I had the best of intentions when I left the house. A day earlier, I was ripped to the tits when my editor found me in the bathroom of my satellite office, Garnett's Rite-Inn lounge. I said "Hey Bernie, I've been looking all over for you. Where have you been?" He began shouting about this and that; about my phone being off, that I hadn't checked in for two weeks, deadlines and going to press, et cetera. I remember making many droll and empty promises; anything to shut him up. His voice reverberated against the tile walls of the small restroom and it was jamming up my systems. I was on the verge of a full-fledged journalistic meltdown, and nobody wanted that. The last time it happened, I submitted a ten-thousand word essay on ticks, and how Pliny the Elder found them to be "the foulest and nastiest creatures that be." Those were erratic and wicked days.
I had promised to provide "blanket" coverage of the Maricopa County Sheriff's immigration sweep of Guadalupe the next day, and to my credit I almost made it there. In the desert, you have to be highly adaptable and extreme thirst can set in quickly. I was parched, and working with dipsomania blunted senses was simply out of the question. I needed to stay sharp. I pointed my car toward the first dive bar I saw, hoping to find stiff drink and real action. This time it was Sandy's lounge, a single story cinderblock edifice with the sublime charm of a storage shed or Quonset hut. There were no windows, and only two doors; one in the front for patrons, one on the side for deliveries - quintessential form-function architecture.
I was pounding 'em down and watching a baseball game on an ancient 25" Curtis Mathes console somehow affixed to the wall behind the bar. I envisioned lifting it had required an elaborate system of pulleys and levers, erected and manned by swarthy slaves. After all, Curtis Mathes TVs were "the most expensive television set in America – and darned well worth it."
A stealthy survey of the environment found me among a dozen or so bottom-feeders, torn and twisted from the spectrum of known intoxicants. One half-crazed mutant offered me a wilted fistful of Jimson weed which I politely accepted, if only for scientific purposes which are not yet clear to me. Slightly beneath it all, I could feel a presence; a dark entity that lives and thrives in these walls. Some manifestation of evil had gained a foothold and ingrained itself into the very foundation. It moved about on a cold sulfur breeze that made short-hairs stand on end.
Sandy's is one of many places where the soulless and the damned congregate to sup - to feast on each other's life-blood. Pol Pot and Idi Amin would've liked it here. It is the realm of drunks, dopers, and megalomaniacs. You could tell this was no place for amateurs. The single room had the heady, pheromonal musk of utter depravity.
There's real excitement in being where someone could be stabbed over a drink, and the other patrons would step over or around the bleeding victim, deaf to their pleas for assistance or another cocktail. It was my first time here, but I liked it. I could see its inherent charm.
For one, the bartender was a real pro. He looked like a half-dead reincarnation of Rasputin the Mad Monk. His aged skin was loose and paper thin, with extremities dark and mottled from vascular disease and abuse of the drink. Time and distilled spirits had been cruel mistresses.
He spoke very little, but when he did, it was through the pearly haze of a lit cigarette. He said he knew it was illegal to smoke indoors in public, but they could pry the Chesterfield from his "cold, dead lips" if they wanted to. I felt some freakish honor that I had met the Charlton Heston of cigarette smoking. His voice had the timbre of a broken cement mixer, and you could feel it crash into your sternum and travel via direct conduction up to the brain.
He wore dingy grey slacks and a black belt that hoisted them high on his midsection. The belt was a sad timeline of sorts. A sequence of many hand-made holes appeared to mark the reclamation of his body by the earth. On the day he left this world, I wondered if he would leave some part of his body behind or simply deteriorate into nothingness; an outline of opaque mist diffused by an arid breeze.
After an unknown time of similar introspective fantasy, I looked up and found the bar virtually empty. Where had they all gone? Had the Rapture had gone horribly awry? If I wanted to know, I'd have to ask whoever was left. To that end, chances appeared slim. The bartender and a 50-something Yaqui Indian hooker comprised the entire pool of prospective witnesses.
The 'beat up from the feet up' Yaqui floozy didn't look to be any help. Her Medusan hair stayed fixed in place as she babbled angrily about nothing and it was obvious she had recently been in a violent altercation. Someone had given her a healthy taste of the long knuckle; probably the result of a breakdown in the hooker/john negotiation process. Her left eye was swollen shut, and a vibrant palette of pale greens and yellows streaked across the purple lid like an acid-trip sunset. Blood from her nose had dried in wide streaks on her face. In a queer coincidence, the dried blood had the appearance of war paint.
