Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Picture A Naked Guy Holding Up This Bastion...

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(San Carlos Bastion, Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustine, Florida.)

If you follow the sharp edge of this bastion down to the ground, and then imagine it's night and a naked guy is standing in the moat posing with his hand on the bastion...if you can do that you are seeing what I saw one night.

When I rangered at the Castillo, we were plagued by night time wall climbers. Some very good bars are across the street from the Castillo and sometimes on the weekends, the drunken dares would start and pretty soon Bubba wants to climb the walls of the fort. This was unsafe for the climber and more importantly, it really damaged the soft coquina walls of the Castillo.

So, on weekends, I pulled night duty...just until the bars closed around 1:00 am. Early in the evening, there were lots of tourists strolling and I would talk with them as I made my rounds around the fort. A little later, they were replaced by the "smoochers" who found the dark corners around the fort to be...private...until I came walking up with a bright Mag-Lite. Just call me the "anti-Cupid".

It got really quiet in the hour or so before the drunks poured forth from the bars. In that dead time, I usually went in to the closed fort and surveyed the grounds from the gundeck atop the fort. On the gundeck, at night, alone in a 300 year old fortress, you can almost time travel. If you looked out to sea, away from the city lights, it wasn't hard to imagine a Spanish colonial soldier pulling lookout duty right where I was standing.

As it approached barclosing time, I would head down off the gundeck, out the sally port, across the drawbridge and on to the green to prevent crime by my uniformed presence.

On this particular night...the night of "Naked Guy", I crossed the first drawbridge and had stopped at the ravelin to check for inappropriate activities. The ravelin was empty, but I could hear splashing and laughter coming from the moat .

I quietly walked across the second drawbridge and eased down to the moat using the wall's shadows to cloak my arrival. When I reached the edge of the moat, I saw the source of the laughter and splashes.

A completely naked man was standing in the moat at the edge of the San Carlos bastion. He had one hand on his hip and one on the knife edge of the bastion wall...a typical touristy pose except for the naked part. A woman (not naked) was standing in the moat taking his picture.

Boy, did their faces drop when they saw my uniform and ticket book. The laughter stopped pretty quick too. I was doing my best to not burst out laughing, because it was pretty damn funny. They weren't doing anything lewd, just being silly.

I put on my stern cop face.

We had a discussion, the three of us, two clothed, one naked and now clutching his clothes. They were very apologetic. They didn't think anyone was around, they had celebrated naked guy's 30th birthday at the White Lion pub and something wacky seemed like a cool way to top off the evening. Naked guy's ID backed up the fact that this was his birthday.

I gave them my " You know this seems like a small thing (no pun intended naked guy), but you are in violation of Code of Federal Regulations 3.1 blah, blah, blah. "

"Tell ya what, since it's your birthday and no harm was done..."

They were elated to be let off with a lecture and no ticket or worse. Naked guy got dressed and off they went.

At least they got their picture before I ruined the fun.

19 comments:

Lightnin said...

FC-
You are such a nice guy! Now was this before or after a little fireworks in the bayou escapade I've heard about? Again, no harm was meant, right? Of course you and Thunder were much younger than 30. Ignorance is bliss?

thingfish23 said...

I'm sure, in retrospect, that you didn't "ruin" their fun at all. Now, you're part of the story that they regale their friends with.

Aint Law Enforcement grand? I'm "professionally situated" closely enough to the po-leese that I can see how crazy it can be. You really do see people in the midst of all sorts of interesting acts. Unfortunately, some of them are tragic as well.

Comes with the territory.

"ebeonnbt" - ee-bee-YONN-bht - The materially unattainable location of the all-night liquor store when one is ready for the thirteenth beer in the twelve pack

Deb said...

Awww, you were a nice cop. And Thingfish is right, they're probably still telling the story of how they got busted.

I would have posted a guess yesterday, but I didn't want to embarrass myself, being a fish biologist and all.

Rexroth's Daughter said...

What great storytelling, FC. I'm so glad you were the nice cop here. Sometimes we do things and wind up in situations that we never thought possible. It's always good at that moment to have the nice cop standing there.

rick said...

