This is how it works. With my marathon over, this month’s project is a short story a day. Each day, I will take a writing prompt from the frontpage of reddit.com. There is no length limit and as this is a writing exercise, I will try my best to write something worth reading, and will invest in your comments, but make no guarantees (not that I ever do) as to the quality of my work. Enjoy!
Here’s the article that is serving as the writing prompt: http://news.yahoo.com/nm-officer-having-sex-car-hood-wont-charged-133617341.html I saw the original photo, but decided not to post that.
Fuck the police? Where I grew up–or am growing up–that is something we tend to avoid. In one sense, we’re all underage and these cops are always somebody’s fat cousin or angry brother, and they’re usually busted as hell. I’m not saying the girls I chill with are that selective, but they got some taste. In another sense, we’ve all seen or heard of enough cops in action that we skip the in-your-face sense of “fucking” the police and want to avoid them. Leave them alone, for the most part, they leave you alone, unless they think you’ve got money or something they can cop. Cop in the sense of rob, take, demand, not in the sense of police, 5-0, P.D. men in blue with the big black belts and slap damn ugly haircuts. I’m not saying my people are classy-like, but before we do any fucking or copping, we prefer at least, a conversation. So no, we don’t fuck (with) the police.
This isn’t to say in all of our non-police fucking that we do not, on occasion, engage in certain activities that may run foul of the law. We loiter, we truant ourselves, we hang out at the uptown shopping center after curfew. We “borrow” shopping carts from kmart, dine and ditch, bait and switch, trick or treat. We talk back, or when needed, talk first. But we got our code, and the most we get is a slap on the wrist from the cops or a solid beating from our folks. When you got a cousin in prison and two uncles in uniform, not only do family gatherings get cold, but you learn the lines to walk. Most us would prefer to cross the cops than cross our grannies.
I myself have gotten a heavy hand laid on me by my folks three times–twice because I was not only late, but I hadn’t called, and it was the police who were bringing me there, once because I was late, and I’d called, sure, but just my luck a cop car rolled past my house just as the door opened.
We don’t drink much because it is hard to come by and expensive for us. But last week, J was helping his grandaddy move and managed to hide two big boxes of beer in the bushes. We came back later and picked them up, and that Friday we invite a couple of girls we hung with to drink with us over at 112’s kiddie playground. Lynnea and Justine show up wearing skirts that are too short for the weather, make-up that is too bright, and too much alcohol breath for that early at night. It makes ’em a bit nicer, the vodka they’ve been drinking. They cool girls but you have to be careful to say the right things ’round them.
Anyway, we’re drinking and talking, and J even manages to leave his hand on Justine’s shoulder three seconds too long without her looking like he the ass end of the ugly train. Things were going good, but we get cold enough that we don’t even want to hang around to get drunk and we decide to take J’s car back to chill in his basement. He swear up and down he hasn’t had but two beers, and is fine to drive. I know he doesn’t drink much and besides, its not his car and he’s too afraid to risk ruining it. We throw our bottles into the bushes and get in, shivering. Justine even leans in over the console saying she’s cold and J pretends to concentrate real hard on driving because he can’t think of what to say. And we’re driving along and not but two blocks from his house this cop car comes dragging out of a sidestreet. J brakes some, but not much point to the activity, and we clip the back end of their car as they try to turn in front of us, and the car slides across the street. Someone’s light is shattered. Like babies when they fall and take a second to start crying, the cops put on their siren just as J starts yelling about his car and how he fucked it up and everybody be cool we ain’t had anything to drink you got gum? there’s probably some in the console my mom always has some gum for her breath. Pretty soon the cops come over and instead of helping us out start yelling at us, screaming at us to unlock the doors and pulling us out by our arms when we do.
One cop, the one who was driving, takes J and I and starts talking to us, telling us how it was our fault and how much trouble we’re in and why were we out so late, where were we going, have we been drinking? I look over his shoulders while mumbling my I don’t knows and nos and the other cop seems to be trying to calm the girls down. They look shocked but their mouths are closed. The one in front of us keeps asking us questions, breathing all heavy like in between because he’s out of breath, but we’re not giving anything but one word answers so he never gets a chance to catch it. He starts asking us for our registration and tells us he’s going to give us a field test and where do we live?
I look back for a second and he says hey! look at me when I’m talking but I see the other cops hand resting on that very same shoulder J was just touching on Justine, and he’s leaving it there another three seconds and the girls are standing there stiff and quiet, and the hand starts to move. The cop says hey! again and grabs my shoulder, and like I’m some kind of money see monkey do i reach out and grab his shoulder. He looks at me all mad, but he doesn’t say anything about touching him and reaches out and grabs me on my other shoulder and start squeezing. I don’t know what else to do but to reach out and grab his other shoulder, but I don’t squeeze as hard. And we look at each other and he pulls me close to him I’m wondering if he’s looking up my nose and I can see J just standing there wide-eyed and I’m looking at the cop and I can hear the other cop’s feet swivel and he starts moving toward us slow and I’m waiting for a fist or a knee and it isn’t coming, and less out of fear then a need to break the slowness of it I move and grab his bicep and then he moves and grabs my bicep and like we dancing we shuffle backwards a second and I feel the bumper of his car and the heat of the engine on the back of my legs. We stand there, two angry dancers, and it needs to break. I move my arm back to his shoulder and he moves his arm back to my shoulder, and then just to see if he will, I make my mouth like I’m going to spit and he, does the same. I’m laughing now, a little, but he doesn’t move, just looks at me like he about to spit. And I spit, right into his face, we so close don’t even need to aim. For a hot second it works, startles him and he steps back worried like, and then I feel myself falling back against his car and there are three quick, sharp punches to my stomach and I feel a knee aimed at my balls missing and hitting me in the thigh. He’s screaming and the other cop runs up behind me and takes a glances bunch at my ribs.
There’s something warm dripping down to my left eye and I hear an oh shit from the cops. I don’t think they hit me, but I know its blood. Must’ve smacked it against something but they’re all nervous now, start telling me that I cut myself in the car and I agree with them, because its true, they’re just too dumb to remember where they hit me. I want to vomit from the pain in my stomach, or at least lie down, but I’m fine, I know that, but this is our get out of jail free card, so I act punch drunk, mumble.
They put J back in his car–its our light that has shattered–and the other cop keeps his distance from the girls. They all get back in, and I’m about to also when the one who was touching the girls just turns around and looks at me. He’s mad calm, just looking, and he glances towards the back of Justine and Lynnea’s head and up at my bleeding head, and then he just grins, a slow, spreading grin out all the way across his face. I swear to god I’ve never seen anyone smile so wide his eyes went missing and I could see where his gums connect to the rest of his face. He smiles and then lets his face fall back into place just as slowly–and with all the boundaries we’d ever pushed and people we’d provoked and insulted and argued with and feinted at and fought with, not even when I had a cop breathing in my face while punching me in the stomach, I knew I was feeling for the first time what a threat is, what the dull surprise of helplessness feels like.
We drive away, all quiet, and J reaches out and grabs Justine’s hand and I laugh at his opportunism, to myself, but at the same time, its empty