I observed this fractured harridan for about 30 seconds, and I could see how effortlessly she could awaken one's long-dormant instinct for caterwauling homicide. As my ennui fulminated, I imagined doing the 'Nestea Plunge' into the vodka/soda before me.
The door opened in a crash that shattered the relative silence as three men entered Sandy's. It was a buzz-kill; the wickedest kind. Two went to the booth in the corner while the other approached the bar. One guy was talking, or rather shouting as he came in. The words that passed his lips were the rat-tat-tat-tat drone of the chemically insane.
"Wetbacks-blah-blah-blah-fucking monkeys-blah-blah-blah you fight one bean you fight the whole burrito-blah-blah-blah."
Normally, I don't pay "white is right" xenophobic speed-freaks any mind. They're everywhere, and observing their atavistic behavior is often a painful experience. It would take irrefutable scientific evidence for me to believe these invidious creeps aren't in a state of de-evolution.
I hypothesize that many consecutive generations of profane brother-sister and father-
daughter couplings, with an absence of any meaningful socialization, nurturing, or education has triggered an unprecedented de-evolution of the Homo sapiens DNA. At a critical glance, one becomes keenly aware they are some manner of lesser creature; almost but not fully human. Along with the British Royals, they are the flesh and bone manifestation of why you don't play 'slap and tickle' with your own family.
Welcome to the circus side-show of the New World Order.
I've dubbed them neo-Neanderthals, the verminous scourge of trailer parks and Wal-Marts everywhere. They're randy little freaks with breeding tendencies similar to Rattus Norvegicus, or the brown rat if you're feeling sassy. They have thus far retained opposable thumbs and bipedal locomotion, but for how long cannot be said. (No part of my theory has been evaluated scientifically, but some truths lie within the narrow boundaries of the painfully obvious.)
I'm a gonzo journalist and amateur social scientist, not Charles-fucking-Darwin.
The one doing all the talking had an eerily familiar voice. I was sure that I'd heard it before, but it was much more rapid and animated than I recalled. It carried the heft of complete self-absorption.
Then in an instant, I knew whose it was.
"Well if it isn't Joe Arpaio, America's Toughest Sheriff" my internal monologue stated flatly.
"Right you are! Johnny, tell him what he's won!" I shot back.
They say talking to your self is a definitive sign of madness. Who knows, maybe they're right.
As I started listening to the substance of the conversation in the corner, my journalist's ears pricked up; I was on the chase. I knew the story, the real story was here, but what was it? I thought it odd that Sheriff Joe would enter such a place with so little personal protection. He's created more than a few enemies as Maricopa County's Sheriff. While the details remain sketchy at best, I've heard rumors that Arizona's Governor, Janet Napolitano stamps her hooves and begins chomping at the bit at the mere mention of his name.
I spun my bar stool around to get a good look at the cartoonish vermin soiling the lone booth. Sheriff Joe was seated with his back toward the door, and the other two race-baiting miscreants sat opposite him.
I first took notice of the kid who had gone to the bar. He looked to be some kind of gargantuan white leech in cargo shorts, a faded Toby Keith tank top, and high-top Chuck Taylor All-Stars that had been flattened; crushed under the twenty-seven atmospheres of pressure beneath his step.
Although it was a cool night inside and out, his bald head was pouring sweat; no doubt he was tweaking balls. He repeatedly wiped it out of his eyes with the front of his tank top, exposing a flabby, hirsute midsection and a massive concave umbilicus.
The other guy was much smaller, maybe 5'8" or 5'9" but built like a brick shit-house; not huge but well-defined. This terminal creep was dressed in pleated Calvin's, a pink Polo with the collar 'popped', and hand-crafted Ferragamo loafers; probably from the hide of a rare species. He wore a TAG Heuer Carrera that glistened, even under the low-watt incandescent light. He too was pie-eyed on meth; bent like an acute angle.
- Jerry Lee Lewis
Nickel Bag Joe was spitting mad; angrier than I'd ever seen him before. As he raged, a lock of his hair became unhinged and appeared to wave at me to get my attention.
"Wow – this guy knows all the tricks." It was obvious. My inner dialogue was duly impressed.
