Mama, take this badge off of me. I can’t use it anymore. It’s gettin’ dark, too dark to see. I feel I’m knockin’ on heaven’s door…
I’ve been taking a different, more clear cut route out of MGM these days. It cuts straight to my apartment. I climb up the pointed metal studio gate and onto a steel balance beam, then while leaning against a tree, I reach for a no-parking sign on the other side, just for balance. Once I have a good grip of the sign, I spin around like a whirling dervish until my tennis shoes touch down on the public sidewalk below.
Today, out of the corner of my eye, I notice an unfamiliar guard watching me as I exit. Well… I think, better here, than our more widely used trade routes. Less at stake. Anyway, I’m no threat… I’m just a girl, by myself… kinda like an ally cat, quietly prowling around and hopping over walls… no problem.
The next time I do this, he is there again… guarding some movie set at the old rail terminal. I was trying to avoid all the construction activity when I realized I was being watched… again. I do not know this officer but he kindly waves at me to come over… It could be a trick, so I ponder my options.
Flight instinct naturally takes over; it’s ingrained in the DNA of all regular trespassers. But as I change direction, he continues to wave me over… So, I slowly walk towards him, all the while ready to run. Just like an ally cat!
He teases me with “you know they will be filming here on Thursday. I’ll look the other way if you want to drop in.“
“Thanks for the tip… I will!”
“What’s the show called?” I smile innocently.
“Capone” he replies.
“Is there someplace special on the lot you wanted to see?” he asks. While I puzzle over whether or not he can be trusted, he eliminates my doubts real quick: “I can even give you a tour!” But, before I can answer, he surprises me with this golden nugget: “I know you live across the street and I’ve seen you here before… with that Donnie guy, who the studio wants to keep out of here, at all costs.”
Gee, that’s a lot of stuff… But I don’t want to forfeit the offer on the table, so I answer before he has a chance to change his mind… “Well, everywhere!”
I want to make sure to seal the deal, so I whip up a location that I know is close to this train set.: “I especially like Esther William’s swimming pool.”
“Well then, let’s go!” he offers.
“Right Now?… is it OK?” I ask.
“Right now!” he repeats.
I hesitate… “But… what if someone sees me? you might get in trouble.”
He says, “Wear this. Now you belong.”
I can’t believe my eyes when he hands me his badge… He’s like a cool uncle.
I think of Bob Dylan’s Song as Al shares his tools with me…
I feel powerful. I’m MGM police. I’m riding in a jeep, shot gun. A woman with a badge. MGM does not have any women on the force… but now they do!
I feel like I’m starring in the Rat Patrol, as my hair blows freely in the wind. I assume an authoritative attitude. My partner and I will handle any of the hooligans that come along.
Tagging buildings… not on my watch!
Esther’s pool needs some service, I think to myself. Donnie and I skateboarded the bottom of the deep end just recently… Plus, he and his dad clean pools.
We come to a stop alongside this iconic pool set. I envision myself doing laps with Fernando Lamas…
I’m reminded of when Donnie and I rode around with Big Ron last year. Ron passed around his gun. We all had a real good time. Al doesn’t wear a side arm, I notice… That’s his name, “Al.” We’re on a first name basis now.
That memory seems so long ago, but now, I’m on my own… Ha! If he could see me now in the Bronco, wearing a badge! I’d so love to catch him. I relish the idea of the student passing up the teacher. I was his little “grass hopper,” and now I’m in charge of security! Well, for tonight, anyway. I bet I could catch him in a foot race, or yank him off the fence, at least! I’m invincible.
Look at me, you silly boy, I got a Badge!
Al finally delivers me back to where the evening began, at the fence across from my apartment. I climb to the top, pivot around, and wave goodbye, as I jump back through the invisible gateway, into reality. Now I have a new cool pal to hang with whenever I see him at MGM, from my bedroom window. Heaven is just a pirouette away.
Written and lived by Maureen Miller
Edited by DQ