About Twenty-Five years ago, Tommy worked in Brooklyn. His supposedly “confidential and secret” office was located on the top floor of an old five story nondescript but still active Catholic High School built in the 1950’s.
Access to the office was through a rear fenced parking lot. The “confidential and secret” office had an unremarkable dedicated entrance. The top floor’s individual offices and its staff were segregated from the entire school. The offices consisted of two person dorm rooms once utilized by the Catholic Brothers who previously taught and were housed at this school. Lusty tales of guilt ridden and eventually forgiven sodomy would be revealed if these walls could talk.
The school was barely hanging on to students due to rapidly changing neighborhood demographics. Enrollment was way down. The White Irish-Catholic pool of students was drying up. In addition, so were the Catholic lay teachers who replaced the Brothers. The school was a dying outpost of the Catholic Church.
This school would soon be gone, and with that, forgotten.
The cops through out Brooklyn knew the school housed the NYPD’s Brooklyn Internal Affairs Bureau (IAB) offices. Even the neighborhood residents and the Catholic School students knew “the secret”. This is where Tommy would finish out his involuntary Rat Squad stint.
“FUCK YOU where you breath Commissioner Kelly,” were the words uttered by the many supervisors hijacked to IAB throughout the NYPD.
It was so depressing. Every afternoon at 1600 hours (4PM) they’d gather in one of the offices facing JFK International Airport. The airport sits miles across Jamaica Bay in Queens. Through unwashed windows, the hijacked IAB Sergeants and Lieutenants would watch the Concord SST take off.
To them the “Flight of the Concord” was a symbol of freedom, endurance and escape. Freedom from involuntary servitude and the endurance to complete their distasteful two year assignment. All of them bitching and moaning while drinking coffee and eating donuts. Counting off the days until being able to escape The Rat Squad and the distasteful taint accompanying their assignment.
They would refer to themselves as “Rat Boys.”
Tommy first met Jane in the parking lot on a bright spring afternoon. In an attractive way, Jane was kind of plain. In her early thirties, she stood about five foot three with mid length brown hair and blue eyes. Jane’s sexy slender figure was hiding under nondescript and unflattering clothing. With a nice smile, she was kind of cute.
Jane was out on a smoke break between teaching English classes.
Tommy had noticed her a few times before they actually spoke. He later found out she wanted to meet him and strike up a conversation.
“So, you’re one of the police officers who works up in the secret office?” She softly said looking Tommy straight in the eye with a mischievous smile and a little giggle. She tilted her head to the side, nodding at the “secret” door as she coquettishly exhaled the smoke.
“If I told you, I’d have to kill you” was Tommy’s humorous retort in his tough guy Humphrey Bogart impersonation voice while utilizing James Cagney’s gangster body language.
Both laughing, Tommy and Jane were totally at ease with this causal icebreaking encounter.
They immediately exchanged short and concise biographies. Tommy was a NYPD Sergeant from a family of Irish American cops. Jane was an Irish-American Catholic Nun on “leave” or “sabbatical” for lack of a better word.
Jane’s father was a retired NYPD Captain living in Florida and her late Uncle Timmy was a NYPD Sergeant. Her Uncle Patrick was a Priest in Boston and she had two other distant older family members serving as Nuns in Africa and Asia.
Tommy’s deceased Great Aunt Shannon was a Mother Superior, along with a few aunts and uncles who had served the Church through out the years. His father was a retired Deputy Inspector. He had a few uncles retired from The Job.
There was a thread of commonality: The Church and The NYPD.
Both families had been heavily invested in their faith. In addition, both their parents generation saw the Church as a “Calling,” as had both families similarly viewed the NYPD. Somehow, Tommy and Jane were the only family members of their generation currently serving in either one of these institutions. The Church and the NYPD, both evolving as had their families attitudes.
Within the past few years, Jane was trying to keep to herself her doubts and conflicting issues about her calling. The Church thought they discovered a sense of her discontent. But their counseling and meditation did not help. They were on the wrong track. Jane was purposely deceptive and did not steer them straight.
She was really concerned and bothered about the radical change in the Church. That was opposite of what her elders believed.
The Church finally “encouraged” her to go live in the civilian world for discovery and reflection while still remaining a member of the order.
Jane was assigned to Brooklyn as a lay teacher. The Church still had contact and control. In addition, Jane was renting her own small apartment, owned by a parishioner in Bayside, Queens who unofficially “kept an eye on her” for the Church.
Tommy’s circle of NYPD contemporaries thought The Job was changing for the worse. He agreed, but at the same time, he did not know if he totally was in step with the conventional wisdom of the retired NYPD Old Guard at this time.
The Old Guard considered the influx of civilians, women, gays, lesbians and minorities into the NYPD to be detrimental. They firmly believed these elements have been eroding the well ordered and established traditions of the department. Tommy’s father described it as “Mission Creep.” It was intentionally and insidiously led by politicalized left wing radical liberals.