His eyes, wild with mydriatic rage, were bulging from their sockets. Thick, white spittle rained down on the two seated across from him, but they pretended not to notice. "Do these brown-town A-holes think they know what I can and can't do in MY County? I am the e-sonofabitchin'-lected Sheriff, and I will rain hell-fire on these creepy little retards. By lunch-time tomorrow, we'll be playing 'whack-a-mole' with their goddamn heads and knocking their balls off a tee at the driving range with a six-iron. They ain't seen nothin' yet."
The other two tried to contribute their two-cents to the conversation, but had thus far been woefully unsuccessful. They glanced over at one another and shrugged their shoulders in frustration, but Sheriff Joe either failed to notice, or more likely, failed to give a rat's ass.
You don't screw with Sheriff Joe when he's 'on' as it can only prove disastrous. Joe's a tried-and-true "Neapolitan guinea" and if you cross him it's a fact you'll never forget, ever. Joe treats the MCSO like it's one of New York's five families, and he's the Don; the Boss. Really get his dander up, and you might awaken to find a horde of rabid, steroid-fed wildebeests stampeding through your house - sworn "to serve and protect", badge-wearing fiends with odious hearts and the law on their side. They'll take a diseased pleasure in putting a boot or two deep in your ass before chunking you in the back of an undercover car (possibly with Mexican plates) and hauling you off to the crowbar hotel on any number of trumped-up charges; two of which are sure to be resisting arrest and assaulting an officer.
Bear with me people, I get sidetracked.
"Hey lard-ass, you got any more of that devil's dandruff? I ain't got any with me in here, but I got plenty more in the Yukon." Sheriff Joe said as he pumped his eyebrows.
"No one's ever said Sheriff Joe had a flair for subtlety." groaned my internal monologue. "Shut the fuck up" I replied.
"Yeah, I got that O-Z from you earlier, remember Sheriff Joe?" Doughboy said with relish.
"Oh, I remember you little maggot. You still owe me for that" the Sheriff shot back. "That's seven hundred and fifty samoleans, dick-weed. You and I know it's some damn good shit, and I could've got a lot more for it. You'd better not be jerking me off, or I'll be scraping what's left of you off my boot with a stick, like I just stepped in dog shit."
"I won't forget" the kid said and cowered demurely.
"Goddammit, you're fuckin'-A you won't. I ain't your hose-bag, mattress jockey of a mama." In one quick motion, Sheriff Joe pimp-slapped Doughboy. "Damn, he's cold" I thought as Doughboy's face fell into an open-mouthed look of surprise and embarrassment. "I got another one where that came from, and a fresh batch comin' outta the oven, scumbag." Sheriff Joe showed him the back of his hand. "Well, do ya get me fatso?"
"I get you Sheriff Joe."
"Alrighty then. Look - I don't like credit, especially in this business. As far as I'm concerned you tweaking sister-diddlers are a necessary evil, a means to an end. You ain't such a bad kid, you just run with a bunch of misguided bumpkins who can't see the forest through the fuckin' trees. Get it through your head boy; "White Priders" are nothing more than greasy pimples on the sweet ass of humanity. It ain't about color; it's about getting people to do exactly what you want them to do, when and how you want them to do it."
He pointed to Pop-a-collar; "See, this guy sort of knows what it's all about. It's about getting what you want, and doing what it takes to get it."
Pop-a-collar nodded in agreement, but Sheriff Joe dismissed him, giving him the New York salute in contempt. "Vaffanculo pompinaio."* "See, it ain't just the white-trash types. You richey-rich slime-balls think you're somehow above the law. Ain't nobody above the law, do you get me asshole?" he said, again displaying the back of his hand. There was no reply. (* - Vaffanculo pompinaio: Italian for fuck you, asshole)
I sat there, stunned. Could Sheriff Joe and I possibly have anything in common other than being carbon-based life forms? Will wonders never cease?
Suddenly, the Sheriff's expression softened. "Hey, let's leave it alone for tonight. We'll go to the bathroom, get hopped-up one more time, and go screw some Mexicans; literally this time. I know a little massage place not too far from here that we've raided a few times, and they're bat-shit scared of me" Sheriff Joe said with a wide smile.
"They got 'em pretty young there, and I feel like getting nasty. This glass shit makes my pecker hard, and at seventy-five-and-change, it ain't the easiest thing to do. After we get our peepers wet, I've got a few other things planned. You boys will be pleasantly surprised."
