Girls, Guns, Poodles and Cops...
Note - The item below was originally posted in the TrueTeenBabes Photographer's Corner February 7th, 2006. Before posting today I corrected a few typos and grammar mistakes, as well as added an update and photo at the end.
I was recently sitting with Siedah and Kaylynne when an old story came to mind. So old that it all happened before either of those two brats was even born!
The following story is true. It involves a girl, a gun, a poodle and the cops. And, for once, I didn't do it. It wasn't my fault... I swear!
The year was 1985. I had been in the picture business about two years. My partners and I had a very small business at the time. It was based in the Denver, Colorado suburb of Englewood.
One thing we often did was hold open auditions for new models. Because our business was small we couldn't compete with the big time guys so we held our open calls in smaller areas like Albuquerque, New Mexico; Rapid City, South Dakota and a few other mid-size metro areas like that.
At the time we only worked with models age 18 to 22. Most of the work was very cutesy style bikini, lingerie and topless work for magazines, calendars and ads. The theory was that girls in those smaller areas didn't have as much opportunity as big city girls so they would appreciate our efforts a bit more.
It worked. I recall many, many great girls from those smaller towns. I also recall never having to argue with agents or modeling school people over the girl getting work because what I was offering was much better than anything they had going on at the time.
One such girl was an 18-year-old brunette named Susie Black. She was just the right size and shape for our style of work and had a great personality. During the open call in Albuquerque she photographed great and was a bunch of fun to have around.
Just two weeks later I flew her up to Denver to work in our little studio and a few other locations. Everything went great. She was very fun to have in town and I told her so many times over the weekend - too many times it seems.
She left Denver on a Sunday evening. It was just hours after I finished telling her for the tenth time I couldn't wait for her to come back. Somehow I also mentioned that she would be great on a bikini job I had planned for California the next month if she could find a way to get a nice dark tan. Did I ever tell you I was a big flirt with the girls back 20 years ago when I was in my 20s and had hair?
During this same time frame I was living in a very small house my mother owned. So small that we called it the "Chicken Coop". It was located behind one of her pet shops. She specialized in poodles and the shop was called "The Poodle Shop". It wasn't just the tiny yappy little 6-inch sissy dogs but also some extra large "standard" poodles. One such dog was "Jock". He was a big black poodle that stood 32 inches tall to the shoulder. He was also the sharpest dog I've ever been around.
Most days Jock would hang out in the Poodle Shop. He would even greet customers by standing on his hind legs and placing his front paws on the counter. Often he would raise a paw from the counter to "shake hands" with the visitors. He was a great dog. In the evenings I would bring him from the shop across the parking lot and into the house for the night. He loved pizza from Frank's Pizza down the street.
Two days after Susie Black left town I was in the house waiting for a friend to stop by. Jock was in the house with me. He often lay on the couch for hours at a time, looking out the window or watching TV.
The house was small, about the size of a two-bedroom apartment. If you came in the front door the couch was on the right and the TV to the left. Jock would lay on that couch so that the door was about six feet to his left, the TV was dead ahead, and the window behind him was looking out to the parking lot and the main street in town known as South Broadway just beyond.
That Tuesday evening I was just coming out of the shower with a towel wrapped around me when Jock started barking and looking out the windows. The curtains where closed but he had his nose between them so he could peak out.
I was expecting a friend so it seemed like no big deal to me. I walked to the door and pulled it open. Because I was half naked in a towel I pulled it open in a manner that sort of left me behind it. Pulling the knob into my waist while standing 90% behind the door. I also blurted out "Come on in" to what I thought was my friend. It wasn't.
The next thing I know I'm looking at the side of a gun. Yes, a gun, but not down the barrel. All I could see was a wrist and a gun, from the side, right at my eye level. The door I was behind was blocking the rest of the arm and the person attached to that arm.
The gun pops twice with both bullets going into the wall to my left. They didn't come anywhere near me, but rather about 10-12 feet across the living room and into a wall by an old stove pipe furnace.
At the very same instance Jock leaps from the couch and locks his teeth right into the wrist holding the gun. I jump back and fall into a chair in that corner like a drunken teenager. My towel falls off, but being shy and cautious I quickly grab it and peak between the door and the doorframe by the hinges.
All I see is Jock about 6 or 8 feet out the door holding some guy's arm in his teeth and growling while the guy sits there and cries like a baby.
The guy with the gun was crying like a baby in my little yard. The gun is laying about 6 inches in the house. I've never seen a gun up close and never had one shot anywhere near me.
Right about that time I hear the distinct sound of a V-8 engine and four-barrel carburetor kicking in. Still scrambling to hold the towel I slowly walk around the door and look outside. Jock has the guy under control, and the car I heard is a cop car in the alley.
