The headline in the paper the next day says, One of L.A.'s Finest Bags Three of L.A.'s Dumbest. But there was a second part to the story that got even more coverage. Lots more.
A few minutes after Terry nails the bad guys, about a dozen black and whites converge on the scene, followed by LAPD Rescue. The cops are screaming, "Officer down! Officer down!" which lets the Rescue Squad know to bypass the dirtbag who is bleeding to death and take care of that cop over there with the Camel dangling from his mouth.
The ambulance screeches to a stop, the driver's side door flies open and out jumps Marilyn Cavanaugh. Marilyn has green eyes, curly red hair, and a big Irish smile. Sounds pretty good on paper, but she's what they politely refer to in the Personal Ads as full-figured. She's a hefty lass, Marilyn is, weighing in at about fourteen stone. But she's also a top-notch paramedic, and no one ever complains that their Angel of Mercy is too chunky. Certainly not Terry. .
Big as she is, Marilyn is lightning on her feet. Wham, bam, she takes Terry's vitals and quickie-splints his ankle. Then together with her co-pilot, Marty Delaney, she hoists Terry onto a gurney and wheels him into the back of the bus. Marty hops in with the patient. Marilyn slams the rear doors, jumps in the cab, and flips on the siren. Terry, who has been operating on pure adrenaline, knows he's finally headed for a fistful of Advil, a six-pack of beer, and at least a week's paid leave. He closes his eyes and thanks God for another mission accomplished. Marilyn, feeling all the pressure of being responsible for an Officer Down, peels out, hell bent for Cedars-Sinai.
And that's when the A-M-B-U and the L-A-N-C-E part company. The back doors fly open, and the gurney catapults out onto the macadam, where it rolls about thirty feet until it runs head on into a Soccer Mom parking a minivan. The cops, who are still on the scene, scramble to help Terry, who now has a concussion to go along with his broken ankle. When they realize this is not particularly life threatening, they all have a huge laugh. But the camera crew from News Channel 4 has the biggest laugh of all. They had been shooting the departing ambulance for the evening news when the doors burst open.
The video ran incessantly for three nights.
About sixty seconds later, a totally humiliated Marilyn returns for her Officer Down Twice. And that's how they met.
After that, she visited him every day, first in the hospital, then at home, offering to do whatever she could to make him happy. One night, it seemed that the thing that would make Terry the most happy was a roll in the sack.
No problem for Marilyn. Rarely does a nice Irish girl get the opportunity to have sex with a man and actually diminish her Catholic guilt.
One thing, as they say, led to another, and despite the fact that Marilyn had seven-year-old twin daughters, and a third, age five, Terry signed on for the whole package. And that's how a guy from The Bronx winds up living in Sherman Oaks with a wife and three teenage Valley girls. We plugged along the 405. "No sense using lights and sirens," Terry said. "With all this traffic, we'd wind up causing an accident. Besides, the guy we're going to see is already dead, so what's the hurry? You been to Familyland?" "A bunch of times. You know Joanie," I said. "She was a kid at heart." What I didn't say was how much she wanted kids. We both wanted them. We spent three years and thousands of dollars trying to make one. It was our fertility doc who actually discovered the ovarian cancer. Congratulations, Mrs. Lomax. You're not going to have a baby, and you're going to die.
"I always thought of Lamaar as a rip-off of Disney," Terry said. "But that's sort of like saying Pepsi is a rip-off of Coke. There may be truth in it, but it's still an eight hundred-pound gorilla on its own."
Copyright Marshall Karp 2006. All rights reserved. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Macadam Cage.
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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