. . . and sees at firsthand how a plain Vancouver cop goes about the unglamorous busine of “keeping the peace.” Climb in the back seat for a ride you’ll always rememberMcKENZIE PORTER SPENDS September 3 1955
. . . and sees at firsthand how a plain Vancouver cop goes about the unglamorous busine of “keeping the peace.” Climb in the back seat for a ride you’ll always rememberMcKENZIE PORTER SPENDS September 3 1955
AT THREE forty-five one Friday afternoon last May twenty-four constables of the Vancouver City Mobile Squad paraded for the evening shift in a dingy backroom at the old police headquarters building at Main and Cordova Streets. The sergeant, looking around for a twenty-fifth who had not yet appeared, asked, “Where’s Everett? Is he off today?” A man in the ranks replied, “Everett? Why Everett’s off every day.” The others guffawed.
At that moment Constable Frank Everett walked in. Everett is a chubby ruddy man in his forties whose undulating gait was acquired in the prewar merchant navy and the wartime RCN. Overhearing the crack, he groaned. As the driver of Car Five, which patrols a respectable working-class district in Vancouver’s east end, Everett rarely copes with serious crimes and so is a martyr to the constant ribbing of his comrades.
Partly because many of his radio calls are to the scene of motor accidents, street deaths, premature births and elderly amnesia cases, and partly because he once brought the house down at a police first-aid demonstration with a comic bandaging act, Everett is nicknamed “Doc.”
Although he’s been on the force since he came out of the navy ten years ago Everett has never figured in newspaper headlines. When he went to Section Five last September he took over another of several quiet districts which have always been his lot.
Even when there was a murder in Section Five, a few months ago, it happened on Everett’s day off. And so Everett has never arrested a killer or shot down a bank robber. Confidence men had not caught his eye nor have forgers felt the snap of his handcuffs. He serves for weeks on end with giving evidence, and when he does it is usually the unpublicized family and juvenile courts, goes for months without drawing his billy, years since he last pulled his gun.
Recently, because Car Five’s patrol is so tranquil the Police Commission, in an economy wave, moved Everett’s partner and left him to open alone. Occasionally, as he drives up and down neat streets of modest new bungalows which for the major part of his two-by-four-mile section, sees citizens staring at him critically and overheard remarks like: “What a waste of gas.”
For these reasons “Doc” Everett often wishes he could work around Chinatown where drug addicts and prostitutes give the police a lively time every night, or up in well-heeled Kerrisdale where there’s always a chance of nabbing a jewel thief, or down in the old west end where decaying mansions, averted into rooming houses, are sometimes the scene of lurid sex crimes.
But Police Chief Walter Mulligan believes that Everett is the type of officer best suited to the dullest yet most important of all police functions, an action known in the jargon of the force as “preventing a breach of the peace.”
Officers like Everett are the backbone of police forces everywhere. While detectives engaged in the investigation of crime usually get all the glory, it's men of Everett’s stamp, quietly carrying out the routine patrol work, who enable most of us to sleep soundly in our beds at night.
For eight hours a day, five days a week, Everett carries out this task. He costs the taxpayers three hundred and forty dollars a month. One month he works from midnight to eight, another from eight to four and a third from four to midnight. The evening shift is the busiest of the three and this is the one Everett was on that Friday night last May when Maclean’s had an opportunity to watch him earning his pay.
After the headquarters roll call Everett marched with his twenty-four colleagues and the sergeant over to the police car park on the skid-row corner of Powell and Main. The slow and solemn nature of their tread provoked a couple of halfhearted catcalls from some bums in the doorway of a tavern, but the officers looked straight to the front and kept their noses up.
Everett examined Car Five, signed a book to say he had taken it over from the previous shift in good condition, and then drove east for two miles along Hastings Street. At the shopping centre at the junction of Nanaimo and Hastings, which Everett regards as the pivot of his beat, he dropped down his patrolling speed of between fifteen and twenty miles an hour.
