Just the Facts by Stephen Obler

It was seven minutes past four on a Tuesday morning in June, 1983.

I was working with my partner Jimmy, assigned to RMP (Radio Motor Patrol) 1715, (a nice
Plymouth) designated by Central as 13 Edward .

We got the call over the radio from Central, “In the 13th Precinct… shots fired/man with a gun..13 Edward?”

Jimmy responds to Central “13 Edward, 10/4.”

Central adds “...anonymous caller, no description, no call back.”

And we quickly respond.

We do it with No Lights and No Siren.

We would like to arrive unannounced to the man with the gun.


Bad enough he knows who we are.

Dressed in our police costumes.

And we don’t know who he is, yet.

Oh, yes, he’s the guy with the gun who may have just shot someone.

Our friend is probably not a big fan of the NYPD.

The location is The Terminal Hotel, a SRO (Single Room Occupancy) catering to the dregs of society just around the corner from the Methadone Clinic on East 23rd Street between Lexington and Third Avenues and of course, it is in the confines of the thirteenth precinct and in our sector.

Our guy is probably not a Methadonian.

They’re all zonked out by now.

Maybe he’s one of the EDP (Emotionally Disturbed Person) guys .

Who sold his psychotropic medication?

And he is now freaking out.

Or maybe he’s just a garden variety skell who’s upset with the service at The Terminal.

Maybe it’s a lover’s quarrel?

Last week it was Tyrone and Tashinga.

Who knows and who cares?

The Sergeant is probably still visiting the Korean Whore House on Lexington Avenue.

So we won’t bother him.

The two female cops in 13 George say over the radio they want to back us up.

Jimmy says over the radio “Not necessary, thanks anyway Laverne and Shirley”.

They respond “10-4 Lowlife”.

That’s us, our radio nickname “Lowlife."

But that’s another story.

Anyway, the fewer eyes the better.

Just in case we got to take care of business.

As we pull up, one of the hotel residents says the shots came from the third floor.

The stair way is lit with all the power the 25 watt incandescent bulb can generate as we quietly
make our way up to the third floor.

I lead the way, because it’s my turn.

Jimmy and I have been to this skell hotel more times than we wish to remember.

So we kind of know the layout.

The one hundred year old building has been divided up into 4 foot x 8 foot cubicles lining both sides of a long dimly lit and narrow hallway.

At the end of the hallway we know there is a small one person bathroom with the bowl facing outwards.

It probably was fashioned from an old broom closet.

Did you know Captain Video from the Golden Age of Television lived and died here?

He was just another drunken nobody who was once a somebody.

The lighting is practically nonexistent; the door is three quarters of the way open.

In the shadows, I can see a man sitting on the toilet bowl, leaning back.

I can’t make out his face or if he is awake.

Jimmy and I hug the wall as we quickly converge on the bathroom.

The man is not moving.

As I get close, I notice the moonlight is exposing his hand.

And there is a gun in that hand.

I draw down on him and yell, “Give it up Mother Fucker,” as I kick the door to gain better access.

I step inside and notice the left top part of his head and his left eye are missing.

In an instant I feel something hitting my left shoulder.

It is gooey and smelly.

It is his some of his brains and part of his skull.

I guess he shot himself and the brains and skull were sticking to the ceiling until I stepped in.

It dropped right onto my shoulder.

“S H I T”…. I yell.

Of course, Jimmy laughs uncontrollably.

Of course, I threw away the shirt and took a shower back at the station house.

And we didn’t bother to tell the Sergeant until we saw him later at the all night diner.

As he ate his breakfast and listened.

He thought it was funny too.

Stephen Obler is a retired law enforcement officer, security consultant,
private investigator who is currently teaching at a small college in the New
York tri-state area.


Anonymous said...

nice touch with the brains on the ceiling bit. I can believe cops would laugh at this situation--better than getting shot at.

Keep writin'

Bill Baber said...

ugggh... that's filthy, gore falling off the ceiling. Nicely done!!

Anonymous said...

"The art of diplomacy lies in keeping one's opponent waiting"

paulo coelho

Anonymous said...

Hey Steve,

This was a kick ass write. Congrats, my good friend. And cheers!