You are on page 1of 18

A Journey to the Center of the Mind, Book II, The Police Officer Years Bonus Chapter 6A

In Chapter 6 of JCM II, I discuss responding to calls of domestic abuse as a rookie police
officer. I admit in these early pages I wasn’t all that well equipped to handle such calls. We had
minimum training in the psychology of these calls at the police academy and I had very little
other experience (fortunately) in the family household in which I grew up.
Below are two domestic abuse anecdotes from those early years…

But there are outliers in the area of domestic abuse. That is, the occasional deviation
from the norm. More than once I responded to a call of a man who was clearly the victim of
physical abuse by his woman. In that case, she’d be arrested the same as any man would be if
the evidence thus supported it.

Like the Thanksgiving Day, 1977, call at approximately 2:30P to an apartment of a man
who was reportedly assaulted by his common-law-wife. Upon arrival to the location, my backup and I first listened through the door, heard nothing, and then knocked. The approximately 40year old man answered, and calmly thanked us for coming. Over his shoulder, a woman was
observed sitting at the dining room table, which had been already set for their big turkey day
dinner. We talked calmly at the door to the man for about two minutes regarding their names,
ages, how long they’ve been a couple, who officially lived in the apartment, who else was there,
etc.
Although noticeably sweating a bit, the man at the door looked otherwise fine to us from
what we could see as he was standing there conversing with us. We could see his two hands as

he was holding them tight against the outside of his pant legs. Hand placement is always
important to observe when dealing with someone in this type of potentially volatile situation, and
they were clearly and safely down by the side of this guy. We finally got around to asking what
was the problem here and why was it that the police were called. Without saying another word,
the man at the door slowly held up his left hand to show us why he called.
Now I understood.
There, with his left arm held upwards, with his four fingers pointing straight up toward
the ceiling (as they should), it was noticed that his thumb was pointing straight down toward the
floor (as it shouldn’t). Actually, his thumb was barely attached to his hand and swinging loosely
in the air, held on only by a thin strand of tendon or ligament. We then noticed the blood on the
floor by his foot and on the side of his left pant leg where he had been pressing the newly
acquired almost-stump on his hand to restrict the bleeding. Upon seeing this, via my portable
radio, I called dispatch to send an ambulance to our location as soon as possible. They did.
While awaiting the arrival of the rescue squad, my fellow officer at the scene applied
some basic first aid to the man’s thumb area in the form of direct pressure, using a towel from
the bathroom. I then walked over to the woman sitting at her nicely set dining room table. She
was now impassively shining her fancy glass wine goblets with a cloth of some sort. I could
clearly see both of her hands at this point, with no sharp utensils near her. I deemed her hand
placement to be important too, of course. Upon stopping across the table from her and initially
not saying a word, she just started talking away. She readily admitted that after her man had said
something in the kitchen that she didn’t appreciate, she swung her very sharp carving knife at
him, and “…the dumb bastard’s thumb just got in the way.”

The woman didn’t necessarily mean to all but cut off her man’s left thumb, but she
added, “How was I to know he would raise his hand when I swung the knife at him. Why would
the stupid ass do that?”
I simultaneously shook my head and shrugged my shoulders in an attempt at continuing
our one-sided conversation. I didn’t want to stop her and her res gestae statements
(spontaneously given, without prompting, as such later admissible in court). For my own
safety’s sake, I then asked her where the cutting instrument in question could be found. She
indicated it was in the kitchen and added that it was soaking in the sink. She wanted it cleaned
of her man’s blood before she was to slice the turkey. I nodded and shrugged again and said,
“Of course you do.”
Once the ambulance personnel arrived on the scene and took over the treatment of the
husband with the dangling thumb, my colleague joined me as I arrested the wife. I put the cuffs
on her alongside the dining room table, right after she dutifully completed the polishing of her
four wine goblets. She didn’t resist and willfully put her hands behind her back as instructed,
while I read the Miranda Warnings to her.
Before the husband and wife left for their next stops, that is, the hospital and the police
station, respectively, the woman told us she wanted to go into the kitchen to turn off the oven
where the turkey was still cooking. I told her I would do it, and I did. There’s no way I wanted
her getting anywhere near that sharp knife, or any other potential weapon, again today. The only
meat carving she would do this particular Thanksgiving Day was already done, I assured her and
her husband as they were separately departing the premises. Before I departed, I retrieved the
knife from the sink, and later logged it into evidence control back at the station.