Immediately he created a funeral-like procession following drivers who feared they might get a ticket if they overtook him. Muttering in exasperation, Everett pulled into the curb and signaled them. Each passing driver eyed Everett nervously and Everett returned them a dead-pan stare, you’d think I was going to eat them, wouldn’t ya?” he growled.
He swung into the residential blocks. A girl about twelve years old stood in the middle of the road with her back to the approaching police car. She was waving and shouting excitedly to some unseen person. Everett stopped the car gently and quietly within a yard of the girl. Oblivious to the car, the girl proceeded with some long-range conversation at the top of her voice. Everett slumped in his seat, sank his chin in his hands, and waited with an air of patient resignation. When the girl turned and saw the car, she almost jumped out of her shoes. Everett said sweetly, "What are you doing, kid?” In a tremulous voice she replied, "I’m talking to my girl friend.” “Ah,” said Everett, “in semaphore, eh?” “Pardon?” she said. “Skip it,” he said. Then Everett raised his voice. “When you’re crossing the road,” he said, “cross! Don’t dillydally with your back to the traffic! Now get off home and stay on the sidewalk.” The girl blushed and scampered away.
“Kids!” said Everett. “Boy, you’re going to see something of kids tonight.”
Already the radio at headquarters was chattering out calls to other cars.
“Car Three?” said the operator in a matter-of-fact tone.
“Car Three,” came a driver’s reply, with equal nonchalance.
“Mountside Hotel,” said the operator. “Two drunks fighting in a room. One reported to have a knife.”
“Okay,” said the driver of Car Three. You could almost hear him yawn.
“Car Twelve?” said the operator.
“Eight-three-six-four Ambleside. Alleged theft of property. Suspect detained by owner.”
“Thank you,” said Car Twelve’s driver, just like a store clerk receiving a telephoned order.
“All Cars?” said the operator.
Everett stopped and picked up his pencil.
“Pick up driver of motorcycle one-eight-four-one-three. He just bought it for cash from Merryweather Sales on West Broadway and was so excited he drove off east with the dealers’ plates on. No need to detain the driver if the plates are recovered.”
Five minutes later Car Ten reported recovery of the plates.
“Looks like a quiet evening for me,” said Everett. “We’ll liven it up with a few additions to our vocabulary.”
He swung idly into Cassiar Street and nodded to a big building ahead. “Now look, and listen,” he said. As he drove past the Girls Industrial School a dozen teen-aged delinquents, some of them quite pretty in colored sweaters and jeans, leaped to the barred but open windows. Some shook their fists at Everett and blasted him with a selection of epithets that would have disgraced an infantry barracks. Others accompanied their vilification of Everett with obscene gestures. It was a stunning spectacle. Everett kept his eyes stonily on the road ahead. “It’s the same every time I pass,” he said. “They don’t like me.”
Periodically Everett gets a call to restore order at the school. The last time he was summoned, the girls had taken t heir iron beds apart and used the legs as battering-rams. They had joined up all the cells in one block by breaking four-foot holes in the separating walls. Piling up chunks of cement for ammunition, they had held off the women wardens with a steady barrage. When Everett arrived he asked for a blanket. He held it up to his face and advanced. Most of the chunks hit the blanket and fell harmlessly to the floor but one or two hurt. “A big fat girl was the ringleader,” he said. “I had one heck of a time dragging her away from the others. But when I got her apart, the others soon quietened down. Some of them are not like girls at all. They’re more like animals. I don’t know what the world is coming to.”
During the five-to-six rush hour Everett got a call. “Nanaimo and McGill,” said the operator. “Traffic accident. Child involved. Ambulance already notified.” Everett replied, “Thank you,” switched on the siren and pushed the car up to seventy-five miles an hour as the traffic in front made way for him. “Come on old gutless,” he said to the car. “Let’s see you do eighty.” But before the car could make that speed Everett was pulling up alongside a sidewalk crowd.
A middle-aged man, his face tense and pale, came up as Everett alighted. “First accident in twenty-five years,” he said as he tremblingly lit a cigarette. “And it had to be a child. Just ran out in front of me. Couldn’t avoid him. But I don’t think I hit him hard.”
