ambiguous. Hollywood was hell – still is. And one of the few cases where the movie’s ending actually improved on the original book, though I know saying that is sacrilege to some. So much for the book always being better than the movie.
I heard a noise outside. The chopper roared in low overhead. A strafing run. I didn’t think so, but I had to talk myself out of it. He was hovering.
My downstairs neighbor Sally (name changed) had been attacked twice by a guy who tried to rape her. I had chased the guy down the alley. Every night I would search her apartment for her when she came home from work. I’d let her sleep on my couch. I wondered if the helicopter hovering overhead was there because the bad guy was back.
Maybe the bad guy was back. But Sally wasn’t. She had moved in with her boyfriend Todd (name changed), though she still kept her apartment.
I grabbed my politically incorrect pistol, headed to my front door. It was a small apartment building in Rancho Park, half a block west of 20th Century Fox. Only four units. And only one upstairs. Me. The stairs that led from my apartment ended in front of Sally’s apartment below.
I opened my door slowly, – quietly, feeling as if I was in a movie – and headed out to the landing at the top of my stairs. I watched the chopper circle above. Then, two scuzballs came out of Sally’s apartment. Two for the price of one. Greasy long hair. Big mustaches. Dirty clothes.
The bad guy and a friend?
“Hold it,” I said, aiming point blank at them only a few yards below. I could have dropped them both before they had a chance to turn around. “Turn around, slowly.”
It was just like the movies.
They did as ordered. Turned s-l-o-w-l-y.
“We’re the police,” the scuzzier of the two said. “Put the gun away and go inside.”
This was one of those situations where you don’t have time to think. You have to act. I asked for ID and he badged me, cautiously. That was good enough for me. I went inside. So much for a trigger happy LAPD.
(A couple days before I’d said to Sally, “If the cops are going to stake out your place, let me know.” She assured me she would. So much for assurances.)
In a Lonely Place was still on. And then the paranoia hit. Jesus, they were cops. And I had pulled a gun on them. The movie droned in the background. It could have been anything as far as I was concerned. I was spacing out. Visions of SWAT teams surrounding my apartment took up all the space in my head. Firefight. The movie in my mind.
“The building is surrounded,” the disembodied voice on the loudspeaker would say. “Come out or we’ll blow you to Kingdom Come.”
The thoughts grew larger. What should I do? I called Sally’s apartment phone. I was in my bedroom, which sat directly over her living room. Probably where the two undercover cops were. One of them answered. I introduced myself.
“Are you the guy from upstairs with the gun?” he said.
“Yes,” I said.
“Man, you really made me nervous.”
Not as nervous as I was when I found out you were the cops, I thought, but didn’t say. He was cool. They weren’t going to bust me. I had, indeed, pulled a gun on the LAPD and lived to tell about it.
Sally moved out not too long after that. No word of thanks. Not even a goodbye. I never saw her again. So much for being appreciated.
And, not too long after that, the Westside Rapist was caught a block and a half away.