Thomas Calabrese — Dave London joined the Marines after receiving his Associate’s Degree at Mira Costa Junior College in Oceanside, California. He spent eleven years as a military police officer, with three overseas deployments. He also spent time at Camp Lejeune and Camp Pendleton. His last duty station was Okinawa, Japan. While there, Dave studied martial arts and developed an interest in Kanpo, the study of traditional Chinese medicine, modified to suit Japanese culture and traditions. It includes acupuncture, herbology, food therapy and moxibustion, (moxibustion involves burning moxa, a cone or stick made of ground mugwort leaves, on or near your body’s meridians and acupuncture points. Practitioners believe that the resulting heat helps stimulate these points and improves the flow of qi (energy) in the body).
After his discharge from the Corps, Dave returned to California and moved in with his parents at their Rancho Del Oro home in Oceanside, while contemplating his next move. His father Nelson reminded him, “Take all the time you need, son. This is your home and we’re happy to have you back safe and sound. Thank you for your service.”
“Thanks dad,” Dave responded, “You’ll be the first to know when I figure things out.”
The former Marine found a martial arts studio on Oceanside Boulevard to continue his training and set up a place in the garage to work on his Kanpo potions and supplements. Since he had years of military police experience, it only seemed reasonable that getting into civilian law enforcement would be the easiest transition for him.
Dave was overseas when the Defund the Police movement hit its peak, so he wasn’t aware of the low morale, resignations and early retirements that were hampering many police departments’ ability to do their jobs properly.
Nelson London explained in detail about the current environment, then asked, “I wouldn’t ever try to talk you out of something that you really believed in. Just do your due diligence. Is the risk worth the reward? You’ll be dealing with bad people on the streets and bad people in the government.”
Dave promptly responded, “And innocent people are caught in-between.”
The former Marine took his father’s advice and seriously considered his decision. After evaluating the various police departments, he decided on Oceanside. Dave grew up in the area and it just felt right to him to choose this one. Over the next few years, some officers were fired for various offenses, including excessive force. Chokeholds and neck restraints were no longer allowed. Tasers and beanbags were discouraged and officers could only use deadly force when fired upon.
Many officers began second-guessing their every move. This was extremely dangerous especially when split-second decision making was required in life and death situations. Although many would not admit it, but they began standing down or waiting for back-up before going into situations that could go sideways and land them in some type of legal or disciplinary issue.
Officer Benito Garcia was accused of excessive force. Violent protests called for his dismissal and prosecution, even before the official inquiry had concluded. Fearing the worst, he resigned and moved to Mexico. He knew that no matter what the findings were, he would always be a target of the radicals. Benito also did not want his fellow officers to suffer or be endangered for his actions, whether they were right or wrong. He was that kind of man. Dave considered him a friend and dedicated public servant and was saddened to see him go. However, he understood what motivated his decision. He wondered if he would react in a similar manner if he was in the same situation.
There had to be something that Dave could do to mitigate the inherent risks of his job and not end up in prison if he had to defend himself or others. An idea came to him when he was mixing up an herbal supplement. After consulting with several other Kanpo practitioners, Dave came up with a concoction that induced intense and temporary nausea and vertigo. It was potent and non-detectable and the effects passed in about five minutes. Dave always kept a two ounce spray bottle filled with the potion in his shirt pocket whenever he was on his duty.
His first opportunity to use it came when he was working the night shift. It was 2AM and a driver was driving down the wrong side of Oceanside Boulevard between El Camino Real and Rancho Del Oro. Dave turned on his siren and lights, pulled the vehicle over and pointed his spotlight at the driver. He took the spray bottle and held it in his hand as he slowly approached the vehicle.
As soon as Dave got near the car, the driver began screaming profanities and slamming his hands against the steering wheel. He was visibly agitated and refused to comply with instructions. Even though he was ordered to stay in the vehicle, the driver got out and became combative. Dave immediately assessed the situation and knew he would have to either beat the man into submission or kill him. When the man attacked, Dave squirted the potion at him. The effects were immediate. He teetered back and forth like a tree caught in a multi-directional wind. Finally, he lost his balance and fell forward on the pavement, Dave handcuffed him and dragged him off the street.
