Friday, August 28, 2015
Unsafe at Any Speed
The night that Johnny's status rose from mere approbation to flirt with the heroic was a Friday, the start of a three-day party he'd organized while his parents were in Puerto Rico. Muffin was coming in on the Trailways, so we piled into the Fairlane wagon sometime after dark and headed in to town to pick him up. In those days the bus stopped at the Millbrook Diner and, as Johnny lurched to a sloppy stop before the plate-glass window, stumbled out and set his wine glass on the roof, I may have been the only one among us sober enough to notice the row of Sheriff's Deputies and Staties seated at the counter who swiveled in unison to gaze in awe at our arrival. Stuffing Muffin and his bedroll in the back we set off down the deserted street, weaving in and out beneath the lamplights as the main drag gave way to a pitch-black country road.
While we sat, despairing, in the wagon, the cop grabbed Johnny by the collar of his one-piece, Army-surplus flight suit and threw him, spread-eagle, across the hood before us. Gripping him from behind in an awkward bear-hug, he then began the process of thrusting his hands into each of the suit's many flaps and pockets, starting at the epaulets and working his way down. We could hear Johnny trying to warn him about something, but the cop just told him to shut up and kept working his way, roughly and with prejudice, down the torso to the two, zippered side pockets at Johnny's waist. These, it seems, were not pockets at all, but openings designed to allow access to one's trouser pockets, assuming one was wearing trousers which, sadly, Johnny was not. With one last, dramatic flourish and thrust, the cop had plunged both hands up to the forearms into Johnny's unswaddled loins, resulting in an horrific dance under the headlights as the two of them, locked together, prodigious belly to back, careened about the road shoulder, snorting and howling like a pair of mating beasts.
Eventually uncoupled, the cop, red-faced, chagrined and furious, slapped the cuffs on Johnny Machado and threw him in the back of the cruiser, instructing Muffin, the only other one with a driver's license, to proceed ahead with the rest of us back to town. There we waited in the courtroom while the sole village judge was awoken from his slumber to arraign Johnny on charges of driving under the influence and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. “I imagine I'll be speaking with your father about this, Johnny.” Said the judge. “ I imagine I'll be speaking with him, too.” Replied Johnny, flashing us that wonderful, indomitable grin.
Posted by Carpentier at 11:39 AM