It was the summer of 1964. The scuttlebutt one evening had it that Larry, whom we called Tubby, was in some sort of the trouble with the law. I was seven years old.
Tubby was two or three years older. He and his single mom lived in the apartments above the storefront on Fenkell between Tuller and Turner. He was a latchkey kid, back when the phenomenon was still relatively uncommon. He'd always had the air of an outlaw about him.
A frisson of danger filled the hot summer night. I wandered from my parents' porch to the alley behind the storefront. All of a sudden, a flashlight shone in my face. "Are you Larry Snarkenfarker?!" the voice demanded.
"No, I'm Tony!" I heard myself squeal. The police officer turned and walked away.
There was something unsettling about the encounter. As if, even at that tender age, I recognized the dangers endemic to state-sponsored protection rackets. Happily, this was still in the day when Sheriff Andy Taylor, not the Waco Killers, set the tone. Fifty years on, and I may well have been shot on the spot or beaten senseless.
I knew right there neither angels nor automatons filled the ranks of my presumptive protectors. Odd that this random blimp on the radar screen would sow the seeds of my later anarchism.