“Oh yes you did hit him hard,” shrilled a big stout woman. “I saw you. You were going too fast. It’s a scandal the way you were driving.”
“Oh please, madam,” said the man reproachally.
Everett looked at the woman sharply and said, "Hi!” She replied “Hi!”
A man in overalls and a ski cap said, “It wasn’t the driver’s fault. I was driving just behind him. He never had a chance.”
Quietly Everett said, “Where’s the child?”
A young man who might have been an office clerk stepped forward holding in his arms a little boy with a bruise on his forehead. “He just bounced off like a rubber ball,” said the young man. ‘The driver couldn’t have stopped quicker.”
“He was thrown a good ten feet through the air,” said the stout woman. “I saw him. He was fairly flying through the air.”
Everett said, “Are you the mother of this child, madam?”
“No,” she said. “Nobody knows who he is or where he lives.”
“The kid says he knows where he lives. It’s just round the corner,” said the young man who was holding him. “Would you like me to take him home?”
“Thanks very much,” said Everett. “If it’s not too much trouble. I’ll send the ambulance along when it arrives.”
The young man set off with the child and Everett began to take the names of the driver and the witnesses.
“Where’s the stout lady I was talking to before?” he asked.
Somebody said, “She’s gone.”
A boy about twelve came up. “How old do you have to be before you can be a witness?” he asked. “You don’t have to be old,” said Everett. “Just truthful.” “I won’t tell no lies,” said the boy. “I want to be a witness.” Everett took his name.
A few minutes later the ambulance arrived and by now a neighbor was waiting to direct it to the child’s home. Everett followed it. The child’s home was full of people all talking at the top of their voices while the worried mother bathed the bruise on her son’s head. The loudest voice of all belonged to the stout woman who’d been up at the scene. She was busily damning the driver.
“Yack, yack, yack,” sighed Everett. “That woman seems to have a nose for trouble. I’ll bet I’ve seen her at a dozen accidents. If everybody was like her it would be God help the driver.” But it was Everett’s duty to take her name.
When the child had been taken to hospital in the ambulance Everett handed the case over to two officers of the traffic squad who’d just arrived. Then climbing behind the wheel, he picked up his mike and said, “Car Five. All clear.”
“Thank you, Five,” said the operator.
Passing a big frame house which had been converted into an old people’s home, “Doc” Everett said, “Get plenty of calls from there. The old folks are always taking it into their heads to have a little trip.”
At five o’clock one morning the night nurse discovered a woman of eighty was missing from her bed. Everett was soon on the scene. He cruised round the neighborhood and five minutes later saw the woman wandering along in her nightgown.
“Good morning, madam,” said Everett. “May I ask where you’re going?”
Smiling vacantly, the old woman replied, “I’m taking a little fresh air. I’m on my way home from a ball. It was such a lovely morning I thought I would walk.”
“Well,” said Everett. “It’s a bit chilly to be walking around in a dance dress. How would you like me to run you home?” The old woman climbed into the car. With mock severity Everett said, “Do you know it’s five o’clock in the morning?” “Never mind,” said the old woman serenely, “I don’t go to a ball every night.” When Everett delivered her back to the home she went happily to bed, perhaps to continue her dream.
Everett recalled, “Had a similar case once from an old men’s home. The old gaffer was quite convinced he’d been painting the town red. And was he ever pleased with himself! Oh, you’d have thought he was Rudolph Valentino.”
Next, Everett drove by a row of rooming houses. “You wouldn’t believe,” he said, “the things some people will do for two bits.” In Vancouver rooming houses landladies have to pay a quarter for each garbage collection. Some try to avoid this charge by sneaking out and scattering their garbage on empty lots.
“They sit at their windows and wait for me to drive past,” said Everett. “Then, thinking I won’t return for some time, they nip out with a basketful of trash. If I didn’t have eyes in the back of my head the whole area would look like the city dump.”
“Car Five?” said the operator.
“Car Five,” said Everett.
The operator read out an address. Then he said: “Complaint of boys playing ball in the road.”
“Aw heck,” said Everett. “This is one I hate.”