By the time, back-up arrived, Dave had the situation under control as the effects of the potion began to wear off. The driver began screaming and struggling to free himself from his restraints. Dave knew exactly what he was going to say when his supervisor arrived, “He became disoriented so I restrained him for his own protection.”
Dave met Dana Collier at Planet Fitness. She was a former Marine and was currently employed as the regional manager of a medical supply company that manufactured defibrillators, oxygen equipment and ventilators. Dana worked three days a week from her home in Carlsbad and was on the road two days visiting her sales representatives. Once a month, she traveled to corporate headquarters in Dallas, Texas. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, her company’s sales rose 300 per cent. Dana was a tireless worker, proficient at multi-tasking and an expert at not letting the demands of her professional career interfere with her personal life.
Besides having their Marine Corps background in common Dave and Dana were both fiercely independent, athletic and adhered to a code of conduct. While they did not always agree on everything, their core beliefs were almost identical; God, family and country, in that order. They enjoyed each other’s company, but also valued their alone time. Neither was needy or demanding and their relationship flowed easily. It felt so natural at times that they often had to remind themselves to be vigilant to not take each other for granted. There was a significant amount of common courtesy in their exchanges and if someone didn’t know better, they might think they were business associates instead of boyfriend and girlfriend. That was fine with them, the less people knew about their personal lives, the better.
When Dave was approached about an undercover assignment, he discussed it with Dana.
Her first question was, “Why do they want you?”
“They didn’t tell me. I do know one thing… it has to do with the Drug Enforcement Agency.”
Dave accepted the assignment because that was the kind of man that he was. If someone asked for help, he usually gave it and he saw no reason to stop now.
The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) was working with Oceanside detectives to stop an influx of fentanyl shipments flooding Southern California. Their primary suspects were all members of the Brody family clan. It was governed by matriarch, nicknamed Durf. Her three sons were Henry the oldest and an ex-con with anger issues, who was recently paroled from Folsom Prison after serving eight years for first degree assault and grand larceny. Alonso, called Lon, was the middle child, an adrenalin junkie with a preference for cocaine and high risk activities. The youngest son was Ledge, a former competitive surfer who owned a motorcycle repair shop on South Coast Highway.
Dave had won several surfing tournaments when he was in high school and had at one time thought about turning pro. He chose the Marines instead. Dave remembered meeting Ledge when he was a senior in high school and the youngest Brody, still in grade school. They sometimes crossed paths at various surfing spots in Southern California.
To build up his story so he could infiltrate the gang, Dave was dismissed from the police department. The official charges were larceny and testing positive for drugs. A press release was given to the San Diego Union Tribune and Mayor Herman Rockwell also made the following statement, “We expect all police officers to comply with the law and those who do not will be held accountable.”
The rest was up to Dave, It took him several weeks before he could strike up a casual conversation with his intended target near the Oceanside Pier. It was just after sunrise and a dozen hardcore surfers were out riding the much larger than normal waves created from a recent severe storm in Mexico.
Dave paddled out, “Is that you, Ledge?
Ledge responded in surprise, “Dave London…it has been a while…how long has it been?”
“At least twelve years,” Dave responded.
“I’d say closer to fifteen. I read in the paper about your problems…sorry”
Dave shrugged, “I was living on borrowed time, I was never cut out to be a cop, but I thought it might give me some inside information on how to supplement my income, if you know what I mean. I got careless, I just wasn’t expecting a drug test, especially after I had just taken one a few days earlier.”
Ledge asked, “So what now?”
“With my record, not too many companies are looking to hire a crooked cop.”
“How desperate are you?” Ledge asked.
“Very,” Dave responded.
The two men caught a large wave and rode side by side to shore.
It took a couple of months before the Brody gang trusted the disgraced officer enough to let him into their inner circle. Dave found out when the next shipment of fentanyl was due to arrive and relayed the Intel to Sergeant Manetti at the police department. He passed it along to the DEA.
