Humor in Blue: The Prince of Darkness

A fear of the dark confronts a gorilla costume ...

By Dave Grossi  |   Jul 17, 2017
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Everyone knew that Denny Verna was afraid of the dark. He’s always been afraid of the dark from the day he was a little kid. While going through the police academy, Denny dreaded role play scenarios that took place at night or that involved building searches in dark rooms.

He was so glad when the academy ended. But as luck would have it, he drew a slot on graveyards.

“Man, if I can just get through this FTO phase without having to chase some skell down some dark alley or do a building search in the dark, I’ll have it made,” thought Denny.

But it wasn’t to be. One of our city’s neatest summer attractions, especially with the younger crowds is an ice cream joint called the Banana Cabana. And one of the Banana Cabana’s biggest draws is the dude in the life-sized gorilla suit that entertains the crowds as they enter the establishment. Now this isn’t your ordinary gorilla suit. Steven Spielberg, had he been casting a Tarzan movie, would have been proud of this full size, head-to-toe, life-like gorilla outfit.

One day, King Kong would be standing on top of the building jumping up and down just like—well, like a monkey. The next he’d be sitting in a chair at the take-out window stiff as a board until an adult walked up where upon he’d suddenly turn his head and let out a growl, moving his life-like lips and mouth. This costume was soon to play a very important role in the “field training” of Probationary Officer Denny Verna aka “The Prince of Darkness.”

That day just happened to be Friday, the 13th of July shortly after midnight. “Two-Baker-seven, silent alarm at 1295 Ridge Street, the Banana Cabana. I’ll start back up.”

“Damn,” thought Denny.

So far, his first week of FTO was pretty uneventful. He wrote a few tickets and made a misdemeanor pot arrest. He even managed a few beach ordinance violations in spite of the dark unlighted beach, noting the bon fires helped a little. Plus, when you’re 24 years old you really can’t let a little thing like fear of the dark distract you.

But here, facing him square in the face was his first “real actual, no phony baloney role play building search.” Denny’s FTO was Mike “No Slack” Sensabaugh. But Denny wasn’t thinking about his FTO, or even his building search tactics. All he was thinking about were dark shadows and creepy unlit corners.

“One-Baker-fifteen, can you back up two-Baker-seven on a silent alarm at 1295 Ridge, the Banana Cabana?”

“Ten-four,” replied Dick “Big Dick” Wheeler. “I’m pulling up there now.”

After exiting his squad, he did a quick perimeter check that showed no break, just an unlocked rear door that revealed a wet floor indicating the night crew had left moments before, obviously forgetting to secure the door. He knew the rookies got out of the academy only a week before and he didn’t want to clear the call himself, so he decided to let the newbies “do their thing” under the watchful eye of their FTOs.

While waiting for the FTO car to pull up, Big Dick noticed a large hairy object slouched in a corner. He instantly recognized it as King Kong’s illegitimate son. “Too good to be true,” thought Dick.

Most of the graveyard ghouls knew about Denny’s aversion to the dark. He exited the open rear door just as the FTO cruiser pulled in. Big Dick volunteered to stay outside and watch the front door until “No Slack” and Denny conducted their initial search and worked their way around to open the front to door let Dick in.

When they did, Big Dick entered, relocked the door with great flair in an overt but unspoken message to Denny “The Prince of Darkness” Verna that there’s no way out now. He then quickly made his way over to the gorilla suit.

After getting “No Slack’s” attention and discreetly nodding over towards Denny, he quickly donned the suit, put on the massive head and watched as “The Prince” conducted his search, all the time noticing the moistness around Denny’s face getting more obvious.

By the time Denny got to the corner where Kong was waiting, Denny looked as if he’d just done 15 laps in a sauna. As Denny rounded the corner, he came face to face with Mr. Kong, all 6’3” of him, yellow teeth glaring and lips moving up and down clearly visible from the ambient light coming through the counter window.

The scream was enough to wake the dead and one that would make Jamie Lee Curtis of Halloween fame proud. Denny stood there screaming for what seemed like minutes. His newly honed cop mind told him it wasn’t a burglar or even a real gorilla for that matter. But the sudden appearance of a full size gorilla was not what he expected to see.

After a quick trouser change at the precinct, “The Prince” joined in the laugh, knowing that a new legend had been created courtesy of “No Slack” Sensabaugh, “Big Dick” Wheeler and Mr. Kong.

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Dave Grossi
Dave Grossi is a retired police lieutenant from upstate NY now residing in southwest FL. He was the Lead Instructor for the Calibre Press, Inc. Street Survival Seminars from 1988 through 2000.
Dave Grossi

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