Outside the address given over the radio two teen-age boys in shabby jeans and T-shirts were playing catch. They were brothers who lived in a house opposite the one from which the police had received a telephoned complaint. The brothers’ house was the worst home on the street, a crooked unpainted old clapboard which was probably deplored by the owners of the bright clean homes all around.
“Their dad was left a widower with five school-age boys,” muttered Everett as he quietly drove toward them. “He hasn’t much of a job, poor guy, but he’s determined they’ll all go through college. They’ve all got to help with the housework at nights, do odd jobs and save every nickel they earn. They’re wonderful kids really. Only trouble is they don’t get enough fun.”
As soon as the boys saw the police car they stopped playing. The elder one guiltily fingered his tattered baseball mitt. Over his face the warm spring evening had spread a film of sweat. His big eyes were clouded with boredom, not a little resentment, and perhaps with thoughts of other kids on the street who were already off in their fathers’ cars to Friday night movies, dances and ball games, or were casually spending quarters on juke boxes and sodas in the corner restaurants.
“Well,” said Everett. “Somebody reported you again.”
“I know who it is,” said the boy unhappily. He looked across the street and caught the eye of a woman who was peeping inquisitively from behind a curtain.
“Never mind who it is,” said Everett. “Just remember she’s within her rights.”
“What’s the harm!” the boy blurted out fiercely. “Just playing catch. We’re not stupid enough to get run over.”
“You know the bylaws prohibit ball games on the streets.”
“We hadn’t time to go to the park,” said the boy. “It’s fifteen minutes’ walk. We have to have our supper in ten minutes and then we’ve got lawns to mow. We only just finished our papers.”
“I know,” said Everett. “But you’ve got to stop playing catch out here. I’ve warned you several times before. Next time I’ll have to take action or lose my job. So be good kids and pack it up, will you?”
"Okay,” said the boy. As Everett let in the clutch the boy added, “And thank you for everything.” Everett flushed. He leaned out of the window and gave the boy a light affectionate cuff over the ear.
“They bring a lump to my throat,” he said. “Wish all the kids were as good as they are.”
He drove past the Templeton Junior High School and pointed out various doors and windows through which boys break in several times a month and roam about the empty classrooms doing damage. "They seem to do it as a kind of revenge for punishments they’ve received,” he said. Up on the roof, Everett said, he often caught a bunch of youngsters. “When I call them down they always say they were looking for a ball. There’s not much I can do in that case.”
He passed an unfinished house: “The guy who’s building that place called me the other night to look at a four-letter word that the kids had carved into the new plaster in letters six feet high. It was carved so deep that even though he’s filled it in he’s scared stiff the letters will start looming through someday when the minister is calling.”
At another house Everett said, “There’s a little demon lives there. His favorite gag is getting a two-by-three-foot mirror off his mother’s dressing table and blinding me with reflected sunlight as I come round the corner.”
Suddenly Everett received a call. “Two-one-three-nine Barton: Child locked in room.” Everett drove to the address and found a woman on the verge of hysteria waiting for him on the doorstep.
Inside, in a little pantry off the kitchen, behind a door from which the knob was missing, a child was screaming. “I was going to spank him,” said the woman, “when he ran in there. The door slammed and now I can’t get him out. He’s terrified. Are you going to break the door down?” Everett glanced quickly around the kitchen. Then he said, “I don’t think that will be necessary.” Taking a small screwdriver from his pocket he removed the knob from the back-porch door, fitted it into the pantry door, and opened it. A child flew out blubbering and threw himself into his mother’s arms.
“Thanks,” said the woman. “Do I owe you anything?”
“It’s all part of the service, madam. Just give us a call any time.”
It was now around seven o’clock and Everett drove for supper to his own new bungalow, which stands on his beat. Before entering his house he said into his mike, “Car Five. Permission to eat please.” “Go ahead Five,” said the operator.
During a meal with his handsome wife and twenty-two-year-old son, who is a showcase and window dresser for a tobacco company, Everett was persuaded to recall something of his past.