Somebody at the DEA must have been impressed by how badly the State Department screwed up the evacuation of Afghanistan. Instead of following the plan to intercept the fentanyl shipment off the coast of Carlsbad, rogue federal agents decide to raid one of the Brody’s warehouses off Wisconsin Street in Oceanside two days earlier.
With guns blazing, they burst through the door, shot Dave and three other men and arrested Henry and Lon Brody. The case against the brothers was quickly dismissed for lack of evidence. Supervisors and leadership at the DEA needed a scapegoat so they falsified information to make it look like it was Dave’s fault that the operation failed. When the Oceanside Chief of Detectives disagreed, the Attorney General intervened and threatened to withhold federal funds from the City of Oceanside if Dave was not terminated.
While recovering from a bullet wound to his left leg, Dave began attending yoga classes with Dana to work on his flexibility and anger issues. He consulted an attorney about filling a lawsuit against the City and the federal government for wrongful termination and violation of his due process. He had not made a decision and wasn’t sure if he wanted to go through the lengthy legal process. Dave was realistic enough to know that right doesn’t always mean might and government agencies are experts at impeding and dragging out the judicial process. Especially, when they are in the wrong or it suits their agenda.
Dave and Dana were having an early dinner at his house when the doorbell rang. Dana volunteered, “I’ll get it.”
When she opened the door, a woman flanked by two police officers was standing there. The woman said, “I’m here to see Mr. London.”
Dave got up from the table and slightly limped over to the door. He recognized the two officers and nodded in acknowledgement. However, he didn’t know the woman, “I’m London.”
“I’m Ashley Judson, I work at Human Resources. Is there someplace where we can talk in private?”
“This is good right here,” Dave said, “I have nothing to hide.”
Ashley Judson sighed, “As you wish… I’m here to offer you a job.”
“Back on patrol?” Dave asked.
“That ship has sailed, the position that is available is Community Violence Interrupter.”
“That wasn’t a joke,” Ashley Judson said, “The City of Oceanside has received significant funds from the Department of Justice to hire several CVI’s. With your yoga and police experience, you’d be a perfect candidate for this ground-breaking attempt to diversify and de-militarize law enforcement.”
Dave’s gritted his teeth and he was ready to explode in anger. Dana sensed his tension and gently touched his arm, “Does he have some time to think about your offer?”
“Absolutely,” Ashley Judson smiled, “You take as much time as you need. I just wanted to give you the first opportunity. We are going to have three positions, even if I fill the first two, I’ll leave the last one open until I get a definite answer from you.”
Dana smiled, “That is very thoughtful. Have a nice evening.”
After Ashely Judson and the two officers left, Dana apologized, “I’m sorry if I overstepped. I just had this feeling that you were about to say something in the heat of the moment that you might regret later.”
Dave responded, “I should be thanking you. The last time I felt that angry was when I saw that DEA agent shoot me. Imagine me as a Community Violence Interrupter…what a joke.”
Dana suggested, “Keep an open mind…you’re not really sure what the job entails.”
“I can guess. It sounds like one of those touchy feely jobs.”
Dana suggested, “It might be worth checking out…at least then you’ll be making an informed decision.”
Two weeks later, Dave called Ashley Judson, “Is that position still open?”
“I wasn’t sure if I was going to hear from you.” Ashley said.
Dave said, “I wasn’t sure I was going to call…tell me more about this position.”
The city assigned a Crime Scene Unit van to Dave that was outfitted with an outside speaker system. His duties were to diffuse hostile and dangerous situations before police officers arrived on scene. It was a ridiculous and dangerous premise, but in a woke politically correct world, some people with no law enforcement experience actually thought it was a good idea. The Governor as well as numerous radical district attorneys throughout the state went public to say how they thought this was a big step in police reform.
During his first week on the job, Dave responded to a call by the back gate of Camp Pendleton. He could hear yelling inside the house and turned on soothing meditation music before walking to the front door.