The "Chicken Coop" house backs up against a dirt alley. The alley sits about two steps - roughly 16 inches - above my yard. When I dump my trash I open a gate and take two steps up to the level cars and trucks drive on. Those steps and the gate are between the house two feet to the right and a small aluminum shed about 5 feet to the left.
At the north end of the alley is the back parking lot to Frank's Pizza, a great place that I've been visiting since they had hot dogs for nineteen cents. It also happens to be a place the Englewood Police hang out at, even though they don't serve any donuts there.
At the time of the gun shots it so happens that a police car was driving down the alley on the way to the pizza joint for a coffee break. He heard the shots and the big engine sound was the officer backing up the alley as fast as he could to see what was going on.
The crash I heard next was the trunk of his car slamming into the shed while the right rear tire dropped off the small raise near the steps. So much for my fence and gate, and my moms shed and all the extra dog cages stored in it.
Within seconds the cop is scrambling over the trunk of his car and the fence - now almost one and the same - and into the yard with his gun drawn. He points it at me. Thank heavens I didn't drop the towel.
I yell out that the guy on the ground crying shot at me and point down at the gun. I call Jock and he instantly lets go of the guy and returns to the couch. The guy on the ground is still crying. By this time he is louder than he had been with his wrist in Jock's jaw.
He is whining out a story about how I stole his wife and all sorts of very confusing stuff. The cop is asking me what he is talking about and I don't know anything. Jock and I are looking at each other like two kids lost in the forest that don't know which path to follow.
More cops arrive. Some climbing over the trunk of the first cop car, others zooming in the Poodle Shop parking lot. I'm being questioned like I did something wrong. A cop even walks me back to my room and gets clothes for me because I wasn't allowed to open any drawers on my own.
The guy in the yard is still crying and pointing at me. Jock is just hanging out and trying to be friendly with the cops. I think he wanted a ride to the pizza place.
Over the next several hours the story unfolds. The guy with the gun was Susie Black's husband. He was also wanted in Oklahoma and New Mexico for burglaries and robberies. I never knew she was married or that she hung out with criminals.
It seems that Susie had gone home and told him all about my offer of a California shoot, and more shoots in Denver. She may (or may not...) have exaggerated a few details here and there and left him with the impression that she was leaving him to be a model in California or some such silliness.
Being a tad immature and unstable he had driven 8 straight hours to Denver in a stolen car and was out to get me. He was not a very good shot because the gun wasn't even pointed at me, but rather into the north wall. I was behind the door the whole time and no bullets hit anywhere near me.
Maybe if Jock hadn't jumped up and grabbed the guy's wrist things would have been different. If I tell this story after a margarita or two it magically portrays Jock is a much bigger hero and details how he saved my life. You never know, but the guy was crying like a baby the whole time and likely couldn't have hit me anyway.
A few weeks later the district attorney's office told me they reduced the charges to "discharging a firearm in city limits" and let him plead guilty and get only 30 days in jail. This was because he had such serious charges in the other states that he was going to prison for many years.
I never heard from Susie Black again. Some days back then I would think about calling her to see what she was doing.
My mom never fixed the shed and sold the business and property the next year. Two years later she had to repossess it and I went down to look it over and help get it ready to be sold again. The shed was gone but the bullet holes were still in the wall.
Jock lived another 8 years. He also had a son named Duke that was just like him.
I last drove down South Broadway in September of 2005 and Frank's Pizza is still there, 20 years later, with the same family running it. The old Poodle Shop building is now the office for a small used car business and the green "Chicken Coop" building still stands behind it. The fence and shed are long gone and the ground has been graded so they can drive cars in and out by the alley where my little yard used to be.
That was the last darn time I flirted with any models!
And, if you believe that last line I have some real damn good investments for you to check out
Treasure Island, FL. USA
February 7th, 2006
Update September 1st, 2020:
In 2018, just for giggles, I set out to search social media and rediscover some of the people I had met in my early photography days. Recall, I started part-time doing sports, primarily car and motorcycle racing, before moving to models. It was a bit of a foolish idea as most names are way too common... Susie Black, David Wallace, Christina Jackson, Nicole Allan, Phillip Allen, and on and on.
I wasn't able to locate Susie Black, or many others, even with subscription based tools from Spokeo, because even with her 1985 address in my files, those websites just don't have information going back that far. It certainly would have been interesting to see or hear what she is up to these days.
The Poodle Shop building and the Chicken Coop house behind it are now gone. I don't know when they had been knocked down and replaced with a new smaller building, and expanded car lot. The photo below is from Google Street View in 2007.
The red arrow was the Poodle Shop, the white arrow the Chicken Coop house and back in 1985 when this story took place there was a larger home on the lot where I have placed the yellow arrow.