Born on a farm in the Okanagan Valley he came to Vancouver at the age nine. At sixteen he joined the merchant navy and sailed all over the world Imperial Oil Company tankers. During the last war he served on an RCN and submarine patrol between Halifax and Bermuda aboard Fairmiles. After the war when he found the merchant navy dominated by the Communist-led Canadian Seamen’s Union he was "disgusted,” quit the sea and joined the police.
First he served on a police harbor patrol boat, then on the headquarter switchboard, next on a foot beat, and a few years ago was transferred to to the mobile squad.
“I’m my own boss,” he says. “I can drive anywhere on the beat I like, providing I’m not on call. I used to drive down every street at least once every night according to a plan. But I found my timing was getting too regular. Now I just wander about where my instincts take me. I know if anything happens I’ll soon get a call. I can reach any point on my beat in three minutes.”
He said taxi drivers help the police. When they see something suspicious taxi drivers radio their own operators who in turn call the police headquarters. It’s a goodwill gesture and in return the police are as lenient as legal with the taxi drivers.
Roundup in a Patrol Car
Several times each evening “Doc Everett makes contact with the sergeant in charge of the beat, who patrols in a separate car, and with three officers on foot. There is no timing about the meetings. If they need to get together urgently they use the telephone and radio. Usually they just encounter one another and discuss how quiet or how busy things are.
If a man on a beat adjacent Everett’s gets a call that sounds serious, Everett drives over to back him or "cover him.” The others do the same for Everett.
After his supper half-hour Everett returned to his car, picked up the mail and reported himself back on the job. And he then cruised down to the Pac National Exhibition grounds. “I never miss this place,” he said. “There’s always something going on here.”
As he drove through the rows of sheltered concession stands and carnival rides he saw the elderly uniformed night watchman running toward him. The watchman puffed, “Hi, Doc! Come and give me a hand with a bunch young punks.” Everett took the watchman into the car and followed his directions, drove to a building that was under repair and decked with scaffolding.
“I’ve been after this bunch for a long time,” said the watchman. “But I never catch ’em on my own.”
Half a dozen lads, about fourteen years of age, were swinging from ropes that the workmen used for hauling buckets of mortar. They had broke down some of the scaffolding. When they saw the police car they dropped to the ground and tried to run. But Everett, driving fast round the path ways that encircled a number of flower beds, so fast that his tires screeched skilfully rounded the boys up into a group, like a cowboy rounding up steers. He drove them back into a doorway. There they panted nervously as Everett and the watchman got out.
Pointing to a fat sullen-looking youth the watchman said, “That’s the one that’s always telling me to--
“No it’s not,” said the youth, I never use bad language in front of grownups.”
“Oh you don’t, eh?” said Everett. "That means you do use it sometimes then.”
"I might,” said the youth. "But never in front of grownups.”
"You said it to me,” said the watchman.
"No,” protested the boy. "Never in front of grownups.”
"Will you stop saying that,” bawled Everett.
"You’d think they was Tarzan,” said the watchman, "the way they use those ropes. They make such a mess it takes the men half an hour to clean up before they can start work in the mornings.”
"Okay,” said Everett. "Let’s have their names and addresses.” When he had got them down he sucked his pencil thoughtfully. The boys looked apprehensive.
"I could take you home to your fathers,” said Everett, "and ask them to give you a beating. But somehow I don’t think they’d do it. Or I could charge you with wilful damage. That’ll make you into juvenile delinquents. You know what that means. It means you’ll have a record and every time you get into trouble you’ll get worse and worse punishment. Why, you might even grow up to be crooks. How would you like that? I’m sick and tired of boys of your age behaving like ten-year-olds.”
He thought for a little longer and then he bellowed, "Your names are all new to me so you’re lucky. I’m going to give you a break. But let me get any of your names again and boy, you won’t know what’s hit you by the time you’re through. Now shove off this property and stay off.”
The boys shambled shamefacedly away.
Then Everett yelled after them. "Be your age! Get out of your diapers! You look like men! Act like men!” The boys straightened up visibly and strode through the gates trying to act like men.
"They’re driving me nuts,” said the watchman.
