The Carnival Cops…Fuzz Ladder

by Lee Kolozsy


So there I was bored as can be gunning my grind shows half heartedly from the stool by my ladder game. Across the midway, Safari George ( Pith helmet, jungle boots, expedition khakis, the works, all the carnies call him “George of the jungle…) was pulling a few in here and there, but I wasn’t getting even a nibble. No action. Deadest damn midway. The wheel turning with only ghosts in the seats, even the Ginny was still, Band organ playing a Strauss Waltz, spooky, Very unusual to see a cemetery all lit up like this. Can’t believe it’s Friday night. I’m nodding off to the drone of the generators, and someone sneaks up on me, and startles the hell out of me as I wake with a jolt... Holy shit I’m surrounded by cops!.. It was the lot fuzz. They were with-it. Show cops… I mean real cops… Sworn to protect and serve…and all that… But definitely our guys… Not exactly on the take… but getting paid…by the show. It’s traditional at most carnival dates…been going on for years. X number of cops at so much an hour for “security” …mostly financial…for the law. Johnny law, local constabulary, five-oh, the man, copper, Gendarmes, The Badge… Lot Fuzz… They wanted to try the game. They were bored. No action. No one to bust. All the criminals were wearing show shirts. Can’t bust the bosses help. Nothing to do. Let’s play climb the ladder. I went to work…


“Ever seen this game before officer?"  "You ever try it?”  “Well heck ya it can be done, whaddaya think, we’d bring a crooked game to your fair, looky here, I can do it, I can do it every time, I never miss. Here lemme show ya…” “No, put your money away, I ainta gonna take it, you boys help us a lot, everything out here is at your disposal, go ahead, give it a try…”


Well, the two of them looked at one another, then they looked at me, then they looked at the ladder, then they looked at one another again, and the older one says to the younger one, “See if you can get on it Cal…” “You want me to hold your revolver, officer?"  They both look at me again. The younger cop, Cal, shakes his head and mumbles, “No, that’s alright…” and jumps up on the rope ladder. No sooner is he on the rope than it has him on the ropes, quicker than you can say flatfoot…he’s down on the mat with a rather stunned expression on his face. I look around and see that a crowd has gathered, and I’m thinking, if I can make a show out of this, maybe build a tip and get some play, this may pay off and not be a complete waste of time. So I crack… “officer down…request assistance…officer down…all units respond…” They both stare at me for a long time, the older cop starts twitching at the corners of his mouth, trying to keep a straight face, officer Cal is still on his ass with the rope ladder above him and he’s pissed.


The crowd starts to crack up, the dam breaks, the tension disappears, the older cop starts laughing, the ice is broken. I step forward and reach my hand out to help officer Cal get up. He grabs my hand and scrambles to his feet. So I crack… “Now you know how I feel when guys like you make me walk down that white line on the damn highway…” It’s too much for officer Cal, cracking up, he claps me on the shoulder and says “Show me that again” I said “Say please” “Please” he says. “Why I’ll be glad to, that’s my job, you didn’t need to say please” Now they’re starting to have fun and get into the game. I show him the game again and now he ribs his partner the older cop into giving it a try. This poor guy gets tangled in the rope ladder and is on his ass without ever getting on the damn thing. He ends up sitting on the mat with a rather exasperated look on his face. Time for another wisecrack…“I thought you have to be in reasonably good physical condition to get on the force…” He scowled at me and swore, the crowd was howling…At this point a neighborhood lad steps up and says some thing or other in scat talk to officer Cal ( who is also black ). Officer Cal fires back, why don’t you jump on there and show me how, “blood”…


So the crack dealer goes to get on the ladder and I step in his way and hold my hand out with two fingers of the other hand in front of his face, and say “Two dollah bro” He says “Whuh, y’aint chajjin five-o!” I say  “Das rat, but you outta uniform detective” He grumbles and hands me dub, I take it and say “You got ten tries” He says “ Gimmee mah change, ah don nee but one” rubs his hands, dives on, and down he goes. Now the cops are howling. I say “You been drinking pal?” The crack dealer scowls at me and says “Sheeyit no man!” I fire back “maybe if you had a few you’d do better…” He’s on his feet and handing me two…down he goes and getting temperamental… “Hows come you kin clamb dat en we caint?” “Well…maybe I just got more monkey d.n.a. than you do pal…” “How you got mo monkey d.n.a. din me?” “I dunno, maybe from one of my black girlfriends”    “Sheeyit man, climb up dey agin”… “Say please”… “Please mutha f^(ka”… “O.K. glad to show you, that’s my job, you didn’t need to say please, I’da done it anyway, and that’s mister mutha f^(ka to you pal”… So he plays the full twenty with no apparent progress and he’s getting pisseder and pisseder. He stands back to study the situation. This is where officer Cal decides he hasn’t had quite enough yet. Five tries later he’s on his ass again and getting tired. The “what chue need” boys, who have the joint surrounded, and have played until they were tapped out, are now ribbing their leader to try again, so up he steps with another dub, I take the twenty, turn to the older cop, and I ask him… “should I take his money?” He says “Why are you asking me?”… “I didn’t want to cut into your action”…It took him about a minute, then he shook his head and looked at me like “how damn much do you know?”  Everybody who got it was laughing now, especially the boys from the hood, who had given it their all, and been soundly defeated. Well, by the time it was over, I had most of the drug and bribe money in this end of town, and had made a few influential friends on both sides of the law. The natives had been entertained for about an hour, they were all tired, pissed off, clothes dirty, sweating like pigs, sore, humiliated, broke, and had had a great time. At one point officer Cal asked me “What am I doing wrong?”  “Well aside from one or two too many donuts here and there the only thing I can think of is that you won’t admit when you’re beat, maybe if you were paying a deuce a lick you’da come to your senses by now, I mean look at yourselves, the two of you look like you’ve been chasing a suspect that got away, I can’t figure out whether I’ve been watching “cops” or “America’s funniest home videos” here.” “Pick out a few toys for the kids and go home and think about taking up jogging, carnie sports ain't for cops.” The leader of the opposition had a beef… “Hey man, dey didn’t pay, dey didn’t win, an you givin dem alla prizes dey kin carry, why? “Well”…I cracked, “I guess I feel sorry for them, I mean they tried to break the law and got busted…”  “What law dey try to break man?”  “The law of gravity Homme”…


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