Jane had decided not to procrastinate secular experiences since she was now on her own mission. She was emphatically up front to Tommy regarding “no conditions or questions” would be asked by the Church about her time away. This presupposed If or when she decided to return. Then Jane courageously asked Tommy out to dinner. This was a bold move for her.
Tommy immediately accepted her invitation, feeling the vibe between them. But he did accept with some thoughts of minor reservation and creative imagery.
The image of Tommy doing a Nun intrigued him. If she wanted to do me, the good book says “Do on to others as you would have them do unto you.” After all, it is a biblical principle. And there’s always confession. “Fuck it, Jane probably never heard of “The Irish Curse,” he reasoned, thinking of the thin girth and short length of his Irish manhood.
But subconsciously there was something more about Jane that intrigued him besides playing hide the salami with her.
Tommy picked Jane up a few blocks from her apartment in Bayside for their first date. As a joke, Tommy recommended a seafood restaurant. Jane queried about his seafood selection. She loved seafood. “Hey, after all it’s Friday!” Tommy joked.
Jane just shook her head and smiled, “You’re a real Wise Guy, huh?,” she kidded as he listed some of his seafood favorites. “By the way,” Jane seriously said, “I still only eat fish on Fridays.”
To which Tommy sheepishly replied, “Me too.”
“How about Angelo’s On the Bay, that's out in the One-O-Six Precient. Tommy casually said. “Oh yes, I know that place, it’s in St. Anthony’s Parish” she responded. They were now on their way to having a fine FRIDAY traditionally sanctioned seafood dinner.
“Did you notice how much the NYPD and the Church are ingrained in the sublimity of our references?” Jane asked.
“What do you mean?” Tommy said.
“I denote everything by location within a Church Parish, you do the same by location within a NYPD Precient, that’s just an observation, no big deal, but isn’t it kind of funny?” She said as she touched his knee. “We’re always surrounded by people that think that way” she added.
“Wow, I never thought about it, like we’re a subset of a specific population? That might be considered cool or weird, I think it’s a good thing, what do you think? Tommy asked.
“I don’t know, that’s probably what I’m trying to find out” Jane pensively said as she looked at Tommy as he drove.
Tommy and Jane started seeing each other on a regular basis. After their fourth date Tommy attempted and successfully achieved vaginal and oral penetration. Jane wondered what took him so long.
Their pillow talk consisted of everything including movies, politics and books. But it always eventually circled back to Jane’s decision on returning to the Church as well Tommy’s future status with the NYPD.
They agreed that the NYPD and the Church were so much alike. Both institutions are currently evolving and will continue to do so; most likely more drastically as time moves on. The underlying question is: Do Tommy and Jane want any part of this unknown and potentially unpleasant future.
Tommy explained that in his fathers day, the Job took care of their own. If you were a drunk or had other problems, The Job covered for you. If you couldn’t handle the street, The Job found an inside assignment for you.
The Rat Squad was once run by and filled with ineffective and dumb Keystone Kops. No one ever gave anyone up. Cops all did “The Right Thing.” There were dumping ground precients for cops with problems to sort out. The Job also took care of those really bad cops by firing them without the public spectacle of a broad brush. There was empathy for civilians and not automatic bullshit, socially motivated or politically correct arrests. Cops consoled people in crisis.
There was pride.
There was respect.
The cops once owned the streets.
Nowadays, a sense of humor is forbidden. The Job is filled with lawsuits from women, minorities and gays alleging bullshit discrimination. Everyone gives everyone up. Cops audio and video each other.
Civilians that have never been cops are making policy. Special Prosecutors motivated by political ambition fuck innocent cops. A biased Civilian Complaint Review Board with power to discipline and fire Cops is run by lawyers who hate cops. Patrol cops can’t make a decision without calling the patrol supervisor. Cameras are everywhere and tapes are edited. And forget about the cop hating biased left wing media.
In the past, cops on patrol made more decisions than the supervisors. Now most cops are autotron affirmative action dummies afraid of their own shadows. They are soon dangerously becoming the next generation of supervisors shaping tradition.
Jane compared it to the Church. Same thing. Back in the day, if a Nun got pregnant, they took care of her and placed the baby with a good Catholic family. Good people who had to hide their homosexuality from their loved ones and society were welcomed in the Church. They were forgiven for their alleged sins, even when they “digressed.”
The Church was the one and only option open to make gay peoples families proud. Priests were transferred and protected by the Church. The only thing that bothered Jane about the Church was the inaction on the pedophilia problem. But all in all, the Church kept its dirty laundry out of the public eye. This made the institution respected while remaining a rock for the flock.
The institution also protected their flock in many ways. The childless were given children. The Church would intercede to save families. All in all, The Church “did the right thing.”
In the old days, there were few, if any radical leftist Nuns and Priests. Now just as in the NYPD where people become cops to fuck with cops, the Church has people who becomes Nuns and Priests to purposely undermine the Church. This deceitful activity was undertaken for there own political and antisocial reasons.