"There’s too much psychiatry and too little strap,” Everett reflected. "I often pick up kids I could take to court. To give them a break I take them home to their dads. But how often do their dads thrash them? Hardly ever. Once a kid said to me, 'Oh please don’t take me home. My dad’ll beat me.’ That’s just what I wanted. I took him home right away and his dad whaled the living daylights out of him. Boy, that did my heart good. And the kid did well, too. He’s got a big job in an office today.”
Everett recalled how he once told a juvenile court psychiatrist, half seriously, "You know, I’m thinking of arresting you for contributing to juvenile delinquency.”
The sun was sinking as Everett drove down to a quiet section of the docks. "We never get trouble here,” he said. "There are no dockside dives. The crews all go up town to drink.” A Japanese freighter was unloading mahogany. Harking back to his navy days he said wistfully, "She would have made a gorgeous target eleven years ago.”
A young man drove up in a little English car. Everett recognized him as a squatter: one of the people who inhabit shacks built out over tidal waters and thus avoid taxes. "Say,” said the young man, "would you mind moving on some people from near my place. They’re drinking in a car.”
In an old car were two respectable looking couples, all around thirty years of age. When questioned, they said they were married couples and neighbors. They had come down to sit by the water as their apartment building in an overcrowded section, was hot.
"Have you been drinking?” asks Everett suddenly.
The driver blanched. "Yes,” he admitted. "We brought down a couple of bottles of beer apiece.”
"You know the law?” said Everett "Yes,” said the man. Then he pleaded, "Be a good Joe and forget it I’ll lose my job if . . .”
"How would you like people drinking in cars outside your home?”
"We didn’t mean any harm,” said the driver.
"Well, you’re doing harm,” said Everett. ‘‘You’re letting kids see you drinking in a car and if that isn’t doing harm I don’t know what is. I can see you’re quite sober and I’ll overlook this once. Now shove off.”
Shortly after eight o’clock the temper of Everett’s work quickened. He moved on a couple of lovers who were necking in a car; rebuked a small boy who was throwing stones over a railway bridge, helped a foot-patrol officer catch three youths who had turned on a water tap outside a florist’s store and flooded the sidewalk; answered a call to a Chinese grocery and took home a little Dutch immigrant girl who had wandered lost, and couldn’t speak English; reported a dead dog in the gutter to the scavenger department; gave a ticket to the owner of a trailer bearing a 195 number plate; and restored order outside a home where a baby sitter was being bothered by a group of noisy boys.
Take No Chance With an IPC
The radio crackled with calls to other cars. The operator was constantly spelling out addresses and giving drivers messages like: alleged theft of cheque; disorderly youths in caffe elderly person wandering; breaking an entering; stolen car; a car with a California number plate blocking the entrance to a factory; a man annoying women off Pender Street; a cache of narcotics found off Denman Street and an IPC.
"An IPC,” explained Everett, "is an incomplete telephone call. Often the police get calls from people who suddenly hang up or leave the receiver off the hook. These calls are all checked by the telephone exchange which quickly provides police with the address. Every IPC is investigated by a policeman who drives to the address at top speed. Often it’s just a kid fooling. But it might be somebody getting murdered. ‘‘You can’t take a chance. I once went on an IPC call and found an old man had tried to commit suicide by cutting his throat. He had changed his mind, called the police for help, then fainted at the phone. If I hadn’t arrived and called the ambulance, he might have bled to death.”
Just before dark Everett drove back to the Pacific National Exhibition grounds and almost at once spotted three youths on the roof of the Empire Stadium grandstand. He swore under his breath and circled rapidly around the park in search of the watchman who had the keys. Unable to find the watchman, Everett radioed for the help of another officer. Two minutes later a second police car arrived outside the stadium. With the other officer Everett climbed over a nine-foot wooden fence topped with barbed wire. The three youths were caught hiding in a washroom high in the grandstand. They were Italians who had been in the country only a few weeks.
After making a round of the stadium and finding no damage Everett said to the boys, "If anything was missing from here you boys would be to blame But he let them off because they convinced him they only wanted to look at the stadium.
