Alexander David Landon, it turns out, is a pretty interesting guy. I like to think of him as an onion; there’s always another layer that you didn’t know existed. I can’t tell you how many times he’s done something that surprised me, but, when I think about it in hindsight, was completely predictable behavior because of his character. As an example, like most cops, he deals with a lot of transients and homeless. Where we work, a lotta cops call ‘em “CHUDS:” citizens having urban difficulties. Kinda funny at first, even the sound. Chud. After a while of dealing with most of those folks, with all the rampant mental illness, drug-induced schizophrenia, and intravenous drug addiction, that’s what they become: chuds. Just another worthless chud. Even though we’d never talked about it, I just assumed Alex, like the rest of us, had developed a real distaste for interacting with that population and the crazy, needle-stick stress of being around ‘em.
Then, I found out, kinda by accident, talkin’ to one of my chud snitches, that he knows Alex, calls him that, in fact: ‘Alex,’ like they’re friends. Guy tells me he sees Alex at the soup kitchen every few days, every couple ‘o weeks, whenever they both happen to be there at the same time. I don’t say nothing to the guy at the time, cause I didn’t want to make it seem like a big deal to ‘im, so I wait and call Alex, and ask him if he really knows this guy. Turns out, they’re kinda close, not like, borrow-money kinda friends, but, like he and Alex’d talked a lot about their past, their families, some pretty personal stuff. The kinda stuff, I guess, that cops don’t ever like people on the street to know, and it’d never come back to Alex through anyone else, so he felt like he could kinda trust the dude. I’m tryin to bust his chops, like ‘Alex, what’re you doing, tellin’ this low-life chud all this shit?’ He looked me in the eyes, said, ‘You have any idea who that guy is?’ No, he’s just another chud to me. Alex tells me, if I’d ever made the guy worth my time, I woulda learned he’s got two Silver Stars. Highly decorated combat vet. Helps look after some of the other folks out on the street, and trying to really get his life back together. Even kicked a heroin habit. Guy had his world fall apart after he got outta the war, lost everything, and he’s piecing it back together himself. Alex told me he and Genevieve even offered to give the guy a place to stay for six months, but he refused.
I told Alex I thought he was crazy for putting himself out there like that, for a complete stranger who could be giving him nothing but lies and empty promises, and he shut me down. ‘If I don’t do something to help the guys who actually wanna pull themselves up by their bootstraps and get off the streets, who will? Why does everything have to be someone elses’s problem,’ he asks. And, what Alex said that told me who he was, deep inside, what he’s really made of, he goes: ‘If I can’t show compassion to someone who’s struggling because his heart of service made him take on more suffering than his mind could tolerate, and who’s done nothing against me or anyone I know, I shouldn’t be in this job. Isn’t that what first drove you to become a cop? Didn’t you wanna help people when they needed you the most?’
That’s the heart of my friend, Alex. He’s truly got Saint Michael’s heart. Hell, he was even born on May 15th, Police Officer Memorial Day. Don’t get me wrong, though, he may have a heart o’ gold, but I can tell you for a fact he’s also got hands o’ stone, and I’ve never seen ‘im back down from a fight yet. Come to think of it, never seen ‘im lose one, either. On top o’ all that, he’s probably the smartest guy in almost every room he’s ever walked in to. Helluvuh good cop, good investigator. Builds rapport with suspects and gets confessions like none other. He won’t tell you any of this, by the way, he’d just give you some shy half-truth, like, he works hard and does the best he can, but doesn’t always come out on top. That’s a lie. My friend, Alex, my brother, never seen him lose at anything. He just wasn’t born with the heart to make the rest of us feel bad about it. As a father, you always want your son to be better than you. Me? That’s easy, my son’ll definitely be better’n me. I want him to be the kinda man that Alex is. That’s how I’ll know I’ve succeeded as a father.