"One more thing - those taco-eating subhumans and that See-you-next-Tuesday of a Guadalupe Mayor got me a bit riled up, but you know what? Fuck 'em, each and every one. It's time to celebrate. You boys done good and I'm gonna repay you. Ol' Sheriff Joe knows how to treat his friends right."
"Right on" the pair said in unison.
"I'm going to hurt me a bitch tonight" said Doughboy, squealing with delight. It was pretty obvious that he hadn't gotten any in a while, if ever.
"I don't see how you couldn't, even if you didn't want to" said Pop-a-collar, snidely chuckling.
"Screw you, dick" was the reply.
"Alright you two, let's go" said the Sheriff. He rocked and grunted, trying to free his pendulous abdomen from the narrow confines of the booth. He was starting to get pissed off again when he finally unwedged himself, and the three made their way to the men's room and disappeared inside.
I turned back to my beloved drink, and noticed that it was empty. The bartender, being a pro, brought me another without asking. "You know, I voted for that sonofabitch; twice already" he grumbled, shaking his head in disgust as he walked away. "I got fooled once as well" I replied. With fresh, strong drink in hand, I began processing the fantastic chain of events that had just transpired.
After a few moments, the door to Sandy's again opened with a deafening crash. When I spun around to see who or what had made such an ungodly noise this time, twenty or more protesters from the Guadalupe immigration sweep came barreling in through the door. "Jesus, this ain't good." I said aloud as I watched the angry procession enter.
The crowd, mostly young Mexican men with a few Yaquis sprinkled in for good measure, poured into Sandy's like a molested hornet's nest. They were buzzing and humming in a drunken, basest frenzy. They carried in half-drank bottles of beer and tequila, and couple of them had rope-handled machetes. Maybe one of them had an old wooden pitchfork, but I can't be sure as it all happened so fast.
Almost immediately, one of the more diminutive members of the crowd, a runty bantam rooster, staggered in, saw me, and swaggered over. With angry mob-emboldened machismo, he leaned up hard against the bar with our faces mere inches apart. "What-choo lookin' at, dickhead? Pinche gabacho*." His breath was foul; so foul that it defied description. "Whew" was all I could manage to say as hot, acrid bile sped up my esophagus, pausing at the back of my throat. (Pinche gabacho – Spanish pejorative for 'fucking white-boy.')
After thirty some-odd years of bearing witness to the painful and protracted death of the American dream, it takes more than foul breath to make me vomit, and I swallowed it down as quickly as it came up. After taking a second or two to regain my composure, I said "That's an excellent question, my friend. How about you just tell me because I can't stand the suspense; not for a second longer."
"You lookin' at an Azatlan Guerrero muthafucka; a warrior. That's what you lookin' at. Viva Mexico! Viva La Raza! Down with you gabachos and down with Sheriff Joe Arpayaso*" he shouted, pointing his blunted index finger in my face. He raised a long neck Bud Light into the air and shouted, "Ay-ya-ya-ya-yay!" (Arpayaso is Spanglish new-speak for Arpaio and payaso, which means clown)
With overt mockery and plain old disdain, I said "You've thought this through, haven't you? I mean, that's great, and I'm really impressed. What's your next move, my young friend? I suppose you want to make some example out of me, right? I get it. You want to turn me into some douche-bag guero piñata for you and your friends to beat the stuffing out of and then burn in effigy, right?" I don't think he got it, but it was a rhetorical question all the way.
Right then, the three re-emerged from the men's room, sniffling, coughing, and pinching their noses. All eyes, save for Death-breath's, immediately fell on them. It was an early Christmas for the protesters, but for me it was the perfect time to deal with an ugly situation that could only get uglier.
Ol' Death-breath was now understandably livid with me, but I'd already had enough of his diseased-mouth bullshit. In his fury, his face flashed hot crimson, and large, tortuous veins popped out on his neck and forehead. As he inhaled deeply to give me another putrid ration of the "same old, same old", I jumped off the bar stool with surprising quickness, grabbed the back of his head, and laid into him.
I slammed my left fist into his nose with the sudden, devastating violence of a five car pileup. There was another sick churning in the pit of my stomach as I felt the little fucker's nose shatter under my knuckles, but I wasn't done, not yet.
With my right hand still gripping his hair, I shoved his head down in a quick thrust toward my rapidly ascending right knee. I might have imagined it, but I was sure I felt his brain caroming inside his cranium like a pinball against the bumpers. With that, the wind eased out of him in final submission. Now, I was done, and so was he. I gently laid him on the ground and calmly stepped away.