After climbing back over the fence Everett was flushed and out of breath. His uniform was covered with dust. Very solicitously the three Italian boys began to dust him down. One even adjusted Everett’s tie, an act that prompted him to recoil, spluttering with embarrassment.
"On your way,” he cried. The boys, obviously wounded by the rebuff, hurried off.
At that moment the watchman came up at a smart canter. When he heard what had happened he raised his fists and cried, "Kids! Kids! So help me, it’s getting so that I hate kids. If I had my time over again I doubt if I’d ever bring another kid into the world.”
"Take it easy,” said Everett. "You were a kid yourself once.”
"But it’s not only kids,” railed the watchman. "Only last week a couple of lovers climbed over. Fancy a woman in a skirt climbing a nine-foot fence with barbed wire on top. The things people will do for a bit of smooching.”
"I’ll bet you were worse when you were a punk,” said Everett.
The watchman subsided into a grin. "A-rrrr-h,” he said, "I had my moments.”
"Well, be good,” said Everett, and drove off.
Hubbub in a “Peaceful” City
By now Vancouver was beginning to feel the effects of a festive Friday night. Radio calls informed various cars of men lying in the road; men annoying hotel clerks; men shouting on the streets; men falling down staircases; men crashing through plate-glass windows; men singing in buses; men up lamp standards; and men making speeches outside movie theatres. Women were in all kinds of trouble, ranging from tearing each other’s hair in taverns to arriving home in taxis penniless.
Two men and a woman were apparently drunk in a car. They were being hauled off to the station. But in the back of the car were four small children. A radio call went out for the policewoman who would take the children home, put them to bed and leave them in the care of neighbors.
From a high spot on Everett’s beat the city looked peaceful enough. But the hubbub on the radio gave one the impression that the whole of Vancouver was roaring drunk. Everett got a small share of the cases.
"One-two-one-four Cedarbank,” said the operator. "Drunk breaking and entering.” In a dark poor section near the docks Everett pulled up outside an old clapboard rooming house. An Indian woman peeped through a curtain and revealed a squalid room in the greenish light of an unshaded lamp. Everett went up a staircase and there met an old Indian man in a dirty T-shirt, baggy pants and slippers.
"My lodger,” said the Indian, "he come back and bust into his room. I padlock him out because he pay no rent. But he come back roaring drunk and bust the padlock. He owe thirteen dollar.”
In the room, on a filthy bed, a young man who might have been a logger was snoring in drunken sleep. Everett had difficulty waking him.
Finally the man looked up stupidly. Everett said, "The landlord says that you haven’t paid your rent but you broke into the room against his wish Is that right?” "Thash ri,” said the man. "Well, you can’t stay here til you’ve paid your thirteen bucks. Have you got thirteen bucks?” "No,” the man replied. "Then,” said Everett "get out and don’t come back til you’ve got it.”
The man rose and fumblingly got dressed. "Where are you going?" asked Everett. "Gotta pal with a room on Powell,” said the man. "Okay,” said Everett. "Go and stay with him.” "Get money in the morning,” said the man. "That’s fine,” said Everett.
Everett helped him down the stairs. The man reeled away up the street. Suddenly he stopped and shouted back at Everett, "You are an exsheedingly nish guy—an exsheedingly nish guy indeed.” "On your way,” said Everett, Hardly had he got back in the car when Everett received a call: "One-nine-six-one Epping. Drunk annoying woman.” A tiny girl with big frightened eyes admitted him. In the kitchen Everett found a man sitting at a table with a half-consumed bottle of rye in front of him. Across the room, standing tensely against the wall, was a pla buxom woman of about forty. When the man saw Everett he sank his head in his hands and began to loose gruff racking sobs.
"He’s an alcoholic,” said the woman. "All I want you to do is watch him while I get out of this place. He threatens he’ll kill me if I leave him.”
With a few diplomatic questions Everett found out she was a common-law wife. "He’s not working,” she said "but he had enough to bring home two crocks at noon. Been drinking ever since. He’s a good man when he’s not drinking. He’s trying to quit. I called the A A and they’re sending two men who’re helping him. But I can’t stand it any longer. I’m going away until I’m sure he’s quit.”
