For over thirty years, Jerry worked as a police officer in Pittsburgh. In his time on the force, Jerry had seen some bad things, some worse things, and some downright evil things. Cleaning up when people got mad or got crazy was part of the job, but there were other things that Jerry saw, things that most people never see, things that prowl the night, things that refuse to die.
I interviewed Jerry several times in 2002. The following incident is just one of the many stories Jerry shared in hours of audio recordings. I have transcribed them just as they were told to me by Jerry.
“This was back in 1970, when me and Frank – that’s my partner, Frank – we were on the outs with the department after all that trouble with the zombies and all the people gettin’ eaten, so they busted us down and put us back on the street, driving a car, just like in the old days.
“So it was just after midnight I’m thinking and there we were, just cruising the streets when we get a call, domestic disturbance, which could be anything, but usually it was some jerk beating on his own family.
“Frank and I run the lights and head into Lawrenceville there to a nice little house and there’s a tricycle out on the front stoop and I hear Frank start cursing. Back in the day, I had to pull him off of a couple of guys that was laying into their kids so I knew I had to keep an eye on him this time.
“We get up to the door and start knocking and hollering ‘Police’ but nobody answers. I think we gotta break the door down and then behind us there’s a man and a woman and a kid, all dressed in their pajamas.
“They were the Costellos, the family that lived in the house, but they were a house over at a neighbor’s on account of what was happening. The little kid, Billy or something, was just about seven or eight I guess – sweet kid – but something had him real rattled.
“We go over in front of the neighbor’s house and get the story. What happened was the kid, Billy, woke up his parents, saying there was a monster in his closet, right? Typical kid stuff, right?
“Mom and dad get him a drink of water and send the little guy back to bed. Not two minutes later he comes out screaming his head off. Now he says there’s this guy in his room, a real scary guy, so Mom tells dad to do a look-see and show little junior there ain't nothing to be scared of.
“Dad goes into the kid’s room, looks behind the door, looks under the bed, doesn’t see squat. He opens the closet, takes a look inside and then he runs out screaming, takes the whole family out of the house and over to the neighbor’s where they call us.
“Now we tried to get old Dad to tell us what he saw, but he didn’t want to give any details, just saying that he thought somebody broke into the house or something. I don’t know why this got called in as a domestic, right? So, Frank and me, we get some directions to the kid’s room, ‘cause the Costellos ain’t coming back inside for nothing, and we go in.
“The place is dark and quiet, no sign of a break-in or anything like that. We check the rest of the house and we don’t see anything and we don’t hear anything, so we think maybe the guy already got out and he’s halfway up Polish Hill already.
“We get to the kid’s room, the last room, and the door is closed, right? But we don’t think Dad closed it when he ran out screaming, so we figure maybe the guy or whatever it is is still in there.
“Frank and me, we give each other that look, the one that cops give each other before they kick some door down, and then we kick the door down. Well, the room’s empty. It’s a normal kid’s room; there’s some toys and a poster for the Star War or the Star Treks or whatever it is.
“We look under the bed, just to be sure, and there’s no monsters under there. The closet door’s open just a peek, and Frank gives me that look again. He’s behind me and I open the closet door real slow. Empty, dark, just a bunch of kid’s clothes, right?
“Then, before Frank and me can even think, this goddamn thing jumps out at us. It happened real fast but it’s wearing some kinda hood that’s all rotted-up and dirty, and its face is all messed-up, eyes bulging and these sharp rat-teeth. And it’s waving these giant claws like shovels in our faces and Frank and me, well, we take off running out of the room as fast as we can.
“I’m a little embarrassed about that part, I mean, Frank and me, we seen stuff like that before, but this thing really surprised us and there was something about it, something that made you feel extra scared, made you feel like a kid again, helpless, you know? It’s like it took you back to when you were a kid in your bed at night, all scared and shaking under the covers.
‘Well, Frank and me, we’re in the living room huffing and puffing, trying to catch our breath, right? The kid’s bedroom door slams shut and Frank says something like, ‘That bastard,’ like he knows this thing and I say, ‘Frank, you seen this thing before?’ Frank says, ‘Yeah, in my bedroom closet when I was ten years old.’
“I says, ‘Okay, well what the hell did you do about it then?’ and Frank says, ‘One day I got my cap gun and I shot it and it never came back.’ I look at Frank and I can tell he knows what I’m thinking and he gets a smile on his face just like I got one on mine ‘cause we don’t get to do this kinda stuff as much as we’d like too.
“Well, we get our pistols ready and we’re back at the door and we kick it down again. Now, the closet door is closed and there’s a trail of mud or slime or something around the room and a smell like something went and died in the garbage.
“Frank takes the lead and he opens the closet door wide. Well, that son of a gun pops out again, waving his claws, trying to scare us, and Frank and me, we just blew it away. You should’ve seen its face. It was pretty surprised.
“So, Frank and me, we both unloaded at the thing and it flew back into the closet and we kept shooting until we didn’t have no more bullets, right? It felt good, you know, not because we was shooting it, but because it couldn’t scare us anymore. This thing, it needed that fear and it just took a little bit of courage to send it back to hell, I guess.
“We go back outside and there’s the Costellos with their mouths hanging open, wondering what the heck we just shot the crap out of. Frank and me, we’re all smiles and the little kid runs up and asks what happened to the monster and Frank says, ‘We shot his ass, son.’ Kid needed a new wardrobe after that ‘cause we shot that up, too.
“The Costellos were good people and they were thankful even if we made a mess of things. They didn’t make a fuss with the department, although Frank and me, we was in the doghouse with the Chief anyway. He lightened up a little later after we saved his daughter from that dinosaur. I’m just kidding, ya knucklehead. It was just a really, really big lizard.”
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