Story number two in my 52 part series.
I don’t know much about cops. But, one certainly influenced my life. His name was Joel Goulet, and at 16-years-old when I was hitting the proverbial rebellion mode head on, this one time sheriff’s deputy stepped in and took the place of my father at a time when being around your real father really wasn’t cool anymore.
I first met Joe through a friend of mine who had recently gotten hired at Joe’s newly opened establishment aptly named ‘The Ultimate’. It was the first teen night club and pool gallery in Wausau, Wis., a city that previously had absolutely nothing for anyone under 21 to do whatsoever. The Ultimate was like Disney Land for teenagers. They catered to live bands, had a DJ and full dance floor on the weekends, video games, and all the caffeinated soda a young man could possibly drink. Within a short time it had quickly become the go-to spot for anyone in the loop, and I had been regularly hanging out in the DJ booth with my friend Chris in hopes of nailing what I considered at the time to be the most prestigious job a young man like myself could ever have…the resident disc-jockey.
I finally got my wish one day when a short man with slightly greying hair and a black Members Only jacket walked up and introduced himself as Joel Goulet, owner of the place. My first impression was that he didn’t look like a cop at all. Joel spoke really really soft while exuding this sort of relaxing karma. He was almost meek to a point. It made no difference to me. I instantly liked the guy. He was my savior in the world of teenage angst we all come upon some time in our young lives. When he would later give me the job as the other DJ at the club, he officially became God.
There is nothing like being a DJ at sixteen, and I owe Joel for that. To this day it perhaps the one thing I have ever found that I truly love to do. And there was no better place to do it than at the Ultimate. It was a trip from AC/DC to Zeppelin with a little Michael thrown in the middle. Towering over a sea of sweaty shoulder-to-shoulder chaos you have just created is perhaps the biggest rush I know of. It also got me laid. All the frickin’ time, and then some more.
I slowly became good friends with Joel as over the next two years as I spent virtually ever spare minute hanging out at the club. I would come down there every day immediately after school, and nine times out of ten he would be the first person to both hear and advise on the daily happenings in my juvenile life. Joel was a great listener, and his pedigree in law enforcement always made his words of wisdom seem all that more valid.
Our parents really didn’t see it the same way at the time. Although they tolerated the place, the fact remained that no matter how much control you had, they knew kids would be kids. And we were.
We spent most of our time there smoking cigarettes, drinking Mountain Dew, gambling on pool games, and getting high in the back room. It was no wonder our parents seemed to shed a slight concern from time to time. There were moments it was like a teenage Caligula in there. It was totally and completely out of control behind the scenes. Yet, through the thick and thin Joel tried to keep us in line for the most part. If we needed food he would take us out to eat, if we had told our parents we were somewhere else he would let us crash at his house, and for me anyway, he became my father through some of the toughest parts of being a teen. In some ways he was my hero. He was a successful business owner, a true friend, and a provider to those who needed someplace to get away from it all.
As hard as Joe tried to point me in the right direction, I continued to dive into the world of rockin’ roll, rockin’ chicks, and rockin’ joints. I spent less and less time at school, and more and more time hanging out with my friends which in due time would send me down a long road of debauchery and indiscretion. I knew it was all going to end badly someday, and it did in the spring of 1989.
I was sitting in class when I got pulled to the hallway by the principal and directed to a small office in the very back of the main office complex. Sitting at the table were two men in suits… and badges. These weren’t your typical cops either, these were the big guys, and they didn’t look happy. After introducing themselves, a nearly two hour interrogation would begin. I denied the entire thing right up until the end.
“No way, no way on earth I would do that.”
“Alex, it’s best to be honest here. Let us help you.”
“I’m telling you, I’m not a part of this.”
This went on and on in the one form or another for the longest time. At one point the detectives had pulled out a list. I could barely see it from a distance upside down, but I could see a couple people I recognized as peers of mine, all with a line through their names except for my name which appeared cleanly smack dab at the bottom.
“You see these names? They were all honest and admitted it, tough as it is.”
“I have nothing to say to you guys anymore.”
With that I got up and simply left. No one tried to stop me, and I quickly walked down the hallway, out of the front doors, and into my car. I was shaking like a raging alcoholic I was so nervous at the time. I wouldn’t say my life flashed before my eyes, but there was a deep moment of reflection that I will never be able to explain. I fired up a Camel Filter and headed to the one spot I knew I could find some answers to everything that had just went down, the Ultimate.
When I got there, I immediately knew something wasn’t right. Only Joe was sitting at the counter in the basement, and the place was void of any patrons including the names I had seen on the list. I looked at Joe with near tears in my eyes and asked him what the hell was going on?
“I don’t know, Alex. I don’t know.”
As the words came out his mouth I glanced to my left and sat petrified as I saw two plainclothes police officers enter the building and head down stairs towards where I was sitting at the bar. I knew my time at the Ultimate, and my teenage innocence was most likely not far behind them.
I completely froze in terror as they got to my seat, brushed my side, and continued walking right past me to cuff Joel and haul him away, to a lengthy prison sentence, for grooming and then raping the teenage boys on the list… where my name still sat uncrossed.
He’s lucky I was the last one. He wouldn’t have made it past me.
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