So the training sessions came and went. I got very strong. Ric even complimented me on how strong I was both physically and mentally. He was an excellent teacher. For being so young, he had skills and instructing abilities.
As time went on, I earned his trust. He became someone I could confide in and vice versa. Things with him went nowhere. I didn't give him information that he wasn't privy too, but even if it was small personal things, I could trust it stopped with him. He gave me a different perspective on life. He came from poverty and the School of Hard Knocks. I came from middle class America. Two different worlds.
Later, he would give me information that led to several arrests and big cases for the DEA and DCI. I never gave the other agencies enough information that I would have to reveal my source so he would testify, but just enough to tell them where to look. Ric made it clear if he got burned, he would disappear and he would never speak to me. He also refused to testify. He kept his ghetto culture and at the same time cleaned up some bad criminals. It was important to him to retain his street cred.
I found him to be one of those ghetto dwellers that was "something is not like the others." He had a good heart, he didn't commit crimes, yet he was definitely a gangster. I guess he was a fence rider. He told me the reason he loved and only would live in the bad parts of town, was because in the ghetto you find real people. In some sense, I understood what he meant. They also have a different kind of code.
I got used to wrestling with a very attractive and overtly sexual 23 year old without being uncomfortable. He was dangerous and loved to flaunt his sexuality everywhere. The women and girls flocked to him. I think he had a stack of numbers every time he went out into the real world. At the same time, he was not a player with women and was such a gentlemen. I had commented to his mother about his manners and how much of a gentlemen he was in public and private. His mother said she emphasized those things since he was small and demanded her son respect woman above all else.
At the age of 23 and making thousands of dollars in the oil field, I did not understand why he was still at home. He told me they had traveled to Wyoming from Michigan for work as Michigan had pretty much imploded on itself as far as the economy. He had moved out and had a live-in girlfriend. However, his step-father had gone into a drunken rage and he moved back home, feeling obligated to protect his mother who refused to leave her crazy mate. Ric said Trent never laid a hand on his mother, but would go on drunken binges, lose his job, and go into a psychotic rage. Often Trent would focus his physical rage on Ric. However, Ric said he would beat the shit out of Trent and choke him out so he would sleep it off the next day. It was a vicious cycle and a wonder Ric didn't kill him. I saw first hand some of the damage. I would only be glad it was out of my jurisdiction and I would just laugh, calling it street justice. Trent would tell me often he got what he deserved, even if it was a broken jaw more times than once. In fact, Ric often made Trent's face into a Picasso.
Ric's girlfriend didn't last long as she cheated on him and he didn't want another one at the time. I was in a similar situation with my divorce and we became daytime friends. We went to movie matinees after training about once a month, all sweaty and gross. It was there Ric introduced me to the Resident Evil, Underworld, and Twilight series. Yes, the big 'ol gangster loved Twilight. He swore me to secrecy. He said he was actually a romantic at heart and hoped someday to have the fairy tale romance just like anyone thought of, I guess.
On one of the latter training days, Ric told me to bring my gun to the house. I didn't want to do that as two felons lived there and I was uncomfortable being out of uniform, although I knew his mom and step-father would not hurt me. It was just an uneasy feeling. He said to load up my baton and gun and no argument.
The day I brought my gun and baton in a sack was a new thing for me. I unloaded it as instructed and put a string in it to signify it was indeed empty. We did training on weapon retention, no padding. Ric was impressed I never let him take my gun and it was by some miracle because he was fast and stronger than me. I fired on him before he got it away or refused to relinquish it every time.
When he came at me armed, I grabbed the slide and was able to twist the gun away from him. The baton, not so much. I had a bruised butt, thighs and arms. He would taunt me when he took it away, striking me hard. FMITA. Owie. At times when I worked out at the police gym, I would get questions about my bruising and I actually lied, saying farm work and clumsy me. They all believed me and laughed, nodding their heads, knowing my history.
In the middle of spring that year, Ric called me in a panic. He and his family were moving back to Michigan the next week. His mom had decided she wanted to be close to family because everyone was ailing and in their elderly years. I had never seen Ric so upset. It was out of character. He went on and on how he hated Michigan and had grown to love Wyoming. I was truly sad.
The day he left, I stopped by in uniform to say my goodbyes as I was on duty. Ric handed me a thick envelope and instructed me not to open it until he was gone. He said he would be in touch. He had tears running down his face and I felt sorry for him. His mother met me at the patrol car door when I went to leave. She told me her son was in love with me. She told me she was glad they were leaving because she could never have stopped Ric from his feelings. I was flattered that a nice looking and very young kid would think that about me, but I knew it was an unrequited feeling because I would never step into that realm. Imagining a 40 year old with a 20 something was just too crazy. Too much age, different cultures, and with time a relationship like that would fall apart or the two would grow apart. I later told this to Ric over the phone as he went through other relationships that failed. He said he could never find a person with a heart like mine. I told him he someday would.
In 2011, I talked to Ric for the last time as he had succumbed to drug abuse. He admitted to me that the solitude his mother had placed him in had led him to a bad group of peers. He had been popping scripts, smoking marijuana, and drinking heavily. It put a heaviness in my heart because he had such potential. I always wanted him to find his happiness and knew he felt stuck as his mother was a huge manipulator. She would always deter any life on his own that he tried to pursue.
The letter he left me with was a confession of his feelings about me and words of encouragement to continue training and keeping up my fighting skills. He ended it with, "You will find your inner strength and combine what I have taught you which will come at a time when you most need it. Patience, grasshopper." I did indeed thank him in my mind those many days after when I got into some hellacious fights on duty.
I will always hold a special place in my heart for him. I have, however, lost some of those skills because repetition is important. I never found another person to fill his shoes as an instructor, nor did I find any one that sparred quite like he did. Wherever he is, I hope he has found a way to pull himself out of the abyss.