Motor City Pillow Patrol


Detroit police prevented a pillow fight Saturday, confiscating pillows. 

          Associated Press

“Look under that chintz sham!”


It was Saturday, the most dangerous night of the week.  I waited for my partner, a green rookie named Lew Tompkin, to get in on the passenger side of our cruiser, then we headed out for an eight-hour shift through the dark underbelly of the Motor City.

“How long have you been on the force?” Tompkin asked.

“Nineteen years, ten months, two weeks and three days,” I said grimly.  “Or to put it another way, five years, one month, one week and four days until retirement.  Not that I’m counting or anything.”

“You must really know the city,” he said, all wide-eyed innocence.

“You’re looking at the murder capital of America,” I said evenly.

“I thought St. Louis . . . “

“We kicked St. Louis’s ass, kid.  2,289 violent manslaughters to 2,198.”

“Golly,” Tompkin said.  I had to think hard to remember back when I was as naive as him.  “So–you think we’ll see any bloodshed tonight?” he asked.

I took a sip of my Tim Horton’s coffee, trying to bring myself up to his level of interest with a jolt of caffeine.  “Don’t think so.  Sarge has got us on a tougher beat tonight.”

I gave the rook a sidewise glance.  It was fun to watch his face turn as white as a coho’s underbelly, which is a much lighter shade than the city’s dark underbelly.  He was silent for a moment.  “Tougher than . . . murder?” he asked finally, gulping a bit as he spoke.

”Um-hmm,” I hummed, nonchalantly.  “Tonight we’re on the home furnishings beat.”

You could have heard a parking ticket drop in the cruiser he was so quiet.  I noticed he was looking off into the distance–probably thinking about his family.  “You married?” I asked.

“Yeah,” he said, sounding distrait, whatever that means.  “Baby on the way too.”

“That’s too bad–but it’s what you sign up for when you join the Detroit P.D.”

His lips twisted into a thin, downward sloping wrinkle of resignation, sort of like a teeter-totter with a curly-cue on the lower end.  “I know,” he said.  “It comes with the territory, right?”

I had just finished agreeing with him when I saw a man dart down an alley, a DreamKuddle huggable security pillow under his arm.

Crime scene: Do not cross.


“Let’s roll,” I said.  I whipped the cruiser around so that the passenger side was nearest the sidewalk.  “Hop out and cover the street.”

He did as he was told and I tore around the block and up the other end of the alley.  We had the guy trapped.  I turned on my loudspeaker to give him fair warning.  “Drop the pillow and come out with your hands up,” I announced.

Nothing moved, and the only sound was the skittering screech of cat’s claws on a metal trash can lid.  I tried to keep still, but my heart was pounding loudly against the inside of my chest, like a beat borrowed from Eminem, the city’s only remaining profitable business.

Detroit’s principal employer.


I tried not to blink, but in the time it took to bat my eyelashes a man jumped out from behind an empty appliance box and ran towards my partner, swinging his pillow wildly, like a soft cuddly machete.

“Look out!” I yelled, but it was too late.

“Mmmph!” I heard the kid scream as the soft buddy pillow hit him flush in the face.  I pulled my firearm–a door snake draft stopper–but the perp was beyond my range.

I knelt over my fallen comrade and cradled his head in my hands.

“You okay?” I asked.  His mouth was filled with cozy fleece, and the impress of the whimsical bunny design was splattered across his face.

“I guess.  My wife is going to go crazy.”

“You may want to buy her a couple of heavy-duty, hypo allergenic throw pillows–for your peace of mind when you’re out all night.”

“Where do you get them?”

I sighed, exasperated by the restraints our society puts on law-abiding citizens.  “They’re illegal, but I can get them for you.”

He was not just hurt but angry now.  “When are the pillow control groups ever going to get the message?” Tompkin said, as he looked up into my eyes.  ”When pillows are outlawed, only outlaws will have pillows.”


Available in print and Kindle format on as part of the collection “Everyday Noir.”

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