Monday, April 20, 2015

The Man on the Bench, Hillside Park, Santa Fe, New Mexico

The state troopers cautiously approached the man on the park bench. Surprisingly, he was out after 6 PM and using his clam-shell cell phone. Jenny, the senior officer and a tall, broad-shouldered trooper with a blonde pony tail, went forward and sat next to the startled man. Brian, the acolyte was medium height with a dark flattop hair cut, hung back in case there was an ambush. It had been known to happen.
          As Jenny sat down the elderly man looked up, putting away his cell phone.
“Where am I?” He asked in confusion. Jenny stared at him, and then put her hand on his leg.
          Brian gazed around the quiet, darkening park, but nothing appeared untoward. It was past six in the evening and curfew was in effect, an offense for the man on the bench. Worse, he had been using his cell phone in public, a class-two felony.
          Jenny talked quietly to the old man, who seemed unclear about his location, or what he was doing in the park. The elderly man had reasons to worry as Brian recalled the woman they found last week in the Cross of the Martyrs Park who had been out after curfew, swilling a bottle of Cabernet on the grass. Jenny had ordered Brian to cuff the woman for his first arrest. Out past six and drinking in a public park was a compound felony.
 They took the woman to Central in the back of their cruiser. She was disoriented and incoherent; babbling that she was Mary and had permission to be out past curfew. She claimed she was doing the “good work” and just taking a few sips of wine to renew her spirit. As Brian helped her out of the back of the car, she looked at him with sad brown eyes, saying: “It is finished…isn’t it.”
          Brian shook off the troubling memory of Mary and asked his superior, “We’re taking him in?”  He nodded toward the confused man on the bench.
          Jenny waved and shook her head, throwing Brian a glance as she continued to talk to the man on the bench. A chill ran through Brian as Jenny had discretion, meaning if she deemed someone a threat or a burden to society, then she could execute the offender of the spot.
          Brian stiffened as the old man and Jenny stood up. But she patted the gentleman on his shoulder and guided him to the park path with a quick hug and a gentle nudge. The two troopers watched as the senior toddled across the park toward a large, solemn looking brick building.
          “He’s from the institution, so we send him on his way.” Jenny said.
          Brian raised his eyebrows.
          “He reminds me of someone.” Jenny said, reading the question.
          Brian smiled. “Lucky guy. Remember Mary from Cross of the Martyrs?”
          Jenny turned, cocking her head. “So?”
          “They hanged her this morning.”   

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