"Nighty-night motherfucker" I whispered.
I absolutely despise fisticuffs, but he had put me in one unholy bitch of a situation; pure fight or flight. According to Kenny Rogers," You've got to know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em." Too true Kenny, too true my nig.
I had an uneasy feeling that the brief altercation I had just experienced would prove to be a mere appetizer to a banquet of violence I was likely about to ingest. The table was set and the dinner bell rung. It was a meal I was not at all hungry for.
In case you were wondering, I harbor a real and visceral disdain for Nickel Bag Joe. He is my Dick Nixon, or at least as Tricky Dick was to Hunter Thompson; he's my arch-nemesis. And lo and behold, there he was - in living color, twisted on meth, and wading neck-deep in an Olympic-sized pool of shit. Welcome friends, to my waking dream.
I should have been glad, but I wasn't. If the last moments of his life went down like it was shaping up to, something much more powerful and horrible would come to life. All the makings of a hurricane-force shit storm loomed on the horizon.
He would receive an obscenely lavish hero's funeral, a huge send-off with all the weird trappings of a fetish ball or Clinton fundraiser. Every high-ranking political dung beetle from the local and national mounds would drop everything to attend. I could see them now - scurrying around, doing some old-timey politicking, and turning wherever they happened to be into an open sewer. Business as usual, as they say.
Lou Dobbs would be in the audience dressed like some upwardly-mobile Kansas City pimp. It is said that no felt hat or fur-lined cape is too rich for his 'media-titan's' wallet. Also, Lou's never been known to possess a rock-solid personal constitution, so you might catch him drinking Crown Royal straight from the bottle, chewing Oxycodones by the fistful, and sobbing inconsolably on the bosom of an underage Thai prostitute.
Rep. Barney Frank, who is said to love a good funeral, would arrive in a chiffon whirlwind, accompanied by a warren of limp-wristed page-boys, who giggle daintily and throw dried rose petals at his feet.
Sen. John McCain, himself an id of cannibalistic umbrage, would have to be restrained like Hannibal Lecter for the occasion. No matter - an event of this magnitude would be one of those rare political bonanzas where the stakes are simply too high to consider skipping. When Sen. McCain must be seen in public on one of his many "bad days", he is administered heroic amounts of sedatives, fitted with a Lucite bite guard, and dressed in a custom-tailored Armani straight-jacket; a garment given to him with much fanfare at his 70th birthday gala, hosted and paid for by Anheuser-Busch and General Dynamics.
Under directive of the President, McCain is escorted at all times by a team of four Secret Service agents and an operant conditioning expert. The team's sole purpose is to keep anyone who ventures near the Senator out of harm's way. They have been sanctioned to use any non-lethal means deemed necessary to keep the senior Senator from Arizona under control. The agents carry a large Naugahyde duffel bag filled with various types of tranquilizer guns, Tasers, and cattle prods to achieve that end.
Because Sheriff Joe never had any real friends to speak of, a chain gang from Tent City would be forced, like unwitting grooms at a shotgun wedding, into carrying the coffin from the church to the hearse, and from the hearse to the grave.
Upon death, scum like Joe Arpaio deserve to have their corpse dipped in rat's blood and set adrift on the open sea; tossed over the edge of a garbage scow without so much as a "see you in hell." But what then? Who would be the comically villainous Joker to my rancorous, alcoholic Batman?
Adding insult to injury, he would be canonized into secular Sainthood; martyred by the same low-minded syndicate of crazies that keep voting him and others of his ilk into office.
They are spread across the map of Arizona in thick, broad brushstrokes, like coarse graffiti on a Rembrandt. However, these diseased animals exist in their highest concentrations in Arizona's "retirement communities"; communities with quaint names like Sun City, Verrado, and Pebble Creek.
It is the land of lumbago and elastic waistbands, with a liquor store or pharmacy on every corner. Outwardly these burgs appear serene, tranquil even, but don't be fooled. They are overrun by marauding platoons of over-medicated and besotted Blue-hairs, who I refer to as the 'liver spot' demographic; caustic, freakish crones who only come out in the twilight of pre-dawn, or for happy hour.
Their lives are driven by three basic motivations; an irrational fear of nearly everything, greeting each day with an unslakable thirst for the drink, and, on each election day, arriving at the polling station at the crack of dawn to proudly vote an up-and-down "straight fascism" ticket.
