Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Separation of Church and State - South Bronx Style

I was on a solo foot post in the vicinity of Southern Blvd (with the elevated train above it) and Boston Road when I was a approached by a male black, maybe 50.  He was quite agitated, and was repeatedly putting his hand to his throat in the universal "I'm Choking" sign.

"Come!  You come with me!"  He grabbed at the sleeve of my jacket but I brushed his hand away.

"Sir (as I was ever the polite officer at the time), how can I help you?"

"Me.  Can't breath good.  Him, curse me.  Come!"

"Oh boy.  WTF was this crap?" I thought to myself.  "Two Post Seven to Central.  Show me with a pick up of a dispute, Boston and Southern.  No further needed."  I didn't want one of the sector cars rushing to back me up.  "Be advised, verbal dispute only."  Central acknowledged and requested I update when I had further.

So i found myself following my new found complainant about 2 blocks, to a small apartment building.  The whole time he was making sounds like a cat hacking up a hairball.  I knew the sound well, as I've been a life long cat person.  It is not a highlight of owning a cat.

He opened the lobby door and gestured for me to follow.  In for a penny, in for a pound.  "Two Post Seven to Central.  Show me at (some random number) Vyse Ave in regards to my verbal dispute."  There, God forbid I was stepping from a pile of shit into some serious shit, at least they would know where to find me.

Our destination was directly ahead of us, at the end of the first floor hall.  What I was about to witness was something I was never trained for.

Bamn!  Bamn! Bamn! on the apartment door.  My complainant was excited and anxious.  The door opened quickly.  On the other side of the doorway was another black man, dressed all in black,  He held some beads in his hand.  It might have been a rosary, but I didn't intend to get close enough to know for sure.

My guy was the first to speak.

"You!  You put curse on me!  Now I can't breath.  So, now I bring police!"

"Eh!  Why would I waste my magic on you!  You are nothing!  I don't use my magic on nothings!"

"See!  I tell you he curse me, now he deny!  Arrest him!  Take him to jail!  I can't breath!"

Strange thing is, my guy was breathing well enough.  I mean, these two were yelling back and forth at each other now.  I could see it was getting out of hand, and if I didn't end it soon they might even come to blows.  At that point, I would be arresting people.

"Listen up!  Both of you!  Shut it!"

I was actually surprised that they both shut up.  Now I had two sets of eyes, looking at me for a decision.  Or an answer.  Something.

"You!"  I said to the man in the apartment.  "No more magic!  Understand?  No mas!"

Then I turned my attention to the man that had drawn me in to this quagmire.

"We need to step outside and talk" I said.

"You need to understand, due to the separation of church and state, there really isn't much I can do directly.  This is a religious matter.  I can offer some advice, however.  If this man is cursing you, why don't you see a Catholic Priest.  Even better, there s a Botanica around the corner.  Talk to them in there.  They can probably help you."

"Yes! Yes!  Thank you!"  he tried to hug me, but I redirected it to a handshake.  "I feel better already.  Yes, I can breathe!"  And then he walked around the corner, excited to be going to a Botanica.

Me?  I realized I was dealing with Haitians and their Voodoo in the middle of their yelling match.  I would have realized sooner, the signs were there, but it isn't something that would have ever occurred to me on it's own.

"Two Post Seven to Central.  Central, mark my job a 97 Robert - referred to... referred to mediation."  I certainly wasn't going to say referred to Santaria.


  1. Hard to trust that people still beleive Voodoo and other black magic tricks.

  2. It's not what you or I believe (I certainly don't believe in VooDoo) but they certainly did. The trick was finding a solution that didn't offend. I'm still proud of myself with this one :)

  3. Every once in a while we find Santaria related evidence at the beach. I'm not sure why anyone needs to junk up a surf spot with a decapitated chicken. +shudder+

    Great story as always!