As the title of the first Ro Delahanty novel, “Ro’s Handle,” obviously implies, it revolves around the fact that Fort Armstrong deputies all have “handles” or nicknames and how Ro acquires hers.
It’s a tradition that goes back many decades: The handles are “assigned” informally by other deputies; someone will start being referred to by something other than his or her name and eventually it sticks. Sometimes it only takes a short while; sometimes months.
Getting a handle is a big deal in the department as it is a sign of acceptance; only deputies use the handles to refer to other deputies. Here are some examples…
Sergeant Cyril Waters is called “Pops” because he is the new deputies’ training officer, acting not only as their instructor, but their mentor and father figure; it is very much meant to reflect respect.
Except Pops wasn’t always known by that handle. When he first joined the force in 1963, after serving in Vietnam with the Marines, he became known as “Grunt,” because when someone asked him what he did in the service, he would just say, “I was a grunt.” In the mid-70s, after becoming a sergeant, he began to work with the new deputies; it took a few years, but by the early-80s most deputies knew him as Pops rather than Grunt.
Terry Didian, a second shift patrol deputy, is called “Garth” because it’s known he likes to do Garth Brooks covers on karaoke.
Sgt. Ray “Buzz” Horton simply retained his childhood nickname when he joined the department.
Ro’s friend and fellow third shift patrol deputy, Rick Matero, was raised in Texas and is a big fan of the Cowboys – he even has a Cowboys bumper sticker on his car – so, quite naturally, his handle became “Cowboy.”
Another fellow third shift deputy, Corporal Mel Schreiber, is known as “Cue,” short for “Cueball” because he shaves his head.
Ro almost got a handle she definitely would not have liked: Soon after she became a deputy, Pops Waters overhead two deputies refer to her as “Three B’s.” When he asked what it meant, he was told “boots, buckles and boobs.” Pops laid an arm across each deputy’s shoulder, and very quietly explained, “If I ever hear that handle again, you two will be the first ones I’ll see get written-up for sexual harassment. Got it?” They did; the offensive handle was never heard again.
Ro got her handle a few weeks after being involved in a shootout in which she also saved Pops Waters life. Teaser alert: The handle had something to do with one of her favorite movies, James Cameron’s “Aliens.”
(C) 2018 Dave Lager