These Sea-bond loving wack-a-doos get their burlap granny-panties all moist and dewy over the perception that Sheriff Joe keeps them safe from "vicious and dangerous minorities." Many have been known to lapse into a catatonic state of 'the fears' over the arrival of a Hispanic substitute mailman.
These aged hate-mongers use their vote as a weapon; a demented defense mechanism against the fear of impending death. They make no bones about it either; their goal is to make the rest of us pay for each and every one of our unlived days. They are far too afraid to live, and too wicked and miserable to fuck off and die.
Yowza! That was one hell of a tangent. Let's get back to business, shall we?
Killing Sheriff Joe would almost certainly serve as the catalyst that would destroy all hope for the return of sanity to Arizona immigration law, and quite possibly the entire country. It would also ruin the lives of the 20 or so understandably furious Mexicans and Yaquis, as well as their families' lives. It had lose-lose written all over it, in every known dialect.
"Hey, Arpay-asshole, it looks like you're finding yourself in a lot of trouble here tonight, gringo." said the obvious Alpha-male of the group, violently shaking a weathered and calloused fist. The incensed group hummed and growled in agreement.
Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the bartender and the hooker abandoning ship in a beeline toward the front door. The bartender had a new bottle of Chivas in his left hand and two unopened packs of smokes in the right. "Smart move", I thought. In her inebriated haste to leave the premises, the Yaqui hooker tripped over Death-breath, kicking him flush in the ear. He moaned, inhaled deeply, and again fell silent. It was then, more or less, I knew he'd be ok.
Sheriff Joe started winding up again. "All right you assholes, what you are going to do is to get your dark-skinned asses out of my way and let me pass, Right Fucking Now, or I swear to God al-fucking-mighty himself that you'll pay, and I mean pay dearly. Now MOVE!" It was evident ol' Sheriff Joe had been in some tight spots before, and he knew the best defense is oftentimes a good offense.
I noticed him reaching for his service revolver, and for the second time in as many minutes, I knew it was 'do or die' time. "So let it be written, so let it be done" I muttered as I quietly stepped to the trio from a blind spot on their right side. I waylaid Pop-a-collar with a cheap-shot; an overhand left that landed flush on his cheek. Before he fell, I grabbed him, spun him around, and shoved him into the group of surprised protesters, knocking over the Alpha-male in the process. Almost instantaneously, the vicious attack began. He wailed a high-pitched shriek as they had their way with him. The sound was most unbecoming; one I would describe as the antithesis of masculine. A few seconds later I saw one of the protester's fists raised in the air, and it was clutching a handful of Pop-a-collar's hair. I must admit, I almost felt bad for the poor bastard.
Doughboy started to blubber. A biblical deluge of tears began flowing like Havasu falls down his fat face. I thought to myself, "Oh Christ, here comes the waterworks." I turned and laid my full weight into Sheriff Joe, straight-arming him in the direction of the side door. The bizarre look on his face told me he was seeing the sum total of his life flash before his eyes. Though his expression remained blank, his arms flailed wildly, trying to maintain balance as he reeled backward. With two down and one to go, I homed in on Doughboy. From behind, I kicked him in the coin-purse as if my childhood dream was to become a Rockette, and it was my turn to audition for the Christmas Spectacular. As he lurched forward in terror and agony, I put my foot on the meat of his ass and launched him headlong, weeping and gagging, into the bowels of the blood-thirsty crowd.
The scene was nothing short of fantastic. It was a hideous scrum of brown limbs and black hair accented by the primal grunts of predator and prey. In a further rush to the senses, the fetid odor of urine exploded in my nasal passageways.
With the angry mob otherwise engaged, I manhandled Sheriff Joe with the tenderness afforded a prison bitch caught 'making eyes' during a stroll in the exercise yard. I snatched the Smith & Wesson out of his right hand and dragged him out of Sandy's through the side door and into the brisk night.
I barked "Where are the goddamn keys, Joe? Give me the goddamn keys." His eyes were glazed over and he seemed to be in a different time and place, but I didn't have time for any of that shit. As we continued to walk, I reached across my body and stiffly back-handed him, much like he had done to Doughboy. "Joe, quit fiddly-fucking around and give me goddamn keys." I growled. He fished in his pocket, dropped the keys in my hand, and returned to the catatonic daze; a mix of near-death-experience and the synaptic melt-down of an amphetamine freak-out.
