Three Stories Involving Police That Might End Differently If I Weren’t White by Troy Kody Cunio


Driving home from a poetry slam around midnight, downtown. Two drinks in me, about as many hours old. I take a right on red, miss the sign that says not to do that at this intersection. I don’t see the cruiser behind me until the blue flashes in my rearview. I pull into a dark Walgreens parking lot. The officer is a black man. I immediately realize what I have done and apologize. I call him “sir”, like I do pretty much everyone. He doesn’t breathalyze me, doesn’t even look at my license and registration. Lets me go without so much as a warning.


I’m out for a run on the UCF campus. Early evening. Wearing just a pair of short shorts- no shirt, no wallet, no phone. Just the key to my gym locker, which I drop somewhere along my route and don’t notice until I’m finished. Rather than retrace 5 miles of steps in the fading dusk, I walk to the campus PD office. It’s closed. There’s a squad car parked in the lot, so I knock on the window. A muffled voice- “You’ve got to call it in.” “No phone,” I shout back. The window rolls down. It is a Caucasian woman. I explain myself. She looks incredulous until I give her my name. Turns out she’s from my small hometown and knows my family from when my brother was high school valedictorian. She drives me home in the back of her police car. I find it a pleasant novelty to be riding in the backseat, separated from the driver by metal bars. She turns on the siren when we get to my block. My roommates get a big kick out of it.


Going home from another late night at Austin Coffee. I don’t know it, but my tail light’s out. I get pulled over by a young cop with a chin that makes him look like James Dean. The actor, not the pornstar. He asks me right away how much marijuana I’ve been smoking. I sniff myself. Come to think of it, I do have the scent about me. “None,” I say, and it’s the truth. “I was at a pretty grungy place, must have taken on the aroma. You can search my car if you want.” He laughs and tells me no thanks. Get that light fixed. He doesn’t take my papers back to his vehicle. This happened around the time Michael Brown was killed.

Troy Kody Cunio lives in Orlando. His work has appeared in NYSAI, Beech Street Review, The Literary Bohemian, Sweet Wolverine, The Kitchen Poet, and others. He is the uneditor of Rejected Poetry Journal ( You can find his books at

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