But now and for the past forty years, the innocent Church and its policies have become ridiculed and mocked in popular media. Prosecutors, politicians and even entertainers serve the Church up to the media for ridicule. Other religions always get a pass.
The pickings are slim for the recruitment of new Nuns and Priests. Irishers are giving way to Africans to fill the ranks. The ranks of the believers are also dwindling as more and more people are leaving the Church.
For most of their lives, Tommy and Jane have been entangled in two decreasingly anachronistic institutions they were rapidly losing faith in. It was more than a feeling of mere nostalgia for the old ways, it was a loss of their tradition. Most surrender their faith because change is not fast enough. Tommy and Jane were unique for their realization of losing their faith because of the swiftness and nature of the change.
Tommy kiddingly said: ”They say people like us, we both belong to cults but yours is more severe than mine.” He went on to joke: “Nuns, Cops and Priests wear “uniforms” and sometimes get to work in civilian clothing. We both take a vow of poverty (cops are and have always been underpaid), but the vows in the Church are especially severe.” “Then again, our jobs have more socially isolating traditions than most mainstream jobs,” He added. Jane laughingly agreed. “But we love them,” she quietly said with a smile.
Tommy and Jane continued to see each other well into the next year.
Tommy only had seven years to retirement. But he wanted to stay past his twenty year retirement date until he was sixty-two. At that time, he would be forced to retire due to reaching the mandatory age requirement. He had been a cop since he was twenty-three years old. He knew nothing else. He did love The Job, but despised what he saw The Job was rapidly becoming.
Now the change the NYPD is experiencing has become more and more onerous on Tommy. He knows his options: Tommy could stay past his twenty, survive and unhappily adapt to the changes, or just retire at twenty years of service.
This decision fluctuates on Tommy’s awareness of becoming an NYPD “outsider,” as excruciatingly described by NYPD retirees. It borders on the sense of a depressing “loss of identity”. Tommy has fears he might become seen as “not one of us” by The Job.
Tommy has a vivid memory of an unknown retired cop, now working as a Private Investigator, coming into his Precient. This guy was asking for a favor from a rookie cop on the Telephone duty while Tommy was the Desk Officer. The rookie cop was rude and obnoxious. Tommy immediately interceded and handled the request with grace and respect. After the retired cop left, Tommy admonished the rookie cop: “One day that will be YOU, have some respect for these guys!” he softly, but firmly whispered to the rookie cop. “What’s this job coming to?” he then mumbled to himself.
Those incidents and emotions haunted him, because The Job has been and still is a calling to Tommy.
It soon was becoming time for Jane to make her decision. Her options were to return and unhappily succumb to the changes or leave. She knew if she left, there was no going back. No half way, no matter how the Church would accommodate her. Jane would be making a self declaratory statement that not only would become a drastic change in lifestyle, but a change in her soul and philosophy of life. A change in a life away from one dedicated to the Church and a methodology of carrying out the Church’s dictates of service to humanity. She was truly facing a critical lifetime crisis. The Church has been and still remains a calling to Jane.
Tommy and Jane’s lives were a set on conditions providing a system in which their callings can survive. Each an individual, but similar matrix, both in and out of their institutions, are now rapidly changing. These changing systems are now simultaneously challenging Tommy and Jane’s individual callings. Tommy and Jane’s meeting was serendipitous. They were obviously previously unaware they were on the same trajectory. Now each is encouraging the other in their individual decision.
Some might call that fate. Who really knows what or who controls that?
A generalized secular version of the doctrine of predestination might be referred to as “election,” in the sense that some form of deity chooses mere mortals for their own purposes.
Was Tommy’s secular deity a disgruntled and perpetually drunk old donkey Irish Catholic NYPD Cop? A Lieutenant who spent more than thirty years on the desk doing rotating tours. Lieutenant Shamus McMahon with that Irish brouge who was finally forced to retire at sixty-two and then dropped dead a month later. This cop who loved The Job, but hated seeing the changes it endured. First “Eye-Talions” and now Boneheads and Sissies?” He moans.
Is Shamus looking to “do the right thing” for a fellow cop so that cop can avoid becoming drunk and bitter as the changes expand out of control? Shamus knowing there is nothing one can do to halt this creeping cancer of change in the NYPD.
The late Sister Mary Margret O’halon, Irish immigrant and former Catholic School English teacher with her heavy ruler in hand. Always watching to wack the knuckles of her misbehaving students. Was she Jane’s secular deity? This Korean War widow turned Nun who became a Catholic traditionalist? Did she have her watchful eye on Jane? “Mass in English with Guitars and Folk Singers?” May the Saints preserve us!” She cries.
Is Sister Mary Margret looking to spare Jane a life of disillusion and disappointment filled with arduous fighting? Mary Margret all to well knows this fight will end in failure. This is the inevitable future for Jane, if she returns to the Church, and Jane’s frustrating loss will be due to no fault of her own.
Are these the existential forces that brought together traditionalist Tommy and Jane to save each other from misery?
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