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Sober Life
by Sinclair Newton



Sober Life

I doubt even Mike Tyson would try to bite the New York cop I met the other night.

He was big and black and grizzly and he prayed a lot.

He's with half a dozen NYPD men and women who are on tour to promote Jesus after September 11.

I think I caught his name from down here, and it sounded something like Max.

I know everyone in Ibiza feels safe from terrorists, but so did New Yorkers. They finished up writing farewell notes to their loved ones and scattering them from the Twin Towers. Max found a tear-stained message like this blowing in the wind.

Then there were the shoes. Hundreds of them, Max said. They were littered down all the streets leading away from Ground Zero. People just ran away and their shoes came off and they didn't seem so important when you thought you were going to die.

He said he found a complete office worker's outfit, shirt still buttoned, trousers with the belt still fastened and a wallet in the back pocket. But there was no body to match, just the clothes. He couldn't figure that one out and other salvagers said they found the same.

The six men and one woman officer are doing a tour at the invitation of a Greater Manchester Police Superintendent who was teaching over there at the time.

They were already members of a Christian Officers' group and now they have a real-life and salvation message to impart. They pack churches everywhere and get a lot of applause.

What does God say about all this, he was asked. He said we were only halfway through the story and we wouldn't know the ending until Jesus came back and he was sure it was going to be a good one.

At least New Yorkers were now talking to each other, he pointed out. Non-believers always asked questions like this and they just didn't realise that people had a choice and some of them chose evil.

Would he be going back to work? He didn't know except he said God was finding work for him now. He said they had distributed ten thousand Bibles among the curious people who came to stare and none had come back.

That night, on September 11, he met one lady who was still limping around at 10pm asking if it was OK to get her car from the World Trade Center car park. He tore up her parking ticket and told her she didn't have a car anymore and she stumped off saying she had never met such a rude cop.

Everyone looked at them in awe and craned to see if there was any identifying sign that showed they had lived through America's worst atrocity. But mostly they were laughing and cracking jokes and selling books.

What was the worst moment? Three months was a long time and they had to think back. It was all bad, Max said. You had to remember that everyone thought something else was about to happen amid the dust that showed no sign of settling.

Nobody worries so much about his or her gas bill these days, he added. You had to get things in perspective. Nobody volunteers for overtime any more.

And they don't go for a drink after work, either. They just want to go home to their families and Jesus would approve of that.

Then the biggest policeman I've ever seen shook a little and I thought he was going to cry and so I went home as fast as I could.

Sinclair Newton