The Ajar Door

Let me tell you a story.


Officer Smith was off-duty, and it had been a long day. He’d been up for 17+ hours, and — hopefully, this time — he’d be awake a bit longer. He escorted his lady guest to his apartment door, got his key out and…

The door was slightly ajar; closed, but not enough to latch. “What the hell?” he muttered. “Why’s the door open?” His hackles rose. He glanced up at the number nailed to the door; yep, right apartment.

He turned to his guest and said, “Seems silly, but I know I locked my door. Could you wait out here a bit?” She agreed, if a bit dubiously.

Smith listened at the door. When he heard nothing, he opened it slightly and listened again. Nada. He opened it more and looked in; the slight outdoor ambient light left the interior a mess of shadows, but nothing seemed out of place. He again reminded his lady friend to wait, released the flap on his holster and stepped inside, eyes and ears observing for anything.

He slowly entered and swept corners, and under the desk. Nothing. Kitchen clear. He approached the bedroom in the same fashion, then the bathroom. Back to the bedroom, he listened again, and opened the closet. Clear.

Feeling quite relieved, he turned on some lights and looked around again. On a kitchen counter, he found it.

A business card from the apartment complex’s regular pest control service explaining that they’d been spraying again. The dumbasses had left the door unlocked; that was all.

Smith went back to the front door and escorted the woman inside, feeling rather stupid. He apologized profusely for the drama queen performance, and told her that finding the door open was not merely unusual, but unique, so he wanted to be extra careful for her.

He thought it best — particularly for the chance of further extracurricular activities — not to mention that he takes this shit seriously because, in the course of his work, he’d picked up a few death threats from violent felons.

This time was just a false alarm.


Punchline: That isn’t fiction. It’s a true story to the best of my recollection. “Officer ‘Smith'” was me, and this happened back in the ’90s. Note that while my weapon was ready, I never drew it, though my hand was on the grip (why the holster had a flap rather than strap is another story; but there was a reason for it). I really did sweep the apartment as described. I really did verify the apartment number before entering.

Unlike Amber Guyger, I had neither direct access to police backup via two-way radio, nor a cell phone. But I exercised reasonable caution, also unlike Guyger.

I could also tell a –also  true — story about unexpectedly encountering a person while on duty, in a time and place that person shouldn’t be, and who disregarded verbal instructions. I didn’t shoot that person, because — after calling for backup — I de-escalated and handled it non-lethally; no one got hurt.

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