After unlocking the door with the key fob, I shoved him into the back seat, face first. In the middle of doing so, I came to the vile realization that both of my hands had a firm grip on the flesh of his old, saggy ass. After he was safely inside, I jumped in the driver's seat, jammed the key in the switch, and fired up the massive power plant.
They must've had all the fun they had wanted with the other two, because the angry protesters finally figured out they had been buffaloed. The real object of their hatred, Sheriff Joe Arpayaso, had done fucked off for parts unknown. They came pouring out of both doors into the cool, dusty night, wilder than when they came in; but it was too late. Fists and bottles rained down on the black Yukon as I hit the 'lock' button and slid the gear shift lever into Drive.
"You better move it, or someone's gonna get hurt, you dumb sons-a-bitches" I bellowed, pointing my finger at the protesters. After I ran over a few of their feet, they seemed to get the message.
Once clear, I stomped on the accelerator until it was all the way to the floor. The Yukon's rear tires grabbed two huge handfuls of earth and pounced to life. As I fish-tailed out of the parking lot, I took one last look at the scene through the rear-view mirror. The mob was scattering; desperately retreating from the hell-storm of gravel and dirt I left in my wake.
At that point, relief started to set in and I began laughing uncontrollably. I couldn't believe I had escaped with my life, let alone unscathed. I rolled down the window and shouted; "Vaya con Dios muthafuckas!" and continued laughing.
After a few minutes of driving at ridiculous speeds and completely ignoring traffic signals, I realized I could use a drink. No, I needed one. As far as I knew, the Sheriff was still face-down in the back seat, and I figured I should check on him. Other than what had just occurred, the very last thing I needed right now was to be pulled over for driving erratically in the Sheriff's personal Yukon with the very possibly dead, smacked-around and drugged up seventy-five year old Sheriff lying ass-up in the back seat. Also, my prints and DNA were all over the truck and his .38, which I was still in possession of. At that moment, I was thankful it hadn't gone off.
How the hell would you even begin to explain that one? What witness would back up my story? I decided to call my good friend and lawyer, the ever-entertaining Dave Fulcher, but only after I bought some beer. I'd need it to tell him this tale.
About a half-mile farther down the road, I pulled into a 7-11, and went in. I left the car running and the AC on full-blast in the hopes of bringing him around, but I couldn't bear to look in the back seat just yet.
I bought a case of Bud Light, cracked one open, and drained the first bottle in one long pull as I tentatively approached the SUV. I tried to look in the backseat through the window, but the tint was far too dark to see anything, especially at night. I jumped back in shock as the back door opened slowly. I dropped the empty bottle, and it shattered on the pavement in front of the 7-11.
On the other side of the door was Sheriff Joe, sitting upright. He was still pie-eyed and dazed, but ok.
"Holy shit" I thought "Holy fucking shit."
"You got my revolver, son?", the Sheriff said quietly. "Yeah, as a matter of fact I do" I said. I grabbed the .38 from the passenger's seat, wiped it off with my shirt, and handed it back to Sheriff Joe handle first, still wrapped in the cotton fabric. "Thanks boy" he said hoarsely "I've never had another gun on my hip my entire career. This gun means the world to me and I thought I'd lost it." "No problem" I replied. "No problem at all."
"I see you got some beers there. Could I have one, please? I'm drier than a popcorn fart" he said. I noticed that his voice was quivering, like he was about to cry. "Sure, man. Take two, they're small." I said.
He took a beer from the box, cracked it open and drank deeply. Then, he smiled wanly and said "What you did for me tonight, no one else has ever done. You reached deep and saved my sorry hide" he said, taking another long swig of beer and wiping a lone tear from his eye. "I'll never forget this; what you've done. So help me God, I'm gonna pay you back." "Please, don't worry about it Sheriff Joe." I said. "Shouldn't we go back and check on your friends, or at least call for some assistance? I'm sure it's safe now."
"No way. Screw them yahoos. They're big boys and they can fend for themselves" Sheriff Joe said. "Those two, they had broken computers, know what I mean?" he said chuckling and pointing at his head.
Nickel Bag Joe finished his beer lustily. He was starting to come back to life.
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He walks about with the knock-kneed shuffle of the morbidly obese.
"Its salty language that makes this country what it is; a fucking shithole."
They root of their xenophobia lies within the awareness of what they are, and more importantly, what they are not. They are the essence of the pot calling the kettle black, no pun intended of course.