A man opened it and growled, “What do you want?”
Dave identified himself in a calm tone of voice, “I’m a Community Violence Interrupter and wanted to know if I could offer my assistance.”
The man attempted to slam the door in Dave’s face, but he stopped it from closing, “Excuse me sir, but you didn’t answer my question.”
“You want me to smash your face in?” The man threatened.
Dave responded calmly, “You should never answer a question with another question.”
“Where in the hell is that music coming from?”
“That’s to calm you down…are you feeling more calm, sir?” Dave softly said.
The man smiled maliciously, “I’ll show you how calm I am,” and attempted to punch Dave in the face. Dave blocked the assault and sprayed the potion in the man’s face.
By the time the paramedics and other police cars arrived, the man was restrained and Dave was sitting in the front yard doing yoga exercise and chanting, “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo,” (An expression of determination, to embrace the Buddha nature. It is a pledge to never yield to difficulties and to win over one’s suffering.)
The police officers broke out in laughter when they saw Dave in his downward-dog pose.
The paramedics treated a badly beaten woman and were rolling her out to the ambulance. Dave walked alongside them while repeating, “Namaste”, which means I bow to you.
After returning home after his shift, Dave immediately went into the garage and vented his frustration on the heavy bag. When he had expended most of his negative energy, he sat down on the concrete floor. Dana walked in and asked, “Feel better?”
“Exhaustion is good medicine for the angry soul. As soon as I get my second wind, I’ll be mad again,” Dave said, “I’m having a little trouble pulling off this charade. I thought I could do it, but I’m in over my head.”
“My dad used to tell me when you can’t see the small picture, take a step back and look for the big one,” Dana said.
“Your dad is smarter than me.”
“Permission to speak freely,” Dana asked.
“Granted,” Dave smiled.
Dana explained, “I’m going to give you a couple of analogies then tie it together, so don’t get impatient and interrupt me.”
Superman’s alter-ego was Clark Kent, The Hulk’s was Bruce Bannon, Zorro was Alejandro Murrieta,” Dana said.
I knew the first two, but I didn’t know Zorro’s real name?”
Dana scowled, “I thought I told you no interruptions.”
“People thought they were mild-mannered wimps and look what they accomplished. It is better that people think you’re weak when you’re strong than to have them think that you’re strong when you’re weak. You’re in a unique position to help police officers, save lives and hold criminals accountable… and fly under the radar in the process, I don’t see the downside.”
Over the next few months, Dave responded to dozens of calls and sarcastically became known as Mr. Sensitive to law enforcement officials. They avoided him like the plague, which actually played into Dave’s plan. This allowed him to go wherever and whenever he wanted without question or oversight.
In most cases, Dave easily neutralized lawbreakers with the help of his secret potion which ended the threat. However, there were some incorrigible and violent individuals who immediately reverted back to their criminal ways after being released from custody. They needed to be stopped another way to prevent them from injuring innocent people and taking advantage of the weak and defenseless.
It was time for Mr. Sensitive’s alter ego, P.K. to answer the call. Dave kept track of nefarious individuals then used his considerable skills to lure them into a trap by pretending to be a victim. Wearing steel knuckle combat gloves and carrying a variety of weapons, he gave them a double dose of their own medicine, which normally consisted of a badly beaten body, blackened eyes and a broken nose. Dave’s calling card was the initials P.K. carved into their chests.
Hey Mr. Sensitive, I give up. What do the initials P.K. mean?” Dana said as they watched television together.
“You sure you don’t want more time to figure it out?” Dave teased.
Dana playfully demanded, “Don’t make me beat it out of you.”
“What was Charles Bronson’s character’s name in the movie, Death Wish?”
Dana couldn’t come up with an answer, “I have no idea?”
“Paul Kersey,” Dave said, “and his initials were?”
“P.K, I get it now,” Dana sighed.
This Community Violence Interrupter, called Mr. Sensitive chanted softly, but he carried a big stick and wasn’t afraid to use it.
– Work of fiction. Names, characters, business, events and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual person