First off, Happy Birthday Mom! It’s amazing you don’t look older with all the stuff I put you through.
Day 29/44. Basically, four weeks down with two to go. Nausea is still manageable. Pain with swallowing usually doesn’t rear its ugly head until mid to late afternoon so, of course with the pain medication that I AM TAKING AS PRESCRIBED….. it’s manageable. Weight?…well… somehow eating strawberry and banana smoothies for lunch and the chocolate smorgasbord milkshake for dinner, I still lost about two pounds this past weekend, holding steady at about 170 lbs. My regular Radiation Dr wasn’t there so I didn’t get chewed out….yet.
It’s just that Monday’s are blah. It’s when I leave home and come back down here to check in and start another week. I know…I know…only two weeks to go….but still……
Plus, to make it worse, Kathy’s car overheated this morning and we found out its a cracked head gasket. You know the kind….. the kind that requires a NEW ENGINE! Oh yeah….that kind. Just what you want to hear when you have no job, going through cancer treatment and aren’t there to deal with it with no idea how to pay for it. Oh joy.
Also….sleep is a wish at this point. BC……Before Cancer….I would get in bed around 11:30pm or so and read for a good hour and sleep pretty soundly. Now with all the cancer/meds/ tumbling around inside my body, I can’t remember the last time I slept for more than three hours at a time. Basically, my night goes like this….I’m tired during the day, especially the afternoon but I don’t want to take a nap because I don’t want to mess up potential sleep. So I hang on until about 10-10:30 and read for about 15 minutes and drop right off…..Sandman welcomes me….sheep are jumping and the cotton is high……for about an hour. Then I have to get up to pee. Because when you take all this pain medication, and zapped by radiation, your mouth becomes very dry and they want you to stay hydrated so I’m drinking water left and right (or is it up an down?) Anyway..I’m drinking a lot of water and even though I’m a good little boy and try to void my bladder before getting in bed….It’s still got to come out. So around 11:30pm, there is the first trip. But do I drop right back off to sleep? Of course not. That would be too easy. It takes about 30-45 minutes…sometimes an hour….and then as they say on the shampoo bottles…..Repeat….repeat…. Sometimes…If I’m lucky…I can squeeze a whole two hours of sleep in there before waking up. Oh joy.
So…I know I’m in a funk….and hate to bring you, my fellow listeners down….so to pull me out of my own funk….its…..STORY TIME!
Now I keep getting asked if these stories I have been telling are all true. Someone once said, “You never let the truth get in the way of a good story” and I have been known to subscribe to that theory on occasion…but the stories I have listed on this blog actually did happen. This one is no exception….It’s still going to be a PG-13 story but I need to warn that some might find the subject matter a little …..offensive…..
UNRELATED STORY….OR….The day the Exceptional People Came out to Play
This is a SWAT related story. In order to tell it, I will need to give an overview of some tactics but relax, nothing too complicated.
Not all SWAT teams use the same tactics. The size of the team varies and the tactics utilized vary. A lot depends on what the “mission” is and what you are comfortable using. On this day, the mission was what we called a “Hazardous Warrant”. This is where undercover detectives go to a house and buy drugs, come back, get a warrant, brief us, we plan for the mission and hit the house and arrest the people involved. I’m not sure exactly how many of these I’ve been on but the number is way over 500. In the briefing, you listen out for anything that really matters such as weapons…types of weapons….types of drugs (You don’t like going against someone using PCP) and so forth. I don’t recall anything extraordinary about this briefing other than the front room had 3-4 people in it, no weapons “were seen”. Basically, your typical drug warrant.
On this day, we were using a 6-man team, plus a Sergeant. Three, 2-man groups, with a “floater”. You work with a partner for the most part, unless something happens and sometimes a 2-man team needs to become a 3 or 4 man team. Sometimes the Sgt is held in reserve and jumps in when needed. The movement of a team is almost choreographed in how it moves and flows through a house. A good SWAT team can clear a house in under 30 seconds. Of course, it takes hours and hours of practice and working with your partner to become that proficient. When you train, you usually work with your partner and your learn each others tendencies. Much like a sports team, when you work with a partner, you can tell when they are going to go left…for example,…before they do. My partner on this particular day was “Tony”. Tony had about five more years experience than I and was running in the #1 position (first one through the door). Since I was #2, our job was multi-faceted….cover everyone from when we pull up in our van…as we get out…as we approach the house. As the rest of the team members flanked out, our responsibility then narrowed to the front door and the “breaching” of the door. (Use of a battering ram to smash the lock/door open) We had to cover the “breacher” (since all he had in his hands was a battering ram) and to cover the front door in case Mr. Bad Guy wanted to come outside. Once the door came open, our responsibility was the front room and any bad guys in there…UNLESS…there was a more overriding threat such as someone with a weapon. Since we were the first of our guys in the house, the rest of the team played off of us. If we stayed in the front room, then a possibility would be #3/4 would go left and #5/6 go right….everyone playing off what the other team was doing.
THAT was the general plan.
EXCEPT….as we were getting out of the van and approaching the house…the front door was open and we could see someone inside…sitting to the right of the door….reach up and attempt to close the door. This is whats known as a COMPROMISE. You see, a lot of what SWAT does depends on a couple of factors….one of the main ones being surprise. You want the bad guy to go….”What the heck?” (or words similar to that….) You want them reeling on their back foot….you want them trying to figure out where their day started to go down the crapper. You want the deer in the headlights look. You achieve that through one big advantage and that is …..lets say it together….SURPRISE!
For whatever reason….we didn’t have it on this warrant.
But that’s ok….because you can get it back…well….mostly….and you do that through speed. You hasten your actions before their brain kicks in and realizes what is going on. There is a really cool concept called “The Boyd Principle” that was figured out by a USAF Col named John Boyd that explains all this but I won’t get into it now. (Sorry…I know …I know…but we have to finish the story.)
So …where were we? Oh yeah…someone inside the house…sitting to the right of the door…is now attempting to close said door. Tony calls out “Compromise” and that lets everyone know we have been spotted. Tony now kicks it into gear and is sprinting to the door before it closes. As his partner, I have to be there with him so into sprint mode I go. Tony gets to the door, just as it was about to shut, and using his foot, smashes it back open and immediately confronts the guy sitting on a couch to the immediate right of the door. I can see this out of the corner of my eye but my attention is now focused in front of me and there are three females sitting on a couch to the left of the door and one female sitting in a chair immediately in front of me.
(Now….I think we should all take a moment here to be impressed……I wanted to create a picture so that you could relate to the setting. I created this in PowerPoint and saved as a JPEG and pasted. I’m pretty damn impressed with myself. I’m just saying.)
So in this lovely image above….we have….one couch to the left that contains three females. We have one chair in the middle that contains one female. And we have one couch to the right that contains one male. The stars represent Tony and I. He is the one lower right dealing with the male on the couch to the right and I am the star (of course I am….its my story) on the left dealing with the three females on the couch and the one in the chair.
At this point, Tony and I are back to back…which is not a bad thing. We are covering each other…we have automatic weapons and “so far” we can’t see any bad guy weapons….we are in a good position of “tactical dominance”.
So the rest of the team, (remember all that training?) can see, almost immediately that we have this particular situation under control (for the time being) and it is time for them to continue clearing the rest of the house. So they go between us to do so and continue to clear the other rooms in the house.
Now the orders begin. One of the things that you want to establish…after surprise…(oops) and speed…(got it) is your dominance. There are other words for it but basically you want to use everything at your disposal to let the bad guys know that this is just not their day, that you have the upper hand…that before we came in…they thought it was their house but now? Its ours. You do this by using loud, clear, authoritative commands…, (of course, pointing a machine gun at them also helps) and you tell them what you want them to do. First order of business? You’ve seen the TV and movies…you want to see their hands. If you can see their hands, you can also see that there are no weapons in their hands. So with me commanding the four females, and Tony commanding the one male, we tell them….”Let me see your hands!”
Now this isn’t a hard command. In fact, its pretty basic and simple. IF…..and I’m going to go out on a limb here a little bit….IF…you are in a crack house being confronted by a SWAT team….I’m going to say that you’ve heard that command once or twice before. Its about as routine as commands go. As a matter of fact, I was about to start issuing my second command when I heard …..remember, Tony and I are back to back so I can’t see him….I heard Tony say….”I SAID…..LET ME SEE YOUR HANDS!” Mmm…..that’s not right. I’m pretty sure the guy can see Tony…can see the machine gun he is holding….can hear him….I hear Tony say the same command in Spanish…maybe that’s it! The guy can’t speak English! But wait…I hear the guy talking…he can speak English so why he is not complying? Uh…Finley? What about your own bad guys? Oh crap! You’re right! Lets see….I’ve given the order…starting from left to right….first female…hands up…second female…hands up…third female..hands up…all females on couch..check….fourth female in chair in front of me….hands under a blanket…..NOT GOOD. Lets repeat the order…..LET ME SEE YOUR HANDS! No response….lets say it louder….and lets add some expletives for meaning….PUT YOUR #$@# HANDS UP! No response…what the heck? Doesn’t she hear the dominance in my voice? Doesn’t she know that I’ve done hundreds of these warrants? That I can shoot the wings off a gnat with this here machine gun? Apparently, she didn’t get the memo so let me “show” her what I mean. So I reach down and grab one of her wrists with my hand and yank it from under the blanket. She immediately plunges it back under the blanket. Crap….plan B. Meanwhile…the other three females are screaming at me…I tell them to shut up…and grab the blanket and attempt to yank it away from her…she grabs the blanket…so now we are in a tug of war…..
Meanwhile..I can hear the inflection in Tony’s commands and they are getting about as dire as mine…..I hear something along the lines of…LET ME SEE YOUR OTHER HAND….IF YOU DON’T SHOW ME YOUR OTHER HAND…I WILL SHOOT YOU…..
Crap….Tony needs my help but I can’t help him…I’ve got my own problems to deal with…..
The other three females are screaming….the girl I’m confronting sounds like she is in pain…I’m playing tug o war with her and this dang blanket…..I’m getting about ready to do something pretty drastic….GET YOUR #$@%%&&^%$ HANDS UP NOW!!!!!!!!!!! Still…no response….ok….you want to play it that way….as I reach in to use my off hand to grab her around her scrawny neck…..I hear one word through all the noise…..
The three females have been screaming the whole time that this female I’ve been attempting to order around is deaf.
Mmm.. Maybe that is why she isn’t complying.
So I ask her….”Are you deaf?”
Real smart Finley.
Ok…my issue is dealt with ….what about Tony? I can hear that he is about to butt stroke this poor guy on the couch…I hear a groan..I hear a yelp of pain….
In the (slight) lull…I quickly grab the blanket and throw it on the floor…making sure there are no weapons…and position myself so I can still cover these four females but assist Tony. About that time, I see Tony reach down, grab this guys wrist, and yank, very forcefully up. The arm didn’t go up…the guys whole body went up and a scream of pain escaped his lips. The guy has a deformed arm. He can’t straighten it out. (or at least until Tony did).
So in front of me….is a deaf woman. In front of Tony, is a guy with a deformed arm. What are the odds that you would have two….exceptional ….people in the same crack house on the same day…?
Meanwhile….the rest of the guys continued to clear the house…hearing all this going on in the front room but continuing their job….when they are done, my Sgt comes running in to assist…and he is behind the deaf female…and is about to use force on her to get her to comply when EVERYONE…..and I mean EVERYONE….screamed out….SHE IS DEAF!
We gathered our wits about us… took a deep breath….arrested those that needed arresting….and lived to tell the story.
So that is the day when the exceptional people decided to come out to play.