RTA, CH. 9: A Cop in the Park

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“Easy, ma’am. Take my arm.” The cop is young, somehow casually dressed but still clearly police. She’s leading grandma out of the Taurus. Does Scherer Park have rangers or something? I don’t think there’s any wildlife.

“Grandma!” I’m almost there. I can see her wincing a bit in the sun. “We have to go!”

“Sir, is this your car?”

“Yes, all mine! And this is my Grandmother not yours! Did she ask to get out? What’s going on?”

“We just wanted to make sure she was okay. She looks … distressed.”

We look at Grandma. She is wrinkled and pink and white and the same as ever. She’s staring at the lady cop.

Birds chirp, tennis balls thwack.

“She looks normal to me,” I say. “Let’s get her back in.”

The cop positions herself between us. I back off. She’s not armed and wearing a polo shirt? What sort of policewoman is this?

“I’m going to ask her some questions. Ma’am are you feeling okay? Is your breathing alright?”

I sigh and take a look at the cop. She’s not much older than me, with big brown hair and a vicious smear of maroon lipstick. I check for a name badge – Avril or Abrile, I think.

“Ma’am, are you sure you want to be in this vehicle?”

Light on gear – no guns, no tasers. Ah, maybe she’s a recruit.

“Sir, what’s her name?”

Or a community officer, I think they call them. I can get us away from an associate cop, surely.

“Look, we’re on a road trip and have to go back to the house for the dogs, can we just…”

“Who is looking after the dogs? Who’s looking after this woman?”

“I’m the dogsitter, I’m just behind.” Now why am I lying?

She looks displeased. “Would you mind showing me your license, sir?” She squares up to me with her big shoulders. Why are all policewoman ex-softball players?

My record, which is pretty light, flashes in my mind. Disturbing the Peace, you know, the usuals. I can get through this, no reason to panic.

“Of course, of course, hang on.” I dig out my wallet and a few dollars fall out – my god, the money is under the front seat.

We have to keep this casual.

“Here, here you go. Need anything else? I’m Ian?”

“Yes, it says right here. Does she have a license?”

“Yes, but you don’t want to see her record, ha!”

What is wrong with me?

“I can’t check any records, sir, I’m just monitoring the park. I’m going to take your license numbers, just taking precautions. Adult homes leave people here sometimes. Just dump them like garbage.”

The officer stared hard at me. No, no, we have other problems.

“Ah, no, I love Grandma, not leaving her anywhere. I’m taking her to… uh…”

“Ok great….  Mr…  Ian Finster. I see. And she is Finster too, Grissom-Finster, got it.”

“Great, have a good day!”

“I’m not quite done. Does she need to use the toilet? There’s one right over here, by the station.”

Please Grandma, don’t nod. We both look at her.

Grandma just puts her hands her hands in her lap and looks into the trees. Thwack, squeak from the tennis courts.

The cop gives me back my license but first gives me one long quizzical frown. I smile meekly.

Minutes later, we’re on the road again. I’m feeling the bag under the seat and I’m looking at Grandma through the mirror.

“I’m sorry Grandma, I’m listening to you, one hundred percent, from now on. We’re going to your island, to the THUMS. Then we get the dogs, then we get the hell out of this city. I won’t let you down.”

I turn back onto Long Beach and head for the water. Grandma has my back, I just need to listen.

After a few intersections, I feel better. The sun is over the water and the sky is orange and dust.

Soon it will be red and pink and peaceful.

In fact, I am almost high – I feel confidence! We escaped any trouble with the cop. Even my cold seems to have left me; maybe all I needed was the open air. The oil island, home and the dogs, and then, at last, the open road.

Things are coming together. It’s been a long day.

I look into the mirror to reassure Grandma one more time but something else is in the mirror, just beyond.

It’s the giant red hood of Mwin Stache’s Cadillac and his bowling ball head bearing down on us.

Rap and pistons fill my ears as I floor the gas.

“Confidence!” I yell at Grandma, my voice cracking. “Confidence.”

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