MICHAEL THE POLOCK

I sat and thought about everything. About me, Michael Abromowicz. The Polock cop. Probably destined to be a cop having been named after the Patron Saint of police officers, Michael the Archangel. My mother, Helena (God rest her soul) wanted to name me after Saint Stanislas, the famous Jesuit and patron of Poland. But my father always loved the story of Michael and the good angels in the battle fought in heaven against Satan. He always said since he was a boy he could picture Michael fighting Satan and throwing him out of heaven. As a kid I got the nickname "Z". It started out with my last name. Some kids at St Elizabeth's School used to call me Mike alphabet. "A to Z" they would say. Eventually they shortened it to "Z" and it stuck.

I was raised in a working class polish neighborhood in Baltimore with a staunch Catholic upbringing. Altarboy with a stay at home mom. That was the norm. Dad was a dock worker loading freighters in the harbor. He worked a couple of jobs to keep me, my brother and three sisters clothed and fed. Mom was always sweeping the four feet of front steps we had. She was the Mayor of Howard Street. She knew everyone and everyone's business. I was the oldest of her five kids. She was a deeply religious woman who not so secretly wished that I would become a priest.

I never became a priest. I did enter religious life for a short time right after high-school. I was a novice at a Trappist Abbey in South Carolina. It didn't take me long to decide that the strict silence bothered me more than I thought it would. Although I enjoyed the structured life, the daily work and the time with God, I decided that I could not live without female companionship. My life of service eventually took another direction and I traded in one uniform for another.

My oldest sister is a Sister. A Claire. A Franciscan nun. Another sister is an ER nurse and my baby sister is an unhappy stay at home mom with an abusive drunk for a husband. My brother is a Baltimore City firefighter. Our parents were always proud of their children.

My partner was a another story altogether. He was raised above the Mason Dixon line in Philadelphia. His parents were of a different breed. He was an only child. His father was an editor of a suburban newspaper and his mother was a secretary for a law firm. He had been a "latch key kid". They had expected him to become a lawyer or a doctor. He joined the US Navy right out of high-school and became a corpsman. He wound up being assigned to the Marines. He was in Beirut in 1983 when a suicide bomber drove his truck and blew up the Marine barracks. Little did he know back then that was the was the start of many terrorist attacks. Rob had not been brought up in a religious family. He said that after what he saw in Beirut he couldn't understand how anyone could believe in God. He asked me one day "What kind of God would allow that to happen?" It was the kind of question that you weren't expected to answer. He would ask that rhetorical question out loud more than once. He went to college under the GI bill and decided after getting a degree that he wanted to become a cop. His parents had temporarily held out hope that he would "make something of himself" after getting a degree. His mother was glad that he was successful and happy at what he did for a living. His father was disappointed that he did not exceed his own expectations. He was secretly proud of what his son did and stood for.

I found that cops generally fell into one of two categories. They were either very religious or strong atheists. All the evil and carnage that humans are capable of doing to each other made you lean in one direction or another. I carried a pocket rosary with me everyday, Rob carried a shark shaped keychain bottle opener. "I'm a fuckin' drinker and I'm a predator for predators..."

So here I sit waiting to tell my story. I stared at my shoes. Well worn but comfortable. I noticed that they had blood spatter across the toes. I hadn't noticed that before now.

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