"SO WHY DON'T YOU tell me what's going on?" enquired the gum chewing cop to the tweaker who was pinned against the black and white. The spindly thin Meth head said nothing but his wide-open stare said everything: his mind is a million miles a second. This cop is cramping his style. He sneered silently.
"You better do something," I said through my teeth.
The tweaker's baseball cap was turned around and the visor shadowed his nape. The word, MegadetH, was inked along his forearm. "I don't know what you're talking about," answered the toothless and tattooed kid.
That's right, I thought, deny everything. He is not doing anything. Why is getting high a crime? Isn't "the pursuit of happiness" in The Declaration of Independence?
In an erupting movement the kid pushed the cop away, he skirted like a slippery shadow along side the automobile and in an instant he was sprinting down the street. No doubt, the tweaker lived outside the law and in his last move; he demonstrated he lived outside the law of physical reality.
It was exhilarating to watch the kid flee. My hands pushed hard on my thighs. I really wanted to see the kid get away.
The cop fired two warning shots in the air. The kid streaked down the street and spun out an old lady huddled over her grocery bag. She teetered on her worn widow's heels. Bright Florida oranges bounced into the street like pulpy Ping-Pong balls.
The kid turned down the alleyway.
My mother, the crone that she is, turned off the television set. The picture was swallowed up in an electronic flinch. Geez, I was watching a first for COPS. The criminal was getting away.
"Graham," she said sharply, "it's eleven thirty in the morning! Isn't it a little early for COPS reruns?"
I looked at her. Is it my fault that my little nuisance of a sister, Susie, broke my X Box? "Well, what am I supposed to do when there is no one around?" I exhaled with a newfound level of boredom.
"Where are your friends? Where's that Claire?" she said with a lilt. She knows I'm going with her and pretends she doesn't mind.
"I already told you forty billion times -- she's away."
"Well, then how about Janey? She's an awfully sweet girl. Or that Bobby Chan?" Her lowered features soured, registering a disdain and dislike. I liked that because Bob Chan was my best buddy.
"They all are away because you wouldn't let me go with them up to ..." I spoke clearly and distinctly as if I was talking down to my baby sister. Mom ignored the irony.
"I don't want to hear it," snapped my mother. "I needed you here to look after Susie while I worked …"
I folded my arms one over the other like I was Big Chief Petulance. "You must have other friends. After all, there are seven hundred kids in your class. They all couldn't be out of town!"
I slumped back in the chair and stared at the ceiling. Outside the windows I could almost see the heavy grey air, waterlogged with August humidity. My mother turned on the vacuum cleaner. Whenever she couldn't think of anything stupid to do, she'd vacuum.
"Move your feet please," she said with tight lips and a glare that simmered in the notion that I'm the one who should be vacuuming and not the one sitting.
I smirked and kept my feet just exactly where they were. She glared again at me and then ever so slowly I moved my feet to irritate my mother.
"Hey mister, why don't you do something?" Her saturation point hit. "Read a book. Anything. Something!"
"I'll go google 'Boredom'."
"May I suggest a summer job?"
"Hey, haven't you heard," I said with a "how dare you" tone of voice. "It's the middle of August already. Besides no one is hiring because people are keeping their jobs because the economy is so bad!"
Her face tensed in an exasperated frown. "Please," she groaned. "That's not an excuse."
"And besides my Driver's Ed messed up my whole schedule."
She shook her head. She was pretty sure that I had worked it that way and she was right. "Well, for someone who wants a car and community college, you certainly are expecting a lot from me and your absent dad." She glared at me.
"Hey, that's not my fault. I didn't divorce him." That shut her up but good. I figured I'd storm out of the house as I had just won the last round. Like my dad would.
Outside the blasting sun made the houses and trees droop. It was too hot to do anything. I turned back but my mom was right there.
"I don't even want to look at you, right now," she said.
"Same here," I cried back. Down the front stairs I mimicked her voice. "Read a book. Do anything, something. Nag. Nag." Why don't I live in Malibu? I walked over to the garage and there was poor Shotsie. She was slouched in the irritability of the heat. She too was baffled in the boredom. She looked up at me in her half-cocker, half-terrier way.
"All right, all right." She was thirsty so I got her dish and filled it from the hose. I set it in front of her and she lapped, lapped, lapped it up. And what was really an ultra drag was that I had smoked and snorted up my stash. But I like to think of myself as an optimist when it comes to your own private drug supply. There is always hope that I might have overlooked something. I walked around to Shotsie's doghouse and got on all fours.
My friend, Bob Chan and I used the doghouse as our stash. We called it "The Arsenal." When you deal pounds of grass, ounces of Coke, Crack and sometimes Meth, you need a primo hiding place. The peculiar thing was that I used the doghouse more than Shotsie. She slept in the bushes and in the basement window wells. I crept into the doghouse and reached for the flashlight I kept inside. In the light I could see the shelves that Chan and I had built were empty.
Nothing, absolutely nothing. I couldn't even get stoned. I turned off the flashlight and crawled out in reverse. Mother Fu…! My head bumped against the top of the doorframe. I brushed off my pants and started down the street toward town. It was nowhere but there was nowhere else to go. I walked down my block, passing all the split-levels that sat in a row like washing machines in a Laundromat. The air was forlorn. The chatter of field crickets could be heard between the brrr of a car that I knew intimately. It was Bob Chan in his unassuming '09 blue Honda Civic. When I see that car I cannot help but think 'substitute teacher.' You should have seen Shotsie. She freaked. She took off running up and down the block, growling.
"Ah come on, Shotsie. It's too hot to get excited."
But the dog ran and barked like crazy as the car went past her. She chased the Civic making the auto swerve in three continuous 'S'es. Like a jalopy in a cartoon. Errt! The brakes screeched. The car slid into a garbage can and the rubbish and the coffee grinds burst into the street with a polymer pop. My morning was getting better already. The Honda was still. I went over and looked in the window to see if Bob Chan was hurt. He was okay. In fact, he was laughing. He never took anything seriously. That was what was so great about him. His eyes were flea-sized squints and stone red.
"Chan-are you okay?" I squeaked.
He nodded. His hair was spiked like a shocked cactus and his frantic laugh goosed the scales. There he was, making some scene as usual. Funny, how he always had acne.