Me and Steve just turn out of 136st and Lenox Avenue when the dispatcher directs us to a family shelter at 141st and Hamilton Ave. It's sort of a short term shelter for homeless families. Sort of because we've seen the same people year after year in this place.
Of course the elevator is out so here we go up 4 flights of grimy stairs, stepping on roaches and trying to avoid puddles of urine on the way up. At the third floor landing we began to hear people yelling:
"This is my motherfucking room and I don't want you in here!"
"Well listen, we were called here by someone who thinks your having a problem, now please come into the hallway with us" comes a reply. It's a female officer from the nearby precinct who was also dispatched to the call because it came in as an EDP or emotionally disturbed person. I'm ahead of Steve walking through the doorway of a small one room apartment, no more than 100 square feet. There's a man, approximately 35 years old, small build, 5'5" with an unkempt beard with strands hanging down to his chest. He's in a white tee-shirt and tan pants. He's standing in front of a stove, right hand holding a pot of oil frying good.
"I told you get out of my fucking room man!" he yells at the two female officers
"We will if you move out into the hallway and talk to us" one of the cops yells back.
I move slowly to the side of one of the cops and position myself to where my right arm is unencumbered in the cramped room
"I told you to get the fuck o..." the guy begins to yell but before he can finish I swing my right arm and punch him right in the face. He hits the wall and falls to the floor
"What the fuck are you doing?" one of the cops screams at me while the other lunges and grabs me by my equipment belts and starts pulling me towards the door. The first cop takes out her flashlight and raises at me. "Oh shit!" I tell myself
"Why the fuck did you do that?" she screams at me again
"What the fuck is on the stove?" I scream back
She looks confused
"The scumbag was boiling oil and had a box lye next to it. He was making a Carolina Pancake to throw in your faces!" I yell back.
She looks up at the stove and lowers her flashlight. She looks white as a ghost.
"Are you kidding me? How did you know?"
"How long have you been out here?" I ask
"Close to a year"
"15 years here. Seen that shit more times than you can count"
A minute or so later the troops arrive. Cops, EMS personnel. The sergeant takes the cops down one end of the hallway and asks what happened. A few minutes later the sergeant walks over to me and Steve.
"Hey, thanks for watching out for my officers. Knew a guy 20 years ago in Brooklyn who got caught on the back with that shit. Real nasty shit"
"No problem Sarge" I say like I do this shit 20 times a day meanwhile my legs are shaking and I'm not quite certain if I wet my pants.
Walking away the sergeant turns back:
"You guys going to be at Ragg's tonight?" Ragg's is the bar on 119st many of us like to hang out at after a shift to get drunk and blow off some steam.
"Sure" I answer
"OK. First ten rounds are on them" he points to the two cops.
"Sounds good to me" I answer as we walk towards the stairs and back to the vehicle.