If there still together every year on his birthday they probley say "Do you still remember?........Or you should have seen the look on the Ranger!

Thunder Dave said...

I remember the Lion's Den, and a drink I think was named "The Lion's Paw". Not sure what Lightnin is refering to? (deny, deny, deny!) ;-)

roger said...

inquiring readers want to see your "stern cop face." does it work on your kids?

Laura said...

what on earth was he doing there naked????Oh never mind, I don't want to imagine, LOL! I'll just chalk it up to thinking that maybe he lost a bet!
Weird, some people! LOL

Wayne said...

Heh - the stern cop face - I second DPR on this.

A cop friend of mine loved to tell the story of pulling up beside a couple of teenagers in a car at an intersection on Halloween night and fixing them with his stern cop face; they blanched, of course, and then he threw some candy at them through the open windows and pulled on ahead.

Despite the chuckles it would engender, I really want a tower parapet at the top of the bastion, just like that.

-aghijke- what you see when you spy that stern cop face, of course.

vicki said...

The Anit-Cupid goes on a posting spree! Missing a day here is like missing a week of school. I had to check out the black drum- they are new to me.
The catfish remind me of a guy I met in Belize who was running his own little private fish farm deep in a cave. He took me in there and all the Tilapia were white and blind from no sunlight. It was a while before I had Tilapia again.
Good that you let the young man in his birthday suit off with a warning.

Oh! Currently, the weather in Ann Arbor: A 20 percent chance of rain. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 43. South wind between 15 and 18 mph, with gusts as high as 22 mph. Barometer is 29.64 and steady.(It's weather report day. Thanks for coming by and leaving good wishes for Bill!)

OldHorsetailSnake said...

Aw, heck. You should have confiscated the film and put copies of the pictures up at the White Lion Pub. Just for fun.

Abandoned in Pasadena said...

Very nice story to go with the picture. Sometimes we all do things we shouldn't & get caught, but it's always nice when cops do as you did.

kevin said...

Way back before you were rangering there (we were still in school), some guys I worked with would shark fish off the NE corner. Of course there was some beer drinking, and after a little while some wall climbing. I made it about half way up and realized I wasn't going to be able to get over the top. Getting down was a lot harder than going up.

Floridacracker said...

Lightnin,
Plausible deniability.


Thing,
It is a window onto a hidden world. At least COPS has shown the unintiated a little of what goes on.

Deb,
That guy would be mid-50's now, I was in my mid 20's when I rousted them and that was 20 years ago. Don't sweat that Fish puzzle, not a MN type of fish and even here you could catch a million of 'em and never notice that unless you looked deep in their throat. I took that bone from a huge carcass floating near a boat ramp.

RD,
Lowest level of force needed to gain compliance. A lecture in front of your girlfriend carries a lot of weight.

Thunder,
If you had stopped drinking a little earlier you'd remember it's the White Lion...not the Lion's Den. You beer nut.

DPR,
It melts them.

Laura,
It was genuine silliness...the oh no I'm 30 syndrome. It passes.

Wayne,
Love that good cop story. Nothing like a fortress bastion addition to your home. Time to refi.

Vicki,
There were some other less nice events, but this couple was harmless.

Hoss,
They did have a bulletin board back then.

Abandoned,
Thanks for commenting here. I agree, it's good to have an understanding authority figure around when you goof up. Hey, that's a cute picture.

Kevin,
That was the problem. Climbers would get to the top and then be afraid to climb down. The fort portcullis gate was locked of course, so they were trapped. I did write some tickets for that.
I'll be mailing yours :)

kevin said...

Isn't there a statute of limitations for wall climbing? I also remember walking around the moat at low tide, and how many big mullet were in there at high tide. Too bad I never had a cast net with me.

Floridacracker said...

Kevin,
If I had a dollar for every time a touron called a moat mullet a shark....

Thunder Dave said...

Hey man, I remembered the name of the drink that made me forget the name of the bar. Besides, after all this time I thought I was doing good remembering that I was even there!

Rurality said...

Great story! I wonder if they even had a clue that you were holding back the laughter...

Floridacracker said...

Thunder,
You are forgiven.

Rurality,
If the encounter had lasted 5 minutes longer...