As my shift was almost over on that day-work (and an officer from the oncoming 3P-11P
shift graciously took over the woman’s booking and preliminary arraignment for me), I was
sitting at my own dining room table with my extended family just about two hours after this
incident. It was a great meal too. And, no, I did not share this story with my gathered extended
family. I didn’t want to upset their Thanksgiving Day digestive process. I was getting used to
these types of incidents by this time, but they certainly weren’t.

I learned later on that thanks to the expert surgeons at the local hospital, the husband
eventually managed to get his thumb reattached to his hand. Because of that, or for one or more
other reasons known only to him and his woman, he eventually dropped the criminal charges
against her. I believe they actually managed to stay together for at least the next several years.
I’m not sure where they had their next Thanksgiving meal, but I could only hope they managed
to cut just the turkey, and not each other.

*****

A few years later, in yet another Bensalem domestic incident, or actually over a series of
related incidents, it was the wife once again who was the aggressor and the one who would
physically threaten her husband. This couple would ultimately garner nationwide headlines, but
clearly not for the usual reasons.
Interestingly, I was the first officer on my department to pick up on the particular reason
which, in fact, eventually made it such a newsworthy event. But none of my fellow officers

subscribed to my early theory nor would believe me at first. They needed to later read about it in
a tabloid newspaper for it to eventually sink in.

Sometime in the early 1980s, when back again in uniform, I would hear my fellow BPD
patrol officers engaged in brief but interesting conversations at our various roll calls as one squad
was going off and another was coming on. The discussions pertained to a certain married couple
living in a certain townhouse (as newer rowhomes in the Philadelphia suburban area came to be
known) in the Neshaminy Valley area of Bensalem Township. Over the past month or two,
numerous calls to the police department had been received from this location, sometimes from
the husband and sometimes from the wife, regarding one sort or another of verbal, emotional, or
minor physical interactions by one toward the other. Fortunately, there were no children
involved.
On numerous occasions, as I was learning from these roll call conversations, some of
the officers on the other squads had responded to the couple’s home and dealt with them and
their problems accordingly. At no time was there an actual assault witnessed by any of the
officers, nor any evidence of any real crime having taken place involving either member of the
argumentative couple. Upon arriving there, the officers would normally talk to both parties,
separate them, calm them down, and eventually leave the premises with assurances that all would
be quiet. Usually, there were no return calls on those nights.
Invariably, however, there would be additional calls within a few days as the yelling and
accusations would begin anew, when either the husband or wife would call again, or on some
occasions it was one of their neighbors who would report them to the police dispatcher. They
could get very loud at times, as they were living in close proximity to their neighbors in these

neo-rowhomes. However, from what I could comprehend, neither the husband nor wife was ever
arrested, or at least not yet.
As I was later to learn, what made this ongoing series of police responses to their
household a bit different than the usual domestic disturbances, concerned the over-the-top, quite
literally, physical description of the woman. The verbal depictions of the woman were
amazingly consistent and unvarying no matter which of my police colleagues was describing her
and her various “attributes.”
This woman was invariably described by my colleagues as “absolutely beautiful,” a
“fox,” a “knockout,” and “looking like a sex goddess,” to list just the PG-rated descriptors
ascribed to her. She was supposedly a tall, fit, buxom blonde, in her early 30s. My fellow
officers added that she was a woman that “everyone had to see at least once,” as words alone
supposedly could not otherwise describe her.
And, there’s more. In addition to her allegedly ravishing looks, it seems that on virtually
every occasion the responding officers dealt with this couple the woman would be wearing
slinky lingerie, a bikini, and/or a robe that was suggestively open and exposing to some degree
her well-endowed upper parts, or equally well-shaped lower parts. Everything was seemingly
where it should be on her, and nicely packaged for all to see upon the couple’s almost weekly
9-1-1 invitations to the cops.
Even detectives and plainclothes officers who happened to be working on the nights of
these calls would graciously drop what they were doing to back-up their uniformed brethren,
something rarely heard of in the normal course of events, at least for everyday domestic
disturbance reports. I learned these calls to this household were averaging at least once a week
during a several month time frame.

As fate would have it during this time, it was on a Saturday evening, while assigned to
Sector 2, that I received a call to respond to an address in the townhouse section of Neshaminy
Valley for a domestic disturbance. I didn’t recognize the address or names at first, but when I
heard the number of backup cars heading in that direction, I figured out that it was to the home of
the highly talked-about couple, one-half of whom was the purported blonde bombshell. I was
about to meet them and her for the first time.
This should be very interesting, I recall thinking to myself.
Would this woman, in fact, match the descriptions of unadulterated beauty and ravishing
sex appeal so proffered by my colleagues? Would she too captivate me with her presence, much
like ancient Ulysses was captivated by the Sirens?
I’d be learning the answers to these questions in just a few minutes, with the rest of the
country just a month or so later.

Upon responding to the address, I was met by at least three of my fellow officers, who
were kind enough to leave their adjacent sectors to make sure my safety was assured while
handling this particular call. Once in the house, I was initially met by the husband in the
downstairs foyer. He was complaining about something his wife had earlier said and threatened
to do to him or his belongings. She apparently had damaged some personal items of his, and had
threatened to do more. I asked where she was, and he said upstairs in her bedroom.
“HER bedroom?”
He replied, “Yes, we sleep in separate bedrooms.”
“Uh, okay…,” was all I could muster as a response.

Before I could further mentally process the marital bedroom arrangements between the
hubby and his “sex goddess” wife, almost as if on cue, onto the scene descended the oftdescribed jezebel. She was actually heard before she was seen as her heels echoed throughout
the foyer, one click-clack at a time per downward step. She continued to strut ever-so-slowly
down the stairs like a teenage debutante at her coming-out ball, holding gingerly onto the
handrail with her hand, both of which I could eventually see had perfectly manicured long, red
fingernails. As she was descending the stairs, she was clearly surveying the small crowd of
uniformed (and even non-uniformed) men which had congregated below her as her admiring
fans. They weren’t disappointed as she was definitely dressed, if just barely dressed, to impress.
The wife was wearing stilleto heels, and some sort of see-through robe which left very
little to the imagination. Her long hair was stylishly cut (maybe a wig?) and it draped over her
shoulders and upper chest in a coy attempt to cover her large breasts which were barely
contained in her bright colored bra. She was also wearing full makeup and jewelry, as if she was
getting ready to attend a formal event later that night. Maybe she was, with or without her
husband. Who knows?
When the wife finally sauntered over to us police officers, walking with arms akimbo,
and now standing defiantly next to her husband, he was quite frankly seen to be a slight man,
noticeably smaller than her, and quite average looking in physicality and dress. Of course, as
flamboyantly as this woman was attired, adorned, made up, and parading around, most of us,
even if in formal tuxes that night, would be deemed quite average in any side-by-side
comparison.
As was usual in most domestic disturbance calls, each party wants the officers to hear
their story first and they generally talk over one another in an attempt to get their early initial

accusatory points across. This was no different, in that the husband and wife were
simultaneously complaining about each other, who did or said what, who threatened whom, and
the like. Neither of them showed any sign of injury or assault, nor was there any noticeable
damage to their nicely furnished home, although he had now accused her of slicing some of his
shirts and pants in his closet with a straight razor a short while ago.
After spending approximately ten minutes with the couple, and after two more officers
showed up, including the patrol lieutenant, just to make sure the other four of us already there
were okay, the problem had seemingly quieted down and was resolved. We told the husband
he’d have to file a civil complaint with the district magistrate on Monday morning regarding his
damaged clothing. He understood and the law enforcement contingent slowly if somewhat
reluctantly proceeded to depart the house. The couple was calmed down and it was agreed by all
that there would be no more problems that evening as I believe one of them was about to leave
for a while. No doubt it was her, much to her husband’s chagrin, it seems.
Mission accomplished, at least for now, I was thinking. We shouldn’t have to return here
tonight. But, I realized something else as I was standing there talking to both the husband and
wife. Something was different about them. No, make that, about her. Something was amiss
here, something important. The hairs on the back of my neck had stood up while talking to
them, and to her specifically. Plus, there was that aroma….
As I was walking back out their front door, leaving their erstwhile love nest, it all came
together for me. And it did so thanks to my distinct memory of several very edifying and
literally eye-opening conversations I had a few years ago in my previous life, my previous job.
Now it all made sense, and it was my olfactory sense which triggered it.