Two shabbily dressed middle-aged men with deeply etched faces came into the house. One said, "We’re on duty for the Alcoholics Anonymous tonight, we know this guy. He’s trying to quit. They watched the sobbing figure at the table and one of them said, "He’ll be ready to quit soon. We’ve been through the mill ourselves. It’s getting near the time to quit. Are you going to Iock him up?”
"No,” said Everett. "Can’t do that. A man’s entitled to drink as much as likes in his own house. I’m only here to protect the lady while she leaves.” "Gee, that’s swell,” said the AA man. "He’s nearly ready to leave it alone I can tell the symptoms.”
Everett escorted the woman and child out of the house. On the front steps he said, "Where are you going?" She said, "To a neighbor’s. We’ll be right. But don’t tell my man where we are. When he quits we’ll be back.” "Good luck,” said Everett.
The woman led the child by the hand down the dark street. The girl turned round and waved. "Bye-bye,” she cried.
"Bye-bye, kiddy!” said Everett. About a quarter to midnight Everett was thinking of returning to the station and signing off he got another call: "Woman molested.” At the address an elderly man in his shirt sleeves was waiting on the doorstep of a modern bungalow. As Everett pulled up, a second police car arrived to support him. "Come on in boys,” said the elderly man. "I’m a retired fireman so I know a bit about police work.”
He led the officers through to the kitchen. There a pretty woman about thirty was sitting on a chair, white and drawn. She was wearing a summer coat from which all the buttons had been torn. Her cotton dress was ripped from neck to hem revealing most of her underclothes.
"She’s my daughter,” said the retired fireman. "I told her to stay just as she was when she came in. Happened a few minutes ago as she was coming home from the movies. Man jumped out at her.”
Haltingly the woman gave a description of the man. "I managed to bite his wrist,” she said, "and I know I made it bleed. He gave up and ran away.”
The second officer rushed out of the house and began to scour the back lanes of the district for a man answering to the woman’s description. Everett jumped into his car and said, "I’ve got a hunch.”
He drove fast down to a shopping centre. "There’s a guy lives down here,” he said, "who is a bit of a queer. Answers to the woman’s description too. He lives all alone. He’s got plenty of money. But he keeps dogs, cats and birds. He also feeds rats. I’ve often watched him looking at women in an odd sort of way. You never can tell in these cases. You just have to follow your instincts.”
He hammered at a door between some stores. A stocky swarthy man around thirty-five opened up. His face was black with dust. He wore a dirty torn shirt. His eyes widened with fright at the sight of Everett.
"Would you mind telling me where you’ve been tonight?” asked Everett.
"Why,” said the man, "I’ve been in all night cleaning out the basement.” "Would you mind showing me your wrists?”
The man held out his arms and Everett examined them under the light of his torch. Snapping it off he said, "I’m sorry to have bothered you—just a routine enquiry.”
Back in the car Everett said, "He couldn’t have done it. He couldn’t have got home and got himself into those clothes so soon. Besides, there were no marks on his wrist. I was wrong. Sorry I scared him. But sometimes these hunches are right.”
For half an hour he cruised back lanes looking for the woman’s assailant. But without success. "He’s got away with it this time,” said Everett, "but he’ll do it again. Sooner or later he’ll get caught. Then we’ll call that woman to identify him and he’ll have to pay. In the end, we always get them.”
It was one o’clock in the morning as Everett started back to the police car park with an hour’s overtime to his credit. At a side road the driver of a car ahead made an arc preparatory to making a U-turn. Quickly Everett blocked him off with the police car. Realizing he’d been caught red-handed the driver grinned sheepishly. Everett raised a finger, shook it in a "naughty, naughty” gesture, then grinned back. The man drove straight on and made two right-hand turns instead.
As he handed over his car to the officer on the next shift Everett said, "That was a pretty average evening on Section Five. That’s how we try to : prevent a breach of the peace. Monotonous, isn’t it?” ★