Just then I spotted a patrol car parked at a side street. The driver was leaned against the car, laughing and talking with one of the night-time girls. She was leaning in toward him with her hand on his chest. Looking across the car, I could see the other patrolman was seemingly doing likewise.
I nudged Krispy and commented.
"Look at that... do you suppose they would even know if a crime came up and hit them on the head?"
"You have to understand about night-time patrols. They have to stay in good with the people that populate the streets. That is one way they get important information. These girls have helped us several times by passing on news about some of the criminal element."
I would come to understand what he was saying more clearly in times ahead of me; at the time, however, I was very ignorant of the truth. I was there, though, to learn the ropes.
"Observe and learn," was all Krispy said.
We strolled over to where the patrol car sat.
"What are you bums doin' out here this late at night? Lookin' for some liquor?"
Forgetting I still had the empty liquor bottle in my hand, I looked down at it.
So I staggered a little, and said, "Yeah, buddy, but it's all gone. You happen to have a little money on ya for some more?"
I stared at him through half-open eyes, with my head leaned back, as though I had trouble seeing him.
"Come on, Slick! Can't you see we're talking to cops? Sorry, officer. I'll take him where he can sleep it off. He's new around here, and still tryin' to get his bearings."
"Okay, Krispy. You do that! You better keep that baby bird under your wing before he gets in real trouble."
I staggered a little more and waved good-by at the assembled company and we went on our way.
"Zeb, I mean, Slick, that was some fast thinking on your part! You're going to be a natural! I'm proud of you, boy!"
"I can certainly see why you couldn't find them while ago. Listen, I feel compelled to find that Nardocci kid soon and see if I can't help him. He apparently has brains, but he's not using them in the right way. If something doesn't happen to set him on the right path, he's going to wind up in more trouble than he can handle."
We wound up patrolling the streets for the next few hours, then about four a.m. we went back to his apartment. We took turns cleaning up and then grabbed a few hours sleep.
I had no dreams during that time of rest, so when I felt a hand on my shoulder shaking me awake, I was ready to get up. I got dressed and we were ready to leave for the day.
Two weeks passed quickly by, as we followed the same routines each day. I learned more and more each night about life on the streets as a homeless person. A few nights we stayed out and did not return home for a couple of days. It was then that I got the true feeling of homelessness. It was a good lesson.
Finally, I got word that I had been accepted and new classes in the police academy were scheduled to begin.
(To be continued)