A typically cold, snowy, winter day in Rhode Island, it was not brutally cold, but windy and cold enough even properly dressed you were very quickly and dangerously uncomfortable. Bob Zwick was a beat cop. Not like London England or New York City beat cops who can comfortably walk a “beat,” a beat cop at the time in Providence cruised his area mostly in a squad car.
All that is misleading, but I want you to understand Bob was well known, in uniform, climbing into and out of his squad on patrol, chatting with local shopkeepers and making it known police were on duty so any thoughts anyone might have to warp the law a little required second and third thoughts.
Bob was in civvies. That is, Bob was off duty. Not on patrol. Nonetheless, everyone who was not a stranger knew Bob, in uniform and out. As much to do with the fact Bob was a diminutive six foot four and two hundred eighty pounds of weightlifting fit as with the fact you would see Bob five days out of seven somewhere in this end of town. You might guess unless you yourself were the Inedible Bulk, policeman or not, you’d want to pay attention to what Bob might suggest you do. Or not do, as the case might be.
That morning, many other customers came into Sal’s “Do-Nut Shoppe” to momentarily escape the cold and wind, to make nice with Melinda, and to chatter with other locals warming-up or drinking coffee and reading the Journal. I was one of those locals and did, indeed, have my nose stuck in the ProJo pages.
Melinda was tending a busy cash register and Sal himself and a young lad worked to keep coffee cups full and doughnut orders moving. Bob came through the front door about the time a commotion started at the register. Not much of a commotion. Melinda shrieked, put a hand to her mouth and all I could see was her hand, two eyes as big as saucers, a big dude standing in front of her, and two patrons behind the big dude hurrying to make themselves disappear.
Clearly, some idiot was robbing Sal’s Do-Nuts in broad daylight, and with the shop packed with customers. Idiot enough there, but a doughnut shop? On Sal’s best day, not a goldrush.
This wannabe robber was built much like Bob. A few years back and under entirely different circumstances, the two of them could have played right and left guard for the Patriots. Bob made himself as much an idiot as the robber, apparently oblivious to what was taking place, and walked from the door to stand right behind the doughnut desperado. Bob cleared his throat.
“Hey, Melinda, can you make change for a ten?”
Mr. DD spun to face Bob, pistol pointed menacingly.
“Whoa!” offered Bob, “you think that’s a good idea?”
“What? You think you’re some kind of cop or something?” sneered Mr. DD.
“Well, as a matter of fact, I am a cop.”
“Huh, yeah, and you just came in here for a doughnut, right?”
“Listen, you need to hand me that pistol and play nice.”
Mr. DD made the mistake of emphasizing ‘or else’ with a jab of his pistol toward Bob’s stomach. Bob simply grabbed the pistol frame with his left hand and bent the man’s wrist awkwardly skyward. If the man had managed to shoot, he’d have damaged only ceiling tiles. At the same time, Bob executed a leg sweep taking the pins out from under Mr. DD.
Quickly, Bob had the man in cuffs, the pistol jammed into his own coat pocket, and had suggested to Melinda she call nine-one-one but be sure to tell them things were under control. Melinda managed eventually.
Sitting on the away side of the seating area, that’s what I think happened. It was so quick, my imagination certainly had to fill in a few blanks. I do recall a sickening crack as Mr. DD’s wrist, I guess, snapped.
Sal scurried from behind the counter to see, I suppose, if Bob needed any help. He didn’t.
“Boy, it’s a good thing you just happened by,” said Sal.
“Didn’t just happen by.”
“Oh, no? Why did you come in?”
“Believe it or not, I came in to sit down with a cup of coffee and a doughnut.”
A lights-and-siren city squad car soon pulled into the lot out front. I went back to the ProJo.