On the way out to the street and to our separate patrol cars, my fellow responding officers
were overly ecstatic in reliving the event which had just taken place inside the house. They were
describing the woman’s clothing choices (actually, not much to describe), how she walked, how
she talked, her heels, how they compared to other outfits of hers (to the officers who had been
there before), what body parts could be clearly seen and less clearly seen, and her overall look
and general fashion style. They were conversing as if they were part of Versace’s entourage at a
New York runway premier.
My colleagues continued by playfully offering their individual suggestions as to what
they would do if she was their wife, how they would choose to “handle” her on nights such as
this, how they would dress her, undress her, places they would take her, things they would do to
her, etc. I let them go on for a while with their randy talk among themselves while I stayed
quiet. I wanted the set up to be just right.
Eventually one of them asked me, “So, Fitz, it’s your first time here tonight. What do
you think of our Bensalem beauty queen? Your type of woman?”
I called them over to the area of my patrol car so they’d all be in close proximity to me,
and so no nosey neighbors would hear us. That’s when I made my own observation of what I
had just seen. It would stop all of them dead in their tracks and cause me a few weeks of heavy
criticism and doubt as to my sensibilities.
She WAS beautiful and dressed very sexy, I agreed. But, not my type, I made clear to
them.
“What do you mean? Would she be too much of a woman for you?” One of them
jokingly asked, with laughter emanating from the others in unison.
I responded, “No, not at all. But she would be too much of a MAN for me though.”

There was silence for a few seconds, then from one of them, “Huh? 10-9 (repeat) that?”
“She’s a man, or at least she used to be,” I casually offered as I removed my nightstick
from my plastic holster loop to put it in its slot alongside the seat in my patrol car.
You would have thought I insulted the Lord Himself and an entire chorus of heavenly
angels at His side when I uttered those last seemingly blasphemous words to them. It’s as if their
collective lives flashed before their eyes with what I had just uttered.
One of my fellow BPD officers responded forcefully, “What the f**k are you talking
about, Fitz? No f**kin’ way is that a guy! Seriously, did you see her ______?” (Fill in the
female body part/parts of your choice.)
Another officer, looking directly at me added, “You’re crazy! She’s ALL woman, and I
know my women,” smirking and looking at the other cops for reassurance. As he had been
married and divorced at least three times, he did know women (and their lawyers) to some
degree, I guessed.
I calmly retorted to him, “I’m not sure what kind of women you THINK you know, but
I’m telling you, that’s a man who’s been chemically and/or surgically converted to a woman.”
They still didn’t believe me. Not one of them. They couldn’t believe me, it seems. It
would shatter too many of their fantasies and their accompanying frail egos.
We half-jokingly, half-seriously discussed the matter for another minute or so, then each
of us drove away and back on patrol, to our next call, or in my case, to write the incident report
regarding this most recent counseling session with the Bensalem domestic disturbance Couple of
the Year. I did not record on my Incident Report my opinion as to her gender. I deemed it not
necessarily germane to the incident itself. But, my opinion was clearly rendered to my
colleagues. It would beat me back to the police station too.

While driving away through the narrow streets of Neshaminy Valley, and replaying the
events of that relatively brief call to the couples’ home, I realized that while talking to her in her
house that evening I subconsciously picked up the odor of some variety of perfume. I’m pretty
sure it emanated from her, as opposed to coming from her husband, as I hadn’t noticed it until
she sashayed down toward my location and stood next to me in her foyer/living room area.
The essence of the woman’s lilac-esque perfume brought me back to my job at the
downtown Philadelphia Strawbridge & Clothier department store, and some conversations I had
with two salesmen colleagues while there. For me, it was then that the parts of what just
happened started fitting together which led to my realization of the gender probabilities of the
woman who was recently the talk of the town, or at least the cops of the town.

Going back a few years, I could picture the 8th Street entrance on the first floor of
Strawbridge’s department store. Right in front of it was the men’s cologne and hair product
island. It was almost always staffed by the same two salesmen. One man was about 30 years
old, the other probably 40. Both were impeccably dressed each day, with hair perfectly coiffed.
Their waist-high, approximately 20’ x 15’ square glass-enclosed booth, was directly in front of
the most travelled entrance and exit in the store. It was also right next to the leather coat and
jacket department. I would stop there often and talk to them while watching people come and go
from the store and also while watching one or more potential “beats” (aka, shoplifters) eyeing
leather jackets and other items of value in the adjacent department. I would even spray myself
with various colognes at times in an attempt to hide in plain sight (in plain smell?) and pretend to
be an interested customer instead of a working store detective.

One or both salesmen would know what I was doing and would cooperate with my little
subterfuge, especially if the wannabe shoplifter would walk close by the counter to get a better
feel of his pre-theft environment. When doing so, and even at other times when I was not
actually observing a potential shoplifter, I would strike up conversations with the two very
ebullient salesmen. The occasional conversational topics at their counter over the course of my
year-plus there evolved ever-so-slowly into very interesting discourse, which at times could be
very humorous, other times cutting and sarcastic, and on occasion genuinely sad.
Their conversations sometimes included me directly, although many other times I was
just sort of a listening post, and an impartial one at that while those two chatted away. I believe
they appreciated that I was the only male member of the S&C security team who would stop by
and talk to them, albeit if it only started with me using them and their island/counter as a
convenient cover while looking over and through the two of them, and the dozens of bottles of
cologne and hair spray, to watch my potential high-end coat stealing prey. And all of this with
the sensual aromatic pleasantries offered by the likes of English Leather, Hai Karate, Aramis,
and Brut cologne and aftershave.
As our talks continued during my time at S&C both of these salesmen at some point
candidly shared with me that they were gay. I believe at the time these were the first two “outof-the-closet” gay men that I had ever met. It made no difference to me one way or the other as
they were genuinely nice guys and long-time employees of S&C who cared about their jobs and
their store. They would give me a nice hello when I would walk by, but were also savvy enough
to know when I was watching a maybe-shoplifter and would either ignore me outright or if I
stopped and picked up some of the sample colognes, would treat me as if I was a regular
customer. That could go a long way if one of the thieves was already suspecting me of being a

detective. Thanks to these two salesmen and their individual and sometimes collective
assistance, I caught a few shoplifters stealing from the adjacent department while “shopping” at
their cologne island.
It was during some of these conversations that we would discuss various topics relating to
the store, their merchandise, politics, and life in general. They would enjoy conversing with me
during quiet times when their varied legitimate customers, and my varied illegitimate
“customers,” the shoplifters, were nowhere to be found. During such times they would have no
problem pointing out to me various individuals, store employees and customers alike, who would
walk by and who happened to be gay. They would tell me that they knew of these peoples’
sexual orientations first hand, or they knew so by the person’s look, walk, demeanor, etc. And,
they would occasionally point out other customers who would walk by who were not exactly
what they seemed to be at first glance; in other words, men who were actually women and
women who were actually men, either by attire or bodily readjustment, or both.
While I was certainly aware of transvestites (people of one biological sex who dress in
clothing of the other biological sex) and transsexuals (people who through drugs and/or surgery
alter their physical appearance to that of an alternate biological sex), it was really these two S&C
cologne salesmen who first described and defined these individuals’ physical and behavioral
characteristics to me, even going so far as to point out various men/women or women/men of
such persuasion who would be walking by us at a given time in the store. I should add it was
rarely done derisively, insultingly, or with malice, but simply instructionaly; at least to me and
for my benefit. They seemingly had a good and learned eye for these gender-altering
characteristics, certainly much better than me at first.

As I learned much during my year or so at this department store, which was my first job
after college, recognizing these features on people would prove beneficial at least one time later
in my life, that being in a Bensalem townhouse mediating one of a series of arguments between
the two members of a somehow “different” married couple.
Thanks to those astute and quite frankly candid observations of the two gay, cologneselling former colleagues from S&C, and their willingness to share those insights with me, I
noticed a few things about the bedazzling wife that evening during our domestic disturbance call
that the other officers had not, either then or during earlier visits there. They were apparently too
preoccupied with her individual parts, new or original, to accurately observe the sum of her
whole.

In view of the features and characteristics (albeit subjective to some degree) which I had
recognized on the wife, again, based on the previously imparted observations of two gay men
who seemed to be in the know in this area of knowledge, I felt compelled to relate to my
colleagues my opinion upon the conclusion of our call that night. Their disbelief remained even
as we departed the scene, including up and until the end of our shift as roll call was underway for
the oncoming squad. The sordid commentary and laughs were aplenty, with multiple attempts to
make them at my expense.
Back at HQ later that evening, at the end of our shift, could be heard…
“Hey, Sarge, Fitz thinks Mrs. ________ from the Valley is a man!”
“Ha, ha, ha…You gotta be kidding…Fitz, you need glasses?”
“With _____ (female body parts) like hers? Fitz, are you nuts?”
Etc., and etc….

I readily acknowledged to my colleagues that she was, in fact, well built, and without a
doubt very nice to look at. I was simply suggesting to them once again that it was a medical
team which facilitated her womanly build and overall look, and not nature.
The ribbing and joking eventually died down, but not for long, as the truth eventually
came out. Then it was my turn to give it back to my colleagues.

There was to be one more verbal donnybrook, of purportedly classic proportions, at this
couple’s townhouse. It was a month or so after my one and only occasion there.
Based on what my colleagues later told me of their visit to their home that evening, it
seems that the wife admitted to the husband, for the very first time, that she had been born a
biological male, and had undergone a full sex-change operation to become a female shortly
before the two of them ever met. She was hesitant to tell him of this fact when they first met, as
“…everything seemed to be going so well between us and I didn’t want to ruin things…,” my
colleagues quoted her as repeating several times.
Needless to say, the husband didn’t react very well to this information and it resulted in a
very heated discussion that night which escalated to threats, to pushing and shoving, to the
degree that once again the BPD officers were called in to referee. Fortunately, no one was
actually injured that night, the warring parties were eventually separated as one of them agreed to
leave, and things once again calmed down.
Within a few weeks, however, the National Enquirer weekly tabloid ran a cover story
about this couple, including a very flattering photograph of the wife, and related the tale to its
nationwide readers in very accurate, if not salacious, fashion. I’m not sure how they first

attained the info, but it was never ruled out that one of their sources may have been from the
BPD. And, no, it was not me.
While I never bought the tabloid newspaper, I did read the article at one of the 7-11 stores
when it was first published. A few of the BPD officers actually did buy the newspaper, with
some wondering if they could get the wife to sign her autograph over her picture on the front
page. If so, it would have been a true collector’s edition, or so they felt. I’m not sure if they ever
succeeded or not in attaining her signature. In a way, for her sake, I hope not….

In closing to this strange chapter in BPD history, I must add that most of the same
officers who criticized me and attempted to ridicule me regarding my suggestion after the first
time I saw her that she was not born a biological female, tracked me down at the various roll
calls and elsewhere and apologized for it. Others, including a few who were still seemingly
enamored of her and all she represented to their confused libidos, would simply state, “Well, you
can’t believe everything you read in the press.”
While I certainly agreed with that last sentiment, I did believe the media reportage got it
one hundred percent right in this particular story.

I don’t know what ever happened to this couple. I believe the husband divorced his wife
on various grounds, no doubt including one very specific legal ground. There were no more
disturbance calls to their townhouse, and the two of them moved on in their respective lives
outside of Bensalem. I hope each found what he/she was looking for.

In closing here to this particular anecdote, while I don’t think I have to mention this, for
the record, I will. I had and have no issues whatsoever with the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and
transgendered community. I never did and I never will. They should have every right and
freedom as the rest of society in their pursuit of happiness, as long as it’s all done legally, of
course, as I would state about anyone’s pursuit of same.
I will say, however, I do believe in this particular case it would have been appropriate for
the now-woman to have told her significant other, before their relationship progressed, of her
previous life and her previous sexual assignment. Then the husband-to-be could have made an
informed decision as to whether he wanted to pursue the relationship or not. That’s all. This
could have saved many personnel hours of the BPD, not to mention much heartache for the two
parties directly involved.