I watched them line up carefully. Some wore tweeds. Others wore pin stripes. It's not the clothes that individuates them. There's something more. I saw him from behind. His slacks were pressed and his windsor knot was perfect. What gave him away was the oval of sweat in the small of his back, and the way his hands in his pockets pulled his pants across his backside. He reached into his back pocket, producing both his wallet and the turned out pocket that held it. He wore the right clothes but he was the wrong fit. Armed with my knife, I wove my way through the lines to him. His hair was shaved close, but his underlying tattoos were visible when I stood right behind him. He was easily a head taller than I was and the broad line of his shoulders indicated he worked those muscles harder than any of us in the city would.
My training told me to call for backup once I was sure of what he was. My gut made me stop. We're also told to trust our instincts. I was right behind him and close enough to smell his cologne and there were other officers around us. They just hadn't noticed him yet. Getting past my nerves on my third day in the field, I stretched my hand out to tap his shoulder. With surprising grace, he grabbed my hand while turning to face me. His calm gaze and serious brown eyes pinned me to the spot, making me forget the weapon in my hand. With an eerie calm he leaned in to whisper in my ear, "I don't want to break your wrist, but if you raise that knife, you will take that choice from me. We're going on a trip."
At that moment, I decided I could get away. He would break my wrist. Putting him in restraints myself was unlikely. I should not have let it get this far. I could also do as he says and wait for the opportunity to get the upper hand. I was born to be an officer. I could handle him.
The tremble in my voice gave away the real fear I felt when I said, "I'll take you anywhere you need to go but you have to let go of my wrist."
"You came to me with a knife. You can't leave with my trust, " he said.
Switching his grasp from my wrist to my elbow, he took my knife and pressed it into my side as he took my knife and pressed it into my side as he led me through the front doors of the building. My plan to get the upper hand quickly unraveled.
You never know the value of your weapons until you're forced to choose something easy to carry and conceal for foot patrols and that choice bites you in the rear. I chose a knife for it's size and because it was a skill I was good at in training, and now my knife was gone because I was afraid of a broken wrist.
This man looked at me with a fleeting tenderness and in that moment I knew a broken wrist would be safer than the heart I wanted to hand him. Just as quickly the hard edge was back in his glare and I my quaking fear gave way to rage.