Continued from Mallowcreme:
I get up to take a leak, and when I come out, the plate is gone from my table and there are two things in its place : a hand written bill for seven bucks and a mildly bulgey envelope with a phone number written on it. I stuff it in my shirt pocket and scan the street. The almost-certainly-ex cop car is gone and Lola is back out with her smokes, watching the evening turn to night. I put a ten on the table and try to remember how much smokes cost now. I fish a crumpled single out of my pocket and then thumb aimlessly through my wallet looking for another. No such luck, Lola. I put the ten and the single on top of the bill and wave it towards the window. Lola gestures towards the counter and I set the little pile next to the grimy washrag and ancient register.
“You must be the trusting type.”
“You don’t look like an asshole.” She coughs a couple times and jabs the cigarette at the envelope, disrupting the smokey haze surrounding her. “That guy… now that guy looked like an asshole.”
“Yeah?”. I squeeze the envelope and feel the sticky cheap photo paper. Probably a dozen prints. All wrapped up in a piece of copier paper. “You’re probably right.” I wait a second before asking, “Did he look like a cop?”
She just laughs and shakes her head. “Different type of asshole.”
Halfway up the block there’s a little convenience store and I check out the cigarette prices in the window. Jesus. Oh, well, maybe Lola can grab some GPCs. I ring up three tall cans of High Life and a bag of sunflower seeds. The clerk puts my cans into individual brown paper bags while giving me the full extent of her judgement.
I head off to the park on the corner and sit down on a bench to watch the sun set. A couple of kids are playing on the jungle gym and a pair of women two benches down give me the evil eye when I crack open the first beer and give it a couple sips. I toss a couple sunflower seeds in my mouth and savor the fizzy, salty mash. I feel the corners of the envelope poking into my chest. I think about it, feel the weight again. Stare at the sunset. Take another sip of beer. Get into the zen of it. For a while, it’s just me and the envelope and the sunflower seeds, and the hazy sort of buzz you can only get from cheap cold beer on a hot summer evening.
I hear the squealing thrum of another American car rolling up the street behind me and the ratcheting clank of a automatic being moved to despite being in motion. I look back and catch a big white number 316 on the front quarterpanel and immediately look around for the busybody moms. They’re both smiling a smug little victory grin. I sigh and prepare for it.
“SUSPECT! DO NOT MAKE ANY SUDDEN MOVEMENTS.”
Despite knowing I haven’t done anything wrong, this voice through a roof-top PA is enough to set my bowels on edge. My hands automatically rise up above my head and lace together.
“SUSPECT. WITH YOUR LEFT HAND ONLY, PLACE THE BAG ON THE GROUND.”
I reach down and grab the nearly empty beer and set it on the ground.
“SUSPECT. SLOWLY STAND UP AND STEP TO THE LEFT.”
I step to the left and some sunflower shells tinkle from my lap down onto the ground.
“SUSPECT! DO NOT ATTEMPT TO DISCARD EVIDENCE!”
“They were sunflower seeds, man.”
“SUSPECT! DO NOT SPEAK. TURN AROUND SLOWLY AND FACE THE VEHICLE.”
I get about halfway around and get a good look at the cop.
“Man, FUCK YOU PIG.”
I start reaching into the waistband of my pants while the cop screams GUN GUN GUN at the top of his lungs into the PA, then charges at me while I duck down to grab the beers. I look over just in time to see one of the busybody moms trip and send her kid sprawling on the ground. The other has just set some sort of record for the loaded hurdle headed towards the station wagon around the corner. No loyalty among them either now that the shit is going down, she peels away from the curb while second mom is still limping towards the bumper. She looks like one of those photographs of Vietnamese people running from their exploding village, just terror and confusion and hate. Doubt they’re gonna have another play date any time soon.
“What a couple of cunts.” the wide faced cop laughs and slams the door of the cruiser. “They called me out here because you ‘made rude gestures towards one of the boys’.”
“I’d have to lower my standards to fuck kids that ugly.” Pitching the empty into the trash can, brushing some sunflower shells off my pants. “You almost sounded like a real cop for a minute there, Ben, I almost felt some respect for your authority. Very macho.”
“Fuck you, pedophile. You got a beer for me?”