Profile Stop


illustration by Mike Force

Driving the freeway late at night. Texas storm. Lightning striking every horizon. Thunder like a rude upstairs neighbor stomping the floor.

And rain heavy enough to bring down every pharaoh, king, and tyrant.

Afraid for my life, I pull over and park beneath an overpass. Alongside a cop car that does the same.

Though I have never committed any crime, I am still nervous in the presence of a cop. Brown-skinned and travel-disheveled, I fear I look like every man on the Most Wanted posters.

I wave at the cop. He waves back. Officer Friendly. But he keeps staring at me. The lightning illuminates him every 30 seconds. And the thunder becomes the soundtrack for a 21st-century film noir.

Something bad is always seconds from happening.

And, to my surprise, the cop steps out of his car and walks toward me. I roll down my window.

"Hello, officer," I say. "Is something wrong?"

"No, not at all," he says. "I just wanted to tell you—to tell somebody—how much I love lightning storms."

"I love them, too," I say. "But they kinda scare me. Love and fear. Like being married."

He smiles, salutes, and walks back toward his car. A good cop is the best thing in the world; a bad cop is the worst. recommended


Comments (8) RSS

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It's noteworthy that this is fiction. And much as I can appreciate the sentiment, I don't think that a "good cop" is anywhere near "the best thing in the world."

Even the most well-intentioned officer will at times be ordered to do things, like break up a peaceful protest (there are other examples, but that's my favorite), that are wholly screwed up.

While necessary, it's a role that denies itself a large measure of normal, human agency.

I like the piece, though.
Posted by thiseth on March 27, 2013 at 10:36 AM · Report this
@1 It could be that realizing you have run into a good cop and not a bad cop is a large part of the feeling that a good cop is the best thing in the world. That's how I read it.
Posted by sahara29 on March 27, 2013 at 1:49 PM · Report this
A good cop is a fantastic thing when you need one.
Posted by Claudia Putnam on March 27, 2013 at 6:55 PM · Report this
You didn't pay Sherman for this did you? He paid you, right?
Posted by menace2society on March 28, 2013 at 8:35 AM · Report this
djx 5
Beautiful, as always
Posted by djx on March 30, 2013 at 6:51 PM · Report this
@1, I think you need to take it in context. In that moment--first, fear, then surprise, then sweet relief. There may be better things, but not when you see a cop approaching your car.
Posted by portland scribe on April 3, 2013 at 8:27 PM · Report this
Younger officers are usually the "go get'em" types who become jaded and cynical by their fifth year. Then a few years before they retire, an amazing thing happens. They become open to seeing the good once again. The world isn't created of filth and lies. There is no "us", no "them" and the blue line is a story they had told themselves just to feel special, worthy of the nickle plated shields.

Your officer must have been near retirement.
Posted by Dusty Clare on July 24, 2013 at 10:31 PM · Report this
I love how the title makes you wonder if the person doing the profiling is the cop or the protagonist.
Posted by DcnDavid on September 20, 2014 at 8:00 PM · Report this

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