DD 115

Prompt: a character or characters who made a place more interesting.

Leonard McCarthy had been a cop in Fort Dodge for 15 years.  He was in the middle of raising a family and  had come to Wisconsin to earn a bachelor’s degree in law enforcement.

“My lieutenant is sitting on top of my promotion,” he explained.  “He won’t move anyone out of uniform who hasn’t a degree in law enforcement.”

He drove to campus Sunday nights and returned to Fort Dodge Friday afternoons.  In between he was the most interesting person I knew, not because he told cop stories though he would mention things if you asked, but because he had a style about whatever he did; even mundane things like drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes seemed to be more cool when he did them–he drank coffee all day though it was so thin that it looked like tea, and he never stubbed out his cigarettes; instead, he set them on their plastic filter ends and let them burn out so that our apartment had spread across most of its counters during the day little cigarette towers.

Leonard knew what you were thinking before you thought it, and he knew what you wanted before you asked though when you did ask he responded in ways you didn’t expect.  Once, I went looking for one of our other roommates in the downtown bars and came across Leonard first.  He was at the bar with friends in an overcrowded bar so loud from the house band that conversation was half lip-reading, but when I asked Leonard if he’d seen Rodney, he stood up on a bar stool and shouted, “QUIET!” The bar of 200 hundred college students, and the band, went tomb silent:  “Rodney,” Leonard said, in a more or less normal voice, “are you here?’  When no one responsd, Leonard got down off the stool, looked at me, and said, “Rodney’s not here.”  The next moment the room re-exploded into deafening noise.

That was Leonard McCarthy.


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