Oh Jesus, well it’s a hell of a tragic story.
This guy aced his way through the academy.
After that his record on the beat was second to none.
Consistent clean arrests from day one.
Always volunteered for the worst beats.
Always responded to the calls no-one else wanted.
Make no mistake,
we are talking fearless here,
he believed in the job
and he got it done.
We all kind of loved him as one of the guys,
but hated him for his rep’ with the brass.
Kinda made us all look like wannabes y’know?
It’s very competitive those first few years on the job.
Now this guy could’ve moved up to detective
any damn time he wanted in the last 20 years.
But every single time it was dangled in front of him,
he just passed it up.
No-one could figure out why.
Drove his wife nuts apparently,
turning his nose up at the extra money, the prestige,
while she had to watch his friends from the academy,
and their wives,
overtake him on the ladder one by one.
Women talk, y’know?
He always insisted he just loved the life of the beat cop.
Eventually, we got word from our eyes and ears on the street,
that he’d been spotted spending a lot of time
in this back alley down behind the projects.
At first we thought there had to be a drugs or prostitution angle.
Maybe even selling inside information.
So we had him tailed.
Then, the strangest thing.
Turned out the alley was dead, no drugs, no prostitution, no angle, no nothing.
Just home to a bunch of stray cats was all,
but more and more,
he hung around that alley till all hours,
playing with the cats they said,
talking to them,
even when his beat was over.
Sometimes ignoring crimes that were happening in plain view,
lost in a world of his own,
obsessed with his beloved cats.
Eventually the lieutenant reluctantly called him in
and questioned him about it.
He didn’t even try to deny it or cover it up.
He reckoned he had a strange affinity with the cats,
that they were in fact a crew of petty criminals terrorising the neighbourhood,
that he’d developed a close rapport with their self-styled leader,
who ran the whole operation from inside a dustbin.
He claimed he’d had whole conversations with him,
and that he’d even had to caution him,
for abusing the police despatch phone.
I know – you couldn’t even make this stuff up, right?
He reckoned he had to keep them in check or else they’d run amok over the entire neighbourhood.
He even imagined these whole elaborate capers that they dragged him into, where he played a pivotal role trying to sabotage their latest hustle.
Of course we tried to bury it at first,
tried to get him psychiatric help on the job.
The shrinks couldn’t even make a dent in it,
said they’d never encountered psychosis like it,
not even in the textbooks.
His wife finally left him five years ago.
She’d had enough of him crawling in late at night,
stinking of tuna and cat shit,
telling his crazy stories about what the cats had been up to this time.
Not exactly every woman’s dream,
playing second fiddle to a bunch of scrawny alleycats.
We finally had to let him go last year when a reporter got wind of it and started sniffing around.
He had to be taken away kicking and screaming to the asylum.
Broke my damn heart.
Broke all our hearts,
those of us who remembered him from the academy days.
I mean if it could happen to him… well.
They say that he perches on the end of his bed at night,
licking his hand and washing his face,
miaowing out of the barred window of his padded cell,
calling out to his old friends I guess.
Crazy old Charlie Dibble.
Best damn cop I ever knew.